as told to and edited by Carl Witty

I was born June 20, 1906, in Wise County, Virginia, and raised on a farm, with five brothers and sisters. My folks were all Freewill Baptist in religion, and I had two uncles who were Baptist preachers. In this part of the country we had then, and still have in some sections, what was called the "mourner's bench." During meetings sinners are invited to come down and pray their sins away. After one feels he is saved at the mourner's bench, he then makes his confession that God for Christ's sake has pardoned and forgiven him of his sins. He can then be baptized if he so desires, but this is clearly understood to have nothing whatsoever to do with his salvation. Religion generally is better "felt" than "told."

I went to the mourner's bench in a meeting my uncles were conducting. I prayed earnestly, but nothing happened to me that night. While others "prayed through," I kept praying night after night. Finally, the preacher told me that 1 was saved. I thought he was right, and traveled three miles that night to my parents' home to tell them the good news. They rejoiced that I was finally saved.

Six years after I thought I was converted, I began to have a desire to preach. I was told the Lord had called me to preach, so I started out. I went from place to place preaching, and purchased a public address system to mount on my car so I could reach more people. From place to place I held revival meetings, attempting to win souls for Christ. Responses to my preaching were good. The last meeting I held (as a Baptist) I baptized forty-two people. Even now I sometimes see and hear of Baptist preachers today who were "saved" under my preaching. For eighteen years I preached this way, believing that I was doing the will of God. In all good conscience, like the apostle Paul (Acts 23:1), I did many things contrary to His will. In recent years, I have tried in many ways to reach those I influenced during this period of my life.

One of the doctrines taught me was that it was not necessary to study the Bible. The idea was: If the Lord called you to preach, He also qualified you. All one had to do was open his mouth and the Lord would fill it with things to say. If the preaching did not come directly from God, it had no saving power. Once I was at a funeral in a large building. An aged preacher, so feeble he could barely drag his feet, slowly came to the stand and held up a Bible. He told the people that the book wasn't worth the paper it was written on. He said it was a dead letter, and that the only thing worthwhile to preach was that which came by direct operation from God. At another funeral, I listened to a preacher preach the funeral of a man who never made any pretensions of being religious. The preacher said the man had a lot of flowers and the people loved him. It was because of the God that was in his life. On another occasion, I listened to a preacher "preach into heaven" a man who died drunk on whiskey. On and on I could tell examples of how much false doctrine is being preached.

The first true gospel preacher I ever heard was one who was allowed to preach in my home church. It was a small, country church where I attended from childhood until after my marriage. One of the things he mentioned in his sermon really bothered me. He said that people talked about grandma getting religion while cooking dinner, and letting her bread burn. He said the devil never told any bigger lie than that! On the third night I helped others lock him out of the building. If I had had the authority, I would have had him put in jail. My preaching in the denominational world was honest and sincere, but wrong. I never heard teaching on giving (1 Cor. 16: 1,2), on adultery, nor being faithful in God's service.

At a later period of my life, I lived in Wise, Virginia. There was a church of Christ near my home, but I never went near them. I had heard so many false things about them. Each Lord's day one of the members there would pass my house with a basket under his arm, covered with a white cloth. My wife and I would wonder why he waited until Lord's day to take his eggs to the grocery store. One such day I was in the yard as he passed. He stopped, and we began to talk. Finally I asked him why he waited until the Lord's day to take his eggs to the store. He explained that he was carrying the emblems for partaking of the Lord's Supper! He told me they observed the Lord's Supper each Lord's day, and then he invited me to services that day. I told my wife that they were keeping a commandment I'd read about in the Bible and that I was going to their services that day. I began to study with the brethren there.

I learned the truth two and a half years before I became a simple New Testament Christian. I studied earnestly, wanting to be very, very sure before I made such a step.

At this time also I had a radio program over WNVA, Norton, Virginia. My wife and 1 and another helper, who led our singing, conducted the program. On this program I began to preach the truth as I learned it. Members of the Lord's church in other areas heard me and predicted that soon I'd preach myself out of the Baptist Church. I tried to preach the truth yet remain with the church I'd been a member of for many years. Family and friends were considered also.

Finally, I could no longer resist obeying the truth. In 1958 I was baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts2: 38) and was added to the body of Christ, the church. (Matt. 16:18; Eph.l:22, 23; Col. 1:18; Gal. 3:26, 27.)

Shortly after I obeyed the gospel, and before my wife obeyed, we went to a revival meeting. During this service there were four people down at the "mourner's bench," trying to be saved. One of the preachers there asked me to go down and talk to them. I began to ta1k to one: he told me he'd done all he knew to be saved. I asked him if he'd ever been baptized. He said he had not, so I asked if he knew the Bible taught that men must confess and be baptized. (Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37, 38.) The man got up - he'd never heard anything like that before! The preacher told him not to give up, the Lord just wasn't ready to save him yet, and for him to keep on praying. The preacher further said it might take the Lord two or three years to save him!

Out of denominational error such as this I have been delivered by hearing and obeying the gospel of Christ. Bro. Wendell Wiser, who has preached for many years in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, has been a constant source of strength and help to me. Others here and Christians from other areas have also been wonderful in their encouragement and support of my efforts to preach the pure gospel of Christ. I have been blessed so much in being able to travel many thousands of miles spreading the gospel of Christ. I have a van I use to carry people to services who do not have transportation. Since I've been preaching, I've had the privilege of teaching, among others, my two daughters and youngest son, and seeing them obey the gospel. I recently had the privilege of baptizing my brother-in-law into Christ.

I can never thank the Lord enough for being so longsuffering (2 Pet. 3: 9) with me during the time I studied arid made the great decision to be simply a Christian and to preach only God's revealed will. Christians who are reading this little tract: will you pray for me and others who even now may be searching for the true way? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.)

God s simple plan of salvation is:

Alien Sinner:
Hear (Matt. 17:1-5;Rom. 10:17)
Believe (Rom. 10: 10; John 8:24-32)
Repent (Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 2:38)
Confess (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9; Acts 8:37)
Be baptized (Acts 2:38: Rom. 6:3-6; Gal. 3:26,27)

Erring Child of God:(Gal. 6:1) Repentance (Acts 8:21-23)
Confession, prayer (1 John 1:6-10)

Faithful Child of God:

Become Christlike (2 Pet. 1 :5-8)
Remain faithful (1 Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10)

The Worship Of Christians Must Consist Of:

1. 1 Cor. 14:15 - "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding a1so; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
2. Acts 2:42
3. Acts 8:22
4. 1 Thess. 5:17
5. James 5:16

Study, Teach, Exhort
1. 2 Tim. 2:15 - "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2. Matt. 28: 18-20
3. Mk. 16:15,16
4. Acts 17:11
5. 1 Tim. 4:11-13
6. Acts 20:7

Lord's Supper
1. Acts 20:7 - "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."
2. Matt. 26:26-30
3. Mk. 14:22-26
4. Lk.22:14-20
5. 1 Cor. 11:23-34

1. 1 Cor. 16:1,2 - "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
2. 2 Cor. 8:1-8
3. 2 Cor. 9:7
4. Acts 2:44, 45
5. Gal. 6:6,7

1. Eph. 5:19 - "Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."
2. Matt. 26:30
3. Acts 16:25
4. Rom. 15:9
5. 1 Cor. 14:15
6. Col. 3:16
7. Heb.2:12
8. Heb.13:15
9. James 5:13

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