10/01/2017

The Devil's Biggest Lie - Part I






Today we are pleased to welcome Pastor Matthew Turner as our guest poster of the month on the paranormal/supernatural topic.  Pastor Turner is a retired pastor living his entire life in the great state of Oklahoma.  He is now retired at age 73, having gained his first pastorship at age 23.  He is the husband of Mary Lynn, the father of two sons, Joseph and Michael, both of whom are pastors now with their own families.  Pastor Turner and Mary Lynn are the grandparents of four beautiful grandchildren, ranging from age 12 to age 25.  Pastor Turner is founder of the food bank exchange in his area and leads food drives four times a year.  Pastor Turner still occasionally preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ at various churches in his retirement.  His hobbies consist of fishing, hiking, chess and walking his beloved beagle, Charlie, to the general store.

  If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural. 

{This will be a two-part story.  We do not normally allow two-part stories for the story of the month.  But, we are allowing our policy to be overruled in this case --Charlotte Hensley}

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[Just to be clear, I am not typing this absurdly long story.  My granddaughter, Laura, is typing it for me as my arthritic hands can no longer handle a keyboard--Pastor Matthew Turner]

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At age 23, I found myself in the school proctor's office. It was 1959, the Sunday before Thanksgiving of that year.  Pastor Morely was our proctor and he was a bit of an aloof individual.  Normally, he would simply say "Bless you" if you came across him and he would be on his way.  But, he had called me into his office for a matter of "great importance" I was told prior to my appointment.  I was three days away from graduation from Seminary and was awaiting my Mission at a Baptist church as I had already been previously informed by several pastors.  Normally, a newly graduated Seminary student would take an internship or associate pastor at a Baptist church according to tradition.  I was hoping I would be put into the Mission field in Africa as that was my stated mission in life as I had expressed to many at the school.  Pastor Morely came into his office, shook hands with me and congratulated me on my graduation in three days.  We made small talk for a few minutes and then Pastor Morely got down to business.  "I know your stated purpose, your wish is to be appointed to the field mission in Africa.  Perhaps sometime in the future that will happen.  But, not right now.  Not at this point in your life.  I have a much more important job for you.  I want you to take the pastorship at a Baptist church in the southeastern part of the state.  The church is on the brink of bankruptcy, members are leaving and they are having problems that are of a nature of which I can't discuss with you at this moment.  I need you to leave immediately upon graduation in three days.  There will be a Deacon Somerby who will meet you upon your arrival at the church.  I know this puts you on the road the day before Thanksgiving.  But, you must leave as soon as possible.  Perhaps you can have Thanksgiving dinner with Deacon Somerby.  I wish you well, Pastor Turner," Pastor Morely said.  He immediately rose from his desk and walked out of his office. I was stunned.  I wasn't allowed even one question.  I would not be spending Thanksgiving with my family.  I was upset and realized I had no choice but to go as commanded by the school proctor. I went to my dorm room and immediately started packing.

Needless to say, I was distraught about not spending Thanksgiving with my family.  But, this is the path God had chosen for me and I must go.  I graduated from Seminary at 10AM the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1959 and immediately set out for Trinity Baptist Church in the southeastern part of the state of Oklahoma, my home state. It was a bitterly cold day.  To make matters worse, the heater in my 1955 Oldsmobile 98 went out on me.  So, it was a long six hour drive until I arrived late that afternoon near dusk.  I arrived at the church and no one was around.  The church itself seemed simplistic, old and, yes, I hesitate to say this, but it appeared evil to me.  About five minutes after I arrived, Deacon Somerby arrived.  "Pastor Turner?" the deacon quizzed me.  He couldn't believe someone as young as me would have been sent to take on full pastorship of a church of over 200 members.  Or, at least, it was 200 members at one time.  "Deacon Somerby, I assume?  Glad to meet you sir.  As you might imagine, I am very tired, cold and hungry." I said to Deacon Somerby.  "I will take care of all three of those problems for you Pastor Turner.  I was not aware someone as young as you would be coming to handle all our problems.  But, I'm sure they know what they are doing at the Seminary.  I will drop you off at the boarding house with your own special room.  Mrs. Mullany assures me it is the best of her rooms.  She has turkey, with dressing and all the trimmings for you.  So, you are not going to be forgotten during this holiday," said the deacon.  "Deacon Somerby, what exactly is going on at the church?  My school proctor did not fill me in on any of your problems here other than to say membership was dropping off and some other problems had come up" I stated to him."  Deacon Somerby looked at me a bit strangely, I thought.  "We will get into all that in the morning, pastor.  I will say on this to you....something evil has taken over this church.  We have members in open rebellion, members who suddenly have mocked and ridiculed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Long-time members who suddenly have questioned the foundation of our Christian principals.  But, just as strange, we have people who even question the existence of the Devil.  Many are fervent in their belief now that the Devil is nonsense and must be expunged from our teachings. In fact, Pastor Lassiter left because he was being ridiculed, mocked and threatened as he preached from the pulpit.  Pastor Lassiter just up and left in the middle of the night three weeks ago," he said.

I didn't know what to make of this.  I had never heard of a church membership in open revolt before.  It seemed impossible.  And I refused to believe that a demon spirit had invaded the church.  That was simply not possible.  The deacon told me that someone would pick me up the next morning to meet him at the church.  He did warn me that the church had a smell they simply couldn't get rid of for reasons they could not understand.  All this was more than I could fathom.  Why would Pastor Morely appoint me for something of this nature, someone so young and inexperienced.  I had excellent grades, was praised for my ability to interpret the Holy Bible and my work with the indigent and poor.  But, I thought this was a job for someone with immense experience, not someone who just recently graduated Seminary.  I went to the boarding house with Deacon Somerby and told him I looked forward to seeing him in the morning.  He continued to give me strange looks.  All this was so mysterious, so strange to me.  He told me again that someone would be there in the morning to pick me up.

The next morning, I was awakened by a knock on my door.  It was Mrs. Mullany (who had an excellent Thanksgiving dinner, but nothing like my mother's traditional Thanksgiving dinner).  "Pastor Turner?  Pastor Turner, Mr. Hurley is here to pick you up, sir," said Mrs. Mullany.  "Thank you Mrs Mullany.  I'll be right out," I said.  I grabbed my materials I had for the church, my Bible and walked out into the living room to meet Mr. Hurley, a church elder.  Like Deacon Somerby, he was skeptical of someone so young being appointed pastor.  I could see it in his eyes.  "Pastor, we need to get going.  We need to go pick up Deacon Somerby as well this morning" he said.  We set out to pick up Deacon Somerby and Mr. Hurley kept giving me quick, furtive glances.  "I hope the deacon gave you some idea of what is in store for you, pastor.  It's not for the faint of heart," Mr. Hurley said.  I had enough of this.  "Mr. Hurley, I can assure you, I have been indoctrinated in the Word of God.  Whatever this is plaguing our church, I will deal with in due time.  Don't let my age fool you into thinking I can not handle this pastorship," I said a bit too loudly and, yes, a bit too harshly.  Mr. Hurley said nothing else from that point on until we picked up Deacon Somerby at his modest home just outside town.

We were about three miles from the church when Deacon Somerby spoke up.  "We are about to enter into something of which you have never witnessed, pastor.  The smell is overpowering in the church.  The feeling you will get today will not come close to what you felt upon your arrival.  I am only telling you this because I want you to be prepared.  We have already lost one pastor.  We cannot afford to lose another.  I do believe this is something evil that has invaded the church.  It is up to you to get rid of it," the deacon said.  All my teachings had taught me that the Devil and his minions could not enter into the Church of God.  It was simply not possible and I was puzzled that Deacon Somerby did not know that or he should have known it.  He was deacon of the entire church.  He should have been reassuring me of that message.  But, he did not.  I didn't know what to make of him at that point.  All I knew for certain, I was about to enter into the biggest event of my life.  I had little in the way of knowledge of what had really been going on.  I had church leadership that appeared curious to me.  Even more, I had a church proctor, of my Seminary school, who had sent me into the biggest fight of my life with virtually no knowledge of what I was about to face.  And I was about to face it virtually all alone with my faith, my teachings and my Bible.

Click HERE for Part II

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