By the time I was fifteen, I had learned how to play the piano, organ, accordion, guitar, and bass. I bought my first Fender electric guitar and Fender amplifier when I was fourteen. I practiced at home with recordings of Gospel groups until I could emulate every guitar lick on the records. As a result, I was on the stage making music in every Church service. I alternated playing the piano, organ, accordion, and guitar.
I learned about music theory and got my vocal training in the Junior High School "A" Choir for three years. Because I was performing music and singing every time I went to Church, I had much more experience than all the other Choir members, so the teacher often expected more out of me. I received awards in Interscholastic League contests each year, and sang "The Lord's Prayer" for the Junior High Commencement. The High School Choir teacher came to the Junior High to conduct auditions among the 9th graders. She drafted me for the Senior Concert Choir, which I was in for three years. I sometimes directed that Choir.
At contests, I scored a First Place in Regional and Statewide Competitions, in solos and ensembles, and had the privilege of performing in three nightly concerts with the 200-voice Texas All-State Choir, accompanied by a 450-piece All-State Band and Orchestra before 7,000 people in the Austin Municipal Auditorium. That was an exhilerating experience. Afterward, I was offered a full music scholarship to Sam Houston State University, but I declined it, because I felt that I should pursue the ministry.
As a companion to my music studies, I also took several years of speech and drama classes from sixth to the twelfth grades. I participated in poetry and prose speaking events, was on the debate team, and worked on the High School tabloid newspaper, as a reporter, in layout, then as an Editor.
But singing and playing music was my passion. Everyone who sang Gospel music was my model. Mike Murdoch, who is now a widely-known television evangelist, held revivals in our little Church, playing and singing with his first wife, Linda. I had all their albums.
I remember my Pastor's wife bringing an album to Church with her one night because she wanted Mother to take it home and listen to it. It was the first release by an Assemblies of God evangelist from Ferriday, Louisiana. Everybody was talking about his tremendous revivals. His name was Jimmy Swaggart.
In those days, Swaggart still traveled from Church to Church by car, and sang by the hour, pumping a huge, black accordion as he sang. I saw him sing and preach for the first time when I attended the 1969 General Council of the Assemblies of God in the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth. His “Camp Meeting Hour” radio broadcasts were just beginning to be heard nationwide, and his dynamic stage presence was taking the Assemblies of God by a storm. At first, I thought his style was really behind the times, and I didn’t really like it, but then it occurred to me that he was making an impact on the whole country, so it couldn't be all bad. So I got on the Swaggart bandwagon, too.
From my elementary school days, I must have attended every Gospel concert that came to our area. Those were the days when the Statesmen Quartet with Hovie Lister, and the Blackwood Brothers with James Blackwood were traveling together, doing concerts with simple piano accompaniment. I'll never forget their appearance at Woodrow Wilson High School auditorium in Port Arthur. "Whitey" Gleason was the pianist for the Blackwood Brothers, and he was exceptionally talented. Those quartets could rouse an audience to their feet as they dramatically swooned their voices into the huge, rectangular RCA ribbon microphones, blaring powerfully above the cheers of the crowd through the monstrous "Voice of the Theatre" speakers. Music like this had never been heard before.
Gospel quartets sprang up everywhere: The Oak Ridge Boys, the Tennesseans, Jake Hess and the Imperials, The Sego Brothers and Naomi, The Dixie Echoes, The Florida Boys and many more. The Stamps and the Jordanaires backed up Elvis Presley. Even secular entertainers were getting in on Gospel acts. Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis, Jimmie Dean, Tennessee Ernie Ford, "Gentleman" Jim Reeves, and of course, Elvis produced Gospel albums that were enormously popular.
The Oak Ridge Boys came through town singing Gospel music several times, long before they ever performed country-western music. Little Willie Wynn was their featured high tenor singer, and few men in the business could stir the crowds like he did in those days. My bedroom walls were lined with autographed photos of many of the groups, including the Statesmen, the Blackwood Brothers, the LeFevres, the Stamps, the Happy Goodmans, the Galileans, and others.
Gospel music mesmerized me. In our home, Gospel music played loudly on the record player day and night. Nearly every song that was recorded in those days became a part of my repertoire. My younger brother David and I practiced singing at the piano in the living room with our front door wide open. Across the street, the neighbors would come out on their front porches to sit and listen to us sing.
When I was 12, my parents purchased a Hammond Organ for me. I spent countless hours alone in the living room playing the piano or the organ. Often, as soon as I came in from school in the evenings, I would go into the living room, close all the doors and curtains, and sit and play music for hours at a time. I still remember the glow of the orange pilot light on that organ as I made music in the dark. I would sing and play and worship God. Occasionally, I felt inspired to write a song. A lot of that time was intimate time between God and me alone.
At thirteen years old, I received my first job as a "professional" Gospel musician, traveling with a Kids Crusade evangelist, Don Hicks, for an entire summer, providing music ministry in his Kids Crusades and revivals. We toured Churches in Texas and Louisiana, the highlight being the Louisiana District A/G Kids Camp in Tioga. Along with singing and playing, I learned from him the methods of Child Evangelism, including Ventriloquism, “Magic” (sleight-of-hand), and story-telling.
The summer following my ninth grade in school, I traveled briefly with a Gospel group around the Houston area, playing guitar and bass. Then I accompanied another family singing group down to the Rio Grande Valley for a series of meetings, preaching, and playing the piano for them.
Licensed To Preach
I had begun preaching when I was thirteen, so I made application to the District Board of the South Texas Assemblies of God for my Ministerial Credentials for the first time in 1966, at the age of 14. They refused my application, saying that I was too young. I applied again in 1967 at the age of 15, and they refused again. I had already preached in scores of Churches. Finally, in 1968, at the age of sixteen, I received my "Exhorters Permit."
As I entered into the tenth grade, I formed another trio, and sang and played piano with them. We were invited to sing in several Churches, and in most cases, I also preached. The Evangel Trio consisted of me, another guy and a girl from our local Church. We sang, and I preached in many of the nearby Churches at first.
Then we were invited to sing at a South Texas District Conference in Houston. Over 500 Churches were represented in that conference. Our state Youth President asked us to represent the District Youth Department in every Sectional Rally that year, promoting Summer Youth Camps. From there, our services took on the nature of youth crusades.
So at the ripe old age of fifteen, I ended up preaching and singing in the presence of hundreds of pastors in the South Texas District. The trio conducted services almost every weekend around the state for about a year and a half. We appeared on television programs on two local stations during that time, and became well-known among our peers.
One of my first big preaching opportunities came when I was 17. The trio sang, and I preached Sunday morning and Sunday night to over a thousand people at Lindale A/G in Houston, pastored by James McKeehan. It was quite an honor to be in that pulpit at 17, considering that the last revival they had there was a twelve-week revival with Jimmy Swaggart, and previous to that, the famed Jerry B. Walker.
As my Senior Year at Port Neches-Groves High School came to an end, I became heavily involved in extracurricular activities at school. I had enjoyed being in the Drama department for two years previously, and had performed in the cast of a satire called “The Pot Boiler,” and in William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," - both for Interscholastic League competition. Both years, our school won high honors in our region.
I was drafted to play the lead role in the Senior Play, a Broadway show called "Bye-Bye Birdie." I resisted the role at first, because it had several dance routines, and I told them I would not dance. When they agreed to cut the dance segments, I consented. I had the same role that Dick Van Dyke played in the movie.
For the first time in my life, I began to spend more time on worldly activities than in Church activities. The energy that came from being in the spotlight and singing with a live fifty-piece orchestra was mind-altering. Not until the production was finished, and we had performed it for the last time to a full house, did I face the reality of how I had compromised myself spiritually for popularity with a secular crowd. But soon, I graduated, and that stage of life was over.
I immediately went back to my old priorities. I prayed earnestly for God to give me direction and a course to take upon graduating from High School. The South Texas District's C.A. (Christ Ambassadors) President approached me again, and asked me to be the Assistant Camp Director for five weeks of summer youth camps - four at Camp Pearl Wheat in Kerrville, and one at Camp Victory in Silsbee. I jumped at the opportunity.
For a seventeen year-old preacher, this was a valuable leadership role among ministers and youth from hundreds of Churches. As a result of my involvement in those camps, I received invitations to minister all over the district. I quickly booked the remainder of the summer with revivals and children's crusades.
That summer, I conducted five weeks of Children’s Crusades, incorporating ventriloquism with two characters - Danny O'Day and Louie the Lip - to teach Bible lessons to the children. I made Gospel lessons out of sleight-of-hand “magic” tricks and told lots of stories using large flannelgraph illustrations. I also preached numerous revival services in A/G Churches around the district as I had done for almost four years.
I met Dixie Weiler for the first time in the summer of 1969, at Camp Victory in Silsbee. She was sixteen.
Church camp. That says a lot. Church was the central part of both of our lives. We were both key players back in our home Churches, at least among the youth. Dixie sang in the Church Choir, and also sang with a girls’ trio. She was a role model to several of the other girls in Church. Camp Victory was owned by Victory Assembly of God in Beaumont, pastored by B.H. Clendennen. That was Dixie's home Church, and he was her Pastor.
Dixie was a favorite camper. The year before, she had attended Camp Pearl Wheat and was honored as “Most Beautiful” girl. That honor rewarded her with free tuition to the camp of her choice this summer. She won that title, “Most Beautiful” again this summer at Camp Victory. Everybody loved Dixie. She loved God deeply, prayed earnestly, read her Bible, and loved to sing and worship God. She was a model young woman.
Dixie grew up in Church at Sabine Tabernacle in Beaumont, a large "Full-Gospel" Church pastored by Harry Hodge. Brother Hodge had been on a local television station for many years, and had a huge following. He also presided over a fellowship of about twenty-eight "Full-Gospel" Churches in East Texas and Louisiana.
Dixie’s mother and grandmother were very faithful to that Church, and always helped with the annual “Convention” that attracted over a thousand people each year. They worked in the Church kitchen feeding the crowds that stayed in the dorms there for several days. When Harry Hodge died, Dixie’s family eventually migrated to Pastor Clendennen’s Church, Victory Assembly of God.
I think Dixie was the brightest light at Camp Victory. She was the center of attention in whatever she was doing. She had the brightest smile and contagious laughter. She always looked picture-perfect - impeccably groomed. Her clothes and shoes were always attractive; her hair was always perfectly styled, and never a hair out of place. She loved interacting with people and playing innocent pranks that would get a laugh. But after Youth Camp was over, I did not see Dixie again for two years. Little did I know that she would become my wife some day.
That fall, at my parents' urging, I attended Lamar College in Beaumont. My S.A.T. exams had shown that math was my strongest aptitude. I was definitely interested in the new field of computers, so I enrolled in 21 hours of computer programming-related subjects, learning to write programs in FORTRAN and COBOL, and training on all the current IBM Data Processing equipment, including a 1401 mainframe. The career track there was to become a Systems Analyst. It would have been a very lucrative career, had I stayed with it. I was elected the President of the Lamar Data Processing Society. As such, I was one of the first people in Texas to be introduced to the IBM System 3 Computer, the first of the third-generation computers. My future in computers looked interesting and bright. I received a personal guided tour of Exxon's Houston Data Processing Center and their IBM 360 mainframe.
During those college days, while hanging out at the Chi Alpha center, (the Assemblies of God student organization) at Lamar Assembly of God Church, the Pastor invited me to come to work at the Church as his Assistant, and as teacher of the Adult Bible Class, Church Organist and Choir Director. It was a Church of about 125 to 150 members, and that was my first paid staff position ever.
By the end of that semester, however, I was unhappy with my decision to pursue a career in computers. I felt certain that my call to the ministry should take precedence over my interest in computer programming, so I fasted and prayed about it and asked God to show me what to do.
During a Wednesday night service, while I was sitting at the organ, someone gave a message in tongues, and the Pastor interpreted the message. These forty years later, I do not remember the exact message, but I know that I believed that message was my confirmation that I should fully pursue the ministry. In that service, I came to the conclusion that I should leave Lamar and enroll in Bible College.
I left Church that night and drove immediately to Port Arthur where Daddy and Mother were still in service at their Church. I walked into the auditorium as their service was ending, and sat down on the pew with them. I told them that I had received an answer from the Lord, and that I had decided to leave Lamar and go to Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. It was Christmas time, 1969, and enrollment at the Bible College began the very next week. My folks asked, "When do you plan to go?" I said, "Immediately."
The next day, I informed the Dean of the Computer Department at Lamar that I intended to leave and attend Bible College. He was very upset. He and I had worked very closely together, and I was his star student. He believed I had big potential in computers. He tried to persuade me to stay. He said, "If you will stay for another year, I will PERSONALLY pay for it!" But I could not be persuaded.
I called my old Pastor from Groves who was then pastoring in Farmers Branch in the Dallas area. I told him that I would be passing through Dallas on the way to Springfield and would like to stop by and visit him. He invited me to preach in his Church that Sunday morning and Sunday night, so that is what I did. The following day, I arrived in Springfield, and enrolled for classes at Central Bible College.
I was immediately inducted into the radio Choir for REVIVALTIME, the international radio broadcast for the Assemblies of God. On the REVIVALTIME set, I met and listened to C.M. Ward, one of the most widely-known preachers of the day. He preached every broadcast on Sunday nights in the radio auditorium at the International Headquarters of the Assemblies of God, 1445 Boonville Ave, Springfield, Missouri. Every Sunday night, our Choir sang live on 650 stations of the ABC RADIO network, and later by tape to hundreds of other stations. I became one of the soloists in the Choir. Under the direction of Cyril McClellan, we toured that year through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska during the weeks before and after Easter.
In February, Kurt Kaiser came from Word Records to produce the annual Revivaltime Choir album in the A/G Headquarters' studio. Cyril McClellan charted a solo part into one of the songs and called on me to sing it. We did three or four takes, and I was unhappy with the way I sounded, so I asked him to scratch my solo. The record was released nationally - without the solo. The female soloist for Revivaltime, Gloria Elliot, went on to become a well-known singer around the world. She recorded numerous albums and continues to travel, performing in concerts and TV appearances. I can only wonder what might have happened differently in my life if I hadn’t declined that solo opportunity. I have learned, however, that there are no mistakes with God in control.
Meanwhile, on the campus of Central Bible College, I associated with several different crusade teams, traveling on weekends to points in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee - playing, singing and preaching. While there, at the age of eighteen, I received my General Ministerial License from the Missouri District of the Assemblies of God. I preached out nearly every weekend while at Bible College. Two men in my home Church in Springfield were interested in forming a male trio. Those were the days when “The Couriers” were especially popular, and we adapted their style of music. We formed a trio and evangelized for a while.
One day, as I walked down the hallway of my fourth-floor dormitory, I heard a song coming out of one of the dorm rooms.
I had never heard that song or that group before. I knocked on the door and asked who those singers were. It was Andre' Crouch and the Disciples. January 1970. I remember that day as well as the day John F. Kennedy was shot, or the day that Elvis died. Andre' Crouch's music not only electrified Gospel music, it radically revolutionized it overnight. "Through It All," "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," and so many others became legendary classics. From that day, I learned to play and sing just about everything Andre' ever recorded.
"I've got confidence God is gonna see me through.
No matter what the case may be,
I know He's gonna fix it for me."
Toward the end of the first semester, I began to play the piano occasionally for a girl in the Revivaltime Choir who was an outstanding singer. She had already recorded her first album, and had several singing engagements in surrounding Churches. We did several weekend meetings together. She sang, and I preached. At first it was strictly a platonic relationship, but after a while, we began to date.
During the summer months, I returned home to work in a local refinery to earn some money to take back to college. I proposed marriage to my girlfriend toward the end of the summer, and we became engaged. When I returned to Springfield, she chose not to return to college in the fall, so I decided to go to Kansas City where she lived. The A/G pastor there took me into his home, and I became something of an assistant to him.
One of my first projects there was to work on a city-wide Youth Rally featuring Nicky Cruz. David Wilkerson's book, "The Cross and the Switchblade" was a national best-seller at the time, and Nicky was one of the worst street-gang members who was converted under Wilkerson's ministry. Nicky’s story was featured in “The Cross and the Switchblade.” I had recently been an altar worker in Wilkerson's crusade in Beaumont, and had done some street evangelism among the hippies at the Teen Challenge Coffeehouse on Allen’s Landing in downtown Houston. I knew of nothing in the United States at that time to compare to the dynamics of what God was doing through David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge.
We rented the Broadway Theater in downtown Kansas City for Friday night, and packed about 800 teen-agers in. Nicky's testimony was provocative, and hundreds of kids responded to the altar call that night.
I soon formed another trio with my fiancée and a guy in the local Church. It immediately began to attract a lot of attention, because all three of us were seasoned musicians. Both of them had already recorded their own Gospel albums, and all of us had extensive backgrounds in music ministry. We added a fourth member who served as our organist. I played the piano.
The Kansas City Youth for Christ auditorium became our hangout. About 2500 teen-agers from a 100-mile radius packed the huge auditorium every weekend. They literally came in bus loads. We became the house talent in the Saturday Night Youth Rallies and performed every Saturday night. There was also a recording studio in the headquarters where we rehearsed every song for hours and hours. From there, we were invited to sing in Churches of nearly every denomination.
We sang on a Sunday morning to over a thousand at Baptist Temple. Then, we performed for a big Sunday afternoon concert at the gilded Methodist Church downtown. The huge Nazarene Church in Kansas City, Kansas insisted that we sing nothing but Bill Gaither's songs (Gaither was a Nazarene), and not surprisingly, we had several Gaither songs in our repertoire. We also performed songs by Lanny Wolfe, Dottie Rambo, and used some arrangements by the McDuff Brothers (John, Coleman and Roger), who were outstanding ministers and singers in the A/G. We traveled around the state, and the neighboring states.
A brother of one of the trio members owned an insurance company, and he became our financial backer. He loved our sound, so he purchased a complete video camera and recording system (in 1970 they were reel-to-reel and black-and-white) and began video-taping our events so we could review them and "polish" our act. Eventually, he became our manager, arranging a recording contract with a national rock-and-roll label which was opening a Gospel division. Being their first Gospel group, the musicians they hired to back us up were strictly rhythm and blues - they sounded more like Janis Joplin's band than a Gospel group, but we were enjoying the possibilities. It was quite an experience to have our songs take on a new dimension, with a full band behind us. Only two groups in the country traveled with a full band - Jake Hess and the Imperials, and Andre' Crouch and the Disciples. Everybody else simply used a piano. We cut three songs and were working on the fourth.
Our trio became well-known in that region very quickly. We did warm-ups in concerts with several of the best-known Gospel groups in those days: the Blackwood Brothers, the Statesmen, the Imperials, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Spear Family, the Downings, the Florida Boys, the Galileans, the Happy Goodman Family, Rosie Roselle and the Searchers, and a few others.
W.B. Nowlin was the legendary "Battle of Songs" (Gospel concert) promoter, and probably the biggest talent agent for Gospel artists in those days. He helped Elvis Presley get his start. Nowlin came to audition us during a Friday night concert with some of his other artists, and we were on the verge of signing a contract with him as our agent.
We were well into the production of our first album when my fiancée and I began to have serious personal conflicts. I never expected it to end in a break-up, but one day I went to pick her up, and she sent word by her mother that she did not want to see me again. She refused to even speak to me. In one sudden, unexpected, shocking moment, the wedding was off, the trio was over, and EVERYTHING came to an instant halt. I was absolutely stunned!
That VERY SAME DAY, I went home and found a letter from the Selective Service - the Draft Board - in my mailbox. It told me to report immediately for a physical exam for the Army. After leaving Bible College, I lost my draft deferment. The Viet Nam War was not yet over, and suddenly, it looked like I was going to be sent to Viet Nam. I was literally in shock as I found myself driving to Houston, Texas to face the Draft Board.
On the way to Houston, I stopped in Fort Worth because I knew that my friend Rosie Roselle was in concert with the Searchers at the Will Rogers Auditorium. For many years, Rosie was the tenor singer for the Statesmen Quartet, but he had his own group at that time. One night in a concert in Kansas City, Rosie began worshiping and speaking in tongues as they performed. I was amazed to see him worship so freely, because I had never seen any of the Gospel musicians acknowledge the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Rosie became something of a hero to me after that. So when I found myself in this crisis, I wished that I could talk to Rosie. I went to the Will Rogers Auditorium and went backstage and told him about my shocking turn of events. I was very upset about everything, and asked him to pray for me. He prayed for me and gave me some good words of encouragement.
When I got home, miraculously, my family doctor wrote a letter to the draft board describing some back trouble I had during High School. Subsequently, their physical exam showed that I had an abnormality in my lower back that disqualified me from the Army. I was never so thankful to have a health problem. Otherwise, my story may have ended in Viet Nam.
Big Decisions To Make
Rosie Roselle asked me to consider coming with him and the Searchers as their pianist, but I didn't feel like that was the right thing for me to do at the time. Just a few days later, Rusty Goodman learned that I was available and called and asked me to audition for the Happy Goodman family. They were contemplating some changes and wanted to know if I was available to travel with them. They were scheduled to do a concert in Beaumont, so I met them on-stage, and we did some songs together, then discussed the details of my joining them. However, I did not think, at the time, that I was ready to make a commitment to live on the road. I still had preaching on my heart.
Gospel music bid high for my soul in those days. I played the piano on various occasions for some of the best-known Gospel artists in the country: Howard and Vestal Goodman, Lulu Roman (from Hee-Haw TV show), Walt Mills, Big John Hall (formerly the bass singer with the Blackwood Brothers), and several others. But I did not want to forfeit my preaching ministry to be a professional Gospel musician.
My heart compelled me to follow the call to preach the Gospel. But the Gospel music business itself also left a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. The more I rubbed shoulders with professional Gospel musicians, the more I learned about things that I did not want to know. After a large concert one night, I was standing around outside with members of a very well-known male quartet. Inside their tour bus, I discovered that there were girls traveling with them who were not their wives. There was some pretty obvious hanky-panky going on, and my mind was blown when I realized it.
On another occasion, in Little Rock, Arkansas, I happened to see the members of another well-known Gospel quartet coming out of a local bar. They were drinking and smoking after the concert that night. Again, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that they were not the real deal.
After a while, it occurred to me that a large percentage of the Gospel music professionals RARELY attended Church! A lot of them lived on the road almost year-round. Just about the only time they attended Church was when they were performing in a Church. That meant that they almost never heard any real Gospel preaching. That was very disturbing to me, because I believe that everybody has to go to Church to hear the preaching if they intend to live a godly life. The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing the word of God..." and "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together..."
Nevertheless, the lure of being a professional Gospel musician was a strong one. Certainly, not all the musicians were phony. Many were very sincere people. At last, it was a really BIG choice that I had to make to stay the course to be a preacher. Nobody knows how big (except God). I came very close to being a career musician.
The Voice Of Victory
I was 19 when I returned to Beaumont in May of 1971. With the threat of Viet Nam now passed, I looked for a Church to call home. I knew of Pastor Clendennen, and had seen him preach on local television over the years, so I decided to visit Victory Assembly of God - a congregation of about 500-600 at that time.
I visited on a Sunday night, and sat in the congregation. At the end of the service, an old friend, Chester Bethel, introduced me to Pastor Clendennen, and told him about my singing, music and preaching ministries. (I had traveled briefly with his family singing group years earlier.)
Pastor Clendennen was gearing up to take his television ministry nationwide. He told me that he needed to hire someone at the Church to travel with him in television crusades and to help in the local ministry. I accepted the offer on the spot, and went to work for him the next day. I became his Crusade Pianist and Singer, flying from coast to coast to auditoriums, civic centers and Churches in 1-3 night crusades in places like Spokane, Albuquerque, St Louis, Philadelphia, Rochester, New Orleans and many others.
At home, I became the teacher of the College and Career Class, the Choir Director, the Church Pianist, and occasionally filled the pulpit for the Pastor. Shortly, I inherited the job of Editor and Publisher of his monthly 16-page "Streams of Faith" magazine, and his weekly newsletters, which were sent to 12,000 households at first. His list grew quickly to 35,000 monthly, and we changed the name of the magazine and the television and radio programs to "The International Voice of Victory." Each month I edited and published a major sermon of his. I also edited his recorded messages for radio. He was on about thirty radio stations.
Many of the earlier events of that year had seemed very tragic and upsetting to me at the time, and nothing seemed to make sense. But forty years later I can see that God's hand was carefully guiding me in the direction that I needed to go. Many of the roles I played in those days prepared me for the ministry that I now have through my writing and publishing.
I view my time with Pastor Clendennen as having been divinely ordained. I felt that I was a kindred spirit to his message and ministry, and his vision for world evangelism far exceeded anything I had ever known any other Pentecostal preacher to have. In the few years I worked and traveled with him, we saw many, many people receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, and many miracles of healing, in our Crusades and Camp Meetings around the country.
I was not the same person after that. I learned in those days that one man can make a difference. One man can preach, can write, can broadcast, can crusade, and can reach the masses if he will. In the forty years since then, I watched him from afar as he circled the globe in his old age, and planted Bible schools in about 150 nations before he died.
But in those early days, in that setting in Beaumont, a model for ministry was indelibly burned into my soul. The die was cast. I would never be like most preachers. I wanted to preach the Gospel to the whole world. And I still do.
"Long Winding Road - Chapter 4 - The Apprenticeship"
"Long Winding Road - Chapter 2 - The Call"
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