Lee, our Friday night Bible teacher, attended church in the home of Phil McDaniel. Not knowing where we were to start attending, we decided to join them. Three or four families attended and we did so until I was transferred to Washington in 1973. Before we left, we met a young couple through Lee, Larry and Jane Barnes, whose enthusiasm and love for the Lord was contagious. The four of us held worship services on Pensacola Beach and we usually had a good-sized crowd. Lives were changed, including ours.
Even thought I knew God was using me, I was still troubled about my feelings toward the people of West Pensacola Baptist Church, and prayed for His love to fill my heart. The Word says that we are to love even our enemies, and I was finding it hard to love my brethren. It really bothered me. Then, something happened; a young missionary died suddenly leaving a wife and three young kids without any income. Larry wanted to visit the widow and he asked me to go with him. He was sitting at her kitchen table going over her financial situation with her. As I stood there listening, I became totally overwhelmed by her plight. I started crying and I left the room. As I sat on the floor against the wall sobbing uncontrollably, Larry came in to find out what had happened. I told him I didn't know. He said, "Well, what were you thinking about?" I told him I felt so helpless and burdened for her and her kids, and I just couldn't help loosing it. Without Larry saying anything, I began to hear the Lord speaking to me. I don't remember His exact words but He said something like, "You wanted to love as I love, and you are unable to bear it. It is My job to bring you into Christ's likeness; be patient and let Me do it. It is pride to expect that you should be as loving as I. Just do your best." The words were as clear as if someone in the room was saying them, and yet they were not audible. When we left there, I am not sure if we had helped her, but I know that I had gained a strange and wonderful peace.
In June of 1973, I graduated from Pensacola Junior College. The Navy had been impressed enough with my grades while taking night courses that they decided to send me to finish my last thirty credits full time. The only thing Navy about me during that year was a paycheck and wearing my uniform on Wednesdays. I joined on of the Christian Fellowships and spent most of my spare time with them. The Baptist Association had rented an apartment on campus, and we used it to hold Bible studies and to relax between classes. There must have been about forty of us who hung out there. My being thirty and married didn't seem to bother "the youngsters." God made it easy for me to love these brethren, and it served as a healing place for my life. I remember one day in particular when God's presence was clearly there. His timing and ministry to us is awesome. In order to tell what happened, I will need to continue this tomorrow, Lord willing.