Billy Graham Center

Collection 431 - T. Michael Flowers. T1 Transcript

This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Theodore Michael Flowers (Collection 431, #T1) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded is omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.

. . . Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.

. . . . Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.

( ) Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.

[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.

This transcript was completed by Wayne D. Weber in June 1998.

Collection 431, T1. Interview of Theodore Michael Flowers by Robert Shuster, June 14, 1990.

SHUSTER: Okay. This is an with interview of Rev. T. Michael Flowers by Robert Shuster for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. And this interview took place at 3:00 pm Dayton, Tennessee, on June 14, 1990. Let me start off by asking you, Rev. Flowers, what does the T stand for?

FLOWERS: Theodore.

SHUSTER: And why don't you tell me a little of your family background, when you were born and your parents...?

FLOWERS: Okay. Well, I was born in the Bahamas at a place called Mangrove Cay on Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamas. My parents were very religious. They all belonged to the Anglican Church, know. And at an early age we went to church. But it was just a normal sort of thing. It was no sense of [pauses] lostness or need of the Lord Jesus Christ. We were just growing up. My mother died when I was ten and my father died the same year I was converted at the age of seventeen. But my conversion took place in Nassau. was a [pauses] what I would call a wholesome [pauses] upbringing from the point dear parents were together. It was no dismantling of the family and he looked after us as best he could. He had special design on my life because he did certain things to make me happy. And one of them may have...may have caused a little rift between my brother even now, because he made a boat for me and rigged it up. Something...he said I look so much like him. Maybe that's why he...[laughs]

SHUSTER: A full-size boat you could sail in?

FLOWERS: Oh no, just a small boat like that. But when I use to go with him he did a lot of trolling. People were saying that, "You look just like your father," or something. But I...I remember my father and am grateful for the things that I remember about him.

SHUSTER: What was the date of your birth?

FLOWERS: The date of my of my birth was March 28, 1920. Now you have to remember something about those islands. I was born on March 28, but when the people came around to record it, they came around April 1st , so I...for official purposes my birthday is April 1, 1920, instead of March 28th.

SHUSTER: This was the government clerk that came along to your house?

FLOWERS: Yes. see, the seat of government was in Nassau and Andros is a hundred odd miles away, not all by water. So they get local people to record the birth. It's

a kind of very very rural rural rule. [laughs]

SHUSTER: What... what were your parents' names?

FLOWERS: My father's name was Alfred and my mother's name was Hilda Flowers. She was a Bastian before she married him.

SHUSTER: And your father was a fisherman? [louder] Your father was a fisherman?

FLOWERS: Say it again.

SHUSTER: Your father was a fisherman?

FLOWERS: Fisherman and sponger. Yes, he...years ago we had some of the best spongers... spongers in the Bahamas. And he did that for a living. But he also worked as a carpenter, an excellent carpenter. And we had two boys and two girls in the family, both of us as boys followed our father from the point of carpentry. We're both carpenters. And, of course, I specialized in furniture before I went to England. And I still love it even today.

SHUSTER: You still do carpentry and woodwork?

FLOWERS: I do a little bit of it now, yes. Every now and then. I'll think of it as a hobby when I retire. [laughs]

SHUSTER: What is it that you like about carpentry?

FLOWERS: What I like about it?

SHUSTER: Uh-hmm.

FLOWERS: Well, I think when I [pauses] make a piece of furniture I can look back with pride and see what I have accomplished. The craftsmanship. I... I just love woodwork. Just is in my bones. [laughs] I just love it.

SHUSTER: What...were you the oldest child in your family?

FLOWERS: No, I'm the second. My brother Wilfred, he is seven years older than I am. I am the second son and the second oldest in the family. Two boys, two girls.

SHUSTER: And your two sisters names...what were their names?

FLOWERS: Freda and Coraline. She died in a hurricane in 1929, I think. It was a three-day hurricane and the house fell on her and she died.

SHUSTER: How would you [pauses] describe your parents? What...what comes to your mind when you...what words come to mind when you think of them?

FLOWERS: Well, when I think of my mother, she was very sickly. She had what we called asthma, and there were times the attack was serious. She died and the circumstances that were peculiar in that...we had a doctor there on the island. He put her to sleep to get some rest because she wasn't getting any sleep. Well, then he out on drinking bouts, well, then he kind of forgot wake her up at a particular time he should have. And she one ever was able to talk to her again. She just simply went out. And then with my father, I think of a man who was industrious [pauses]. We would...when he wasn't sponging or fishing we did some farming about forty miles from home at a place called Wood Cay, and...(what you call it), family property you know. And we raised a lot of the stuff we ate. Very industrious, and he taught us to be independent perhaps in a wrong way in one sense because [laughs] he taught me that if my brother didn't own a penny in the world, and I felt hungry I could go to my brother's house and say to my brother, "Give me a crumb of bread." On the other hand, if my sister was very rich but since another man was bringing in the food, I must never go by. And it almost caused a real rift in my family when I got married because I came from [clears throat] the Bahamas and I had some engagements set up for Canada. And I said to wife, I says . "Honey, I am...I better cancel the engagements so we can work and get some money quickly and go down to Georgia," where I felt the Lord had called me. And quite innocently she said, "Well, I'm getting enough money." She teach...taught in a Detroit school...public school. She said, "I'm getting enough money for any two people to live on." And I hit the ceiling [Shuster laughs] because of my father, you know, teaching from my father. Well, since then I have had time to repent. [Both laugh] And to realize that sometime parents mean well, but you need to balance things off, you know. But I thank God for a wife like mine, who stood with me and was able to work as a teacher and we lived on her means until God raised the people who were saved through the ministry. Now it's a different ball game altogether.

SHUSTER: How would you describe your life as a child over in the Bahamas?

FLOWERS: Life in the Bahamas was [pauses] I would say normal. We [pauses, laughs]'s difficult put the context that life in the Bahamas with the United States, you know, where they...everybody know each other. There was real community, without the Christian context, but real community. I did something wrong and someone saw me on the street, they would either chasten me or speak to me or even flog me if necessary. And there was a kind of closeness. And we had property...large property...a large home were we lived. Not [unclear phrase], no furniture and that sort of thing, but had plenty of space and plenty of fruit trees in the yard. So there was never any kind of thing that I see in place like the United States and other places I've gone, because there was plenty of vegetables, plenty of things from the farm. I would say my upbringing was wonderful, I mean from that perspective. But now we were limited in many areas. There were no electric lights, there were no paved roads, there were no...well, relative amenities that we have today. But, when it comes to having and never going without, I've never known it is to be without anything. I mean, we only have about four or five changes . . . changes of raiment. But then on Sundays we were always clean and...and my parents saw to it that we went to church spotlessly. It was no joke about it. It's difficult. I...I...I tell my children about it and they'd laugh [Shuster laughs] as would I. "Daddy." I says, "Yes, that's the way it is." I mean it's...really can't fit it together, you can't fit it together.

SHUSTER: So different.

FLOWERS: Very marked difference. And you sometime wish life could be what it was then with some of the times we have now. [laughs]

SHUSTER: What's your very earliest memories...your very earliest clear memories?

FLOWERS: Let me...let me go back to something. I don't have my hearing aid...

SHUSTER: Oh, okay.

FLOWERS: ...[unclear] so just a little louder.

SHUSTER: I'll talk a . . .

FLOWERS: But I...I do get to the audiologist and it won't be ready until next Thursday so if . . .

SHUSTER: Sure. What's your earliest clear memory, your earliest thing that you remember clearly?

FLOWERS: About what?

SHUSTER: About anything.

FLOWERS: Well, as I said I remember very early...I cannot give you any precise age. But I remember very early that [pauses] my parents took us to church. I remember that. I remember distinctly, again I don't know the exact age I...I was, when [pauses] we would go to visit other relatives. aunt and uncle that was not far away from were I lived. And we went to another place we had called Bastian Point, where were relatives on my mother's side. And I remember being loved by them and [pauses] made comfortable in every way.

SHUSTER: You mentioned going to church. What was...what was that did you feel about church as a child?

FLOWERS: Well, I have no real feeling about it because my parents were going to church together. My father had a beautiful voice and he sang and was different from the way I see things now. the Anglican church in those days, my earliest memory, we had a Sunday school the afternoon and we when were taught the catechism. And it was just the thing to do. Your parents, your family, what else were you going to do? It's not, as I said again, it's not like today. I'm talking about seventy years ago.

SHUSTER: Sure, sure.

FLOWERS: You know, it's fifty, sixty years, so it'''s a world of difference. It was...the family was altogether different in the structure than we see it today, my family at least. We...we...we [unclear] parent's place and wherever they went and we did things together.

SHUSTER: Did you think about God as a child? Did you think about God as a child?

FLOWERS: Well, God, yes. I mean, you know, He...there is a God and you're taught that. Nobody questioned that. So...but there's no meaning to it. Yeah, I mean.... That took place at the age of seventeen. It made a difference. I think that's why I'm here now, [Shuster laughs] because [laughs] that changed the whole course of my life, you see.

SHUSTER: What were your ambitions, your hopes as you were growing up of what you wanted to do?

FLOWERS: I had no particular vision when I was growing up, nothing set. I look back over those years and I was.... My mother died I said at the age of ten, and there was a crush in education. Trained responsible teachers they just cut out because the price of [slaps his hands together] know, the salary for education was just...not even slice them out, just taken away. So what they had to do at that time was to take first...I was just in the fifth grade and I went on to be what they call in the British system a monitor age ten, so....

SHUSTER: What does that mean? What's a monitor?

FLOWERS: A monitor is one who teaches the class. And [pauses]...and I did that for sixty...six years. So, sixteen I came to take the government scholarship in Nassau. I never did go back to school. But, it's unfortunate. I look back now and I think of the disadvantages of being born at that time from that particular point of view, because since then the changes have been a different thing altogether. But that time before I was sixteen there was like, you know...I was just a monitor. You were being paid six shillings, would be what? a dollar fifty per month. [laughs] And, of course, really can't put that together, conceive of it, but that was the system under which we labored.

SHUSTER: What did you teach?

FLOWERS: I taught reading and writing and arithmetic. I was very good at figures in those days. Still...I can still do a lot of things in my head. And I taught, I think, it was grade [pauses] one through three something like that.

SHUSTER: Did you enjoy teaching?

FLOWERS: I did. I got the feeling that [pauses] I could fall in love with teaching. I...even now I...most of my ministry is exhortation but there are times I like to settle down. I don't have any gift as a teacher, but I...I like to sometimes put things down in order and you know, make sure people get it. I do a little teaching, very little teaching. I don't feel that's the gift I have but I love to pass on things to people, to share with them and that sort of thing.

SHUSTER: That' that the main thing you liked about teaching, the sharing?

FLOWERS: I like to share what I know with others. I like be sure that people get things straight as far I can...I know myself, you see. And, I really like to impart what I know to others.

SHUSTER: How were you selected to be the monitor?

FLOWERS: Well, it's a matter of...if you had ten or fifteen people in [slaps hands together] a school, you get the brightest and I happened to be one considered among the brightest in that age group, you see. And then there were the only few people left to pick from. The pickings were poor [laughs], you didn't have much to choose from.

SHUSTER: As a a young boy, did you have particular heros, people who you especially admired, either somebody in your town or somebody from history or...that you read about?

FLOWERS: Well, not exactly. I see it happening today. Now afterwards...after I went...well, was older, I used to get [unclear phrase] and that sort of thing, you know. But as a young boy, you know, that never crossed my mind, as to having a hero. I said [laughs], it's difficult in those rural areas to imagine that sort of thing, because it was very backward, so difficult to.... You weren't thinking in that way anyway, thinking that vein. But afterwards I...I really...I...I thought I'd like to be a fighter. Joe Louis was then a popular name and I thought I'd like to be like Joe Louis.

SHUSTER: Now at the age of seventeen you attended meetings held by W. H. Farrington?


SHUSTER: What can you tell me about W. H. Farrington?

FLOWERS: [clears throat] W. H. Farrington was a man of...of God, a man with a real passion to see men and women come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. So he came to Mangrove Cay and he had meetings in the school. We attended the meetings [pauses] and, of course, it was just something different, you know. It's not like our refined way of doing things with candles and altar boys and all this sort of thing. So we went, a group of us.

SHUSTER: You say we. You mean your family?

FLOWERS: A group of young fellows attending, but the whole community of the whole turned out and...but we went too as young people. And he impacted me in a way I never thought of until, well, recently. I...I remember how...the way he preached. We didn't get that kind of thing in the, you know.... My father didn't like him too well because he was not Anglican, and he didn't know he was so we...we didn't see him too oten. But he didn't stop us from going, you know. So that [pauses]...I can't remember the exact date. I could, you know, but about...about two years after he was there, when I was living in Nassau then, in the back of my mind was the desire to see him. And one night I was standing on the corner and in the distance I heard singing. And they would march. They were marching, and when they come in to a stop, to a light in the street they would circle around him, gather around him and they would sing a song, finish the song, he would give a brief word and an invitation that went something like this, "We're having a series of meetings." And he'd give the name of the place. "You're welcome, the seats are free and there is absolutely no collection." [ slaps hands together] And then we'd march toward the hall. And I was on the corner so I followed them to the place and I listened with rapt attention because here was the man I had a longing to see. I mean, I didn't know then why. I...I believe I know now why, but I didn't know then. But I went there and I heard again the proclamation of the Gospel and that night I could have received the Lord Jesus but for some reason I didn't. I waited until the very last night. And I didn't intend to do it although I wanted to do I didn't. I grabbed by hat and I made for the door. And at the door was an elder by the name of George Minus [sp.?]. I didn't know his name then. Afterwards I to know his name was George Minus, because he was a plumber and I worked as a carpenter, and later on we worked for the same contractor. So he said to me, "Young man, when are you going to decide?" And I kind of mumbled something, and he said, "Why not do it tonight?" [thumbs the desk or floor] I did. I turned around and I went back, fifty-three years ago. Thank God for that man who stood there and just said, "Why don't you do it tonight?" The greatest blessing that has ever come to me.

SHUSTER: What was the man's name, the elder? What was the elder's name?

FLOWERS: George Minus.

SHUSTER: George Minus.

FLOWERS: He was a plumber, he was a plumber. And since then we became very good friends. And I tell you it was a real joy to get to know him and other people [unclear]. I didn't even know who the people were, but I didn't go back to the Anglican church at all. And one day I thought I should go back and tell the priest what happened to me. So I went back and I said to him, "Father, I'm saved now. I'm a Christian." And he turned as red as an apple and says, "You idiot! You're what?" [Shuster laughs] I says, "Father, I'm a Christian." And [slaps hands together]...and that brought our relation [unclear]. But I loved him because he taught me all I know about scouting. He was very helpful in those areas.

SHUSTER: The father, the priest was.

FLOWERS: The priest. And they were very helpful in those areas. But we never got together anymore. And there were...there was no proselytizing. They didn't tell me I should...I didn't one, you know. I just simply said, "If I have eternal life, if this is what I need to get to heaven and to please God, then these people who brought me this truth, I should continue on with them. And I'm doing the same thing now. I'm trying to spread the word where ever I go and planting churches, communicating the word of life to dead men. And I'm...I'm [unclear phrase] ...I'm excited about it.

SHUSTER: Was the priest offended or angry with you?

FLOWERS: He was but I...I...when I say angry I suppose he was shocked because his idea of saved and that sort of thing was...but I don't think he was angry as he would, you know [slaps hands together] be angry with me would, like if I wanted to continue on as a scholar, but he was plainly, I mean fed up. "You idiot!" he said. "You did what?" [laughs] So it was great.

SHUSTER: With...with W. H. Farrington, what kind of preacher was he? How would you describe his sermons?

FLOWERS: Pointed, clear, and he spoke with great fervency. He was I believe a man anointed of God, a bona fide evangelist's gift. Very personable, very much of an encourager. When he was not in the pulpit, you know, he would meet you and he said, "Young man, you listened very very very good." I think I'd like to use him as a model. Now I have a hero, you know. [both laugh] As a matter of fact someone told me once, he said, "You know, if...if I didn't know any better, I would surely believe it was Mr. Farrington preaching tonight. [laughs] But he became a model for most of the fellows in the Bahamas even today. We tease each other about him, but he has been our preacher.

SHUSTER: What did he look like? What was his appearance?

FLOWERS: He could pass for Indian, [slaps hands together] Mexican, anything. Very jet black hair, fantastic smile. He...he just, you know, and very personable...very.... Nose was kind of like an Indian. But [pauses] I think his [pauses]...his parents perhaps were fa...four, five, six generation English or Scot, something like that. But living in the tropics very kind of dark complected what he was. I don't know the history of his parentage because I didn't know that, but he was some man.

SHUSTER: Now you say you got to know him personally.

FLOWERS: Now what I mean...I.... See after I was saved, I was saved in '37, and then I went to the islands to do some jobs as a tradesman and in '42 I went to England and didn't get back until '49, and he died afterward, so I didn't get too much. And we...we wrote each other while I was away. But I didn't get to know as much of his family as I would like to know now.

SHUSTER: But I was wondering how you'd describe him as an individual, how his.... On a one-to-one basis what was his personality like?

FLOWERS: He was very approachable. I think he was very, very friendly. [slaps hands together, pauses] I think he had a real good understanding of people and he cared for them. I would say he was a caring person, one who encouraged young men to go on and to grow in the Lord.

SHUSTER: Can you think of an example of that?

FLOWERS: Of his caring? [pauses] Well, I know for instance my friend Ed Hollender worked together and Ed told me many times how he would just encourage them [slaps hands together] to get into the Scriptures. And if there was something that Ed should have done and didn't do, why he would be helpful in that respect, you know. I...I gathered that, but we...we worked together on some benches when we were building the [unclear] Gospel Hall, and we were there working together and he would [pauses] share things with us that we felt was very needful for us to know and things of that nature.

SHUSTER: When you...when you came to know the Lord was your father still alive?

FLOWERS: Yes, but I've never seen my father since I became a Christian. See, I was living in Nassau when I became a Christian and my father was in Andros. I came to know the Lord and my father died within six months of that. But my brother told me he was not keen on it when he heard it. He said I must keep it to myself. He was not keen. I think that would have caused a bit of hostility if I was at home. I don't think he would have taken it too lightly because he was a such an ardent member or communicant, we call it, of the English church you know, and this was rending the family [unclear] [laughs]. No he...he didn't take too lightly to that.

SHUSTER: How did the rest of your family react?

FLOWERS: Oh, there was no.... My mother was already dead. My brother, he didn't care whatever and my sister was younger so it was no longer. So there was no family reaction apart from my father's expressing dislike about what I did. But there was threats of any kind you know.

SHUSTER: What about your friends? How did did they react?

FLOWERS: No problem. I had no problem with any friends, no friends at all. As a matter of fact, at that time I was living with my uncle and he was a aspiring to be a minister. So that...we never had any problem.

SHUSTER: You mentioned that you had become a scout. How...what did scouting mean to you?

FLOWERS: Well, after I was saved, as I said, barely saved when I was in Nassau, I was a scout while I was on Andros, so that ended before I got to Nassau.

SHUSTER: Had scouting been important to you?

FLOWERS: It was. I...we learned a few things. We learned how to survive you know in case of trouble or how to put signals here: "I've gone this way." But was beautiful. I loved it and I said to one of our leaders once, "You know, it would be good for us to have a troop, boys, but some people are not keen on it so I never pushed it. But I felt it was wholesome, I felt that there were many things that we need to learn and we did learn. And I thought it was helpful.

SHUSTER: After...after you'd been saved you were going to Rev. Farrington....

FLOWERS: No, after I was saved I was in the work force then. And so I worked as a carpenter and then I got a job with a brother who was a Christian and he went to the same church. So we worked together for many years until 1949 when I went to England...or '42 when I went to England.

SHUSTER: And what was his name?

FLOWERS: Lawrence Johnson.

SHUSTER: Why did you leave Andros to come to Nassau?

FLOWERS: I came to take an exam for the government high school.

SHUSTER: And you passed the exam and stayed?

FLOWERS: No, I didn't. There were...there were only...I think they wanted about...wanted to have how many islands they have there [slaps hands together]. But it was one student from each island, and needed about five [pauses] scholars, I think, five scholarships. So I couldn't make the grade.

SHUSTER: So why didn't you go back home then? Why did you stay in Nassau?

FLOWERS: Well, because that's something I wanted to do and I thought it was time to look to do something else.

SHUSTER: The church that you were attending after, as you mentioned, what was that like?

FLOWERS: Well, it was what was known...people called them in the Bahamas P.Bs or Plymouth Brethren. In this country they are known as Christian Brethren. And I found this to be very helpful. They taught us Bible verses. We had young people meeting. As a matter of fact, I started the young people meeting after I was saved because a gentleman from Canada by the name of C. Ernest Tatum.... And Tatum was the gentleman who started Emmaus Bible School in Toronto. Well, he came down there and he was telling us what they did in Toronto and the young people had a young people meeting. So along with two other friends, Arlington Taylor and Matthias Monroe, we started the young people meeting. And today there are some people who were saved, who came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in our young people meeting, and they are pillars in some of the assemblies in the Bahamas today. Very exciting to see what God has done.

SHUSTER: Was Rev. Farrington a member of the assembly?

FLOWERS: Yes, he was one of the young of the leading evangelists. And he has established many assemblies in the Bahamas.

SHUSTER: Did you hear him preach often?


SHUSTER: What were some of his favorite texts? What...what did he like to preach from?

FLOWERS: Some...some of his favorite texts are not remembered now. I don't remember them but I know he had some sayings that we...well, the verse I quoted just now was his favorite verse: "This is the faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." [I Timothy 1:15]. He said that repeatedly over and over and over again. The type of preaching they...they did in those days of the island, we don't do much of that today. For instance, they would go to a passage where there's an expression here and the same expression over there, unrelated perhaps but not...not thinking in terms of context but because it said the same thing, "he ran" or "he did this" [laughs] But the Spirit of God used him in a great way. Sometime the fellows joke about it now. He says, "Brother didn't have many sermons but they were used of God." [laughs] But he...he really...he was a great preacher, and he loved the Lord, I mean, and the Lord used him.

SHUSTER: Did you know the ...the Nottage brothers?


SHUSTER: What can you tell me about them?

FLOWERS: B.M. Nottage, T. B. Nottage, and Whitfield Nottage, they were brothers. Whitfield, according to the story I think was the first to be saved and then he led his brother T.B. to the Lord. And then they came to the the United States in search of wealth, money, to make some money because of the scar...scarcity or sparseness of jobs. And they began the Brethren movement among blacks [slaps hands together, pauses] maybe, what was it? seventy odd years ago now.

SHUSTER: About 1920 or so?

FLOWERS: I don't know that exactly but I know just...I think last...I think last Labor Day they had the seventy-fifth anniversary. That's why seventy odd years. I don't know the exact date but it's less than eighty but it's more than seventy. And he was one of the founders. Now he was the outstanding preacher among the three. Whitfield was the one who made the money. T.B. was the administrator. He was in Cleveland. Whitfield was in Philadelphia and B.M. Nottage lived in Detroit. But they started in New York and they fanned out to reach the black Americans with the gospel. B.M. Nottage spoke at Moody's conference many times and he was on the Moody radio station WMBI [unidentified noise]. And he was a man well beloved in many parts of.... Right where we are now there's a place called Spring City, a camp is named for him...a chapel of the camp is named for him because he was the one who spoke to Brother Paul Zimmerman about doing something for the blacks. And when Brother Zimmerman came south to work with another mission he saw the plight of the black people and he was led of the Lord to start that camp. The name B.M. Nottage is known in many circles because he was a man who walked with God, very humble man, very diligent in the Scriptures. And he has influenced many people for the Lord.

SHUSTER: How did you come to know him?

FLOWERS: Well, I came to know him because [clears throat] when I came from England in 1949, I had a friend from Ireland who proceeded me and told me on my way back to the Bahamas they would like for me to stop off in Canada. He left before I left and he came to Canada and he was finishing his school and he asked me to come and have some meetings for them. He lived with a gentleman by the name of Mr. Harold Graham and they invited me to come to Canada. I went there and I had some meetings with them and quite a number of teenagers from the high school were saved. And so they wanted me to come back again for some more meetings and they formed what was now known...I don't...I don't think it functions now but it was then known as the Laymen's Committee for Evangelism. And all through the Ottawa Valley we had crusades. And then I remember my spiritual father said to me, "If ever you get to the United States and you go to New York, see A.A. McClouglin and if you go to Detroit see B.M. Nottage. Well, I remember I wasn't too far from Detroit when I was in Canada. So I wrote to him...(I got his address from some of his relatives)...I wrote to him and he advised me to come and see him. And by the way, that's the way I got me my wife. So that by going to Detroit the Lord had a companion there waiting for me and that's how I got to know her. But it was because I went to see him I met him and he encouraged me the same as Brother Farrington. He was always saying to us, "Young man, there's much work to be done and the blacks in this country are terribly neglected. They need help." And God used that to open my eyes to get an idea of the need. But B.M. influenced me. As a matter of fact, he preformed the wedding ceremony [Shuster laughs] for me.

SHUSTER: He said that the blacks in the country were terribly neglected and you saw the need. What do you mean by that?

FLOWERS: Well, for the most part, it is still true that most of our what you call...most of our churches are given over to emotionalism without any contents, most of them. And for the most part they are...there's very little teaching in the area of separation from wicked practices. And so for the most part there is very little change in the lives of church people. They go to church on Sunday. They get excited. When the preacher is through with his message you say to them, "What was the message all about?" "Honey, I don't know but Rev [Reverend] sure did preach." You know. [laughs] And it''s the kind of thing we saw going on all the time. And that's why I'm in pioneering now. I saw that. And coming from a different country, I...I realized that being religious was not the answer to anything, because I was religious. Sure there was a God, but what does it mean? What impact was He making on your life? What change? So church was for Sunday but after that [slaps hands together], you know. So what we...what B.M. was doing was trying to establish what is known today as a...a New Testament fellowship, where we seek to operate as best as we can on principle that we gleaned from the New Testament, shere there's men who give leadership are called elders and so forth. But I saw that need and we talked about it and we prayed about it. And God heard and I was invited to speak at Carver Bible Institute and College in Atlanta, Georgia. And I came down there. On the second morning I was speaking at the chapel, I was having our quiet time. In those days I was using Inter-Varsity magazine called His. You know that magazine?


FLOWERS: I used This Morning With God. I used to ask the question of "What's the meaning of this passage? What's the teaching of it? Is there a promise to claim? Is there a sin to avoid?" and things of that nature. And that morning the reading was from Genesis 28, God and Jacob. And...and...and that morning God's word to Jacob took on new meaning. The very room seemed to be ablaze with the glory of God. There was that consciousness that God was not speaking to Jacob any longer, but was speaking to T. Michael Flowers. "I will give you this land. I will bring you back. I will not leave you." And that morning it meant something. Today it's the driest portion of the Word of God for me but that was God specific message to me that morning. I got up and I...I was on my way to the Bahamas see, because I had to leave after I got married. I got married December fifteen and this was now January twenty-six. I had to get out of the country because my visa was expiring. So I wrote a letter to brother B.M. and...and I said, "It's just dawned on me that God first gave me the peach." Because then I'm realizing my wife was born in Georgia. I said, "God first gave me the peach and now He has given me the place where He wants me to minister, so that we can cultivate more peaches for Him." [Shuster laughs] And I went on to the Bahamas. Six months after that I was back in the States and that's when I told [unclear phrase] I told my wife, you know [Shuster laughs]. And we were able...I was able to get here in 1955. I got back in Jan...June of fifty-two, I was able to get back in fifty-five to Georgia. That way ever since in Georgia ever since. But that's way God spoke to me at home.'s, you know, I...wh...when I'm going through a dry spells (most Christians have dry spells, at least I do) [laughs]...and when I'm going through a dry spells I just go back to the book and I says, "Now, Father, you're a faithful God. I'm sure you have not deceived me, but you promised you're going to give me the land. You promised you're not going to leave me." And I plead those promises back to Him. [unclear phrase]


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© 2016 Wheaton College. All rights reserved. This transcript may be reused with the following publication credit: Used by permission of the Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.2005