April 25, 2013
Rhema Christian Center
ccm Cross #0050
GPS/DMS 34.4884° N, 88.1887° W
3262 cdd All In For The Gospel
Cyber Daily Devotion
Volume 14 Number 088
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Luke 9:6
“So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” NKJV
My name is Pastor Virgil J. L. Howell and this is my Cross testimony of how I went from a “Good ole Boy” to an “All in for the Gospel” disciple of the King of Kings.
It was our privilege to be ordained by Pastor Virgil J. L. Howell more than 25 years ago. He has been a mentor, ministry advisor and good friend through the years. pb
“I grew up the oldest of 11 children in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and New Mexico area. My dad was a share cropper — he worked the land for the farm owner and received his housing and shared in any profit from the sold produce. We all grew up in the years just prior to World War 2 — best known as the Great Depression and dust bowl years.
My dad and mom were industrious and through all the tough times we never went hungry. When World War 2 broke out I was not old enough to enlist. As the war progressed it was clear that the US Army was my destination.
I volunteered in 1943 to be an electrician in the US Army 13th Airborne Division. Fort Bliss, Texas became my new home and jumping out of airplanes was my new life. Less than six months after enlisting I found myself jumping out of airplanes transferring to the 82nd Airborne Division. We were jumping behind enemy lines clearing the way for the advancing Allied armies moving from France into Germany. Our troops were moving at a good clip when what is now referred to as the Battle of Bulge took place. My job was to secure electrical power in the field for headquarters tents.
We pushed back this last German offensive of the war and our armies marched into Berlin. It was VE — Victory in Europe — but the other half of the war was going strong in the Pacific. I received orders from command to take my electrical skills to the Philippines. I received a one way ticket on the Ocean Liner Thomas Berry and was headed back to the States for a short furlough. And then off to the Pacific Theatre.
All this time in training and in Europe I was diligent in my writing to my sweetheart at home, Lucille. Now having survived the rigors of battle in Europe and being re-assigned to the Philippines I wrote a letter asking Lucille to marry me. Arrangements were made and in passing through the States I managed just a few days together for the ceremony. Lucille was living with her parents in Roswell, New Mexico where we were to be married. My uncle John Henry wrote and said he would lend me his 1945 Ford for the honeymoon and my uncle Jack gave us a wedding present of $50.00. It came in handy as we used for a three day honeymoon in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.
While all this was happening in my life — on the ship we heard — VJ DAY — Victory in Japan as they had surrendered. The marriage and honeymoon would take place and then my assignment was to Fort Bragg, North Carolina — not the Philippines. Lucille would accompany me. I was 20 years old and Lucille was 17. As young as we were we had lived a lot of life surviving the Great Depression and World War 2.
Soon it was 1946 and time to start a family.
The GI Bill was helpful and I went on to graduate from electrical school and was employed by Kaiser Chemical in California. I was an electrician keeping their machines powered up and moving.
We had three children Sharon, Susan and Michael. On the surface things were going well for the Howell household. That is until the vices of my Army life caught up with me.”
The time of war left Virgil with three major areas of addiction. Smoking, gambling and alcohol. The alcohol was the worst and he became an alcoholic.
Lucille was raised a Baptist and her family had nothing to do with such things. It drove Lucille to her knees. She prayed. She was not sure how God would answer but was confident in her faith that Jesus would do something!
It started with an invitation by one of Virgil’s bosses at the Kaiser Chemical plant near Salinas, California. “Come to our church and meet some very nice people.” Virgil wanted to be respectful and said “yes”.
Jesus was answering Lucille’s prayer. The Howell family met some very special people at church. Even though Virgil was going to church the addictions were an ongoing struggle and he joined AA.
Lucille continued in fervent prayer for Virgil and his addictions. He was a good husband, dependable, excellent father and strong provider. Then Jesus, in reaction to Lucille’s prayer, turned up the heat!
It was now September 1952. Virgil’s cousin was attending a Pentecostal church in Seaside, California with a dynamic preacher. He wanted Virgil to hear. He was insistent — Virgil loaded the family in the car and off to church in Seaside. The short trip changed his life forever!
When the preacher had concluded his sermon he held an altar call. Virgil knew the preacher was talking to him! As Virgil walked forward he wanted more of Jesus in his life. The preacher prayed over Virgil and the term “Born Again” as described by Jesus in the Bible became real — Virgil was not only born again but it came with benefits. The urge for alcohol, gambling and cigarettes was erased from his life.
Just so happened that the Seaside church was in need of some help with severe electrical problems. Virgil volunteered to help out and the Pastor and his wife became mentors to Virgil and Lucille. The Howell family became part of the Seaside Church and Virgil’s walk with the Lord was just beginning. Lucille said a very loud, “Thank you Jesus.”
As Virgil worked restoring electricity to the church he was challenged by the Bible. He found new and exciting revelations as he read God’s word. When the church doors were open Virgil and his family were there. His hunger for the things of the Lord grew and he asked Jesus for more of HIM in his life. Virgil started to do some preaching. The more he preached the more he wanted to preach. The Word of God was alive in his soul and he wanted everyone he met to know Jesus as he did. He was “All in for the gospel.”
Virgil went on to be ordained and pastor several churches but it took a trip to the Philippines — the one he never took with the US Army — to introduce Pastor Virgil to faith that moved mountains in his life and the people he prayed for.
Pastor Virgil went to the Philippines and immediately knew he was there to serve. The Filipino Evangelist was talking about living on one package of Jell-o a day and Pastor Virgil started sending a box of food to the Philippines each month. There was talk of starting a Bible School to teach the Filipinos how to spread the gospel. He was in — he and his church raised money for a new van to transport students and a generator to secure reliable electric power.
This started missionary trips to the Philippines that lasted over a period of more than 25 years. Trips that regularly had Pastor Virgil speaking to 10,000 people or more at a time. Signs and wonders followed:
Like the young man who came forward with a withered hand that had been injured in an accident. As Pastor Virgil prayed the hand became whole again. The man ran around in circles on the stage shouting “Thank you Jesus” holding his hand up high over his head. He then ran down amongst the crowd to his family and friends all the while shouting.
Over the years hundreds even thousands of people were touched by the healing power of Jesus through Pastor Virgil.
Then Pastor Virgil added Central and South America to his travels. Same Jesus — same results wherever he went. Pastor Virgil prayed and people were healed.
On a trip to Iquitos, Peru Pastor Virgil was flying his Cessna 182. He was flying the last leg of his trip and the weather report into the Iquitos airport was good. He was flying as his flight plan dictated when a sudden thunderstorm erupted. Taking a look he said a prayer and darted to left in an effort to go around the storm. That was not working. He tried to fly higher than the storm — again that didn’t work. His attempts to shake the storm had used up all his extra fuel and now he was in the thick of the storm. It was strong, violent and oppressive.
Pastor Virgil prayed and asked Jesus for an opening in the storm to quickly bring the plane to the ground before running out of fuel. As he finished his prayer the clouds parted just long enough for him to see the airfield just below. He darted through the hole which quickly closed behind him and landed the plane successfully.
John 3:16 is Pastor Virgil’s favorite Bible verse. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This verse has been the building block for more than fifty years of ministry. Pastor Virgil was used by God wherever he ventured. He puts it this way, “When the power of God is moving anything can happen and it did! The faith of the people was a block ahead of us — they believed and they were healed.” Hearing restored, tumors removed, withered and short extremities grown and much more. Jesus met their needs based on their faith all because Pastor Virgil was “All in for the gospel.”
To Pastor Virgil the Cross means everything. For without the Cross there would be no redemption, forgiveness or salvation. Jesus paid the price for us.
Pastors Bill and Carol, thank you for planting this Cross today as a symbol to the community of what we have stood for all these years.
Final Editors Note:
Pastor Virgil Howell and his wife Lucille are now retired in Golden, Mississippi. They have been a special gift from the Lord in our lives, as Pastor Carol and I have been on our own special journey with Jesus: “All in for the gospel.”
Prayer: Father thank you for moving mountains in Pastor Virgil’s life while keeping him in your care. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Virgil and Lucille Howell
This year marks their 68th wedding anniversary
Ed Garcia is Virgil and Lucille’s Son-in-law.
He is preparing the notch in the cross beam
Preparing notch in the upright beam
Sizing the bolts
Cross is ready
Local neighbor John Pruitt, in his tractor,
prepares the hole as Pastor Bill and Susan
Garcia, Virgil and Lucille’s daughter, looks on
John with his friend Speedy set cross in position
John lifts the Cross with his tractor
“FIRE IN THE HOLE”
John, Speedy and Pastor Bill adjust Cross angle
Pastor Bill with Speedy.
During the planting process we had to dodge thunder
storms requiring the help of neighbors.
The night before we called Speedy for help,
he said his nightly prayers on his knees,
by his bedside, to His Lord and Savior,
Then he went to sleep.
He had a dream while sleeping of working on a large Cross for the Lord.
In the morning he asked, “Lord what does the cross dream mean?”
Later in the day he received a call to help his neighbors.
He had no idea what the help was for.
When he arrived electric chills ran through his body
as he saw that we were planting the large cross of his dream.
There are no coincidences in the Kingdom of God. PTL!
Pastor Bill attaching the plaque
Plaque “Declaring God’s Glory” over
Rhema Christian Center in Golden.
Mississippi and surrounding areas.
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