Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Unto You..."

Christmas is a time of JOY!  In this picture Frances and I are celebrating Christmas with some friends at a local restaurant.  Our town was full of lights and Christmas music was spilling from all the speakers in the mall.  What a wonderful, wonderful time of the year.

During Christmases in Nairobi when we were away from our children - we decided to invite all of our neighbors children into our home to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Here we had drafted children of our Hindu, Muslim, Bhuddist, and other African friends for a Nativity drama. 

Christmas is all about the Children

Even grown-up Children

A Very Special Nativity Collection

Our Christmas Angel

Our Family Poses for A Picture Before Eating

And What Would Christmas Be Without Snow?
A Savior is born, which is Christ, the Lord!  What great news it was.  What great news it is.  Jesus came to earth to die for our sins.  This Savior was not just for the nation of Israel - but for all the nations of the world.  To all who would believe and receive him he gave power to become the children of God.  Our salvation was not free - but it is provided for us at no cost to us.  Jesus died that we may live.  We celebrate His birth on December 25th, Christmas day.  We will celebrate his death and resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Amidst all the tinsel and glitter and the warm glow of giving and receiving gifts during the season let us remember that God, our Father in Heaven, gave us the greatest gift - His only begotten son.

Ruthie's Bunch

With The Pet

Post-Surgery Up-date

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sitting in Portera's Office
Finally -- December 22nd, we met Dr. Michael Stipanov, our Medical Oncologist, with whom we discussed three different options for treatment of any stray cancer cells which may be remaining in my body after surgery.  Three options were presented through which I would receive the chemo: 1) A surgical port could be installed in the chest area and chemicals inserted once every two weeks;   2) The medicine could be delivered via I.V. injections (if my veins were "good");   or, #3) I could take a pill twice a day every day for six months.  I have decided to go with the procedure in which there will be a "port" surgically inserted into my chest, through which the "chemo-cocktail" will be delivered once every two weeks for the next six months.   This decision was made after much care, prayer and deliberation.

Part of the Consultation Team
" is what the Dr. said."
Keeping in mind that the Lord has said, "I'm healing you",  I continue to have every confidence that the Lord is with me each step of the way.  I have had a couple of rough days – but over all I continue to feel really good!

Today - I feel great! I have walked a mile on my treadmill for three of the past five days.  We are looking forward to having two of our children, their children and our children's children together with my Mom with us for a "Christmas Celebration" in our home this afternoon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can I Tell You About My Dream?

Before I went to surgery, I had an experience un-like any other which I have ever had in my life.  Yes, I have received re-assurance and guidance in my spiritual life through dreams in the past - but this dream was very unusual.  It was just before waking at 5:30a.m. when I saw in a dream as tho there was a framed picture of Jesus hanging on the wall.  This picture caught (more like grabbed) my attention and I could not look away from it.  As I stared at it, I realized that I have seen this picture of Jesus before.  It's of him, sitting on a rock or boulder in the garden with his right shoulder slightly turned outward.  His robe of white was covered by another of royal blue, and then another of crimson/purple as the outer garment.  His beard and hair were black.  The more I focused on this picture the more vivid the colors became ... until He turned and looked me directly in the face and said (without any drama, without any fan-fare, and in a soft but confident voice)  "I'm healing you." 

Oh, I cannot explain to you the power of that moment!  I found my hands coming up out of the covers and myself waking up ... realizing that I had a face-wide grin on my face, smiling ear to ear in the darkness as I heard myself saying, "Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!" 

At first I had decided that I would not share this dream because it sounds like a religious fanatic.  I have heard far too many of them in my ministerial career.  Another thing - I felt that the moment was so sacred that I did not want it to be scoffed at.  However, as Frances and I were sitting at the table after breakfast, I felt that I should tell my wife about this dream,  As I was telling her the dream, searching for the right words to explain it, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to weep un-controllably.  She encouraged me to share this dream with our children when they came to our house before the surgery.  After telling them the dream as best I could, through waves of emotion, I said to them:  "Now.  Understand ... the Lord can heal me before the doctor does surgery.  Then, again, he may be saying that he is getting ready to heal me through the surgery.  But it may be that He is getting ready to give me the ultimate healing which would be that he takes me home to Heaven to live with Him.  I want you children to know that if that is what God wants for me - I am ready!"
Not the exact picture I saw in my dream, but as near as I can find
I remember asking one of the nurses in Pre-op, "What if the doctor opens me up and can't find this tumor?"  She hastened to quiet what she thought was anxiety on my part.  "Oh, No!  You don't have to worry about this.  Your colonoscopy doctor shot it full of purple dye and Dr. Portera will find it.  Don't worry at all."  I did not have time to tell her (nor the inclination) about the dream and that my real question was, "What if God has already healed me and the tumor is already gone?"

I was wheeled into surgery at 6:15a.m. and into my room at 1:04p.m. with visitors allowed into the room almost immediately.  I knew them, conversed lucidly with them all, and remembered practically everything but the actual surgery.  Over the 50 plus years I've served as a Pastor visiting patients in the hospital after surgery - all of them that I can remember were at first a little groggy.  I was not groggy or sleepy in the least.  Next morning I ate a big bowl full of grits and butter and apple-sauce and  drank an Ensure while still attached to the I.V. drip.  I only sufferred the feeling of nausea once - and that was "dry heaves" before I ate any food.  That afternoon I was up and pushing the stand that held the two medical "drips" up and down the hall.  I was asked by the nurses often if I needed a pain pill.  I took very little pain medication beside that which was going into the blood-stream through the I.V. tube.  On Thursday I was able to put on my regular pajamas and walk the halls more freely.  One of the nurses said, "Looks like you are trying to run a 5K marathon race." 

November 22, the Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Portera, had removed three cancerous tumors (laproscopically) from my small and large intestines.  On Friday, the 25th, I was sent home from the hospital on a liquid diet - which quickly gave way to a soft food diet.  On Friday, December 9th, (just two weeks after being discharged from the hospital) I drove myself the 30 miles (one way) to see the surgeon for my first check-up.  I told him that for the last week I have been walking on the tread-mill for 20 minutes per day and racking up .7 miles in that short walk.  Because of my apparent rapid recovery to date, he said, "You may now eat whatever you want to, and do whatever you feel like doing!  Just remember to back off if you start to feel pain in the abdominal area."  However he wanted me to see the "Medical Oncologist", who will lay out a plan for chemo-therapy because the lab reported micro-scopic amounts of cancer found in the lymph-nodes. (One of 22 lymph nodes examined showed cancer.)  I am to see this doctor on December 22nd.

Yesterday, I drove myself to Tellico Plains (48 miles from here) where I attend church.  I normally teach a Sunday School class there every week - but did not try to teach yesterday.  We have a wonderful couple (William and Evelyn Wright) who agreed to take that class while I recover.  I did put on the Velcro belt around my surgical wounds which helped me a lot, but I was tired when I arrived back home.  However, today, December 12, I took Frances to the Post Office, to Olive Garden for lunch and then Christmas shopping at Belks and at Bed, Bath and Beyond!  I still feel good!

My wife was praying and was with me, refusing to leave the hospital until I did.  I have had so many friends in many different places praying for me.  Calls, Cards, Notes, E-mails, and personal visits have been so encouraging.  But - I have to say - Jesus words spoken directly to me ("I'm healing you.") have been most powerful in keeping my attitude positive.  I thank you again for praying for me and believing with me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A TO Z's of Christmas

This is in response to some blog friends up North. What are your A to Z's of Christmas? Here's Mine.

Flowers In Our Yard

One of our last Roses in mid November









This single Clymatis bloom decided to make a show late this year.







Sunday, December 4, 2011


A key part of Revocery is the right food
My plate 5 days after surgery was Tilapia (Fish), Asparagus, Carrots and Apples
A very tasty meal prepared by my dear Frances

4 days after surgery, I walked outside outside our house
behind me and all the way to the corner!  It felt GREAT!
On Tuesday, November 22 at 4:15a.m. we checked into Memorial Hospital for surgical removal of two tumors which tests revealed were located in the intestinal tract of my body.  Dr. C. Portera and his team did an excellent job and I was sent to a room at 1:04p.m. after awaking from recovery.  I was fully cognizant of all things and sufferred no "drugged" effects.  I knew every visitor who came while I was awake and was able to carry on a lucid conversation with everyone.  I was honored that visitors came from the World Missions Department, including the Assistant Director and his dear wife.  I sufferred bearable pain in the stomach, but the medical marvels of pain reliever were applied automatically and "on-demand" from a bottle of pain killer hanging around my neck.  The  second day I was up and walking the halls, while pushing a rolling stand containing an I.V. with fluid drip.  The third day they released me from the I.V. and I was able to put on regular pajamas.  Of course I walked more freely now and was surprised at the amount of strength I felt.  Some of the nurses accused me of running a 5K marathon.  On the 4th day, the Doctor said that if I managed to keep down both breakfast and lunch, I could go home that evening.  I was released on Friday the 25th! 

Of course, I give highest praise to Jesus, my healer, for giving me the extra-ordinarily smooth trip through these troubled waters.  I give much credit to my dear wife of 54 years, Frances, who never left my bedside except to eat or grab a cup of coffee in the family waiting room.  She was attentive to my every move while I was in the hospital ... night or day.  She has been my primary care-giver.  Our "#1 daughter", Frankie, gave of herself and would not leave her Mom the first day.  Ruthie, our "Favorite One", was there when she could get off from work.  These two girls were so helpful that they deserve much thanks for giving their love and their prayers.  Our "Pet" was in touch by telephone from the place of her role as Pastor's wife in upstate New York.  All were praying.  I know that I'm blessed to have a family sub-structure of praying believers who love their family.//and that's on both sides (Frances and mine) of our family.

Time and space and lack of re-call abilities prohibit me from telling you all of those who did such kind acts and sent notes, cards, flowers, phone calls and personal visits.  You, my blog friend, whether from the past or from more recent months, also made my recovery move more smoothly with your encouragement, scriptures, and words of support.  THANK YOU.

Next Friday, the 9th of December, I meet Dr. Portera to discuss the route we take for chemo.  The lab report said there are micro-scopic amounts of cancer still left to deal with.  (One of 23 lymph-nodes examined showed signs of cancer.)  Pray that this goes well.  I have no idea what's in store for me - but I know that the Lord has assured me that He is healing me.  I trust Him.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lab Report

O.K. - The lab report on the tumor found during the colonoscopy was positive for Cancer.  Three CT Scans confirmed it.  The plan is that I will enter the hospital on Friday the 18th for "4 or 5 days followed by 4 to 6 weeks recovery;  Unless there are further complications."  So, folks, you may not hear much from me for the next few weeks.  So many of you have written notes to express your concern and prayers and I DO thank you. 

Someone posted a picture that I have said I'm going to tape to my bed.  It says something like, "If I'm not here, I've gone to look for myself.  If I should return before I get back, please keep me here."  I think that is going to be appropriate before this ride is over.  ☺

Sincerely, Thanks Everyone, for keeping my spirits high.  My vital signs continue to be near perfect. (i.e., temp 97, bp 117/76, heart rate 71.)  I'm like the fellow who fell off the 20 floor sky-scraper.  As  he passed the 10th floor, he was heard saying, " far so good!"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two Funerals And The Big "C"

Frances' Neice, Ramona Evans fought a valiant battle with cancer for the last several months.  We visited her in the hospital twice recently where she and her husband were praying and believing for healing for her body.  I've never seen a more solid faith expressed by any couple than was displayed by Mike and Ramona.  When the doctor said, "She's dying.  You should sign the DNR papers and let her go quietly."  After conferring with his beloved wife, Mike said, "Doctor, we understand what you are saying.  We understand your point of view.  But - we are coming from a different perspective.  We believe that God will heal Ramona.  We want to fight this all the way."  Sadly for her family and us but gloriously for her she found the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 to be true.  "Death is swallowed up in victory."   The celebration of her life was last night at the Parkwest Church of God in Knoxville, Tennessee and she was buried today.

Meanwhile, Ramona's Dad (Curtis Fritts) whom I have written about in this blog before, entered into the presence of the Lord on Monday.  He had pulmonary fibrosis.  Curtis was the kind of man who never complained.  He was a leader in his church and in his home.  He and his wife have demonstrated to me what the "gift of hospitality" looks like and feels like in real life.  Curtis was an excellent cook (learned in the Army) whose specialty was Coconut Cream cake.  Oh My!  They were always perfectly moist and good, with only one flaw...they didn't last long.  Curtis was also an outdoorsman.  He and I spent many happy hours together in our younger years walking in the mountains looking for deer, examining bear tracks, exploring new areas of woods and fields and streams.  We also shared an interest in guns.  He and I went to the CCP (Concealed Carry Permit) class together about 10 years ago.  He was a chess player who always beat the socks off me.  In my earlier years he taught me how to be at ease with other people.  I was commending him for his ability to talk to anyone and everyone no matter whether they were what we called "high falutin" or just "ordinary folks".  I'll never forget the statement he made.  "Ask them to tell you about themselves and you won't have to talk much after that."  And there's one other thing that I must tell ... he made it possible for me to spend more time with Frances while we were courting.  He and Beth were already married and living across the alley from her parents.  They invited us to their home for dinner.  I learned later that after I had left, Curtis turned to Beth and said, "Of all the boys that have visited Frances - she will marry this one!"  His insight was accurate.  I'm not sure how he knew, but he "Just KNEW it" he would say in later years.  His funeral was Tuesday night at his home church in Farragut.  We buried this man of God on Wednesday morning.  I was honored to be asked by his family to say a few words at the graveside service.

And now the Big "C".  I went to the doctor a few days ago for a check-up.  He referred me to a Gastro-interologist.  Tuesday I was admitted for and upper G.I. endoscopy and colonoscopy.  It had been ten years since the last one - so it was recommended by my General Practitioner.  Today's news is that I have a cancerous tumor, located in the lower colon.  I feel great.  My vital signs on Tuesday were near perfect.  I came out of the anesthesia and had full intentions of attending the funeral of Frances' brother-in-law (Curtis) on Tuesday evening and burial next morning.  However, due to some discomfort I decided it would be best for me to stay in the motel.  I did attend the graveside services for both funerals and attended Ramona's funeral on Wednesday.  Yes, I'm tired, but not unusually so after all of those stressfull events.

I must give credit to our two oldest daughters who went with us and drove the car up to Lenoir City for us.  Frankie and Ruthie, you were great company to your Mom and me.  Thanks!

Fred's Monday Meal

Friday, October 14, 2011


Plans?  What are plans for? 

From the front porch in Vinemont, AL

So that one knows ahead of time what he/she is going to do.  Right?  "Plan ahead", we are told.  Another said, "Plan ahead - or Plan to Fail".  "Plan your work - Work your Plan!"  So we made plans for weeks ahead for our month-long trip to Florida.  I had an appointment with the eye doctor on the 3rd - and we were going to leave the next day!  However, as has often happened - for reasons too lengthy to explain - plans were changed at the last minute and we decided to take our vacation planned for the whole month of October and just relax here at home while taking some short trips to visit friends and family.  The word that has been a life-saver for me in ministry and in personal life is "flexibility".  So here we are at home again after spending last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights at my first cousin's home in Vinemont, Alabama - and an added change to that schedule of Saturday night at our friends' (Rob and Kathy D's) home near Athens, Alabama.  That was another impulsive change of plans, made two days before we traveled to Vinemont.  All-in-all we had a wonderful trip.

Costumed Dancing
My Beautiful Frances at the Ocktober-Fest

Terry and Trish welcomed us to their home on Lake George.  Next day we visited the Ocktober-Fest in Cullman where the city was having many activities show-casing their German ancestry.  Singing, playing music and dancing in the streets were all part of the activities. 

Terry and Trish's Home On Beautiful Lake George
Fred Alton and Terry Junius.  Can you guess which one is the old man?

For lunch, they took us to the top of the bank building to a special restaurant where we had an open view of the city and it's surroundings.  Sights of re-building from a deadly tornado that had ripped through the middle of town were easily identified.  After a great meal we returned to their front porch over-looking the peaceful lake.  Geese honked, flapped their wings, skidded across the water.  Little circles of waves made by bream and bass catching bugs and grasshoppers played along the shoreline in the cove.  Temperatures were ideal (in the high 60s to mid 70s) so Terry and I tried fishing a little.  He actually caught two bream right at the edge of his private, floating boat dock.  What fun we had.

From the top of the Bank
Trish, Terry, Frances in front of the Museum

Terry and Trish both have a huge organ with many bells and whistles!  They can make music too.  The night before we were to leave the next morning, Trish brought out a five-string banjo and gave it to me.  One stipulation for receiving this gift:  I must learn to play it!  I have never owned a banjo but have always admired the sounds that come from them by listening to blue-grass gospel singing.  Well - actually I enjoy any kind of country music which has a banjo and a fiddle in the band.  All-ri-iiii-ight then!  Yee-Hawwwww!

On Saturday Terry and Trish drove the thirty minutes to Athens, AL with us to meet Rob and Kathy and see their new business known as Bradley and Davis CPAs.  Our Friends have bought into this business and will be doing CPA stuff, like taxes.  I would urge any reader who lives near them and needs any assistance with book-keeping for business or for getting your income taxes completed by caring and honest people to check them out.

That night we had dinner with our friends at their home on 23 acres out in the country.  Saturday afternoon we went down to check out their small pond.  I could see several bass and several bream clearly swimming in the shallows.  No fish had been caught from this pond since they moved in about two or three years ago.  "Let's try!"  So - here were the results of the first five minutes of casting a dry black-fly into the water.

Rob and Frances Scan The Pond

Rob Holds The First Fish Caught From His Pond

The First Bass Caught From Rob's Pond

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On 9-11-01, I Was...

In Yaounde, Cameroon - in the seventh week of being away from my wife and the comforts of home, I received a phone call in the middle of my Bible Class.  I took the cell phone from our Education Director, Peter Thomas who lived near Bremen, Germany, stepped out of the bare, ground floor room where 20 Africans were learning more about the Bible and our church, into the hallway of our national overseer's home.  Pressing the phone to my ear I heard my wife's trembling voice, crying between words, trying to tell me, "We've been bombed!  They've bombed us.  They've hit the twin towers in New York!"  I heard myself responding, "It's o.k., honey.  It's o.k.  We're gonna be o.k.  The Lord is still in charge."  My only regret was that I could not reach over and touch her, at least to give her a reassuring pat on the arm.  I wanted to take her into my arms and just hold her.  I somehow knew that if I could be there with her, her spirit would settle down and she would feel comforted.  But, from 10,000 miles away that was impossible.  When she was sure that I had the message and realized the somberness of the moment, then we talked of how and when I would be home.  All flights into and out of America had been cancelled.  We had no idea if and when the planes would fly again.  For all we knew this was the beginning of WWIII . 

After the phone call, I announced to the class what I had learned over the phone.  After a stunned few minutes of silence the national overseer of our church asked if I wanted to cancel all the classes.  My response was, "What would we do then?  Since we are all here present, and I could not board a plane for home - why not continue doing what we believe the Lord called us to do?"  So we continued our normal schedule without a hitch.  God is in control. 

I saw many things happen over the next few days that confirmed to me beyond a shadow of any doubt that God was in control of my life.  He protected, blessed, strengthened me and those with me in very special ways.  Bishop Iniobong Ukpe went to a neighbor and arranged for us to get cable TV brought into his home for the next few days so we were able to hear all the reports that were being broadcast on CNN.  It gave us a feeling of being connected with the world. 

When I went to the ticket office on Saturday we were told that I could not stop in Switzerland because too many Americans were waiting there to go back to the US.  I had to buy a ticket on to some other place - so I invited myself to go home with my German colleague.  My bags were checked to Bremen, Germany.  It's a long story.  But - In the end, I was able to leave Cameroon a day earlier, changed my flight plans, and arrived in Atlanta on the first day that planes were allowed back in the USA.  Because of this emergency, I had to buy a different ticket from Europe, and the only seat left to buy was in 1st class!  Since my bags had to be re-routed to Atlanta, they delivered both suitcases to my front door in Cleveland, TN so didn't have the hassle of going through customs with the suitcases!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barney Creek (Number Two)

Preparation for Church of God Delegates to Celebrate 125th Anniversary

William Wright (L) and Pastor Paul Fritts (R)
Our Pastor, Paul Fritts with William Wright at the Barney Creek site.  William had brought his BobCat to help make the ground more accessible to the delegates who were to visit the site from the International Church.  William’s family (his grandmother, Nannie Walker, and his parents, Howard and Bonita Wright) have been members of the Tellico Plains Church of God since its earliest years.  For all the work you did, Thank you William!  It was my privilege to be a part of this workday.

Pastor Paul Fritts (L) and Fred Brannen (R)
  One of my treasured memories is the day G.P. (Pinkney) Spurling took me to this site while I was pastor at Tellico Plains.  There were no buildings left but he did show me the cornerstones of the grist mill where the church first started and told me of his memories there as a small boy.  He related his memory of his father (R.G. Spurling) and grandfather (Richard Green Spurling) starting the church on the corn floor of the mill by pulling back feed sacks and sweeping the floor, arranging for the people to sit on the feed sacks.  Located here, 15 miles from the town of Tellico Plains, near Coker Creek, TN,  began a stream of Pentecostal believers that now reach around the world.
G.P. (Pinkney Spurling) and wife, Lucinda ca 1961
 The picture above of G.P. (Pinkney) Spurling and his wife, Lucinda was made about the time that I was appointed to pastor the Tellico Plains Church of God.  They were members of the church.  It was a privilege to know this man of God.  He and his wife paid their "tithes" every week.  As I remember, it was $1.00 each week for each of them.  I spent many happy hours visiting with and praying for them..

Frances and Fred Brannen (holding daughter Frankie) ca 1961

I was appointed to pastor this church at the young age of 22 years.  On March 1, 1961, I preached my first sermon as a pastor there.  I had been discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard for about one week.  Can you imagine?  What happy, happy memories of a great group of mountain folks who accepted us and worked with us to help us build a new church building.  Now-a-days, I am teaching a Sunday School class in this church.  These were/are wonderful people.

Barney Creek, Tennessee

The following story appeared on the web-site news of the Church of God, the organization that I have been a minister with for 51 years.

Church of God Delegates Celebrate 125th Anniversary
Tim Hill at left Preaching At Barney Creek

More than 150 gathered at four historic sites in Tennessee and North Carolina as the Church of God turned 125 on Friday, August 19, 2011.   The day was designed to mark the historic day with prayer and historical sketches at the remote locations of the beginnings of Church of God history. Among those participating was Dr. David Roebuck, director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center and Rev. Doug Small, liaison for prayer ministries in the Church of God and coordinator of the day-long event.  Other participants included Regional Overseer of western North Carolina Alton Bristow and Ronald Martin, overseer of Delmarva-D.C.

Starting at 9:00 a.m., a service was held at the site of the Barney Creek Meeting House where a handful of people met for the first time and launched the Christian Union, the forerunner of the Church of God. The site is marked with a small metal sign and an engraved plaque on the opposite side of the creek.
“From this small stream flows the river that became the Church of God we know and love today,” said Tim Hill, first assistant general overseer for the Church of God. “From that day 125 years ago the Church of God now reaches over 7 million members and adherents and is in 181 nations around the globe.”

After a time of prayer and singing the group caravanned to the site of the Shearer Schoolhouse, where the 1896 outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place. Several led in prayer and scripture, and others led a prayerful declaration. From the site the group also recognized the history of the first log meeting house where those who were persecuted gathered and worshipped until a band of rebels dismantled the building.

The celebration group then traveled a few miles to the First Assembly House where in 1906, twenty-one delegates gathered for what would be the first Church of God General Assembly. Events at that location last Friday included a lunch on the grounds, an outdoor singing, scripture and a final historical sketch delivered by Roebuck and Dr. James Beaty.

The final stop of the 125thcelebration took place at Fields of the Wood, not far from the first assembly house location, on the border with North Carolina and Tennessee. Here the delegates gathered under a pavilion not far from the site of the home place of W.F. Bryant where early church pioneers came together in 1902 to organize the Holiness Church at Camp Creek. A welcome to Fields of the Wood and scripture reading was given by Wade Patterson who oversees the well-known religious park for the Church of God of Prophecy. On behalf of the Church of God Executive Committee, chairman of the Historical Commission Floyd Carey presented a resolution to Rev. Paul Holt, who represented the leadership of the Church of God of Prophecy led by General Overseer Randy Howard. Carey read a resolution of Appreciation for a Common Heritage between the two movements.

Doug Small brought closing comments and a prayer to end the celebration. Special thanks goes to Small and his organization Project Pray which organized the event. To learn more or to download resources from the 125th celebration, visit or visit the Church of God Web site

Posted by: Faith News Staff

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Visit From Kathy

          Kathy Davis (Frances' Nairobi Daughter) has been here again!  This time she left husband Rob at home so she and "Mama Frankie" were at their leisure to do whatever their hearts desired.  It's amazing the differences between what the guys consider fun and what the girls consider fun.  These two worked themselves hard from daylight to well past dark every day for a week.  They shopped, they cooked, they painted, they made banana pudding, they preserved peaches, etc. and etc. until I thought they would drop from exhaustion.  But they were together, laughing and playing and both talking at the same time - and answering each other.  If I asked one of them a question both would answer me without realizing that the other one was talking.  Ha. 

Kathy Decorating The Guest Bath
After Painting - Up Goes A New Shower Curtain
After Shopping - Ready To Preserve Fruit

Thanks Kathy!  For being such a great friend.  You are truly "one of a kind"!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Emma Dearstine: Woman In Ministry

This week I was told by Frances that one of the people from headquarters called and they want to interview her to get her insights into the former missionary, Emma Dearstine.  What a unique person she was.  In a sermon I used a number of times which I called "The Foreign Gospel", I would usually make the comment that, "Every missionary I ever met was weird!  Of course that meant all but me and my wife, and sometimes I wondered about her!"  [My regular blog readers know that my career was as a foreign missionary.]
I first met Emma Dearstein when she arrived in the country of Guyana where I was serving the Church as Missionary Overseer.  Wade H. Horton, one of our Tennessee Camp Meeting preachers, had mentioned this lady who prayed for God’s direction as to where to go, heard from God, then prepared herself to go by taking in washing for people, cleaning houses, and whatever else was necessary, saving her money until she had enough to purchase her ticket, then fulfilling her call by going!  In my mind she was a saint in the fullest sense of the word.  

She entered Guyana (where the main language was English) and as soon as she arrived in the outskirts of town began to preach on the street corner in Spanish.  Later, she would say to me, “Brother, I could not understand it.  People would look at me for a few minutes as if I was crazy – then they would walk away.  I had always been able to get someone to listen to me.  But now they were not listening.  Then I discovered why.  They speak English here!  Not Spanish!” 

Someone found her preaching on the streets and brought her to our mission home.  She stayed in the home with us for a short time only and then went out into a remote area where she got very week and sick.  Upon returning to our home sick, she told us she thought that it was her heart, because she had fainted.  At her request we had prayer for divine healing and began trying to nourish her back to good health.  She believed strongly in divine healing and trusted God to take care of her.  We had some local pastors stop by and they also prayed for her healing but she was not getting better.  When we wanted to call a doctor, she protested.  After much initial protest, she finally said, “I’ll let you call a doctor – only because I don’t want you to be blamed for my death if something happens and I don’t survive.”

Emma refused to go to the hospital.  We called a doctor whom we had met at the Adventist Hospital and he agreed to come to our home to give her a physical examination.  After listening to her heart-beat and checking all her other vital signs, the doctor asked her, “Emma, have you been diagnosed with heart problems before?”  She responded with an emphatic “No!”  “Well … has someone around you told you it was you heart?”  Again, she said “No!”  The doctor then said, “Emma, I want to tell you that your heart is strong!  All of your vital signs are great.  The problem is that you have eaten some food somewhere and the germs have attacked your system.”  To which Sister Dearstein responded, “I don’t believe in germs!  I believe in demons!  And right now all the demons of hell are attacking me!”  She did get better and got back out onto the streets, preaching up to ten times a day.

The number of times the lady preached in a month was incredible!  After the first month that she was there she sent in her ministerial report.  After reading it and seeing that she reported something over 200 sermons preached in one month, I discreetly asked my Superintendent what he made of this report.  Should I talk to her about this?  Normally, a minister who preaches 3 times a week will have 12 to 15 sermons to report.  An evangelist who spends his time preaching every night would normally report less than 30.  Brother Morse (My supervisor) said, “No need to talk to her.  I KNOW for a fact that her report is accurate.  I have already checked her out by watching from a distance.  She will take her market basket onto one arm and walk to a corner of the street; set her basket down, take out a hymn book, sing, close the book, take out a bible, read a verse/s and preach for about ten to fifteen minutes, invite people to come and pray and after prayer will pass out a few tracts.  Then she picks up the basket and goes to the next corner where she starts all over again.”  He further reminded me that 10 times a day multiplied by 30 days, equals 300!"  That was the pattern she had set for herself. 

In the beginning of her ministry  (In the '50s or '60s) the board expressed to her that they did not think it wise to send out a single lady.  It was too dangerous.  It would raise too many sensitive questions from the converts in the foreign fields and might put her into awkward situations where she would have to be alone with a male.  After being rejected by the board, she prayed about it until she felt sure that she was really called of God to go as a missionary.  She told me that she prayed fervently, until she would speak in tongues.  Then the Holy Ghost would give her the interpretation to the message, telling her in English where she was to go.  Then she would raise her own support, purchase her own ticket, go to the place God told her to go – then work in that place until her funds ran out.  After she had done this for a few years (I don't know how many) the board decided to send her $50.00 per month for support so she could at least have something extra for food or a new dress.
She was so pleased that the board supported her with that "huge" offering that now she could purchase gospel tracts for free distribution.  She used very little for her own personal needs.

On one occasion, she said that she was praying, and feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost as if he were going to speak through her lips in tongues.  However, she said, “Instead of a message in tongues, the words would come out … ‘St. Johns, St. Johns, St. Johns, St. Johns.’”  After several days of praying like this, she went to the local library to see if she could find a place in the world named St. Johns.  Walking into the building, she asked the young librarian, “Do you know of any place in the world named St. Johns?”   “Oh, Yes!”  She replied, “I’ve just come back from St. Johns, Antigua.”  Immediately, Sister Dearstine purchased her ticket, went to that island in the Caribbean and established the Church of God there.

Friday, July 15, 2011

73rd Birthday - Number 2

What a family!  Frances brothers and sisters invited me to a party at Frank and Jan's home!  My, oh my...What a meal.  16 oz steaks with all the trimmings and plenteous servings of desserts!  Several cards - with one outstanding one which I can remember.  Outside, it read "The Democrats got your Birthday Cake" and inside, "Sliced it and divided it among those not fortunate enough to have a birthday today!"  I'm so thankful that I live in a democracy.  Ha.
My steak, baked potato and salad

All steaks weighed 16 ounces each!
The most unique gift bag was this one made to look like cowboy boots!

This Lexus was my ride to the party!  Dewain and Debbie's

My wife needed a rest for her arms after her purse was loaded with gifts!

After the party we went over to visit with Brother-in-law Curtis who was too sick to come to the party

The Ice-Cream cake was delicious

About Me

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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.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton