Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

MY JOURNEY 3

GGGGGO AAAAAND PPPPPREACH – OH BROTHER!

Once I graduated from High School my choices were to either go to college or to be drafted into the Army and end up in Viet Nam. Although I was then and am now a very patriotic person, and honor our military personnel, my first choice was not to end up in Southeast Asia. Therefore, I chose to attend Marshall University. Choosing a major, now that was a horse of a different color. In fact, I was so confused about my future that I actually changed majors five (5) times before I finally graduated. I even changed from the School of Arts and Sciences, to the School of Teachers, back to Arts and Sciences, and finally back to Teachers. Let’s just say I was one confused fellow before I met Jesus.

I mentioned in the previous blog that from the time I was two (2) years of age I was a stutterer. Off I go to college and the first class I have is a speech class. As fate would have it, I was placed in a class with several Marshall Football players. They sat on the back row. I sat on the front row, but for the life of me I do not know why I chose that position in the class. Shortly, the time came for my first speech. I practiced it faithfully and as long as I was by myself I did it very well, but as soon as I tried to give it in front of my roommate I cccouldn’t ddddo it, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, they don’t let you give speeches to yourself so I had to do it in front of the class. May I say the event was a memorable one, but one I would just as soon have forgotten. Everyone in the class hung their head. All those football players, girls, even the teacher, all would not look at me. All, that is, except one girl who sat beside me on the front row. She had a boyfriend so I don’t think it was that kind of thing. She never took her eyes off me. When I sat down, she told me I had done a good job. I knew I hadn’t, but her acceptance went a long way to build my shattered self-esteem.

After class, Mr. Denman, my professor and an avowed atheist, called me to him and asked if I had ever had speech therapy and I told him I had not. He asked if I would like to have someone help me. I thought about it for a moment and said, ‘Why not?’ The therapy he suggested was with a girl, who was a senior at Marshall, majoring in Speech Therapy. Not the best choice for me. I did not want to stutter at all but especially not in front of an attractive girl. One of my assignments was to go to various business establishments and purposely stutter, observe the people’s reactions and then return to my room and journal about the experience. Then, in my next session with the therapist, I would have to talk with her about it. I met with the girl for a semester, but nothing she did seemed to help me. She graduated and I did not have the courage to be the Guinea Pig for another student, preparing to take their show on the road. There were more speeches, more heads looking down, and more embarrassing moments than I want to count. Mr. Denman GAVE me a ‘C’ just to get me out of the class. I was glad to go and I’m sure he was glad I was gone. He was always kind to me, but I’m sure having me in the class was a test.

Fast-forward now a couple of years and I have met my sweetheart, and I have been miraculously brought into the Kingdom of God by the shed blood of Jesus. Life was different. I was still a stutterer but my life began to take on meaning and purpose. My grades had improved and I had come to the realization I was not at camp but at college, preparing for my future. After becoming a follower of Jesus, some of our new friends in Campus Crusade for Christ put me in charge of the arrangements for Christian, folk-singing group that was coming to Marshall. The big day came. All the arrangements were made and Kathi and I joined several hundred others at the concert. During the concert, the group started singing a beautiful song about the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Suddenly, it was like I was being lifted up on an elevator in my spirit. I was taken into a place of glory and a place of vision. While this experience was going on, it was as though I sensed God calling me to preach the Gospel.

After the concert I knew I had to talk with Kathi about this strange event. By this time we were engaged and I knew we had to be in agreement on this kind of a vocation. I took her to our favorite spot. It was a little soda fountain called, “Campus Sundries”. As I carefully began to relate my experience, I was shocked to discover she had had a similar experience at the same time, but felt God was calling her to be a Pastor’s wife. Now, we’re really in a fix. Why? Because she didn’t want to be a Pastor’s wife any more than I wanted to be a Pastor. I was a Physical Education major and I wanted to teach and coach. In fact, Kathi said to me, “You know, God needs Christian coaches as much as he needs Pastors.” I responded, “Yes, I know, but I don’t think that is what He is calling us to, do you?” She acknowledged that she thought I was right.

For several days we prayed about our experiences. While meditating on the issue one day, I began to talk plainly with the Lord and tell him I could not talk. I said, “Lord, I can’t do this. I’m a stutterer.” More quickly than I can tell you the Lord reminded me of Moses. Now I had attended Sunday school all my life but I had to search my Bible and look this one up. When God called Moses, he began to make excuses. One of his major excuses was he could not speak. Apparently, Moses had a speech impediment. The Scriptures said that God told Moses He would give Him Aaron as His tongue. At that point I paused and prayed, “Lord, I’ll go where you want me to go and I’ll do what you want me to do. But you will either have to straighten out the tongue I have or give me someone to speak for me.”

Shortly, I was speaking with my mother and she immediately got me an opportunity to speak at my home Church, Beech Hill United Methodist near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. I wrote my message out on big yellow pad and got a lot of help from one of Billy Graham’s sermons. I walked into my home church and stood in front of people, who had known me all my life. It came time to get into the pulpit. I walked up and stood behind that pulpit, where I had watched my pastors preach all my life. I had no idea what would happen. I was afraid! I was full of faith! Sounds strange, but it was true. I announced my text and began to speak and for the first time in my life the words flowed out like a cup of milk and honey. HALLELUJAH!

Kathi and I were married in June of 1969. After we returned from our honeymoon I had five (5) weeks of summer school to finish to graduate. The class I had to take was for my minor, English grades 7-9. The class was Oral Interpretation of Literature. Public reading is one of the hardest things for a stutterer. I signed up for the class but when I arrived, the class was over-enrolled and they had to split the class. I went with the split. When I walked into the class, guess who the professor was. Right! Mr. Denman. He took one look at me and with more disappointment than I can convey he said, “Oh, Mr. Anderson, what are you doing here?” I said, “Mr. Denman I have to have this class to graduate.” He really tried to hide his disappointment but it was evident. The day came when I had to do my first oral presentation. I could choose any piece of literature I wanted. I chose Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid…?” I read the whole passage. When I began, Mr. Denman had his head down in anticipation of what was coming. About a quarter of the way through the passage he lifted his head and never took his eyes off me. I was under a great anointing. At the end of class he once again called me to him as he had done four (4) years previously. He said, “Mr. Anderson did Speech Therapy help you?” I said, “No, sir. It did not.” He asked what had happened to me and I asked him if he really wanted to know. He responded in the affirmative and I told him the story of how God called me to preach and healed me of stuttering. A few days later I spoke with Mr. Denman and told him I had to have an “A” in the class to graduate.  I asked, if there was extra credit I could do to insure the “A”?  He said, “Mr. Anderson you have your “A”.”  

Approximately ten (10) years later, Kathi and I were attending a Marshall Football Homecoming game. I was sitting in the stands and saw Mr. Denman walking up the steps two sections over. There were thousands of people there. I stood and waved to him. He looked my way, saw me and gave a big, hefty wave. My wife saw him about 10 years after that in the Huntington mall. She reminded him of who I was and he said, “Oh, I remember Mr. Anderson.” He was an Atheist, but God did something for me that could not be explained and I don’t think he will ever forget.

MORE TO COME…(You can also view this permanently on “MY JOURNEY” page).

August 8th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 2 comments