He graduated from School in 1940, a year later Pearl Harbour was bombed bringing America into the war, he immediately joined the US Marines. His first deployment was to the Island of Pellielu in the South Pacific. As they came ashore, artillery began to rain down on that beech; overhead bombers were dropping death and destruction. For the next 30 months he would live like this. A foxhole became his home and fish heads a normal meal. Out of 11,000 men only 80 of them walked out, the rest were either killed or wounded. The conflicts he was involved in are still considered to have been some of the worst known to man. After the end of the War he returned home as a decorated sergeant to a hero’s welcome.
It was in 1946 that he left the services and started work on the oil rigs. That very same year he married Janice. During the early years of their marriage he was hitting the drink hard. He tried giving up but couldn’t. He loved his girl but this put great strain on their marriage almost to breaking point. At times Janice wouldn’t see Bert for 2-3 days. When a baby son came along the thought of him growing up to be like his dad was too much, she had had enough. She told him she was leaving. That night as he drove to work not knowing if there was a God or not, he prayed asking God not to allow his son to grow up to be like him. This prayer was answered when a six week mission came to, Alice, Texas. Janice attended it and got back to God. She had been a backslider. The minister came and spoke to Bert who as a result said he would come to the meetings. In January 1949 as the Gospel was preached from Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” he was born of the Spirit of God. He walked out of that meeting mightily saved, free and rejoicing in the salvation of God.
At work on the oil rigs his workmates could see the change: he was set free from drink and his tongue was made pure. For two years with his wife he earnestly sought for the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. At every meeting and at every opportunity they sought God for His promised gift. Finally one night out in the brush after a meeting as they prayed in the altar hands were laid upon him and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He jumped up speaking in tongues, his hands went up, one hand got stuck in the chicken wire, there he hung speaking in tongues. As he looked down he saw that his wife had been filled with the Holy Ghost and was now speaking in tongues. All night long they spoke in tongues as rivers of living water poured forth from their innermost beings.
He read and studied the Word of God constantly. By ’51 he was teaching a small Sunday school class at his church and God began to greatly bless this. In January 1953 he felt God calling him to preach. At this stage he owned a large portion of land and was making plenty of money but God was calling him. He told his boss that he was finishing his job on September 1st. On August 1st he started to fast and to seek God. After 16 days of this his boss thought he was sick and going to die so he sent him home. He went back to his wife’s home town and booked into a Hotel and stayed there 29 days and 30 nights without coming out. God spoke to him and told him to “go preach” and that, “he would never want for a place to preach.” He left the Hotel and with his wife held revival meetings in Newland Texas where a 150 people came out to the meetings. God saved, blessed and moved. From there doors opened up and they moved out in full time ministry. In ’54 he preached at a church where 40 people gathered in for each meeting for a week but totally unmoved. Then finally it broke. Repentance came to those 40 people. That night the building was filled with about 400 people and the power of God fell mightily. These early experiences would deeply mark him for the next 55 years of his preaching ministry.
(to be continued…)