In about 1939 Dad and Mother decided to go to the Waterloo, Iowa Free Methodist Church to hear Dad’s old friends, JK French and Oscar Leper, sing. They were good singers, but Dad couldn’t imagine them singing in church! They always sang in bars! Dad and Mother were pleasantly surprised and even saw a different kind of countenance and lifestyle in their friends and decided to find out what had happened to them. JK and Oscar, along with their wives, told Dad and Mother how they had become born-again Christians and what a difference it made in their lives! After thinking and meditating for a few days, Dad prayed for forgiveness and accepted Christ into his life. Then a few days later, Mother prayed. What a life changing experience for each of them and for their marriage! What a difference in their family life! Breaking old habits were hard but with the help of the Lord and with determination it was accomplished.
Dad was a gifted speaker and was sometimes asked by Pastor Walls to fill in for him in the evening services when he had to be gone. He was given an Exhorter’s License in 1941.
When Pastor Walls was appointed to the Free Methodist Church in Des Moines he asked Dad to consider moving to Des Moines as his assistant. There was a small Free Methodist Church on the east side of the city that he was also responsible for. He asked Dad to take charge of that small church, Fairview Free Methodist Church. The folks at Fairview couldn’t afford to pay a pastor so he would need to work elsewhere at the same time.
The move to Des Moines was made. There isn’t room here to tell the story of their trip from Waterloo to Des Moines pulling a trailer with all their belongings. God was definitely in this move! Dad was now working two jobs, cooking in a large hotel downtown and pastoring a small church along with assisting Pastor Walls.
World War II was going on in Europe and December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. The USA was thrust into World War II. A young, Free Methodist Japanese couple escaped the exodus of the Japanese people on the west coast and came to live in our upstairs. See former post: World War II Memories-Displaced Japanese Americans.
At the beginning of 1942 Mother discovered she was pregnant again with their fourth baby. It was a difficult pregnancy, the baby was due in October. One day in August Dad came home from work finding Mother having convulsions. An ambulance was called. Mother wasn’t expected to live and the baby wouldn’t live either. Friends and relatives came to help out our young family. Grandma Aanas, Mother’s mother, came and stayed to help. The church family was all praying for Mother and for our family. Mother’s body was full of uremic poisoning. She even lost her eyesight. She could see when a person entered the room but she couldn’t tell who it was until the person spoke.
Mother’s oldest brother, Obie and Ev, his wife, came to visit and offered to take me home to raise as one of their own, if Mother didn’t live! Dad thanked them and said he’d think and pray about it. The next day, he thanked them but said he couldn’t do it. Somehow he knew the Lord would help him make it through life with his children.
On August 25 the doctor’s told Dad the baby would be born that day but he shouldn’t expect the baby to live. They would do everything possible to save Mother. God answered prayer. Mother lived through the delivery. The next morning as Dad walked through the hospital hall one of the doctors met him and said, with a smile, “Say, that little engine is still a puffin!” William Claude weighed 2 pounds, nine ounces! The hospital didn’t have an incubator so they put hot water bottles around the baby to keep him warm! Mother and the baby both lived; Mother’s eyesight returned although she was left color blind. We called the baby, Billy.
More changes in Dad’s career came. He quit his job as a chef and became senior pastor of the Des Moines Free Methodist Church. A big change came in the church while Dad was the pastor. There had not been any musical instruments up to this time. In the 1946 General Conference, it was voted upon to have a piano or organ in the sanctuary!
He was very successful for not having a college degree and not having been ordained yet. But, somehow he felt he wasn’t doing what God had called him to do. He felt he should be an evangelist! That meant traveling and holding two-week evangelistic campaigns. Dad and Mother began to pray about this and decided God must be calling him to be an evangelist. A house was purchased and the family moved out of the parsonage.
Requests came from all over the country for Dad to hold revivals. Many evangelists of that day required a promised certain amount of pay at the end of the revival…but not Dad. Whatever money came in, he accepted. Most of the time it wasn’t quite enough to cover expenses at home and his traveling expenses!
The coal bill for the house in Des Moines was a problem. A move to Covington, Oklahoma was suggested, where he had held a revival. The temperature was almost always warm, the people were always warm. There would be no coal bill!
So in 1946, the house in Des Moines was sold and a house in Covington was purchased. Dad moved the family to Covington, Oklahoma.
To be continued…