Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dale Oldham to Sam Hines: Delivering a Message From God


The late Sam Hines (1929—1995) and Joe Allison wrote the theme book for the 1993 North American Convention of the Church of God (Anderson). It is entitled Experience the Power. In this excerpt the late William Dale Oldham (1903—1984) first radio preacher of the Christian Brotherhood Hour (Now Christians Broadcasting Hope), brought an encouraging message from God to his friend, Hines, when he needed it desperately. In the words of Sam Hines:
When I came upon rough times in my ministry in the early years, no one spoke of “ministerial burnout.” We didn’t even know that term. We just said that such a minister was “backslidden.” No matter how you describe it, I came to an impasse in my ministry that could have been the end of it all. I left the pastorate and I left Jamaica. I went to England in pursuit of a new vocation and a new style of life. I contemplated studying to become a physician and began setting my sails in that direction.
In 1955, the First World Conference of the Church of God was held in Fritzlar, West Germany. I had heard about it and was planning to go.
As I was packing for the trip, one hot summer afternoon in London, Dr. Dale Oldham appeared on my doorstep. Dr. Oldham had been the speaker at my ordination service in Jamaica, two years earlier. He was enroute to Fritzlar, too. We sat down in the living room for what I expected to be a bit of idle chit-chat. But Dr. Oldham came right to the point.
He said that he had heard that I had decided to leave the ministry. I told him, “Yes, that’s true.”
For several minutes, we discussed all the ramifications of that change. We reviewed my own failures and foibles in the ministry. It was a painfully searching conversation.
Then he paused and said, “Milton,” (that is how I am known in my family and among hometown friends), “what has happened to the vows that you made at your ordination?”
“Well, now,” I said. “I just don’t feel anymore that that’s the way I ought to go. I’ve come on some hard times in my own life and some hard times in ministry. It just takes a lot more that [sic] I have to be a pastor. I can’t attain the high standards I set for myself or achieve at the level of accomplishment expected of me. I just can’t do it.”
“Well, maybe you are right. I don’t know,” Dr. Oldham said. “I’m here, though, because the Lord gave me a message for you.”
“The Lord said to tell you that the calling of God is without repentance” (Rom. 11:29 KJV).
“Okay,” I said. “What does that mean?”
“I was never told to explain it,” Dr. Oldham said, picking up his bag. “God didn’t ask me to interpret it for you. God just told me to give you the message.” At that point, he offered a brief prayer for me and my family, and he left.
It should be mentioned that Sam Hines never left the ministry.
(Hines, Samuel G. and Joe Allison. Experience the Power. Anderson, IN: Warner Press, 1993), 76-7