Remembrances of Norman…
H.S. (Rick) White
I first introduced to Norman by my business partner of that time, Wayne Todd. This was around 1974.
I mention Wayne and that relationship because Norman had just pulled off somewhat of a “Miracle” of his own. He spoke at a small Church (when I say small, this had 6 curtained off “rooms” that served as Sunday School classrooms and these opened into the main sanctuary. That was the Church) named East Park Baptist Church. This was in Memphis, Tennessee. He preached “all things are possible” with such conviction that the pastor, Wayne Allan, picked up on it and ran with it. He trained his people in “Evangelism Explosion” (a personal witnessing program) and turned them loose on the neighborhood. Within a very short time, a new church was needed. This turned into a $5 million facility (a LOT of money in that day) that eventually (with it’s satellite schools) became the Briarcrest Baptist School System, the largest private school system in the south. Norman wrote a book about this (I believe the name was “all things are possible, but I’m open to correction).
Wayne Todd and I formed a non-profit organization called The Unity Trust in Memphis and Norman sat on the Board. We put out a 30 minute radio broadcast with Norman speaking by tape and the program rapidly developed a dedicated following. I remember Laurie Hill reading one of his new books for awhile.
I was a fledgling Christian at the time I met Norman. Raised in the Methodist Church, I had never heard anything like what Norman was espousing. The truth of his words soon bore witness to my spirit that, “Yes, this is truth. You ARE a son of the Almighty God and a fellow heir with Christ !” WOW !! I was like the Prodigal Son who, when “he came to himself”… My life was changed in that moment.
An ex-Marine and pretty well hardened to things spiritual, well… Suffice to say that I now have 15 years of prison ministry behind me, preaching and teaching the same things that Norman taught that gave me such “liberty”. Praise be to God.
We had a little group of followers in Memphis and we called ourselves, “Grubbites”. When Norman would come to Memphis and speak, we’d spend all of our waking hours around him. In our little group (probably 30 people) were more than a few attractive housewives. This trip, Norman was staying at a Holiday Inn by Briarcrest. Wayne and I walked in the door of his room one evening and it was jammed. People sitting on the floor, leaning against the walls. As it happened, several of the ladies were sitting on the king sized bed with him while he leaned up against the headboard and talked. Wayne, trying (for once) to catch him speechless said loudly, “Well just look at you, Norman. We leave you alone for awhile and now we find you here in the bed with all these good looking women !” Norman didn’t bat an eye. He quietly says, “Well, you know I always say… Love The Lord and do as you please.”
A group of us “Grubbites” (probably 8 men) were in a very nice restaurant with Norman at the table holding forth. We were having a great time and evidently got a bit loud as a group of four businessmen at the next table were giving us a hard stare from time to time. They were drinking with their meal and as the evening wore on, one of the gentlemen was not only “in his cups”, but seemed to be getting furious at us. As they got up to leave, three of the men started out of the restaurant, but the one held back. He leaned over Norman (obviously the leader of the group) and hissed, “Well, I’m an atheist. What do you think of that?” Norman didn’t even break stride. He looked up at him and in his soft voiced English accent, said, “Well, enjoy it while you can” and went back to his dinner.
Ahhh, life with Norman. Seldom dull.
May God continue to richly bless you and yours, now and forevermore.
H.S. (Rick) White