October 2012

"A Preacher was Born:" The Making of Robert Pierson

Soon after school opened, the Ingathering campaign commenced; and with it doors opened for my preaching career to get under way early.  My first Ingathering venture certainly did nothing to indicate that some day I would become a home missionary secretary.  At the close of a lean day, as far as offerings were concerned, I knocked at the home of a black lay preacher of a first-day church.  When he did not respond affirmatively to my appeal for funds to assist our world mission program, I suggested that I would be glad to come and study the Bible with him.

Perhaps he thought it would be a novel experience to have this beardless youth study the Scriptures with him.  He promptly invited me to come back the following Tuesday evening to study the Word with him and his family.

On my return journey to the college the fearful voice of inexperience began to taunt me for accepting such an appointment.  But alas, alas, it was too late now!  I had not only accepted his invitation, I had urged the lay preacher to invite all of his friends in for the cottage meeting.  It was evident that I was perhaps prematurely launched on my preaching career.  There was no turning back.

Back home I turned to my one-book library-Bible Readings for the Home Circle.  Thank the Lord for this book!  I decided that I would speak on the second coming of Jesus.  But when I scrutinized available texts on the subject, I instinctively knew it would be a meager offering.  There was little I could contribute in addition to just reading the texts.  This would take only about fifteen minutes.  What kind of preacher would they think I was if I spoke only such a short time?  So I returned to the Bible Readings and found texts on the millennium and the home of the saved.  I wanted to impress my expected "congregation" with forty-five minutes' worth of my ability as a Bible expositor.

Well armed with Bible evidence but with no notes-only slips of paper placed where my Bible texts were and on which was noted the next Scripture to be read-I set off the following Tuesday evening.  Just what would happen if one of my paper slips with texts noted should inadvertently disappear, I had not considered.  If an ill-fated wind had played this evil trick on me, my preaching career might well have been nipped in the bud.

Driving my Model T Ford coupe to Silverdale (my stomach tied in knots), I secretly hoped no one would be at home.  Surely I was bound for embarrassed disaster.  Why had I been so brash as to let myself in for this appointment when I knew nothing-absolutely nothing-about preaching, or about the study of the Bible for that matter.

Arriving at my destination, I found-to my despair-the place was absolutely packed!  For a few minutes I walked around that little house like Joshua around Jericho, endeavoring to generate enough courage to go in.

There was no turning back now!  Soon the boy preacher was in the midst of a friendly congregation for his dubious debut in the gospel ministry.  How patiently and tenderly the Lord deals with ignorance and inexperience when His abiding place is a willing spirit.  With what warm encouragement those black saints responded to their youthful mentor!  Their warm "amens" and cordial fellowship saved the day.  The truth triumphed. That night commenced a blessed spiritual relationship that resulted in a number of baptisms and a bustling Sabbath School in Silverdale.  For some years the tiny flame was fanned by earnest ministerial students and others from the nearby college church.  That night a preacher of sorts was born.

-From Robert H. Pierson, Beloved Leaders, 14-15