July 24, 2023

75 Years of Victory

Earl’s Story:

When I was growing up, my mother was a Christian but my dad was not. Our home was happy, though, because my mom prayed.

My mom always took us to church, but I never wanted to pray. My dad went to church about twice a year. He seemed to get along all right, so I wanted to live like him. He smoked, and I followed in his footsteps and began smoking when I was about eleven years old. He also gambled occasionally, so I later gambled too. Although I was never saved as a child, I knew the Voice of God. He talked to me before I smoked my first cigarette. Whenever I did something against His will, He let me know that I should not do it.

Throughout my youth, my mother continued to pray for me. When I would come home at night, I would hear her praying. Finally I moved my bed into the basement so I could not hear her prayers. God talked to me down there, though, and I would toss and turn on my bed as I tried to sleep.

One day I was driving on the highway with a friend in my Model A car. We had some beer in the back seat and were planning to enjoy the weekend. Suddenly my car was caught between three semi-trucks, and there was no way out. To this day, I do not know how we got out of that, but we were alive, and my car was not wrecked when it was over. I heard the same Voice that day as when I was a little boy. My friend saw my anxiety, and he said, “What’s the matter with you?” I told him, “Oh, nothing,” but I knew what was wrong. God was talking to my heart.

Not long after that, at seventeen years of age, I became very sick. The doctor told me I was dying and had no chance to live. As I lay on my sickbed, I prayed a prayer that God heard. I had a pack of cigarettes in bed, but I told the Lord I would quit smoking and would go to church if He would let me live. I got well but did not keep my promise to God. I didn’t smoke for a while, but soon the desire got so strong I couldn’t resist. The next cigarette I smoked, I asked a friend to light it for me, and I shook like a leaf—afraid the Lord would strike me dead for not keeping my vow. I kept thinking, I will go to church and I will pray.

God talked to me until I could not stand it, and I decided to quit smoking. One Saturday night, I went to a theater and purposely left my cigarettes in the car. Halfway through the movie, though, I went out and hunted through an ashtray, looking for a cigarette. I was bound by the habit.

When you make a promise to God, it will follow you wherever you go. I am thankful God held me to the promise I had made. The next morning, my best friend and I attended church. At the end of the service, I turned to him and said, “I don’t know what you are going to do, but I am going to pray.” I stepped into the aisle, and he followed. We did not get saved that morning, but we made a good start. My misery increased throughout the rest of the day. I knew I had to do something.

That evening, we went back to church and prayed. I believe I was able to pray because my mom had prayed for me. Those prayers made a way for God to talk to me when no one else could. I repented that night, and the Lord saved me. What a change! I did not need to put the cigarettes away and merely hope I could quit. To my surprise, God took out the desire for smoking and for all other sins. I should have expected that; Mom had always told me of the power of salvation, and I had heard victorious testimonies in church. For some reason, though, it had gone over my head until I experienced it myself. The Lord gave me new desires, and from the moment I began to serve Him, I wanted to stick with it.

The Voice of God was still with me, but it spoke in a different way. God guided and led me. Once someone near me lit up a cigarette. As that smoke went by, the devil said, “Ah, wouldn’t that taste good?” Then the Voice of God reminded me, “But that craving is gone.” He showed me the difference between temptation and sin.

Later the Lord sanctified me, and the devil said, “You are not really sanctified,” even though I had a wonderful feeling in my soul. The next day, I went to work and was building a scaffold. A big double-hung window was on the scaffold, and I had one hand on it while I hammered with the other. Suddenly, the window came down and smashed my finger. I did not get mad; I did not throw things. The Lord said, “See? You are sanctified.” He continued to lead me to a closer walk with Him as He helped me seek and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That Voice still directs me today.

When I was in high school, warts developed on my hands and started to go up my arms. They were so big that I would hide my hands. After I was saved, one of the church brothers noticed and said to me, “You know Earl, in the Bible it says if two agree touching anything, it shall be done. You want to get rid of those warts?” I said, “Sure.” We agreed to pray about them. In a few weeks, I drew a basin of water, took a washcloth, and started to wash my hands and arms. Every wart was gone! That was seventy-five years ago, and they are still gone.

A beautiful young woman was saved the same day as I was. I didn’t know her, and she didn’t know me, but we became acquainted. About two years after we were saved, on Valentine’s Day I bought a dozen roses and asked her to marry me. We established our home on God, and He was the center of our family. God has taken care of us and been with us in the hard times as well as the good times. For example, when I broke my back and we had no money, the people of God came by. They brought us milk, potatoes, meat, many items. We never missed a meal.

One of the miracles when God saved me was that He put a desire in my heart to be in church. That desire has never worn out. After seventy-five years, I still love to be in God’s house. If I had known the thrill and satisfaction of the Gospel as a young boy, I am sure I would have chosen to turn to God sooner. It is good to serve the Lord.


Sylvia’s Story:

What a joy it is to know that Jesus loves me! Throughout my life, I’ve had opportunities to prove His love over and over again.

I grew up in a large family of seven girls and four boys. Before my birth, my parents had come to Dallas, Oregon, from Canada. There they learned about the Gospel and were saved. Our family did not have a lot of earthly goods, but we had God in our home. We lived on a farm and there were many chores to tend to, but my parents were not too busy to teach us children the Word of God. We all knew what was right and what was wrong. We knew that if the Lord came, we would have to be ready if we wanted to spend eternity with Him.

It was a beautiful feeling to know that my parents could get in touch with God; I felt safe. I can remember walking into the house and finding my mother there on her knees. I knew she was praying for her family; with eleven children, there was a lot to pray about!

As a child I loved God, but when I was twelve years old, we moved from the farm to Portland, Oregon, and the world began to seem bright and attractive to me. There was rebellion and stubbornness in my heart and it was difficult for me to tell the truth. I figured that the Christian life was fine for my folks, but I thought it would be the end of all my fun if I yielded my life to God. While I certainly didn’t want to go to Hell, I felt like I was missing something out there in the world.

After a while, I found myself not liking church at all. I began to think, When I am eighteen, I’m going to leave. Mom and Dad are just too strict. My plan was to enjoy myself while I was young, and when I was old and ready to die, I would pray and get saved. God had other plans for me though, and I am so grateful for His mercy. He talked to my heart constantly, though I rejected Him many times. My heart was full of condemnation, and deep inside I was troubled about the sins that were in my life.

On the night of March 21, 1948, when I was fifteen years old, I was sitting in church with my older sister and her husband. They were newlyweds but they were already having trouble in their marriage and were talking about divorce. Their sadness broke my heart. As the minister preached that night, I could feel the Spirit of God calling. I did not really understand what was happening, but He was softening my resistance.

When the church service was over, a minister came and spoke to the three of us, asking if we would like to pray. My sister and brother-in-law said yes, and I was glad to go down to the altar of prayer too. There I knelt and poured out my heart, telling the Lord how sorry I was for the wrong things I had done, for my rebellion and disobedience, and for the lies I had told. I said, “If You will put something real in my life—something that I know about—I will serve You the rest of my life.” When I meant those words with everything in me, the most wonderful thing happened: Jesus came into my heart! What a change He made! I felt like I was brand new. In fact, I was brand new; my very nature was transformed. In a moment of time, the rebellion and lying tongue were gone. God gave me joy and a deep inward peace settled over my heart. I literally felt like I could float out of the church that night, I was so happy.

At school the next day, I went to the vice principal’s office and told her I needed to talk to her. One time while selling candy bars for our club at school, I decided I deserved a candy bar for my efforts and took one without paying for it. No one knew, but God saw it. That morning I confessed to the vice-principal what I had done and paid for the candy bar. When I left the room, I broke down and cried, and waves of glory flooded my heart. I felt so good! No one could have made me do that, but God put it in my heart to make the restitution.

Of course, when you are just fifteen, you have no idea what the rest of your life will bring. That was just the beginning of a wonderful, fulfilling walk with God. Through the years I have proved that God is always the same and always there. He has kept me with peace in my heart in the good times and the hard times. I am so thankful for His blessings.

The same night I prayed, a young man prayed through to salvation as well. While we were not well acquainted, I knew of him and figured he needed to be saved for sure. The Lord had a plan! I had no interest in that young man at the time, but the Lord brought him to me a couple years later, and he has been a wonderful husband. We have been married for over seventy years now, and we have enjoyed a beautiful life together.

While there have been many mountain-top experiences, of course there have been some hard places along the way as well. I remember when our children were young that I went through a time of feeling lonely. I was home a lot with four small children and began to feel sorry for myself. One day as I was weeping and praying, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “I can be your Friend.” I realized I had not taken advantage of the fellowship that Jesus offered. Through that, I was able to draw closer to Him, and I learned that Jesus truly is my very best Friend.

During a church service at camp meeting one year, I was singing the song “If Jesus Goes with Me, I’ll Go Anywhere.” As I sang those words, tears suddenly came to my eyes. I thought, Lord, what is going on? Why am I crying? I did not realize it, but the Lord was calling me into a closer walk with Him. As I prayed, He put something in my soul that just wanted to line up to everything He required. He put a desire in my heart to be more than just “in the Gospel.” There was a longing to really serve Him.

Though I did not understand what was happening, God knew what He was doing: He was getting me ready for a future assignment. Shortly after that, the Lord called my husband to be a minister, and later he became a pastor. It seems almost unbelievable, but the Lord took the kind of person I was and made me into a pastor’s wife. It is nothing in myself but only what God has done.

My husband and I were able to raise our four children in the Gospel, and what a wonderful privilege it has been to pray with them and for them through the years. Now we pray for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well.

How good God has been to me! He has been a perfect Friend. It is wonderful to have an anchor in Jesus, and truly I love Him with all my heart.

apostolic faith magazine