Report I, (1997)
Bobby R. Holmes
Editor's Note: This is the first of two articles recounting brother Holmes' preaching trips to, primarily, the Pacific Northwest. To read the second report, covering the years 1998, 1999, and 2001, click here!
On January 3rd, 1997, JoAnn (my wife) and I left our home in Duncanville Texas and spent eleven months on an extended preaching trip, at least half of it in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wisconsin and the province of Alberta Canada. The rest of the time was spent in my holding meetings in Ohio, Mississippi, W. Virginia and the south Texas area.
In preparation for the trip I resigned as an evangelist for the Dallas Avenue church in Lancaster Texas December 31, 1996 after fourteen years of the best local work of my almost fifty years of preaching. With the help of a working membership who helped to arrange Bible studies for me, I baptized over 100 souls into Christ during that time.
The eleven month trip in 1997 came about as a result of several years of preaching trips I had taken into Canada. Four days driving up and four days back home put me in contact with several souls who would ask, "Why can't you come help us?". Most of these brethren had no preacher to work with them and were struggling. A burning desire to help these precious souls began to grow within me until finally I told Jo Ann and the elders at Dallas Avenue that I simply had to go before I grew too old and my health failed me.
I had a small retirement fund from a secular job I had worked at earlier in life, and by cashing it in I was able to do two things that were of great importance. One, purchase a used motor coach large enough for us to live in as we traveled for a year; and two, pay for both our funeral plans completely. Thus plans were finalized for our departure in January 1997.
By the later part of 1996 word had gone out of my plans, and calls began coming in from all over, with brethren asking to be put on my preaching schedule. The first meeting I held was in Corvallis, Oregon where Gary Haggis was then preaching for a small congregation that met in a Retirement Center. This wonderful group was made up mostly of younger people.
After three weeks there and three souls baptized into Christ we went on to Wilsonville, Oregon where Leo Henry was striving to start a new congregation. He had asked me if I would help them get started and I had agreed to stay for a prolonged period of time to do that. Actually, they had already started meeting when we arrived. They met then, (I understand they still do but, are in the process of trying to get a building started on property they have purchased), in the Grange Hall. If you don't know what a Grange Hall is don't feel bad. I thought Leo had said a "Grain Hall" but, as it turned out a Grange Hall is much like the "Community Centers" we have down south. The Grange Halls actually have a board of directors and was primarily set up for farmers and local folks to take care of business in. Many are scattered across that part of the country. Leo and his faithful wife Dolores had put much money, time and effort into getting this work started. We remained in Wilsonville for a little over two months. In addition to the Gospel meeting I conducted there were studies most every night as the Henry's opened their house for this purpose. Most lasted for hours. The new work was thus off to a good start with an awakening of people to rampant error and to those who taught it.
Leaving Wilsonville we went to Sweet Home, Oregon for a meeting with brethren who really love the Truth. Jerry Kennedy was the one who contacted me and I found him solid as a rock regarding Truth. At that time they had not had a preacher for some time, and Jerry had done most of the preaching. Since then brother Dennis Ross moved there from California. He too is a solid man. (More about him in the next report). While we were in the meeting in Sweet Home we stayed at the house of Ted and Melody Halstengard. We had met them in Yuma Arizona by chance. Or, more accurately, through Providence.
On our trip to the west coast our motor coach had developed transmission overdrive problems 100 miles to the south of Yuma Arizona and when I called about it I was sent to Yuma for repairs. They had developed mechanical problems 100 miles to the north and had been directed to the same shop in Yuma for repairs! We were there three days and on the second day I met Ted. They were from Oregon. He asked where we were from, where we were going and what kind of "business" I was in. I explained I was an evangelist and we were on our way for several weeks of meetings in Oregon. He commented that "preachers don't preach much Bible anymore". I told him that was the only thing I did preach. He asked what towns we would be in and I told him Corvallis, Wilsonville, Sweet Home and Bend. He commented that they lived in Lebanon, Oregon and that it was close enough to all the places we would be at and that they would visit each place where I would be preaching.
I hear so many promises I did not really take it serious but, sure enough he and his wife came three times to the meeting in Corvallis. They brought their Bibles and followed the teaching. It was then that we were invited to "hook up" at their house while we would be in Sweet Home as it was only about fifteen miles from Lebanon. And, they said, "we can study some each day". They attended Wilsonville several times and came to the Leo Henry's house afterward for study. When we were at Sweet Home they came every night and brought friends with them who were not Christians. This is more than most Christians do as far as inviting and bringing people to meetings! I was very impressed! They even drove to Bend for two nights of the meeting there. They had been Lutheran in their faith and saw quickly that denominationalism was wrong. They left the Lutheran church and joined a "Bible" church. Although they have not yet obeyed the Gospel, I still pray the Word will move them to obedience. I have been very plain in my personal studies with them as well and they do know the Truth.
By this time it had become apparent that an attitude prevailed among many of the churches of "Don't ask, Don't tell." By that I mean that the people (especially preachers) seemed to have developed an attitude that said you did not ask where preachers stood on the marriage and divorce question and if you did know that one took a false position on the subject you just did not tell about it.
Because of this "silent agreement", false teachers were used in Gospel meetings and lectures. An almost total lack of preaching on the subject of marriage divorce has resulted in "conservative" churches (I have learned to rather describe them as non-institutional churches) filled with people living in adulterous relationships. Preaching on the subject in these congregations was absolutely forbidden. Darrell Beane, preacher for a church in northern Washington, held one of the most absurd positions that I had ever heard. And yet, he was used as a counselor in the Florida College camp for two or three years before I exposed his false doctrine even though the camp director had known of his false position for at least five years! He had preached a series of sermons (I have copies of the tapes as well as the transcripts of each) and in one of the lessons he explains his position on the subject. Though not a verbatim quote, his position is fairly represented by the following: Marriage is just an agreement between a man and woman. A man agrees with a woman to be her husband and she agrees to be his wife. If it were not for the law of the land they would not even need a marriage license. In the days of the Old Testament those who became married were what we would call today "shacking up". They just started living together. Divorce is also just an agreement between a man and woman.
Now my dear readers, think about that for a moment and let us look at a scenario between two young people who have bought into this ungodly teaching on the subject of marriage and divorce. This young couple "agree" to be married. No ceremony, just accept one another as husband and wife. Six months or a year down the road of life they decide they don't want each other so they "agree" with each other that they are now divorced. What you see is an open case of approved fornication! Bible marriage is revealed as an agreement between a man and woman to share bed, board and life together (Genesis 24:48, 57-58). There was also a ceremony of some kind (Genesis 29:21-23; Judges 14:7-12; John 2:1-11). Just because we do not find a ceremony in every marriage does not mean there was not one, any more so than the fact that not finding baptism mentioned in every Bible example of conversion means that it is non-essential for salvation! This is a damnable doctrine!
We were in Sweet Home for two weeks and it was a good two weeks of study. We went from Sweet Home to Bend, Oregon for two weeks of meetings. Good attendance and interest were present there. Bruce Dehutt was the evangelist there then, but has moved to Indiana. They are now without a preacher and really struggling.
From Bend we went to Moscow, Idaho. We had a terrible time with transmission trouble on a mountain, but finally were able to arrive in Moscow on Saturday before the meeting was to begin the next day. The transmission failed completely just as we arrived in town and we had to go to a motel for the rest of our stay of two weeks. I had to have the coach towed to Lewiston Idaho for repairs. Had it not been for loving brethren (and sisters) who helped with the repair expense, we would have had to give up on our journey.
Jo Ann and I were able to study with a young lady (Kristin Cook) all day on Saturday who had attended the meeting and on a Monday she said she wanted to be baptized into Christ. They had no baptistry so we used a horse trough to baptize her. A FIRST for me in all these years but, I'm just thankful for her obedience!
From there we went to Sunny Side and Yakima, Washington. I held eight day meetings at each. One young man who had been out of duty for twenty years was restored in Yakima. The R.V. Park we "hooked up" at was in a town half way between called Toppenish. It is the home of the Yakima Indian Nation tribe and the R.V. Park is owned by them. When I checked us in I invited the manager, Patrick Clark, to the meeting in Sunny Side that was to begin the next day. He said he just might attend. I told him to be sure and bring his Bible and questions would be welcomed. He again said he just might come. This was just the beginning! He did come, brought his Bible and took notes. That led to being introduced to his wife Rhonda who is co-manager with him. That led to studies daily AND night that led to their obedience to the Gospel!
Patrick attended Johnnie Edwards preacher training school in 1999 and is now preaching the Gospel when and where he can. They have two boys and one girl and are now members at Sunny Side where Steven Wallace faithfully labors in preaching. This was (and IS) my fondest memory of it all.
From there we went to Oak Harbor, Washington for two weeks of preaching.. I exposed Beane's false doctrine one night while there in Oak Harbor and the next night a mother said she had asked her son (who had been in some camps where Beane served as a counselor) if Beane had taught his doctrine there. Her son affirmed that he had. Folks, it is inexcusable for this man to have been used as he was when those who used him KNEW of his false position on MDR! The Pacific northwest is over run with men claiming to be "gospel" preachers who are false teachers beguiling unsuspecting souls. Men such as Lowell Williams, Darrell Beane, Jerry Bassett, Randy Hohf, Richard Radke, Ben Puterbaugh to name but a few. Randy Hohf not only teaches error on MDR but is also a Neo-Calvinist as well (more on that in the next report).
I was set up to hold a week's meeting in White Rock, B.C. Canada after the meeting in Oak Harbor. We hooked up at an RV Park near the Canadian border and called the brother who had arranged it in White Rock for directions to the meeting place. There were only five members total and two were out of town and one was ill. It was decided by them that my time would be better spent by me holding a meeting for the church in Bellingham Washington. The brethren from White Rock who could would drive to Bellingham for services since it was but a short distance. Bellingham gladly accepted the offer for a meeting, so beginning that night we all went to the church there where Joe Price is doing such a wonderful work for the Lord.
While there I spoke on "Unity Among Brethren" and one man came forward with a tearful request to make a confession to the church. He readily confessed to "sowing seeds of discord" among the brethren and if ever there was one who showed he wanted to make wrong into right, it was this brother. There were but few dry eyes. Thank God for the power of His Word!
From there we went to be with the saints of the Tacoma, Washington church. We "hooked up" at Chuck and Mary Hollenbecks place in Enumclaw, Washington and traveled with them to Tacoma for our services. Only one or two families live in Tacoma proper. The rest drive a long way, but do it gladly to be with a sound church. They had no preacher and still don't but Justin and Steve Monts do an excellent job preaching. Both have attended the preacher training school of brother Edwards in Indiana. We were there for three weeks and I had opportunity to preach on the radio on Sundays.
While there an arrangement was made for me to discuss the issues of marriage and divorce with the preacher and two of the elders from a "non-institutional" but, corrupt church in Kent, Washington. They agreed that the discussion could be recorded as well but, one day before the discussion was to take place they sent a message canceling the discussion stating, "Nothing good can come of the discussion." Typical of those who teach error. Harry Osborne and Tom Roberts both had discussions canceled in much the same way when those they were to discuss the issues with simply did not show up. Truth has nothing to fear!
The meeting in Tacoma was a good meeting. We had a question and answer period after every service and on one occasion a man tried to inject false teaching through his "question", but I did not allow it to pass by. I corrected his false teaching and he hurriedly left.
From there we went to Calgary and Lethbridge, Alberta Canada. Eight days at each of these churches. The province of Alberta (like a state in the U.S.) is larger than Texas yet there are only three sound churches there. Derreck Chambers in Calgary, Mike Gray in Lethbridge and Steve Willis in Medicine Hat. All are doing a great job in preserving New Testament Christianity in its purity.
It was while I was in the meeting in Lethbridge that Mike Gray told me he had received email posts from both Don Partain and Randy Hohf warning him of my "damaging influence" on churches wherever I preached. They charged that I had an attitude of "rule or ruin" and any church that refused to listen to me, I set out to destroy. They charged that the reason the church at Lethbridge had not grown more was because of my kind of preaching. I thanked Mike for sharing with me the charges made and immediately contacted both Don Partain and Randy Hohf and challenged their charges. I even spent two days in Helena Montana giving them both opportunity to drive there and meet to discuss the charges made. Both declined. We did finally (the last of the year) work out an agreement to meet the next year in Missoula Montana (where Don Partain preaches) to discuss Don's fellowship with false teachers and the Bible teaching on the subject fellowship. (This meeting will be discussed in the article concerning my preaching tours in 1998, 1999 and 2001).
We went from Helena to Blackfoot, Idaho where Mike Gray had said there was a sound church. We found it to be so very true! I was asked to preach at the services on Sunday and we enjoyed meeting these sound brethren. I was invited back for a meeting the next year and already looked forward to it.
From there we went to Rock Springs, Wyoming for an eight day meeting. Robert Lacoste (now deceased), Harry Osborne and Dennis Scroggins had in years gone by helped get the church there out of liberalism with the determined help of Al Hasley, one of the members there. They have recently gone back, hiring a liberal preacher who stayed until he exhausted their funds and left. My last meeting scheduled in 1999 was canceled while the liberal preacher was there.
From there we drove to Amberg, Wisconsin where I had been asked to spend what time I could helping the few souls there. Five women met alone to worship. It was so very sad but, I am aware there are many such throughout the world like them. They come together on the Lord's Day, play tapes of sermons sent them, pray, sing, study, give of their prosperity and partake of the Lords Supper. I was able to spend three days with them and had morning services as well in order to give them as much time as I could.
From there we went to Charleston, West Virginia for a Gospel meeting. Paul and Jean Stewart live there and are strong Christians and we appreciate them so much. Paul has preached for many years though lately he has not done "local work" but instead preached where and when he can. He was Superintendent of transportation over all of the school buses in the country and is not only highly respected even yet in that field but, among God's people who know him everywhere. We hooked up our couch at their house during the meeting.
We went from there for a brief visit with Greg and Sue Dehmer and children in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Dehmer's were members of the Dallas Avenue church in Lancaster Texas until Greg (a professor in cardiology) took a position with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
From there we went for a meeting with the Laws Hill church in Mississippi. I have been holding meetings for this church since about 1985. Though this church is small, it is made up of dedicated souls. I always enjoy my trips there to encourage them. Mike Baggett was the local preacher at the time though at the present they have none and haven't had one in about three years. We stayed in Oxford Mississippi during this meeting as there is nothing in Laws Hill but "country".
We left there on Friday night after services and started for my meeting in Alvin, Texas where Harry Osborne was the local preacher at the time. There was supposed to have been a week in between the meeting in Mississippi and the one in Alvin Texas, but Harry called me while I was in Helena Montana and said the school board in Alvin had changed the school exams. He asked that I come a week earlier. I said I would make it somehow. Harry offered to send someone to help me drive, as it was a little over six hundred miles, but I said I would handle it. It was so gracious of him to think of helping me out.
We drove most of the night, stopping about three hours to get just a little sleep. Though it seemed the trip would never end, we arrived Saturday night in Alvin and Harry and his father John met us and helped us get hooked up. We were there for three weeks. Eight days with the Alvin church, and then I preached for the Parkview church in Pasadena Texas the next Sunday morning and for the Pruett and Lobit church in Baytown that night.
We then drove to Austin, Texas for my last meeting on this journey. Dennis Scroggins was preaching there and doing a good job standing for the Truth. (Dennis is now in Lometa Texas and Luis Zamora preaches for the South Austin church doing a good work there). It was a good meeting. The Sunday following I preached for the Wonsley Drive church in Austin who had helped with my support. They are good people as well and we enjoyed the Sunday there.
From there we came home and though happy for all of God's blessings and the fruit of our labor for him fresh in our minds, we were "road weary" and glad to be home again. We arrived two days before Thanksgiving Day in November.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the fact that several strong and courageous brethren have spent much time and effort in the Pacific northwest preaching the Truth and fighting against the error taught and practiced on marriage and divorce. Harry Osborne, Robert Lacoste, Dennis Scroggin, Ron Halbrook, Tom Roberts, Larry Ray Hafley, Andy Alexander, Donnie Rader and Joe Price to mention just some. Brother Stan Cox asked me to write these articles because I had spent a concentrated amount of time in doing it. I do not want to dim the efforts of these godly men in any way. To GOD be ALL the glory!
Next: Preaching Travels To The Northwest 1998, 1999. 2001:
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