I have been a member of the Radford Seventh-day Adventist church for more than 41 years. It took me sixteen years to finally get into the church from the time I originally wanted to. Here is my story:
In 1948, when I was 11 years old, my mother began listening to a Sunday morning radio broadcast by Pastor William Coffman (founder and builder of the Radford church). A free Bible correspondence course was offered and Mom sent for it. She completed the course and learned many new things about the Bible. She had previously been baptized into a Baptist church but over the years had attended a number of different churches sporadically, taking my two brothers and me with her. My dad, who had been baptized into a Methodist church, had not attended church regularly either but went with Mom and us kids occasionally. Mom accepted the new teachings she was learning, and I was enrolled in a children’s Bible course which I completed and accepted also.
Our family was visited by Elder and Mrs. William Coffman and their three children several times during and after Mom’s completion of the Bible course. Then my dad became strongly opposed to their teachings and would no longer allow them to visit us. Mom continued to be in contact with them and learned that a baptism was planned soon at Sinking Creek at the foot of Mountain Lake mountain, near Pembroke. Mom wanted to be baptized and arranged with the Coffmans to meet them at a nearby location. On that Sunday morning, Mom, my two brothers and I, met the Coffmans and went to the baptismal site. Mom and two other women were baptized that day. This was in the summer of 1950. A picnic lunch was enjoyed by all after the baptisms. I was 13 years old then and I had hoped I could be baptized also, but the adults thought I wasn’t ready yet.
After her baptism Mom was unable to go to church because of my dad’s opposition and no transportation. She read her Bible and prayed and read other books that had been brought to her. She also stopped buying and serving pork products at home and tried to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord in the light of all she had learned. Even though Mom couldn’t attend church, she was listed as one of the charter members of the Radford church when it opened in 1952.
From the time Mom was baptized, I knew that the Seventh-day Adventist church was the church I wanted to attend and be baptized into some day. However, it was another 16 years before my desire finally became reality. I enrolled at Radford College (now Radford University) in 1955.. I had wanted to become a teacher since first grade and in high school I decided I wanted to be a business teacher. I graduated in 1959.
During my four years at Radford I thought many times about the Radford SDA Church. I knew where it was located, and I had the desire to attend on Sabbath some time, and it was my intention to do so. Some quarters I had Saturday morning classes, though, and some weekends I went home, and the other times I just never quite found the courage to actually get on the city bus and go to the church. I kept putting it off, and then I graduated and left Radford. While in school there, I did often attend some of the nearby Sunday churches.
After graduating in 1959, I went to Montvale, VA, to teach and was there three years (1959-1962). Then I moved to Richmond, where I taught for five years at George Wythe HS in South Richmond (1962-1967). I soon discovered that the South Richmond SDA Church was located just out the street from my school. Soon after I began teaching there, I was invited by the Radford College Richmond Alumni chapter to a breakfast with them at a restaurant in an area with which I was slightly familiar. That was on a Saturday morning. I got ready and drove to the area and drove around for a while but never found the restaurant. I gave up and started back to my boarding house in South Richmond. On the way, I remembered the South Richmond SDA Church and knew they would be meeting that morning. I was dressed up, I had no place to go but home, so I thought "why not!" I drove there and actually attended the church service! That was my very first visit to an Adventist church, 12 years after my Mom’s baptism. I didn’t attend that church again, however, until four years later, after becoming a member of the Radford church.
While I was spending the summer at my Mom’s house in Christiansburg in the summer of 1966, she received from my brother a flyer about some upcoming meetings at the Radford SDA Church. This flyer was given to my brother’s wife, Estelle, by Mrs. Irma Bond, an early member of the church, who worked with my sister-in-law. She knew that Estelle’s mother-in-law was a member of the Radford church but had never attended. Mom and I read the flyer and discussed it and decided to go to the church that Sabbath. Elder Robert Roberts was pastor at the time but was leaving shortly to pastor the Marion church. He was being replaced at Radford by Elder Lyndon Tarr. Elder Tarr and his wife, Margaret, were natives of South Africa and had recently moved to this area.
Mom and I attended the services at Radford church that Sabbath afternoon (they met then in the afternoons). That was in July of 1966. We continued to attend Sabbath services and the following month, August of 1966, I was baptized and my mother was re-baptized at the same time. We were baptized by Elder Tarr. I was 29 at that time, and it was 16 years after Mom’s first baptism and my original desire to become a Seventh-day Adventist. It took a long time, but God never let go of me and finally led me to have the courage and strong desire to do what He had been wanting me to do for so many years. Even though I attended a number of Sunday churches over the years, God didn’t let me forget about the Sabbath and the Adventist church. God is so good! I taught one more year in Richmond, then returned to Christiansburg at the end of that year (1967) and have attended the Radford church faithfully ever since.
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