Ministry Unfolding (Chapter 9, Pages 50 - 57)
Finally, I get to join the story. Mother and dad had been very happily married for ten months when I joined them. Daddy used to laugh about really "hitting the jackpot" when I was born. He was so excited about his little girl that as soon as he could leave my mother, he ran to a pay phone in the hospital to let everybody know that he was a father. He had finished making his calls and was leaving the phone booth when the phone began to make a strange noise. Suddenly all the change came pouring out of the coin return, piling up on the floor. Daddy was so excited about the baby that he just closed the door and ran back to my mother's room. He always wondered what the next person to use the phone thought when they opened when they opened the door to the phone booth and saw all that change lying there. Daddy picked out the name for his new little girl. He called me Sharon Rose after the Rose of Sharon.
The Bucks moved from Granger to Union Gap, Washington. This was a pretty little town on the outskirts of Yakima. It was nestled in the area of Washington that is famous for its apples.
Daddy spent many hours visiting in that little town. Because of all the fruit, there were many Mexican labor camps full of transient workers. Mother used to laugh at my father and tease him about beating the Welcome Wagon to new people in town.
Union Gap was also near an Indian reservation, and daddy used to take me with him when he held services there. I learned how to sing when I was eighteen months old, but I looked like a much younger child because I was as bald as a billiard ball! It used to really amaze the Indians to see this little bald baby sing clear as a bell, "Jesus Loves Me" and other favorite children's choruses.
God once again honored daddy's hard work and dedication. Soon the little church in Union Gap was filled and it was time to build once more.
My parents told me later that they wondered at the time about spending so much of their efforts with the migrant workers who could not be permanent members of their little church, but it was worth it. Those dear Spanish people got saved, then they would take the message of God's love with them. Years later, mother and daddy reaped the reward of their efforts when they heard reports that many of these people were still serving the Lord.
My father's priority, and now my mother's, continued to be the message of reconciliation.
One day when I was three years old, my Aunt Margaret took me home with her for a visit. I was very happy about the visit, because I had a little cousin, Dick, just my age. We two three year olds had a great time playing together. Unfortunately, on this visit, Dick had a little gift for me - a rip roaring case of the mumps! Margaret had her hands full with two mumpy little cousins.
The visit was a little longer than expected, however, because little Charm was born, and I could not go home until my mumps were gone. I was so excited about having a baby sister that as soon as I arrived from Aunt Margaret's house, I broke out into the measles, which were promptly passed on to my new little sister. Daddy came home from an evangelistic meeting to find all three of his girls in bed.
The little Buck family had been in Union Gap for four years when the Lord directed them to Gooding, Idaho, a little farming town about one-hundred miles from Boise.
There were two churches in Gooding. One was the little church that had been started in temporary quarters, with a small apartment in the back for the minister and his family. Sitting right next to it was the skeleton of a larger church that had been started, but somehow had never been completed. The frame for that new church had been sitting there for twelve years.
In Gooding, growth occurred once again as my parents rolled up their sleeves. My father could not stand the sight of that unfinished building. With faith burning in his heart, he inspired the congregation to catch the vision for souls and together they tackled that unfinished church. They were so proud of the lovely new facility when it was completed.
Since little Charm was only one, and there was another baby on the way, daddy took his little Sharon everywhere with him. I would ride with him on his visits to members of the congregation with my hand on his shoulder, or sit on my knees beside him with my arm around his neck. I was so proud of my handsome daddy. I would look up at him and ask, "Do you think people will think you're my boyfriend?"
Daddy loved to show off our feats of daring. He would put his hand on the ground, and have me stand on it, then very slowly he would raise his hand above his head with me standing stiff-legged with my arms outstretched. He also loved to show visiting ministers and evangelists how fast he was with his fist, and come within a hairsbreadth of my little nose. What control! I would stand there with perfect trust not even blinking an eye.
Polio, that dreaded disease, hit with epidemic force. Children were falling victim everywhere. I became very ill. My legs hurt so badly I couldn't move without screaming. My fever was high, and my head hurt. The doctor shook his head and said to my parents, "It doesn't look good. It could be polio. You'll have to take her to the hospital in Boise for tests."
Daddy bundled me up in some blankets, and a member of the congregation drove us to Boise. Once again daddy's tremendous strength and stamina surfaced as he held his little girl in his arms. The slightest movement caused great pain to my legs, so the car had to be driven very slowly. Daddy sat in one position, holding me very still for almost three hours.
I was in isolation in the hospital, but all the tests for polio came back negative. Instead, it was rheumatic fever. My legs wouldn't be crippled, but my heart had been damaged. The only cure was for me to lie flat on my back in bed until my heart healed. What a sentence for an active four year old!
Being sick in bed wasn't so bad after all, because daddy decided to teach me how to read. He didn't like the "Dick and Jane" books, so he proceeded to find one that would be more interesting. The exciting little book that he found was entitled The Saggy Baggy Elephant. Some of my very first vocabulary words were, "the Limpopo River".
It's a boy! Once again, daddy was busy telephoning everyone with the good news. Little Terry Lee. He was dark like my father, with brown shoe button eyes. Life was good. I was on the mend, little Charm was a cute ray of sunshine, and now the Buck family had been blessed with a boy!
Six months passed. It was a sunny spring day in Gooding. In the parsonage, mother had her day planned. She was going to whisk thru the house and get it all shiny clean for daddy. She got all of us ready for the day, and then about mid-morning, put Terry down for his nap. He was a little fussy, but was probably teething. Mother decided to just let him fuss until he went to sleep. Lunchtime came and she fixed lunch for us girls. Terry was surely taking a long nap. That was good; he'd be really happy when daddy came home.
Daddy arrived and Terry was still sleeping. Finally, mother decided that he had slept long enough. She went into the bedroom to wake up her precious little boy. She picked him up.
Suddenly, I heard mother cry out, "Roland!" She came running into the living room holding their little son out to him. "Roland, he's dead, he's dead!" she sobbed.
Daddy took his little boy in his arms, put him over is shoulder and began to walk with him, patting him gently on the back. He noticed that I was sitting up in bed staring out of my door! He gave me a big smile and quietly shut the door of my bedroom. Not really understanding what was happening, I continued to watch thru the keyhole. I had never seen my daddy look so sad.
Carefully, he laid Terry on the couch and called the doctor. The doctor examined the little body, then said gently, "It looks like crib death. We don't know why or how it happens, but there is nothing you can do to prevent it!" Very compassionately he said to my mother, "It wasn't your fault, Mrs. Buck. There is absolutely nothing you could have done".
It was a very hard time for the Buck family. Mother's nerves could not stand the strain. My father took her home to be with her mother for a short time. We two girls were sent to stay with friends. Mother says now that it was daddy's gentleness, love and understanding that brought her thru this hard time.
Daddy was only twenty-nine years old, I was in bed flat on my back, his only son had died, mother was ill, when tragedy struck again. His father, Hoyt, died of cancer, and just a short time later, his mother passed away.
What a training time for a young pastor. One day I came to him and climbed up into his lap.
"Daddy", I said, "I'm going to make mommy smile again! I've got a wonderful surprise coming tomorrow morning."
"What is it, honey?" he asked.
"I just asked God to give Terry back to us. I told Him to put him in my bed, and tomorrow morning, I'm going to carry him in to mommy!"
Daddy just hugged me close. Then he told me something I never forgot, a truth that was the foundation stone of his own personal ministry.
"Honey, God can see ahead to what we can't see. He probably looked ahead in Terry's life, and saw some hurt, or maybe He saw that when Terry got older, he might not serve Him. Anyway, God decided that He would take Terry home to heaven with Him right now, and spare him those things that may be in the future. And, honey, I want to tell you something. God always does the right thing. You can trust Him!"
Instead of feeling any bitterness toward God, daddy squared his shoulders and declared that he was serving God because of who He was, not because of what He did. This hard time in his life mellowed him and gave him a depth of compassion for people who were hurting that was very unusual for one so young.
Bible school at midnight? My father was not adverse to trying something new to get out the message of God's love. Mr. Wilbur "Boom" Slagel had just found the Lord thru my parent's ministry in Gooding. He immediately felt the call of God on his life, but he didn't have any formal training. He knew that with his large family it would be impossible for him to go to Bible school to prepare himself for full-time service.
He shared this with daddy, and he could hardly believe his ears when my father said, "That's no problem at all. I'll train you." Brother Slagel said, "But Pastor Buck, I work nights and, as a result, I sleep during the day." Daddy told him, "You come to my house every night at midnight during your lunch break, and I'll teach you from the Bible everything I have learned. This will be your Bible school."
So, for the next few months, six nights a week, a young pastor would roll out of his bed at twelve o'clock each night and give the older man a Bible study. This went on until Brother Slagel was ready to go out and pastor on his own.
Pastor Slagel shared the same beautiful knowledge of the nature of God that his teacher had, and pioneered at least four different churches around the country before his death.
Bob Slagel, Boom Slagel's son, was about fifteen. He was the ring leader of the street gang in Gooding. Bob would bring his gang to church, and if he didn't like what was happening, he would get up and walk out, followed by the others.
One Sunday night after the service, the people had gathered in the front of the sanctuary and were having a wonderful time of prayer. Bob was in the back of the church with his friends causing a ruckus. Daddy came quietly up behind Bob, scooped him up around the middle, and literally carried him up to the front and placed him right in the center of that prayer circle. He looked at dad, his eyes flashing with hate, but his hate was totally melted by the great big warm smile that shone back at him.
Several weeks later on a sunny afternoon, as daddy was out driving, he saw Bob with three of his buddies. He stopped and asked, "How about going for a ride with me in my V-12 Zephyr?" This car was a Lincoln and very special. Most cars only had eight cylinders, this car had twelve. Everyone was really impressed with it, especially the boys.
They all hopped in and took off for a drive in the country. They were having a great time when suddenly daddy turned into the cemetery. They all wondered what on earth Pastor Buck was doing there!
Daddy turned to them and said, "Would you mind stopping by Terry's grave with me for a minute?" Of course, they couldn't say no.
As they stood around the little grave in which their pastor's only son had been buried about two months before, dad said to them, "Would you guys mind kneeling here with me for a minute? I would like to have a word of prayer."
They all knelt and daddy began to pray right out of his heart, just talking to God as though he was talking to any one of his friends. He said, "I understand what you are doing in the lives of these boys, but Father, I really do not understand about Terry. Yet Father, I know that you have all wisdom, and I thank you for that. Father, Charm and I dedicated Terry to you, and in your foreknowledge, you knew that somehow his little life would make an impact, even though it was so very short. God, these guys are like my sons, and I would ask you today to help them take Terry's place since Terry is with you. God, in this way, Terry's death will not be in vain."
Years later, as Bob was sharing this scene with me to include in my book, he was overcome with emotion as he recalled this event that changed his life.
Bob told me that everyone of the four young men were so broken up, they wept and wept. That day, each of them made a commitment to the Lord that has lasted to this day.
Two of them went into the full-time ministry. Bob Slagel was one of them, and he has been instrumental in leading many people to Jesus. This all began at the grave of a six-month-old boy whose life, though short, did count!