And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. — Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV
My exposure to the fundamentals of the faith began when I was two weeks old, from Pastor Leroy Blackburn. Pastors, teachers, and evangelists have changed, but assembling to hear Christ’s offer of free salvation by grace through faith continues.
My father was advertising director for the Terre Haute based Oakley grocery chain when I was very young. Our family attended Terre Haute Bible Center.
At age 3 in Terre Haute, I saw an airplane in the night sky for the first time. Later, I watched a pilot “skywriting.” My fascination with aviation never ceased.
The Blackburns left Mt. Carmel to accept another pastorate. Roy Sandefur and his family succeeded them. Pastor Sandifer had been a World War I pilot. His stories increased my interest in flying.
The Blackburns moved to Virginia, inviting my Dad to find work there in the shipbuilding industry. Sending for my Mother and me, my first weekend in Virginia, the Blackburns took us to see the USS Hornet aircraft carrier launched (It became famous during World War II when General Jimmy Doolittle led a squadron of B-25 aircraft from the Hornet to bomb Tokyo).
Before and after our six months in Virginia, Albert Fauth with his wife Alma served at Grace Memorial Church in Mt. Carmel. February 1940, the Fauths hosted the Paul Levine and Bob Finley evangelistic team. The final Sunday evening, I responded to the invitation and was “born-again,“ becoming a member of God’s forever family.
While we were living in Virginia, the Blackburns hosted the Rawlins Evangelistic Team for meetings. They offered Scofield Reference Bibles for sale. Asking my parent’s permission to use money I was saving for a bicycle to instead buy a Bible, they consented.
During my junior high days, the Charles Shock family moved from Michigan to pastor Grace Memorial. By that time, Beckerman Field’s flying service began training pilots 4 miles north of Mt. Carmel and housing aircraft owned and flown by local citizens. My Dad and Pastor Shock took me to the airport many Sunday afternoons to watch takeoffs and landings.
Charlie Pedersen, his wife Mary, and their two young daughters moved to Mt. Carmel from the Chicago area to pastor Grace Memorial Church. An innovative Gospel communicator, Charlie Pedersen and my Dad, Lawson Dooms fast became friends. They prayed, brainstormed, and pursued possibilities to reach people, especially those physically handicapped, to ultimately provide an occupational home for them.
Charlie Pedersen got pastors from several denominations to work together. His first project was renting Camp Santa Claus from the Methodists for a week of youth camp in three summers — August 1946, 1947, and 1948.
He introduced the Youth for Christ ministry to Mt. Carmel pastors. The first rally was Dec. 4, 1948.
Reading about some World War II pilots putting together the Christian Airmens’ Missionary Fellowship, I learned all I could, and persuaded pastor Pedersen to invite Charles Mellis, Jr. one of their officers, to speak and share the missionary aviation concept.
My parents reached out to their neighbors, inviting them to meetings at Grace Memorial. Several responded to the Gospel and made the decision to Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dale Eastin and a friend owned a Taylorcraft airplane, and provided my first airplane ride at age 14. At 15 I began flying lessons, and at 16 soloed in a Piper Cub J-3.
My Aunt Hazel had a copy of my senior high school picture at her house. Seeing it, her friend Esther Millhouse said, “George, you look like an evangelist!” But I didn’t want to look like an evangelist — I wanted to look like a potential flying missionary. But God opens doors and closes doors, and He has a door, a task for every person who will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
Listen to evangelists, pastors, and teachers when and where you can. Make certain you have received “the gift of God eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When you have decided to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ personally, share your faith and invite people for whom you are concerned to go with you to hear the Gospel preached by grace through faith.
Pray today, invite, and expect God to use you to reach family and friends for His glory.