Over 56 years ago -- Jesus Christ Saved me
Maynard A. Howe, Jr.
On a farm near a small town in central Minnesota, February 21, 1909, I entered this world. My mother passed from this life one week later of complications from childbirth. My father was raised in a Baptist family but after my mother's death he never entered a church in the 21 years that I lived on the farm. He told me years later that he turned against God, blaming God for taking my mother. Farming was hard work in those days because we had no tractors, no milking machines and machinery was horse driven. The house had no electricity, the heat was by hard coal stove and the roads were not plowed in winter. We walked 2 miles to grade school and 3 1/2 miles to high school. Dad had no automobile so we traveled by wagon or sled in winter. There were two places I heard the name of Jesus all those years. When dad lost his temper, he swore a streak. But in town at my grandfather's house, my grandfather prayed in Jesus' name and he read his bible daily and talked to me about God, but I did not seem to understand.
After leaving the farm at the age of 21 years, I got a job learning printing at $6 for a 44 hour week. I had a room in a boarding house where four other young men lived. There I learned to smoke and drink and gamble. All of us worked hard six days a week and Saturday night was "fun" night. Dancing and drinking and girl friends, and occasionally going fishing, was how we spent our free time. None of us went to church--except two fellows made their "Easter duties" so to be a "continued Catholic."
One of my aunts, seeing how wayward I was becoming, got me to join the YMCA. There I took up wrestling and judo and in two years won the Twin City and the State Championships and later the Northwest Championship. All this kept me out of the bars and cigarette smoking. But I was very restless and at my aunt's suggestion, I "tried" several churches -- Catholic, Methodist, Swedenborg (you ever hear of that one?) But religion did not satisfy my restless spirit.
The landlady where I roomed had a married sister who occasionally came to visit and she always said to me: "I have a niece I want you to meet." Well, I tried to avoid her as there was another aunt across town who wanted me to date her niece too. But one Sunday afternoon, after sleeping "one off," I was called to come down to dinner. There it was, it had all been planned to meet the niece.
Months later, she informed me she couldn't marry me, as I was a heathen, I had no religion whatsoever. She was a seven-day a week Catholic going to mass every morning. Taking the course of Catholic instruction was not hard. After several weeks, the priest sprinkled water on my head. Weeks later the bishop laid his hands on my head and prayed for me to receive the Holy Spirit. Nothing changed in my life -- my habits, my speech or desires, nor my restless spirit. But I had religion -- but my religion was only once a week on Sunday for one hour. Confession, communion, beads, prayer book and even though I had three years of Latin in high school, the mass was "Greek" to me.
I purchased an interest in a printing firm. Joining several business clubs, a hunting club, and a "better your life club" did nothing for my very restless spirit. During the war, training the inductees in hand to hand combat and disarming techniques was fun, but I knew it would not last. I sold the business and worked for a large firm as a supervisor in charge of seven departments which kept my mind occupied, but at night, why was I having those disturbing dreams" Why was I so dissatisfied?
One evening my wife told me she met a neighbor lady in the grocery store who testified that you can know you are saved and she quoted one scripture to my wife--Matt. 15: 17-20. Curious and desiring to know why that lady could eat meat on Friday, and we could not, my wife started attending the bible studies in a house down the street. A few weeks later, two of the men came to visit us. I proceeded to give them a couple of judo lessons to show them I had a "hobby" as well as they with their "Jesus hobby." They left the house a bit slower than when they came, but they "blessed me in Jesus' name." I was not at all pleased with that and thought they would be angry and never come back with their "Jesus saves hobby." But in a few days, a couple visited and led my wife to salvation in Jesus Christ. I told them I was OK and did not want to change my religion.
My wife later told me she had a peace in her heart that she had never known before. I could see it in her face. Twice I went to hear these converted Lutherans and converted Catholics. The one who led the services was a former Lutheran pastor who preached for seven years before he discovered he was not saved. But pride kept me dry, restless and discouraged with myself. Then one night I found myself in a home meeting in Minneapolis. A few songs, a couple of testimonies and a short message from the bible. It was 1 John 5:13 that prompted me to exclaim: "Sir, I would like to believe that, but I am a Catholic and you are reading out of a Protestant Bible."
Then a little elderly white haired lady who reminded my of my paternal grandmother came over to me and asked me: "If you would read it out of a Catholic Bible, would you believe it?" Yes, I answered. I would believe it. She opened it to 1 John 5:13 and asked me to read 1 John 5:13 -- it read and meant the same. So I took her bible and looked in front for the Bishop's imprimatur and also looked to see if she had pasted the page in a Protestant Bible. She had me read it over a couple of times and it told me if I did not believe God had given me eternal life, I would make God a liar. In a few minutes, a load fell from my shoulders. I went to my knees and scales fell from my eyes, as I heard, saw and believed Jesus bore my sins in His body on Calvary. His blood was shed for cleansing my sins, salvation was a gift, it could not be deserved, earned or purchased. It was the next day -- January 17th, I was nearly 33 years old and I remembered 12 years before when I had left home, my grandmother had said: "Maynard, you may leave us and be many miles away, but you can never get away from God or our prayers for you."
In the Baptist Church, we received good teaching on how to live as a believer. We enjoyed learning the songs and God's word. After three years, I was ordained a deacon. I read God's word on my knees most of the time. Soon the Lord began to open my understanding to see the truth of being filled or baptized in the Holy Spirit. I discussed this with the Pastor. But he told me when you get saved, that's it. There were too many scriptures I could not reconcile with what he said. So each night after my work shift, I sought the Lord and prayed His word back to Him.
One night it was as if the heavens opened and I was filled with love, fire and power and two days later I worshipped the Lord Jesus in tongues. As a result of this experience, our home began to fill up every Friday evening with hungry Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists and searching Pentecostals. As a result, after a year or more, we rented a building and people continued to come. That building filled up. We purchased a church building downtown and in a short time, we outgrew that one. So we purchased another older and larger building. Many people were healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. God brought in leaders to serve with me.
As the age of 50 years, God called me to begin to evangelize. He opened a door in the far north of Manitoba, Canada, among the Saultex and Cree Indians. At that time, many of the villages were in roadless areas. Travel was by canoe or fish planes that used floats in summer or skis in winter. The Lord confirmed His word by healing the sick, delivering those who were controlled by demons. Many were set free of bad habits and most who repented of sins were filled with the Holy Spirit as they came out of the baptismal waters. God raised up several churches among them.
After 18 years up there, I was asked to assist some missionaries in the Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, Central America, and a couple other countries. This we did for several years and we were blessed to see many believers filled with the Holy Spirit and sinners, healed and delivered of bondages. Now at the age of almost 90 years, I have been trying to encourage native preachers by sending my bible studies, cassette tapes and tracts free of charge. We are able to send financial help to some as we receive offerings to help them get out the good news. So far, we are assisting 14 native workers in ten countries.
All praise, credit and glory goes to our Glorious God.