I have been told that she remembered that moment years later. Her kindness certainly made an impression on me. She was gracious to everyone, but it seemed to me she was especially kind to us children. She sure had my heart.
Years would go by; to my grandmother’s disappointment, I strayed from attending services with her at the Temple. I served in the military during World War II and after that had plans to attend USC and go into a career in radio.
Through a series of circumstances that were miraculous in their own right, once again I found my way back to Angelus Temple and gave my heart to Christ. I followed God’s call and attended Life Pacific College (also known as LIFE Bible College, as it was called then) from 1950 to 1954.
I worked in downtown Los Angeles at the Farmers and Merchants Bank for a supervisor named Sepulveda. (Anyone who knows the history of Los Angeles will recognize the name Sepulveda as near royalty in the Greater Los Angeles area.)
One day at work, Mr. Sepulveda pulled me aside and asked, “Son, do you go to the school at Angelus Temple?”
When I told him that I did, he talked to me for over 30 minutes about how much he respected and admired the work of Aimee Semple McPherson and what she had done to help people in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. Mr. Sepulveda acknowledged that the ministries she started through Angelus Temple touched more lives than any other church, agency or government entity.
More Than Just a Tour Stop
To others, Angelus Temple was just another stop along the tourist route between other local attractions, such as Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Most of these tourists only wanted to experience the “show of extremists and fanatics” that had captured media attention. But there were some on those buses whose lives would take a different turn.
Dr. Nathanial Van Cleave, a patriarch of the Foursquare Church, and his wife, Lois, were tourists on one of those buses. They stopped at Angelus Temple, and as they sat in the service that day, the genuine move of the Holy Spirit touched their hearts. Both Dr. and Mrs. Van Cleave received Christ that day and were called to a life of ministry.
I never planned to spend my life as a preacher, but God certainly had it planned. I entered Bible college because a woman preacher named Sister Aimee Semple McPherson answered the call of God to open a training center in Los Angeles.
And I have served God my entire life and influenced my children and grandchildren to serve Him because of a praying grandmother who never stopped believing that the grace of God is powerful and reaches to the greatest and least of humanity.