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The Rescue Mission

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2024 6:18 pm

The Rescue Mission

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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Hi, this is Joanne Vigner with the podcast It's Storytime Meemaw, an answered prayer for stories that point children to God. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network. A daily program powered by the Truth Network. This is kind of a great thing and I'll tell you where pop culture, current events, and theology all come together. Speak your mind.

And now, here's today's Truth Talk Live host. Drunks, cast-offs, people living in the gutter, living on the street. They hold up signs. They annoy you. Hey, I need your money. They panhandle. What do you do about them?

Well, some people run away, even Christian people. We all were, this messes me up. Go get a job. Get out of my face.

The stench of alcohol. You're a loser. You're going nowhere. But Jesus loves these people. And so does a man named Neil Wilcox, who's written a book called God's Providence, My Privilege. Now, brother Wilcox, we're in a loud room with a bunch of people hearing the Word of God.

We just had Wednesday in the Word. Last night there was a celebration, and I want Steve Hall, the current member of the Rescue Mission, to tell everyone who is this guy and what happened last night, brother Steve. It was very exciting. I got to tell you, Neil Wilcox was our very first executive director at the Rescue Mission. He developed it. He put it together.

It was his plan, his layout. He has grown that. We are now 57 years strong, helping the men of Winston-Salem, those with addictions, alcohol, drugs, et cetera, to see transforming through their lives through our Savior, Jesus Christ. The heart of this man is really what kicked it off.

You need to look at his book. It is phenomenal. It tells his life story from birth all the way through the great commissioning of this Winston-Salem Institute, and we're just thankful for him. Thank you, brother. I grew up calling you Uncle Neil because my daddy and you ran around, and he was there when the mission was started, right?

Absolutely, absolutely. Tell us a little bit about those days when you came to Winston, sir. Well, I didn't know much. My wife and I moved over the mission in Skid Row, and there we were in 1967 when the riots took place here. We looked out and saw them coming to our mission.

We didn't know if they were going to stop, break windows or what, but that night we had a speaker who spoke on when I see the blood, I'll pass over you, and I don't think they saw the blood, but they passed over us. Thank God for that, and God laid that burden on my heart that the five men that went to Jack Howe's pastor's service, and then I tried to lay that on the hearts of those that heard that I got to speak to, and we saw in my time at the mission, Winston-Salem was about a population of 100,000 people. We had over 50,000 people to contribute to the mission, either cash or gifts in God.

To God be the glory, great things he has done. Well, now a lot of Christian folks, you know, that may be going on missions, they want to move to the suburbs, right, and reach the, you know, let's get a little closer to a golf course, right, or somewhere, you know, where the grass is a little greener. You went right into Skid Row. You went right onto Trade Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which was not a safe place to go, maybe the highest crime area in town.

That's right. My friend that brought me here, moved me here, my wife and I said he never felt so bad in his life to leave us and go back to Greenville, South Carolina, and where he worked at Bob Jones University, and he was there, but he never forgot us. He's passed, but his wife stills my wife's best friend. Yeah, and what's fascinating is the ministry is still going on, and how many years has the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission been in existence? And by the way, this program is for all rescue missions everywhere. There's a great Durham Rescue Mission, there's Raleigh, and there's Charlotte, you know, there's men and women of God who are serving the down and out, bringing them up to heaven, right, and bringing them to the Lord, and bringing them help and counseling, addiction counseling, bringing them food, giving them work, giving them dignity that God has originally designed for all of us made in his image. But Reverend Neil Wilcox, this has been how many years of this life of this wonderful place? 57 years trying to tell people how God's grace can rejuvenate the social rejects of our communities and give them hope and help them to become a blessing and serve our Jesus. Wow, no, we don't want to tell too many people about what's in here because we wanted them to go get this book, which we're going to take a picture of and put on my Facebook page and all that, but the title of your book, God's Providence, My Privilege, subtitled Miracles of the Winston Salem Rescue Mission by the Reverend A. Neil Wilcox. Uncle Neil, tell me, what is your heart behind this book? What's the passion here? Tell everyone when they open this thing what they're going to find.

Well, it's my life. I never saw my dad. He never saw me. My mother took me to her mother's and left me when I was a baby. She came back to see me, but my grandmother was a spiritual life.

Richer than I, you could never be because I had a grandmother who prayed for me. At the age of 14, she called me to the bedside and said, son, I want you to promise me you'll meet me over yonder. At that time, I didn't know Christ as my savior, but I promised her I would.

Three months later, she passed away. Three months later, I trusted Christ as my forever father, and I read in the scripture where he said, I'll never leave you nor forsake you. It was a special blessing to a guy that didn't have a father in his life and was raised by whoever took me in. When my grandmother died, I went and stayed with a Christian aunt and her son and worked on the farm in eastern North Carolina until God called me to Bob Jones.

I had $300 to go get a college education. By the grace of God, I worked my way through, and when I finished, I had a college diploma, a $20 bill, and a 53 Ford. I never felt so broke in my life, but I reached the goal that God put before me. With his help, God has been good all the time. I'm so thankful today at 87, I look back and see the fingerprints of God on my life and give him the praise and gratitude. I thank the Lord for your dad, Stuart Epperson Sr., who was by my side along with the pastors and churches in the Winston-Salem area.

I feel so fortunate that God chose to need me like the little boy with the three loaves and the fishes, and he multiplied and gave me so much for his glory and honor, and he gets to honor me because without him, I would be nothing. As the voice of Neil Wilcox, founder of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, the author of this wonderful book, God's Providence, My Privilege, Miracles of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, no parents growing up, godly grandmother in her dying moments saying, I want to see you on the other side. He comes to faith three months later, and a lot of people with your background, brother Wilcox, say they get bitter. They'd be mad at life.

They might end up on skid row, and many people maybe are. They're drowning those sorrows away and angry at people and beating people up because of it and turning to crime, but you didn't go that route. God did something. I could have gone into sin, into crime, into drugs, alcohol, and what would people say? Well, what do you expect?

He didn't have a daddy. What would you expect? But by the grace of God, my grandmother's prayers were answered. I thank God for praying family members, grandmothers, who pray for their loved ones and stand by them. She had already had 13 children, and when I came along, she took me in. What is it about this ministry?

I mean, this is the worst of the worst. I mean, daddy would take me down to the rescue mission. He's like, okay, junior, we're locking the car doors, making sure when you get out, and we're going to go see Uncle Neil, and we're going to go do the preaching. He had me come down and share. When I was growing closer to the Lord myself later on, you remember in high school college, he had me come down and preach, and I mean, that was an on-fire crowd.

I mean, it was amazing, but what is it about that? Those down and outers that attracted Neil Wilcox to come to the most dangerous part of Winston Salem, North Carolina, and there's a dangerous part of every city listening to me right now, and there's a Neil Wilcox that got us called to go not to the nice parks and suburbs, but go into the slums, which is what you did. What attracted you? What is it that led you there? After your dad came down to BJ, along with brother John D. Moxley, and talked to me, and they asked me to come up and give my vision to the board. When I gave my vision to the board, then God laid their vision on my heart, and then I started telling people in this area about what God wanted to do, and I just asked God to give me enough of these men. God had to do it.

I'm natural, I'm human, but God gave me a burden, and I've never asked Him to take it away. When I see these men on the streets with signs, and I see them trying to make their way somewhere, who knows where, my heart still goes out to them, and I thank the Lord. Even in Greenville, the rescue mission there in Greenville has their graduation every third Thursday night at my church, and I open in prayer. I'm still involved in trying to help their mission there in Greenville, as well as the mission here in Winston-Salem. Wow, and you know we have a Greenville State folks in Greenville. Hello 96.9 FM, a New Truth Network station folks listening. Thanks to Big Stu's impact on me, your impact on him, and now the Christian radio is you know blowing through there with teaching and preaching and talk shows like this, like Truth Talk Live, and boy the Lord has worked.

I mean so many thousands of people. What's it like to meet one of those graduates? A bunch of them shared last night, and a bunch of them were singing. They were singing the devil's music not too long ago, drinking the devil's whiskey and chasing women and doing all kinds of stuff, and God saved those men, and they got up there and spoke last night.

Talk about that. What's it like to see those graduates? What a blessing, and I see it every third Thursday night in Greenville from the Greenville Rescue Mission, where they are seeing the same thing happen in lives. These men are so thrilled that they have a new life in Jesus Christ. And still even at your age right now, still going in your mid-60s right, you're still sharing Jesus?

No, I'm a little over that 87. Okay now. Well he encouraged all, we had about 70 guys in here at Wednesday in the Word this morning, and he encouraged them just by being here.

Last night they were tickled to death. You were signing your book last night. The book is God's Providence, My Privilege.

What a statement. May all of our lives be titled just like this. May we be living letters like Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 2.

Living epistles, right? May that be the title of our life. God's Providence, My Privilege by Neil Wilcox, founder of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission. A blessing to rescue missions all over, and honestly, hey, Jesus came on a rescue mission.

We all are targets. Thank God that he came to rescue me, and now he's sent us and commissioned us to go. What would you challenge everyone about getting on that rescue mission for God to reach out to others, even if they're in a dead-end place?

Well if you have, if you love our Lord, you need to ask him to give you the burden, and help you see the need, and give you the insight that you need to be able to talk to these men, and let them know, let them feel the love of God in your heart, because these men don't know what love is. They've turned their back on their families, and turned their back on their children, and they've taken the way of the world, and it's let them down. They've gone nowhere but down, and we are the only ones that have hope for them.

And we are the only ones that have hope for them. What a blessing it is every third Thursday night, every third Thursday of the month, to have to be with these men, anywhere from four to 14 men give their testimony, and then they sing those songs like we sang last night, and it thrills our hearts to hear their testimony, what God has done, and what their plans are to do for God as he leads them in the future. And this book is chock full of those testimonies, and Big Stu's in here, and you got Bobby Robertson, all these preachers from around here, you know, Dr. Martin, and all these guys that came and supported, pastors rallied around from all, you know, different groups, and Steve Hall, this is an example, by the way, this man right here is an example of the fact that, you know, they say that the pioneers, they get the arrows, and the settlers get the land. Now, you were a pioneer, and it was tough on Strain Street. You had the riots, and you had people didn't want you here, because you're bringing Jesus to these people. You're bringing sunshine to people hooked on moonshine, right? The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ, the S-O-N-shine. Steve Hall, what's it like seeing this patriarch getting to be around him, having him at the banquet last night, the founder of the rescue mission? Now you're laboring in that field.

What's it like being a part of that? A single word is inspiring. I mean, it's inspiring to see that God is still in his heart, still working.

He still has the same burden. He's still helping every day. Seeing that encourages me.

I want to do the same. Wow, and Dave Compton, this is what Christian radio is all about, isn't it? Telling these stories about God's miraculous providence in Neil Wilcox, now Steve Hall, and now the mission all over the world, right? And you're a DJ on the radio, been doing this for a few years, huh?

Well, that's what's unique about the Truth Network. Folks like Brother Neil and numerous others, Stu, that we've interviewed down through the years. Praise God for your story, brother. God's providence, my privilege. Neil Wilcox, get this book, and you'll, Zoolon Press, a good group right there.

Big Stu knows a little bit about that place, right? Get this book, learn more, be encouraged, share it with someone else, and next time you see that person who's hopeless, who's desperate, who's down and out, don't look at them like a Pharisee. Look at them through the eyes of Jesus.

Look at them through, you know, the eyes of a man of God like Neil Wilcox, who's brought so many to Christ in that situation. Now, at one time, Brother Wilcox, at one time, you were taller than me. Is that true? Because you've known me that long. I've known you since you were a little kitty-o. Now, I might have you a little bit on height now, and Big Stu did too, but at one time, you were taller than me.

I believe you're right there. I'll tell you, but you know, it's funny, you walk up and you see this guy, and you may be a little taller than him, but there he is, a giant among men, and you had to hit your knees a lot, didn't you, in that rescue mission at Trade Street in Winston-Salem. You had to hit your knees and ask God to do some things, and there was no money or what.

Talk about that real quick. Well, at one time, we didn't have room. We had people. We didn't have any place to sleep them, and I told the Lord, I said, Lord, we'd like to take some more men, but we don't have any room, and we built a little room in the back. The bathroom was large in the old mission, and we built a little room in it and put a man in there, and then a lady was coming down the street. She saw one of my board members, and one of the men that was converted into mission, taking bread in the mission, and she said, could you give me some bread for my children?

They gave her some bread, and she went back and told the man she worked for, R.P. Reese, that retired from R.J. Reynolds, and then got another job, and then he started thinking, and God laid it on his heart, and he gave us the 71-room former hospital to move the rescue mission in. Now, that mission, that building was 50 years old when he gave it to us.

The building inspectors in Winston walked through it with me. I said, we've got to remodel this. He said, yeah, I don't know that you need renovation, but maybe you need demolition, and that's the way the world looked at those men that were going to come into that building, demolition, but God blessed us. We raised $20,000, and God sent men in off the street that had talent to help us to renovate that building and get it. Now, it's been serving the mission for 50 years, and it's deteriorating, and we may have to replace that. It's going to have to come down, so God's still doing miracles, but thank God for those that gave the mission. When I was there, now we're praying God would move on the hearts of people to help them at this time. After 57 years, this building is going to have to be torn down and replaced. Now, this isn't the 1960s or the 70s now, but the same gospel is real.

The same Jesus is on his throne. He is Lord of all, and the same solution, speak to this real quick, because it does get frustrating when you see so many people hurting, so many people panhandling, you know, begging for money. Is money the answer?

If you give them 20, I mean, give us some advice to our people. I mean, there's a place that'll feed them and house them and put them to work, just, you know, sometimes I'll hand a rescue mission card to one of these guys wanting money. I say, hey, they'll feed you, and they'll put you to work, and literally, I go reach for the card and give it back to them, and he's gone.

He's gone to the other lane of traffic. You didn't want to hear that, but talk about how that's the answer and how our listeners, the rescue missions in all these cities are there to help reach those people. That's why we give money to you as opposed to giving money to them, because who knows where that's going to go. So why is it a good stewardship to support the local rescue mission, and that's the answer? Well, because we know when God's on the throne of your life and God's on the throne of the mission, these men have nowhere else to look, nowhere else to go.

They've tried everything else. They've lost their everything, their families, their children, their wives, and they have nothing, and then they come and they see that by the grace of God, they can have hope. They can have a promise of heaven, and they can really connect with their families and be the husband and be the father that they ought to be and need to be by the grace of God, and that's what's preached at night in the service in the rescue mission. You got to come to the rescue mission.

I remember that. Daddy said, you go down there and eat, and you go and they take you in. You got to hear the preaching, and that's where the change happens right there. That's spiritual food.

That's the part of regeneration is getting connected with the Lord Jesus Christ, and when they do that, they've got connection with eternal life and all that they need. He'll supply your needs, just like he did for me. Without a father, with a part-time mama, God met my needs. I worked through, went through college and didn't have to borrow money, didn't know you could borrow money. I thought you're supposed to work it out. I didn't know that people would give you money. I thought I was supposed to work it out, but by the grace of God, I did, and I thank God I did that because then I started to run a place that people said, these guys don't want to work.

They won't work. After I had worked, I worked my way through grade school, high school and college, and then went to rescue those that were social rejects, by the grace of God, to help them see that they could do it with Jesus Christ's help. The book is God's Providence, My Privilege. Neil Wilcox is the author, founder of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission.

He talks about Big Stu in here, who's in heaven. It's a lot of powerful testimonies and how God brought change in the hearts of those that, the least among these, those that thought, they're drunk, they're a loser, they're a dead end. God used this man to launch this Winston-Salem Rescue Mission to be a light in the darkness. Now to this day, thousands have been changed, and all over the country, these rescue missions have popped up. So thank you for your ministry, brother, and thank you for being on Truth Talk with Stu. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege of sharing the goodness of my good Lord.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-17 20:51:51 / 2024-05-17 21:01:18 / 9

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