“The Only One Who Can Help You”

 

A Helping Hand

Perhaps the greatest joy a Christian can experience is leading someone to confess faith in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. I believe this is not just a good option for a Christian but a command given to all believers by Christ himself when He gave the great commission at His ascension (Matthew 28:18-20). I love hearing stories of salvation experiences and will ask someone whom I believe is saved to relate their journey of faith. Every story is different just as we are all different, and every story is important because our Savior is the central figure of each story. One of the most unique accounts was part of the testimony of Herb Hodges an evangelist from Memphis, Tennessee.

I had never met Herb prior to hearing him speak to the Kaleo’s at Kids Across America in Branson, Missouri. This camp is an urban sports camp which has been ministering for the past 26 years, and each year as many as 9,000 kids get a one week fun-filled camp experience at no cost to them! One of the primary reasons Cathy and I moved to Branson in 2005 was to be close to our daughter Mary Kay, her husband Dave Janke and their 2 daughters Rebecca and Sara Beth. Dave has been on the staff at Kids Across America since its’ inception in the early 1990’s. This brilliant camp concept was born out of the ministry and hearts of Spike White and his son Joe who were the leaders of Kanakuk Kamps which had operated in Branson over 70 years previous. These camps give kids from ages 6 through 18 the opportunity to have a fantastic camp experience combined with a major emphasis on Christian living. Because inner-city kids could not afford the cost of a week at camp, Kids Across America (KAA) provides them the means and the beautiful camp grounds on Table Rock Lake in Golden, Missouri.

Many of the kids from cities like Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis and Chicago come to the 3 camps in the Missouri Ozarks having never seen a tree growing in the woods nor experienced the loving environment they find at KAA. From the moment they set foot on the camp grounds they are loved, hugged, encouraged and challenged to be the kind of kids God wants them to be. The total atmosphere is so unreal to most of the first time campers they are speechless but soon understand they are among friends who love Jesus and love them as special expressions of God’s grace. It is not uncommon for the kids to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior before the week is over.

The counselors who accompany the kids from their individual cities and stay with them the entire week are called kaleos (Greek for “called or invited”). During the week kaleos attend talks and training sessions by camp leaders intended to challenge and encourage them in their Christian walk. Guest speakers are invited from various places to add to their total experience. Herb Hodges was a frequent guest speaker, and I happened to be present when he was speaking one morning. Herb gave the following account of his spiritual journey:

“When I was a young man in my late teens living in Memphis I was a rough kid with no thoughts about Jesus Christ, nor any interest whatsoever in living for anything or anyone except myself. I wanted to emulate the people I admired at the time, except I wanted to be bigger, stronger and meaner than the worst of them. I believed a real man spoke roughly and used curse words regularly to enhance his image as being a tough guy, so I cursed often and frequently used the Lord’s name in vain. Anyone in my presence saw and heard what I considered to be a “real man.” One afternoon while swimming in a popular public pool I decided to get out of the pool by climbing out the side of the pool rather than at the steps which everyone else used. As I was looking down while getting out I noticed a hand being extended to assist me. I looked up into the face of someone I had never seen before, and while he was helping me up he said, “Son, the One whose name you use as a curse word is the only One who can help you.” That was all he said, and he turned and walked away. I didn’t make any comment or speak to him and never saw him again. Those words he said to me kept resonating in my thoughts over the next 7 to 10 days, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said and what his words might mean to me. About a week or so later I just “happened to walk past a church having a revival meeting” and entered the church out of curiosity. I was strangely moved by what I saw and heard, and when the invitation for salvation was given I responded by giving my life to the Lord Jesus Christ!”

One can never know the eternal impact he has through his life style or the words he might speak or even the extending of a  helping hand to a stranger. The point Herb Hodges made so well that morning at KAA was our responsibility as believers is to sow seeds of God’s loving grace regularly and often wherever we might be. We never know when one tiny seed might fall on the fertile soil prepared by others. It might even happen at a public swimming pool!

Dr. John

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“Howdy Folks” – The Song

El Dorado High School
1950’s

Howdy folks, how do you do?  El Dorado High is greeting you!

We have come to chase your blues away,  Help us cheer and help us say;

Fight ’em Wildcats, do your stuff,  Make ’em say that they have had enough.

Let ’em know the Wildcats never bluff, El Dorado fight, fight, fight!

 

This was the Fight Song in 1957  when I was a senior at El Dorado High School. I have no idea who wrote the song or how long it was sung as the fight song,  but it was certainly there the 3 years I was in high school. I suspect it had been sung for decades before when cheer leaders, pom-pom squads and fight songs became popular on junior high and high school campuses.

Everyone in school knew the words perfectly and sang the fight song every time there was a pep rally for an approaching football or basketball game. It was simply part of the Wildcat musical repertoire along with the El Dorado High School Loyalty Song whose words will be in a later post. Two of my best friends in high school, who were both athletes  and along with me had the privilege of singing the “Howdy Folks” song well up into and through our freshman year in college.

Jim Weedman and Larry Mosley both played football for the Wildcats while I was on the varsity basketball team. We all attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but none of us were accomplished enough athletes to continue with college sports. We were however; fraternity members together, having pledged into Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). Jim and I pledged our first semester in 1957 while Larry did not pledge until the fall of 1958.

Pledges in our fraternity at the time had to withstand almost a year of hazing practices before being voted into a full membership status. I suppose one reason for the pledge year was to weed out any undesirable pledges and remove them before granting full status and privileges as an SAE member. Another reason for the pledge system was to get them to do the work needed in and around the fraternity house without having to pay for outside labor. There were certainly times during the pledge year I felt like an unpaid slave, but that was simply part of the price everyone paid in joining a fraternity. The real benefit I gained from fraternity membership was in making life-long friendships with some outstanding men.

The only meal everyone in our fraternity had together was lunch, and it was a time for good food, fraternal friendship and some good fun mostly at the expense of the pledge class. During the course of the 45-60 minute meal time the pledges were called upon to stand and recite various things depending on the whim of the members at the time. Some pledges were asked to give the names and hometowns of everyone seated at his 8 to 10 place table; others were asked to sing the U of A Alma Mater. Still others had to recite all the founding members of SAE from the University of Alabama in the 1840’s. It was designed to bring as much embarrassment as possible to the pledges and as much laughter as possible to the jeering members. It was a hazing which was not physically painful, but one which each member had to endure during his pledge year.

For Jim Weedman and me it became a fairly regular occurrence when one noon we were asked to sing the El Dorado Fight Song for the first time. None of the members had ever heard the words of the “Howdy Folks” song before, and we became an instant hit when we sang it that day. As I recall they even clapped for us when we finished, which I don’t think had ever happened before! From that initial musical rendering Jim and I were asked at least once every 2 weeks to stand and entertain the brothers with our singing talents. I think some were even disappointed we were able to sing on key because many of the other pledges who would sing various songs were so off-key it added to the entertainment value. Jim and I sang so often we were able to add a little harmony.

The following year when Larry became a pledge and it became known he was from El Dorado, he was immediately requested to sing “Howdy Folks.” There may have been some urging from Jim and me because we knew Larry would definitely sing off-key, and he would get quite a few jeers from the fickle crowd. He didn’t disappoint in his (dis)ability to sing and every time he was requested to sing one could not tell which key he was using! It was all in good fun, and after several months the requests for the song stopped.

When Jim and I left Fayetteville in 1960 to enter medical school in Little Rock I lost contact with the fraternity and finally severed all communication ties in the 1970’s. I disagreed strongly with some of the stated goals and the direction of fraternities in general and SAE in particular. I don’t know if any other men from El Dorado pledged into the SAE fraternity at the University of Arkansas, but I am quite confident if they did and the fraternity had the same policy of noon-time hazing, the “Howdy Folks” song remained near the top in requested tunes. I still occasionally sing the song privately for old times sake!

Dr. John