Monday, September 22, 2014

The Legend of an Aggie Baptist Preacher

by Cindy Hester

This particular post was originally written, submitted to, and published by Hometown Journey Magazine here in Chambers County. Amazingly, after my story was published, individuals from numerous locations have contacted both the magazine and me with related stories of how his ministry touched their lives. It brings me great joy to share his story with you.

Having been reared in a small farming community, he grew up living a simple, happy life. As a child, he had no high aspirations of doing extraordinary things in his life. He was simply a boy growing up being taught to love the Lord God with all his heart, honor his father and mother, work hard, love his neighbor as himself, be a man of his word, honor his country, and to do unto others as he would have them do unto him.





While in high school a local teacher saw great potential in his business and ranch skills and took the time to talk to his parents about considering letting him further his education by going to college. I am quite sure this was no easy undertaking. This boy was an only child, and he helped his father with work on the farm. There were also finances to consider. It was agreed he could go with the teacher to visit the campus at Texas A&M and talk to the staff about the possibilities of enrolling. A few short months later, as a kid of seventeen he found himself packing his bags and heading to College Station with high hopes and the prayers and support of his family and community.

His uncle drove in from Louisiana to help him to move onto campus. This was the late 1940’s, and most people did not have vehicles fit to travel too far from home.  His Uncle Frank had a nice, new car that would make the trip. I can only imagine the nervous excitement filling that car during the nearly three hour trip to College Station. I am sure there was much advice from his Momma, and a lot of responses of “I know, Momma” Take a little anticipation, add the emotions of pride and excitement mix with tinges of sadness and anxiety, then fold ever so gently into a long car ride with one menopausal momma, a son, a daddy, and a mischievous uncle…now there is a recipe for an interesting car ride if you ask me. 

Soon he was waving goodbye as they strained waving back at him until out of sight. There he was, a kid who had never been this far away from home - no familiar faces, no family, no friends, no car, and no telephone. The only thing he was truly sure of was his name, that he was a freshman member of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, and there was no quick or easy way home.

There were numerous challenges that would in today’s world be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The Corps of Cadets at that time was preparation for military service, so it was more or less the equivalent of boot camp. If he wanted to communicate with home, he wrote letters. Telephones just weren’t available like they are today. Also, since receiving a vehicle upon receiving one’s driver’s license was not a rite of passage in those days, trips home mostly occurred at the holidays. Even then, the main mode of transportation home for the majority of students was to hit the road walking, get your thumb up and start hitchhiking. As I said earlier, road trips were rare and special events. He toughed it out, however, and he was rewarded by earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Ranch Management in the spring of 1952.

Not long after graduation, Uncle Sam called upon him for service in the Korean War. During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s whenever a student signed up to become a member of the Corps of Cadets at A&M, military service followed. An humble sense of pride could be seen in his demeanor whenever he spoke of his journey overseas to serve. A Peace Treaty was signed just prior to his arrival in Korea, but political unrest still remained. Two of my favorite stories he told about his days in the military were of his ship ride through rough seas when he was deployed, and the challenge of leading convoys of trucks loaded with supplies up the narrow winding mountain roads, getting halfway up only to meet a truckload of locals who had snuck past check points coming down the mountain. Everything would come to a grinding halt, until a compromise could be reached. Often times the deadlock would end in his having to guide his convoy of trucks back down the mountain, single file, in reverse and start the trip back up once the road was clear.



These days away from home broadened his view of the world and its people. He seemed to have a natural, God-given interest in the intrinsic value of each person with whom he came in contact. This time had also served him well in helping him to better understand the world outside of the small community he called home. There was no mistaking there were hard times growing up on the farm, but there was love. There was also the comfort of knowing that a faithful community of people stood behind one another. He learned that this kind of security was not available to all people in all parts of the world, and it made a lasting impression on his heart.

Attending church after returning home, he noticed a beautiful brunette playing the piano. As she turned around, he was struck by the realization how a cute young girl could grow into such a beautiful, graceful woman. One of the ladies in the church happened to take note of the look on his face when he looked at the young piano player, and she began conspiring to fix the two of them up. I am thinking it did not take a whole lot of coaxing since they were both apparently quite taken with one another. After a courtship that consisted mostly of attending church, revivals, weddings, funerals, and gospel singings, he popped the question. On September 1, 1956, a loving marriage began that would grow and thrive until they were parted by his death in July of 2011.





Not long after marrying he decided it would be wise to take advantage of his GI bill and return to school in an effort to expand earning opportunities. He enrolled in Stephen F. Austin University and earned a second Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry. Soon after he found a job working in the timber industry, and his people skills, ability, and strong work ethic soon earned him chances for advancement. Part of his work assignment placed him in contact with property owners from whom the company had purchased rights for the timber, and in some cases, the land on which the timber grew.

One particular day, a black gentleman he had come to know and respect approached him cautiously holding out a map. He looked at the ground nervously pointing to the paper in his hand saying, “Mr. Hood, I believe your company made a miscalculation resulting in them shorting me on the amount they paid me.”

Mr. Hood checked the paper, and seeing the gentleman was correct asked if he would ride with him to the office so they could get it corrected right away. Mr. Hood was aware of the amount of courage and pride it took for this gentleman to approach him. Unfortunately, during the early 1960’s the shameful level of racial prejudice left many in fear of speaking up, especially to a white company man.  The gentleman nodded, the hint of a proud smile at the corners of his mouth and appreciation his eyes.

Mr. Hood and his wife were people of faith. They knew Christ as their personal Savior. They had a relationship with their Heavenly Father, and Mr. Hood especially had a heart to reach out and minister to others telling the of Christ’s love for them. His love for his God had taken root and grown since being back home in church. The deeper the relationship grew, the stronger his faith and trust became. He had begun serving in a leadership position as a deacon and leading the singing in a local church. Although he loved serving in these capacities, he felt God was calling to something more, and he was fighting it.

A couple of weeks after taking the gentleman into the office to correct the amount he had been paid for his property, Mr. Hood went back to make sure the man had received his check for the difference. As they stood there talking he could tell something was not right. The gentleman finally told him that the company had misspelled his name, and he was unable to cash or deposit the check. This news greatly frustrated Mr. Hood. He suggested they take another ride to the office to have the name corrected immediately. Afterwards Mr. Hood would accompany him to the bank to ensure he was able to do whatever he needed with the check. The gentleman argued that he did not want to be a bother or create any trouble. Mr. Hood assured him he wanted to help make things right.

As promised, the check was corrected, and the gentleman was able to cash his check. On the drive back to his home, the grateful man kept telling Mr. Hood how much he appreciated it. Then he said something that would completely change the direction of Mr. Hood’s life. For the first time ever the man looked directly at Mr. Hood and confidently stated, “Mr. Hood, the Good Lord’s gonna’ lay the Book on you.” Confused, Mr. Hood glanced over and said, “Sir?” Once again he said, “The Good Lord is gonna’ lay the Book on you. You are gonna’ preach the word of the Lord.”

At that moment the Holy Spirit came over Mr. Hood like never before. His legs got weak, began to tremble, and he could barely shift the clutch on that old company truck he was driving. In that moment he knew exactly what he had been wrestling with, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what it was God intended for him to do. It didn’t matter that he had spent time and money preparing his life to go a different direction. God had a plan. God knew exactly what He had in mind. His hand was on Mr. Hood’s life from the day he was born in the bedroom of that little farmhouse in Texas to the day he was riding down that country road with His messenger of destiny who was meant to tell Mr. Hood his next assignment –the one God had been preparing him for all along. In that moment a decision was made to follow God’s calling on his life. He went home after work to share the news with his wife who seemed to already know in her heart of hearts. They prayed together dedicating their lives, their marriage, and the lives of their two young daughters at the time to serving the Lord in ministry.

This man went on to serve his community by dedicating over fifty years of his life in the ministry of sharing the Gospel of Christ. During that time He pastored three churches, one of those being a mission church which God gave him the vision to begin and build into a thriving congregation. He resigned after twenty-five years of pastoring there. He left the church to “retire”, but after two weeks of unrest, he accepted a call to pastor a church as interim pastor until they could find a full-time pastor. He ended up serving the people of that congregation fifteen years. At the ripe young age of seventy-nine he retired for real. His health had begun to quickly deteriorate, and he was soon to discover he was in the final stages of battling a rare, rapidly growing type of cancer. It was simply time for him to go home to his reward in heaven.

I can tell you from personal experience this man lived his faith. His relationship with his Heavenly Father was as natural to him as breathing. He really did not have to announce his Christianity to anyone. He simply lived it. You see this dear man was my father, and I loved and respected him far more than I could ever share in words. As his children, my sisters and brother watched him grow as a human being guided by spiritual principles. He and my Mom raised four children. By tagging along on trips to visit shut-ins and the elderly in nursing homes, friends and church members having surgery and sickness in hospitals, families who had lost loved ones at the funeral home, or someone who was simply down and needed someone to care, we learned that life was about more than our little world. We learned we were put here on this earth for a purpose much bigger than ourselves. We learned there was a certain joy in doing things for our Lord. We saw Dad be the arms, hands, and feet of Jesus to people who had probably never experienced a touch of Christ’s love, only to hear him say afterward that he received a far greater blessing than they possibly could have.



His love of life , his endless youthful spirit, his boundless love and wisdom, his dedication and loyalty to those he loved and believed in, his sense of humor, his unique, country preacher style of sharing God’s word in such a personal, practical way – each of these attributes are so dearly missed since he left for his heavenly home. The evening before my Daddy’s funeral there was what we call a viewing here in the south. The family arrived early to be given a little private time prior to the public arriving. Once the doors of the funeral home were opened to the public, much to our amazement we learned there was a line of people waiting winding around the building and long out into the streets. Dad would have been floored at the number of folks who showed up to honor his life.

The day of his funeral, over 780 people attended the service. Countless telephone calls, emails, and cards came in after the funeral telling us they could not attend because of timing. We were approached in numerous places by individuals telling us how Dad had led them to the Lord or had helped them in some way. One I will never forget was a young man who approached my Mom at a service station while we were filling up her vehicle with gas on the way back to her house after the viewing. It was apparent the man had lived a hard life. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Excuse me Ma’am, I don’t mean to bother you. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I was to hear about Brother Frank. You see, he helped me out once when nobody else would. He treated me like a person. I loved that man. He was a good man.” What a tribute, and what a blessing to hear as a daughter terribly missing her father. I felt his legacy would live on long after his mortal body was gone.

God had a plan for Dad’s life, Mom’s life, all of our lives, and He has a plan for your life too. Lay your dreams out there. Ask for God’s direction, and go after them with all of your might. Just remember to leave enough room in there for a detour should God ask you to take one. You see, He took Dad through a time of learning and seasoning before bringing him to the point of ministry. You never know what the circumstances in your life are preparing you for. I can promise you this – whatever the circumstances, they are not without purpose. Make Christ the Lord and Savior of your life. Ask Him to take your circumstances and to give them purpose. Seek God and His will for your life and He will lead you in fulfilling your destiny.



Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. "(NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Psalms 37:23
"My steps are ordered by the Lord."




Back Row Left to Right: Daughter, Mary Booth, Son, Andy Hood, Daughter, Melody Aragon, Daughter, Cindy Hester
Front Row: Brother Frank Edward Hood & Wife, Grace Hood

This writing is dedicated to my Daddy, Frank Edward Hood. I love you.

♥♥THE HEART REMEMBERS♥♥

09/15/31 – 07-23-11

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grabbing Onto Growth


by Cindy Hester

What an amazing week this past week was! God blessed me with the opportunity to worship with my Momma last weekend, and to hear her and my daughter minister to young adults at our church. 



Mom and I then traveled to Seattle, Washington where I attended one of the most informative work conferences I have experienced to date. We had a couple of evenings of planned events, and another couple of evenings on our own to take in the sights. We must have crammed two weeks of fun into those evenings. We stayed up laughing and talking until the late hours (or early hours,) but I felt refreshed and ready to learn each day.






Perhaps the most important thing I learned, however, was to grab hold of those precious opportunities God presents us to create memories. I also realized moments of restoration. There was a time when I wouldn't have even considered hopping on a plane with my 77 year old Mom and just the two of us flying across the United States. I wouldn't have had the confidence to walk into a room of strangers at a company meet and greet and enjoy making conversation, or venturing out to points unknown in a city where I have never driven.

A few short years ago, I was crippled by the belief I could not trust myself to do such things. God has a way of bringing His children full circle by restoring us in ways far beyond our wildest expectations. God granted the opportunity, and Mom and I reached out in faith grabbed it. Had either of us allowed our fear or insecurities to rule, we would have missed out on a priceless gift.

Many may not understand the significance of this experience for me. However, anyone who has ever been the circumstances that ruled a part of my past will totally understand. If you find yourself in a similar situation in your present, take heart. God knows where you are, and His plans for you include abundance, and safety, and security in Him. Take heart, and "Don't let the inside of you shrink to the size of your present circumstances." Ron Cox

Joel 2:25-26, ESV I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Overwhelmed



by Cindy Hester

"From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

Dear Lord, my heart is overwhelmed. There are so many unknowns. There are so many "should haves" and "I wish I would haves." The days are filled with "I wish I could" and "someday I plan," but in a flash the day is gone and the evening is filled with "I wonder if I ever will." I feel as though the sands of time are slipping through my fingers leaving only the tiniest of fragments in my grasp.

As time passes, responsibilities increase. I pray I will make time to build those lasting relationships with my children and grandchildren. I pray I will live a life that leaves more of a legacy behind than what I did for a living, or what type of car I drove, or what kind of activities I participated in.

I am overwhelmed Lord, because my heart longs to slow down long enough to recognize those things that are of utmost importance to you. Those things of lasting value. I long to walk hand in hand with my husband in the quiet of the evening leaving the world's pressures far behind. I long to laugh and play with my grandchildren, holding them close before sticky candy kisses are a thing of the past. I long to tell them of Your love and grace and live before them in such a way that I really wouldn't have had to say a word..they would have known You by the way I lived and loved.

I long to build integrity and earn the respect of my children as a Godly woman. I long to love my family in such a way they know how their being a part of my life has forever changed me for the better. I want my friends to understand their value in my eyes. Most of all, I long to show Your love and grace to them all ,despite my failures.

Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for my soul is overwhelmed within me. It is only through You and in Your timing that these things can be accomplished. Help me to know when to say yes, and when to say no. Help me when there is no choice. I place my present and my future into Your loving hands. I pray for others who also feel overwhelmed, and I thank You that *because of Your great love, we are not consumed, for Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Your faithfulness is great. You are my portion, therefore I will wait for You. You are close to those whose hope is in You, to the one who seeks You. Help me to remember that it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

I pray these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

*Lamentations 3:22-26, My praying the scriptures paraphrase.

True Freedom

by Cindy Hester A couple of weekends ago while relaxing in Galveston with family, I happened to walk into the living room of the condomin...