Rev. Noble Ballew is my pastor. He helped Frances and me navigate through those challenging teen years. He encouraged us to pray. He was always with us at our Friday night “youth prayer meetings.” No one really led those services. He would sit on the floor with us and sing while Brother Dougherty played the piano, then we would pray for a while as the music continued. We might pause and someone would read a scripture or share a testimony. We started out with one hour services, but God showed up and I can remember taking the bus home at 4 AM!
That is where God baptized me and many others in the Holy Spirit. A little group of teenagers caught on fire and the church began to explode in growth. Pastor Noble Ballew was in his twenties, young and vibrant. We all loved him and his wife, Mary, (who passed away years ago). We could tell he loved us, too. Several of us ended up in full time ministry. He performed our wedding when Frances was 18 and I was 19.
That was long ago, but Noble Ballew is still my pastor. Recently his son, Rev. Ron Ballew, began serving as pastor in the nearby community of Hillmar. Friday I discovered that Noble had recently moved into a nice “Senior Living” facility in Turlock. That same day I visited him and we enjoyed lunch together. (In fact, that is where I met “Honey”. See Friday’s blog below.)
Sunday morning 10:30: I happened to be ministering in Hughson Full Gospel Assembly with Pastor Ernie Spears, which is only about 5 miles from Turlock. I arranged for a cab to bring my pastor to come hear me preach. He was there bright and early.
That morning I told the story of a pastor that encouraged his youth to pray and stayed with them praying until heaven came down. Then I had him stand and greet the congregation. It was an emotional moment for me… and for him, too. He is 90 years old and still filled with the joy of the Lord. You can’t get him to say a negative word about anything or anybody even if you try.
Rev. Noble Ballew is still my pastor. He prays for me. He calls to see how I’m doing. He never stopped actively showing the love of Jesus.
We enjoyed a beautiful service, wonderful singing and worship. The kids and adults seemed delighted with Perfume and Felipe. And after the ministry of the Word, God gave us a moving conclusion at the altar of prayer.
I enjoyed a nice lunch with Pastors Ernie and Norma Spears, then I hurried over to the city of Delhi at 2:15 PM to minister with Pastor Javier Alfaro at his exciting Spanish speaking church. There it all happened again, but this time in Spanish. What fun! This life could become addictive! It probably already has!
It’s great to be alive. March 5, 2013 I return to Argentina, Lord willing. I am praying that the Lord God will re-ignite His burning passion for the lost within my soul… to take me back to my beginnings when that holy passion drove me to bridge cultural and language barriers to reach out to the lost… and may this passion within me prove contagious as I continue to minister both here and in Argentina!