When Will got his doctorate from Peabody Institute in Nashville in June 1974 he was
still not able to get a teaching position in mathematics at a small
college (he didn’t want to teach in a large one). In his last
semester at Peabody, he began looking for a teaching position. There
were few advertised in mathematics but more in computing. (Will had a
minor in computer science at Vanderbilt Univ.) He was first
interviewed at Ithaca College (New York) for a math position and then
was interviewed at Anderson College (Indiana) for a position in
computer science. He accepted the Anderson offer when he was advised
by Ithaca that their first choice had accepted. Now we had a new
place to visit Will and family. First it was Chicago, then Richmond
(IN), then Blair (NB), then Nashville, and now Anderson. After a few
days in mid-December with Mother, we took off for Anderson, where we
stayed until Christmas.
On the 21st, Will took the six of us in his van to Toledo in a snowstorm, to attend the wedding of Randy Balch and Cynthia Kraft (see left). He was my last nephew or niece to get married, and the only one whose wedding I attended.
Before leaving for Europe in September, I received my first correspondence from “M. Brand” of Youth for Christ in Johannesburg, South Africa, inviting me to come for six weeks starting in February 1975.I didn’t learn until I got there that “M. Brand” was a woman, the secretary of Dennis House, executive director of Youth for Christ of Southern Africa. The practice of using only the first initial with no title gave me no end of trouble years later when I tried to computerize our church in Cape Town. I got permission from Dr. Grubb to set up visits with the Baptist missions in Eastern and Southern Africa as well as return visits to West Africa, and corresponded with these groups in December and January. Nothing was firm, however, until I met with the African coordinator for SBC in Johannesburg in February.
We had nearly worn out our welcome in Will’s house by this time, so went to Mother’s to wait the time for my departure for South Africa. Finally, on the 23rd of January, we took off for Wilmington, where I stayed for a week in Mary Charlotte’s modest abode, before leaving for New York and London. I had sent Mike Emery the money to buy me an APEX round trip ticket London-Johannesburg on British Airways (about half the usual fare), and so had to go to London to pick up the ticket.
This trip started out to be limited to southern
Africa (South Africa plus Zimbabwe — then Rhodesia). It wound
up being extended to Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Liberia and
Senegal. The South African portion and part of the Zimbabwean portion
were under the aegis of Youth for Christ, while the remaining visits
were sponsored by the Southern Baptist missionaries. I had also
wanted to return to Nigeria, but was advised not to come, because of
the difficulties imposed on the Baptist mission by the recent
government mandate to give their staff in hospitals and schools a
100% raise retroactive one year.
Youth for Christ originated in South Africa with the evangelizing of high schoolers as its major thrust. It reaches young people through camps and other get-togethers providing wholesome recreation combined with Bible study and devotions. It has a major emphasis on training young people for ministry in and through their local churches. My role was to act as a catalyst in bringing high schoolers and others into contact with the YFC leaders and programs. I first had to get their attention, which I did through the showing of the Apollo moon landing documentary films and explanations of how the space program has benefited mankind throughout the world. Since South Africa did not yet have television (it started in the fall of 1975), the moon films were of great interest to everyone there. I also had to convince my audience that I was indeed a qualified space scientist, before they would accept my testimony of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, which I gave at nearly every meeting. At many meetings in churches, the invitation to accept Christ as personal Lord and Savior would be made, with inquirers being counseled by the YFC and church staffs. Although high schools were the primary targets, meetings were arranged in nearly all of the universities and technical schools, as well as business and social organizations and churches.
After a very pleasant 3-day visit with the Emerys, I left London for the overnight
flight to Johannesburg, and was met by Dennis House (YFC executive
director) and the Johannesburg and Pretoria YFC workers (Ray White
and Derek Weston). They took me to Pretoria (90 miles north), where
my first meetings had been scheduled. These began early the next
morning, starting with the Atomic Energy Board (of which Louw
Alberts, YFC president, was vice chairman) and the Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). These were the two most
prestigious technical groups of the South African government, and it
was a real honor to be invited to address them. The evening meeting
was at the Veterinary College. The second day brought a morning
meeting at the Pretoria College for Advanced Technical Education, an
afternoon meeting at the medical faculty of the University of
Pretoria and an evening meeting at its faculty for arts and
After morning tea with Dr. Alberts and his family, we drove to Johannesburg, and had an evening meeting at a school. The next day (Sunday), I was asked to bring the morning message at the Rosebank Union Church, and talk to the congregation of a prestigious Dutch Reformed Church after its evening service. Dennis House and I had been invited for tea by the dominie (Dr. Malan) before the service, and were chatting away enthusiastically when he looked at his watch, leaped out of his chair, and sprinted across the grass to the church. We followed as fast as we could and entered just in time to see him calmly walking out to the front of his congregation, followed by his elders, all dressed in black suits with white ties. He told us later that never in his life had he been late for a service, but he almost broke that record then!
Monday was spent in trying to arrange air tickets for my extended itinerary, with only an evening meeting at the YWCA chapel. Tuesday morning I was interviewed by a Mr. Chalmers for his religious program and by Joy Anderson for her secular program, both national programs on government radio (there was no TV at that time). A night meeting at St. Stephens Presbyterian Church completed ny work in Johannesburg. On Wednesday, I was introduced to Terry Sparks, a young mining engineer who had volunteered his car and his month of vacation to drive me around South Africa. I was with him day and night for nearly four weeks, yet had to ask him continually to repeat every other sentence, as I couldn’t get used to his South African manner of speaking. We left for Durban that same day.
We had four days in Durban, where I had meetings at schools, colleges, a Rotary Club, and several churches. After bringing the Sunday morning message at the Durban North Baptist Church, we made a tour of the inland cities Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith, Dundee and Newcastle, speaking in one or two black or white schools in the daytime and at a church at night. At Newcastle, Terry had his uncle, a senior engineer at the plant, show us a new steel mill, in operation but not yet finished, which employed the latest technology, such as computer-controlled blast furnaces. At each city visited we would be fed and housed by a supporter of Youth for Christ. I got to meet many interesting people!
Reaching Welkom, where Terry was employed in a
gold mine, we took a day off in order to visit the surface works of
the mine —a very interesting visit indeed. These works occupied
a huge area just outside the town (I estimate the equivalent of six
city blocks), and employed hundreds of people. Yet the entire week’s
work is represented by one gold brick. The guide’s usual joke
at the vault which ends the tour is: “If you can lift the brick
unassisted, you can take it with you.” I couldn’t! While
in Welkom we had school meetings the first two nights. I brought the
message at the Sunday evening service at the Methodist Church, after
speaking to the young people at Sunday School that morning. On Monday
after a talk to the Welkom Rotary Club, we drove to
Our host for our three days there was Mr. Hennie Kuhn, a retired bank president, and a very interesting gentleman. It was a time of rest after the hectic pace of the last two weeks, as we had only two night meetings, one at Mr. Kuhn’s Dutch Reformed church and one at the Orange Free State University.
The meetings in Pretoria followed the usual pattern of high school, university and Bible school, with church meetings on Sunday. This Sunday evening I brought the message at the Central Baptist Church, after speaking to the combined Sunday School classes at the Lyttleton Methodist Church in the morning. We had a repeat meeting at the University of Pretoria to which Dr. Berger (vice president of CSIR) brought his whole family. Returning to Johannesburg, I purchased a new air ticket to take me to all the countries I was now lined up to visit, paying by check that Dennis House guaranteed. I had time for meetings at the Rosebank Bible College and at Witwatersrand University (South Africa’s largest) before taking a plane for Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).
The struggle for control of Rhodesia between the
whites and the blacks had not yet reached the point where private
cars could travel only in military convoys (which was true a year
later), but there was tension in the air everywhere. One sensed it as
soon as the plane landed in Salisbury (now Harare). Unlike South
Africa, where the whites are a good 20% of the population, the whites
in Rhodesia constituted only 5%, and these were already feeling the
pinch of Britain’s sanctions. Pat Luffman (YFC director for
Rhodesia drove me to Umtali, on the Mozambique border, for a CBMSA
(Christian Business Men of Southern Africa) dinner meeting at a
hotel. We returned to Salisbury the next day, stopping at Rusape for
a CBMSA luncheon meeting. That evening we had a big youth rally at
the Trinity Methodist Church. On Saturday, after a large breakfast
meeting at the Ambassador Hotel, my hosts (the Martins) took me to
see Balancing Rock and then to the airport to fly to Bulawayo for a
large night meeting at Convention Hall.
Sunday was a very busy day. I brought the message at the Bulawayo Presbyterian Church at 9:30, talked to the young people at an African Baptist Church later in the morning, had a 10-minute interview and a 30-minute panel discussion on science and religion on Rhodesian TV in the afternoon, and brought the message at the Bulawayo Baptist Church in the evening. We got up at 3:45am Monday morning to drive 200 miles to the Wankie Game Preserve and on to Wankie for an evening meeting in Bryan Nel’s home. We returned the next morning to Bulawayo and on to Gwelo for a CMBSA luncheon meeting and a large night meeting at the Gwelo Town Hall. Wednesday brought meetings at two white and one black high schools, with a fourth high school meeting on Thursday. The YFC people now turned me over to the Baptist missionaries. Good Friday was a day of rest and church service, followed by a week-end at a nearby Christian camp for black young people, with night meetings both Saturday and Sunday. We then went for a visit to the Baptist compound at Senyati, where they have a large hospital and schools for the black people of the area. I spoke to the hospital staff, and then many times to the school children — class by class in the day and to the whole student body in the evenings. On Thursday we left Senyati for Salisbury, stopping at Gatooma to have a meeting at the high school there. On Friday, I flew to Fort Victoria for more YFC meetings, and stayed with Ted Nineham. We had two meetings that day, and one the following night, after a day at the ancient ruins called Zimbabwe. This name was applied to the country when the blacks took power in 1979. We had a large Sunday night meeting in the Fort Victoria High School with about half students and half townspeople. I then returned by air to Salisbury for my flight to Malawi the next day. Youth for Christ had provided me with 93 speaking opportunities to an estimated 20,500 people, with the Baptists adding 13 meetings and 1,140 people.
The trip to Malawi was primarily to have a half-hour taped interview and prepare tapes of three half-hour talks for later radio broadcasts. There were only two live speaking opportunities, at the Baptist center the first night and at the religious education classes of the St. Andreas (European) High School the next morning.
Frank Baker met me at the airport for a press interview and visit to the Baptist mission headquarters, before flying on to Ndola (in the center of the famous copper belt of Zambia, source of much of the world’s copper) for a series of meetings the rest of the week, three at high schools and one each at a church and a factory. I had an interesting visit to the largest mining company in Zambia, where the first African installation of IBM’s latest computer (370) had been made. Zambia had been under black rule for ten years, and the government was forcing white-owned companies to share ownership and replace whites with blacks. While this looked like the right thing to do, the practical implications for a mining company were ominous, given the blacks’ disdain of preventive maintenance and disaster training. Saturday evening I moved on to Kitwe for an evening church meeting, and brought the morning message at the Ndele Baptist Church (black). In the afternoon I was interviewed for a half-hour TV broadcast, and had an evening meeting at the Kitwe Technical Institute. On Monday, I spoke at the Makuba Secondary School (black) in the afternoon, and at the Kitwe Little Theater in the evening. On Tuesday I had three high school meetings before returning to Ndola for a late flight back to Lusaka. The rest of the week was devoted to mostly small meetings at a number of places: schools, a seminary, a public hall, a missionary home, and church. I had an interview over ZEB-TV and another over Radio Zambia. Frank Baker, my host, was very much interested in my little book “Beyond Science” and wanted me to make a movie of it! I attended a township church Sunday morning and spoke briefly there, before taking an afternoon flight to Nairobi, arriving in time for an evening meeting at the Parklands Baptist Church.
Nairobi was then and still is the African headquarters for many Christian organizations, expatriate and African. Kenya is probably the most stable black African nation and after Nigeria the most prosperous. The Baptists have an extensive work in Kenya, and are particularly strong in the schools and universities, giving me many opportunities there. They also are media-minded, and I had several TV and radio interviews in Nairobi. During the first week, Baptist missionary Dale Hooper had arranged for me to speak to three groups at the University of Nairobi, at the University of Kenyatta, and at several churches and civic groups. On Sunday afternoon we drove to Arusha, Tanzania, for a 2-day series of meetings with the faculty and students of the Baptist seminary there. During the day Monday we went to the Arusha Game Park, seeing many animals and birds, particularly thousands of beautiful pink flamingoes. Returning to Nairobi Tuesday, Dale taped my talks on origins as Genesis and science see them. On Wednesday we drove 75 miles to the village Koelel, to have a meeting at the secondary school (black) there. On Thursday evening we had a requested repeat meeting at the faculty of medicine of the University of Nairobi, and then flew to Mombasa early the following morning for four high school meetings, with a fifth the next morning. Saturday afternoon two of the Baptist missionaries and I drove up the coast 60 miles to the Italian Equatorial Launch Platform, where a colleague from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Dr. Marge Townsend, the project director) was preparing to launch the SAS satellite. She was surprised to see me, but quickly arranged a motor boat to take us to the launch platform, and we spent an hour looking at it and discussing the technicalities with the Italian launch crew (who spoke excellent English). The two missionaries were quite impressed! Sunday morning I brought the message at the early (English) service of the Mombasa First Baptist Church, and presented my film and talk there in the evening. Monday morning was disappointing as several planned school meetings failed to materialize, and I flew back to Nairobi that afternoon, with a showing and talk for the mission personnel that night. I left on a 7-hour flight to Ghana the next morning.
The two days in Ghana were much less hectic than the ones of my first visit, but busy nevertheless. The first day was one of seeing people at informal gatherings, military and missionary, during the day, with a well-attended high school meeting at night. The second day brought a morning talk at the Mission Station and a TV interview, and a lunch-time meeting with a Post Office Christian group. There was a meeting at the Ghana Military Academy in the evening. The following morning I got my Ivory Coast visa at 8:15 and boarded the flight for Abidjan at 9:30 — that’s cutting it pretty close!
The four evenings in Abidjan were occasions for meetings at a suburb (outdoors), at the Marcory Baptist Church, at the Abidjan Cultural Center, and at a Bible school. Other than bring the message at the Sunday service of the Koumassie Baptist Church, my time was devoted to very pleasant meal visits with the mission personnel and their friends. I took the same late night Pan Am flight to Monrovia (Liberia) that I had taken to Dakar the previous November.
SIM International operates a TV station and a number of radio stations (since destroyed in the Liberian civil war of the 80’s and 90’s) from a large compound just outside of Monrovia, from which they can reach most of the West African and Sahel nations. On my first day there they interviewed me five times for various programs on these stations. Later in the week I was inteviewcd for their TV station. In Monrovia itself, I spoke at the chapel of the University of Liberia several times, including the worship service Sunday morning, and also at the ELWA chapel. In addition there were three meetings at schools and several at churches. The picture of life in Liberia given me by the Baptist missionaries was not a pretty one. They told of the stranglehold on the economy practiced by the descendants of the American blacks who founded the country during the Monroe administration in the United States (1822), who live in Monrovia and the other coastal cities. They spoke of no government support whatever of roads, education and medical facilities for the indigenous tribes of the interior. Conditions are deplorable, and the only help comes from the missionaries. The president of the country then was Dr. Talbot, a former Baptist pastor who even then was serving as president of the World Baptist Convention. As you probably know, Dr. Talbot was assassinated in a coup in 1980, the leader of which, Sgt. Doe, faced rebellion which appeared likely to topple him. (He, too, has been killed.) At the urging of the local Baptists on my last day there, I waited three hours in the outer office of Dr. Talbot for an interview which never materialized. That night I took that same late Pan Am schedule I had come on to go to Dakar.
Dr. Runyan, Everett Burnett (with whom I had
worked six months earlier) and a new couple, Don and Peggy Penney,
met me at 2:30am, whereupon the Penneys drove me to their home in
Theis, 40 miles away. Nevertheless we had a 10am meeting the next
morning at a high school and an afternoon meeting at the Baptist
Center before driving back to Dakar. On Thursday morning I took the
7:45am flight over the tiny nation of Gambia to the southern portion
of Senegal, where we spent three days (and two nights) at the WEC
(World Evangelization Crusade) Center in Ziguinchor. After an
afternoon meeting at a normal school, we took a ferry to Bignona
where we had a meeting at an Army camp. We came back the next
morning, and had a meeting at the WEC Center that night. On Saturday
I flew back to Dakar, and went to Dr. Runyan’s house for a
1-1/2-hour interview by a newspaper reporter. On Sunday I brought the
morning message at the service at the Baptist Center and again at the
vesper service at Temple Evangelique. That night I took the late
Pan-Am flight for the fifth time, this time to New York City. The
good old Greyhound took me first to Mother’s home in
Hyattsville and the next day to Mary Charlotte’s place in
Except for Kenya and Zambia, the audiences provided under the aegis of the Baptists were well below the 1974 ones in West Africa, but it was a time well spent nevertheless. To the 93 meetings and 20,500 people Youth for Christ of Southern Africa had arranged for me, the Southern Baptists added 91 meetings with 24,000 attendees, in addition to numerous TV, radio and newspaper interviews. Praise the Lord for these golden opportunities!
Almost immediately after returning home, I
received Prof. MacGregor’s invitation to apply for a teaching
position at the University of Cape Town. I had already written to
Mary Charlotte about it, and her reaction was, “I’ll go
anywhere to get a home!" I had made a few inquiries about
customs on imports, and learned that as an "immigrant” I
could import duty-free household and personal effects and a car that
had been owned and used at least six months before shipment. The
first thing I wanted to do was to buy a used car, so as to be sure I
had the required six months, as import duties on cars were more than
100% retail value. The very next day after arriving in Wilmington, we
went looking and made a down payment on a 1974 Chevrolet Impala with
mileage under 30,000. Among the many letters awaiting me was an
invitation from the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) organization in
Argentina to come for a month or more to Buenos Aires with my Spanish
space films. I don’t remember how they heard about me, or I
about them, but I soon firmed up the month to be September 20th to
October 20th. I also had received the instructions from the
University of Cape Town about applying for a teaching position, with
all the required information and affidavits for immigration including
a physical examination for both Mary Charlotte and myself.
We wound up her affairs in Wilmington, hired a trailer, and loaded her household goods, which by this time were not inconsiderable, and took off for Hyattsville on the 3rd of June. We had X-rays and blood tests made at the Army Medical Center on the 5th, making appointments for complete physicals on the 19th, and left for Will’s new home in Anderson (Indiana) by way of Mary Jo’s in Toledo. We returned to Hyattsville a week later and had our physical examinations at the Army Medical Center. Mary Charlotte’s lung X rays had shown “cloudiness” which required consulting a specialist on the 8th of July. We also had to make appointments for allergy tests, EKG’s and other lab tests. The allergy tests required a daily visit to the AMC the following week, and as soon as they were over, we left for another visit with Will and family, staying until time to return for the visit to the lung specialist at AMC on July 8th. Her lungs were still not clear, but a diagnosis was not yet available. On the third visit to the AMC that week, the doctor said she may have TB, and prescribed two medications.
On the 9th of July we attended the celebration of Mother’s 95th birthday attended by Margaret and Bob and all the local family. Mother really enjoyed it. In prior years, when Mother had reached the point where she could no longer take care of herself, Marion had her cared for in a nearby nursing home. I can remember visiting her there and playing Russian Bank, a card game she never tired of playing. The nursing staff loved her for her always cheerful attitude and light demands for attention, which was certainly not true for some of the inmates. Subsequently, Marion heard of an Argentine couple named Rodriguez who had made a career of tending old people until they died. They had been at 4212 Queensbury Road about a year at this time, and Mother really loved their compassionate care. She lived for over 50 years in that house! Immediately after Mother’s death, Marion took the house for her home until she went into an Episcopal retirement home near Baltimore, when she sold it to her granddaughter Margery, who is still living there.
Once again we headed for Anderson to celebrate Judy’s birthday on July 13th and Emily’s on the 17th. Then we left for Denver, arriving for a week end visit with Mary Francis and Bill. This was the fourth city Bill had been manager of for his insurance company, and by far the largest. Things were not normal between Bill and Mary Francis, but we didn’t realize until later how bad. When we had last visited them in Lexington, she had insisted that we sleep in their room. Su-Su’s fleas had gotten into the rug and multiplied, until they had to get an exterminator. Bill was so annoyed that Mary Francis asked us to leave Su-Su in the car overnight. Bill announced a trip to the western part of the State while we were there, which Mary Francis told us later was a device to keep from visiting with us. Su-Su messed up the car badly the second night, and it took several hours to get it cleaned up fit to travel in, so we left for California under a cloud, so to speak. We had been invited to stay with Bea and Bob Watson, old friends and neighbors from North Hollywood days, so we went to their home just north of Ventura on the Pacific Coast for a week’s visit. There Mary Charlotte had further X-rays and a skin test to see if she really did have TB. We then went down the coast, staying with one family after another of our North Hollywood church friends, heading back East on August 2nd.
I had wanted to make a quick visit to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to make arrangements for Pastor Reyes to accompany me to Argentina. He had indicated in his letters a keen interest in visiting the South American countries, partly in order to promote my Spanish book and a book he had written. We reached Cuernavaca on the 6th, but found Mrs. Reyes (Lucha) ill (she subsequent1y died of cancer). We stayed with Josefina Ribas, a well-to-do widow in the church there. On Sunday evening we had a space-film meeting in a daughter church, with 350 attending. We left Cuernavaea on Tuesday to return to the United States through East Texas, and proceeded to Hyattsville via Nashville, where we visited Morgan and Evelyn Huff.
We stayed at Mother’s until September 11th, when we went once again to Will’s to get some items he had stored there for us that we wanted to ship to South Africa. There was a sale at Montgomery Ward’s on washers and driers, so we bought a set, loaded everything into a U-haul trailer, and left on the 16th for Hyattsville, after celebrating Will’s and Mark’s birthdays one day early on the 15th. Arriving in Hyattsville, we left all of the goods for South Africa at the Scotts (friends from Eastminster Church) to be crated for shipment by Scotty. Mary Charlotte planned to stay with the Scotts during my absence in Argentina, but became ill and was hospitalized for eight days. She stayed with Mother after that until I returned.
I left for Buenos Aires on the 18th, meeting Pastor Reyes in Panama, where he
joined my flight. We arrived in BA the following morning, and were
met by a whole delegation of CCC (called Alfa y Omega there) workers.
They took us to the Baptist Seminary, which was to be our home for
awhile, returning that evening for a planning session. Saturday was
spent in shopping, reveling in an economy where prices were one-third
those in the US. I bought beautiful pocketbooks for all my close
Saturday night we had our first meeting, at a Pentecostal church in nearby La Plata, with Pastor Reyes interpreting. Sunday night brought another meeting at the Pentecostal Church of the Capital. Monday afternoon we were invited to be interviewed over the very popular TV program hosted by Rose Marie. This was an hour-long program created in a huge warehouse-like building with 10-12 booths placed around the perimeter. Rose Marie walked from one booth to another, followed by her TV camera on a huge crane, and started to talk to whichever group she fancied. She came by our group and asked a few introductory questions, and then came hack two more times, showing her appraisal of the popularity of our responses. Mike Mansfield, a third generation English-Argentine engineer who represented the Chicago Bridge Company in Argentina, interpreted for me then and many times later, as he was truly bilingual. We then went to the Alfa y Omega headquarters where director Dr. Roberto Azzati had called a press conference. Thirty-five reporters came and stayed for several hours, with many interesting questions and much discussion. Tuesday was a day of shopping and rest, with the only talk being that to the students in the dorm that night. Mr. Reyes left for other South American countries later that week, and I moved into the home of Benigno Caminas, where I stayed for the rest of my time in Buenos Aires. Benigno was deputy director of Alfa y Omego, a short man, and he spoke very little English. Life in his home was a delightful experience in communication, as my Spanish (picked up in Mexico) was quite rudimentary. His 16-year-old daughter was studying English in high school, and she helped me many times with a Spanish word I didn't know. Benigno’s wife, Lydia, was also quite short, making me feel like a giant in their home. They were dear people and treated me just like one of the family, even giving me the chore of walking the dog from time to time.
The slow beginning didn’t last long. On Wednesday began a pattern of meetings that pretty well went through the month: One or two meetings in the daytime, at a university, school, or government technical agency, and a night meeting in a church or in the meeting room at headquarters (held each Friday and Saturday night). David Forsberg (one of the Alfa y Omega staff) usually interpreted for me on the day-time and in-house meetings, with Mr. Mansfield being called on for highly technical audiences. The very first week, Dr. Azzati took me to the Instituto Nacional de Technologica Industrial (INTI), whose director, Colonel Algonoraz, was a retired Air Force colonel who had come to the Lord in later life. He gave me his testimony in English, taking over an hour, and invited me to come back the following week to talk to his staff. After this meeting he invited me back still another time to meet his people individually. He took me around to each person’s desk, and encouraged me to give my testimony and make an appeal for that person to come to the Lord. This was a brand-new experience for me, and I felt quite uncomfortable, particularly with the Colonel hovering over me.
At the end of that first week, Dr. Azzati took us to a nearby town for a staff retreat, returning Sunday morning for me to bring the message at the English-speaking Baptist Church in Martinez. I had that privilege each Sunday morning but one while there. On the fourth Sunday, there were three church meetings scheduled, the afternoon one being in the huge Iglesia Pentecostal Missiones, 1,500 people jamming the auditorium. We had set up the projector for the film well before the meeting and tested it. But when we started to project there was no sound! The projectionist had been using this machine all during my visit, with no previous trouble. He rewound, re-threaded and tried again. Still no sound. He did it a second time, with the same sad result. I suddenly got the thought that this was not a mechanical failure, but an attempt on Satan’s part to discredit us before all these people. I thought I should ask the people to pray to God to “bind” Satan so that we could have our program. But then the thought came, suppose nothing happens — wouldn’t I look like a monkey? Overcoming this objection I did ask the people to pray, and they prayed as only Pentecostals can, everybody at once. After a few minutes of prayer, I again asked for the film. We had sound! God is as faithful to answer prayer for inanimate objects as He is for human sickness, but only if He finds in His interest.
Dr. Azzati had persuaded the manager of the planetarium in Buenos Aires to allow us to show the NASA film of Mariner 9’s orbit of Mars, and talk to the people about space and God. So after the regular show one afternoon, we had most of that audience remain for our show, which was very well received, with many remaining to talk further about the Lord. This provoked an invitation from the Astronomical Society of BA for a meeting. After the film and ny presentation, I opened the meeting for questions. One man got up and talked for what seemed to me to be ages. When I whispered to my interpreter to cut him off, he told me to let him talk, as apparently he was favorable to us, rather than unfavorable as I had supposed. Not knowing the language is a serious handicap!
At the airport to get my Aero Peru flight to Miami, the entire staff came to see me off. I had loaded up with gifts and was not prepared for their gift of a huge fur-lined parka. I thought surely the Air Line would make me leave my bags behind, but they allowed me to take everything on board, and I managed to get home. This month in Buenos Aires had produced 39 meetings with attendance of 8,500, all through the Providence of God.
When I consider the extent and number of meetings and interviews that I participated in
over this period and realize that I did not personally arrange for a
single one of them, it tells me something about the God I serve.
There were literally hundreds of people of many countries and walks
of life that of their own volition offered me the opportunity of
witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ, whether they realized it or
not. All I have ever done in this area is to make myself available,
first to the Lord, and then to the people or agencies to whom He has
led me. That this work was the Lord’s plan for me before I was
born seems to be borne out by nearly every major event or
circumstance that has shaped my life. Without my background in
printing and membership in the printers’ union, I could not
have supported myself in gaining my university education,
particularly at Harvard where I had my family to provide for. It was
at Harvard that I was brought into the computer world — not
because I chose it, because it was the only way I could get my
doctorate. Computers brought me into relationships with John Parker,
Simon Ramo, and finally Jim Fleming, all of whom were instrumental in
preparing me for appointment to the Space Agency. The training and
experience that I obtained at NASA were the primary reasons why
missionaries and pastors would open their churches and homes to me,
and why reporters for TV, radio, and newspapers would think me
worthwhile to interview. Without the course in public speaking and
the subsequent polishing of speaking ability in hundreds of
presentations to business and professional groups during my computer
career, I would not have had the ability to measure up to the
hundreds of opportunities this ministry gave me.
Then consider the way God places a choice before one, which seems innocent enough at the time but which can have a profound influence on one’s life. I can think of two in my life in this category. The first was the decision to set down my experience in the computer election prediction of President Eisenhower for the vice president of the American Broadcasting Company. This began the train of events which led to the space-film ministry with Chuck Corwin in Japan and nearly everything that has happened to me since. The second was the decision to leave my family to go sightseeing in Kyoto while I visited Neil Verwey and his ministry to tubercular patients in the hospitals of Osaka. This was to bring me to the ministry with Youth for Christ in South Africa and to the not-yet- described associations with the University of Cape Town, St. James Church and the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.
The third line of evidence is found in the opposition one can always expect from Satan when one engages in work for the Lord Jesus Christ. I have not attempted to set down all of the ways this was manifested during my space-film ministry, but I have described a few. The very first trip was nearly stopped cold by the dislocation of the vertebra in my back. Had I not realized it was Satan’s opposition, I don’t think I would have attempted to go on as I did. Then there was the discouragement of zero attendance at our first retirement meeting in Japan, the numerous occasions of minor illness, fatigue, frustration with delays, discomfort in travel and sleeping situations and many others. I’m sounding like Paul in II Corinthians, but these are real experiences that Satan makes the most of to discourage the would-be servant of God. The difficulties with my truck and trailer in Mexico were far beyond what I should have expected with nearly new vehicles. The many problems caused by misconnections with the missionary personnel, only some of which I have related, can also be ascribed to Satan. I have just described his attempt to prevent our showing the film at the Pentecostal church in Buenos Aires. That Satan was the cause I have no doubt, because no rethreading was done between the third (unsuccessful) attempt to show the film and the final successful trial after prayer had been made by the huge congregation.
The final line of evidence of God’s handling all this is the way he had given me the right words to say in all kinds of situations. When you consider that I have had to give my testimony in these talks over 1,000 times, it is only God’s Spirit that could keep it fresh and convincing. I can tell you honestly that this need was always uppermost in my mind when I started to speak, and that I was continually amazed at how many variations the Holy Spirit gave to my testimony without weakening it in any way. I have realized from the beginning that all circumstances surrounding each presentation were up to the Lord to work out, and He never failed! The less than one percent of occasions when meetings were canceled were always followed by even better opportunities. Jesus told his disciples as recorded in John 15:5 that without Him they could do nothing, and I have experienced the truth of this warning many times.
The following table gives the numbers and descriptions of opportunities given me in the countries listed during the four-year period immediately following my retirement. They are taken from the diaries I kept during that time. All attendance figures are estimates, and as such as subject to 5-10% error, probably on the high side. The meeting and interview counts are precise, however, and I also recorded the names of the venue, the host individual, the interpreter (if any), and the number of inquirers in those few cases where an invitation was given. I list these figures not in any way to blow my own horn but to show the power of our God to make Himself known to the lost in this world.
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