United Pentecostal Church International
I was surprised to see, hanging on the wall of Pastor Paul M. Cooks church office, Columbus, Ohio a picture of a General Conference held in 1940 in Port Arthur, Texas. I was in the picture. I was sixteen years old and had begun to feel my call to the ministry. There were 199 other people present at this General Conference according to this picture.
At age seventeen, I was enrolled in Southern Bible and Vocational College. This was a good school located in a rural community ten miles from Cisco, Texas. During three of the four years that I attended college, I was pastor of a church in Gorman, Texas.
During this time the school was moved to Milford, Texas. This meant that I could only be with the church on the weekends. World War II was being fought at this time. There was a shortage of many things, including preachers. Because of that, my youthful short comings were tolerated.
In the winter of 1943 I was ordained as a minister of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ. I did not fill out an application for license. I did not meet the District Board. R.L. Blankenship, Superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, Texas District just decided that I should be ordained during a district meeting. The District Secretary, Phillips, got my first license for me, signed by W. T. Witherspoon and S. R. Hanby.
On August 20, 1944, I was married to a beautiful, dedicated, young lady. Bessie Beryl Halbrooks has been the greatest event of my life, besides Jesus Christ. She was the first and only girl I ever dated. She bore three wonderful children; Datha Dees, Terry and Nathanael Pugh. We have been married for sixty years and I love her more now than I ever have. She has been so very faithful and supportive.
While we were still in college and she taught school, we pastored briefly in Hillsboro, Texas. During our short pastorate, the attendance tripled. We grew from an attendance of five to a robust fifteen in number. Perhaps we over did it and were getting too large. One Sunday night after church, the main leader of the church told me that they no longer wanted me as pastor. So we walked away with a heavy heart.
After graduating from Bible School, my wife and I traveled as evangelist for a short time. We did not own a car and knew that there was little likelihood that we would ever own one. I did not have the money to buy her bus ticket to our first revival after we married. I left her at the bus station in tears.
We were called to pastor in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1945. World War II had just come to a close. The military base closed and the city went into a slump. The church shrunk in size. We had the privilege of preaching in Life Tabernacle, in Wichita Falls in the year of 2000. Pastor Wendell Elms was so kind. Over 400 people worshipped in a large beautiful building on a splendid location. My heart swelled with gratitude.
The next day my wife and I drove by the corner on Kemp and Jay where the little dwelling house had been converted into a place of worship. We recalled on Sunday night, we would count the money the people had handed us that weekend. If it was more than $2.50 we would walk to a drug store and drink a lime aid. We only bought one drink but asked for two straws. There were quiet a few Sunday nights we did not get a lime aid. Our offering had been less than $2.50.
From 1946 to 1948, we evangelized. During this time we purchased a car.
We went to West Lake, Louisiana to reopen a work that had been closed. There our first child, Datha Jo was born. We only stayed in West Lake 1-1/2 years, but God greatly blessed. We were able to leave eighty wonderful saints behind, a finished parsonage and a self supporting work. To God be the glory for the large church there now so well pastored by Mark R. Stanton.
In 1949, at age twenty-seven, Bessie and I moved to Port Arthur, Texas to pastor The First Pentecostal Church. We lived and ministered there for seventeen years. The Lord raised up a strong congregation, a new parsonage and a new church building.
In January of 1967, the General Board of the United Pentecostal Church appointed me, to fill the unexpired term of Haskell Yadon, as General Home Missions Director. After filling that office for six years, we withdrew from it feeling this to be the will of God. We thank God for the wonder, the growth, and vision that God brought to the United Pentecostal Church. I am grateful for the faithful work of great men who served in the Home Missions Department in those days. I appreciate the privilege of working with S.W. Chamber, my General Superintendent.
Bessie and I felt it Gods will to come to Odessa, Texas in 1974 to pastor The First United Pentecostal Church. For nineteen years, we enjoyed revival and growth. During our pastorate, God gave us a new building with a 1,000 seat auditorium. Also, I had the privilege for eight years of serving the Texico District as their District Superintendent.
At this time both Bessie and I are eighty years old. We love the United Pentecostal Church. We witnessed its beginning and hopefully contributed in a small way to its growth. It has been our home since its beginning. In this fellowship we will die and be buried.