Growing Up In Baca County – Chapter 8 Part 1 – John Havens

Even though I have spent over 60 years in the ministry, there was little or no place for any church in my early childhood.  It wasn’t until we moved from the farm into Vilas that religion played any part in our family life.

   When I was 10 or 12 years of age there was a Friends preacher by the name of Jim Fisk who lived in Vilas.  I first remember him when he was preaching on Sunday mornings at a country school Southwest of Vilas.  He drove a big car with a rumble seat, and on Sundays he and his wife would come to the station to fill up with gas, and he would ask me if I would like to go to Sunday School with them, and if so, I could ride in the rumble seat.  Wow!  To me that was enticement enough to want to go with them.  My parents gave their consent, so I went several times with the Fisks. 

    The Friends Church (Quaker), was the only church in Vilas, and was located on the opposite corner of the block from the station.  Quakers from Kansas had come to Baca County in the nineteen Twenties and Thirties and were instrumental in establishing churches in Vilas, Walsh, Springfield, and Andrix, West of Pritchett.

    I began attending Sunday School mostly through the influence of Mrs. Bill McClintock.  Opal (Cope) Rutherford was one of my Sunday school teachers.  I continued to attend Sunday School and Church service even though my parents seldom attended.

    On 1040 my Mother became a Christian, and in 1944 I surrendered my life to Christ as did my Dad.  From then on much of our lives were centered around the Church.

    In August of 1944 a group of us young people from Vilas and Walsh attended a Camp Meeting near Imperial, Nebraska.  It was there that I felt God’s call to the ministry and from then on I put forth every effort to prepare for that calling.  I owe a great deal to my Pastor at that time, John Oliver, who had a guiding influence in my life. 

    I enrolled at Friends University in Wichita  in the Fall of 1944, but within six weeks I received greetings from Uncle Sam who said there was a war going on and he needed me to come for an all expenses paid trip.

    I well remember December 7, 1941 when on a Sunday afternoon I was listening to one of my favorite radio programs, and the announcer interrupted the program to announce that the Japanese had bombed a place called Pearl Harbor.  I resented my program being interrupted to tell about a place I had never heard of.  Little did I realize that four years later I would be one of the thousands called to serve our country.  I answered that call.  I completed 13 weeks of Infantry training at Camp Wolters, Texas, then was transferred to Ft. Lewis, Washington to complete about that many weeks of training in the Medical Corps.

    By this time Iwo Jima and Okinawa had been taken by our troops and next on the list was the invasion of Japan.  That was to be our assignment following a furlough home.  But the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan resulting in their surrender.

    However, the assignment of our outfit was still on, only altered, and we sound up on the Island of Saipan where I served the next 10 months.  After fulfilling my duties I received an honorable discharge from the military in October of 1946.

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