HOME WITHOUT A MOTHER
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Loyal pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)
In 1952 I became Pastor of the 92 members who met in a $6,000 building and called themselves the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. I had just reached my 26th birthday. That was the beginning of one of the most blessed ministries that a preacher could enjoy. Little did I know what God had in store for me when the blessings of God began to fall, and on the first anniversary of my ministry there we had 617 in Sunday school (My first Sunday as pastor found 44 people attending Sunday school). On our second anniversary we had 1,180 in Sunday school, and on our third anniversary 2,212 attended. Of course, these were peak days with unusually high attendances, but to say the least, the growth was phenomenal and the blessings of God were tremendous!
We had building problems. We needed a new building, but the church was so young no one would let us borrow money. Finally I found a layman who would risk us to the tune of $13,000. Rather than hire a general contractor, I decided to be the general contractor, in spite of the fact I knew little about building. It is true that I had worked my way partly through college by laying oak floor, hanging dry wall (sheet rock), etc., but as a general contractor I had literally no experience.
Since I was general contractor, I decided to be my own architect and engineer. I drew a floor plan, went to a concrete company, and asked the owner if he would pour some grade beams and pier holes. I showed him a penciled floor plan. He smiled and asked how high the walls would be. I told him and he came and poured the grade beams, pier holes, and a slab floor. Then up went the walls with volunteer help. I put up the sheet rock myself.
Being in my usual hurry, I put at least two or three nails in every piece of four feet by eight feet piece of dry wall. Then we put on the roof and finishing touches, and finally came Dedication Day. Though it was far from a basilica, it was nevertheless new and clean and a place to meet. We had a big Dedication Day for our new $13,000 building. The mayor was there, the city councilmen were there, the head of the city planning commission was present, and the crowd had gathered around the front door for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Folks were congratulating me and though the building was less than ornate, they were amazed that I, a preacher, could be the general contractor for the building. One of the important guests spoke to the others as he participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and said something like this: "Pastor Hyles, you are a remarkable man to have built this building for $13,000. We all congratulate you. May I ask you, Pastor Hyles, before cutting the ribbon, what kind of heat does this building have...?"
"Heat?" I asked. "H-h-h-h-heat! Heat! Heat?"
"Yes!" he replied. "What kind of heat? Is it gas, electric, oil? Just what kind of heat do you have in the building?"
"H-e-a-t ?...Heat.. .H-h-h-h-heat?"
"Yes, what kind of heat do you have in the building?"
The next morning I got a star drill and a hammer and knocked holes in the walls and ran some pipes down the center of the hall, through the holes, and down the inside walls of the classrooms. I then put a gas jet at the end of the pipe and a little gas heater at the gas jet. (For years they called those the "Hyles Pipes.")
The power of God continued falling; and the blessings of God continued coming until finally one day, to my complete surprise, God called me away. I thought that day would never come. These were my own converts. I had won nearly all of them to Christ myself. I had grown up with the church; I loved the town. I could not feature ever having to leave; I had planned to spend my life there. Yet suddenly and without warning God had led me to become Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. I rebelled, yet finally yielded to God's will. With a broken heart I stood before my people one Wednesday night announcing my resignation. The people had no forewarning and the resignation dropped like a bomb. I have never seen a meeting so sad. People were weeping, some few were: screaming, and many were uncontrollable. Finally, we just all cried. In an effort to control myself I slipped out a side door and heard a lady's voice praying. It was my secretary. She was alone in the dark. She did not know that I was near, and these were the words of her prayer: "Dear Lord, Miller Road Baptist Church without Brother Hyles is like a home without a mother." These were the words she said over and over again. I never forgot them.
The weeks and months passed and I did become Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. It wasn't long until the news came from Garland, Texas, that my secretary had gone to the hospital to deliver a baby and during delivery had suddenly stopped breathing. She was gone to be with her Savior. Now her husband, Joe, and her two children had "a home without a mother."
Yes, ministries will end, pastorates will cease, life will pass away, it behooves each of us to do his best where he is, for soon another will be in his pulpit and others will live in his house.
Death or the will of God will lead me on. I must work the works of Him Who sent me while it is yet day, for soon my shoes will be filled by another and 'twill be "like a home without a mother."
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