Had I realized that Wednesday was the 4th of July, I'd have mentioned in Monday's post that we wouldn't publish on Wednesday. Guess you figured that out, anyway.
Anyway, Howdy, Howdy!
I trust you had a spectacular 4th without getting your fingers burned by fireworks. When we were living in Nome and I was just a young tyke, we went out to Anvil Mountain for the 4th of July holiday and took some fireworks with us. It was perhaps my first or second experience of lighting fireworks. We had "sizzlers" and "ladyfingers." We had "Roman Candles" and "Chinese Rockets." All of that was OK, but it was the "Cherry Bombs" that interested me.
You know what they are, right? 'Bout an inch or so in diameter, maybe two inches long -- give or take -- and they pack a pretty good amount of powder. In those days it was fun to set a Cherry Bomb under a pile of rocks, or make some kind of makeshift "house" out of driftwood or rocks, branches and turf, and blow it up. My brother and I went to a lot of trouble one day to build this "house" in preparation for blowing it up.
I lit the fuse on the Cherry Bomb and waited. Nothing. Two or three minutes went by. Still nothing. I shrugged my shoulders and decided I had a dud. My Dad warned me that sometimes the fuses get wet or damp, and don't burn as fast, and that I ought to just leave it alone. Nawwww.... Huhh Uhh. I wanted the "bang," and decided I'd yank the "dud" and put another in its place.
Right. I pulled the "dud," clenched it in my left hand while I put another in its place and lit it. Maybe ten or fifteen feet from the "house," the so-called "dud" suddenly blew up. Whether it was the way I had clenched the Cherry Bomb, or just the Grace of God, all it did was blow my hand open and leave my palm and fingers absolutely black from the powder. There was a slight surface burn, but nothing to speak of.
The shock of the Cherry Bomb exploding in my hand left me standing there dazed. My folks rushed over to see if I was OK when the second Cherry Bomb suddenly blew and showered us all with bits of rock, wood and dirt from our little "house." Duhhhhh. I decided I'd had enough adventure for the time with firecrackers, and it was a couple years before I asked my father to buy them again.
Funny thing, though. Part of my military training was with the 7th Special Forces, learning the art or science of demolitions. The difference was that we were using shaped charges made from C-3 or C-4 and blowing up icebergs (part of our training exercises in the arctic, you know) as big as tankers. Must be something about the thrill of things going "bang," I guess. I dunno. Maybe that first explosion did something to me. You think? Oh well! 'Nuff of that.
Before we start today, I should tell you that there will be no Coffee Break publication next week. We are hosting the West Coast Believers Convention from Anaheim, California here at River Worship Center with a live video feed. For those of you who are here in the Yakima Valley, the morning sessions will begin at , the afternoon sessions at 2:00, and the evening sessions at 7:00, Monday thru Friday. Saturday deviates a little with the morning session beginning at 9:30, and the evening session beginning at 6:30.
Coffee's on, folks! The French Press is steeping and steaming. Got some of that really dark roasted Columbian today. Goooooooodd Stuff!
Mary Mendenhall was a Yupik Eskimo who had moved to Nome in 1948 seeking medical treatment. By the time we became aware of her condition, the medical society had given her up for dead. With a prognosis of perhaps two or three weeks to live, she was dying of tuberculosis, her lungs literally eaten away. (My memory says she had cancer as well, but don't quote me on that.)
The first time I walked into her house with my father, she was barely conscious and scarcely aware that we were there. At age six, I knew that healing was part of the package that Jesus provided, and I'd certainly read in the Gospels about all of the healing miracles that Jesus performed. I'd never seen one, however. This was going to be my first experience.
Harriet Brown was a nurse who had just moved from Toronto, Ontario to Nome to work with my parents in establishing the ministry there. She was with Dad and me when we went into Mary's house. It was a pretty grim atmosphere, and I wasn't sure I wanted to be there. Harriet leaned over Mary and made her aware of our presence. Dad then began to talk to Mary about Jesus Christ, salvation, deliverance, healing -- the whole package of Salvation, if you will -- and at an appropriate moment asked Mary if she would like for us to pray with her, and if she would like to accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ in her life.
In a very low, nearly inaudible voice, she responded, "Yes." Dad led her in a prayer of repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ. She scarcely finished her prayer when she was seized with a coughing fit and literally splattered her bed sheet with the blood she was expelling.
Dad leaned over, put his hand on her forehead and commanded the tuberculosis and every spirit of sickness and infirmity to leave her body. Thinking back to that experience, it was an unusual prayer for him. He was normally very quiet and reserved, and his usual practice -- at least the one I was most familiar with throughout the years -- was to simply lay hands on folks and declare their healing in a quiet, very unforceful manner.
Folks who've known my father will tell you that he rarely raised his voice, was almost always understated in the way he expressed himself and yet carried with him an undeniable sense of authority that most folks -- whether Christian or not -- saw and recognized.
When he laid his hand on Mary Mendenhall's forehead and began to speak the name of Jesus, her eyes opened wide and color began to return to her countenance. She attempted to sit up in bed, but Harriet told her just to be quiet, rest and allow the healing to be completed. It was -- to the best of my recollection -- about three weeks before we saw her in church, and she was still a bit wobbly (I'd guess that she might have weighed between 70 and 80 pounds the day we went to her home), but her recovery was obvious. Within three months, she had put on close to 50 pounds (she stood about 5'4" in height) and was the picture of health.
Mary's healing and her walk with the Lord Jesus Christ became a catalyst among the native community in Nome. Her strong voice and testimony of what the Lord had done for her caused many curiosity seekers to come and see what this Pentecostal preacher was all about. She personally led more people to Jesus Christ than I can count. Until our departure from Nome in the summer of 1953, she continued as a regular and in the mid-1950's decided she needed to go to a Bible College and prepare for ministry.
While at that college (memory says it was a native-American Pentecostal college in South Dakota), she met another Eskimo gentleman who shared the same call to ministry. They married and in the years that followed traveled throughout native communities along the western coast of Alaska preaching the Gospel and leading people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Almost exactly twenty years after she had been raised from
her death bed, she and her husband took over as pastors of the church my
brother and I had helped Dad build at Point Hope, Alaska. The ministry in
You don't, as a farmer, plow hard ground without running
into rocks from time to time.
Those rocks can be a real impediment to preparing a field for planting
One such "rock" was a local attorney who took an instant dislike to Dad, to our presence in the community, and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Nome had seven or eight churches already operating when we arrived, but their pastors were, sadly, just pacifying their congregations with Caesar-Milquetoast messages and doctrines that permitted the people to live in ongoing sin while believing that they were "Christians". Though you certainly would never refer to Alvin Capener as a "fire and brimstone" preacher, and though he rarely raised his voice in emotional fervor, his solid preaching brought conviction and confrontation with truth to folks who considered themselves "saved."
This local attorney (we'll call him "Fred" for the sake of this story) looked for every opportunity to make life miserable for Dad in the hopes that he would leave town discouraged. He tangled with the wrong man!
Our next-door-neighbor was a hardware store owner whose oldest son was demonized in the true sense of the word. This boy (we'll refer to him as "Henry") could be likeable one moment, and a terror the next. No one knew what set him off, but he would without warning suddenly change personality and become violent. His father was well aware of his son's propensity for violence and knew that there were deep-rooted problems that needed dealing with, but he never made any effort to address the situation.
One day during outdoor play activities, Howard and I were playing with Henry when, again without warning, he suddenly picked up a rock and threw it hard at Howard ("Howie"), striking him in the forehead. Howie dropped to the ground bleeding and dazed as Henry yelled profanities at him. Dad happened to be standing at the window and saw it happen. He ran outside and grabbed Henry by his arm, turned him over his knee and gave him a spanking with his hand. "Don't you EVER do that again, and don't you EVER come back here to play with Regner and Howard," he said sternly with about as much emotion as you'd ever see.
Henry -- who was nearly twice Howie's age -- ran home crying. Henry's father happened to be close buddies with Fred, our not-so-friendly attorney. Fred saw this as the perfect opportunity to discredit Dad and launch an attack. Together, Fred and our neighbor went to the police and filed assault charges. The police showed up at our door and arrested Dad. He was charged and subsequently released on his own recognizance.
When the case went before the local judge who also was a very close friend of Fred's, he declined to hear Dad's explanation of what happened, hearing only the very colorful testimony of the "aggrieved" father. He simply asked Dad if he had indeed spanked Henry and Dad responded that he had. When he began to explain the circumstances, the judge shushed him, banged his gavel down and said, "Rev. Capener, I'm fining you $500."
In 1950, a $500 fine would be roughly tantamount to being given a $50,000 fine today. Had Dad taken the case to an appeals court, and the court permitted to hear all of the details, there's no doubt it would have been overturned. Anti-spanking laws were not on the books in those days, and it was common practice even to spank someone else's children in aggravated circumstances -- in Alaska, anyway.
Because the driving force behind this case was the attorney, Dad turned to him in the courtroom and said, "Fred, I'm going to pay this fine. But you'll find in the end that you will be the loser for this. You do not come against the work of God without consequences."
Whether Dad specifically quoted to him Isaiah's prophecy or not ("No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." -- Isaiah 54:17), he was standing on it.
For about two months following the incident and the public
humiliation that Dad took over it, his enemies in
How it happened was never quite clear, but the boat capsized. Fred drowned and the judge died not long thereafter from exposure. Our next-door neighbor barely escaped with his life. He remembered Dad's words in the courtroom. Following Fred's funeral, our neighbor came to Dad and apologized for being party to a wrongly-brought lawsuit. He knew his friends had received judgment for their actions and their words against Dad.
It was a lesson those folks in Nome never forgot -- not while we were there at least. Dad and Mom were suddenly everyone's best friend. After laboring to gain acceptance in the community and have a real door of utterance with the people, folks suddenly wanted to be "friends" with this preacher who had power and authority with God.
Though he never accepted the Lord -- at least while we were still in Nome -- our neighbor's attitude towards us did a 180-degree turnabout. When I returned to Nome in the mid-1960's to minister, he was still there, running his hardware business. His attitude towards me was that of an old friend glad to see me back.
One of the people who was encouraged and influenced by Mary Mendenhall to begin coming to the church in Nome was a Barrow native by the name of Thomas Kingmayuk. Tommy was an alcoholic. Whatever the circumstances that brought him from Barrow to Nome (and they were clearly orchestrated by the Holy Spirit for a reason), he too was suffering from tuberculosis, although his disease was not nearly as advanced as Mary's had been.
Tommy was certainly on a life trek that was leading him towards the same destruction of his physical body that Mary Mendenhall had experienced. Like many members of his family, he was skilled as a carpenter and tradesman, but his attachment to the liquor bottle kept him on Skid Row in Nome virtually living the life of a homeless man. However Mary found Tommy, she brought (dragged?) him over to our living quarters (which were part of the church building itself as an apartment).
He stunk to high heavens of liquor when she brought him in and could scarcely speak a word without slurring it. Mom ran a tub full of bathwater and instructed him to get in take a bath while she made a strong pot of coffee. She found a pair of trousers and one of Dad's shirts to give him and threw his old clothing in the trash barrel. It was likely about an hour before he was sober enough and clear enough to listen to Dad.
Tommy was coughing blood and the toll the tuberculosis had taken on his physical well-being was very apparent. Mom sat him in a chair in the middle of the kitchen (Dad had built a pretty big kitchen for Mom) and kept pumping him with strong coffee while Dad began to share the Gospel with him. It wasn't long before Tommy was weeping a puddle of tears on the kitchen floor and Dad led him in a prayer of repentance and commitment to Jesus Christ. Whatever residual effects had remained from his alcoholic stupor, when Tommy finished praying, he was absolutely sober and clear-headed.
Mom decided that Tommy needed some TLC. With no real place for him to go, she fixed a bed in the dining room. Everything got moved around and the dining room rearranged so Tommy would have a place. The next day Dad took some olive oil, anointed Tommy and ministered healing to him.
Tommy Kingmayuk stayed in our home for somewhere between a month and two months. In that time, we watched him undergo the same physical transformation Mary Mendenhall had gone through. He went from a pale, sickly young man (he was 26 years old at the time) to a vibrant picture of health and strength. Dad had been doing some contract carpentry for the Air Force base and was able to arrange a job for Tommy.
Dad began quizzing him about Barrow and asking him what kind of ministry existed there, if any. The more they talked, the more a burning desire began to fill his spirit about the community. It was (to the best of my recollection) either March or April of 1953 that Dad was able to take advantage of an Air Force C-124 flight from Nome to Barrow. Tommy had already been telling his family in Barrow about the changes that had taken place in his life. He made arrangements with his brother, Gilbert, to meet Dad and have him stay in his home in Barrow. "Gilbert" was an English name tagged onto his native name, Mongoya, (just as "Thomas" had been added to his native, Kingmayuk) and Mongoya became Gilbert's surname.
During the trip, he was able to walk through the community (at the time, Barrow was one of the largest, almost entirely Eskimo communities in the world with some 1300 - 1400 native residents), meet the people and get a real sense of the spiritual temperature of the place. There was one other church in Barrow at the time: a Presbyterian church that had been established under the direction of Sheldon Jackson just before the turn of the century. The pastor who was there, William Wartes, welcomed Dad and said to him, "There's plenty of room here for another church. We're just not getting the job done."
When he left Barrow to return to Nome, there was a very clear sense of the direction of the Holy Spirit, and an immediacy about packing up the family and preparing for a move. We left Nome in the summer of 1953 to travel the "states" (Alaska was still a U.S. Territory at the time -- not a state) to share the vision and burden for Barrow.
This is where we will stop for today. We'll continue with this saga a week from Monday.
Lack is not supposed to be everlasting: it is a temporary situation until you can grow some Word seed to meet the need. God has given us the two things we need to get whatever we desire: Dominion and Seed.
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