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A Surprise Meeting in Lufkin

It was in Lufkin where my nephew Ted Buxton and his wife, Karen, would make a hospital call last Wednesday, and as we entered the city limit, I thought of my friends Linda and Wendell Elms, who during the past several months had moved to Lufkin, Wendell having been elected (or appointed, or something) secretary of the Texas District of the United Pentecostal Church. The district camp ground is there, as are the district offices, so I asked Ted, “Will we go close to the camp ground?”

“We’ll pass right by it, Aunt Shirley. Do you want to stop?” Ted asked, gracious and lovely man that he is.

“Yes, I do. I’ll take only a minute, run in, see if they’re around and say hi.”

I dashed from the car into the beautiful office complex and asked if the Elms were on the premises. “Just went to lunch,” someone told me.

“Do you know where?”

“I believe they are at Logan’s Roadhouse.”

At Logan’s Roadhouse, I again promised not to take too long, leaving three in the car. As I entered the restaurant, I hoped I could find my friends quickly and not be forced to prowl around the place, dsc_0006as I looked for particular faces. I turned left, then right, and there they were, seated at a long table with several other people. The men were situated together, and closest to me as I approached the table.

It was hilarious, for recall, these friends of mine, whom I had not seen in years, had no idea I was anywhere in the area. Wendell Elms stared at me for a minute, then said, “Is that you?”

“It is I,” I replied

Linda’s eyes were wide and she was smiling as she stood and made her way to where I was. It was a delightful surprise, and I had timed it perfectly, for they had just concluded district board meetings, and I had the opportunity to meet ministers and their wives I did not know, and say hello to others of a long-standing friendship.

“Where’s your husband?” Linda asked, and when she knew he was outside in the car, we went outside, they visited a bit there, and then Jerry and Ted went into the restaurant for there were dsc_0004other people at the table they wanted to see. They invited us to join them for lunch, but we had to make the hospital stop first, so after half an hour or so, we left Logan’s Roadhouse.

Linda and Wendell Elms are beautiful people, whom I have known since they were youngsters, well before they were married. They are capable, godly and true Christians. I so enjoyed surprising, and spending a few minutes with them last week. She produces an interesting, well-written blog.

I don’t even know the name of the hospital where we went then, but it was unique to me in that it has a grand piano in the lobby, and, as I waited while Ted and Karen visited their friend, dsc_00111a lady played mellow, simple songs. Seems a wonderful idea to have relaxing, beautiful music in such a place as a hospital.

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Beyond The Call

The baby had been born, Steve said, but with a hole in his heart, and they weren’t sure of anything. Within hours Jerry had flown to Louisiana to be with our son, his wife and the baby. Our daughter was critically ill, so I was not able to go with him.

They transferred Joel to a superior hospital: Through the touch of Jesus, and the ministration of human doctors, the flaw resolved itself, and within a short time, Joel Buxton was declared perfect.

Now, on Saturday, July 26th, 2008, with a wife and three small boys of his own, Joel was ready to be installed as pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Church in Carson City, Nevada.

“Pappy, will you be able to come to my installation service?” Joel had asked on the phone many weeks before, but Jerry wasn’t sure. “Well, I hope you can come. I want you to be a part of it.”

Jerry opened the service with prayer, read from his Bible: “Children’s children are the crown of old men:…” then turning to Joel, addressed him. “You are my crown, Joel. I am intensely proud of you.”

The preliminary part of the service was kept short, and the first speaker, Randy Keyes, preached a profound sermon on the subject, “The Call, the Preparation and the Sending.” Joel then took the pulpit, welcomed everyone and told of his reasons for choosing these particular men for this significant occasion. When he was quite young, at specific and memorable times, both Randy Keyes and Floyd Odom had uniquely ministered to Joel.

“The Anointing,” was Floyd Odom’s subject, and from Old Testament scripture, he expounded on the composition of anointing oil, pointing out that “things” were first sanctified, then were the men–the priests–anointed. As Rev. Odom preached, he lifted a bottle from which he poured copious amounts of olive oil into his hands, and as he massaged his hands, he addressed Joel. “Routinely, you must anoint the sheep. As their pastor, as their shepherd, you must lovingly tend them, rubbing oil into the corners of their eyes, into their ears, and onto the corners of their mouths.” 

“Come,” Rev. Odom spoke to Steve, Joel’s father. “Come, as I preach and lay hands on your son and anoint him.” It was a powerful and moving gesture as the father anointed the son, and as the grandfather watched. From their loins had come this excellent young man.

“Join your husband here, please,” Rev. Odom spoke to Aisha, and as the couple stood, he charged them to do the work of a pastor and a pastor’s wife, to defend truth, to be just and wise.

Steve concluded the service, calling forward all ministers and their wives to speak a corporate prayer for Joel and Aisha. Standing at that altar were three generations of Buxton pastors: Jerry, Steve and Joel.

And so it was finished…but only has it begun. From the calling, through the preparation, the sending, and now the installation, Joel Buxton had progressed, and, in the long line of God’s will, had taken his designated place.

At some unknown moment, and in an unfathomable way –timeless and separate from eternity–Almighty God formed Joel, a distinct, eternal soul. One day, faithful to His Design, God bent over and summoned His servant: As unmistakable as is lightening on a summer day, so was the beat of Divine as Joel sensed the quickening of The Call. Stripping himself of personal ambition and of secular choice, he bowed in submission to God’s eternal plan.

And who would not? Who, once called, would refuse the dedicated path of bonded servant to Almighty? Who could ignore such rarified opportunity? For in place of lowly is the elevated, in exchange for decadence is the righteous, in trade for chains come ethereal freedoms; an orchestrating, a brokering, an unimaginable exchange, a joining of God and man.

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The Gathering of Rev. Donald Ikerd

Family and friends of Rev. Don Ikerd
The night was cold. Rain pelted the windshield, and in the few minutes before we arrived at our Prescott, Az. destination, snow flurries blew across the glass. Many people had preceded us, so that at the entrance to the mortuary we must wait in line to sign the guest book.

On Monday morning around 10:00, Jerry and I had gone from Lake Havasu and traveled the couple hundred miles to the Phoenix home of our friends, Gary and Elaine Hogan. We visited awhile, had lunch at the nearby Elephant Bar and rather soon it was time for the 100 miles trip to Prescott, where we would gather to view the body of Rev. Donald Ikerd, who a few days before had gone home to meet his Lord.

The Wakelin Mortuary appeared to be a converted colonial style home, complete with working fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Stacks of firewood lay about, and near the center of the first room was a table laid with cookies, pitchers of ice water, and flagons of hot cider. The facility was packed with friends, colleagues and relatives of Rev. Ikerd, and the atmosphere, though woven through with sadness at the death of such a man, was one of love and supreme honor.

Judge for yourself. On a stormy night in January, into the mountains of Prescott had come scores of people–from every corner of Arizona, from many states, from other countries, and from the headquarters of the United Pentecostal Church–came those who respected and loved this great man. That gathering on Monday evening was the most beautiful of its type I have ever attended…

but I felt cheated…

Why? Because I hardly knew Rev. Ikerd, and that night, and the next day at his funeral in Phoenix, the accolades spoken, the tributes paid, the stories told, the letters read, the descriptions noted, the wisdom lauded…all those, unmistakably told of a most magnificent man of God. I felt cheated as I heard anecdotes from the pulpit and listened to private conversations of those who knew him well, and because of the silent messages transmitted by impressive men who flew thousands of miles–not to speak–merely to stand in honor of their fallen friend. His history conveyed impeccable character, highest integrity and sheer grit.
Sharon Ikerd and ministerial family from Africa

President UPCI South Africa

For 28 years, Rev. Donald Ikerd and his wife, Sharon, were missionaries to the continent of Africa, serving in the countries of Kenya, Zambia and South Africa. A tall elegant man with a clipped British accent strode to the pulpit. President of the United Pentecostal Church of South Africa, he told of the incredible atmosphere of animosity into which Rev. Ikerd entered that field. Great turmoil and prejudice existed between the negroes, the blacks, the Indians and the Europeans of South Africa who, both in and out of “the church,” struggled for position and power. Rev. Ikerd with a pervading aura of peace, in a meek and humble way, brought these factions together, and although there still remain struggles, the “work” in South Africa was tremendously strengthened and elevated by Rev. Ikerd.
In his waning years, after he must leave Africa because of declining health, he moved to Prescott and there built a church. At the time of his death, he served as presbyter for section 4 of the Arizona district.
…he is gone. Rev. Donald Ikerd has been gathered home.