Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Why Me, Lord?"

This coming New Year's Day, my dad will celebrate his 92nd birthday. For well more than 50 years, he has served as a missionary and a pastor. Along the way, he has also been elected to office several times as president of the local and borough school boards, the PTA, and the ministerial association; as secretary-treasurer of the Alaska District of the Assemblies of God; and as mayor of Kittitas, Washington--surprising accomplishments for a boy who was petrified to speak in front of a group.

In junior high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was president of the French Puppet Club. As such, his responsibility was to introduce the puppet play. Worried that he might forget his lines, he had written his speech on note cards before he went on stage, but the spotlights blinded him so he couldn't read them. Without saying a word, he crumpled the papers, dropped them to the floor, and walked off. Hidden behind the puppet stage, though, he spoke his lines in fluent French.

At the age of 19, he met two sisters who invited him to attend the annual Victorious Life Conference in Keswick Grove, New Jersey, over Labor Day weekend in 1941. He went with a carload of young people. George Beverly Shea, who later became well known as the beloved soloist for the Billy Graham Crusades, was the song leader and soloist for the conference at the campsite near Tom's River, owned by Addison C. Raws. Having been a boy soprano in an Episcopal church, my dad was impressed with the ministry of Bev Shea. That weekend, he committed himself to Christ. Soon, he felt God was calling him into full-time ministry.

"God, do You know what You're asking? How can I preach the gospel if I can't speak in front of people?" Agonizing over his Call, he finally enrolled in a public speaking course at Temple University. "I literally had to take myself by the scruff of the neck and drag myself to that class," he said, although he remembers little about the actual class.

He received his Local Preacher’s License from the Methodist Church, but his theological studies at Temple University were interrupted by World War II. In 1942, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. Upon completing Radio School, he was sent to Ketchikan, Alaska, where on August 16, 1944, he married AnnaMae, the daughter of the Reverend and Mrs. Charles C. Personeus, the first Assemblies of God missionaries to Alaska.

Following World War II, he completed his formal ministerial education at Eastern Bible Institute of the Assemblies of God (now Valley Forge Christian College). I was two-and-a-half years old, when we moved to the tiny fishing village of Pelican, Alaska, to help the Personeuses build the church there (read the account of my family's trip to Alaska in previous blogs).

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land, Moses objected. "I can't speak," he said. God gave him his brother Aaron to be his mouthpiece. Soon, however, Moses was speaking God's words directly to the people. Just as God equipped Moses for the calling God had placed on his life, so God enabled my father to become a preacher of the gospel.

What is God calling you to do for Him that you feel inadequate for? Don't be afraid to step out in faith in spite of your own perceived shortcomings, knowing that God will equip you for the task. As someone once wrote, "God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called."

No comments:

Post a Comment