Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1951
NUMBER 47, PAGE 1,11a

"Heroes Of The Faith"

Will M. Thompson, Atoka, Oklahoma

In Hebrews the 11th chapter the Apostle Paul mentions a number of Old Testament characters who were heroes of faith.

In this article I want to mention briefly some of our heroes of a more recent date, yes men whose lives have touched mine, and men who were active in the Lord's work when I began to preach. My association with these men has meant much to me as down the pathway of life I've traveled. Most of the men mentioned have crossed the Great Divide and I trust are at home with the Lord.

First, I want to mention the man that baptized me. This was brother E. N. George of Gamaliel, Ark. He was low in stature, but neat in his appearance. He wore a dark suit with long tailed coat. He commanded respect from those who came to hear him. It was in the late summer of 1910 when he conducted a meeting at Spaulding, Oklahoma, that I obeyed the gospel under his preaching. He said when he baptized me that he had baptized another preacher. Little did I think then of preaching the gospel, but in twelve months from that time I preached my first sermon at Butner in Seminole county.

Next in line I would mention J. W. Crumley who was a father to me in the gospel. My first time to meet him was in October 1911 at Stuart, Oklahoma. He was then in debate with Ben M. Bogard. Later that fall I entered his home at Denton, Texas, where he lived and labored. He prepared me for my first debate which was with W. J. Pinkerton on Tate Mountain some eight miles west of Holdenville, Oklahoma. He moderated for me in that debate and funnelled me throughout the debate. After that I was in his home frequently until the time of his death October 15, 1918. Brother Crumley in his younger days was a Methodist preacher, but learned the truth and obeyed it. He became one of our ablest debaters. He was firm but kind in his presentation of the truth and was ever at ease in debate and a complete master of any situation that might arise. He was good in meeting work and strong as a local minister. He was an all equipped man in the work of the Lord. He died in the prime of life from a ruptured appendix. He passed away at Mangum, Oklahoma, but was buried at Cordell. He was local minister there at the time of his death. Since his death three sons of this great man have become ministers of the gospel, viz: Vaughn, Joe Jr., and Maxwell, who was born after his father's death.

Next in line I would mention Joe H. Blue of Morristown, Arkansas. He was present during my first debate and sat by my side throughout the discussion as did brother Crumley. Joe H. Blue has made a wonderful record in his day as a defender of the faith and as a gospel preacher. His friends are numbered by the thousands and likewise his enemies. I suspect that brother Blue has more written evidence of falsehoods that he caught denominational preachers in than any living man among us. Brother Blue has preached the gospel for over a half century. A great man is he.

John T. Hinds—Brother Hinds and I first met at the Crumley-Bogard debate at Stuart, Oklahoma, in October 1911. After that I met him at different times and in different places. I read his writings in F.F. when a boy and before I obeyed the gospel. He was a front page writer for Firm Foundation for years and afterwards became editor of Gospel Advocate. He was free from speculation on the scriptures. In his preaching he was a teacher indeed. One thing that impressed me was he wouldn't move three feet during a discourse. He was very logical in his teaching and backed it up with a thus saith the Lord. In his writings and preaching there was but little criticism to be offered. I've been in his home and he moderated for me in debate at Cave Springs, Arkansas, in June 1932. Other gospel preachers that I remember that were present at that debate were E. M. Borden, who was then preaching for the church at Fayetteville, Arkansas, A. M. Foster of Gore, Oklahoma, and J. D. Tant of south Texas. Brother Hinds was a safe counselor. He caused the brethren at Cave Springs to call me for the debate. The first time I ever spoke in his presence was during a meeting I was conducting at Garfield, Arkansas. I felt my littleness speaking in his presence, but when the service was over he clasped my hand and told me he enjoyed it, and I felt much better. I knew it came from his heart. My thoughts of John T. Hinds are no safer purer man has lived in the church in my day.

Next I mention J. W. Ballard now of Apache, Oklahoma. Brother Ballard's body now is wracked with pain.

He has arthritis and a nervous disease, but his faith in the Lord is not weakened. I first met brother Ballard in the spring of 1913 at Hickory; Oklahoma. I was then debating a materialist by the name of Peck. This was brother Crumley's debate but he was so hoarse having closed a debate with A. L. Eaves near Shawnee that I took his place for two sessions to permit him to get over his hoarseness. I've known J. W. Ballard as I've known but few men. He lived at that time at Sulphur, Oklahoma. Brother Ballard learned to preach the gospel while hammering iron in a blacksmith shop. Baptists took a delight in arguing with him and would often come to his place of labor. He kept his Bible in his shop and was ever ready to defend the faith. I've never known a man with a better knowledge of the New Testament than J. W. Ballard. He has been an able defender of the New Testament and a splendid gospel preacher. Many precious souls have been lead to the Lord through his godly life, and his preaching of the gospel. He moderated for me in the first, and second debates I had with Ben M. Bogard. His home has been my home, and my home has been his. God bless brother Ballard.

Next I would mention J. Will Henley. I first met brother Henley in 1912. He was conducting a meeting at Holdenville, Oklahoma, when the building was in a hollow so to speak. Great throngs would come to hear this great pulpit orator in those days J. Will Henley was in his prime and it was nothing uncommon for him to baptize 50 or 60 during a meeting. People would come from far and near to hear this Arkansas preacher. He could lift an audience out of their seats with his pathos. No greater pulpit orator have I ever known. J. Will became one of the best friends I ever had among preachers. He was fearless and uncompromising in his preaching and was likewise a debater of great ability. One debate he conducted was at Clarita, Oklahoma, with a Methodist preacher. At the close of this debate the Methodist people pinned ribbons on their man, and our brethren pinned paper money all over J. Will's coat. The crowd followed him to the depot as he was leaving and he preached them a sermon there. Brother Henley conducted a meeting at Tuttle, Oklahoma, in August 1931 where I was then living. I took him to Union depot in Oklahoma City after the meeting was over and clasped hands with him for the final time on earth. He died in the spring of 1932. I cherish his memory as well as all the heroes of faith I've mentioned in this article. I shall mention others in articles that are to follow.