When I think back to people who influenced my life for the better, I must include Amos Orrison in my list. Amos passed away in 2001, but he “still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4). Amos and his wife, Martha were good friends of our family. Amos just made an impression on me that I still remember nearly fifty years later.
Amos was a no-nonsense, “straight-shooting,” gospel preacher who didn’t mix words.
I have in my possession today a note that I wrote to my dad when I could not have been older than 6 years old at the time I wrote it. It expressed my feelings about Amos. It said, “Dear Dad, How do you feel? I hope you are feeling good. You are the best preacher in the world. Amos Orrison is a good preacher, but you are the best. Love, Steven.” That short note written shortly after I learned how to write is a testimony as to how much I thought of Amos Orrison.
I remember a specific sermon that Amos preached while he was conducting a gospel meeting in Chester years ago. He was talking about “Hell,” and caused me to become very uncomfortable. In order to distract my mind, I got up to go to the restroom in the basement of the building just to get away from the intensity of his topic. However, I quickly learned that going to the basement provided no relief from his sermon. Amos preached so loudly, I could still hear every word he was saying! But the one thing he taught me that night, was that I definitely did not want to go to Hell.
One funny memory I have of Amos was again from when he was preaching at Chester. The church at Chester had a chalkboard that receded into the wall directly in front of the baptistery. When you wanted to use the chalk board, you would lift the chalk board, basically, throwing it upwards. However, on this night, when Amos went to raise the chalkboard his thumb stuck in the handle and it nearly lifted him off the ground! Well, that had to have been extremely painful, but everyone in the assembly laughed. Amos managed to get his thumb unstuck from the handle, turned to the congregation and said something to the effect that he wouldn’t want to see what our response would be if he had actually broken his thumb. 🙂
I feel blessed to have grown up in our home. We were constantly having preachers stay with us (we kept all the preachers who came for gospel meetings). I soaked up all the “preacher stories” that were shared around our living room, and I’m convinced that those moments had something to do with shaping my desire to preach.
Shortly after I graduated from college, Amos visited me where I was then preaching in Nitro, WV. At the time, I had only been preaching a few months. In a fatherly sort of way, he encouraged me to be strong and preach the gospel without compromise, and not allow anyone to sway me from that. I appreciate his advice even more today than when he gave it, and I appreciate his love and concern he had for me in sharing it. Thanks, Amos!