Pardon me for taking a short trip down memory lane today. You see, during this month, Vickie and I are celebrating our 45th anniversary of serving the Lord in full-time ministry. It doesn’t seem possible, but that’s what the calendar is telling us. Please indulge me by allowing me to tell about God’s faithfulness to and through us on our journey.

First, I need to add this preface. When Vickie and I launched into the ministry, we were clueless. You see, neither of us came from homes with parents in the ministry. My dad worked for Phillips Petroleum and my mom was a first-grade school teacher. Vickie’s dad was a carpenter and her stepmother was also an educator. We had no idea what being in the ministry would be like. To borrow from one of the classic moments from The Andy Griffith Show, when Andy told Ernest T. Bass “You’re just…ignorant, that’s all”, we would have responded like Ernest T. and replied, “Aw, you’re being kind.”

When I began preparing for the ministry, I thought I would someday pastor a church. It was during my senior year of studying at what was then named Southwestern Assemblies of God Collge (later to become Southwestern Assemblies of God University and now Nelson University) in Waxahachie, Texas that we interned at two small churches in the Dallas, Texas area ministering to the children and youth. In the last few weeks of that school year, we traveled to several churches in the north Texas area and ministered to the families on Friday and Saturday nights and then I would preach on Sunday mornings. God’s direction for our lives and ministry began to take shape.

After my graduation at the end of May 1979,  Vickie and I placed what few belongings we owned into a small storage unit and prepared to enter uncharted waters. On Saturday, June 2nd, we loaded up our Ford Fairmont station wagon and drove from Waxahachie over to minister in Forest Hill, Louisiana. Pastors Mark and Trina Hankins were so gracious to us newbies. Now, it was official. We were full-time children’s evangelists!

Thankfully, we were fast learners. After Forest Hill came Springhill, Louisiana and then Ridgecrest, Louisiana and then Boutte, Louisiana … the beginning of many, many, many more Kid’s Crusades and Kid’s Camps across America. For some 45 to 48 weeks a year, Vickie and I traveled from church to church using family-friendly tools and techniques to share the gospel. We would arrive in a city on a Saturday, I’d preach Sunday morning, and then begin the week-long Kid’s Crusade Sunday evening. It was always amazing to minister in a church with few children and then have the auditorium packed to capacity by the last night. The music, puppets, gospel magic (object lessons with surprise endings), scripture contests, and blacklight stories communicated a simple and yet powerful salvation message. Only heaven will give an accurate count of the thousands (no exaggeration) of children, teens, and adults who began their walk with Christ at one of the crusade or camp altars during these years. To God be the glory.

I can’t end this post without sharing this personal note about these years. As most of you know, Vickie and I have three incredible sons. The first two boys, Jason and Michael were born while we traveled as children’s evangelists. At the end of 1981 and the beginning of 1982, we took a few weeks off from traveling so that Jason could be born in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Later, at the end of 1985 and the beginning of 1986, we again took a few weeks off from traveling so that Michael could be born in Lake Jackson, Texas. I shared this because this allows me to tell one of the greatest highlights of our traveling days. Night after night, week after week, our sons were in our crusade services and witnessed lives transformed, churches enlarged, and a vision for children’s ministry being imparted. This provided a great foundation for Jason and Michael’s walk with Christ.

Next post – Children’s Pastors.