Brother Milburn Spence and Me!
Yesterday was a truly great day for me and Virginia. On the way home from visiting with our youngest daughter we stopped by to visit with a very special person to me. He was the first pastor who seemed to see in me some potential for a call to ministry, though he was honest in saying he just didn't know if that shy young man could ever "cut the mustard" in the pulpit!
Now 82, he admits to having some difficulty getting around, for he uses a wheelchair (owing to the lack of good control of his right leg). He has been in a care facility for some years, and admits to sleeping more now, but has not lost his humor and wit and long-term memory for the most part. The evidence of his recall was more evident the more we rehearsed together those early years of our acquaintance.
You see, when I was in high school in the late fifties, it was the Gaither Baptist Church that our family called our home church. And it was there, in the Community Building the church used for services in those years, that I surrendered my life to Jesus as my Saviour and Lord. I remember walking down the aisle that Sunday morning at the invitation, accompanied by my sister, Jo Ann, and taking Brother Milburn Spence by the hand. In those few moments at the altar, he led us in our confessing of sins and inviting of Jesus into our hearts. (You see, a week before that, I had stood in the sanctuary at the invitation time, holding a "death" grip on the pew in front of me, and knowing I needed to step forward, but didn't. Returning home, I shared with my mother about my delimma, whereupon she told me that at the very next meeting, I should go forward and talk with Bro. Spence. She added also that Jo Ann had expressed the same delimma that morning, and she had given her the same instructions.)
Needless to say, Bro. Milburn became a very important person of influence in my life. It was the summer before my senior year in high school. Following that day's significant step, we had a revival meeting scheduled at Gaither with an Indian Evangelist from Oklahoma named Eldon Dicus. It was under his preaching that my mother discovered that her childhood baptism had not been a true experience of heart, so she, too, came forward to be led by Brother Milburn to a personal experience of salvation. Following that revival and the conversion of another lady named Maxine Colston, a baptism was scheduled to take place at the customary Krooked Creek "swimming" hole. Again, Brother Milburn Spence was the officiator in our public profession by baptism.