The Foundations of Paul's Significance

We celebrate Paul and may forget those who stood alongside and impacted his life. Stephen’s message that impacted him (Acts 22:20), Ananias who baptized him, Barnabas who reached out to Paul when the church at Jerusalem feared him, the young church at Antioch that gave Paul an opportunity.

Did Paul ever forget? I don't think so. 

Too often, Paul mentioned other people in the epistles. He celebrated their investment and participation in his life.

 Celebrate Those Who Shaped You

Today is a good day to remember and celebrate the names of the men and women who stood alongside to make us what we are. Many names will be  unheralded. History has taken them away.

 Let me go first and then it would be great to have many of you follow in the comment section. This article was also posted on my Facebook page. 

And Here They Are!

E.W. & Johnnie Ruth Caughron - he said, when we visited on a Monday night in 1974, “Well, Carlton I didn’t sense a call of God for you. I thought it might happen to Stan (Davidson).” But in spite of his reservation, the elder called the pastor of a small church nearby and said, “I’ve a young man here who feels he may be called to preach. You know his family. It's Bro. L.C's boy, Carlton. If you can ever use him - feel free.” The pastor responded, “Could he come this Wednesday night?”

 Ross Allen - he was the brave fellow who asked if I come that Wednesday. He pastored in the Glade community, down the levee south of Jonesville, Louisiana. Bro. Ross was the one who told me about four minutes before I was to get up and ‘preach,’ “Now Bro. Carlton, we don’t wear rings here. you need to take off your graduation ring before you preach.” Lessons learned at 17 can last a long time!

Otis Davidson, pastored Walnut Hill, Louisiana, the church from which C.G. Weeks, Louisiana’s District Superintendent had come. Bro. Otis let Joe Guein and I come team-preach. Neither of us had much to offer. 

H.B. (Bro.Ben) Frazier - he had Joe and I come to Tioga the following weekend. My moniker for Bro. Ben was “Grandpa.” It was the first of many weekends when the good people of Tioga put up with listening to me. 

Ben and Sis. Deville - They had me preach many times in the church they planted in Jonesville, Louisiana. The late Bro. Deville, paid Norma and I the high honor of asking if I’d follow him as pastor in Jonesville. It was not to be - but what an honor to be asked. 

Randy Harper - let me preach in Deville, La. I didn’t have much to say. The title was, “I Have Found a Man.” The text was somewhere in Daniel. Nobody asked for a copy of my notes.

T.C. Bonnette - invited me to speak to the young people in Oakdale, Louisiana. By far the largest church I’d preached in. I was scared to death. Bro. Bonnette acted like I did well. I'm sure there was much grace involved in his assessment. 

Louis Green who taught the aforementioned Stan and I that the people of Bible times did not speak English. So Strong’s Concordance here I came. Through my observation, Louis taught me about studying the Bible, the craft of preaching and connecting with people. He and the Caughrons taught me how to have a harvest, even in a community so small as to not be on the map.

Crawford Coon, at that time in Columbus, Indiana. In the dead of winter, Crawford, my dad's brother, invited me to preach a youth revival. I’d never been outside the south in winter. Louis Green knew what I was getting into. He loaned me his high style green winter coat. We actually had people receive the Holy Ghost - that would be “in spite” of me.

Ellis Maxwell in the metropolis of Dry Prong, Louisiana. Such an honor to be asked. His family had and has significant influence in Grant and Rapides Parishes

Stan Thrift in downtown Belah, Louisiana. He and Melba became friends for what is now a lifetime. I'd preached there several times. After Norma and I married, Belah was our first revival. You really should read his two books and watch Ministry Moments on his Facebook page.

The “old folks home” (so it is noted in my ministerial record book) in Tioga where I often preached on Saturday evening. And they let me keep coming back. A group of singers from Bro. Ben's church would go. They'd sing and I'd preach. Every aspiring preacher needs to preach in a nursing home about 50 times. It will prepare you for almost anything.

Sixteen wonderful ladies in Fairfield, Louisiana who let me become their pastor. I was nineteen. All but once of those ladies was over 55. When someone asked the presbyter, G.A. Mangun, about me being there he said, "Well, he can't hurt them." That congregation gave me the opportunity to preach three times each week. I learned some things. Including the fact, that it is hard for a church of 20 to sustain a 24 hour prayer chain for a full week.  I preached my first two funerals preached during my time there. Do you want a 19 year old preaching your funeral?

Leland Briggs, in Bentley, Louisiana. His remarkable ability as a pastor astounded and informed me. He should have written a book telling the rest of us how to do it right. I watched and learned. Leland Briggs was perhaps the most gracious man I have ever known. I preached in the small building and then the larger one. Each time this kid preacher filled Bentley’s pulpit, Bro. Briggs would have every preacher present stand to share a word of testimony. Several had retired to the church there. He did not want anyone to feel overlooked. Beside, most of them said more in their testimony than I said in my sermon.

Cleveland (C.L.) Mizell, pastor in Pinedale, Louisiana invited me to preach my first “full time evangelist” revival. He didn’t know me at all. But at Louisiana’s District Conference in 1977, Pastor Mizell asked what dates I had open. He did not know, but all of my dates were open. Revival started the following Sunday. In the following two weeks, I preached 20 times. About two decades ago, I drove our son Lane down that road outside of Ponchatoula to visit Pinedale. Lane had primarily known me as a fellow pastoring a growing church in a significant city. I'd written a book or two and been asked to preach at a few events. 

Lane, actually every young preacher, needs to visit someone’s Pinedale. Despise not the day of small things. You guys waiting on a decent sized church to come open, why now go pastor the church with a handful of people. You need the practice and like the late Bro. Mangun said, "You can't hurt them."

The Pinedale church building was unlocked - Lane and I went in and looked around. I stood behind the pulpit and again brushed my fingertips against the ceiling I’d brushed against during my fiery sermons as a 20-year-old preacher. It pays to remember. 

A.D. Varnado was a veteran missionary who pastored in Camp Eight. I was dating one of he and “Bessie’s” girls. He let me preach. Really, he wanted to take my measure and see if I should even be in consideration to continue dating Norma. I survived. When our boys were little, Bro. Varnado adopted them and loved on them. I guess in some ways he felt they were his own. 

My List Could Go On and On 

Places unheralded and pastors many will have never heard of. There was Berrydale, Florida; Watson, Louisiana; Sunset Acres (Shreveport), Louisiana; Forest Hill, Louisiana; Ames,Iowa; Onawa, Iowa; Millington, TN; Colfax, Louisiana; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; Independence, Louisiana; Sheridan, Indiana; Rushville, Indiana and dozens more. I should have been paying them to let me preach. 

Names that bring floods of memories opportunities granted and encouragement offered:  E.L. Jenkins, W.C. Jackson, Farnem Kinney, Dan Parker, Hazel Simpson, Clyde Self, Jim Vanover, Richard Sisk, Dan Willis, G.A. Mangun (how did that one slip in there?). There are names like Trammel, Boothe, Bingaman, Hennigan, Wolfe, Nugent, Blackman, Whatley, Westberg, Councilman, Brooks, Worthen, Holland, Payne, Watts;

Picture of 2 pages of Carlton Coon's ministerial record book from the years as an evangelist

Lee, Harvey and Howard - 3 Davis brothers in Southern California - who adopted us when we had nowhere to go, Dansby, Parks, Reynolds, Hodges and dozens more.

Thank You

Each of these and so many more put a something into me. It would be folly to be ungrateful. I didn't say "thank you" often enough. Of the names listed only six remain alive. I wonder if those in Abraham's bosom can hear me express a whispered, "Thank you." 

Earlier I was young and dumb. You and the church you led were going to be blessed by me being there. Truth - you blessed me far more than I ever blessed you. 

I didn’t intend to go this long - but when I started this and then looked through my tattered, abused and flood-surviving “Minister’s Personal Record” I just had to continue. 

Now - its your turn! Tell us about your Stephen, your Barnabas and the places like Antioch that let you develop. Surely, there is a C.L. Mizell and a Pinedale in your past. 

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