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Embracing the Word and the Call

Since 1998, numerous IPHC congregations have commemorated centennial events related to their founding. One that is occurring this month is the centennial of the Gospel Tabernacle PHC in Dunn, North Carolina. This congregation is associated with the life of G.B. Cashwell and the Pentecostal revival that began in Dunn on New Year’s Eve, 1906.

Many of us gathered in Falcon, North Carolina, in January 2011 to commemorate the centennial of the merger of the two holiness denominations that formed the IPHC as we know it today. Centennial celebrations of the IPHC have been held in Hong Kong and South Africa.

Over the past month, there have been several occasions marking significant milestones in which I have participated. In September, Susan and I represented the IPHC at the 85th birthday gala for Dr. Charles F. Stanley in Atlanta. A few days later Bishop John Kim celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of World Agape Mission Church (IPHC, Korean-American Conference) in Los Angeles.

On a personal note, Susan and I celebrated our forty-fifth wedding anniversary in September. A little later we attended the 50th reunion of the Franklin County High School class of 1967. We may have all looked older but we are still young at heart!

This October the global church will commemorate the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The IPHC will be well represented in Wittenberg, Germany, as several hundred Pentecostals will gather October 31st and November 1st to remember when Martin Luther posted his famous Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door.

While not at all approximating the importance of the dates referenced above, this October is particularly important to me. Fifty years ago, during the week of October 9-13, 1967, I sensed in my heart that Jesus wanted me to serve Him in full-time ministry. It was the week of King Memorial Lectures, on the Emmanuel College campus in Franklin Springs, Georgia.

As a freshman, I had enrolled with law and politics on my career path. I was a Christian but had my own agenda. But that week changed the course of my life. Speakers included missionary Rev. D.D. Freeman, denominational leader Rev. R.L. Rex, conference superintendent Rev. B.E. Underwood, and night speaker Rev. L. DuRant Driggers.

I remember two things from that week that intersected in my mind and heart. Firstly, Rev. Underwood, then superintendent of the Virginia Conference (now Appalachian Conference), spoke on the infallibility of the Bible. These lectures were published in 1969 as The Spirit’s Sword – God’s Infallible Book.
As an eighteen-year-old college freshman, this was the first time I had heard a conservative scholarly defense of the authority of the Bible. Underwood’s scholarship and passionate delivery made a lasting impression on me.

Secondly, during one of the evening services, Rev. DuRant Driggers preached from Isaiah 6 about the ministry call of the prophet Isaiah. Underwood’s lectures on the Bible and Drigger’s anointed preaching converged as I sensed the Holy Spirit asking me to set aside my career goals and be willing to serve the goals God had for me.

I can still show you the place where I knelt at the altar of the Franklin Springs PHC. It was not a particularly emotional time of prayer. Instead, it was a time of questions, willingness and asking God to confirm that it was His call and not my imagination. The next day the call was confirmed through an unexpected conversation with friends, and then by my father’s affirmation.

I grew up in an IPHC pastor’s home and a local congregation in South Norfolk, Virginia. My teenage years were spent listening to the preaching of Rev. John W. Swails at the Franklin Springs PHC. Both of these experiences were very positive.

My parents had always encouraged me and my siblings to serve the Lord, but they never pressed us on specific assignments. I’m sure they faced discouraging moments in ministry, but those were never expressed to us. Instead, serving Christ and His church was an honor with eternal blessings.

When I accepted the call that week, I thought it would mean I would spend my life as a congregational pastor. I prepared for that with seminary and with five years of practical ministry under the late Rev. Carl L. Campbell at the Ray of Hope PHC in Richmond, Virginia. The seminary experience prepared my mind; my experiences under my father, Rev. Swails, and Rev. Campbell, prepared my heart. Both were necessary.

I wish I could say I’ve always lived up to the “call,” and to the godly ministries of my seminary professors and three primary pastoral models. But I have learned from Philippians 1:6 that God is faithfully at work “bringing to completion” what He has started.

Over the past year, I have joined IPHC bishops in praying for a new generation of women and men who will respond to the call of the ministry. I see them in the various generations we term X, Millennials, and now Z. Outside these western categories in other parts of the world, I see them with a hunger for God’s truth and the manifestations of God’s love.

I was not licensed and ordained until June 12, 1971 and June 16, 1973, along with dear friend and IPHC Men’s Ministries Director Rev. Bill Terry. But I have never forgotten that week in October 1967, when the Word and the Call converged and changed my life. May that convergence occur again and again for all of us.

 

 

By Doug Beacham

This article was published in the October 2017 issue of Encourage.

Photo Credits: thinkstock.com

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