I really didn't want to go to Bible College. It had been over 15 years since I had to study books and take tests and I had no desire at all to take that up again. The whole thing started while I was on the streets witnessing and I ran into a group of students from Teen Challenge Institute who were evangelizing on the streets of my home town. One of them gave me a tract, and I told them I didn't need it which started a conversation that ended with we will be praying you into Bible college. One thing that was interesting was that the student that had initially approached me had a clipping in his wallet. He was from Jacksonville Florida, and he had a picture of me and some others in jail there from the time I was with Christ is the Answer. The picture had me in the center behind bars.
I pushed off the idea of Bible college because I had left a lot of bills behind and had to work to pay them off. That is what the Lord put on my heart to do. I was committed to serving the Lord even if it meant Bible college, so I prayed, "Lord, if you want me in Bible college pay off all my bills." Four days later a Christian man came up to me at work and said, "My wife and I were praying last night and we feel the Lord has told us to pay off all your bills. Just bring the bills to me at work tomorrow and I will contact each company and take care of the payoff." I did what he said, and needless to say, I had no doubt that God wanted me to go to that specific Bible college. That was one of the greatest blessings of my life! It was there that I met my beautiful and special wife Beverly, and I also learned some things about self-discipline that I badly needed. God did some deep work in my heart and life there as well, and prepared me to go out into the ministry to serve him and touch lives for his glory! There are some that might say that meeting a person from Jacksonville, Florida with a new clipping that he had saved for years in his wallet that had my photo on it was just a mere coincidence. The same people would discount me believing that God knew Beverly would be there and she would eventually become my wife and bear seven children who would all come to know Christ as their Savior, and some would have children who they would raise to know and love the Lord! I believe anyone who would believe that it was all a coincidence is living in denial of spiritual reality!
Bible College was a hard experience, but it had some wonderful moments when the Holy Spirit would move in a powerful way bringing conviction and revival at times to the students and staff there. The hard part was "submission" to the staff and some of the students in work, ministry and dorm duties. There were personality conflicts, my stubbornness and my immaturity and inability
to overcome that immaturity for a while. There were also rigid rules to follow in class and work duties that I resented or at least had trouble dealing with over the three years I attended there.
My grades in the classroom were very good, but my work grades were average at best because I had a hard time submitting to a couple of persons who I thought were off base in their demands. The bigger issue was having to submit to them or deal with punishment which angered me at times. I know now that this was just my own immaturity and unwillingness to bend and serve rather than be a "know it all." Somehow I got past that as the years went by. I cannot help but give the glory and honor to God for that!
I first met Beverly at a coffee house that the Bible College had set up in Sunbury. From then until
I went to Bible college we were friends with no particular interest in one another, at least that was true on my part. I can't speak for Bev. I knew her for two years as a fellow student and friend,
and there was one thing about her that really captured my attention - she was a woman of prayer.
I remember an incident that happened after we began to go together when she was praying and
I got impatient to be with her and interrupted her as she was praying to try to get her to come with me. She looked up and gave me a look that was convincing that I needed to leave her alone with the Lord and wait until she was through.
After knowing one another for two years we started going together, but it was not an everyday decision we made. I was sitting in the college cafeteria eating lunch, and she was headed toward another table to eat with some friends. She told me later that the Lord told her to come and sit at my table. As she came toward the table, it was as if I was seeing her for the first time in a deeper way, and I thought to myself, "This is Bev, and she is a real woman of God." She sat at my table and we began to talk casually, but before we were done with our meal I asked her if we could start seeing one another on a regular basis, and she agreed. Our friendship grew into love and we did all we could to find time to be together. Men were not supposed to go into the women's dorm so we would meet just outside the dorm and sneak some kisses which was a violation of the rules. We were supposed to be limited to holding hands.
One time between semesters I was able to secure a position at the Teen Challenge Center in Cincinnati over the Summer. It just so happened that Beverly grew up in a little town called
Milford just seventeen miles from Cincinnati, and we would get together often. One of those
times we almost fell into sin, but God graciously gave Bev the power to put a stop to it. That
was the only time we had so strong a temptation in our ten months together before we married.
In Cincinnati I worked in the men's program as a student counselor. and when I was off duty I would go to Fountain Square downtown to evangelize. It was in Fountain Square that I encountered a demon possessed or demon oppressed man who I rebuked and sent running in the name of Jesus for his blasphemous statements about Christ!
I also remember that there were two men who would come to the square once a week and preach during lunch when crowds of people were there. On one occasion I was standing and listening to them when one of them came over to where I was a began to tell someone that they were servants of the devil spreading lies. I could feel the power of God flowing through that man, and I turned and looked to see who he was speaking to and there were two Mormons standing behind me in their traditional white shirts and ties gaping at the man in shock and surprise. I knew immediately he was rebuking them for their false teaching and calling them to repentance. One other time I was standing and speaking with some people when all of a sudden I found myself spinning around and preaching in the square myself. The Holy Spirit got a hold on me before I knew it and I preached my first ever street message. It was awesome to me that God would use me like that as young as I was in the faith! After that Summer Bev and I returned to college. On January 7, 1979 we were married in Mifflinburg, PA and then we moved on to ministry in a church in Aberdeen, Maryland for our internship.
In spite of my issues, I held positions in Bible college that demanded that I be a responsible and disciplined follower of Christ. I was named class vice-president, class secretary and treasurer, student council representative, president of the Latin American prayer group, on the chapel board, street evangelism student leader, coffee house ministry student leader, and was elected to the promotions committee at various times and different years while I was there. I either had to learn to be a leader or go down in defeat! I didn't believe in giving up because I knew I had a great God behind me, and so I did what was necessary to succeed. In the Fall of 1980 I graduated with honors as my wife did before me, and then God sent us to minister in Indianapolis Teen Challenge working with teenage boys and teenage girls. What a challenge that was going to prove to be!