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Chapter Ten

How to Start A Christian Daycare

Rev. Ellsworth E. McIntyre

Founder of Grace Community Schools & Early Childhood Education Pioneer

Chapter Ten

My Personal Testimony

From the previous chapters, I hope that you, as a present or future educator, are persuaded to establish your own school to achieve financial independence and security for yourself and your family. I hope you see that this is a good and proper motive. But the only motive that can be blessed of the Lord is to sincerely seek first to extend the dominion of Christ. Matt. 6:33 is crystal clear that only the one who seeks first the profit of Christ can expect profit for himself; that is, wealth gotten in the way of righteousness. Solomon, for example, prayed first for wisdom to do his calling as king of Israel, and the Lord subsequently added unto him great wealth. Likewise, we must pray first to have the Lord’s wisdom to teach correctly our students, so we may have a legitimate hope of material wealth. We are called as Christian teachers to extend the territory of Christ’s dominion into the hearts of those young who have been given to Christ by God the Father.

The gospel, however, has been greatly polluted and confused in our age. Our gospel has been watered-down by permissiveness masquerading as love, which has all but vanquished the Biblical fear of God necessary for the beginning of wisdom (see Prov. 1:9). It is a very old heresy: “Love conquers all.” Combined with this distortion of the Gospel is the falsehood that the sinner has power to affect his own salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. This may be confusing to some, so let me illustrate my meaning from personal experience.

How the Lord Taught the Gospel to Me

I was reared in the Presbyterian church, but it was a church that was lukewarm concerning the authority of the Bible. I recall attending a Billy Graham revival at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh as a teenager of 15. A busload of adults and teens from our church was transported to the stadium from Rennerdale, a suburb of Pittsburgh. I understood as I listened to the very eloquent Reverend Graham that my sins could be washed away if I responded to the “invitation” at the end of the sermon. Curious, I wanted to “go forward,” but none of the others in our group was responding; and I was concerned whether I would ever be able to find our bus afterward in the largest, most confusing crowd I had ever seen in my young life. Therefore, I contented myself with quietly praying the “Sinner’s Prayer.” In a very contemplative mood, I boarded the bus for the trip home. Near me, I could hear the Sunday School superintendent and the pastor in earnest conversation. The pastor asked if anyone had gone forward. The superintendent replied, “No, I checked the seats and the passenger list carefully. We can go.”

“Good,” cried the pastor, with an excited and pleased tone to his voice. “Everyone who joins the Presbyterian church has to confess that they believe the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and that the Bible is the Word of God. There is no need for any of us to respond to such an invitation.”

I settled back in my seat and thanked what I thought were my lucky stars that I had not made a fool of myself. I continued on with all of the normal weaknesses endemic to the youth of my age. During the coming years, however, I was bothered by the pastor’s certainty that none of us needed to respond to such an invitation.

My First Religious Experience

I thought back to the earliest memory that could be termed a religious experience. I was four years old, seated in a pew of a Free Methodist church, beside my younger brother and my mother. My mother had taken us to church, not of our own free choice. She had been ordered to take us to church by my father, who as far as I could remember throughout my youth and young adulthood, never personally attended church or anything of a religious nature, except for weddings and funerals. Surprisingly, this lukewarm Presbyterian ordered his Italian Roman Catholic wife to take those boys to church. “All children need to go to church,” I remember him saying. By church, he didn’t mean Roman Catholic, so my mother packed us up on Sunday morning, and we walked two blocks east on Steuben Street in Pittsburgh to the first Protestant church available. As predestinated, I am sure, the church was very conservative, a Free Methodist congregation. In 1939, the Free Methodists had no instrumental music. I can remember before the congregation sang very sad hymns, a leader would step forward and strike a note on a pitch pipe. That was the last clear and beautiful note to be heard. In my young mind, that was hilarious. The only other thing I remember about the Free Methodist congregation besides the fact that they were quite old and that no young children attended the pastor’s sermon, was the pastor’s usual benediction. He would raise both hands high in the air with the palms facing the congregation, repeat Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace. Amen.”

The idea of sunshine from the face of the Lord fascinated me. I peppered my mother with questions. She told me that the pastor had power to bless his flock, that from his hands to us passed a blessing by God. The following week, I sneaked a peek to see if I could see the blessing. Of course, I couldn’t, but the notion remained in my mind.

Off to Church, Pajamas and All

My next religious experience came three years later, when I was seven. We had moved about two miles across the suburb of Elliott to a new home. The habit of going to church stopped with the move. I woke up on a Sunday morning uneasy about not going to church. I bounded across the hall to where my mother and father lay getting some Sunday morning extra sleep time. My mother mumbled, “Go back to bed.”

I replied, “Can we go to church after you get up?” Irritated, my father growled, “Go back to bed.” Dejected, I moped back down the hall to the second story front bedroom that I shared with my younger brother. It was a beautiful sunny morning. I looked out the bedroom window. The canvas awning had been put up, and I decided it would be great fun to crawl out of the window, slide down the awning, and drop to the patch of grass and shrubbery below. When I hit the ground, I recall spots in front of my eyes and trouble regaining my breath, but when my wind returned, I was unhurt, outside and free to go to church. The only problem was that I was still in my pajamas, but that didn’t seem a handicap to my young mind.

I started down the hill to find my Free Methodist church. I knew how to get there, because my mother had made the same walk with us several times. When I got to the bottom of the hill, about five blocks from my home, I passed a church by the name of Evangelical Free Church. From the open windows, I could hear piano music and singing. The music was much better than the Free Methodist, and it was still a long, long walk uphill to get to the very sad hymns with sadder disharmony of the Methodists, so I turned into the Evangelical church. I was met at the door by a male deacon who assumed that I was a youngster who lived down the alley from the church. Apparently, he and another deacon had called door-to-door in the neighborhood, trying to get new children for Sunday School.

He was delighted that I came in my pajamas. He thought it was wonderful and ushered me immediately into a class of children my age. I was astonished. The church basement was filled with children all singing and “carrying on.” During the Sunday School lesson, the teacher went over their Gospel, using John 3:16.1 listened with intense interest and excitedly started asking questions. She seemed delighted until she heard the questions. I asked, “Just this past week, my brother and I saw a dead man in a house two doors from us lying in a casket with people crying. Do you mean to tell me that if that poor man believed in Jesus, he would not have died?”

The woman began to stammer and tried to clarify what she meant by “never die.” Unsatisfied, I continued to challenge her concept of death. Finally, an ugly little boy began to make fun of me, by saying how stupid I was. “Everyone knows what she is talking about except you. You stupid little Dago! Where do you live anyway?” It was true I looked like my beautiful Italian mother rather than my Scotch-Irish father, but “Dago” was a fighting word for me.

With one hand, I reached across the table, wound my hand in his loose shirt, and with the other, I started to punch. With satisfaction, I noticed that his nose began to bleed. The screaming teacher managed to summon the door-to-door evangelist/deacon to pull me off the ugly antagonist. Now banished from the classroom, I was made to sit in the back of the assembly hall with the deacon as my guard. He asked me what had happened, and I told him as best I could. He urged me to stay to see the pastor between Sunday School and church. I tried to leave, but the deacon grabbed me and pushed me back into the chair; so finally, I submitted to the long wait.

When the Sunday School was over, the deacon ushered me into the pastor’s office. The pastor listened to what the deacon had to say and then asked me for an explanation. I replied that I was just curious as to the difference between death and whatever the Sunday School teacher thought was death and life. Also, I said I had been interrupted in my questions by another little boy who called me a “Dago.” The pastor turned furious. It seemed the ugly little boy was his son. The pastor didn’t believe I had any interest at all in salvation. He intended to take me home by the scuff of my neck right after church so that my parents could properly punish me. The deacon took me to the back of the church, and the worship service began. As he stood for the beginning of the service, I darted for the door. To my relief, this time, he didn’t pursue me or try to grab me. And home I went.

Walking up the hill, I thought within myself, “Well, it must be true that some people who believe in Jesus must never die, but those would only be those who would be sons of God. Too bad,” thought I, “that I am not a son of God.” Suddenly, I had an urge to look upward in the sky. From inside my mind, I heard a very quiet voice say, “Ellsworth, you are my son.” But just as quickly, I thought it was my imagination. I dismissed the vision, for I had always been a very imaginative youth, prone when younger to confuse my vivid imagination with real life events. So, I chalked it up to imagination.

When I returned home, my mother was disgraced that I had gone to church in my pajamas, but this time, to my surprise, I was not even paddled, just sternly warned that more unauthorized church attendance would result in a beating and a near-death experience. I promised very loudly and sincerely to not “run away,” as she put it, again.

Born Again at Thirty

My next religious experience took place the week between Christmas and New Year’s, 1964. My anticommunist activities had led me to several appearances on television. I was a 30-year-old life insurance general agent, and together with a 26-year-old radio announcer executive, we had formed a pressure group to expose several civil rights leaders of the ’60s as communist-inspired. As each civil rights leader came to town, we would research and print up their communist-front citations, hold a press conference, and distribute the information to the media. So far, we had been successful enough to prevent Pittsburgh from the riotous burnings that occurred in more than 64 other cities at the time. To our surprise, however, B’nai B’rith announced in the paper that they, together with the Anti- Defamation League, would expose my friend and me, as well as a Rev. Dr. W. O. H. Garman, as bigots. They charged us with being Jew-hating bigots who wrapped ourselves in the flag and waved the Bible. Astonished, we could not understand how opposing black people with communist connections equaled hating Jewish people of whom we had never heard. We entered quietly into the back of the meeting hall in the Hotel Webster in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh to hear ourselves characterized as hatemongering extremists. The extremist label was somewhat new to us. Just as soon as I seated myself, a plump Jewish woman who looked like Molly Goldberg from a television sitcom, turned and dilated her large, brown eyes, snapped her head backwards, and in a stage whisper, said to the woman next to her, “Don’t look now. There is a big extremist sitting behind us.”

We didn’t take her seriously. It seemed at first bizarre and humorous, but before the evening was over, we realized that the speakers were not humorous but in dead earnest in their hatred for us. It is important to report to the reader that the speakers attacking us were not all Jews. Several were liberal clergy from large Christian churches. It is a profound mistake to think that the enemies of Christianity are all from one race or faith. Just as the children of God are of “.. . every kindred, and tongue and people and nation;” (Rev. 5:9), so are His enemies.

The following Tuesday, I received a phone call from the coordinator of the John Birch Society, telling me that the Rev. Garman would be answering the B’nai B’rith in his Wednesday evening prayer service. I attended the service, which turned out to be a communion service as well. The pastor, ever smiling, calmly related that the Jews were God’s chosen people, that we had to lovingly understand and bring them to Christ, and that in their spiritual blindness, they were opposing themselves and confusing their friends with their enemies as we had before our conversion to Christ. After some more of this line of thought buttressed with many lines of Scripture references, I was impressed with how intelligently the pastor used the Bible to support his points. I had risen to be Sunday School superintendent of my Presbyterian church; and throughout my regular attendance at the church, the Bible was ponderously quoted, maybe a verse or two of unintelligible words, at the beginning of a 20–30-minute discourse of standard humanism, brotherhood, equality, and such, with no further notice or need to refer back to the Bible at all. The idea that the Bible could be used as a source of ideas or proofs to buttress current thinking impressed me.

Now as the communion service began, the pastor sternly warned that only a genuine believer in Christ dared to partake in the body and blood symbolically represented. I partook, saying to myself, “I have served as a Sunday School superintendent, I have been a Presbyterian all my adult life, so surely I believe as well as can be expected.”

Now came time to partake of the grape juice. The pastor repeated his warning. I lifted the tiny cup to my lips, trembled a little, and returned it untouched to the rack on the back of the pew. On the way out of the church, I shook hands with the genial, smiling pastor and returned home.

A few weeks before this incident, my wife had reported to me that she had been warned of the Lord in a quiet voice that the children needed to attend church. I had recently been forced out of the Presbyterian church of my youth, because the new pastor and some of the members of the congregation had wanted to excommunicate me for distributing literature to the members of the church, saying that the Rev. Martin Luther King had pro-communist affiliations and friends. My wife’s vision and voice of God or not, I was determined not to send my children to a church that wanted to excommunicate their father for only being what was in his mind a patriot. So, I phoned Rev. Garman and asked him if he had a Sunday School since the church was very tiny. Also, I asked if he taught the Bible from the anticommunist viewpoint that I heard in his Wednesday service. Yes, he had a Sunday School, he replied, but no, he couldn’t teach the Bible from the perspective that I wanted unless he had a special class of at least 10 people. I assured him that I could get a class of 10 people together and that I would be at his church on Wednesday evenings to hear him teach.

I gathered my wife, my radio announcer friend and his wife, my mother and father, an insurance salesman who worked for me, and Alice, the wife of the coordinator of the John Birch Society. It was not quite the 10, but it was close enough to astonish the smiling pastor. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the ability to get up such a group to attend a Bible study was a nearly impossible sales feat. He was delighted to start the class. For his textbook, he chose a pamphlet entitled, “Dispensational Truths” by C. I. Scofield, and week by week, we covered the “dispensations” with very interesting lectures, linking Bible applications to contemporary events occurring in America and the world. Most of us were convinced that the Christian cause was lost, and that communism would eventually triumph. There was no comfort in the smiling pastor’s grim assessment. He assured us that we should rejoice that things were getting worse and worse. This only meant that the Lord was returning soon to rescue us from the Great Tribulation, which doubtlessly lay just ahead. Interestingly, as I look back now, none of us took him seriously enough to quit the anticommunist movement, fold our hands over our laps, and wait for the Lord’s return. Instead, we were determined to be martyrs to our patriotic dreams now made even more shining and wonderful by the Christian trappings found in the pastor’s words.

About the week of the fifth lesson, the telephone rang in my insurance office on the tenth floor of the Manor Building in downtown Pittsburgh. On the other end of the phone was Alice, the Birch official’s wife. She, in her excited Boston Irish accent, related how this lesson seemed to teach all one had to do was to call upon the Lord and one could be assured of everlasting life.

Alice apparently had many alcoholic Irish friends who attended AA meetings. She observed that only those who claimed to be “born again” seemed to get sober and stay sober, but she doubted the whole thing. What did I think? I replied that I had just finished reading the lesson, and there had to be 30 Bible verses quoted, all supporting the notion that salvation was by faith alone and that if I were you, I would take the Lord at His word. She gasped in astonishment, “Then you believe this?”

I said, “Of course, how can I doubt it?” The conversation ended. As I returned the phone to its rack, I thought within myself, “How very cool and confident I was when talking to her. Just as a former Sunday School superintendent should be, I suppose, but how could I be so very sure? How could I know that what the Bible said was reliable?” I rose and turned to the large window in my office, overlooking the city and the Monongahela River and Mt. Washington beyond. I said to myself, “It has to be true, because God doesn’t lie.” In that second, I saw from the sky columns of light descending here and there all over the city. None over the water of the river nor on the rugged mountainside, but some up high on top of Mt. Washington. I perceived that the columns of light were descending upon people. It was not an indiscriminate sunshine. In front of me, I now perceived someone just on the other side of the window, looking through the glass at me. I couldn’t make out the features. Something was smeared on the glass. I heard a voice say, “Come out from behind there.”

In an instant, I departed from my body. Astonished, I looked back at my body, and then experienced wonderful, radiant heat much like sunshine, but a light that seemed to have marvelous healing and soothing characteristics. I was naked, but not ashamed and hilariously I began to dance, twirling around and round like a child in wild joy. Suddenly, bundles of sticks were falling about my dancing feet. Greedily, I gathered the bundles as fast as I could. I had all but one of them. Looking back dejectedly on the missing bundle, I reluctantly had to return to my body. Somewhat like a rubber band snaps back into its place, I was back, and the vision was over. This experience at 30 years of age was not as easily dismissed as my previous experiences. I was totally persuaded that this was real. Since the pastor had pumped us full of expectations that Jesus was returning at any moment, I resolved that this must be the Lord’s return. I bounded out of my office into the bullpen area where my agents were seated. At the top of my voice, I said, “Why are you sitting there? Didn’t you see that?”

Puzzled, they said, “See what?”

For the first time, I realized that my vision was a private matter. Embarrassed, I mumbled, “Never mind,” and retreated to my office.

Why Was All This Experience Not Enough?

Let’s review what should be a soul-satisfying list of religious experiences and a crackerjack vision of a magnitude to make a charismatic’s heart go pitter-patter—from my earliest fascination with the power of a pastor’s benediction to my prepuberty zeal to delve the mystery of John 3:16 in my pajamas, my teenage experience at a Billy Graham revival, and now an authentic vision of heavenly sunshine at the age of 30, certainly these events would be the clearest and strongest proof of being born again? Or were they? Almost as quickly as I was able to dismiss the voice and vision from the clouds proclaiming to a seven-year-old in pajamas that he was indeed a son of God, doubts quickly arose within me about the genuineness of my salvation.

Dr. Garman’s church had a tract rack. I remember scooping up about a dozen tracts and sitting down to compare them with each other and with my experience. None seemed to me to correlate with my vision of heavenly sunshine. As a matter of fact, some of the tracts sternly warned against basing hope of eternal life on emotions. Uncomfortably, I felt that my experiences had given me an emotional “rush,” but didn’t seem the quality that carried the historical martyrs to the stake. No matter how often I reviewed my experiences or reprayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” or told myself that I did indeed believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, doubts remained. I read more gospel tracts by Oliver Greene, John R. Rice, and Theodore Epp, the Back to the Bible Broadcaster, so that I knew the four simple steps of salvation and the gospel (so-called) very well indeed. “When all else fails, read the instructions,” say the sages.

At last, I set aside the tracts and the commentators and read the Bible. Very much like Mark Twain’s famous wisecrack, “What I didn’t understand didn’t bother me; but oh, what I did understand bothered me a great deal!” I found, for example, salvation was indeed by faith alone, but I Corinthians 15 spoke of different kinds of faith, one vain and another genuine. Which did I have? It was a frightening question.

Mother Goose Religion

In Rev. Garman’s church, a sermon or Sunday School lesson never seemed to pass without numerous direct or indirect assurances that “We are not under law but under grace.” Yet I found the Lord Jesus Christ warning “Not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass” and that anyone who taught that the law was done away would be least in His eyes. I also discovered that, contrary to my church’s constant emphasis on the love of God, the Bible’s emphasis was on the fear of God. I noted that Scofield nimbly ducked this one by a footnote, defining “fear” as “reverential awe,” but it was obvious that the Scripture was teaching more than just respectful fear. I noted, for example, that we called a pastor “reverend,” but he was lucky to get the respect accorded to the IRS. In practice, the pastor was regarded as a Mother Goose figure or more accurately, a Mother Goose representative, God being the Mother Goose with neither the representative nor the goose to be feared. Instead, both goose and goose representative waited helplessly for us to return their love.

I suspected that my secret, nagging doubts were shared by other church members, because every evangelist and guest speaker seemed to have a common goal, which was to reassure us again and again that Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” was all that was required to open heaven’s portals when we died.

The Sermon of a Cold, Stiff Body

About this time, one of our church members died, and the pastor announced the funeral service. I decided to attend. Pastor Garman was an ex-Presbyterian pastor, trained in a Presbyterian seminary, but his undergraduate training was at Philadelphia College of the Bible, an institution founded on the dispensational teaching of the Scofield Bible. Dr. Garman was driven out of the Presbyterian church, because of his fidelity to dispensationalism. I was curious to see how he handled a funeral as compared to the many mainstream Presbyterian funerals of my experience. The one remarkable thing I recall was that Dr. Garman had completely memorized his funeral oration, including great chunks of Scripture, but the thrust of Dr. Garman’s memorized oration was to impress his audience with his memorized Bible knowledge and of course, to assure the audience over and over again that the soul of the now dead church member resided safely in the bosom of Christ because of the “Sinner’s Prayer.” All seemed gratified to be reassured again (this time over a cold, stiff body) that they knew everything necessary to know to escape the burning hell below.

The Testimony of Converted Drunks

I still wondered and wished that I could believe like my fellow church members seemed to believe. I next began to interview some of them about their salvation hopes. I found the members without serious backgrounds of waywardness had learned a canned testimony similar to the tracts in the rack by the front door, and all my sharp questioning couldn’t get them to budge from what they knew was the correct “gospel.” The converted Scotch-Irish drunks, on the other hand, always had experiential testimonies very much like my own, except the experiences were individualized. For example, one of the ex-drunks told me that he had been driven in desperation, after many attempts at the “Sinner’s Prayer” and trips down the aisle in one city mission after another, to finally collapse on his knees at 3 a.m. beside his flophouse cot and raising one hand toward heaven called upon the Lord. He said a blue, soft light came down from above to his outstretched hand and enveloped his entire body, giving him a peace that had been denied to him before. From that moment, he had been able to stop drinking and that was how he knew that God was his God and heaven was his home, instead of the drunkard’s hell he richly deserved.

I interviewed another converted drunk and felon from North Carolina. He related to me that in his hillbilly church, no salvation was worth anything that didn’t cause one to “get in the spirit and run for Jesus.” He said that, after a life of petty crime and drunkenness, he was seated in the front of a gospel revival service. The Spirit seized him, and he jumped with both feet up on the back of the pew, teetering momentarily on its narrow rim. He then ran across the pews from front to back at breakneck speed with each foot without error landing on the next pew back to the rear of the church, where he bounded out the door and ran screaming for joy, hurling his voice to the heavens until he fell exhausted into the ditch beside the road. There his laughing friends fished him out, brushed him off, and took him home, all rejoicing, because this was absolutely, positively, the authenticated way that real Christians were saved. From that day, he testified he had a new strength to resist sin, which he never had previously. Although he did not become perfect and was not perfect now, he was certain of the power when he repented and sought the Lord to overcome any defect of character, including the one most dreaded in his case, drunkenness. I can still remember his wonderful Southern accent saying, “I got the evidence.”

“Though I Give my Body to be Burned”

I pondered this all in my heart and began to attend revival services at other churches, always seeking that key which seemed to be missing. In a small Baptist church in Midway, Pennsylvania, I heard a “rededication” sermon. I was busy trying to convert my mother and father to my new hope, so I attended the service with my mother, where I heard a message primarily directed toward the group of young people in the front of the congregation headed by their youth pastor. The evangelist said that those young people who had called upon the Lord and were Bible-believing Christians would most likely in their lifetime have the opportunity to become martyrs for Christ. He outlined the advances of the communist menace around the world and particularly in America. It was apparent to me that he was using Birch Society facts and figures and the book None Dare Call It Treason as his source. He was careful not to reveal this to his audience, because the media was pounding constantly on the theme that the John Birchers were the real enemy; and the communists were people we just had to love and understand better, and all our fears would go away.

Well, the evangelist worked his magic and brought the sermon to a thundering conclusion by saying that it was an easy thing to pray the Sinner’s Prayer and walk down the aisle in a Baptist church, to call upon the Lord as a fire escape from hell. But the real Christian would be separated from the phony Christian when the jackbooted soldiers would stand in front of a church like this and say, “All those who really believe in Christ remain standing; the rest of you on your faces,” while the true believers were mown down in a raining shower of bullets and blood. He said, “Now I am going to give you an invitation that is not so easy to respond to. If you can truthfully say that you are willing to stand to your feet and die for Christ, please stand.”

Instantly, I jumped to my feet. The evangelist looked surprised to see a balding 30-year-old on his feet toward the rear of the church, while the young people in front nervously looked around and remained rooted to their seats. He gave the invitation again and this time some others joined. We were all bid to go forward in the church, where the usual simple plan of salvation was tonelessly read by one of the deacons for our affirmation, and we were then dismissed.

On the way home, I thought surely now that I was God’s child, security would be mine, since I had committed myself to far more than just the “Sinner’s Prayer.” I was sincerely committed to be faithful to death, but soon, very soon, the old doubts returned; and I questioned my sincerity and even my good sense and control over my emotions. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “... though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Cor. 13:3).

In the months that followed, I prayed often concerning the Lord’s will for my life and always the answer seemed to be the Scripture, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Tim. 5:8). My only clear perception for me personally was to rear my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This made a Christian school in my mind not an option, but God’s law! My pastor, however, could not recommend any Christian school. They are “compromisers,” the stem pastor warned. A visiting evangelist, however, did recommend Bob Jones University and a Christian elementary school. What to do? Pittsburgh had been my home all my life. Still, the Lord’s command was to rear my children in the fear of God.

While I hesitated, my wife showed me a take-home leaflet from the local public school. My oldest was in the first grade. The parents were to read the leaflet to their children. The leaflet showed a family gathered in prayer. The father wore the Jewish skullcap and on the table was the Hebrew candelabra. The pamphlet instructed the teacher to teach the children about Hanukkah, a wonderful holiday of the Jewish faith when people love one another and exchange gifts. A footnote on the bottom of the leaflet warned that Christian religious instruction was against the law and was forbidden. Isn’t it strange, I thought, at Christmas time, my children were forbidden to learn of Christ, but other religions were welcome in my son’s classroom?

My hesitation vanished. I set my jaw and resigned my high- paid, unlimited expense account sales job as a trucking company public relations salesman. I led my family to Greenville, South Carolina, to enroll my children in a Christian school. I obtained a similar position with a local trucking company, but after only two weeks of employment, the supervisor fired me, because he received an alarming report that while waiting to interview customers at the various companies that I was scheduled to call upon, it was my custom to read from a pocket New Testament. This was the Bible Belt, and the people are particularly sensitive to nutty Bible believers, who used their positions to hock their religion instead of their wares. To make matters worse, the following Sunday afternoon, while accompanying a member of my Baptist church on a street preaching engagement in front of the city hospital, we were arrested and thrown into jail for the crime of distributing literature on the street, an archaic law that had been in the books since the 1920s against communist organizers of the local textile industry.

The chaplain in the hospital and the district attorney together decided to rid the hospital’s public sidewalks of Bible- thumping nuisance preachers. Unfortunately for the district attorney and the chaplain, my large independent Baptist church organized a rally and Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. of the Bob Jones University radio station, interviewed me on the air. The city backed down, but I remained unemployed and had a family of four children to feed. The manager of the Bob Jones University radio station offered me a sales position at a salary which, characteristic of Christian work, was too little to support my family. But I still had the GI educational benefits. The salary combined with the GI bill was enough to keep my children in Christian school and the tin roof of our trailer over our heads.

How to Find the Lord’s Will

That following scenario has been played out many times in my life. The Lord’s will is found at the end of the boot that kicks me into the dust; and when I pick myself up, there is only one door open. So it was that I became an advertising salesman for the radio station and a student at Bob Jones University at the age of 31. Meanwhile, I continued to participate in street evangelism. But I was still haunted about the authenticity of my salvation and of the nearly 4,000 professions of faith that street preachers gathered in just one year. I would ask myself how many of the 4,000 were genuinely regenerate and how many just did anything required to shake a persistent holy salesman so they could resume their Saturday shopping.

In my lifelong habit of reading, I came across the testimony of the author of the great hymn, “Amazing Grace,” the Rev. John Newton (1725-1807). Newton said that he agonized for a very long time before he believed that he was in grace. Puzzled, I thought to myself that the gospel that we preached on the street was the same as in every evangelical church in America: one could instantly know that he was in grace simply by repeating after the soul winner in the inquiry room the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Why was John Newton in agony? I opened my hymnal to the words of “Amazing Grace” that every Baptist knows by heart, at least when he is singing it and being prompted by a congregation. The second verse in particular caught my attention. It read, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” Very strange, I thought. The love of God was preached in my church; God was certainly not presented as Someone to fear. We were prompted, so we were told, to come to God because He loved us and died for us and that the least we could do was to respond from the love in our hearts to His greater demonstrated love for us. Too bad, I thought, that John Newton didn’t have the benefit of the evolving gospel of our modem day.

Still pondering this question, I entered the large book store of Bob Jones University. Browsing, I came face to face with the manager of the store and told him that I had a large family at home that I wished to lead in family devotions, but I needed a systematic approach to follow to teach my family the basics. I said that in the Presbyterian church I think we had a catechism, although I don’t remember ever seeing it, but today I was a saved, born again Baptist. Did the Baptists have anything like a catechism? The manager rummaged around underneath the counter and came up with a small yellow pamphlet, entitled, “Catechism Questions from the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.” He said, “This is the Baptist counterpart to the Westminster Catechism to which you referred. He smiled and said, “You can have it for free. God bless you.” I took the catechism home and set it on the coffee table in the living room, where it remained for several days.

The Ways of the Lord are Past Understanding

One morning I awoke late for class, swept into my arms two large glass jugs that I took daily to a nearby dairy farm to get raw milk. (I was a devoted health nut as well as a religious nut.) I stepped out onto an elevated platform (eight feet above the ground) that during the night had been coated with an inch or more of crystal-clear ice. This Pennsylvania boy didn’t know what a South Carolina ice storm was all about. Ice covered the porch and all 12 steps to the driveway below. I slid onto my back, holding the two jugs in my arms, terrified that any moment the jugs would break and send glass shards into every part of my upper body. I bounced down the 12 steps headfirst on my back, still clutching the jugs, slamming into the concrete slab below. I hit with such force that all the air was collapsed out of my lungs. With terrible, gasping pain, I recovered my breath, marveling that the jugs were still intact and thinking to myself, “I could have been killed.” My wife shrieked from the top of the steps, “Are you OK?” My growling reply was “Yes,” and I added, “Obviously, there is going to be no school today since no one could drive on these streets.” Just as soon as I could crawl up the icy steps, family devotions would begin with a special thanksgiving for fools sliding down steps trying to keep glass jugs from being broken. This seemed to me an unmistakable sign from the Lord. Don’t laugh, because from these family devotions launched that day, I was at last introduced to the gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s gospel is different from the watered-down, skimmed version of our day. I read the words under the topic “Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation,” Chapter 28 of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, “This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it.” In the Scripture text given as proof for the above words, I found more than 20 verses in all. But the one of special significance to me read, “And hereby we do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments” (I John 2:3). Now I knew why the Rev. John Newton agonized; he was waiting for confirming grace to enable him to keep the Commandments. Just as the drunkard must wait to be made sober before his heart can rest at peace, so all sinners must know they are being delivered from the practice of sin.

Here was the universal Biblical proof of salvation, not ecstatic spiritual experiences, visions, voices, or even soothing words from clerics. The Lord’s gospel is given from above and confirmed by fruit for it is written, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I thought within myself, “No, I was certainly not perfect, but I was indeed far less of a constant sinner than I once was.” I had hope that was based upon this change that was taking place in my life, and this was the hope that would never make me ashamed or disappointed, knowing that my salvation was genuine. Like Newton, grace relieved my fears, and I was free to press toward spiritual maturity.

The Gospel of the Midas Touch

This is the gospel that you, dear reader, must teach if you are to have the Midas touch spoken of in Psalm 1, “And whatsoever he toucheth shall prosper.” The Scotch-Irish drunks were genuinely in grace, because they were compelled to wait for deliverance from drunkenness before they could claim to be born again. Ordinary sinners, on the other hand, have been allowed in our permissive modem age to believe their prayer for salvation is effective without sin’s yoke being broken from their necks. Ordinary sinners often continue to break their debt contracts, their marriage contracts, their obligations to their families, and blaspheme the name of Christ by claiming, or more accurately, presuming their salvation, while still in slavery to their besetting sins.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only person with total free will. We ask Him to save, because only He can choose to redeem us. We know His answer is “yes” when we experience the power to overcome our sins. Until and unless we gain this power, we dare not assume that we are saved. Jesus saves, not us. It is the author’s belief that this is the reason the modem church cannot transform our society. Believing that we can wish our salvation without confirming grace to stop sinning has removed the “fear of God” from our eyes. Without this fear, we do not learn. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). As Christian teachers, our responsibility is to lead our little children to wisdom.

At Grace Community, we teach the Bible teachers to say this, “Children, we have just asked Jesus to come into our hearts and save us. How will we know if Jesus is in our hearts? We can’t see Him with our eyes, can we? Well, then, how will we know?”

The children know to answer the rhetorical question this way: “We will know when Jesus helps us to obey His commandments. When we find ourselves obeying father, mother, and teachers better and better, then we know Jesus is with us.” Isn’t this exactly what the word of God teaches?

I was still years away from developing the Grace Community system, but you won’t have to wait years if you pay prayerful attention to these words and apply the operational manual that is advertised in the back of this book.