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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

73rd Birthday!

Is that possible?  How did it happen so soon?  I'm the age of some folks whom I used to think of as "OLD"!  AHha!  No wonder they didn't mind that I called them old, if they were having as much fun as I am having.  Life is good.  I can play with the great grandbabies and hand them back to their mother's should the need arise.  I can eat whatever I want to - or not - whichever I choose.  I can sleep in past my usual 5:30/6:00a.m on any day I desire too and no one complains!  How do I know?  I slept until 7:30 recently and even Frances did not scold or chide me! 

This morning I was up early, read my 12 chapters from the Bible, had cereal (with straberries and cream) half of a banana, two cups of coffee!  Then went outside into the 73 degrees temp to watch the birds and rabbits while watering my grapes and flowers.  After that I read the 71 Birthday greetings I received on facebook (so far) and then came back into the air-conditioned home which God has provided for me where I heard from my wife that her Brother is preparing 16 oz steaks for us this evening in honor of my birthday!  One of the grand-loves stopped by and hugged me on her way home from a college class.  My yard-man came by and manicured my lawn!  Yes, it's o.k. if to be old!!!

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