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Saturday, September 11, 2010
God Is In Control
Me teaching the class in Cameroon, Sept 2001
God is in Control!
I had heard that statement many, many times throughout my life. My life had (in some ways) been quite sheltered. First, and foremost, I was shielded by my parents; my school teachers; the police; and I learned in school that we Americans were sheltered by our soldiers. I gave my life in total surrender to Jesus Christ at an old-fashioned altar of prayer when I was only 8 years of age. I accepted His "call" to ministry when I was 11 years old. I felt a "call" to missionary work when I was just 16 years of age. So - yes, I had heard those words many, many times before. "God is in control." At 18 years of age I joined the United States Coast Guard to serve the country which had given me so much. Just a few days after being dis-charged from the service, at the age of 22 I was appointed to be pastor of my first church. On September 11, 2001, I was 62 years of age, having pastored for 24 years. I had served as missionary in Guyana, South America for 3 and 1/2 years. I had lived in Nairobi, Kenya for 10 years and served as Overseer (Supervisor) of our churches in that nation. Now I was serving my 3rd year as Field Director of our Churches in 32 nations on the continent of Africa. (If you think about it - I had to believe that "God is in Control" or I would have fallen out by the wayside by this time.)
Sure. I have had to ask the Lord many questions. I have gone through days, weeks, maybe months of doing what I knew was the right thing to do without feeling that strong assurance that God is in Control. I prayed when I felt nothing. I preached and felt nothing. I read the Bible at times and it seemed to be just words. Then it occurred to me - is this not living a life of faith as opposed to feeling?
Me Teaching in Malawi, East Africa
But today, September 11, 2001, that infamous day of the mass murder and destruction of so many Americans by the radical Al Qaeda movement, when I heard the news from my wife on the cell phone in Yaounde, Cameroon, I FELT it and I knew it. In fact, I was MORE SURE THAN EVER that God is in Control. My most disturbing feeling was the fact that I could not touch my beloved wife and calm her fears. Yes, I tried to say it over the phone with words - but words over a cell phone from far-away Africa seemed so weak to me at that moment. I thought, "If only I could touch her hand, pull her close to me, wrap my arms around her and say it softly and calmly, then she would be comforted." But I heard myself saying with what seemed to me to be empty voice, "It's o.k., honey. God is in control. We're gonna be o.k.."
The leader of our churches in Cameroon only had local TV hook-up but he immediately went out and purchased cable hook-up so that we were able to watch CNN on the TV set in his living room. There was an outpouring of Christian concern shown for me as we watched the repeated reports of the planes hitting the towers, the Pentagon, and the third plane going down killing all on board. The brothers and sisters in the Bible Study asked what I wanted to do.
I remember that it was Tuesday and my plane was not due to leave until Monday. I knew of nothing better to do than continue with our program which was due to close on Sunday. We were starting the morning from 08:00 to 09:00 hours with prayer followed by Bible Study from 0900 to 1200. Lunch was 1200 to 1400. Another Bible Study began at 1400 to 1700. I was being assisted by our Christian Education Director who also sought to comfort me by saying he was willing to take a double load and teach both his subject and mine. I asked, "Then what would I do with the extra time? I would just watch the CNN news and perhaps become depressed. We decided to go ahead with our regular schedule.
How could I be so calm? I was asked. It was because I knew that God was in Control.
Getting Ready to Preach in Zambia, Central Africa
We heard Friday night that planes were moving again. On Saturday afternoon someone took me to the airline ticket office to see if we could re-schedule. "No flights are allowed into or out of America", they said. I then asked if they could fly me up to Zurich where I could find suitable lodging. They said, "We can fly you to Europe but you cannot stay in Zurich for too many Americans are there now awaiting the first flight back to the USA." So - I booked a flight to Bremerhaven, Germany, where we had friends.
Visiting one of our Missionary Doctors in Uganda
There are many other details which would show you that GOD IS IN CONTROL but time and space and will-power to write are lacking. You, dear friend, would grow weary of reading. Let me just conclude that I was able to get to Zurich and purchase the last seat available on the first airplane allowed to fly from Zurich back to Atlanta. I was home with my wife and children 24 full hours ahead of schedule. Yes - Nine years ago today I knew full well that GOD IS IN CONTROL.
- Fred Alton
- Cleveland, TN, United States
- I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.