E.M. Clark’s Book

E.M. Clark’s Book

How to be Happy Giving Your Money AwayThe least favorite responsibility of most ministers and other church leaders is fundraising, but cheerful giving often leads to an outpouring of God’s blessings. How the congregation can share in those blessings and also enrich the church’s capacity for building the Kingdom of God is answered in Dr. E. M. Clark’s book, How to Be Happy Giving Your Money Away. Dr. Clark’s book is biblically based and full of proven practical advice.

As pastor, head of a national Christian radio broadcast, district superintendent and college president, Dr. E.M. Clark presided over the raising of millions of dollars to build churches, schools, and carry on a variety of Christian ministries.How to Be Happy Giving Your Money Away sets forth the principles that guided him in his special ministry of fundraising that empowered organizations to raise funds necessary to the realization of their goals. Dr. Clark’s book can be yours for only $9.95. Buy book here. For bulk pricing if you wish to give one to each family, please contact us.

hs-how-to-be-happy-01About the Author

E. M. Clark spent a lifetime of ministry in the Assemblies of God. He served as a church pastor, director of Revivaltime (the international radio ministry of the Assemblies of God), district superintendent of the Illinois District, and president of North Central Bible College. He has authored four books.


Sample: Chapter 1 – Making the Right Decision

A young man in his late teens left Oklahoma and journeyed to California, the land of gold and sunshine, to seek his fortune. Once there, he prospered in everything he did and finally became a highly successful businessman.

Some years later his younger brother back home called and told him that their father had passed away. The California businessman replied that he was in the middle of the biggest business deal of his lifetime and couldn’t possibly leave to attend the funeral. But, he said, “You bury Dad in style and send me the bill. I will be glad to pay it.”

Sometime later he got a bill for the funeral. It was far more than he expected, but since he had promised to pay it, he did.

The next month he got a bill for $48.50. He was surprised and wondered what it was for, but he paid it. The next month he got another bill for $48.50.

Finally, he called his brother and said, “I got the bill for the funeral. I hadn’t realized that a funeral could cost so much but since I couldn’t be there, I was glad to pay it. But I have been getting billed for $48.50 a month. I am at a loss to know what in the world this is for.”

His brother explained, “Well, you said to bury Dad in style, so we rented a tuxedo.”

You see, it takes money to go – especially if you go in style.

And the world is going in style today. Every business that is of any importance today has the most modern buildings, the latest equipment, the best personnel, and adequate room for parking.

If God has called you, there is always a way to get the job done.

Larger and more luxurious shopping malls are replacing older ones that are outdated for the age in which we live.

It’s a fact: If you want to keep growing, you have to keep paying to keep up with the times.

This is as true in the church world as it is in any other business. If the buildings aren’t adequate, modern and attractive, with well-staffed capable people, it goes the way of other businesses that do not keep up with the times.

National polls tell us that after a church grows to 85 percent of its occupancy space, it is impossible to hold the growth at that level. It will surge up for a time and then stall like an overloaded airplane. Then the growth cycle has to be repeated again. One of the cardinal rules for church growth is adequate room.

In a recent poll of 10,000 churches, 90 percent said they could not enlarge because of lack of finances. As a result, they had decided to limit their work in their community to the size of the facilities they were presently occupying.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Making the decision to build is always difficult and demands serious scrutiny. Even Jesus said we should count the cost before we start to build. (See Luke 14:28-30.)

On the other hand, sometimes we make the mistake of trying to solve all the problems before making a decision. This, too, is difficult, if not impossible to do.

If you make the right decision, you can always solve the problems arising from having made that decision – no matter how many obstacles you face.

There will always be a risk factor involved in any decision we make. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.

In fact, you will never know just what you can do until you face a situation where you just have to do it.

This idea is illustrated by the story of an old Texas rancher who had a “coming out” party for his sixteen-year-old daughter on her birthday. He had the biggest barbecue, the largest band, and the best entertainment – a party to end all “coming out” parties.

When everyone had been wined and dined and entertained to the very ultimate, he said, “Now I want to show you something you will never see on another ranch in Texas.” He led the party-goers out back of the barns to a well-lighted area where there was a giant swimming pool full of alligators.

If you make the right decision, you can always solve the problems arising from having made that decision.

He said, “For seven years I have had a standing offer of $100,000 to anyone who can swim across that pool. It has never been claimed.”

Just then there was a splash, and a young man started swimming frantically, over one alligator and under another. With their huge jaws snapping all around him, he swam, miraculously escaping every one of them. As he finally reached the other side and pulled himself out of the pool, two big jaws just grazed his feet.

The old Texas rancher was waiting there to help him out of the water. He was so excited he said, “Man, I never saw such swimming in my entire life. You’ve earned the $100,000. You can have it in cash, in cattle, in stocks, in bonds – anything you want. You have earned it. Tell me, how do you want it?”

The young man could hardly get his breath, but when he could, he ignored the rancher’s question and asked, “All I want to know is – who pushed me?”

During my life, I have been pushed a few times and had to make the most of the situation. Most ventures in life are risky, however, and it is still best to get our orders directly from headquarters before making the plunge.

Before I get involved in any kind of ministry or fundraising effort, I make sure it is one to which God has called me. In fact, I have made it a rule never to go anywhere to serve the Lord or to raise money unless I am sure God has called me there. I do not believe God would call me somewhere to do a work for Him and then not help me to do what He had called me to do.

Here are my rules for successful living:

1. Be sure God has called me.

2. Find out what He wants me to do in that place.

3. Find out when He wants me to start.

Once these three items are settled, I know if I carefully and prayerfully seek to follow God’s leading, He will help me accomplish what He has called me to do.

These three principles have kept me from making a lot of mistakes and from biting off more than I could chew. It’s a good thing because everything God has called me to do has demanded that I raise money.

I have always heard that success in life is largely made up of making right decisions. Looking back over my own life, I have had to make many major decisions. I know I would probably have made the wrong choice in many instances if God had not directed me.

One situation in particular stands out in my mind.

DECISIONS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

In 1933, I was spending the summer with C. E. Thurmond, who was the pastor of the church in Watertown, South Dakota. Although I had only been a Christian for 18 months, I had definitely felt the call of God to preach the gospel.

During that summer, Pastor Thurmond and I traveled to Lake Geneva Camp in Minnesota and met A. A. Anderson there. This evangelist told us about a meeting he had conducted in Moran, Michigan, out of which a group of believers had come together. He needed someone to go there and build a work.

Pastor Thurmond said to me, “You want to preach. Here’s your chance. This is an opening. If you want to get into the ministry, go for it.”

At the time, I had been traveling with a musical group and teaching school. I didn’t want to go. I knew very little about starting or pastoring a church. It was so far away. In fact, there was no Assemblies of God church in that district within 200 miles.

Without praying about it, I told the Lord I didn’t have the money to make the trip.

A check came in the mail.

I still didn’t ask God what He wanted me to do; I just decided not to go.

The Lord spoke to me anyway.

I had a dream in which God made it clear He wanted me in Moran.

What else could I do?

I packed my bags and went to Moran, Michigan.

During the two and one half years I pastored in Moran, I gained a knowledge of God’s Word I had never known before and started a self-supporting church. It was the most valuable experience of my life up to that time, and the Lord taught me not to make hasty decisions about any opportunity presented to me.

Success in life is largely made up of making right decisions.

After I left Moran, I felt the Lord leading me to preach “revival meetings.” I decided that I would not ask for meetings but wait for pastors to ask me. That method worked.

In my two and one half years as a traveling evangelist, I never lacked for invitations and always had meetings booked ahead.

In spite of the lesson learned at Moran, I still almost missed the most important meeting of my life. A pastor by the name of Greyell of the Bible Standard church at Dunning, Nebraska, asked me to come for a meeting. I was reluctant. It was a small town and a little church, and it was not of our denomination. Every road block I put in the way of my going there, God removed. I finally had to go.

The first night of the meetings in Dunning, we started with a small crowd of about a half dozen people. Some of the church leaders had received a revelation that God was through with Dunning, and there would never be a revival there again.

I found that hard to believe, and the next day, I delivered flyers to every business place in town – even the bars. Then I went from door to door inviting the people of the town to our meetings.

On the fourth Sunday night, the church was completely filled. People began finding God. Some had unusual visions. Many were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Having outgrown the church, we moved the services to a large tent located midway from five towns. The tent revival continued for 13 weeks, and hundreds of people experienced the power of God manifested in ways I myself had never seen. People were saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit.

It was during those meetings that I met my life partner, Estella – the greatest earthly blessing that has ever come to me. And to think I almost missed her.

DON’T MAKE HASTY DECISIONS

After we married and were settled for a time, Estella and I decided to leave Ord, Nebraska, where we had been pastoring, and go into evangelistic work. We already had about 18 months of meetings lined up.

In the meantime, the district superintendent of our denomination had recommended us as pastors to the Assemblies of God Church at South Sioux City.

When a lady from the church called and asked us to come and preach over a Sunday as candidates for the pastorate, I told her that we had previous engagements. We finally agreed on a date for three weeks later.

Excitement generates interest.

When we arrived in South Sioux City late on a Saturday evening, the lady we were to contact told us, “Another man has recently been here to preach. He was out of a job, and most of the church people have already decided on him. But some people thought we should try out several pastors.”

I felt like turning right around and going back home. I hadn’t asked for the church. They had asked me.

When we got to the deacon’s house where we were to stay for the night, Estella and I were given a very cold reception. I did not sleep a wink and had to force myself to stay in that house until the next morning.

I remembered what I learned at Moran, Michigan: Don’t make hasty decisions. All night God kept reminding me, “Don’t make hasty decisions. Stay and see what happens.”

With an open mind, I decided to make the best of a tense situation. To my amazement, when I walked into that church the next morning, I felt like I had been there all my life.

I began my message by telling the congregation, “You don’t know if you would want us as pastors. We don’t know if we want you as a congregation. Let’s forget about all that and just enjoy the day.”

Both the morning and evening services were filled with the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t remember when I had been in services more exciting. Estella and I were blessed to be a part of them.

After the evening service, the church board asked, “If you are voted in, will you become our pastor?”

I said, “After all that has happened here I feel if the people want us, it would have to be God’s will.”

The church voted the following Tuesday and later told us we received more votes than any pastor who had ever been there.

LEARNING THE ROPES

During our four years of steady growth and revival at South Sioux City, God began to challenge me in a new and different way.

We were able to get our radio program on the Yankton station. At that time, WNAX had the tallest antenna in North America, reaching out to nine states and three provinces in Canada. “Air time was quite expensive.

Our church, however, wasn’t interested in sponsoring a program on the station, so our family underwrote it. The station trusted us implicitly – as long as we paid cash in advance.

One Sunday I was depending on the morning offering to help us pay for that week’s program. It was the policy in that church to pay the pastor’s salary from the offerings received.

The blessing of God moved in the service from the very beginning, and there was no appropriate time for an offering. I felt I could not interrupt what God was doing among the people.

That night the Baccalaureate ceremony was being held at our local high school, so we had canceled the evening service.

I wondered what I would do. I had always had the money for the station up to this time. Since there had been no Sunday offerings, I had received no money for the week.

Obeying God is the beginning of a miracle.

I went by the post office on my way home to find two letters in the mail box. Usually, an envelope might contain a dollar or two. I opened them there in the post office. One had a money order for $70. This would pay the radio bill. The other had a check for $10.

I immediately thought of that old song, “God Is Still Mindful Of Me Each Hour.”

That experience taught me about God and His faithfulness. I was beginning to learn to trust Him financially in a different way.

During this time, the church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, asked me to come and “try out” for the pastorate. I was hesitant, but the district superintendent of our denomination urged me to consider their offer.

He did give this word of caution, however: “It would be best for you to refrain from getting too interested in raising money to build a new church,” he admonished. “Ministers in the past who have let this happen to them have regularly been voted out of the church.”

Our family traveled to Scottsbluff where I was to preach on Sunday. When we arrived, I couldn’t help but notice that the old church building was tied together with steel rods at the roof level. “All through my sermon, I kept looking over my head expecting the swaying roof to collapse with the slightest gust of wind.

In spite of the fact that the restrooms were under the floor in a small space just big enough to contain them, the people seemed very satisfied with the building. It was evident they did not want anything changed.

After I got back home, I phoned the church’s search committee and told them we didn’t feel led to accept the pastorate.

I thought that would be the end of it, but the church got back in touch with us and wanted us to reconsider.

I told them I would pray about it, and when I did, God let me know I was to go there even though it was a smaller church, paid less salary, and the people didn’t want to build.

RULES THAT RESULT IN BLESSING

After six months of pastoring in Scottsbluff, I came to the conclusion that I was wasting my time, God’s time, and the people’s time. That church would never grow without new facilities.

On the first Monday night in February, 1946, I brought up the idea of a new building at the church board meeting. To say they were stunned would be an understatement. When they finally recovered from my suggestion, I still couldn’t see a friendly face in the group.

The meeting lasted until after midnight. Usually nothing good happens in a board meeting after midnight, but they finally agreed that if I could raise $3,000 they would bring it before the congregation for a vote.

I felt an urge to say, “My wife and I will give $500,” but I didn’t. My first reaction was: Surely that can’t be God. He knows I only get about $27 a week. I couldn’t even borrow that amount of money.

But again I felt the impression, only stronger this time. I knew it was God speaking to me, and I immediately spoke up and said, “My wife and I will give $500.”

When I simply said what God told me to say, the walls began to crumble and the victory started.

At that time, I didn’t know that I had just fulfilled two of the cardinal rules of fundraising – both of which required God’s intervention in order to succeed:

First, I did what God impressed me to do.

Second, I expressed it publicly.

In a matter of one week, the people had pledged $3,000.

Within three months, my wife and I were able to pay our pledge of $500 – the highest pledge anyone made. I still don’t know just how we did it; somehow it seemed easy.

Although all I had to go on was the voice of God, I have learned that He never asks us to do anything impossible.

While at Scottsbluff, I had become a close friend to a local contractor who was a Christian. He told me he would oversee the building of the church and donate his time. In addition, he offered to charge us only when his men worked. The men in the church volunteered their time, and I also worked steadily on the building. It was a great education.

By the fall of 1946, we had a new brick church to dedicate.

Obedience to God always brings great blessing.

I have never forgotten the power that comes when one person obeys God and leads in giving. In this particular instance in Scottsbluff, a number of things happened as a result:

1. We had a beautiful new brick church – the first one in the valley after the war.

2. God sent a revival that more than doubled the church in less than a year after moving into it.

3. We had the largest Sunday School in the state in our denomination that year.

4. We had the first missionary convention in our denomination ever held in the state of Nebraska as far as I could learn.

5. We paid off the church debt in three years.

Obedience moved us to a new plateau spiritually, and we were never the same after that revival. Unusual healings were the order of the day, and our membership grew and grew. Whole families came into the church, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit – and most of them tithed. In fact, some of the men who were saved during that revival are prominent ministers today.

God also blessed our family financially in a way He never had before. We were able to purchase our first new car and have been able to drive new cars ever since.

LEAVING IN THE BLACK

After we had been at Scottsbluff about five years, we got a letter from Wilfred Brown, the General Treasurer of our denomination asking me to consider taking the job of director of the National Radio Department.

I had no interest in a job like that. Besides, I didn’t know enough about radio to oversee a work of that size, so I didn’t even answer the letter.

A year later I saw Brother Brown, and he asked Estella and me to have lunch with him. He talked with us at some length about the job and asked us to consider it.

We decided to make a visit to Springfield to talk with our denominational executives. On the way home from that meeting, the Lord spoke to me so definitely that I knew this move was the will of God for us.

In the next seven years, I learned more than during any other seven years of my life. With God’s help, I had made the right decision.

God never calls us to fail but to succeed in doing what He wants done.

Diplomacy and compromise became a necessity as I learned how to work around the “big wheels” in our denomination – the General Superintendent, four “Assistant General Superintendents, plus a General Treasurer and a General Secretary – without getting my hands caught in the gears!

I also lost my fear of other preachers. That happened when I learned that they are sympathetic to whomever is preaching. As a result, preaching to preachers became my first love.

Two years after I took the job, the radio department went from cutting records and sending them out to about 50 stations to a live program on the ABC Network with C. M. Ward as full-time speaker. This was a life-changing experience for me and required the raising of extensive amounts of money on an on-going basis.

First of all, we needed money to pay a full-time speaker and the cost of air time for nearly 400 stations. Fortunately, I had learned about “direct mail” from my experiences at WNAX, the station in Yankton, South Dakota.

At “Revivaltime” I wrote all the promotional letters and built up the mailing list to 50,000, which became our best source of income.

A development director was never hired, so I did the fundraising work as well, traveling all over the nation preaching in churches, touring districts, preaching camp meetings, and promoting “Revivaltime.” I discovered that if I gave first in the offering and told my audience what I had given, the offerings were always larger.

In order to sustain a consistent income for the ministry, I talked with the pastors and board members of the churches I visited and encouraged them to become monthly supporters. As an incentive, we offered a “Revivaltime” sign that could be placed in front of each church participating in regular giving to the radio work.

When Estella and I left in 1958 to pastor Bethel Church in Quincy, Illinois, the Radio Department was running well in the black.

I am sure God called us to the “Revivaltime” ministry. He never calls us to fail but to succeed in doing what He wants done.

You will never know just what you can do until you face a situation where you just have to do it.

A young man in his late teens left Oklahoma and journeyed to California, the land of gold and sunshine, to seek his fortune. Once there, he prospered in everything he did and finally became a highly successful businessman.

Some years later his younger brother back home called and told him that their father had passed away. The California businessman replied that he was in the middle of the biggest business deal of his lifetime and couldn’t possibly leave to attend the funeral. But, he said, “You bury Dad in style and send me the bill. I will be glad to pay it.”

Sometime later he got a bill for the funeral. It was far more than he expected, but since he had promised to pay it, he did.

The next month he got a bill for $48.50. He was surprised and wondered what it was for, but he paid it. The next month he got another bill for $48.50.

Finally, he called his brother and said, “I got the bill for the funeral. I hadn’t realized that a funeral could cost so much but since I couldn’t be there, I was glad to pay it. But I have been getting billed for $48.50 a month. I am at a loss to know what in the world this is for.”

His brother explained, “Well, you said to bury Dad in style, so we rented a tuxedo.”

You see, it takes money to go – especially if you go in style.

And the world is going in style today. Every business that is of any importance today has the most modern buildings, the latest equipment, the best personnel, and adequate room for parking.

If God has called you, there is always a way to get the job done.

Larger and more luxurious shopping malls are replacing older ones that are outdated for the age in which we live.

It’s a fact: If you want to keep growing, you have to keep paying to keep up with the times.

This is as true in the church world as it is in any other business. If the buildings aren’t adequate, modern and attractive, with well-staffed capable people, it goes the way of other businesses that do not keep up with the times.

National polls tell us that after a church grows to 85 percent of its occupancy space, it is impossible to hold the growth at that level. It will surge up for a time and then stall like an overloaded airplane. Then the growth cycle has to be repeated again. One of the cardinal rules for church growth is adequate room.

In a recent poll of 10,000 churches, 90 percent said they could not enlarge because of lack of finances. As a result, they had decided to limit their work in their community to the size of the facilities they were presently occupying.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Making the decision to build is always difficult and demands serious scrutiny. Even Jesus said we should count the cost before we start to build. (See Luke 14:28-30.)

On the other hand, sometimes we make the mistake of trying to solve all the problems before making a decision. This, too, is difficult, if not impossible to do.

If you make the right decision, you can always solve the problems arising from having made that decision – no matter how many obstacles you face.

There will always be a risk factor involved in any decision we make. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.

In fact, you will never know just what you can do until you face a situation where you just have to do it.

This idea is illustrated by the story of an old Texas rancher who had a “coming out” party for his sixteen-year-old daughter on her birthday. He had the biggest barbecue, the largest band, and the best entertainment – a party to end all “coming out” parties.

When everyone had been wined and dined and entertained to the very ultimate, he said, “Now I want to show you something you will never see on another ranch in Texas.” He led the party-goers out back of the barns to a well-lighted area where there was a giant swimming pool full of alligators.

If you make the right decision, you can always solve the problems arising from having made that decision.

He said, “For seven years I have had a standing offer of $100,000 to anyone who can swim across that pool. It has never been claimed.”

Just then there was a splash, and a young man started swimming frantically, over one alligator and under another. With their huge jaws snapping all around him, he swam, miraculously escaping every one of them. As he finally reached the other side and pulled himself out of the pool, two big jaws just grazed his feet.

The old Texas rancher was waiting there to help him out of the water. He was so excited he said, “Man, I never saw such swimming in my entire life. You’ve earned the $100,000. You can have it in cash, in cattle, in stocks, in bonds – anything you want. You have earned it. Tell me, how do you want it?”

The young man could hardly get his breath, but when he could, he ignored the rancher’s question and asked, “All I want to know is – who pushed me?”

During my life, I have been pushed a few times and had to make the most of the situation. Most ventures in life are risky, however, and it is still best to get our orders directly from headquarters before making the plunge.

Before I get involved in any kind of ministry or fundraising effort, I make sure it is one to which God has called me. In fact, I have made it a rule never to go anywhere to serve the Lord or to raise money unless I am sure God has called me there. I do not believe God would call me somewhere to do a work for Him and then not help me to do what He had called me to do.

Here are my rules for successful living:

1. Be sure God has called me.

2. Find out what He wants me to do in that place.

3. Find out when He wants me to start.

Once these three items are settled, I know if I carefully and prayerfully seek to follow God’s leading, He will help me accomplish what He has called me to do.

These three principles have kept me from making a lot of mistakes and from biting off more than I could chew. It’s a good thing because everything God has called me to do has demanded that I raise money.

I have always heard that success in life is largely made up of making right decisions. Looking back over my own life, I have had to make many major decisions. I know I would probably have made the wrong choice in many instances if God had not directed me.

One situation in particular stands out in my mind.

DECISIONS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

In 1933, I was spending the summer with C. E. Thurmond, who was the pastor of the church in Watertown, South Dakota. Although I had only been a Christian for 18 months, I had definitely felt the call of God to preach the gospel.

During that summer, Pastor Thurmond and I traveled to Lake Geneva Camp in Minnesota and met A. A. Anderson there. This evangelist told us about a meeting he had conducted in Moran, Michigan, out of which a group of believers had come together. He needed someone to go there and build a work.

Pastor Thurmond said to me, “You want to preach. Here’s your chance. This is an opening. If you want to get into the ministry, go for it.”

At the time, I had been traveling with a musical group and teaching school. I didn’t want to go. I knew very little about starting or pastoring a church. It was so far away. In fact, there was no Assemblies of God church in that district within 200 miles.

Without praying about it, I told the Lord I didn’t have the money to make the trip.

A check came in the mail.

I still didn’t ask God what He wanted me to do; I just decided not to go.

The Lord spoke to me anyway.

I had a dream in which God made it clear He wanted me in Moran.

What else could I do?

I packed my bags and went to Moran, Michigan.

During the two and one half years I pastored in Moran, I gained a knowledge of God’s Word I had never known before and started a self-supporting church. It was the most valuable experience of my life up to that time, and the Lord taught me not to make hasty decisions about any opportunity presented to me.

Success in life is largely made up of making right decisions.

After I left Moran, I felt the Lord leading me to preach “revival meetings.” I decided that I would not ask for meetings but wait for pastors to ask me. That method worked.

In my two and one half years as a traveling evangelist, I never lacked for invitations and always had meetings booked ahead.

In spite of the lesson learned at Moran, I still almost missed the most important meeting of my life. A pastor by the name of Greyell of the Bible Standard church at Dunning, Nebraska, asked me to come for a meeting. I was reluctant. It was a small town and a little church, and it was not of our denomination. Every road block I put in the way of my going there, God removed. I finally had to go.

The first night of the meetings in Dunning, we started with a small crowd of about a half dozen people. Some of the church leaders had received a revelation that God was through with Dunning, and there would never be a revival there again.

I found that hard to believe, and the next day, I delivered flyers to every business place in town – even the bars. Then I went from door to door inviting the people of the town to our meetings.

On the fourth Sunday night, the church was completely filled. People began finding God. Some had unusual visions. Many were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Having outgrown the church, we moved the services to a large tent located midway from five towns. The tent revival continued for 13 weeks, and hundreds of people experienced the power of God manifested in ways I myself had never seen. People were saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit.

It was during those meetings that I met my life partner, Estella – the greatest earthly blessing that has ever come to me. And to think I almost missed her.

DON’T MAKE HASTY DECISIONS

After we married and were settled for a time, Estella and I decided to leave Ord, Nebraska, where we had been pastoring, and go into evangelistic work. We already had about 18 months of meetings lined up.

In the meantime, the district superintendent of our denomination had recommended us as pastors to the Assemblies of God Church at South Sioux City.

When a lady from the church called and asked us to come and preach over a Sunday as candidates for the pastorate, I told her that we had previous engagements. We finally agreed on a date for three weeks later.

Excitement generates interest.

When we arrived in South Sioux City late on a Saturday evening, the lady we were to contact told us, “Another man has recently been here to preach. He was out of a job, and most of the church people have already decided on him. But some people thought we should try out several pastors.”

I felt like turning right around and going back home. I hadn’t asked for the church. They had asked me.

When we got to the deacon’s house where we were to stay for the night, Estella and I were given a very cold reception. I did not sleep a wink and had to force myself to stay in that house until the next morning.

I remembered what I learned at Moran, Michigan: Don’t make hasty decisions. All night God kept reminding me, “Don’t make hasty decisions. Stay and see what happens.”

With an open mind, I decided to make the best of a tense situation. To my amazement, when I walked into that church the next morning, I felt like I had been there all my life.

I began my message by telling the congregation, “You don’t know if you would want us as pastors. We don’t know if we want you as a congregation. Let’s forget about all that and just enjoy the day.”

Both the morning and evening services were filled with the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t remember when I had been in services more exciting. Estella and I were blessed to be a part of them.

After the evening service, the church board asked, “If you are voted in, will you become our pastor?”

I said, “After all that has happened here I feel if the people want us, it would have to be God’s will.”

The church voted the following Tuesday and later told us we received more votes than any pastor who had ever been there.

LEARNING THE ROPES

During our four years of steady growth and revival at South Sioux City, God began to challenge me in a new and different way.

We were able to get our radio program on the Yankton station. At that time, WNAX had the tallest antenna in North America, reaching out to nine states and three provinces in Canada. “Air time was quite expensive.

Our church, however, wasn’t interested in sponsoring a program on the station, so our family underwrote it. The station trusted us implicitly – as long as we paid cash in advance.

One Sunday I was depending on the morning offering to help us pay for that week’s program. It was the policy in that church to pay the pastor’s salary from the offerings received.

The blessing of God moved in the service from the very beginning, and there was no appropriate time for an offering. I felt I could not interrupt what God was doing among the people.

That night the Baccalaureate ceremony was being held at our local high school, so we had canceled the evening service.

I wondered what I would do. I had always had the money for the station up to this time. Since there had been no Sunday offerings, I had received no money for the week.

Obeying God is the beginning of a miracle.

I went by the post office on my way home to find two letters in the mail box. Usually, an envelope might contain a dollar or two. I opened them there in the post office. One had a money order for $70. This would pay the radio bill. The other had a check for $10.

I immediately thought of that old song, “God Is Still Mindful Of Me Each Hour.”

That experience taught me about God and His faithfulness. I was beginning to learn to trust Him financially in a different way.

During this time, the church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, asked me to come and “try out” for the pastorate. I was hesitant, but the district superintendent of our denomination urged me to consider their offer.

He did give this word of caution, however: “It would be best for you to refrain from getting too interested in raising money to build a new church,” he admonished. “Ministers in the past who have let this happen to them have regularly been voted out of the church.”

Our family traveled to Scottsbluff where I was to preach on Sunday. When we arrived, I couldn’t help but notice that the old church building was tied together with steel rods at the roof level. “All through my sermon, I kept looking over my head expecting the swaying roof to collapse with the slightest gust of wind.

In spite of the fact that the restrooms were under the floor in a small space just big enough to contain them, the people seemed very satisfied with the building. It was evident they did not want anything changed.

After I got back home, I phoned the church’s search committee and told them we didn’t feel led to accept the pastorate.

I thought that would be the end of it, but the church got back in touch with us and wanted us to reconsider.

I told them I would pray about it, and when I did, God let me know I was to go there even though it was a smaller church, paid less salary, and the people didn’t want to build.

RULES THAT RESULT IN BLESSING

After six months of pastoring in Scottsbluff, I came to the conclusion that I was wasting my time, God’s time, and the people’s time. That church would never grow without new facilities.

On the first Monday night in February, 1946, I brought up the idea of a new building at the church board meeting. To say they were stunned would be an understatement. When they finally recovered from my suggestion, I still couldn’t see a friendly face in the group.

The meeting lasted until after midnight. Usually nothing good happens in a board meeting after midnight, but they finally agreed that if I could raise $3,000 they would bring it before the congregation for a vote.

I felt an urge to say, “My wife and I will give $500,” but I didn’t. My first reaction was: Surely that can’t be God. He knows I only get about $27 a week. I couldn’t even borrow that amount of money.

But again I felt the impression, only stronger this time. I knew it was God speaking to me, and I immediately spoke up and said, “My wife and I will give $500.”

When I simply said what God told me to say, the walls began to crumble and the victory started.

At that time, I didn’t know that I had just fulfilled two of the cardinal rules of fundraising – both of which required God’s intervention in order to succeed:

First, I did what God impressed me to do.

Second, I expressed it publicly.

In a matter of one week, the people had pledged $3,000.

Within three months, my wife and I were able to pay our pledge of $500 – the highest pledge anyone made. I still don’t know just how we did it; somehow it seemed easy.

Although all I had to go on was the voice of God, I have learned that He never asks us to do anything impossible.

While at Scottsbluff, I had become a close friend to a local contractor who was a Christian. He told me he would oversee the building of the church and donate his time. In addition, he offered to charge us only when his men worked. The men in the church volunteered their time, and I also worked steadily on the building. It was a great education.

By the fall of 1946, we had a new brick church to dedicate.

Obedience to God always brings great blessing.

I have never forgotten the power that comes when one person obeys God and leads in giving. In this particular instance in Scottsbluff, a number of things happened as a result:

1. We had a beautiful new brick church – the first one in the valley after the war.

2. God sent a revival that more than doubled the church in less than a year after moving into it.

3. We had the largest Sunday School in the state in our denomination that year.

4. We had the first missionary convention in our denomination ever held in the state of Nebraska as far as I could learn.

5. We paid off the church debt in three years.

Obedience moved us to a new plateau spiritually, and we were never the same after that revival. Unusual healings were the order of the day, and our membership grew and grew. Whole families came into the church, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit – and most of them tithed. In fact, some of the men who were saved during that revival are prominent ministers today.

God also blessed our family financially in a way He never had before. We were able to purchase our first new car and have been able to drive new cars ever since.

LEAVING IN THE BLACK

After we had been at Scottsbluff about five years, we got a letter from Wilfred Brown, the General Treasurer of our denomination asking me to consider taking the job of director of the National Radio Department.

I had no interest in a job like that. Besides, I didn’t know enough about radio to oversee a work of that size, so I didn’t even answer the letter.

A year later I saw Brother Brown, and he asked Estella and me to have lunch with him. He talked with us at some length about the job and asked us to consider it.

We decided to make a visit to Springfield to talk with our denominational executives. On the way home from that meeting, the Lord spoke to me so definitely that I knew this move was the will of God for us.

In the next seven years, I learned more than during any other seven years of my life. With God’s help, I had made the right decision.

God never calls us to fail but to succeed in doing what He wants done.

Diplomacy and compromise became a necessity as I learned how to work around the “big wheels” in our denomination – the General Superintendent, four “Assistant General Superintendents, plus a General Treasurer and a General Secretary – without getting my hands caught in the gears!

I also lost my fear of other preachers. That happened when I learned that they are sympathetic to whomever is preaching. As a result, preaching to preachers became my first love.

Two years after I took the job, the radio department went from cutting records and sending them out to about 50 stations to a live program on the ABC Network with C. M. Ward as full-time speaker. This was a life-changing experience for me and required the raising of extensive amounts of money on an on-going basis.

First of all, we needed money to pay a full-time speaker and the cost of air time for nearly 400 stations. Fortunately, I had learned about “direct mail” from my experiences at WNAX, the station in Yankton, South Dakota.

At “Revivaltime” I wrote all the promotional letters and built up the mailing list to 50,000, which became our best source of income.

A development director was never hired, so I did the fundraising work as well, traveling all over the nation preaching in churches, touring districts, preaching camp meetings, and promoting “Revivaltime.” I discovered that if I gave first in the offering and told my audience what I had given, the offerings were always larger.

In order to sustain a consistent income for the ministry, I talked with the pastors and board members of the churches I visited and encouraged them to become monthly supporters. As an incentive, we offered a “Revivaltime” sign that could be placed in front of each church participating in regular giving to the radio work.

When Estella and I left in 1958 to pastor Bethel Church in Quincy, Illinois, the Radio Department was running well in the black.

I am sure God called us to the “Revivaltime” ministry. He never calls us to fail but to succeed in doing what He wants done.

You will never know just what you can do until you face a situation where you just have to do it.

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