This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history
interview of Theodore Michael Flowers (Collection 431, T2) 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 July 1998.
SHUSTER: You were saying you never saw anything like it?
FLOWERS: I had never seen anything like it. I had . . . usually I .
. . I . . . I . . . I . . . like I'm talking about it now . . . maybe I'll
go tonight and read it again. I said, "Lord, I thank you." [laughs]
But I . . . it's amazing, and it has done something for me in . . . in
beginning to . . . to appreciate the greatness and the . . . the wonder
of this God who loves me, I mean. You think of where I was born. I . .
. I say to some people, "I was born on [pauses] . . . on the last
place on earth, you know, on the back side of nowhere." And yet God
has saved me, lifted me up altogether, given me to see . . . spend seven
years in Britain to widen my horizon and to come right here to be engaged
in a fantastic ministry of rescuing men and women from the bondage, from
the thralldom [unclear] of sin and Satan, and seeing them restored and
now walking in the light, showing forth the excellences of Him. I . . .
I say to folks sometime, "God, [unclear phrases, laughs]. . . . and
that's why I'm so certain and so positive [thumps fist on table] that we
cannot lose. God has said, "I will . . . I will never leave you."
I'm excited about it.
SHUSTER: Hosannas throughout all eternity. Hosannas throughout all eternity.
[louder] Hosannas throughout all eternity. [much louder]
FLOWERS: Amen! [laughs] Yes.
SHUSTER: You had mentioned after . . . after you came to know Christ
you began attending the [Flowers interrupts]
FLOWERS: Gospel Hall it was called.
SHUSTER: Gospel Hall in Nassau and you were working as a carpenter.
When did you get the call to become a past . . . to become a preacher to
. . . that of Christian work?
FLOWERS: Well, the official call was for a particular place. But you
see I was saved on a Sunday evening. The next Sunday . . . Sunday night,
the next Sunday afternoon, a group of them went into the open air and they
said to me, "Come and give your testimony." [laughs] You can
imagine how shocked I was. And . . . but . . . it . . . it was all one
of those instant things. I mean, you know, I . . . I was saved one Sunday
and the next Sunday I started giving my testimony. And that was it. Now,
it's been . . . I went to Bible school afterwards. But there was that .
. . you know, I . . . it's something you cannot explain, that indefinable
something. Because I was reading one day Paul's word to Timothy in second
Timothy, chapter 4, "In the last days, do the work of an evangelist."
And I felt that was my gift, that was what God wanted me to do. I have
done evangelistic work kind of extensively in the Bahamas and Canada, parts
of Britain, and the United States. But the call to do what I'm doing now,
church planting, of course, I call it pioneering now. It's church planting.
I . . . I . . . pioneering churches in the black community. That was in
1955, no '52 but I came in '55.
SHUSTER: When you are in front of a crowd preaching [pauses] what does
it feel like? What . . . what is it like to be preaching the
gospel, to you?
FLOWERS: In the United States?
FLOWERS: Anywhere. Well, I feel in the first place, it's an honor to
be entrusted with such weighty matters. And [pauses] I . . . I am . . .
I am grateful that God has made a choice of me and has, as Paul says, "counted
me worthy" to entrust me with this message. I feel when I am preaching
the gospel and God gave me a word, I'm obligated to declare that word,
no matter whether it's a hard word or what ever kind of word it is. I feel
I must be faithful to my faithful God. My . . . my burden, my desire when
I'm preaching the word is to have God's approval. I would like to have
the approval of my brethren, but that is a secondary matter. I want God's
approval. And so I am what you would call a fearless preacher. Some people
say, "He's preached like a prophet sometimes." You know what
I'm saying? They can't understand me. He sits down but when he gets up
to preach [Shuster laughs] well, it's . . . it's because of the conviction
that this is a message God has given first to me. I preach it to myself,
and then I transmit to others what God had already done in my own life
with the text and I . . . I share it with them. I have no fear of consequences.
That's the work of the Holy Spirit. I just simply . . . "This is what
God had said. This applic . . . applies to you, applies to me. I'm sure,
I would ask you to be reconciled to God because that's the only thing to
do." If it's for the saints I . . . I try to . . . to exhort them
to . . . to come to maturity in Jesus Christ by a total abandonment to
Him, because one of my favorite expressions is, "God has no plans
for us [pauses] that will not put us in the highest place." So whatever
God has designed for us, that's the only place to be. So what . . . how
can you lose having pleased Him? There is no way.
SHUSTER: When you [pauses] went to Scotland . . . or let me put it this
way, how did you come to decide to go to Scotland for Bible school?
FLOWERS: Well, it was during the war years, World War II. And there
[pauses] . . . because I was born in the Bahamas, we are part of the British
Empire. And we used to boast about being a members of the far-flung British
Empire. It's . . . it's fun, you know. We joke about it now, you know.
You know, I said, "Boy, I thought I was British," you know and
that's it. Then I went to England and discovered that I was nothing. [laughs]
But they were calling for men from the colonies to go and work in the factories,
so the that the Englishmen and the . . . the . . . let me put it this way,
the Britains, the people from England, Ireland and Wales, they could be
free to go into the army and the navy. So we went in as a work force.
SHUSTER: So the British government was getting people?
FLOWERS: Yes. They . . . we were in there as . . . we were . . . we
were called . . . known as colonials. You know colonials?
FLOWERS: So we were . . . we were given . . . the . . . the . . . treated
us very royal . . . royal treatment we got. They took in places and they
showed us this and they showed us . . . it was great. But we went there
to work in factories. I worked in the . . . the Haviland Aircraft factory
in a place called Bolton. We had our training in Manchester, England, or
the English pronounce it Manchester [laughs]. We had it in Manchester,
England, and then separated us, see. Twenty fellows from the Bahamas, twenty
from Jamaica, twenty from all the different colonial islands of . . .
SHUSTER: Were you doing . . .
FLOWERS: . . . the Caribbeans. Huh?
SHUSTER: Were you doing woodwork or . . . ?
FLOWERS: No . . . no, I worked on a machine . . . I worked under the
Haviland Aircraft. I did operation in nineteen and twenty on what you call
the cam, you know, the rotating cam. But we weren't what . . . we had a
training period first and then we went into the work force. And it was
really good. I . . . I really enjoyed it. It, time again, widened my horizon
and I got to know people on a different level. And, you know, God has a
variety of ways of training people. Some people go to [thumps desk] school
for four, five years and that's all the training they get. Other people
who work in the factory work in different job. And if you examine it minutely
God trains us in different ways before He brings us perhaps where He wants
us. So I look at all these areas as little levels where God was first getting
me to experience something, getting me to understand people and the people.
We are all of a common need and there is only one person who can meet that
need. And if Jesus Christ didn't meet the need, then let me be mad. [Flowers
makes unusual sound] Now, you see, when I lived on Andros, we thought the
Englishman was someone came straight from heaven that he could do no wrong.
I had to learn that. I had to get right at his back door, observe him at
close range, and remember he's just like me. He does everything I would
do: lie, steal and . . . [pauses] but he's a human being and God loves
him. See, it makes a difference. You . . . you begin to appreciate people.
Do you see? Like I said to our folk, "I don't appreciate people because
they are black or white. I appreciate [them] because they are created in
the image of God." That's it, and once we begin to allow that to .
. . to get into our system, so to speak, you have no problem with people.
Folks are really folks and God love them all [unclear] bad. [laughs] God
love them all. So to me it's a delight to share that but at the same time
exalting the Lord Jesus and . . . and . . . and I can't get over this fact
that this eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God [pauses] would really send
His Son to become one of us. To die such a humiliating death to lift us
up and to bring us into union. It's fantastic! [unclear]
SHUSTER: Mercies of God.
SHUSTER: Mercies of God. [louder]
FLOWERS: I said, "Lord, mercies of God." And Alan Redpath
said . . . says, "If God has any weakness it's in the area of mercy.
[laughs] I like that. It's in the area of mercy.
SHUSTER: When you were working in the factories of England, were you
attending the Assemblies churches?
FLOWERS: Yes, I attended the Assemblies, when I went to England because
we had that kind of, you call it networking now, but we always, you know
take letters from one assembly to another and we have books to tell where
these assemblies are. [the Plymouth Brethren practice of carrying a letter
of introduction from one's home assembly to an assembly being visiting]
And . . . but . . . but . . . but while I attended the Assemblies God did
something else for me. The group or let me . . . let me put it this way,
the people or the people of my persuasion or denomination you call it.
Some of them are very tight or some people call them closed. And, of course,
there is . . . there is an exclusive group where you perhaps get the impression
that we're the only people going to heaven. You will have to forgive us
for that. [laughs] Most people think that, but it's wrong, it's silly.
And [pauses] in the Bahamas there were some people known as Wesleyan Methodists.
And we never thought too much about Wesleyan Methodists, you know, when
it comes to salvation. But I worked in the factory and there was a man
on the machine opposite mine. And his life was so aglow, his continence
would radiancy [sic] the glory of God. I couldn't help but one day I walked
up to him, (and in Britain in those days the password from our assembly
group was, "Which meeting do you attend?" And I said to him,
"Which meeting do you attend?" And he looked at me, he says,
"Meetings?" And I said to him . . . I said, "You ain't one
of us." [laughs] And, of course, he told me he was a Wesleyan Methodist.
And, do you know, I felt a kind of sinking feeling. But then, you see,
God wanted to again deepen something into me. And you know what He did
for that man? That man took me to many of the Wesleyan meetings in Horwich
and Bolton and other areas. And I found those people were in Christ, they
were solid. They were . . . they . . . they . . . they . . . they were
used of the Lord, they loved the Lord and God began to break that little
shell where I had God encased, you know. So that today I'm so crazy as
long as you [unclear phrase] [both laugh] You'll have to forgive me for
that, but I . . . I . . . I . . . think I'm ready now for biblical
Christianity and biblish . . . biblical Christianity has no perimeters,
just folks. They're just folks. If you're in Christ you are in Christ and
that's it. Never mind the badges. You're in Christ. And God did that and
I'm glad. I am eternally glad that He took me out of the Bahamas, took
me to England [pauses] to give me a proper perspective of the work of Christ
on the cross.
SHUSTER: What was the name of the man in the Wesleyan Assemblies? [louder]
What was the name of the man, the Wesleyan Methodist?
FLOWERS: I don't remember his name. I don't remember. I kept diary of
those days and if I were to go back, and maybe I could but I . . . I .
. . I . . . I don't remember his name. I only . . . I only know one of
fellows that I met as a result of him was Bob Bailey. He and his wife and
they were the first to send me a wedding present when I got married. Bob
Bailey and his wife.
SHUSTER: What did they give you?
FLOWERS: I don't remember what it was. My wife has it. [Shuster laughs]
I could find it 'cause she has it down written . . . wrote it down in her
book, you know, the gift book.
SHUSTER: How long did you work at the factory? [louder] How long did
you work at the factory?
FLOWERS: As a . . . .
SHUSTER: Well, you were working at the factory in England.
FLOWERS: Oh, in the factory.
FLOWERS: Yes, we worked there from '42 until '46 and then I went to
Bible school in Glasgow from '47 to '49.
SHUSTER: How did you come to decide to go to Bible school?
FLOWERS: Well, that's an interesting one. We were impacted in the Bahamas
by men from Britain: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. And . . . .
SHUSTER: How do you mean impacted?
FLOWERS: Well, their ministry affected us. I mean we . . . we would
sit and listen to these men expound the Scriptures and, boy, we [made sound
like "Phew"], what a word you know. The disciples said, "Did
not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us by the way [Luke 24:32]."
So these men would come down there and they would teach us the Bible. And
. . . and I remembered after the war was over, I says (now, I used to sit
and admire Mr. Fell in particular, able teacher) . . . and I
said, many times I said, "Boy, wouldn't it be great to be able to
expound the Word [pounds table] like that." And a few days later I
was thumbing through one of the Brethren magazine and I saw this . . .
this advertised in Glasgow, Scotland, Bible Training Institute. And I thought
since it's in the Brethren magazine it must be all right, so [laughs] I
applied and I went over there to school. That's how I got to Scotland.
That's something else I'm grateful for, because it was not a Brethren school
so to speak. It was an interdenominational school. So again, that was another
widening process, you know, broadening of my outlook.
SHUSTER: Who were some of the people who influenced you at that school?
FLOWERS: The present principal, Jeff Grogan. He's now the president.
I saw him in 1985 when I went back for a visit. And the former president
Francis Davison. He used to give us every evening after supper what we
call the . . . the fireside chat. And a . . . a gentleman by the name of
George Baxter . . . I think the name was Baxter. He was a returning missionary
from China. I think that man knows more about Christology than anyone else
in the world. He's just fantastic and he sis . . . he married a Chinese
girl and someone says, "He's taken all the characteristics of the
Chinese [unclear] [both laugh]. But he just . . . [very quietly], oh, just
[pounds table]. It was a delight to sit in his Christology class. A young
fellow by the name of Somerville, Alexander Somerville, he was a fire brand
but what an expositor, so great. And then I have some friends, students
like [pauses] as I said, the present . . . the present president. He would
leap across the room for me and our our phone call [?], David Evans. David
is still in . . . a missionary in Africa, he will be returning now. He
came to this country a few years ago. And [pauses] David was a man who
believed . . . if Campbell Morgan says, "Dog," it came from heaven,
you know. [Shuster laughs] He . . . he was a fan of Campbell Morgan. He
just quotes him right and left. But these were some of the fellows that
influenced me while I was in school [claps hands]. Their zeal, their commitment,
their passion to see others come to know the Lord. It was . . . it was
really thrilling . . . really thrilling.
SHUSTER: You mentioned earlier your spiritual father had told you to
visit [Flowers interrupts] . . . .
FLOWERS: Nottage and McClouglin.
SHUSTER: Who was your spiritual father?
FLOWERS: Who was my spiritual father? Willie Farrington.
SHUSTER: Oh . . . oh . . . oh . . . oh, oh, I see.
SHUSTER: He told you. I thought it might be somebody at the school.
FLOWERS: Oh, no . . . no . . . no. He . . . he knew both men. See he
traveled in the United States himself and he said,"If ever you go
to New York it was A.A. McLaughlin and go to Detroit it was B.M. Nottage."
SHUSTER: What . . . what . . . what did you study at the institute in
FLOWERS: Well, the courses in Bible and a little psychology, a little
Greek, a little Hebrew, a little Latin. But it was just a . . . a course
for . . . no degree course. It was just a Bible institute course, history,
Bible history, and Bible characters and different things of that nature.
Just the run-the-mill little Bible [laughs] school training.
SHUSTER: Looking back on it now is there something that you wished you
wished you had gotten then?
SHUSTER: What would say that was?
FLOWERS: I wish [pauses] I had someone to help me [pauses] and I don't
know if they could have helped me, because, you see, [pauses] the people
who came from Britain, I have to say this with great care. I don't want
you to . . . . They perhaps . . . you . . . . Let me . . . let me . . .
let me start all over. There are some slogans even now among Evangelical
Christians. And some of them, they may sound good but they may not be very
sound. [laughs] For instance, in those days the Brethren people, some people
called them reactionary people and all, reactionaries. They . . . they
didn't push much edu . . . much into [pauses] seminaries. They use to speak
derogatorily of them. They called them cemeteries [seminaries]. You've
heard about that kind of thing. Well, I grew up with that. And these fellows
came from Britain. They were so [unclear], "You don't need to go to
college. You've been to Calvary," and we thought it was great. So
when I finished the . . . in school at Glasgow some of the fellows were
going to London Bible College. Now if I knew then what I know now I would
have pursued my studies until I got all I could get. But in those days
it was looked down upon among the Brethren. It's unfortunate because (I'm
not blaming anyone; please don't misunderstand me) . . . but I . . . I
took what these men said as came . . . coming straight from heaven. "You
don't need to go to college." But here's what I discovered, when I
went to England, I discovered that all these men are college men, you know.
And so sometime we say, "Hey man, that kind of propaganda to . . .
to . . ." you know, "we don't know." And since I don't know
I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. One of my saying is,
I got it from, I can't remember the name . . . name of . . . . It's the
missionary from China, but he says this, "Always put the best construction
on the [claps hand] action of others." So whatever their intention
were they didn't make me do it. I could have pursued it. But I was influenced.
I have to admit it. I was influenced by these men, and . . . and I . .
. I thought when they said it that was it. But today God has allowed that
to happen to give me the opportunity to say to young people, "If you
have what it takes . . ." (now I don't believe everybody can get a
college degree nor attend seminaries), but I'm saying, "If you have
what it takes, you go on," especially for an elder person, "and
get all that the school has to offer. Because if God has given you any
[unclear] brain, He want's you to develop it. He want's you to develop
it, so go ahead and develop it and then He will uses it as He pleases."
But see here is another thing I did, and I'm . . . I'm passing this on
to the folks that I'm mentoring in our fellowship, like the young fellow
who came after me last night he said he's an associate. I'm saying to .
. . to . . . to Cliff and I'm saying to Curtis and other young men, "Don't
stop now. Go on and complete your masters. You've been working on it but
don't allow anything to stop you unless it's the direct word from the Lord.
But remember, just having the MDiv or any of the other degrees is not going
to make you a better Christian." Because a lot of . . . and these
can be crooked [?] and . . . . What I'm trying to say . . .
FLOWERS: . . . is character is more important "But however develop
whatever God has given you, and then let God use you as He chooses."
See, I can say that to them, say it to them without any kinds of regrets
but I'm saying "I've learned that." And I've learned something
else. Don't ever tell God where you're going to work. That's the mistake
I made. When I left England and Scotland my friends said to me, "Where
are you going to work?" I said, "I'm going to back to Andros.
I want to share what I've learned." I said, "I don't need any
Latin in Andros, I don't . . . wasting time conjugating verbs. I'm going
there to preach the gospel to them." Where am I now? In the United
States and I'm positive this is where God want's me. Now who knows what
might have happened had I gone on to London with others who were going,
attend London Bible College and go on to some other school. I don't regret
it. I'm just relate . . . relating it to you. And I've been using this
as a sort of lever [unclear] fellow, "Hey. You go on, don't stop.
Now if mentally you can't take it, quit. Develop you character. Live under
the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Word to become meaningful and
regulate your attitudes and behavior." Let's go on.
SHUSTER: Looking at it on the other side of it, was there things that
you picked up at the Bible Institute that have been particularly helpful
to you in . . .
FLOWERS: Yes. Yes.
SHUSTER: . . . in your ministry?
FLOWERS: I picked up a lot of things that . . . .
SHUSTER: What were some of them?
FLOWERS: I have some of the lectures now. (I don't have much time to
look at them.) But I . . . I remember sometime when I think of
something that I go back and check . . . I can check my . . . my books.
And now it's true I didn't go to any college afterward, but I've gone to
. . . attended seminars. I've attended [slaps hands] almost anything that
I can attend so as to improve on my knowledge of things, you know. And
one of the things I brought away from the college is the importance knowing
that Word and allowing what you know of that Word to regulate your walk.
You know. You see, you can go to school. You can learn a lot about it and
yet it has no meaning. It must regulate your walk. I also learned something
at the college that I will [pauses] remember as long as I live. I've learned
that God has a way of putting people together, and sometimes opposites,
to teach them things. As a matter of fact, my friend B.M. Nottage used
to say, "God puts opposites together even in man and wife [unclear,
laughs], so that there can be a learning process." Now I've . . .
I've seen that. We've had people there who were in those days, well, were
not a popular as they are now. We call them charis--- [unclear] Man, some
of those folks were way out. And we used to try to what you call put some
sense in the head. And . . . and the Lord has shown me since, "No
. . . no . . . no. You . . . you try to help them but don't try to tell
them what their saying isn't truth simply because you don't believe it.
They may not know what you know and they may not see things the way you
see it but why not try to talk about what you believe and then gradually,
you know, point to other things rather than have a confrontation or showdown
and call it contending for the faith." And then you bruise and bloody
each other up verbally and I don't think God is pleased with it. I've learned.
Now we had bull sessions and everyone had their own doctrine, their . .
. had their own theology, had their own particular brand, whether they're
Presbyterian or, you know, but when it's all over we . . . we just say,
"Hey man, that was it. That was the end of it, okay." But you
know you . . . you get in some Fundamental circles today that, well they'll
cut you to pieces and . . . you know. I don't think that's honoring to
the Lord. And I've learned at the [slaps hands] school not to go in for
that kind of thing. You learn to say to them, "Tommy believes in predestination.
Well, I think the Bible teaches this." And the Holy Spirit has to
bring him to it. I can't. See, I've learned to at least show some semblance
of being reasonable. [laughs] And I . . . I'm grateful for that because
you know I need not tell you about some of the things that happen in our
world today where something [unclear phrase] and they'd slaughter you publicly
and you know.
SHUSTER: Because you didn't agree with them or you [unclear]?
FLOWERS: I . . . I . . . I don't thinks it's edifying. I don't think
it's . . . it cannot glorify God, at least, you know [unclear]. I've learned
that, just learned to respect other people, and love them. You don't have
to hate them. You don't have to fight them. We can pray for them and thank
God that they are saved because they are saved. I think we sometimes forget
that. I . . . I don't know whether this is good or bad. As far as I'm concerned
it is good. If a man says yes to Jesus Christ and he's accepted in the
beloved, then he's accepted. Sure, some people are way out teaching. I
. . . I heard a noted Bible teacher say some things that I'm sure I'd never
say. For instance, one of them said, "During the Six Day War . . ."
says, "If Israel [pounds table] . . .
SHUSTER: Between Israel and Egypt?
FLOWERS: Yes. "If Israel ever entered Old Jerusalem the Lord will
come." The Lord hasn't come yet. That's 1967, right? See, and that's
what I'm saying. And people would fight you for that sort of thing. People
in my persuasion especially, they were gung ho on prophecy and the little
horn of Daniel. [laughs] I really respect them but I always say to them,
"You have no problem believing what you believe with me so long as
you don't tell me I must believe in them. Then you have a problem because
you are just beating a dead horse who's done enough listening [?]."
SHUSTER: You . . . you had told me yesterday when we were talking that
while you were in Scotland attending Bible college you had seen one of
Billy Graham's first . . .
SHUSTER: . . . crusades when he was in Scotland.
FLOWERS: Yes, when he . . . he and Cliff Barrows they were up there
with Youth for Christ and having meetings. And he came and he spoke to
the school. And he told us that at that time he was preaching as . . .
he was the pastor someplace. But he said on Sunday morning he preached
in a robe and of course he didn't preach the same kind of message he preached
in a Youth for Christ meeting. But they were having meetings in Glasgow.
I remember that. And we throughly enjoyed what he had to say.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he then?
FLOWERS: What kind of . . .?
SHUSTER: [louder] What kind of preacher was he then?
FLOWERS: Oh, he was still a fiery preacher. Of course, he was . . .
what we . . . we used to call them the "glamor boys," you know.
[laughs] Their dress [unclear]. I think he was always . . . I [unclear]
have been a consistent preacher when it comes to salvation [claps hands].
I . . . I think so I. I've listened to him [pauses], the prophet every
time. There is no deviation. I . . . I . . . I don't think he changes his
message whether before the queen or before the paupers. It's the same message:
"Jesus Christ must be Lord. You need to receive Him." That's
one of the things I him admire for: his courage, his fearlessness in proclaiming
the unchanging Word. And I thank God for him.
SHUSTER: At that time had you heard many American preachers?
FLOWERS: Not many. I heard Bob Jones, Jr., and he preached on the text
and he was saying, "Peter asked the question, 'What am I going to
have?'" I don't remember anything as to the contents but that's stuck
with me. And I remember him saying, "Pet . . ." he said, "Peter
was an [unclear]. What are going to get?" you know. And it's so true
and . . . but I've never, I can't remember too much about him. But I heard
Billy Graham when I . . . they are not together, of course [both laugh].
But [thumps table with foot] I heard many Scottish preachers but not American
preachers at that time.
SHUSTER: I was just wondering if you had noticed any difference in the
style or the way American preachers were preaching [unclear] . . . .
FLOWERS: Oh there's the style . . . there's no comparison with the style.
Because they thought we were crazy all the movement we make [unclear, laughs]
and that sort of thing. And . . . but as I said, that's why I believe .
. . I now . . . I mean, that's why he took time to explain that when he
was in the States on a Sunday morning his style would be different. He'd
do exposition, that sort of thing, you see. But in trying to reach the
youth he was trying be relevant and trying to meet them where they are.
That's the impression I got now as I review the whole thing you know. But
I know we use to laugh at him, you know, how he used to use bright colors
and all. [laughs]
SHUSTER: What was living in Scotland like? What sticks in you mind about
being in Scotland in those years?
FLOWERS: The thing that sticks in my mind about the Scottish . . . my
Scottish experience was that they are very smart people. For instance,
they . . . here's what a . . . how a Scotsman put it. He says, "The
British . . . the English people are so gullible that they tell jokes about
themselves and sell it to the English." [laughs] For instance, you
know the expression "the Scots people are tight." That's not
true. But it's . . . it's . . . many people believe that. My wife says
to me sometimes, "Had you stayed in Scotland another month nobody
could live with you." [both laugh] But they are very generous people
and I . . . I . . . I . . . I remember today gratefully the generosity,
the outpouring of love and even gifts to me. When I went to speak in a
meeting, maybe because I was a poor student, I don't know [claps hands,
laughs], but they were very generous and we had a fellow by the name of
Bobby Hopkins. He must have made the best meringue this side of heaven.
I . . . he . . . he was . . . he's a expert for that. And I . . . I . .
. I . . . of course, I had a taste of Scotland, as I said, because McKenzie
and those men they were . . . had children's meetings in the Bahamas. I
attended them. And they used to tell us about Scotland and some of the
students used McKenzie and he came to see me while I was at school. And
so there was a real bonding with the Scottish people. I really love them.
And today I . . . I love to hear the Scotsmen preach. I . . . I . . . [laughs]
I'm very fond of the Scots.
SHUSTER: And you returned to the Bahamas in 1949?
FLOWERS: '49, yes.
SHUSTER: And at that time you were committed to the Lord by the [Plymouth
FLOWERS: I was commended, yes, to full time work.
SHUSTER: What . . . what . . . what did that involve? What did that
FLOWERS: Well, that . . . that meant that the assemblies said to me,
"We approve of what we believe God is doing in your life and we are
going to commend you to our brethren if they're [unclear] ordination from
the Baptists or Methodists." So that with that letter, when that letter
was published in say letters of Interest, (I think I sent one of
those to Interest [unclear], when that letter was published it .
. . it would be an acceptance as you would a minister and that sort of
thing. And I . . . I would go from an assemblies on the one . . . from
one to the other to . . . to speak if I'm invited or that sort of thing.
But all it means that, "We approve of this man's ministry and we commend
him to you and pray that you'd receive him as becometh saints," something
SHUSTER: Now . . . had . . . did you return to your home island then
to preach or . . . ?
FLOWERS: Yes, I . . . sometimes twice a year. I just spoke at one of
the conf . . . the annual conferences. Maybe I thought I sent one to you.
Didn't I get one?
SHUSTER: No, I meant as soon . . . when you returned to Bahamas and
had been commended by the assembly?
FLOWERS: Oh yes, I . . .
SHUSTER: What . . . ?
FLOWERS: I . . . I . . . I preached in the assemblies but what happened,
as I told you, I was invited back to Canada, you see. I . . . I this .
. . this spring I came this spring . . . I went to Canada. We had the young
people saved, right? Then they sent for me to have some fall meetings when
the fall . . . the Laymen's Committee for Evangelism and that lasted two
years. I went into Detroit. I had to come back to get my visa, you know.
And going into Detroit met B.M. [Nottage], met my wife. We were married
on December 15th, 1951.
SHUSTER: And you had said your intention at Bible school had been to
spend . . . to evangelize you home island, right? So this was . . .
FLOWERS: That was . . . that was the miracle of God.
SHUSTER: . . . different from what you expected.?
FLOWERS: Yes, and we . . . I did take a trip with . . . in the company
of Addington Taylor, Pembrook Smith, and myself. By the way, Addington
Taylor died last year. Pembrook Smith is still alive. So we . . . we had
a great time.
SHUSTER: We're just about out of tape so let me just conclude with one
question. What . . . were there differences or how would you compare preaching
in the Bahamas, preaching in North America, in Canada and in the United
FLOWERS: Well, it's basically the same. Just some cultural differences
[pauses], minor. I . . . I pay attention to it as much as I can, especially
in use of illustrations, things of that nature. But, you know, I have the
conviction that when a man is preaching under the control of the Spirit
of God it makes very little difference. Because no matter how culturally
relevant you are, if the Spirit of God isn't bringing conviction your words
are going to fall on deaf ears. I . . . I think it's important to be relevant.
I think it's important to . . . to understand some of the cultural differences.
But I wouldn't waster my time on . . . on . . . as if this is the only
thing to do. I think somehow we're too much of it. I . . . I . . . I know
it's . . . it's valid but I think, you know . . . you know, it's so difficult
to be balanced, you know. The slightest move . . . you can veer to the
right or to left and you're unbalanced, become unbalanced. So I feel this
way: when I'm going to any particular place . . . let's say I was going
into . . . to preach in Oregon. I would come in and get to know something
about Oregon, you know, the people, the history and so on. But at the same
time, I don't think that's as important [slaps hands] as having something
straight from the Lord and having studied that passage, having done your
homework. You get it in dependence upon the Spirit of God to allow that
word to penetrate hearts. I think it will work. I think it will work.
FLOWERS: I think it will work.
SHUSTER: That . . . . Go ahead.
FLOWERS: I . . . I . . . I think the Holy Spirit is here to do that
kind of work. I . . . you know what I'm saying? I'm not against cultural
. . . .
FLOWERS: I think it's important. But I think sometimes we can overdo
it. And the Spirit of God never gets to do His office work. He's in the
world to convict of sin, of righteousness, and judgement to come [John
16:8]. I don't know there was much cultural difference and understanding
Day of Pentecost, but the Word was preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peter said, "They preached the gospel by the aid of the Holy Spirit
sent down from heaven." [I Peter 1:12] And I think that's it. I think
we need more spiritual men then we have. And I think some of us Evangelicals,
we're very soft on that and yet the Word . . . the command is, "Be
filled with the Spirit." [Ephesians 5:18] I kind of feel in my own
life sometimes I depend on style, I depend on other things. And the Spirit
of God, the greatest power in the universe, is in me and yet I cut Him
off [slaps hands]. I don't allow Him to exercise Himself through me. I
think it's a disservice to God [raps table with knuckles] and the gospel
having saved us and given us this person to reveal Christ to us, to empower
us we go on ignoring Him. I think it's a real disservice but God forgives
us. He knows how crazy we are. [laughs]
SHUSTER: God's mercy as you said. Well, that would be a good point to
stop the interview for today. I want to thank you again for being willing
to record this and describe your . . . your life experience with Christ.
FLOWERS: Thank you.
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