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Samuel Morris

From Liberia, Africa to Fort Wayne, Indiana

In Bolivia last week, David Harriman told about a man who knelt in front of a tombstone and prayed, “Lord, give me the same spirit that you gave this man, Samuel Morris.”

Samuel Morris was born Prince Kaboo in 1873 in Liberia, Africa, the son of a Kru tribal chieftain. As a child, he was captured by an enemy tribe. They demanded his father bring them a present each month if they wanted to see their prince again. His father brought a present each month, but it was never enough.

When he could bring no more, Kaboo was beaten every day. During one of many intense whippings, Kaboo saw a bright light and heard a voice from Heaven telling him to flee. The rope binding him fell to the ground; he ran into the jungle where he wandered for days living off snails, mangos, roots… He traveled at night and hid in hollow logs during the day. He eventually came upon a coffee plantation owned by a Christian former slave.

There he met Miss Knolls, a graduate of Fort Wayne College (now Taylor University). She led him to Jesus. He was baptized with the name Samuel Morris in honor of her benefactor. He learned to read using the Bible as his textbook. He wanted to know more of this Holy Spirit he was reading about. When she told him that a man named Stephen Merritt had led her to Jesus, Samuel decided to go to America to find him.

He hired on a British ship where the arrogant British passengers made fun of him and treated him with scorn. When the captain became deathly sick, Samuel prayed for him and he was healed. Samuel then led him to the Lord. The captain made Samuel his personal assistant. By the time they reached New York, the whole crew and many of the passengers had become Christians through Samuel’s witness.

In crowded New York City he miraculously found Dr. Merritt who kindly offered to show him the city. “I don’t care to see buildings. I want to find the Holy Spirit,” Samuel said. The doctor sent him to Fort Wayne College. Everywhere he went, people were drawn to Jesus. In one church, as he sat up front, people saw his glowing face and began to come forward before he even got up to preach!

In late 1892 he came down with pneumonia. Five months later, in May, 1893 he died. His goal to take the Holy Spirit back to Africa was not met. He had been scheduled to help lay the cornerstone at the newly formed Taylor University in Upland, IN. As he lay sick, he said, “God is sovereign. I have finished my job. God will send others better than I to do His work in Africa.” At his funeral many students committed themselves to go to Africa. He was buried in the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne. Seventy some years later a man knelt and prayed for the same spirit.

Would you believe that while we were in Bolivia that man came to the guest house where we were staying?! I got to meet this man who had prayed at Samuel’s grave!

“God gave me the same spirit He gave Samuel Morris. I rose from my knees a different man,” he said. He went on to be a pastor and then the president of a large missionary organization. He just retired and was bringing some businessmen to Bolivia to show them how they could get involved in missions.

Taylor University named one of their dorms for Samuel Morris. He never got to go back to Africa, but his influence is still felt all over the world today, 124 years later.

The next time I am near Fort Wayne, I plan to visit his grave.

The Consequences of One Wrong Choice

Duane and Cindy Mullett were friends of Marcus Kaufman, who was shot at his home in N.C. on Dec. 2, 2013. I asked Cindy’s permission to reprint her [heavily edited] blog of the sentencing.

Last week, we sat in a cold, oppressive courtroom. Hushed words were spoken and little emotion was shown on the solemn faces of attorneys and investigators. The defendant’s family members sat on the front rows on the right side of the room. We sat on the left side, supporting the widowed spouse, her grieving parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters and close friends of the deceased victim–a young man; a fireman and soon-to-be first time father. He was senselessly murdered two years ago.

The young man in an orange jumpsuit was escorted into the room, hands and feet in shackles. I saw an elderly woman (the grandmother of the defendant?) wiping tears. Then we heard the deep, heart-wrenching cry, “Oh, my baby!” as the judge said, “Life in prison plus 360 months…”

It’s the same deep agonizing cry Marcus’s parents and family have also been living with, and it was the same cry that became my companion when our son unexpectedly died five years ago. But the cry I heard in the courtroom was different. There are some things harder to live with than death. I wonder if Khari McClelland ever thought about what his choice(s) would do to his mother? To his family? To the Kaufmans? To himself?!

He’d made many other wrong choices prior to this. Choices to love himself and his drugs more than relationships and others’ lives. He’d chosen to think about himself and his wants more than his family.

That day in the cold court room, I saw a beautiful, breathtaking example of making the right choices. The parents and widow looked into the face of the murderer and said, “We forgive you. We’re praying you will find Jesus.”

They choose to forgive. This didn’t happen because they decided that morning to forgive him. And it wasn’t because they felt like forgiving him. No, it was because they had predetermined to think the thoughts that Jesus would think. And these thoughts led to this amazing act of forgiveness.

I was closely watching the others in the room. I saw the effect of those selfless, nearly impossible words spoken to the murderer: “We forgive you.” Investigators, detectives, as well as members of the defendant’s family, were wiping tears.

I pray that someday, Khari McClelland will understand the depth from which this came. We pray he will find the same faith and God’s forgiveness for the choices he’s made. Does he deserve it? No. But do any of us deserve God’s forgiveness?

~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)

“If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt. 6:14,15

To read Cindy’s original blog: www.themullettfamily.com

Timothy Kane

Fourteen year old Timmy Kane was watching SuperBowl XXVI in 1992 with two older boys when one of them said, “We’re going to go rob a house!” With no thought of consequences, Timmy foolishly went with them.

By the time he realized what these older boys were actually going to do, it was too late. “You’re not going anywhere,” ordered 19 year-old Alvin Morton when Tim wanted to leave. As he hid under the dining room table, he heard the shotgun blasts.

In Florida, if you are with the murderer, you are guilty of murder. Because Tim “didn’t try to leave” the scene, he got life in prison. At age 14!

I first met Tim around ten years ago at Sumter Correctional near Bushnell, Fla. I was a guest of The Gospel Echoes, who go to the Sumter Chapel every January. I have seen Tim every January since then. We have become friends.

Ron Miller, a Holmes County native who lives in Nashville, has been working to free Tim ever since he saw his story on Dateline in 1998. He even started a vibrant prison ministry called “Timothy’s Gift” to bring awareness to Tim’s situation and also to share the good news of Christ in prisons thoughout Florida and now other states.

Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota has “adopted” Tim, writing to him, sending members to visit him, letting him know that he is not forgotten.

After his parents divorced in 1990, he had little structure and supervision. Even with a high IQ of 137, his grades began to slip and he started spending time with tougher kids- including 17-year-old Bobby Garner and 19 year old Alvin Morton, the ones who took him along to rob and murder.

In an interview, Tim said, “I got what I deserved. I did wrong things. But I like to think, I like to hope, that someone can change. I’m not that 14-year-old boy anymore,” he said.

Timothy Kane was release from prison!

Long story short: Last week Tim was released from prison! After 25 years! The 14 year old boy is now a young man of 39. I was able to talk to him by phone the day after he got out. He was going to go swimming for the first time in 25 years. He had just eaten at McDonalds and then went to Hardees and ate some more. He’s never driven a car. He’s never used a cell phone… “I don’t have the words to explain what’s going through my mind…” he told me on the phone. He’s in a new world.

Tim developed a habit of reading Prov. 1:10-11 every morning in prison:

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul… my son, do not go along with them.

“Am I worthy of a second chance? Two people lost their lives. They don’t get a second chance. I don’t deserve anything. But I hope to have a chance to have a second chance.”

Tim has learned his lesson. Pray for him. And for the victim’s family. They still grieve.

P.S. We booked Tim to speak at our Feb. 20, 2018 Sarasota Banquet. Mark the date!

Forgiving Bullet Bob

The prison band at St. Clair Correctional in Alabama is about as good as it gets. They play like professionals, they have written songs and they even have a music video of their band that has gone to churches outside the walls.

At our We Care Revival chapel service there last week (Jan 25), they sang a song for Bullet Bob. “You guys remember Bob?” the guitar player asked. A cheer of recognition went up from the prison chapel.

“As you know, we made a music video here in our chapel. Our video was being shown at a church in Montgomery and during the presentation, a loud gasp erupted from a woman in the congregation. As she watched the video, the camera scanned the prison chapel and she saw Bullet Bob, the man who had murdered her father! Bob was serving a life sentence for this crime and at the time was in the prison infirmary with terminal cancer. When this woman pulled herself together, she went up and talked to the people who were in charge showing the DVD.”

“How is Bob?” she asked. When she found out that he was basically on his death bed, she asked if she could get a message to him.

“Could you please let Bob know that we as a family forgive him? We have no ill feelings or enmity toward him and we hope that he is right with God. Please let him know that he is forgiven.”

The song leader who was sharing this story in our chapel service told how he was able to go to the prison hospital and deliver this message of forgiveness and freedom.

“The Smith* family wants you to know that they forgive you.” The look on Bullet Bob’s face was one of relief, disbelief, joy, amazement… He looked up at the ceiling from his hospital bed and let out a sigh and began to weep uncontrollably. He died several weeks later. In victory. Forgiven!”

Now folks, no matter how correct and right it is to forgive, that would be tough. I pray that I can be a forgiving person. One of the most terrifying verses in all of scripture is found in Matthew 6 right after the Lord’s Prayer:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, you heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Mt. 6:14,15

If we want forgiveness, we must forgive.

“Forgiveness is the only way to heal.” – Miguel Ruiz

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” -C.S. Lewis

“All I know is that justice did not heal me. Forgiveness did. The cost of forgiveness is nothing compared to the benefits of forgiveness. I feel like I have found new life through forgiveness.” -Debbie Morris, author, Forgiving the Dead Man Walking

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Every Day is a Gift

Thoughts for the New Year

I visited my friend, Joe Miller, Jr., in the hospital in 2002 after a bicycle/car accident. Tubes, beeping machines, hissing sounds and liquids in hanging bottles surrounded him in his ICU room. He was unresponsive. “He may not make it,” I thought. He didn’t.

I resolved right there in that hospital room to never take another day of life for granted. I had made that promise before, but I never kept it. This time, I have not taken a day of life for granted since May 30, 2002! I thank God every morning for life. Your life can be taken away in an instant. We are one heartbeat away from eternity. Every day is a gift!

And that’s my New Year’s rant for the year. Life is precious, fragile, uncertain. It’s a gift. Live each day as if it’s your last. Martin Luther said, “Live as if Jesus died yesterday, rose today and is coming back tomorrow.” Paul said, “Redeem the time… the days are evil…” Eph. 5:16

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In December, I was talking with some friends who help to feed the homeless. A day or two later I had coffee with Phil Klinefelter, chaplain of the Wayne County Jail. In both cases we remembered what Larry Burkett had said about Welfare Recipients: “If each church would take one welfare recipient under her wings and help him, teach him, mentor him and show him how to live a productive and independent life, we could do away with our government welfare system.” We wondered if the same would work for the homeless, the ex-inmate, or anyone struggling with life.

Chaplain Klinefelter has tried to get something going with local churches to help inmates. If a church would mentor just one inmate for a year… it never got off the ground.

So, I have a New Year’s challenge for us: What if every church would look around to see who would benefit from “mentoring?” Not just a handout or financial help, although that is certainly part of it, but some life-changing, long term actual examples of how to act, how to handle finances, how to show up for work on time, how to be responsible, how to treat people…

In other words, how to do what most of us learned growing up in a Christian home.

What if my family would help one homeless person; an ex-inmate; a person struggling to just live and pay bills? Maybe not actually have him live in your home, although that would be ideal (and risky), but to “be there” and be a friend and a mentor.

When the church falters the government steps in. And government can never do what the body of Christ should be doing. Ronald Reagan said, “Welfare’s Purpose Should Be To Eliminate, As Far As Possible, The Need For Its Own Existence.” It’s only gotten bigger.

I’m casting a seed in the field. May it germinate in our minds and hearts. Can we DO something? Can we at least spread the idea? Bring it up in conversations. Mention it in your prayers. I challenge us in 2017 to see what can be done to alleviate the attitudes and systems that keep people from becoming what God created them to be.

Is it really possible to eliminate homelessness? Let’s at least try! May 2017 be the year that a movement starts that rescues people from prison; from homelessness; from hopelessness; from aimlessness… and calls us off the bench and into the game! Could I be the person who starts something? Could YOU?

“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” – Jesus (Jn.4:35)

“…for we can certainly do it.” -Caleb, to Moses and all of Israel (Num. 13:30)

Happy New Year – John

Tidings of Great Joy!

No matter where you stand politically, you may have noticed that in the last few months that the main stream media has not been very accurate in their attempt at prophesy. They haven’t even done a very good job of simply reporting the news.

In the recent presidential election they reported that Donald Trump would not run. Then they reported that he would not last two weeks. Then they gave him two months. Then they reported that he was a fraud. He’s a decoy, just in the race to help his old friend, Hillary. He would not win the Republican primary. When he did become the Republican nominee, they said he had no chance to win the presidency. “You watch; he’s going to drop out.” And up to the last hour, rather than report news, they continued to prophesy the outcome of the election.

They had a perfect record: They didn’t get one thing right! The news was wrong. The polls were wrong. The politicians were wrong. The man who “had no chance” won in a landslide.

So… Now that I have lost all trust in the news media, what can I believe? Who can I believe? Where can I go for accurate news? At least I think I can believe the sports page. I actually listened to the Ohio State/ Michigan game, so I can testify that they got that news report right. But what about anything political? What about editorial opinion? What about the front page?

“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

What can we believe?

Friends, I have good news for you! You can believe the Bible. It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. And it contains Good News:

“Fear not! I bring you good tidings [news] of great joy… For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”

Not only is the announcement of the birth of Christ real news that you can believe, but it is also the best news that has ever been reported on planet earth! It’s 2000 years old, to be sure, but it is also the latest, freshest news today! And it wasn’t the usual Israeli main stream media who reported this amazing event… It was angels! Sent by God! And it is recorded in the most reliable, best selling book in history: The Bible.

“With the angelical host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem… Hark! The herald angels sing!

Christmas is a reminder of the wonderful news that God came to us. “Immanuel”–God with us. Christmas reminds us to trust not in horses and chariots (government; politicians), but to trust in the Baby who was born in a lowly stable just a few miles from the Palace of the most powerful, ruthless, wealthy, influential politician in the region, Herod the Great.

Who would have thought at the time that 2000 years later the little Baby would still be known and worshipped, but the only memory we have of the politician, Herod: He killed the babies.

Who can you believe? Jesus. What can you believe? His book. It’s reliable. It’s good news.

He rules the world with truth and grace and He makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love… Joy to the world!

What good news! You can believe it!

B.I.B.L.E.= Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

I Know Who I Am

Several miles from where I grew up, and about the same distance from where I now live, there is a flow of water beside State Route 83 known as Butler’s Spring. It’s a couple of miles north of Holmesville and most of my life, if you looked real close (and quick) as you drove by, you could notice a small white cross a few feet up the hill from the spring. Today, you’ll see a plaque.

On May 30, 1782, a group of soldiers from Crawford’s Expedition Against Sandusky camped there. One of them took sick and died. Twenty one year old Philip Smith helped dig the grave with his tomahawk. The other soldiers used their tomahawks to build a coffin from barrel staves [puncheons].

Four days later they fought in the ill-fated Battle of Sandusky, where they were routed by the Indians when the British showed up from Detroit to reinforce them. Philip Smith ran for his life. He was shot in the elbow in a shootout with an Indian and was lost without food, horse or weapon for over a week while he tried to find his way back home. He made it safely to Mingo Bottom (Steubenville) ten days later. Colonel Crawford was captured and tortured to death as revenge for the massacre of the innocent Moravian Indians, which had taken place just two months before in the village of Gnadenhutten.

The reason I mention this bit of local history is because in my recent genealogy search I discovered that Philip, the grave digger, is my fourth great-grandfather! He fought with Colonel Crawford! He knew Simon Girty! He was a pioneer settler of Ohio!*

I have known about that spring and the legend of a soldier buried there since I was a boy, and now I learn that I have a family connection to the soldier who died there 234 years ago, five miles from where I was born! A connection to history!

My family doesn’t seem to care about family history. When I visited the village of Königsbach, in Baden, Germany, where great-great-grandfather, Adam Schmid was born, I brought home a book of the village and Schmid relatives to show my Dad. He yawned. The rest of the family showed similar excitement. I’m guessing that a good percentage of you who are reading this are asking the same question my family seems to ask about genealogy: “So what?!”

I ask that myself: Why am I so anxious to find out who my ancestors were? Who cares? What difference does is make? I can answer you in three words: “I don’t know.” But I remember the feeling I got the first time I gazed at the gravestone of my great-great grandparents. “I am somebody.” “I came from somewhere.” “I belong.” Did those feelings have validity? I just know that’s what I felt.

Reverend Alvin Kanagy once preached on genealogy and made this statement: “The people who know who they are, where they came from, and where they belong, are usually the most stable citizens in any given community.” Right now I’m feeling real stable.

Of course, the important thing is not who you are and where you came from, but Whose you are and where you are going. I plan to stop at the battle memorial the next time I go through Upper Sandusky, where great-grandpa got routed by the Delaware, Wyandot and Shawnee. I have been to great-great grandpa Adam’s home town in Germany. I will continue to be curious about my ancestors and see what I can learn.

But more than that, I am a child of the King. And if you want to check out my genealogy there, look at Matthew 1:1-16. Verse 17 doesn’t say it, but that where I fit in: “...Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is the Christ.” [and is a brother (and Savior) of John Schmid. That’s my Brother! (and Savior). God is my Father. I am somebody! Talk about stable!

“…command certain men not to… devote themselves to… endless genealogies.” I Tim. I:4 (Mine aren’t endless) *


From An Historical Account of the Expedition Against Sandusky in 1782 by C.W. Butterfield, 1873 pp.86, 126, 166, 168

Postscript

I once sang a country song in a prison chapel called, “Rosemary’s Granddaughter.”

The New Testament begins with a genealogy. There are several long genealogy lists throughout scripture. I got curious about my blood line (genealogy) at around 40 years of age, even though Paul urged Timothy to command certain men not to “devote themselves to endless genealogies. These promote controversies…”

My excuse is that my study is not endless and I don’t think I’m causing controversies. Interestingly, the cabin of Lydia’s sixth great-grandfather, Jacob Hochstetler, was attacked in 1757, and even though the Indians shot at them and set fire to their cabin to flush them out, Jacob refused to allow his expert marksman sons to use their guns. “We don’t shoot at a man.”

Mrs. Hochstetler was killed and Jacob and his son were taken captive. There’s more to the story, but I find it fascinating that my ancestors fought the Indians; Lydia’s ancestors refuse to take up arms even though it cost them their lives.

Little Boy Blue or Try A Little Kindness

Kindness is a language everyone can understand

I sang a few songs, including Howard Grey, at the Belmont Prison Chapel service on Sunday, and then I invited the volunteers who came with me to introduce themselves and share whatever God laid on their hearts. Here is what Atlee Mast shared:

“That song, Howard Grey, sparked a memory. I remember a boy in my third grade class who was very timid; even backward. He was a new kid. He didn’t know any of us. His name was Jr. He got picked on unmercifully by the students. I remember kids kicking and punching him and laughing.

One day Jr. came to school with his shirt inside out. The teacher asked about his shirt. He didn’t answer. (It was probably dirty.) She came back to his desk and asked, and again Jr. didn’t answer. He just sat there. She slapped him on the right cheek. Then with her other hand she slapped him on his left cheek. Then, back and forth in rapid fire she slapped him with her left hand and then her right hand (a third grader!). Left, right, left, right… His cheeks were bright red from the abuse. Jr. didn’t cry. He didn’t say a word. Just sat there.

One day in the boy’s restroom Jr. got kicked and punched and shoved up against the wall as the boys pulled his long hair and banged his head against the wall. I saw all of this, and like the song, Howard Grey, I did nothing. I just stood there and watched. Out in the hallway I remember asking Jr., “Do you like school?” (I don’t know why I asked that.) “Not much,” he mumbled. I guess that was my meager attempt to befriend him.

Jr. was only at my school for one year. I guess he went back to the Amish school. I never saw him again. Then in 1987, I read a story in Reader’s Digest entitled, “Little Boy Blue.” The frozen body of a little boy in blue pajamas was found in a ditch near Chester, Nebraska on Christmas Eve, 1985. No one knew who he was or where he came from or what had happened to him. The community came together and gave the boy a funeral. They buried him under the name Matthew, which means “gift of God,” and referred to him as “Little Boy Blue,” because of his blue pajamas. “The church was completely packed and nobody had any idea who this child was,” said Thayer Co. Attorney, Daniel Werner.

Two years after the article it was discovered that Little Boy Blue was 9 year old Daniel, son of Eli Stutzman, Jr., my third grade classmate! Jr. (Eli) grew up to live a life of deception, crime, homosexuality, and eventually murder. He died a suicide after 13 years in prison.

What if I would have befriended Jr.? What if I would have stuck up for him? What if I would have done something to defend this poor little backward Amish boy? I wonder how different his life and the lives of his wife and child and others might have been? If…”

I sang this song after singing Howard Grey (and before Atlee’s story of Jr.):

“If you see your brother standing by the road, with a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed.

If you see your sister falling by the way, just stop and say, “You’re going the wrong way.

You’ve got to try a little kindness, show a little kindness, shine your light for everyone to see.

And if you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of the the narrow minded people on the narrow minded street.”

I believe that we are all responsible for our actions, no matter what our background is. Grow up! Be responsible! We make our own choices. BUT, I have to wonder if God will hold that third grade teacher partly responsible for the death of an innocent 9 year old boy, abandoned in a ditch.

“Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:32

“Kindness is a language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”

Mary McAffee Story: A Totally Committed Life

Big blessings come from a quiet, faithful life

Henry Clay Morrison was a Methodist preacher before he became president of Asbury College and founded Asbury Theological Seminary in 1923. This is his story of a remarkable women in his first parish in Stanford, Ky. around 1887.

“When I got to Stanford, Ky. as the new pastor, I stayed at a boarding house with a most delightful family. The Baptist pastor, Rev. John Bruce, a single man, was also boarding with the same family.

When I inquired about the spiritual state of the community, Rev. Bruce said, “Well, it’s none too good. We need a revival. But there is a wonderful woman down at the toll gate on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town. Her name is Mary McAfee. She is a most remarkable Christian; a little peculiar in her views, but wonderfully filled with the Spirit. If we had more like her, the churches would be in much better condition. By the way, she is a member of your church.”

Rev. Mallory pastored the Presbyterian Church. He called to see me a few days after my arrival, a most delightful gentleman. He talked earnestly about the need of a revival in our town. By and by, he said, “Have you met Mary McAfee? She is a member of your church. She keeps the toll gate down on the Crab Orchard Pike, about a half a mile out of town. She has some queer notions, but she lives very close to her Lord.”

Well, you may be sure I was becoming deeply interested in Sister McAfee, so I went down to see her. I found a very modest, little maiden woman who must have been past forty years of age. She told me a remarkable story of how she had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit in sanctifying power. How that after being bedridden for seven years she was miraculously healed, and that the Lord was graciously using her in the salvation of souls.

I had never met anyone to whom Jesus seemed a more real, gracious and present Savior. Tears trickled down my cheeks while she talked. I asked for an interest in her prayers and went away profoundly impressed.

We had a skeptic in the town; you always find one in a County Seat. I went up to his office and had a talk with him. He was a bit sour; he criticized the religious life of some of the men in the churches and was disposed to find fault. I was a bit embarrassed. But then he said, “There is a little woman, though, by the name of McAfee, who keeps the toll gate down on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town. If I could get the kind of religion she has, I would like to have it.”

I remembered that my Master had likened a consecrated, holy life to a “city set on a hill that could not be hid.” When ministers visited me, I would take them down to the toll gate and ask Sister McAfee to tell her experience. Each one was deeply moved. She was never excited, never afraid. She was resting in the calm of full redemption and perfect love. Her education was limited, but her comprehension of scriptural truth was most remarkable and her thinking wonderfully clear. She prayed earnestly that I might be wholly consecrated, entirely saved from sin, and filled with the Holy Spirit. She was a power in our revivals. Everybody believed in her. Her testimonies were quiet and convincing. She walked with God. She breathed the spirit of prayer, forgiveness and love. People who came in contact with her longed to know more about Jesus.

A newspaper reporter went down, had a talk with her and published her testimony in the Lousiville Courier Journal. Rev. W. W. Hooper, down in Mississippi, read her testimony and traveled 600 miles(!) to Stanford to ask her about her experience and ask for her prayers. While there, he received the baptism with the Holy Spirit in sanctifying power. He returned to Mississippi to preach a full salvation in Christ received by faith.

It would take a case full of books to tell how the fire spread. Sinners were converted, preachers were sanctified, missionaries went out across the seas. Years passed. Little Mary’s health failed and she faded gradually. Then her saintly spirit, on wings of love and faith, rose to meet and dwell with her blessed Savior forevermore.

The good people of Stanford sent for me to say some words at her funeral. As I stood by the plain coffin and looked at her quiet saintly face that seemed to tell of a soul that had entered into eternal rest, I hadn’t a doubt but directly and indirectly 100,000 souls had been touched for good through the holy life and the testimony of a little maiden woman who kept the tollgate on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town near Stanford, Ky.”

This article from The Pentecostal Herald, Nov/Dec 1988

Howard Grey: 1948 – 2016

The story behind the song

I heard of Howard Grey at a Ramblin’ Jack Elliot concert in the fatigued basement of one of the stately College of Wooster buildings in 1990. Neighbor Ed Schrock had tickets to hear this legendary folk singer and invited me to go along. We sat at tables with random folks and one of the ‘randoms’ at our table was Gary Hall, a singer. “You’re the man who sings ‘Howard Grey!” Ed exclaimed. “Yes, that would be me,” answered Gary.

And the story was told. Gary sang Howard’s song. And I bought Gary’s record (yes, that’s how long ago it was–a record!). And I began to sing the story of Howard Grey: a boy who got picked on in school and another boy who joined the mockers, and then got a glimpse of Howard’s tear stained eyes looking right back at him.

The writer was Lee Domann, singing about his shame at joining the ones making fun of Howard. And he regrets that he never had the chance to ask forgiveness because Howard’s family moved away soon after the incident.

I called Lee Domann soon after learning the song (about 1991?) to get permission to record it, and to find out where and to send the royalties. “Is that a true story?” I asked him on the phone. “Yes. I’m ashamed to say that it is.” “Anything come of it?” I asked. “Interesting that you would ask,” Lee said. “My father passed away last summer and I went home to the funeral. As they lowered my dad’s casket into the ground, I looked into the crowd through my tears… and right into the eyes of Howard Grey! He had come to my dad’s funeral! I went over and stood beside him. He was looking down at the ground. I put my arm on his shoulder and he said, “I heard the song.” After an awkward pause, I said, “Will you forgive me?” “Yeah,” was his one word answer.

“Twenty years of shame and guilt was lifted off of my shoulders that day. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to find Howard and make things right,” said Lee. “Many folks never get the chance.”

Several years later I called Howard and introduced myself. I told him that I sing the song about him. He sort of chuckled. He wasn’t much of a conversationalist. Several years later Lydia and I stopped in to visit him in Topeka, Kansas. We took his wife and him out for a meal. I saw that he would be easy to pick on. Unassuming, bashful, no self image…

Howard and Lee Domann and I kept in touch by phone and a visit or two over the years. Several times I called Howard right during a concert to have him say hello to the crowd. He never said much. “Hi,” was about all I could get him say. But it showed the people that he was a real person, just like the ones they were thinking of while I sang the song. Many of us can relate to Howard’s experience.

Howard was not a roaring success by worldly standards. He was retired and on disability by the time I met him. I began to send him “royalty checks.” I told him that every time I sang his song, I would pay him royalty of $25.00. About once a month I sent him $100. If I didn’t, he would call me. 🙂

On June 1st, we put a royalty check in the mail for him. That night I got a call from his son. “Dad passed away today. He laid down to take a nap and died in his sleep.”

Howard did not live an easy life. He didn’t have a lot of victories. Lee Domann’s song may have given him a little satisfaction that his life made a difference in other’s lives. (It sure did!)

Howard Grey, Oh Howard Grey… I’ve never quite forgiven us for treating you that way.
I only hope that maybe you will hear this song someday, And you’ll know that I am sorry, Howard Grey.
We’ll probably never meet again so I can only pray That you and God forgive us, Howard Grey.

RIP, Howard Grey. Your story will live on.

“You’ve got to try a little kindness, show a little kindness, shine your light for everyone to see.” –Glen Campbell–

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” -Plato
–Mark Twain

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” -Jesus