Dr. Otis Gatewood
Memorial Service For
Eddie Sharp said this may not be the best attended funeral, but there are probably more years of missionary service represented in this auditorium, than have been here in a long time.
We are here this afternoon to celebrate the life of Otis Gatewood, and to remind ourselves that we are mere pilgrims in this world; Heaven is our home. After 88 years, 75 of it in the Master's service, Otis Gatewood has gone home.
Otis was born August 27, 1911 at Meridian, Texas. He passed from this life, Thursday, September 16 at the age of 88 years and 20 days.
He is survived by: His wife, Irene Johnson Gatewood of Rochester Hills, Michigan, a son, David Otis Gatewood, his wife Sandy of Colorado Springs, Colorado and their daughter Christina Ruestle; A daughter, Darlene Michael McGee, of Vienna, Austria, her daughter Natasha Boren and her husband Mike, and Darlene's daughter Twyla Wagner, her husband Richard, and their daughter Laura.
Prayer: O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth. Look on us with mercy and bless this service. "May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight." We pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ.
Otis Gatewood was born in Meridian, Texas, the second child of Wallace Edmund Gatewood and Fannie Doty Gatewood. Otis' sister, Vella Gatewood Garrett Price, preceded him in death. When Otis was born at 10 AM on Sunday morning, his father said, "Another preacher has been born." When Otis told me that, I was a little surprised that the new baby Otis didn't insist on going to church that first morning. Two of Otis' first cousins are with us today, Willodyne Gatewood Brooks and Velma Gatewood Birchfield. The Gatewood family moved from Meridian to Hico, Texas and then to Rotan, Texas by the time Otis was four years old. The family moved to Roby, close to Sardis, about a year later.
In 1918, when Otis was 6 years old, there had been no crops to harvest that year. Otis said his Mother died of pellagra, which Otis called starvation. W.E. Gatewood moved to Fort Worth for a year and worked for Swift and Company. Otis' father married again and they had one son, Harvey Gatewood. Otis also had a step brother, George, who was adopted by W.E. Gatewood. Otis said that he grew up in a dance hall run by his father; I don't have any other information about that. Otis always felt very close to his sister, Vella, because she became his mother-substitute when his own mother died. The Family moved to Meadow, Texas, between Lubbock and Brownfield, when Otis was 13 years old.
During the first months that Otis lived near Meadow, he went by the Church of Christ building during a worship service, but would not go in. He was standing on the outside looking in through a window, when one of the men came out and invited him to come in for the service. Otis was baptized about two years later and started preaching.
After graduating from Meadow High School, Otis entered Abilene Christian College in 1932, and earn a B.A. degree in 1936. Later he earned a M.A. from Pepperdine College in Los Angeles. Pepperdine awarded him an honorary LLD a few years later. Otis also attended university classes at Texas Tech, the University of Utah, and the University of Frankfurt.
Otis attended college before the age of scholarships. He sold Bibles for the Southwestern Company of Nashville, Tennessee, in the summers and scrubbed toilets during the school year. Norvel Young, talking about Otis' influence at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the German Mission Work, said, "It was during the depression and Otis always had money; and he had his own car. One summer Otis convinced Batsell Barrett Baxter and me to sell Bibles in his crew. He took us to Kansas during the depression, where there had been a crop failure and they were having a heat wave. We were not too successful at selling Bibles but Otis was."
Otis Gatewood and Alma Morgan were married December 25th, 1936 in Abilene. Otis and Alma were always partners in their work in New Mexico, Utah, Lubbock, Germany and Michigan. Alma died in January 1963 and her memorial service was conducted in this auditorium.
Otis started preaching at age 15 in Meadow. As a college student he preached at Roby, Texas in 1933 through 1935, where he had lived as a boy. He also preached at Rochester, Texas in 1935 and 1936. Around 1937 Otis established the church in Eunice, New Mexico. G.C. Brewer was the Minister for the Broadway church in Lubbock at the time the elders sent Otis to Las Vegas, New Mexico to establish a church. This was probably the first fully supported missionary among our brethren to work in the United States.
In 1939 Otis and Alma moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, also supported by the Broadway Church, to establish the church. They worked seven years in Salt Lake City, 1939-1946. During this time, one of Otis' converts was Jacob C. Vandervis, who returned to his native Holland after World War II and helped to establish the church in his home land.
Otis' original dream was to be a missionary in China, but providence had other plans. Otis and G.C. Brewer had a vision of taking the Gospel to Germany after the war. When the war started Otis saw hundreds of Mormon missionaries return from Europe. Otis was appalled that there were no missionaries of the Church of Christ coming home from Europe. When Norvel Young came to the Broadway church to serve as Minister in 1943, he caught the vision and encouraged Otis to plan on taking the Gospel to Germany.
In 1946 Otis Gatewood and Paul Sherrod, a Broadway elder, made a survey trip through Germany to determine the best place to start mission work. This was only one year after the end of the war and the nation was still devastated. The two men met with General Lucius Clay in Berlin. General Clay was the Deputy Military Governor of the occupation forces in Germany. As a result of their survey, they decided the best place to start the work was in Frankfurt and they received permission for Otis and Roy Palmer to enter Germany in 1947. These were the first two religious workers allowed into post-war Germany. Roy Palmer, who has done mission work not only in Germany but in Africa, is with us today. During the first few years of their work in Frankfurt, over 600,000 individuals, including the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, were helped with food and clothing.
For a while, Otis and Alma lived at a bombed-out air field with a large number of Germany orphan boys, one of whom, Dieter Goebel, is now a professor at Abilene Christian University. Roy Palmer, Otis and others organized a Bible training school and trained many young German preachers, some of whom are still active in church work.
Otis worked in Germany from 1947 to 1957. When he returned to the States, he was the Founding President of Michigan Christian College, 1959-1963; Chancellor of Columbia Christian College, Portland, Oregon, and Professor of Missions at the Harding Graduate School of Religion. In 1970 Otis moved to Vienna, Austria where he was the founder and first president of European Christian College which is now The International University. He worked in Vienna for 19 years, until 1989.
Otis Gatewood and Irene Johnson were married in Lubbock, at the Broadway church, October 4, 1981. When Irene wrote that they were going to be married, I wrote her and said, "O.K. I'm here in Lubbock, what do you want me to do?" Otis told people that I was the producer and director of his wedding. Irene Johnson had been active in the mission work in Frankfurt for over 20 years and had worked closely with Otis and Alma and all of the other missionaries. Many of you know that Irene is suffering with Alzheimer's and is not able to be with us today. During the years 1947-1957, Otis traveled throughout the United States and spoke in hundreds of churches to inspire workers to go to Germany and to raise money for the German work. Paul Sherrod was his co-worker during this period. Brother Sherrod would make all the arrangements with the churches and Otis would travel and do the speaking. Nine permanent buildings were built with a value (at that time) of over a million dollars.. The buildings today would be worth four to five million dollars or more. J.C. Moore bought blocked marks and got three or four times the exchange rate for the American dollars.
Otis Gatewood became possibly, the most well-known and loved missionary in our brotherhood. He taught congregations to give for mission work. He helped Christians have a world-view of the Gospel and he was admired and respected because he not only preached evangelism, he lived it. God opened doors of opportunity into 57 other nations for Otis to tell the world of saving grace. Otis made his first trip to Russia, in 1958 with George Bailey, Jerry Tindel, Joe Schubert, and David Gatewood. In all, he visited Russia 25 times.
Otis wrote several books: You Can Do Personal Work, Gatewood-Farnsworth Debate on Mormonism, Wichita Forum Sermons, Preaching in the Footsteps of Hitler, There is a God in Heaven, and commentaries on Acts and Revelation. During his supposed years of retirement, both Otis and Irene were busy writing. He was the founder and Editor of CONTACT, a magazine for International News with a Directory of Churches Overseas, including congregations of US military people. It was a great help to Christians in the military.
Dr. Herbert Luft, who came to the church in Frankfurt when he was six years old and now is a professor at Pepperdine University, reminded the German government of the great humanitarian work of the Church of Christ immediately after World War II. Otis was awarded (on behalf of all of the missionary workers) the Bundesverdienskreuz (Federal German Medal of Honor, First Class), which is the highest honor that can be given by the German government to non-citizens.
The family asked me to play two hymns which were Otis' favorites. He listened to these two songs over and over during his last days. The first one is: "So nimm den meine haende." It is saying, "So take my hands and lead me until my soul's end and eternally. I am not able to go alone, not even one step. Where you are going and staying, take me with you."
I want to tell some personal stories and a few humorous ones. I first remember Otis Gatewood when I was ten years old, in 1940. He was holding a meeting at the Broadway church and was invited to our home for lunch. As everyone else, I was impressed. He asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said, "A preacher or a lawyer." Otis said, "Be a preacher; most lawyers are liars." That's Otis. During my time in Frankfurt I lived in the same building as Otis, Alma, David and Darlene. We were like family.
Otis had no peers in his ability to inspire and move audiences. When I was a teenager, one Sunday morning, my sister said, "Did someone say that Otis Gatewood is going to speak at church this morning?" Mother said, "Yes, why?" Faye said, "Then I am going to leave my purse at home because when he speaks I just open it up and dump it in."
While Otis and others were helping Germans in 1948 with clothing, a young man came to the building and asked for a pair of shoes. Otis was helping the young man to look, but they could not find any to fit. Finally, Otis said, "Try these on," and took the shoes off his own feet. They fit. That young man, Hans Novak, was duly impressed with the Christian spirit. He went on to become a Gospel preacher.
During one of our English-speaking Bible classes with US service men and women, Otis told a story about Marshall Keeble. Otis said during a Gospel Meeting, at the end of a sermon, Brother Keeble called for questions. One local pastor stood up and asked, "Brother Keeble, what is the Greek for "upon this rock I will build my church?" Brother Keeble didn't know Greek so he said, "Will you repeat the question?" He thought he would have a little time to think of an answer. When the question was repeated, Brother Keeble said, "How many of you in this audience know Greek?" Only one hand went up. Brother Keeble said, "Since there's only one of you, I won't take time now to answer that question." About a month after Otis told that story, Brother Fausto Salvoni from Italy was holding a meeting in Frankfurt. Brother Salvoni had written some of the Catholic Encyclopedia and was well-known by all of the 800 priests who were in attendance. After Brother Salvoni spoke, Otis spoke. One of the men in the audience stood up and said, "Herr Gatewood, what is the Aramaic for "upon this rock I will build my church?" I looked at Irene Johnson sitting next to me and said, "Do you think he will do it?" She nodded her head. Otis said, "Will you repeat the question?" I said to Irene, "He is going to do it." After the question was repeated, Otis asked, "How many of you in the audience know Aramaic?" Of course, 800 hands went up and the color in Otis' face drained away. Brother Salvoni stepped to the microphone and said, "Let me answer that, Brother Gatewood." After the meeting, I said, "Otis, this is not the same audience." He said, "I really got into that one, didn't I?"
In 1955 Norvel Young preached a sermon at Broadway about the Prodigal Son. He had five unique points. My Mother wrote down the five points and sent them to me in one of her letters. I used the same five points in a sermon to the English-speaking congregation in Frankfurt. Otis was in the audience and liked the five points. He made notes and when he was visiting in Lubbock a few months later, he preached a sermon with the same five points to the Broadway congregation. When he got back to Frankfurt he said, "Why didn't you tell me where you got that sermon?" I said, "My mother sent it to me."
In the summer of 1992, Otis and Irene planned a trip to Moscow. They had raised money in the US, Germany and Austria to purchase eight tons of food to give to Mikhail Gorbachev, to be distributed to the elderly and orphans. They had no appointment with Mr. Gorbachev, but Otis thought he had a better chance to get in, if he took food. Darlene, in Vienna, made a hotel reservation for Otis and Irene at the Hotel Ukraine, a hotel in which they had never stayed. Otis wanted to find a woman named Sonya Marionovskaya, who had been his tour guide when he first visited Russia 34 years earlier. In a city of nine million people, with no clues, finding one person wouldn't seem likely to anyone but Otis. He asked the people at the Ukraine Hotel if they knew Sonya Marionovskaya and they said she had previously worked at that very hotel. They found Sonya for Otis. The Lord had led him to the right hotel. Sonya didn't think it possible to get an appointment with Gorbechev, but Otis insisted. When Sonya returned, in a day or so, she had arranged a meeting with Mr. Gorbechev. When they walked into the tightly guarded office, Otis handed his business card to Mr. Gorbechev, who said, "I know who you are." Otis told him they had brought eight tons of food for him to distribute to those who needed it. Otis told him that he was a good man and should be back in politics. When the former president said he did not want to be back in politics, Otis tried to enroll him in preacher school. After a few minutes, Mr. Gorbechev said, "You are a very persuasive preacher." When Otis told him he needed to know Jesus to have his sins forgiven, he said, "I believe you are the first and only preacher who told me that I am a sinner." Otis said, "But you must be baptized." Gorbechev said, "I have been baptized." Otis replied, "But baptism is not the sprinkling of a few drops of water on the head." Gorbechev quickly answered, "But I was baptized by being put down into the water. It was a cold winter day when I was baptized in the cold river. My grandfather then wrapped me in a warm sheepskin and carried me away. My grandfather was a strong character, and I admired him very much." Otis then said, "But before a person is baptized, he must believe." Gorbechev hit his fist on the desk and said emphatically, "I have been baptized and I am a Christian." Otis thought it was time to close the discussion of baptism. They had a very cordial visit.
We are going to hear another of Otis' favorite songs he listened to over and over during his last days. This song is "Ich bete an die Macht der Liebe." This song has one verse in Russian, one in German, and then another in Russian. I am not sure of all of the words, but it is saying, "I am in awe of the power of His love."
We could tell stories all afternoon about Otis and Alma and Irene, but we must go on. When Otis' dear co-worker, Paul Sherrod, was near death, his wife, Irene Sherrod said to him, "Harvie said if he told all the good things about your life, it would take all afternoon." Brother Paul smiled and said, "Who's in a hurry?" As soon as our brethren heard of Otis' passing, tributes started coming by phone and email. Wil C. Goodheer, who followed Otis and is now President of The International University, wrote, "I can not help but think of the hundreds and thousands of precious souls who have been touched and influenced by Otis' dream of Christian education. That is certainly a wonderful legacy in his honor. He is a great man and, now that life has been swallowed up by immortality, he is receiving the blessed reward he deserves."
Maurice Hall, former missionary to France and Viet Nam, wrote, "We have suffered one of our greatest losses. Otis and Roy and their wives ate their first missionary meal in our home at the Hanau Signal Depot in 1947. We have been dear friends and co-workers since that time. Otis' encouraged me to get out of the military, returned to Abilene to school and to go to France. Otis, Alma, David and I made a survey trip to Italy to decide on the area to begin the church there. God, please raise up for us some more, at least one more Otis."
Robert Praterr. "It was expected, but brought back so many fond memories. His like may never be seen again down here."
Tom Staggs. "A tireless servant has been called home."
Jan Towell. We can rejoice that a true saint has gone home. Won't Heaven be grand? Pressing on till our turn.
In November 1997, we had the 50th Reunion of the start of the mission work in Germany. As the microphone moved from table to table, we heard scores of brethren tell how they had been influenced to go into mission work by Otis Gatewood. While I was in Frankfurt, one of the missionaries told me that he came to the mission field because of Otis' invitation. He said, "His mission reports were so exciting, I thought that all I would be doing was helping people in and out of the baptistry."
Norvel Young wrote of Otis: "Otis Gatewood, in my estimation, has done more to sir up interest and enthusiasm in mission work in the churches of Christ in America in our generation than any other man. He has spoken to tens of thousands as he served under the elders of the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, for more than twenty years. He and his family have not only encouraged others to go teach, but they have practiced what he preached."
My older son emailed me Sunday, "Even though Otis Gatewood had been sick, I was surprised to hear that he died. I guess I imagined a chariot of fire coming for him one day ! I can't help thinking that it seems like the end of an era- especially as the new millennium dawns. He always seemed larger-than-life to me.
I hope it doesn't seem to anyone this afternoon that I have praised Otis too much or given him too much credit. The Scripture teaches us to give credit to those who deserve it; it is good for us. Rom. 13:7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 1 Tim 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. (The word for elder could be an older person or a presbyter.) Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Otis Gatewood was a great evangelist, a dedicated missionary, and a visionary. He was known personally or by reputation by thousands of our brethren. When Otis told me years ago that the Iron Curtain would come down and we should be prepared to go to the east, I didn't have as much faith as he had. I didn't believe it would ever happen.
Joseph Shulam emailed from Jerusalem when he heard of Otis' passing, "I share in the deep sorrow for the passing of Otis Gatewood. Otis was a man with greatness that was visible by many, and weakness that was felt by only a few. I feel fortunate to have seen much more of Otis' greatness and to have been inspired by him to serve God and become an evangelist. I share with you the sorrow of your loss and the joy of hope eternal."
Otis was not perfect; he had his faults, as we all have. We are all thankful for the love and grace of God through Christ. Fred Pinkston, a Broadway elder who served on the German Committee, said one time of Otis, "Yes, he has made some mistakes, but just remember even though Babe Ruth struck out 1100 times, he is remembered for his 714 home runs." Otis Gatewood hit a lot of home runs.
April 12, 1961, the son of a carpenter, Yury Alekseyevich Gagarin, was the first man to orbit the earth, Russia's first cosmonaut. He became an instant celebrity. He was given the Order of Lenin and the title "Hero of the Soviet Union." When he returned to earth he said, and I am paraphrasing, "Just as I thought. There is no God. I was up there and I didn't see him." Mr. Gagarin was killed in a plane crash in 1968. I have wondered if he will be shocked when his knee will bow and he will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father? In Phil 2 9-11, we read: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Mr. Gagarin's remark prompted Otis Gatewood to write a book: THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN, which has been translated into Russian and distributed in that nation. Today is a day of celebration for Otis has gone home.
I think of the words of that beloved song, "Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe." - - In the last verse we sing: "And when before the throne - - I stand in Him complete - -I'll lay my trophies down - - all down - - at Jesus' feet." Otis had a lot of trophies to lay down, but he knew that Jesus paid it all.
I know the family would want me to thank all of you for coming, for the food, the flowers, the calls, the prayers and the visits. It is difficult for them to express their appreciation to each of you. It feels like coming home to be back in Abilene and this church. God bless you, David, Sandy, Christina, Darlene, Natasha, Mike, and Twyla, Richard and little Laura. And, God bless you and be with you, Irene. This family has shared Otis with thousands of others. It is hard for many of us to imagine our world without men like Batsell Barrett Baxter, Norvel Young and Otis Gatewood - - but we will see them again.
I thought of two scriptures which seem appropriate to me as we remember Otis: Rom 1:14-16 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 2 Tim 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Let us pray. O Jehovah God, great is your name in all the earth. You have created the mountains, the oceans, the rivers and the very small creatures. You rule nations and kings and presidents and yet you know when a sparrow falls. This afternoon the world news which is concerned with wars, disasters, and celebrities, doesn't consider this memorial service important. But, we know that a great cloud of heavenly witnesses has observed us as we attempted to honor a great servant of Yours. Oh Lord, our Father in Heaven, we praise your name and thank you for all of the blessings we have, for we know that every good and perfect gift comes from you. In counting our blessings, we are overwhelmed when we think of the faith, hope and love each one of us has received from your bountiful hand. Please accept our gratitude for the gift of Your Son, who came to earth, lived, suffered, died and rose again in our stead. Thank you that you have taught us to come boldly in Christ's name before your throne even as we humbly offer our praise and petitions. As your children, we rejoice daily with confident expectation of eternity with You, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the saints of all ages. We are thankful that we have lived in this great age of missionary consciousness and that we have been privileged to be a part of the work. We don't know how, O Lord, to say "thank you" enough for the great men and women who have taught your Word and lived it before us. We have seen Jesus so many times in their lives as they have laid the foundations for the Christian homes, the churches, the benevolent programs and the mission works which have blossomed in our time. And, thank you, Lord, for your servant and our brother and friend, Otis Gatewood. We pray that the thousands whose lives have been touched by your servant Otis, will be faithful in reaching out to share the Gospel with others. We have seen that Otis' life has adorned your doctrine. In him we have seen dedication, courage, vision, love, and sometimes tough love. We pray your blessings to be on David, Sandy and Christina - - on Darlene - - on Natasha and Mike - - on Twyla and her family. May the godly influence of Otis and Alma and Irene continue on in the lives of these physical children and grandchildren. And, Heavenly Father, when the time comes, may guardian angels take sweet Irene by the hands and gently guide her home to Abraham's bosom. We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen
Richard Walker's Remarks
I have known and been associated with Brother Gatewood for over fifty years. He was not only my brother in Christ but also my friend. I would like to tell you some of the things that stick in my memory about him. I first saw Brother Otis Gatewood here at the college in Abilene when Elaine and I were students. Brother Otis spoke at the ACU Lectures in 1942. I remember that he spoke very powerfully. He had no sing-song, "preachery" style, as did many preachers of that day. He spoke in clear, straight forward, yet eloquent language. He obviously knew the Bible well and quoted it profusely.
In Brother Gatewood's speech, he said that the German people were persecuting Jews and invading neighboring countries because they had lost the message of Jesus. He said that missionaries should be getting ready to go to Germany after the war. That was a new thought to me. It hit me right between the eyes. My reaction was, "Yes, that ought to be done, and I want to have a part in it." A few months after that, the opportunity came for me to take part in a campaign that was being planned for Salt Lake City, where Otis and Alma Gatewood were living and working. I jumped at the chance to go there. I spent over a year in Salt Lake City. While I was there, Brother Otis debated a representative of the Mormon church in the city part in Ogden, Utah. I believe it was Mr. Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth was contending that the Book of Mormon brought new truths to light that were not in the Bible. Otis was using a black board in the debate. He took a piece of chalk and drew a line right down the middle of the blackboard and asked Mr. Farnsworth to write on one side any new spiritual truths that the Book of Mormon revealed. Brother Gatewood warned, however, that if Mr. Farnsworth did write any "new" truths, he, Otis, would write on the other side of the chalk line the passage that showed that this truth was already in the Bible. If, however, the supposed new truth was not in the Bible, he (Otis) would write the passage that showed the teaching to be false. That was quite a challenge. It showed Otis' confidence in the Bible and in his knowledge of it. Mr. Farnsworth was afraid of the Bible and he knew that Brother Gatewood knew the Bible well. So he wanted to have nothing to do with writing new truths on the blackboard! In my mind's eye I can see Brother Gatewood standing in the pulpit of the little, newly-built church building in Salt Lake City. He was in his early thirties, tall, clean-shaven, healthy, and rather handsome. He had dark hair and sparkling blue eyes that seemed to shine. I recall him standing there one particular Sunday morning extolling Christ and saying that in Christ a greater than Solomon had come.
I rejoiced a few years later when I learned that Brother Gatewood had decided to go to Germany. Otis, Alma, Roy and Jaxie and others went to Germany and began their work in 1947. It was not until 1949 that Elaine and I went there, taking our children Sheryl and Gary with us. We worked at first in West Germany. In 1954, at Otis suggestion, we moved to West Berlin, which at that time was behind the Iron Curtain. Otis promised to help us in any way he could, and he did. He helped us raise funds, he made the initial survey trip to Berlin with me, and he preached three great gospel meetings for us there.
Otis was a great personal worker, and he did not give up on people easily. I remember that he kept working with Sister Brown's husband for years until in his old age Mr. Brown finally obeyed the gospel. I remember Otis' preaching the last two of the gospel meetings in Berlin under a tent that was placed on the ruins of a bombed-out building in the Friedenau section of Berlin. His German was still a little fractured and he read most of his sermons. They had been translated into German for him. He spoke very powerfully and the hearts of many people were touched. Around forty people obeyed the gospel in each of those tent meetings. That was the beginning of the church in Berlin.
Otis had many characteristics that I admire. He set goals, and once he had them set, he tried to reach them. He had a special type of mentality. He was a lot like the apostle Paul. He could see possibilities and opportunities that other people could not see. He had the ability to go into places and open up doors for others to follow. He always encouraged other missionaries and helped raise funds for them.
On one of his visits to Berlin he noticed that a dear German lady who helped with our house work had darned my socks. She had darned them so often that the darns had darns. Without our knowing it, Otis picked up one of those socks and slipped it into his pocket. When he later reported to our supporting congregation in Texas he held up that sock before the congregation and told them that their missionary needed a raise. As a result of that our support was increased.
I believe the thing that hurt Otis most was the untimely death of Alma. I believe that her death was the greatest disappointment of his life. In some ways, he was never the same after she died. One of the things that I remember most about Otis was the deep reverence he showed to God in his prayers. When he prayed he seemed to retreat into some secret place known only to him and to God. A stillness and peacefulness seemed to come over him. He spoke very lovingly to God. I think I never heard a man speak more lovingly to God than he. I believe he really loved God. That may be one reason why God loved him and blessed him openly in so many of his undertakings.
Brother Gatewood's goal was to see the gospel preached to every nation. He came to his maturity at a time when the American nation was being shaken by World War II and by the knowledge of the existence of the atomic bomb.
I would also like to say a word about Brother Gatewood's legacy. I believe that the Lord used him to awaken New Testament Christians in this country, who had been mostly inward-looking. Otis taught them to think internationally. He did not do this by himself, of course, but he led the way.
My Last Prayer
My Father, Creator, Sovereign, and Redeemer. Through Christ my Lord, I come to thee to pen a prayer that I wish for you to hear when the hour of death for me has come and my senses are too dull to pray as I would like. I pray that you will accept this as my parting petition. Thou knowest that I am unworthy of thy love and unfit for the Kingdom. I have sinned so often and so grievously that I deserve to be banished from thy holy, August, and majestic presence. However, I do not despair because you have, because of thy Son, promised to forgive and cleanse me by thy mercy again and again. I do believe this with all my heart and trust that I have been pardoned. I am sure there are sins that have deceived me and I am unable to discern between good and evil. There are sins that I have committed of which I am not conscious. Blot them out, dear Father, and cleanse me with the blood of thy Son. I am unworthy but I pray that I may be grateful. May I praise thee not only with my tongue but with my actions, work and attitude. You have given me such a wonderful wife, Alma, and children. I am not worthy of them, but grateful. You have blessed me so abundantly and I thank thee in every way I know how. Thank you for allowing me to preach the word these many ways. Thank you for the wonderful way you have blessed my feeble efforts. You have forgiven me abundantly and blessed me far above my deserts. I know I have failed you in so many ways, but thank you that you have over-ruled my failures to good. Thank you dear Father. Protect and redeem me to the end and use my efforts to thy name's glory and honor.
Otis & Alma Gatewood Are Buried
In Abilene, Texas
The Abilene Municipal Cemetery is located in Abilene, Texas. In Abilene, take I-20 to Exit 290, Hwy. 332. As you head south from the exit you will need immediately to turn right, heading west on E. North 10th Street. Head out about a mile and you will see cemeteries on your left and right after the Railroad crossing. Enter the main entrance to your right, and go to "T" and turn to the right, then quickly to the left on the first road where the Gatewood plots are found on the right side. It is probably the second or third plot and can easily be seen from the road. (An attendant there can help, if needed, is usually there near his white truck.) See Map To Location Here