A woman knocked on our front door and asked if we would pray for her little boy. There was something terribly wrong, and he had never walked a day in his life. We noticed that she had reinforced the seat of his pants with extra patches of fabric so he could get around their house by scooting on the floor.
We prayed for the boy, and nothing happened. More than one time she came to our door, and we prayed for his healing, and that he would walk. We never lost hope, and she kept coming for prayer. Finally, one day after we prayed, the boy stood up and began to walk.
The miracle shook the neighborhood. The newspaper sent out a photographer and wrote a story about God’s miracle in this boy’s life. We gave the glory to God, and curious people in the neighborhood began to take notice of these two lady preachers who were pastoring a new Foursquare church in town.
They didn’t even know what Foursquare was, and we used that to our advantage. Female Foursquare ministers wore uniforms back then that had a large “shield” with a cross hanging in front. We wore our uniforms when we visited homes in the neighborhood, and some people thought we were Catholic nuns because of the way we were dressed. That didn’t bother us. We just wanted people to come and give their hearts to Jesus.
Building a church was slow-going, but people came. We purchased an old house that was run down with waist-high grass around it and began to transform it into a church where people could pray and sing, and most of all where people could find Jesus Christ.
A few months after opening the doors for the first time, we celebrated a breakthrough when 14 young people came forward for salvation during one of our Sunday evening services. Others were filled with the Holy Spirit, and God did miracles of healing for people when we prayed.
Our ministry in North Carolina may have been a bit unconventional by local standards, but it was exactly what God had in mind when He called me to the ministry a mere four years before.
I had been filled with the Holy Spirit during an outdoor revival back home and immediately felt the leading of God to know more about His Word. At first I didn’t dream I might become a pastor or that I would be sent to preach a sermon or build a new church; I just wanted to know more about the Bible.
The best place to study the Bible back then was at Angelus Temple and L.I.F.E. Bible College (today called Life Pacific College), founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. For four years, that is exactly what I did. I studied Greek and Hebrew, hermeneutics and homiletics, and played the piano for English and Spanish worship services.
Then it was time to launch out and learn to trust God in my own ministry. For people like me who were not yet married, that meant finding a ministry partner of the same gender who had a similar call; then we could go out together to establish the ministry.
After graduating from Bible college, we set out from the West Coast in an old 1929 Model A to do what we could for the kingdom of God. We asked a mechanic friend to check out the car because we planned to drive it from California to North Carolina.
He took the car to the steepest street in Los Angeles and tried to drive it straight to the top. The car did not make it. Then he tried it in reverse, and it climbed the steep hill without a hitch. Based on that simple test, the mechanic friend told us he thought our Model A would make it across the country.
We broke down in the Arizona desert and spent the night waiting for help. When we prayed over the car, it finally started, and we drove on. We stopped to visit family and friends in Texas, and the steering column fell off in the hands of a friendly mechanic. He fixed it and sent us on our way. We had to be pulled by a tractor out of floodwaters in Oklahoma, and then ironically stopped to fix a leaky radiator in Kansas.
Looking back on how we got to North Carolina, and what we did once we got there, I can’t believe we weren’t stricken by fear. But the journey of faith we made from California to North Carolina prepared my ministry partner and me to fully trust in God for all of our needs—in life and in starting a church.
As we started gaining notoriety in our little community, and as the church started to grow, the young people wanted to play volleyball and host hot dog roasts for the neighborhood. We went to a local shop that sold concrete grave markers and asked if we could have any broken markers to build a barbecue pit. They were more than happy to give them away, but they were so heavy we could only transport one or two at a time in our little Model A.
Others in the neighborhood saw our effort, and decided to chip in and build a beautiful concrete and brick barbeque pit. So that nothing went to waste, we used the broken grave markers for the young people to sit on while they ate their hot dogs. These young people are the same people today who are the parents and grandparents in the neighborhood that we ministered to back in the 1940s and 1950s.
When I was asked to visit the church on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ministry, I was blessed and pleased to recognize so many faces. They are graying now with age, but still these are the faces of those young people who wept at the altar and worshiped the Lord, the same ones who played volleyball and ate hot dogs around a barbecue pit built by two lady preachers who just wanted to know more about the Bible.
This article is adapted from a video interview recorded with Alice Cauble on June 20, 2006.