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!
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- 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.