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229 – Aug. 17 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Dedicated to faithful Sunday school teachers


1917 – Walter Olaf Olson was born.  He was twelve the day the stock market crashed in Oct. 1929. Growing up in the dark days of the Great Depression he began going to Sunday school at the Bethel Baptist church in Duluth, Minnesota.  It was there that he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ by His atoning blood through the witness of his faithful SS teacher.  He began serving Christ with great joy and determined to prepare for Christian service.  However World War II broke out and changed his plans.  He enlisted as so many did at that time and was assigned to the air force where he became a radio operator/waist-gunner in the midsection of an aircraft where he participated in fifty successful bombing raids over Europe.  There was one more to be made before he was to return home to his sweetheart, marriage and seminary.  It was to be a cluster bomb attack on German positions over Northern France.  Walter’s crew held their usual prayer meeting before taking off but felt something strange.  They encountered heavy flak, the plane next to them was lost almost immediately.  “Ole” as they called Walter was the only one hit of the entire crew, the shrapnel having hit his heart taking him home instantly.  The Captain of the plane led one of the officers to Christ the next day and many others were led to a deeper walk with the Lord because of “Ole’s” death.  Whether we live or die our desire is that all Glory should be His.  Thank God for all of the Sunday school teachers who have given of themselves to reach boys and girls for Christ. [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 449451]
Prepared by Rev. Dale R. Hart – rom623drh2@msn.com


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Shine as the Stars

How unlikely that a pastor who lived his entire life from birth to death in a rural area would ever have such godly influence as to baptize almost 5,000 people.  In the country churchyard of Bethel Baptist Church in Charlotte County, Virginia, a modest grave marker designates the resting place of the body of the beloved pastor Elijah White Roach.  How fitting that the words of Daniel 12:3 have been incised on the marker: “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.”

In coming to maturity, Elijah made a profession of faith and became a member of the local Baptist church.  As he matured spiritually and developed leadership, he was invited occasionally to preach.  At that time, a seasoned pastor, Abram Poindexeter, took Elijah under his wing and began to train him for Christian service.  Elijah’s ability in the pulpit grew, and the following year a church building was constructed in Midway and thirteen members constituted the new church, and Elijah was ordained and became the pastor of that congregation.  The church grew immediately.  He preached two hundred times a year and kept up with pastoral visitation.  Other congregations were formed, and in time Elijah was pastoring four such churches.  Elijah W. Roach preached into his eighty-seventh year.  In fact on the Lord’s Day before his home-going, he preached at the Midway Baptist Church, then arriving home on Monday, he fell asleep in Jesus.  Great crowds gathered for his funeral, and the text used was the goal of his life.  “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.”

Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 112-114.


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