While stationed at Ramey Air Force base in Puerto Rico in 1967 a Baptist missionary, Billy Dodson asked me if I was saved. It was the first time I ever heard the word “saved.” He shared with me that “saved” referred to a moment in time in which a person recognizes himself a sinner before God deserving of going to hell as an earned penalty for that sin and upon recognizing his sinfulness then turns to God’s only provision for deliverance, His only begotten Son-Jesus Christ and asks of him to be saved. He then shared that upon genuinely asking Christ to save him that he would know he was saved, just like he knew his own name, and that he would be sure about it.
I was not saved at the missionary’s first visit, nor at his second and subsequent visits, but I was made aware that if I didn’t know where I would spend eternity and that if I died - I would go to hell. That thought haunted me for over a year till I decided to visit his church that was on November 14, 1968. It was after hearing Evangelist Rudolph Lemons preach a message on “What Hell Would Be Like” from the Gospel of Luke and chapter 16 that I realized that I really wanted to be saved. After the church service that evening I went to the pastor’s house to ask him about “this saved business in the Bible.” I wanted to see it for myself from the Bible, that is, what God said about - how you go to heaven.
Very fearful I went into the missionary’s house. He immediately opened the Bible to show me God can’t lie (Titus 1:2) that His Word is Truth (Jn.17:17) and asked me if I believed that the Bible was true. I said, yes, for my parents had taught me that truth. He then asked me if I believed that I was a sinner (Rm.3:23); I said yes. He then showed me that because I was a sinner that I deserved to go to hell - that it was my earned wage (Rm.6:23). He then asked me if I believed God’s Word - that I (Cas Reeves) should go to hell. I said, yes. The clincher for me came when he showed me John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He then asked three questions of me. The first, where do you think the Father is? I said, “heaven.” The second question, according to this passage of the Bible - how many ways are there to the Father? I answered, “one way - Jesus.” The third question he posed to me was - if Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, as sincerely as you can, would you like to ask him to save you? I said, “yes.”
That night in Puerto Rico at the age of 22, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I believed by faith what the Bible, God’s Word promised: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).
One week after I was saved, I was baptized and joined the New Testament Baptist Church of Isabela, Puerto Rico. In the following weeks, as I listened to the pastor preach from God’s Holy Word. I began to sense a desire to do the same. I just couldn’t think of any thing more important to do with my life, but to surrender it to my Lord and Savior - Jesus Christ and to the ministry of His Gospel. That, I did in only a few months after I got saved. To this day, I have been in Christ’s service.
My ministry education began under the instruction of my first pastor, Brother Billy Dodson, who instructed me in Biblical doctrine, which following a concentrated course of study, I was ordained by our local church. The next five years were years of practical training in local church planting, local church ministries and family instruction under the guidance of Pastor Dodson in Hearne, Texas for a year and then under the tutelage of Pastor Gary Gilmore at the Calvary Baptist Church in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for four years. I am very much indebted to both of these men for their guidance and instruction. From the Fall of 1974 to the Spring of 1977, I attended and graduated from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, Minnesota. While at college, I served as the assistant pastor at the Grace Baptist Church in Owatonna, serving under Pastor Wesley Hansen, who introduced me to an effective and efficient management style for conducting church business meetings, of which I have been very appreciative. From 1977 to 1979, I attended Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary and served in the Calvary Baptist Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania as a Seminary Preacher Boy under the careful eye of Dr. E. Robert Jordan the Pastor. I have a fond appreciation of Dr. Jordan’s counsel, instruction, and friendship in support of my personal ministry through the years. In 1980, Calvary Baptist Church of Lansdale, Pa. licensed me to plant a church in the Endicott/Owego area of New York. Today, the Heritage Baptist Church of Endicott, NY, located in the community of Campville, just off NY Route 17 (fut. I-86) at Exit 66 stands as a testimony to that endeavor. In 2005, I resumed my seminary educational efforts that I had to abandon in 1979 due to an increase in family responsibilities. In the Spring of 2006, following a careful course of study under the guidance and instruction of Dr. Thomas Strouse, then Dean of Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary in Newington, Connecticut, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies. Today, as a pastor I find these seminary studies a delight and a refreshing. I continue to press toward the next degree. At 65 years of age, I find it’s never too late to keep on preparing. I am greatly indebted to Dr. Thomas Strouse. Finally, all of my educational efforts and accomplishments would not have been possible without the supportive efforts of my faithful, and godly wife, of over 40 years, Linda, who received the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time I did.