Wednesday, October 01, 2008

G. W. "Chick" Allison - 60 years of Preaching

My Dad preached his first sermon about this time sixty years ago. Here is something I've written about him. (Update note: It has now been published in the Arkansas Christian Herald Vol. 28, No. 11, page 4, November 2008)

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Sixty years ago this November 7, G. W. Allison hitchhiked from Searcy to Dover to preach his first sermon. Also recognized by the nickname "Chick" and "George", he is a Church of Christ minister known throughout Northeast AR. He was raised in Pocahontas where at age ten, he nearly drowned in Mansker Creek. Later, he was baptized there. Later still, he performed his first baptism at that site. He declined a football scholarship at Arkansas State University to study the ministry at Harding University. Between terms, while working in Michigan, he met his wife, Frances Van Hooser. They have four children (Stephen W., Ronald M., Paula R., and Timothy S.) and nine grandchildren. The couple served several congregations in Oklahoma and Michigan from 1951-1958. They returned permanently to Arkansas, working with churches in Pocahontas, Rector, Searcy, Corning, Nettleton, Lepanto, and now completing his ministry in Egypt, where he was born.

He was the original host and is a frequent speaker for “Speaking the Truth in Love” on KAIT-TV. He has held over 350 gospel meetings across the eastern U. S. It is evidence of respect and appreciation for him that he has officiated at well over 1,000 funerals in Northeast Arkansas. G. W. has baptized a similar number in baptistries, creeks, and rivers. As you drive along highway 25 near the town of Strawberry, Arkansas look to your north as you pass over the Strawberry River bridge. In Aug of 1960 that was the site where cars pulled up to illuminate the river so that about two dozen souls could be baptized by him. He is unpretentious and free of affectation. He has no interest in nor places a value on status. For him, each human being is a precious child of God and is special. He has counseled many people. His experiences include wrestling a gun away from a man intent on suicide, preaching love and equality to a local African American church in a way that was ahead of his time , and later, helping to integrate them into his congregation.

One way G. W. has reached thousands of people has been through those he brought to Christ and who in turn are spreading the gospel . A well known example is Jimmy Allen, evangelist and long time faculty member of Harding University. Jimmy credits him as a model that one could be a Christian and still be an athlete and a real man. And, referring to him by nickname he says in his autobiography Fire in my Bones:

“One day before chapel began Chick asked me if I were a Christian ... He was the only one who talked to me personally about my salvation. We became friends and have stayed that way nearly fifty-five years.”

G. W. is also noted for his passion and accomplishments in athletics. He was voted Most Valuable Player on his high school football team, achieved All-State in basketball, and started for the Jonesboro American Legion baseball team that included eventual major league star, Wally Moon. Jimmy Allen who played basketball with him at Harding wrote in the above reference “He was as fast as doubled-greased lightning.” Unfortunately, a tragic car accident in 1960 ended G. W.'s sports participation at age 30. That same year, he began coaching his sons and other youngsters, continuing for many years in all these sports. He always brought out the best in his young athletes by his enthusiasm and positive style. This has been another avenue of his Christian influence. Oh yes, he is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.

6 comments:

Len said...

Steve,

I've known your Dad since about 1979.
I once worshipped at Nettleton for about 5 or 6 years.
He is, as you described, very genuine.

Len

Steve said...

Thank you Len.

Steve said...

I read your blog post and much of it could have been describing my feelings too. I discovered the Emergent Church through one of Fred Peatross's earlier web pages where was the first mention of Brian McLaren"s New Kind of Christian. I'm not sure if more than one of two people in my present congregation have even heard of the emergent conversation but it is meaningful to meet others who have.

Donna C Smith said...

I was very excited to find this article you wrote about your dad----I have known your dad since I was about 5 years old and was baptized during one of the many Gospel Meetings that he held in Sterling Oklahoma. His great love for the people of God and the lost have had a huge influence on me and very much affected my life as a Christian. I also found the Interview with him and got to listen to a Sermon online!!! Thank you for your post and I thank God for your Dad!!!

Steve Allison said...

Hi there Donna. I am sorry not to have replied sooner. Have been out of town much the past several weeks. I drove over to Jonesboro, Arkansas from Memphis yesterday to see Dad and Mom. I read your note above and he cried. I have fond memories of Oklahoma. We moved away shortly after my 5th birthday. After that Dad held many many gospel meetings in your vicinity well into the 2000's. He mentioned Sterling and that reminded me of what you wrote. Dad's health has not been very good in recent years, well, after all he is 85. He uses a walker to get around due to weak legs. But he has been doing better lately. We heard what we thought was his last sermon last year, but yesterday he was talking about perhaps substituting for the minister where he and Mom attend when the minister leaves on a mission trip soon. Dad does not need to do that, he has fought the good fight. Yet, that gives him purpose, meaning, and a will to live. And your note was an encouragement to both he and I. Thanks. God Bless You. Steve

Donna C Smith said...

Steve--I was so glad to see your response to my comment and I know that it has been several months since that post!!! I am glad to hear about your dad and I thank you for sharing my note with him----I have wanted to tell him how grateful I am to him and his faithfulness and the simple way he has always presented God"s word. My Husband was greatly influenced by the many sermons that he preached during the Gospel meetings in our area!!!
I remember many hot summer Gospel Meeting as a young girl and getting to sing with him while waiting for a meal being prepared----Your dad stayed with my grandparents when he held meetings at Sterling. My grandparents had a dairy and my brother and I milked for them n the summer---so we also enjoyed many breakfasts with your dad!!
I could go on--but just wanted to let you know that I finally saw your reply --we have had three weddings since May--so I have been distracted!! keep us informed!
thank you and God's Blessings to your family
Donna Smith
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