Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International
San Antonio, Texas – Northside Chapter
by Dr. Kenneth Holcombe
I lay on my bed as my family gathered for the Sunday noon meal. I was the
skinniest, tallest, most bashful 16 year old I knew of. It seemed that
my older brother had already grabbed the important titles: Scholar at School,
Number One Tennis Player, Best-Behaved Teenager, etc. My self-confidence
was spinning lower and lower and I did not know how to stop the trend.
I had stopped stuttering by that time, but everything else seemed bleak.
I was one of those vulnerable kids who could be picked on and teased by
others on any number of topics. I had dropped all extracurricular activities
at school and stopped pursuing my hobbies. At times, my very spirit seemed
to break. I tried in vain to muster up the confidence to get up and face
my family and an aunt who was visiting at the time. I told myself that
if my spirit broke again, I was just going to end my life. It is difficult
to explain that kind of depression to those who have not experienced it.
I felt my spirit break into pieces and I resolved to shoot myself in the
head with my father’s .38 automatic pistol. I felt relieved that I had
made a decision which would end the pain of facing life. I decided to wait
a week so I could be sure I wasn’t acting in a drastic manner.
I attended church every Sunday, but I was complacent at best. The priest
had once asked me to stop reading the hymnal while he was delivering the
sermon. Thinking him to be as complacent as I was, I was stunned that he
had noticed or cared. It happened to be my turn to serve as an acolyte
at church the following Sunday. As the service came to an end, I raised
the cross to lead the recessional. I hated looking into the eyes of the
congregation, so I looked down on the floor as much as I could without
falling or bumping into a pew. When I was even with my mother, I felt her
eyes on me and I knew she was going to talk to me after church about looking
up and maintaining good posture. I hated the thought of being chewed out
just before I killed myself, so I dutifully looked up straight ahead to
the back of the church. In the back of the church was a stained glass window
of Jesus with His arms out. An inscription below stated, “Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat
11:28, KJV) That would have been powerful by itself as something to behold,
something to inspire, but standing in front of the stained glass window
was the real, living Jesus. His eyes radiated love like a carbon arc floodlight.
I looked away briefly, stunned by the intensity of His love. He didn’t
say anything, but he didn’t have to. He can “speak” love with His eyes.
As I looked at Him the second time, I was overwhelmed by His presence and
power. He was more real than anything I had ever seen. I looked away again,
speechless but saying in my head, “He’s really real; He is totally alive.”
I put the cross away in its place in the church office and returned to
the empty sanctuary. He wasn’t there anymore in a visible form, but I was
so excited I could barely move. His Holiness had hit me like a Mack truck.
Rather than deciding not to commit suicide, I simply forgot about suicide.
As soon as we got home, I found a Bible and started reading. I wanted to
know every word He said, this One who loved me so boldly with His eyes.
It took me years to realize that I had reached at that time what I now
call the “Demonic Point.” The negative connotation of the name is designed
to startle those who think they have said it all when they profess belief
in God. I base the name of this spiritual point on “Thou believest that
there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”
(James 2:19, KJV). This point is certainly not bad but it’s not enough.
I had no doubts about the existence of God and I knew who Jesus was (and
is), but like the demons, I had not surrendered myself completely to His
purpose nor asked forgiveness according to His plan of salvation. I had
not told anyone about my experience. Though I never failed to attend church,
I had no real fellowship with nor accountability to other believers. I
certainly wanted religion to be a part of my life, but the primary manifestation
of religion in my life was my decision to be a conscientious objector.
After I was drafted in the Army, I learned that I was the first conscientious
objector who was an Episcopalian. I was in Basic Training with other conscientious
objectors and we often discussed and argued our doctrine. I soon realized
that I had to ask Jesus to come INTO my life and heart as Savior. The view
of Him on the outside was no longer sufficient. I prayed for forgiveness
and accepted Him as Savior. I continued, however, to oppose the concept
of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact, I was very skillful in arguing
against the doctrine of the Pentecostal believers. One day, a Seventh Day
Adventist and I were alone in the barracks, making fun of comments made
by some of the Pentecostal believers about a revival going on in a local
church. I made a comment which made the face of the Adventist soldier turn
white. He whispered, “You shouldn’t talk like that” and quickly left. I
started crying and asked myself, “Who is this Holy Spirit I’m fighting?”
I went to the revival that night determined to find out. When the pastor
gave the altar call, I knelt down in the pew instead of going forward and
prayed, “Jesus, you know how bashful I am; please baptize me in the Holy
Spirit right here.” I began speaking in a language I had never learned
and felt the wonderful peace I experienced when I had seen Jesus. I experienced
His holy presence within. Jesus was really on the inside now.
Months later, I was a medic at a hospital in Vietnam. I enjoyed wonderful
fellowship with many other believers, not just the conscientious objectors.
One day a fellow soldier told me dejectedly that he could not go to Heaven
because he had killed an enemy soldier. I told him in a loud, firm voice
that God was not going to send him to hell for functioning as a soldier.
He looked me in the eye and said, “You know, Holcombe, you’re not a conscientious
I then began examining every aspect of my faith and decided that I needed
to be baptized in water by immersion. A fellow soldier who was an ordained
minister took me outside to a hole in the ground filled with rainwater.
I felt very embarrassed when everyone stopped their activities to listen
to him read in a loud voice, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue
in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom 6:1, KJV) When I came up out the water,
all fear and embarrassment had supernaturally departed. For the first time
in my life, I had no fear of what others thought. It was as though my insides
had always been churning and He had said, “Peace, be still” to my insides.
It was not just peace, it was perfect peace. I was stunned by the sensation
and protested to the minister, “Wait, I don’t deserve this.” He shrugged
his shoulders and said as he walked away, “None of us do.”
One night a tremendous explosion broke windows in Saigon 16 miles away
from us. We were 3/4 of a mile from the explosion. We all ran to the bunkers
and waited about an hour. When the call came for us to return to our tents,
I felt for the first time in my life a tremendous urge to PRAY. I called
for another believer to join me, but he said the crisis was over and he
was tired. I did not know what to pray for, but the urge was powerful,
something like having to go to the bathroom really bad. I knelt down in
the dirt outside while passing scoffers made their comments. I prayed in
a heavenly language because I had no idea what it was I needed to pray
about so urgently. After about ten minutes, I experienced a definite sensation
of peace and release.
I went to work the next morning in our arms room (probably the only one
in Army history run by a conscientious objector). As he checked in his
weapon, an officer from another unit told me that the explosion the previous
night had been caused by a device placed by the Viet Cong on a small pad
of ammo at the local ammo dump. “You guys are lucky the charge they put
on the big ammo pad didn’t go off because everyone here would have been
killed.” He said the timing device simply stopped 55 seconds before it
was set to go off. Before I could tell Bob, the sergeant in our unit who
served as my spiritual father, about my prayer and the officer’s comments,
he told me the same account about the timing device; he had heard about
it from someone else.
I really thought I believed that God could do anything, but I met my match
when the Holy Spirit led me to witness to Boyd, the biggest sinner in our
unit. As he walked by Bob and me one evening, I murmured “Only six o’clock
and Boyd is staggering drunk already.” Bob called Boyd over and told me
to pray for him. I told him I had witnessed to Boyd, read the Bible to
him, and pestered him until Boyd asked me to “pick on somebody else.” I
said that nothing was working. Bob prayed a simple prayer as Boyd tried
desperately to not fall over. All of a sudden, Boyd straightened up, yelled
“It’s God, I know it’s God.” He ran in his tent, grabbed a bottle of gin
I had watched him purchase, took it outside and broke it in a garbage can.
Boyd woke me up an hour early the next morning and wanted to go to the
chapel to pray. I told him I needed my sleep. “What am I going to tell
my five friends who are waiting outside?” he asked. I got out of bed and
walked to the chapel with some of the most hard core, self-admitted sinners
in Vietnam. Oh, the Grace of God.
Jesus has been with me over the years through many experiences. He was
with me when my first wife, a pastor’s daughter, decided to run off with
a heroin addict. My father brought me his .38 pistol so I could kill both
of them. By praying instead, I learned to forgive and release bitterness
instead of embracing it.
Jesus was there when I was told that I could no longer be principal of
the high school I had graduated from. A central office administrator explained
that the investigation I had conducted into “P,” a popular employee at
the campus, had drawn criticism and that I would be reassigned to restore
peace to the community. I prayed afterwards that God would show me what
to do about my feelings concerning this incident. The Lord spoke in an
audible voice and said, “Call P on the phone and apologize to him.” I was
indignant and demanded to know why I should apologize to a person who was
responsible for seemingly ruining my career as an educator. Rather than
answering audibly, the Holy Spirit showed me a real-life scene in my mind
which had happened a year before as though I were watching a video on a
TV set. I had gone into P’s office with a visiting professor from a university
where I attended classes to gain superintendent certification. I introduced
the professor to P and made a very disparaging remark about P’s alma mater.
After wrestling with the Holy Spirit for a week, I called P and asked for
his forgiveness. “I was jealous of the attention you received and I wanted
to hurt you,” I confessed. When I said those words, there was that feeling
of perfect peace deep within. Jesus meant every word when he said, “But
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute
you.” Mat 5:44 (KJV)
I prayed with a fellow worker to accept the Lord three years ago. He is
now a member of the FGBMFI chapter where I serve as Treasurer. He recently
told me that someone clicked the button on his FGBMFI web page (http://www.intx.net/ed/fgbmfi.html)
indicating that he/she had prayed the prayer of salvation. He has received
E-mail about his web page from Australia, Belgium, and France to name a
few countries. The grace of God continues on around the world.