Rev. O.W. Williams
United Pentecostal Church International
1919 ~ Present
I, like many children born in the early 1900s, was born into a large, loving, farm family with few financial resources. Born May 3, 1919, I was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to Wesley and Ida Shepherd Williams in the hills of Tennessee.
Every fall, about October, we would get a pair of shoes that had to last until the last frost was over. My brother, our hound dog Jack, and I would roam the woods hunting squirrels and other varmints. During one of those excursions we found some white lightening. Out of curiosity we began tasting and tasting just a little too much so that my brother had to help me home! I was a typical boy growing up in the hills of Tennessee, but God had a plan for my life.
As a teenager, I met Violet Lynch, a beautiful little blond. God blessed us with sixty-seven years and nine months of marriage before He took her home to be with Him. He also blessed us with three beautiful daughters: Virginia, an educator, has gone on to meet the Lord; Laverne, a legal secretary in Dallas, Texas; and Demi, a teacher in Colmesneil, Texas. On September 23, 2005, I married Doris Gary, a great Christian lady.
In 1940 at the age of twenty-one my family and I attended a service in a one-room school house. I wept and repented of my sins. There in Cane Creek Bro. Stubblefield baptized me in the lovely name of Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins. After that our family started attending a community service at a place called Upper Sinking. During this revival God blessed me with the wonderful power of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. I lay on my back for more that four hours speaking in tongues before some one took me home.
Next we moved to Nashville and continued studying Gods word. From Nashville we went to Memphis and became members of the First Pentecostal Church with Pastor E.E. McNatt. Many nights Brother McNatt expounded and instructed me in studying the Bible. He taught me how to live a consecrated life. He also taught me the importance of loyalty, faithfulness, and dedications to God and church. Here I learned the meaning of true conviction. During this time, God was also building my faith to trust in Him and I began to feel a call on my life. Many things in our personal life while in Nashville proved Gods faithfulness to His word!
In 1943, while attending Pickwick Lake Camp Meeting in Iuka, Mississippi, I had a brief conversation with Brother A.D. Gurley. I made the comment that I wanted God to speak personally to me and say He wanted me to preach. Brother Gurley, in the nicest manner possible, asked if I didnt think that my demands were a little strong. My response was conviction that I had demanded anything of the Lord, thereby realizing my place in Christs kingdom was not to demand but to become a willing vessel. I found an old crooked tree and in prayer and repentance became subject to Gods authority and His divine will for my life. There I told the Lord Jesus that I would do whatever He wanted me to do and I would do it to the best of my ability. Thus began my ministry.
During the first decade of my ministry, three churches were started in Tennessee. In 1945 in Ridgely, Tennessee, I was given approval to take the church in a building that had been vacant for sometime. Brother Greer, with funds provided by one of his friends, bought the church and there began my pastoral responsibilities. I sold my wifes cook stove for $35.00 in order that we would have the funds to move. Later I heard that a building was available in Tiptonville , a few miles away, and began to preach there also.
Near the end of our time in Ridgely, God began to deal with me about Union City, some 31 miles away. We experienced many challenges in building a church in Union City. However, God always has a plan. My faith was being built through each obstacle. Jesus Christ had a plan for my life as a pastor, minister, and leader. Ridgely, Tiptonville, and Union City today have their own pastors. God is faithful!
While in Tennessee I was elected to several District offices, one being that of a Presbyter in the state. Building churches and learning to trust Him would prepare me for greater things in my walk with God. In 1953 I felt the call to go to Kilgore, Texas and accept the pastorate there. I served in Kilgore for six years before moving to Houston. In Houston we saw a little white run-down frame building. I must admit that I had difficulty at first trying to discover why God would move me there. However, in time we built a church that seated 1100 people. The church, Stonewall, became a haven for the lost and hurting. God continued to increase His work of faith in me and I was able to help build faith in others. Many healings and miracles were seen there and people began to come.
For fourteen years I labored at Stonewall until the fellow brethren of Texas elected me to the office of Texas District Superintendent. It was during my tenure that the current tabernacle on the campgrounds in Lufkin, Texas was built. At the time it was built, it was the largest tabernacle in Pentecost. I served as superintendent for three terms. At the end of the third term, I felt a call back to the pastoral ministry. In December 1976, I assumed the pastorate of Eastview United Pentecostal church in Lufkin. Brother J.H. Rogers had retired but he was able to sit on the platform with me until his death. God is gracious and so should I be.
God continued to bless my ministry and the work of faith in my life. Many healings and miracles were seen at Eastview as well. By the early 1980s we had to build a larger facility to accommodate the growing congregation. I still enjoy the privilege of sitting on the platform of this facility as the retired pastor and being honored by my pastor, Brother David Hunt.
As I look back on my ministry, I remember some notable miracles from God. A lady in Stonewall had throat cancer, I simply asked her to stand and start praising Jesus. She reported that when she started praising Him, she swallowed the cancer! A lady in Granite City, Illinois, had no eyeballs but through prayer and faith, Jesus allowed her to see again! She first saw light and dark then movement and color. Pastor K.V. Reeves later called me to report that she was still seeing and that she had been baptized in the name of Jesus. Hallelujah! A young man at Eastview broke his leg in three places and was in a cast the full length of his leg. We prayed for him on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon he and some of his buddies cut the cast off. He came to church that night without pain or a cast! My God is a God of His word. He promised healing and miracles and He is still in the business today. I have always contended that I could not heal a gnat, but that my God is more than able to do above and beyond what we can ask! Jesus Christ, my God, is great and greatly to be praised.