A Spiritual Bonanza on Oil Well Road

As part of our ministry to help men that had become extraordinarily discouraged, we had contacted a number of businesses who would hire some of these men, so that they could get a fresh start in life. Unfortunately, many did not turn out to be as reliable at their jobs as we had hoped. As time went on, employers became reluctant to hire our men, and it became difficult to find jobs for them. We began to realize that if we going to help these men find work, we would have to do it ourselves aid not be dependent on outside employers. This led us to begin looking for a place outside the city—somewhere that we could take the men to get them away from the environment that contributed to their problems in the first place. We felt this would give us a better opportunity to reach them with the gospel. We made it a matter of prayer.

The Lord answered our prayers in a way that seemed like a miracle just for us. We were visited by brother Hankins, whom we had known from the center downtown, and he had a suggestion for us. He wasn’t aware of our desire for a piece of property away from the city, but he told us about a four-room house with a bath, on five acres of wooded land in the town of Belle Chasse. This was on the other side of the Mississippi River, and about eight miles south. More importantly, it was cheap. Hankins had been out there to see the place, and he thought it would be good for us to acquire it.

We could hardly believe that such a buy was possible. We set out immediately to see it, boarding the ferry to cross the river at the Jackson Street wharf. The house had two bedrooms, a bathroom equipped with a tub and shower, a dining room, and a large modern kitchen. The building was extremely solid. In fact, the entire building, including the roof, was constructed with reinforced concrete!

There was five acres of land for expansion, and that seemed huge to us. We immediately envisioned how we could take our men—men that had become broken on the streets of the city of New Orleans, and bring them to a pristine place like this. We wouldn’t need a factory for them to work in. They could cut down trees, or clear land. Right then and there, we prayed that if the Lord wanted us to have this place, He would supply the down payment. We knew that we would have to act fast, though, because such a bargain wouldn’t be available for long. In the end, our wonderful, miracle-working God did provide.

We bought the property and named it, “The Rehab Farm” (“The Farm,” for short.) For most of the first year, our family continued to live at the center. Occasionally some workers, or Gladys and I, would go out with a crew of men for an day. The only thing that really needed to be done to the house right away was to paint the interior, and we accomplished that quickly with the help of our young men. On other days, we would clean, clear land, and build a new dormitory. The men loved the opportunity to get away from the city, and we found that we were able to get closer to them with the Word.

When we saw everything in place, we moved our family to the farm, leaving the other couples on staff to run the center. We would start a new assembly here in Belle Chasse. As our new assembly grew, we began to realize that the need for the ex-serviceman’s center downtown was diminishing. It was difficult to acknowledge after years invested in the work, but we felt led of the Lord to finally close the center.

This transition period, as we relocated everything, was a difficult experience for us. The entire staff worked with us, moving across the river, one trip at a time. There was a certain sadness, realizing that it was the end of a very productive period for us—the completion of a fruitful labor.

A productive new work awaited us in Belle Chasse, however, and we would see the hand of the Lord at work here daily. He would supply our needs in some very interesting ways, all in answer to prayer. The Lord blessed this work, and a number of people in the neighborhood were led to the Lord as well. We continued to experience His goodness.

At the farm, we loved to watch little Peetsie play with Donald, our pet duck. She and the duck were inseparable companions. Donald was also her bodyguard. If he thought she was threatened, he would make a loud hissing noise, flap his wings, and attack the intruders unless they retreated.

We often enjoyed the fellowship of visitors from out of town in our new location at Belle Chasse, including a missionary family who visited us on their way back to South America. I told Gladys that I would like to help them in their work , but we had no food in the house and all we had was a ten-dollar bill. We would have to use some of that money for food. I lamented to Gladys that if we had two fives, we could give them half. She said, “Give them all of it, and trust the Lord to supply the food.”

When we saw the missionaries off at the dock, I gave them our last money. Then we went to the train station to meet a Christian man who was passing through the city. We had a delightful visit and when he left, he put a twenty-dollar bill in my hand. We were overjoyed at this provision of the Lord. He had given us double the amount we had given to the missionaries. Isn’t that just like our loving, great God!

We learned that the mosquitoes could be ferocious. For an entire year, they were so bad that no one could go outside, regardless of the time of day. If we looked up, the sky would actually be blotted like a rain cloud, as swarms of the little critters attacked. They would get inside our ears somehow, and the buzzing noise sounded like a plane taking off. We would douse ourselves with insect repellent, and would still have to wear netting over our heads to keep the pests from getting into our mouth, eyes, and nose.

Besides just giving the men their room and board, we wanted to pay the men a little for their work. It became apparent that we needed to produce something to sell, so that we could become self-supporting. We started out by planting a little garden, and then we felt led of the Lord to build a small chicken house so that we could raise some chickens.

We bought a mule to plow and cultivate our vegetable garden not only for our own food, but also to sell at the market. It wasn’t easy to get that mule to work. Our gardening didn’t really pan out too well, and we learned that raising crops in the south was a different operation than we were familiar with up north. We also learned that the tastes of the New Orleans people were vastly different than we had expected.

We planted Iowa yellow bantam corn, and it was beautiful. When we took it to the market, people wouldn’t buy it. These folks only liked field corn. (Up north field corn is only good for feeding the pigs.) We raised great Idaho potatoes, only to learn that the people here loved their sweet potatoes instead. We raised large okra, they ate small okra. And so on…

We began to get discouraged with our farming, and so did the mule. The mule must have reasoned that his labors were unproductive, and thus he was useless. He must have become depressed, because one day we found him dead. We immediately diagnosed his death as a suicide, because he had wrapped his tether around a tree limb and hanged himself. This freed us to buy an old tractor for fifty dollars, without hurting the mule’s feelings.

I continued to work with the people of Belle Chasse, preaching the gospel in the little chapel we had built on the property. Gladys, the children, and I each made an effort to develop one-on-one relationships with our neighbors, and we saw a nice assembly begin to grow. Brother Stan Hanna and his wife, Esma, kept the assembly going in New Orleans. As often as possible, we traveled across the river and went out into the streets with them, preaching the gospel.

Some souls saved on Oil Well Road went on to mature in the Lord and prove faithful to the assembly more than thirty-five years later. Many others proved to be faithful until their death. These Christians have gone on to be a real help down through the years, winning many to the Lord by their testimony. Others could see a complete change in their lives—a newly found dependence on God.

This is even more remarkable because of the strong influence of the Catholic church on all aspects of family and community life in southern Louisiana at this time. Although little emphasis was placed on things such as reading the Bible and obeying God’s Word, religion was taken very seriously—not that life should be dedicated and lived for God, but rather the observance of church rituals and special religious days. There was very little tolerance of anything disruptive to the organized churches.

There was the case of a young man who genuinely trusted Christ as his Saviour, and who later went on to become a deacon in the assembly. It was through his testimony that his father also trusted Christ. His family was strongly religious, and when the father got saved, they quickly concluded that the old man had gone crazy, and tried to get him committed to the Mandeville Institution. Early one morning, both the son and his father came hurriedly to me, obviously frightened, asking for help. The son told me that the family had called the police and, with nowhere else to turn, he was hoping that I could help somehow.

Immediately sensing the seriousness of their dilemma, we prayed together, asking the Lord to intercede for us. Then I called a Christian friend who was a well-respected doctor. He agreed that we could bring the father to his own home, about 150 miles away, so that the family would not know where to find him. We helped the elderly man into a car, and his son spirited him off to the doctor’s home.

The son told the family that his father went to visit a friend, and he remained there for three weeks. They had a second doctor join in an examination, so that if we had to go to court to keep him out of the institution, we would have sufficient evidence that could not be disputed. When they pronounced him sane, the family dropped the charges, and so he was safeguarded from being consigned to a very trying institutional experience. It was a serious matter to own the Lord Jesus as one’s Saviour in a city like this. When a man or woman got saved, not only does their life change dramatically, but their family can be expected to have a hard time accepting it.

The father went ahead with his baptism, and remained faithful to the Lord and the assembly for many years until his death. His wife was saved shortly before his call home, and for many years after that, she was a pillar in our assembly.

One of the first buildings we added to the farm property was the chapel building. The Lord provided this building for us in a most unusual way. Ed and Mary Ellen Meschkat were a younger couple from the Houston area, and they were wholly devoted to the Lord. They had come to work with us several years earlier, when we were at the Magazine Street Center, and decided that they would like to move to the farm. Ed’s uncle was a carpenter, and he came from Houston to build them a four-room house on the property.

Just as the house was almost completed, Ed and Mary Ellen felt led to move to Lake Shore, Mississippi, instead. Another worker from the Servicemen’s Center, Mrs. Couragee, moved to Lake Shore when she married. She had relatives there, and was able to arrange for us to use a lovely abandoned church building for our meetings. The Meschkat’s and I, and some other workers at the center, saw a nice work established for the Lord there.

Souls had been saved, and the assembly of believers has been built up. A hundred people or more would come to the meetings. We needed someone to move to Lake Shore to carry on the work we had started there. Ed and Mary Ellen decided the Lord was leading them there so they moved to Mississippi, leaving their house empty.

We turned the house into a chapel, complete with a meeting room, two Sunday school rooms, and a bathroom. We held regular children’s meetings, and often the children would bring their parents out so that they would be there for the family meetings. We dug a hole behind the chapel, and built a baptismal with some concrete blocks. And so the Lord provided a meeting place for the assembly on the farm.

Several months after our move to Belle Chasse, we ran out of both food and money at the same time. This was not an uncommon occurence with us, but this time it seemed especially serious. We had a number of young men with us, and we had testified to them that God was our supplier. We had boasted of His great ability to supply our needs, and that our trust was in Him. It would be difficult to tell them that we had run out of food. Gladys and I drove into town to see if there might possibly be some money in our post office box that the Lord might have directed some saint to send. There was nothing. Now, we were really concerned as to what we would tell our young men. We were afraid they would not believe that our God was able.

We stopped at a bakery that supplied day-old bread free of charge to us, and drove home, praying as we went. We asked the Lord to work a miracle to provide for us, so that the faith of these young men would not be hindered. When we walked into our house, we were surprised to discover that almost every room of the chapel and the men’s dorm was filled with bunches of bananas. There were bananas everywhere!

Our young men told us that two ships loaded with bananas from Honduras were headed up the Mississippi River to the New Orleans market. Somehow, they had become mired in a sand bar at a turn in the Mississippi River, right at the end or our street. To lighten the ships, they had thrown hundreds of stalks of bananas into the river.

When the men saw this, they went to a neighbor and borrowed a truck. Then they gathered a number of truckloads of bananas for us, as well as for the neighbor who loaned them the truck. The story was published in the papers the next day quoting the shipping firm as being completely baffled as to how the ships could possibly have gotten stuck there. No accident of this kind had ever happened before or since, and numerous ships travel this part of the river daily. No doubt the Lord arranged this for us.

We saw in this an answer to our prayer for food. Bananas still on the stalk last for months, remaining ripe and fresh until they’re separated from the vine. The mailman brought a special package for us, and it was a large container of well over 100 pounds of Wisconsin cheese from a friend we had known in Milwaukee. Now we had bread, cheese, and bananas to eat—not a bad diet. And there was plenty of it! We had bananas raw, cooked, baked, stewed, and every way Gladys could think of. We felt like Israel with their daily manna. We had cheese and banana sandwiches, and banana and cheese sandwiches. This provided food for a long time. Our God is a prayer-answering God!

Right after we built the dormitory, we built our first chicken house. What was interesting about this was that the young men staying with us basically started this project by themselves. We had mentioned that it might be a good idea to raise our own chickens, thereby helping us out with our food bill. They figured out that they could construct houses for chickens out of the trees they were cutting down as they cleared the land. We made our first chicken house by cutting down small trees, and built it like a log cabin. After that first one, we built several chicken log cabins. They were rather crude, but they lasted until we were able to build better ones. The boys were proud of them, and they housed the chickens just fine. Fortunately, we ended up having more success with raising chickens than with vegetable farming.

As time went on, we decided to get serious about raising chicken fryers for the commercial market. Gladys and I began studying chickens. We took university extension courses to learn about the various diseases common to chickens. Soon we knew how to recognize and diagnose their symptoms, and how to treat their ailments. We learned how and when to vaccinate them. It was quite a job to catch each chicken before we could inject them with the serum. The vaccinations had to be repeated at several intervals on every flock.

We ended up with a number of chicken houses, each able to hold five hundred chickens. As the first step in raising fryers for the market, we started out with five hundred chicks. We put them in their own house, covered the dirt floor with fresh wood shavings, and turned some heat lamps on to keep the chicks warm. They stayed in that house for nine weeks until they were heavy enough to sell, and then we brought them to the market to be sold. The empty house was then restocked with a new batch of baby chicks. We had a number of these houses, and each of them had chickens at various stages.

We started raising fryers, but our supplier of chicken feed liked what we were doing for the young men, and wanted to help us. He convinced us to switch from raising fryers to egg-laying hens. It cost five thousand dollars, but he loaned us the money to do it, charging no interest, and requiring no security deposit. If this seems generous today, keep in mind that this was forty years ago.

True to the man’s word, this proved to be a much more profitable venture. Soon we had a flock of over 1500 laying hens, producing at least one hundred dozen eggs per day. When we figured all our costs, we found that the eggs cost us nineteen cents per dozen, and we sold them for at least seventy cents per dozen, year in and year out. In fact, we would get ninety cents per dozen for double-yolk, extra-large eggs. We were easily able to pay off our loan as we sold the eggs. This was surely the work of the Lord on our behalf, and He certainly blessed us. We eventually worked up to two thousand egg-laying hens.

All this provided work for the men in the dormitory, allowing us to build housing for them as well as a chapel, and also providing enough for us to operate an outreach center for lost souls in downtown New Orleans. We made a tidy profit raising chickens, and were able to connect it with our spiritual work. We thanked the Lord for providing for us in this way. The apostle Paul made tents; we raised chickens.

Once, just after we received a shipment of five hundred baby chicks, I went to the chicken house to check them. There I found a six-foot rattlesnake eating our little chicks. I could see he had eaten several already, because I could count a number of bulges in his body. I cautiously watched him for a few moments. The snake would actually hypnotize its victim, looking intently at a baby chick. The little chick just stared back at the snake, and literally walked right into its open mouth. I rescued the poor little thing by breaking the back of the attacker with a hoe.

I learned to be careful in hitting a snake across the back. If you don’t strike it close to its head, it can throw most of its body upright, thus allowing it to bite an arm. I wish I didn’t learn this lesson the hard way, though. Once, when I struck near a rattler’s tail, he swung his head up and brushed right against my hand. Fortunately, his teeth were not able to connect with my hand. Snakes were a constant threat on the farm. One of the woodsmen was bitten in the foot by a poisonous moccasin, and almost died. We had numerous other close calls, but the Lord preserved us.

We kept the feed for the chickens in large fifty-gallon drums in the chicken house. To get a pail of chicken feed, we would stoop over and dip in a bucket. Vernon Jr. was leaning over the drum to get some feed one day, and upon straightening up, found himself looking straight into the eyes of a six-foot rattler hanging by its tail from a rafter. After that, we all looked up, down, and around when we went into the chicken houses.

After switching to raising hens, we learned that even collecting eggs presented a need for caution. As I had done a thousand times, I put my hand under a hen to get the eggs. Instead of eggs, I felt the cold body of a rattler coiled under the hen. Slowly pulling my hand back, I hurried away and returned with my gun. I lifted the hen off the nest again, and in a flash the snake uncoiled and crawled away. I took two shots and missed both times. Needless to say, after that we were careful to not stick our hands where we couldn’t see.

Always looking for ways to improve our operation, we thought we might experiment with raising a very special breed. After obtaining some eggs, we placed them a under a setting hen in the hopes of hatching some baby chicks. The eggs kept disappearing, however, and we knew that the hen wasn’t eating them. We suspected that a moccasin snake was eating them, so Gladys put a bunch of glass eggs under the hen. Not long after that, we stumbled upon a very slow-moving snake. He was forced to navigate his way with several egg-sized lumps at intervals throughout his body. He was not able to break them after swallowing them like he had been able to do with regular eggs. We killed him, putting an end to his egg stealing forever. We chalked this up as a rotten joke on a thieving serpent.

The hazard of snakes was not confined to the chicken house. I was preaching in our little chapel one Sunday, with about sixty people in attendance. As I was speaking, I looked up to see a six-foot rattler dangling above their heads. It had crawled up a post and was slithering along a brace which spanned the room. The snake paused in the center of the room, then dipped its head down, as if it were planning to drop on someone’s head. The audience had not noticed it, but I was terrified. I dared not stop my message, or let on about the danger. If any of the people under the snake stood up, or moved suddenly, they would be in danger of being bitten.

I usually pray for the eyes of the people to be focused up, on the Lord, and not on the preacher. That day, I broke the rule. I prayed that my preaching would be interesting enough to keep all eyes focused on me, instead of gazing at the ceiling. For what seemed like an eternity, I prayed, and I preached, and I watched, and I sweated. Finally, the reptile slithered harmlessly away into an attic of the Sunday school room, at the Lord’s command, no doubt. Though we searched diligently after the meeting, we never did find it.

It was encouraging to get feedback from time to time when we would meet someone that trusted Christ, or was encouraged in their faith, from some of the earlier efforts. Once, I had been invited to speak at the Southern Conference of the Gideons, and when I finished and went to step down from the platform, a gentleman approached me with a question. “Are you the same Schlief that is written on the cover leaf of my Gideon New Testament?” I looked at it, and to my surprise, I saw that it was my brother Marius’ name.

The New Testament was one my brother had handed to him at the Servicemen’s Center about ten years earlier, just as he was about to be shipped out to sea by the Navy. Aboard the ship, he read and reread that New Testament, and through it he found eternal life. He had always wanted to find the person who had given him that New Testament, and he was very happy to express his thanks.

Gladys and I invited him to our home, and we enjoyed wonderful fellowship. He had become very active in work with the Gideons where he was in charge of a five-state area, and was also active in his local church. In proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, he had led many to the Lord. This reminded us how a brief testimony, and simply giving a man a New Testament, could have far-reaching results.

As a continued outreach to the city, after we moved to the farm, we leased the fifth floor of a downtown building. We kept this center open on certain evenings during the week, providing a place for men to come in for snacks and games. Looking back at the souls that were won among the servicemen, we thought that some men could be reached for Christ by having someone to talk to, that cared about their souls. This work was carried on for over a year, and some wonderful trophies of the Lord’s grace are the fruit of that work.

In order to get the facility ready to open, we brought some of the young men from Belle Chasse with us to help. On one of these occasions, we had to park about a block away from the building, carrying our cleaning equipment and supplies with us as we walked along the busy downtown streets. There we were, Gladys and me, our two children and three of the young men from the farm, walking down Camp Street, crowded with downtown shoppers, wearing our old ragged work clothes, big straw hats, and loaded down with scrub pails, mops, and brooms. I’d never felt more out of place in my life! Catching the humor of the scene, one of the young men with us stopped. Pointing up to a three-story high building, he yelled at Gladys in a hillbilly fashion, “Hey Ma, lookit’ that there high build’n. Did yer ever see anythin’ like that? Ain’t it sumpin?” Everybody on the street stopped and looked up. Just then, a street car went by, and he yelled, acting very startled, “Ma, an’ what’s that thing?” By now, people were staring at us, really believing we were from the hills. Since we all felt rather silly, we went along with them.

The most humorous moment occurred when we waited for the elevator. There were all kinds of questions about this strange place we asked of one another. When the elevator door opened, two of them refused to get in, exclaiming, “I’m not goin’ to get into that thing,” etc. All the people around us were in hysterics. We were all in such high spirits that a great deal of work was accomplished that day.

Much progress was made in helping to establish meetings in other areas of the Deep South, as well. Through a mutual friend, we became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Hershner Coats from Linden, Alabama. They were eager to learn the New Testaments principles we were teaching. They wanted to see a scriptural assembly started in their area, and asked if we would help. We immediately called Bill Walker in Lafayette. Soon, Gladys and I were on our way to Linden, planning to meet Bill and Carolyn there. Together we opened the Word to a few inquisitive believers, teaching the simplicity of gathering according to the New Testament.

Their first breaking of bread meetings were held in the Coat’s home. After a few weeks, the gathering moved into a vacant grocery store in the nearby town of Spring Hill. At that first meeting, the woman believers in attendance wore no head coverings, because we hadn’t been taught 1 Corinthians 11. After the worship meeting, we investigated the Scriptures thoroughly regarding the head covering, and it became very clear to us that they were sincerely interested in obediently following all of the Word of God.

Soon the meeting was moved back to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Coats. Frequently Bill and I, or another co-worker, came to teach about New Testament assembly. We would preach the gospel, and also disciple some of the brethren in leadership. They later purchased and renovated a building to serve as their chapel.

Charles Lacey, who continued to work with us from time to time, moved to that area to minister to the Christians in Linden. He built and painted a large billboard, in front of the chapel. The verse on that sign has stood as a beacon for decades, strategically visible from each of two highways that intersect in front of the chapel property. It has drawn a lot of attention to the chapel, and no one driving north out of Linden can miss it.

John Rupp, a Christian man from Needham, Alabama, had heard of our work for the Lord, and came to visit us in New Orleans. The Lord led me to share with him from the Bible concerning the New Testament church pattern, and with it the joy and freedom I experienced in following God’s teaching. He responded, expressing a sincere desire to be obedient to the Word. I could tell that he was an intelligent man with great potential for teaching, so I gave him several books on the subject, and spent many hours with him as well.

He knew several Christians in Needham, and expressed a desire to begin a scriptural meeting in his home. Bill and I drove up to Needham that week to help him. At the first meeting we had a few adults and their children, meeting for Bible study first, and then the breaking of bread.

John frequently came to visit me in New Orleans, and Bill and I went to Needham quite often. Sometimes we held special meetings that lasted for several weeks, or sometimes we stopped by for a meeting or two. Precious souls were saved, among them Charles Turner and his wife who later became pillars in the church.

The Christians at Needham, some of whom were loggers, built their first chapel building by themselves. It was a simple one-room affair, with just an outside shell of boards, and a roof overhead. Sawdust and wood shavings covered a dirt floor. Seating was provided by cutting logs into 16-inch lengths, setting them on their ends, and placing another board over them. They weren’t the most comfortable seats, but they were adequate. Sometimes a hundred people gathered in that little building to hear the Word of God. Souls were saved, and two healthy assemblies grew.

I believe it was in the 1920’s that Arthur Rogers and another brother put up a tent in Winnsboro in a cow pasture, and held a series of evangelistic meetings. A number of men and women were saved, so a farmer owning several acres a few miles outside of town donated some of the land to them. They built a small building there, giving it a country school-house appearance, Winnsboro itself being a very small town in the country. Bill and I heard that there was a meeting there, so we went to investigate.

The first time Bill and I drove up to that abandoned little chapel, I was impressed with how completely deserted everything looked. The only other building in sight was a farm house about one-half mile away. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose a location like that for a chapel. Many of the gifted men had been transferred, so the believers had become discouraged, and stopped meeting. The saints were scattered, and the chapel had been standing empty for years.

We found a few Christians who had been in the assembly, including two able men and their families. They had been praying for someone to come and help start the meetings again. We announced that, Lord willing, the meetings would start up again, and we could hardly believe the response. The chapel was filled, and the interest was great. The assembly was back after all those years. Bill took this meeting under his wing, since it was closer to him. We went together quite often for meetings, and to help with problems as they arose. The assembly continued as a good testimony for may years.

Through the years, we have seen a number of meetings or Bible studies, in which we have invested a lot of time and effort, only to fail and cause us great disappointment. A group of Christians in Columbia, Mississippi, asked me to come weekly to teach them from Scripture about church order so that they could begin their own in a similar pattern. There were from thirty-five to forty that came out every Thursday night. A very prominent family opened their large home for us to meet in. They really seemed to be devoted saints of God.

Columbia is a one-hundred-mile drive from Belle Chasse, and Gladys and I eagerly drove there every week for at least a year-and-a-half. It was thrilling to see their excitement in learning the truths of God’s Word. The meetings started at seven in the evening, and often continued until eleven or later. It was between one and three o’clock in the morning before we would get back home. The trip was difficult, but we felt it would be well worth it in order to see a scriptural assembly begun.

Just when we felt we had reached the point that they could begin breaking bread, and start meeting as an assembly on their own, everything came to an abrupt end. On Thursday evening, we had all agreed to come together the following Sunday for their first worship meeting. Then, on Saturday night, I got a phone call from the prominent businessman who owned the house we were meeting in. He told us not to come, that they could not start the assembly now, because he had decided to run for Governor. His associates had heard that he was planning to leave his popular denomination in order to start a little church in his home. They advised him that if he did this, he would most certainly lose the election, which was scheduled to take place in a short time.

The cost to stand for the truth was too high. We grieved over this, but we understood it as another one of Satan’s plots. As it turned out, he lost the election, and the spiritual loss cannot be measured.

Bill Walker owned a small plane, which helped us in our visits to these outlying assemblies. He would pick me up, usually at a small airstrip near us, and sometimes at the New Orleans airport. It was great to be able to fly from one assembly to another. We developed a smooth system. We would call one of the brothers, informing him of our arrival time, and he would meet us when we landed. Sometimes we flew to another airport, but most often we ended up landing in a pasture, or some old abandoned runway—occasionally with a great deal of difficulty.

While flying from Linden to Jackson, Mississippi, we received an incorrect weather report and ran into a storm. There was no radar on our plane, so we were flying by sight. On our approach to the airport, we kept asking for permission to land. The airport controller ignored us, tending to the commercial traffic instead. We circled the airport as the storm grew worse, continually flying lower so Bill could see. The storm finally grew so bad that we couldn’t land even if the airport did open. Bill thought he spotted a muddy driveway where we could crash, so he made repeated passes over it, to familiarize himself with the terrain. We were at treetop level now, and the gas was very low. We prayed for guidance.

I suggested that we go back to the highway, and look for some pasture to land in. He agreed, and in a few minutes we spotted a small grass runway. It was in a pasture, near a large shed that we figured could be used to shelter a plane. We circled and practiced some landing runs until we decided it was safe to land. At last we did land safely on terra firma.

As we taxied up to the shed, we noticed a car drive up to the gate of the pasture. Then a man got out, opening the pasture gate to greet us. He had heard us circling, and knew we were in trouble, since he owned a small plane too. To demonstrate the extent of how the Lord looks after us, the man even took us to a hotel to wait for the bad weather to pass. We ended up staying in that small town for a week until it cleared enough for us to take off.

When we first acquired the property on Oil Well Road, we had a five-acre piece of land. Although this seemed like a lot to us at first, before long we were praying that the Lord would enable us to expand our ministry by acquiring the other four five-acre plots adjacent to ours. It was remarkable how the Lord worked this out for us. It’s the kind of thing that only happens with supernatural intervention, and we believe that this is what happened. The Lord made it happen. We believe in miracles.

First, the owner of the five-acre piece to the left of us couldn’t finish paying for it, so he had to let it go back to the original owner—the same man we had purchased our land from. When we expressed an interest in purchasing it, the owner decided to let us simply take over the payments—only $25.00 per month—and he deeded the land over to us.

Again, we were able to get two more parcels by simply taking over the payments of $25.00 per month each. This left only one five-acre piece that we needed to complete our twenty-five acre plot, the amount of land we felt we needed for our project. This strip of land was situated between lots three and five, thus denying us access to it from the rest of our property. We had bought the furthest strip, lot five, when it became available, trusting the Lord to would give us the remaining land as well.

It took two years before the Lord answered our prayer. The owner of this lot was very blunt when I approached him on the subject, and adamantly declared, “I will never sell that piece of land as long as I live!” To make a long story short, he died, and we were able to obtain his piece as well, making us the owners of the entire twenty-five acres.