Stop Reading the Bible!

On January 17, 1980, the Barry had its homeport changed to Boston for the purpose of conducting a yearlong overhaul in the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard. With so much renovation going on, the crew was placed in a barracks along the pier in East Boston. This was also the time when I enrolled in a correspondent Bible college course that would lead me toward a ministerial degree.

Benteng, in Trieste, Italy May 26, 1979
Chet, in Trieste, Italy
May 26, 1979

Being extremely disciplined, I put myself on a rigorous schedule to learn as much about the Bible and ministry as I could. I would rise at 5 A.M. every morning and would read until I was required to report for work on the ship at 8 A.M. After eating lunch I would get away and read for another 30 minutes or more. Then after getting off work in the afternoon, I would go back to the barracks and read until supper. After supper I would haul my Bibles, reference books, and course materials to the dining area and study until midnight. I had been doing this for quite some time, and then one afternoon, after getting off work, as I was in my barracks cubicle, seated on my top bunk reading my Bible, I started crying and couldn’t stop. I was concerned that people were going to hear me because I was agonizing with deep sobbing. The deep groans and sobbing kept going on and on and just wouldn’t stop.

I then called out to God and asked, “What’s wrong with me, Lord? Why am I crying? What’s going on?” I then distinctly heard God speak to me, and He said, “Here you sit, reading and studying all the time and all around you people are dying and going to hell.” God was actually telling me to stop reading my Bible (so much), and get a balance between prayer, study, and being an active witness to the lost.

I realized He was right and I responded, “Okay, Lord, I’ll start looking for people to witness to.” Immediately after I agreed to obey what He wanted me to do, I heard a group of guys in a cubical next to me talking. Several of the young men were trying to persuade “Bubba” to “go over with them.” That is the terminology sailors use when they want to leave the ship, or in this case, the barracks, and go out into the city. Through their conversation it was clear that they were intending to hit the bars and get drunk, as was so common for many crew members of the Barry.

Even though the small group tirelessly attempted to persuade “Bubba” to join them, he was very persistent in refusing them, and he said, “No, I think I’ll just hang around the barracks tonight.”

That seemed too coincidental. For me to have had the Lord speak to me, then to hear of somebody that was going to hang around the barracks all night— doing nothing—I was confident “Bubba” was the one the Lord had intended for me to focus on.

Upon realizing my responsibility to witness to “Bubba,” I immediately said to the Lord, “Okay Lord, I’ll witness to him tonight.” Within a week or so “Bubba” was born again!

Swimming off the side of the Barry in the Persian Gulf. Benteng (middle). Antagonist Duane (far right) July 2, 1979

Swimming off the side of the Barry
in the Persian Gulf.
Chet (middle). Antagonist Duane (far right)
July 2, 1979

Many nights we would conduct Bible studies in the barrack’s dining area after supper. One night, after finishing our Bible study, we talked to “Bubba” about the “Promise of the Father.” He had never heard anything about that before. So we explained what it was from the Bible, and then we prayed for him and God fulfilled His promise and “Bubba” was baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalemuntil you are endued with power from on high.” (Lk. 24:49)

It was such a great faith builder for us to watch the scriptures unfold right before our eyes, and observe firsthand the manifest presence of God come upon and envelop somebody with waves of love. This was often with Americans who had never been to church, and never understood the salvation message, nor that such a thing as the manifest presence of God was something that could be experienced. It was all just so phenomenal!

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