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Saturday, 21 September 2013

James Lee Beall (1924 - 2013)


by Archibald Thackeray

James Lee Beall, pastor emeritus of Bethesda Christian Church in Sterling Heights, MI, died on September 10. He was the second senior pastor of Bethesda, being preceded by his mother M. D. Beall, the founder of the church.

Beall's daughter Analee Dunn is the third and current senior pastor of the large church that was in the 40s, 50s and 60s the most prominent Latter Rain Movement church. [Note:  Analee Dunn has retired from the senior pastorate and Patrick Visger was installed in that post on June 12, 2016.]

Charisma magazine notes in its obituary for Beall that his ministry bridged both the Latter Rain Movement and the Charismatic Movement, saying that he "was one of the most sought-after speakers in the charismatic movement of the 1970s and became known for his nationwide radio broadcast, America to Your Knees."

While he was popular when speaking worldwide he was always a local pastor first. He once wrote:

"As preachers, we who pastor learn quickly enough that we receive more honor when we are away from home. We can tell old stories and get away with them, use illustrations without having anyone throw rocks at us, and combine the best of any number of sermons. Consequently, we receive adulation of our new audience. But when we return home there is no parade or marching band.

"This tends to give some pastor-shepherds an itch to travel. After all, they are such a precious gift that they simply must share themselves with the multitudes. But we need to shrink our heads to the size of our hats and remain where the Lord has put us.


"I love compliments as much as the next person. In fact, I eat them up. Through the years a number of well-intentioned people have told me my ministry was just too great to be confined to one local church. I have been momentarily excited by such dazzling suggestions. But they were nonsense. Just because people like to hear me speak as I travel the country does not automatically bestow upon me an apostolic gift of travel. The Lord called me to be a pastor-shepherd. And if I have a lick of sense, that is where I will remain." (Your Pastor, Your Shepherd)

James Beall leading worship at Bethesda
And remain he did. He was on the pastoral staff of Bethesda for 57 years and was a model of integrity and faithfulness.

His mother, Myrtle Beall, shared in her memoir, A Hand on My Shoulder, how James came to sense the call of the Lord to ministry:

"I recall also the night James Lee failed to return home on time from the Young People's Meeting at church. I was much worried and concerned at the thought of what may have befallen him and prayed earnestly to God for his protection. At midnight he came home and dashed up the stairs to me, taking two or three stairs at a time; he was crying, 'Mother, I've got Him. Mother, I've got Him!' I met Jim at the top of the staircase. Suddenly his arms were around me as he sobbed, 'Mother, God has given me the precious Holy Spirit and has called me to help you in the work!'

"God had indeed given him a vision that night of the burden that the Lord had put upon me. Jim had cried out to God that he might help me carry this burden. Right then and there the Lord baptized him in the Holy Spirit." (A Hand on My Shoulder, chapter 30)

Jim Beall in the Navy
As his funeral home obituary reads, Beall was also a "Proud WWII Navy Veteran". Author Barbara J. Yoder gives some background on this:

"My friend Patricia Beall Gruits still remembers the day her brother [James Beall] went off to war. He was just eighteen years old, still 'wet behind the ears,' in many ways more of a boy than a man. The whole family went with him to the neighborhood drugstore, the collection point for departure. There the local young men had gathered to wait for the bus that would take them to their military assignments.

"Their families had come with them. Some were clinging to each other, weeping uncontrollably. Others stood in total silence. No words could explain how they felt. The war's death statistics predicted the probable end of each young man's story. The families knew they were sending their sons and brothers off on a death assignment.

"Every member of Patricia's family was weeping. She remembers seeing her little brother, Harry, standing there crying buckets of tears. He had heard everyone talking about the war, and he was inconsolable about losing his beloved older brother. Would he ever see his big brother again?

"In this dreadful and terrifying time, Myrtle D. Beall, who in the 1930s had led Bible classes and
M. D Beall
prayer groups and who had founded a neighborhood Sunday School that had become a small church, decided to accept an offer to minister on the radio, broadcasting live from the church building. She called the program
America to Your Knees. Beall's single-minded goal was to summon an army of wartime pray-ers every weekday morning from 10:00 to 10:30. She was not about to do it alone; she was going to find everyone she could in the listening area to pray with her.

"After her radio broadcast, Myrtle went straight to the church sanctuary to lead a live prayer meeting from 10:30 to noon. She was joined not only by church members, but also by many people who prayed with her on the radio program. They were desperate. They did not want their sons to die. Some of those listening on the radio had already lost their sons and were stricken with grief, but still they came to pray. They would cry out to God, praying until they saw results.

"As these pray-ers got together daily, they learned to pray through their grief to faith. Faith began to arise as they learned to cry out to God and to connect with Him from their hearts. They learned how to pray until God spoke to them, and then they learned to proclaim His words back to Him. Their prayer-cries got God's attention because they had learned to speak out the prayers He had planted in their hearts.

"A sound was released in those prayer meetings that caused heaven to overtake hell on earth. Hell's assignments were interrupted on a daily basis as those people prayed earnestly and faithfully. Jesus put it this way: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

"The war ended, and all 84 servicemen from the church, Bethesda Missionary Temple, returned home safely. Not one soldier from that church lost his life" (The Cry God Hears ... and is Waiting to Answer).

After the war, Jim Beall put his spared life to good use bringing life - through Jesus Christ - to others, many others.
James Lee Beall's bible and notes on a sermon from Ecclesiates



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