Gayle Erwin's Newsletter

April, May 1996 Newsletter

Call Me Mister

Dr. Bill MacGowan and his wife, Rene, welcomed me into their home on my first trip to Umtali on the Mozambique border of what was then called Rhodesia in Southern Africa. As an orthopedic surgeon, the raging civil war kept Bill busy and they were somewhat surprised that I had risked sniper fire along the 120 mile stretch of highway between Salisbury (now Harare) and Umtali (now Mutare) to speak in their town.

I tried to think of some way to appear brave, but finally admitted that I was unaware of the road danger until, along the way, my driver asked if I minded that he was armed. Only later did I discover that I was asked to go to Umtali, because the other speakers at a conference that brought me to the country refused to go.

Their beautiful home backed against a game reserve, and Bill was once, as he lounged by his pool, temporarily and painfully blinded by a spitting cobra that wandered onto his property. Living in this Garden of Eden land produced a few items to keep you alert.

Bill, a quiet, thoughtful, sometimes-morose person, and I developed a special relationship. Each year, when I would go to their country, now called Zimbabwe, I would stay at least a few nights with them, and, at some point in the stay, would bait Bill and purposely draw him into a medical/ethical argument with a broadside against the medical profession.

We kept at it for hours--back and forth through the house, at the table, in the pool. He would "lose his cool" by splashing water on me, or temporarily stomping off, or threatening to rearrange my body parts if he ever had to operate on me. I thought I was merely having fun, until, one day when he had gone to another part of the house, Rene thanked me.

She said, "The only time Bill ever brightens up, with the war and everything going on, is when you come and bait him, and I really appreciate your bringing him out." I promised to keep a good fight plan for his sake.

A renewal experience made bill's commitment to God run deep and he sought ways to quietly serve the Body of Christ. For a period of time, he published a renewal magazine that he especially wanted to distribute among Anglicans (Episcopal) where he attended church. He was a solid man.

My last visit with Bill before his death shocked me and provided the reason for this story. We sat at his table for another unusually good meal (The British are not famous for cuisine).

"Well, Doctor Bill," I said with mock emphasis, "What is your latest malpractice?"

Ignoring my question, he curtly spouted, "Call me 'Mister.'"

I responded, "Have you quit being a doctor or have they kicked you out?"

He silently and intently stared at me while Rene jumped in to explain.

"Yes," she said, "In our country, if you have served as a doctor in a long and outstanding manner, they restore to you the title of 'Mister.' It is the highest honor."

I sat amazed. When they know you are a doctor, but they call you "Mister," you have reached the highest in your profession. His membership in the Royal College of Surgeons paled in the light of this honor.

"How much an illustration of Jesus," I thought. "The 'Son of God' becomes known as the 'Son of man' – the 'King of kings' becomes the 'servant of all.'"

The height and goal of both Bill and Jesus was to be "numbered among the transgressors." Some traditions are worth keeping.

Dear Gayle...

So, am I talking to Gayle or Frank? Hmmm.

Gayle, if it is you, thank Frank for me. He does a great job of getting things out right away and is obviously exceptionally efficient. Our church finished the 4-part "Nature of Jesus" videos and we're looking forward to getting into the Father and Spirit tapes. They really love you. Frank, if it's you, well, thanks. Although it is usually only for a minute, I enjoy the chance to talk with you. I deal with people all the time and you're almost, could it be, too polite and cordial? I love it and appreciate it too.

Terry and Cherylee Dawson
Ephrata, WA

I just had an interesting flash wondering where on the planet you might be right now.

We continue to see evidence of hunger in the Russian People, although things have changed so drastically in the last three or four years. There are the new rich on one hand and the extremely poor on the other. Many who were open to the gospel two or three years ago have found a money god to serve. It is sad! But God is very faithful and we are seeing signs of fruit in those who have received the good news and continue on in the Lord. May the Lord of the harvest be praised!

Mick, Sherrie and Hannah Ewing
Vladivostok, Russia

Thanks, Gayle. You came, you spoke, you taught, and little did I know that six years ago you saved a marriage. Thanks with all my heart.

A Friend

I love The Father Style shirt. They're subtle enough that I can wear them to the public school where I work. Most people think at first they have something to do with being a dad, but upon closer examination of the back, some very interesting discussions have developed, especially in the faculty room.

It is amazing that God can take a shirt and use it for His glory.

Kevin Henesy
Hauppauge, NY

Please send me your list of tapes. I keep giving my favorites away. I've just given "The Nature of Jesus" to a couple who are new Christians. I can just see them having a great time learning and laughing together. I do hope they some time see you in person. Thank you for hours of teaching that seemed like minutes.

Lue Sine
Oroville, CA

I appreciate your insight into leadership. While at the men's conference in Portland, I took only a brief moment to explain that I am a graduate student and preparing a thesis on this theme: Servant Leadership. Some of my study has involved Greenleaf and other writings on the subject. Obviously that includes your "Jesus Style" message as well.

I continue to present the issue of service to my fellow students and co-workers. I must admit, it is still often hard for them to grasp. They keep wanting to serve only to increase the bottom line rather than out of love as Jesus taught.

Tom Atchison
Portland, OR

I can't tell you what an unexpected joy it was to find your homepage on the internet today. I am sure that my internet provider will be pleased as well, because I have spent the last half hour downloading your past articles and illustrations, thus adding to his financial profit. Nevertheless, your material is of great spiritual profit to me and to those whom I serve.

Paul and Theresa Myers
Whidbey Island, WA

I have listened to the Father Style and Jesus Style tapes many times since last year. This year, I bought the books to help it penetrate my feeble mind. I appreciate your messages of "love."

Now, the ulterior motive for the letter. I need a back copy of Servant Quarters, the "Froth and Bubble" edition. I lent it out and am blessed that they kept it, but now what about me (only kidding). Could you round up an extra and send it out? It was the most balanced assessment on the matter.

James Burke
Sarasota, FL

Folks, that issue has long since been out of stock. We have been meeting a few requests with issues returned for address correction. However, if you are on the internet, you can access my homepage and pull down a copy of that issue. Address?

Your teaching on "The Jesus Style" has had a tremendous impact on me and on how I perceive my role as Director of the Albuquerque Pregnancy Center should be. I had purchased the conference video tapes and showed the tapes over a four month period as part of the monthly staff meeting for volunteers. I felt that your teaching of servant leadership contained valuable principles for everyone in ministry to know. The volunteers loved the teaching and were all excited that you were coming in February.

Jeannie Stokes
Albuquerque, NM

I came to hear you speak on a Sunday morning. I stayed for all three services and felt strongly convicted about something I did years ago and I knew that was the time to make it right.

My family has been under a full assault from Satan, because we fell away from making God number one. Pray that we will draw close to him and find the fellowship He wants for us. I purchased your books and four of your tapes. Here is an order for the other 22.

A Friend,

Received your newsletter this morning and was delighted to find your internet address. I always stop everything when Servant Quarters arrives and settle in for a quick scan and then a good read. Always a wonderful lift to hear you talking through the pages of the newsletter. Thanks for reminding me that the name of Jesus always triumphs over all. Just have to stop and say it over and over again. What peace He brings.

Bob Inman
Lubbock, TX

You may recall sailing on the Anastasis from Barahona, Dominican Republic to Houston and having to cancel classes because so many of us were "drugged" from seasick pills! Even so, your message and lifestyle had a profound effect on us, then and now. We gain fresh insight and are encouraged each time we ready your newsletters. We've kept every issue and have often shared various teachings and articles with others.

Yesterday, I came across an article I wrote a year or so following DTS. I was amazed at how vividly it took me back to that classroom. I'm still amazed at how often something is said or done which suddenly brings your simple, yet powerful teachings back to the forefront.

Sondra S. Jenkins
Atlantic Beach, FL

Here is part of Sondra's article:
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus,
All I ask, to be like Him...

So goes the words of a favorite old song. In a service, our pastor shared that he caught himself singing those familiar words as a prayer, then stopped dead in his tracks as he realized the enormity of what he was asking. All I ask? All I ask?

What does it really mean to be like Jesus? It brought to mind the teaching by Gayle Erwin we had on the ship Anastasis and the 14 points of his message. We had to memorize them to pass the test.

As soon as I got home from service, I located the notes I'd taken in class and found my autographed copy of The Jesus Style. As I began reading, I was awed at the simple, yet powerful truths we'd been taught. Philippians 2:5 challenges us to "let this mind (or attitude) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The best way to learn what those attitudes were is to look at the example we have in Scripture.

We see that Jesus was a Servant. He was others-centered. We see him healing people wherever He went and washing the disciples' feet. He did not have an attitude of superiority or "lord it over" others that He was the Son of God. He never stressed his position of authority or used force to bring people into submission.

He showed us how to lead by example. As He called his disciples, He told them "follow me...and I will make you...." His mission was to point people to the Father, not to make a name for himself. Jesus was humble and never manipulated or used people to get what he wanted.

Born of questionable parentage (at least in the minds of the community) in a lowly barn. He came from a bad neighborhood and owned no worldly possessions. He chose his disciples from off the streets, one of whom eventually betrayed Him.

Even though he was the Son of God, He came in human flesh, likeness and frailty and allowed Himself to be tempted the same ways we are. He was obedient even to the point of death on a cross, when the message of the cross was disgraceful and foolishness.

Lord, I am sobered, but I do want to be like Jesus.

Pastor Carl Dixon of Sarasota, Florida, in his church bulletin, captured the purpose of my humor very well as he prepared his people to hear me. I share part of it with you.

Why would I nickname anybody "Rubberface?"

I remember the first time I heard Gayle. It was at a pastor's conference at Merritt Island, Florida. This somewhat rotund man walked onto the platform with the pulpit removed. My attention was immediately drawn to the unusual suspenders he wore and the mischievous look on his face. I was soon drawn into his message by the laughter he created. Gayle has the ability to make you laugh at the obvious and then drive home a serious point so you will never forget it.

Gayle uses humor skillfully. I don't enjoy listening to people who try to make others laugh just to be funny. Humor is a powerful tool if it is used naturally to teach the life-changing message of the Bible.

I have now heard Gayle teach many times and, as a result, have discovered anew the understanding of the Character of God as it is revealed in scripture. Gayle is just as at home in the Old Testament as he is in the New. He is able to expose the Nature of God the Son, or the Father, or the Holy Spirit in a way that truly impacts lives.
Now, why would I nickname anybody rubberface? Wait until you SEE Gayle. He can bring a point home with a look on his face, a twinkle in his eye, that can in one instant make you laugh and then force you to think about an important life-changing Biblical point – thus "Rubberface."