What Happened To Me In 1952 -- By: Ken Smith
RPTJ 2:1 (Fall 2015) p. 22
What Happened To Me In 1952
Retired pastor and missionary of the Reformed
Presbyterian Church in North America
I was a graduate of RPTS, installed as pastor of what was then Central-Pittsburgh Reformed Presbyterian Church located in the lower north-side of Pittsburgh. I had been preaching for two years during seminary—at Westmayfield chapel in Beaver Falls, PA and at Parnassus Reformed Presbyterian Church in New Kensington, PA. As far as I knew, no one had come to Christ. During those days, my good friend Roy Blackwood and I wondered: our respective calls were with pain, yet plain. Why were we called into this dying branch of His church? We prayed for His answer.
The work at Central-Pittsburgh was challenging and I was feeling the pressure of preparations. I was not sure that I could fulfill what I longed for: a fruitful ministry. I felt quite unprepared and had told my professors of my frustration. That produced one good conversation with the president over dinner when I learned his philosophy of teaching. He taught differently on the golf course! But the elders of the church were supportive and faithful. I was grateful for them.
It was 1952. A Billy Graham Crusade was scheduled for September in Pittsburgh, and our Session agreed to participate with prayer, contribution, and participation. (By the way, thirty-six persons from our congregation made “decisions” of one sort or another during that Crusade.) One thing new in this evangelistic effort was what was being called “Follow Up” classes. Graham had sleepless nights concerned for those who had made decisions, so he contacted Dawson Trotman of the Navigators to give him help. Consequently, when the Crusade came to Pittsburgh, they held follow-up sessions for those who wanted to learn what to do with persons who had made decisions for Christ—especially those who made first-time decisions for Christ.
Robert McConaughy, clerk of our session, who worked in the Gulf building downtown, asked if I would like to attend one of these follow-up meetings. I, of course, said yes, and on Thursday morning at 6:45 a.m. we joined a packed house in 1st Presbyterian Church. Down front a man was talking. He was holding in his hand a mock-up kind of “wheel” and was describing how to care for a new believer. I had never heard anything like this before, and I was intrigued how he freely quoted the Scriptures and described how to help a new Christian learn to live his life in Christ. There was something different about his presentation. There was no challenge at this point. It was more like an explanation of what the Bible says that a new believer needs and how to help him learn to feed on the Word of God, as You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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