On this day, March 17, 1966, I preached my first “sermon,” standing on a box in front of the J.C. Penney’s store on 16th Street in downtown Omaha, NE. It was St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone wore green. I felt rather green myself! My text was Amos 4:12 “prepare to meet thy God.” This happened only because Arnold Busenitz, a senior student, was ill. All upperclassmen on the Street Preaching team were sick. Although I protested that I knew nothing about preaching and had no intention of being a preacher, W.A. Regier, the Christian Service Director, insisted that there was no one else to fill the slot. Whereas my duty on the team had been to listen to the speaker and be ready to hand out tracts to any passers-by, I had less than a week to prepare, practice in a music hall practice room, and with great trepidation, preach on the street. After this, several of my teammates, including Arnie Busenitz, encouraged me that they thought God’s hand was upon me for preaching. Arnie later urged me to enroll in a summer pastoral internship program. I protested that I wasn’t going to be a pastor, but he ignored my protestations and insisted he was sure it would do me good.
My former pastor, Adrian House, without knowing any of these events, coincidentally invited me to spend the summer with his family in Cheyenne, WY, where he had planted a new church. He told me they could not pay, but would take up a love offering at summer’s end. It was my first real step of faith, realizing I would not be able to return to Bible college in the fall without Divine provision.
Late that summer, as I prepared a message to give to two youth groups at Berean Baptist Church in Laramie, WY, I suddenly felt compelled to kneel and pray. On my knees in the basement of Pastor House’s home at 1010 East Fifth Street in Cheyenne, I told the Lord that I wasn’t sure whether He was actually calling me to preach, or not, but if so, I promised I would do it as He would enable me. From that moment, the focus of my life has been upon the preaching of the Word of God! A few months later, my college roommate, Ron Stradinger ( Alice Stradinger) insisted that I sit down in our room. He then told me that it was obvious that the summer internship had notably changed my life – that I was now more certain of my direction in life than he had known me to be before that.
Praise God for His unspeakable gift, and for His inexpressible gifting to His servants! What a ride it has been! I’m still RIDING HIGH (Dt. 32:13)!