Both my mother and father had grown up with religious backgrounds, but God led them to the light of true salvation through the Apostolic Faith Church. He convicted them of their sins and saved them, so I grew up in a godly home.
My mother was a real prayer warrior. There were ten children in our family, and before each birth, she prayed and asked God to call that child to Himself. Before I came into this world on April 3, 1924, my mother had dedicated me to the Lord.
God Straightened My Foot
Mother testified that her determination to trust God for divine healing was tested when I was born with a severe clubfoot. Immediately she began to pray for me, because she knew that God had power to remedy that condition. While I was still just a tiny baby, she received a promise from God. She read in John 9 that when Jesus’ disciples asked “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” that Jesus answered and said, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” She took that as a promise, and she wanted God to get all the glory for healing me.
At that time, a doctor lived in the back of our house in Dallas, Oregon, and he told my parents that I probably would never walk if my foot was not operated on. He was so concerned that he offered to do everything he could to see to it that I had surgery while I was still a baby. However, my parents were acquainted with a family that had a child with a clubfoot. Surgery had left his foot virtually immobile, and he had to swing it out to the side when he walked. My parents wanted a better outcome for me, so they continued to pray and ask God to take care of the problem.
The ministers also prayed for me many times throughout my early years. I did begin to walk when I was nine months old, which was an indicator to my mother that the Lord was going to answer prayer. However, I walked on the side of my foot on my anklebone, with my foot turned in. I can remember many times coming into the house with my foot hurting from trying to keep up with the other children. My mother would say, “We will pray about it.” We would kneel in prayer together and the foot would quit hurting, and I would run outside again.
When I started school, some of the children made fun of me, nicknaming me “Cripp” because of my condition, and I suffered from their taunting. However, while I was still in my first year of school, God began to undertake.
In time, the doctors put a brace on my foot in an attempt to straighten it. Though I wore the brace for nearly a year, it didn't seem to change anything. Whenever it was off, I would instantly revert to walking on the side of my foot. When I started school, some of the children made fun of me, nicknaming me “Cripp” because of my condition, and I suffered from their taunting. However, while I was still in my first year of school, God began to undertake. Gradually that foot began to shift back into a normal position. By my second year in school, there were no visible signs of the abnormality I had been born with and no impairment to my running ability or anything else. The Lord had healed my foot!
When I was twelve years old, my father and I were doing a job for the same doctor who had lived in the back of our house when I was born. He asked my dad, “Where is John, the young man who had the bad foot?” My dad replied, “That is him, sitting right there.” He came over to me and took my shoe off. After examining my foot, he shook his head and said, “No, this can't be the same boy.” He just couldn't believe it, but the Lord had performed a miracle.
Other miracles took place as I grew up in that home. It was during the Great Depression, and with ten children in the family, financial problems were a reality. God sustained us, though, and took us through that difficult time. I also saw miracles of salvation—my brothers and sisters were saved and their lives were changed.
God Straightened My Heart
In spite of my Christian family’s influence, I began to move toward the world as I grew into my teen years. My friends at school began drawing me into their worldly activities, and before I realized what was happening, I was doing things they wanted me to do. The powers of Satan were strong and my inward propensity to do wrong was there, and I could not seem to help myself. How I thank God that He is able to reach a young man like that!
Many times when I was in trouble, I would pray and the Lord would get me out of the problem, but then I would go back to my old ways. However, at camp meeting the year I was sixteen, the Lord really began to deal with me, showing me that I needed to give my life completely to Him. Conviction gripped my heart like I had never felt before.
Finally I just cried from the depths of my heart, “Oh, God, I'll give You my life!” and I meant every bit of it. I wrapped up everything I had in those few words, and completely surrendered to what God wanted me to do.
One night at the close of a service, I went to pray. I could not get to the altar because there were too many people going forward, so I knelt at one of the chairs near the front and began to cry out to God. At first nothing seemed to happen in my soul. There was not the same response I had experienced when I had prayed as a young boy, so I began to really confess and forsake my sins and do everything I knew. Finally I just cried from the depths of my heart, “Oh, God, I'll give You my life!” and I meant every bit of it. I wrapped up everything I had in those few words, and completely surrendered to what God wanted me to do. At that moment, I felt the touch of God. The peace of Heaven filled my soul, and joy came into my heart. The Lord took my crooked heart and made it straight. He took away my sins and gave me peace and victory.
Salvation was so real to me, I felt as if I were walking on air when I left the tabernacle that day. I wanted to tell people what Jesus had done for me, and God helped me make right the wrong things that I had done when I was unsaved. I took back items I had stolen and paid for them, and straightened out my past as best I could.
As the camp meeting went on, I continued to seek the Lord, and He began to draw consecrations out of me, showing me what it really meant to dedicate my life to Him. During one prayer meeting, the Lord sanctified me. When I was saved, peace and joy and the love of God came in, and the witness of the Spirit was there to let me know I had been forgiven. But when God sanctified me, it just seemed like He bathed me in a flood of His divine love and glory.
At the camp meeting a year later, I was hungry for God, and one of my brothers who had been unsaved for many years came to the altar to pray. That day as I knelt and prayed and wept for him, the Lord showed me that I needed the baptism. I began to cry out to God, “Lord, what shall I do? What do You want me to do?” And He showed me souls—the value of souls, including my own brother who was kneeling just a little ways away. During that prayer meeting, the Lord not only saved my brother, but He wonderfully poured out His Spirit and baptized me with the Holy Ghost.
Walking in the Straight Way
In the years since then, God has given me a life of blessing and victory. As a young man, I worked at several places of employment. Then the pastor of our Medford, Oregon, church asked me to move there to take care of the church vehicles. During that time in Medford, I became acquainted with Dorothy Young, who later became my wife.
During World War II, I was drafted into the army. After basic training in Utah, I was stationed in Newark, New Jersey, where I became the manager of the medical detachment at the Newark Army Air Force Base. I found an abandoned barrack near the runway where I went to have prayer. It was so noisy there that no one could hear me pray. What a blessing that was!
One Saturday night our son Larry became very ill. The next morning I went to church and prayed for his healing. I told the Lord that if He would heal our child, I would talk to my pastor, Clarence Frost, about preaching.
After my discharge, Dorothy and I were married. We lived in Medford, where I had the privilege of directing the young people’s choir, playing trumpet in the orchestra, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, and participating in outreach meetings. In November of 1946, our first child was born, and in 1948, I felt the call to preach. One Saturday night our son Larry became very ill. The next morning I went to church and prayed for his healing. I told the Lord that if He would heal our child, I would talk to my pastor, Clarence Frost, about preaching. After the service, I called home to check on Larry—and he answered the phone! I asked Dorothy about him and she said he was completely well. As I turned from the phone, Brother Frost was coming down the stairs. I said, “I would like to talk to you,” and he said, “I want to talk to you too.” We had the same subject on our minds. I admitted that I felt a call to preach and the next Sunday afternoon, at a young people’s church service, I preached my first sermon.
In 1954, the leader of the Apostolic Faith work asked us to move to Chehalis, Washington, where I was privileged to serve as the youth minister and choir director, while working as a painter and sometimes as a building contractor to make a living. In 1955, our daughter Joyce was born, and in 1962, our family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, after I was asked to be the pastor of our church there. In following years, the Lord gave Dorothy and me the privilege to work together in many Apostolic Faith churches.
In 1991, while I was pastoring in Medford, Oregon, Dorothy passed away suddenly after a brief illness that we thought was simply the flu. There was a period of sorrow in my life, though I was grateful Dorothy had made the goal. In time, I married Phyllis Bolte, who was a widow. We had known each other for many years, and in fact, I had sung at her wedding to Fred Bolte! Our first home together was in Dallas, Oregon, where I assumed the pastorate. We enjoyed our stay in Dallas and have many, many wonderful memories of getting together with the saints there. Phyllis and I also served together in the work of the Lord in several other locations before I retired and we settled in Chehalis, Washington.
I feel greatly privileged to have been a part of the Apostolic Faith work for these many years. How I thank God for His hand over my life! I am looking forward to eternity with Him and my heart’s desire is to be faithful to the end.