Working For Your Education

Brother Rex Turner , Sr. and the officials of the old school had the policy that if you could work you could obtain an education at the Montgomery Bible School/College. I came from a poor family and my parents did not have the extra money to send me to a private Christian school so, like so many other students, I had to work in order to pay for my schooling. My first job was being a ‘maintenance engineer’ (janitor). My equipment included a broom, dust pan, sweeping compound and a dust rag. I believe my pay was about thirty-five cents an hour. I remember cleaning the classrooms in the dining hall building and the rooms in the administration building. I dreaded cleaning the office of brother Turner. My overseer, Roy Balkcom, had put the fear of the Lord in my heart because he informed me that brother Turner did not like to find dust in his office and that the floor must be perfectly clean.While cleaning brother Turner’s office one afternoon, the telephone rang. Now today that sounds like a simple and regular occurrence. However you must understand that as a lad of thirteen and coming from a family that had never had a telephone this was a new experience for me. Why I answered the telephone I will never know, but I did. This nice Christian lady asked for brother Turner and I answered that he was not in his office. She then asked where he might be and I told her that I saw him walking across the campus toward his house. She inquired, “Do you know his telephone number?” I replied with what I thought was an intelligent answer by saying, “I don’t know but you can look it up in the dictionary.” I was surprised that she hung up so quickly. The following morning after the occurrence, brother Turner got up in our daily chapel service and began to speak with great fervor that the one thing that we didn't need on campus were ‘smart alec’ boys who tell Christian ladies to look up telephone numbers in an encyclopedia. Well, I thought within myself how correct he was and I silently said ‘amen’. It appears that I knew very little difference between a dictionary, a telephone directory and an encyclopedia. I was a grown man when it occurred to me that brother Turner was talking about me in that fiery chapel talk!

During the first lectureship held in the new Rotunda building on the Atlanta Highway during the mid 1960s the committee selected several alumni who were preachers to speak during the lectureship. I was one of them. I remember that brother Turner and brother R.A. Baker were sitting on the front row. Before I began my lecture I related this story and I thought brother Turner was going to fall out of his seat laughing at my ignorance and confession. Brother Tuner would often relate how he would find ‘unlearned’ young men and make preachers out of them. He would mention L.E. Wishum from the piney woods of South Georgia who knew only how to feed the hogs and some illiterate fellows from the hills of north Georgia (including James Watkins) and then he would say, “Raymond, you stand up and tell them how ignorant you were.” It seems that everyone would enjoy a good laugh at my expense. I shall always feel indebted to brother Turner and others who gave me the opportunity to work my way through three years (1948-1951) in high school because it was then that I decided to give my life to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ because of the godly influence of the men and women connected with the old Montgomery Bible School/college.

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