Gospel sage gifted with para­bles

Wo­man cel­e­brates her 30th year as an or­dained min­is­ter

The Covington News - - Religion - By Colleen Capes Jack­son

The Rev. Martha Hal­come has a time­less gift of teach­ing the young and old alike with para­bles. In­spired by Christ’s ex­am­ple of teach­ing in para­bles as told in the Bi­ble in chap­ters Matthew, Mark and Luke, she paints a pic­ture with words to help oth­ers gain in­sight into the word of God.

Born in 1929 to Joseph and Far­ris Mitchell, the Rev. Hal­come was raised in a Chris­tian home with her six sis­ters.

“I al­ways loved Je­sus even when I was a lit­tle girl be­cause my par­ents told us how good he is,” she said.

Hal­come re­called her sal­va­tion ex­pe­ri­ence at age 14 when she gave her heart to the Lord on the last Sun­day night of Au­gust in 1943.

“When the preacher gave the al­tar call, I could feel con­vic­tion all over me,” she re­mem­bered just like it was yes­ter­day. “I wanted to cry and run to the al­tar. I held onto the bench and trem­bled. The preacher talked about the rich man dy­ing and lift­ing up his eyes in hell. My heart flut­tered and I ran to the al­tar that night and I have never had a de­sire to go back on God.”

When Hal­come’s fa­ther died, she left school and took a job work­ing in a laun­dro­mat for 50 cents an hour to help out at home. Later mar­ried to Carl Pick­ens, they had five chil­dren — Glo­ria, Don­ald, Pa­tri­cia, Karen and Michael.

Her hus­band died at an early age and Hal­come found peace and as­sur­ance by get­ting in­volved in the work of the church and taught Sun­day school to ages from ju­niors to adults.

“I played my gospel records and went to church ev­ery time the doors opened,” she said. “I found that when teach­ing the chil­dren, I could talk to them in para­bles and they could un­der­stand. It got to be a big thing and ev­ery­one wanted to hear them.”

Years later, she mar­ried the Rev. Ed Hal­come who of­ten preached in tents and in trailer parks out of his gospel car­a­van. As the pas­tor’s wife, she faith­fully vis­ited the church fam­ily and brought words of en­cour­age­ment to those in nurs­ing homes. Dur­ing their ra­dio min­istry on WGFS ra­dio in the 1970s, she ac­knowl­edged her gift of in­ter­ces­sion for oth­ers and led the prayer for the sick.

“Ms. Martha has al­ways been an in­spi­ra­tion to me,” said Ch­eryle Thompson, a vol­un­teer at the Gospel Mis­sion Church. “When I came to the church, she was one of the first peo­ple I met. She is a won­der­ful per­son and a bless­ing in my life — a prayer war­rior that I can call on.”

Hal­come con­tin­ued to share her para­bles with her hus­band in hopes that he would use them in his ser­mons. At that time, he did not be­lieve in women min­is­ter­ing in the church. She re­called an in­ner bat­tle as she tried to keep quiet in church.

“When I had a chance to sing a song or tes­tify, I would have to tell some­thing be­cause I was bub­bling inside,” she re­called with joy. “Af­ter a while, peo­ple be­gan to ask me to tell the para­bles.”

Her hus­band soon re­al­ized that her abil­ity to teach in para­bles was a gift from God. She was li­censed and or­dained as a min­is­ter of the gospel

“She and her late hus­band are founders of the Gospel Mis­sion As­so­ci­a­tion and Church,” said Rev. Wayne Whit­ley, pas­tor of the Gospel Mis­sion Church in Al­mon. “She is well anointed and reaches out to bless oth­ers. Mrs. Hal­come is very kind and has a good at­ti­tude. She has been an in­spi­ra­tion and a men­tor -— help­ing and teach­ing me to grow in the nur­ture of the Lord. She is like a mom and I es­teem her highly. As one of our se­nior min­is­ters, she con­tin­ues to give in­sight to our youth and se­niors.”

When she is asked to bring a Sun­day school les­son, she refers to it as “eat­ing with grandma.” She re­minds the class how grand­moth­ers are — they give you what they have and you bet­ter eat it.

“I can tell them many things about Je­sus,” she said. “I re­late it back to my child­hood when my mother would say if we ate all our food, she would give us dessert.

“That’s the way it is in the Chris­tian life,” she added. “Je­sus has so many things for us to do and he gives us the sweet­est prom­ises for do­ing what he has asked. The things that Je­sus asks us to do are not hard. You have got to be born again and get on the right track and you won’t have any trou­ble liv­ing right.”

Hal­come at­tests to many times when God has healed her through the power of prayer. She said the hard­est les­son she learned in life was to turn loose of what she asked Je­sus to han­dle and has found joy in trust­ing him. Her church fam­ily of­ten talks about her wis­dom.

“I tell them I got wis­dom by pray­ing,” as she has in­ter­ceded in prayer for her five chil­dren, 16 grand­chil­dren and 25 great grand­chil­dren. “ My mar­ried grand­chil­dren call me to pray and ask me ques­tions about the Bi­ble.”

At age 79, the Rev. Martha Hal­come at­tests that she doesn’t have a pain any­where and feels great. Her son-in-law, Ed Nolan, has put her many para­bles on CD — “Mes­sages from the Heart.” Fa­vorites in­clude “the Fruit of the Vine” in which she com­pares the church to grapes — peo­ple cling­ing to­gether — sweet, full of sap, with seed who have been cured by God’s son to per­fect his pur­pose for their life. She tells a para­ble about the im­por­tance of the lad’s lunch that Je­sus used to feed the mul­ti­tude and how the Christ­mas tree re­minds her of Je­sus.

“I tell the church peo­ple that I’m not sick — I’m old,” she said re­flect­ing on the abun­dant life God has given her. “I’ve been here a long time and some­day I am go­ing home to be with Je­sus.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Martha Hal­come stands in front Gospel Mis­sion Church on Al­mon Road, which she co-founded with her late hus­band El­bert D. Hal­come. Martha is very ac­tive in the life of the church and has a gift for us­ing para­bles.

Colum­nist

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