Jeremiah 48:29-30 ASV "We have heard of the pride of Moab, [that] he is very proud; his loftiness, and his pride, and his arrogancy, and the haughtiness of his heart. I know his wrath, saith Jehovah, that it is nought; his boastings have wrought nothing.
As a kid growing up smack in the middle of hysteric fundamentalism I never realized that FBCH was not a mainstream IFB church--I cannot imagine that now, but it is still very true among current members of FBCH. We heard Bro. Hyles preach so much about Hammond being the center of it all and all the thousands of pastors that looked to Hammond for encouragement and guidance. We heard stories from Bro. Hyles about all the people that uprooted their families from across the fruited plain in order to move to Hammond and be under his preaching and ministry. We heard about all the other churches in our area and across the nation that were selling out and changing and turning away from Fundamentalism. We heard about the weekly speaking engagements that Hyles had all across the nation and even the world to "help save America" and to "keep this nation free"! We saw his entourage of body guards and security guards armed with guns to keep "preacher" safe. We heard week in and week out about the plots on his ministry and even some death threats on his life because he was preaching the truth.
I can still remember as a kid thinking that Bro. Hyles was some sort of famous movie star or celebrity. We were given glossy pictures of him, coffee mugs with his face looking up from the bottom, and even a cardboard cutout of his face to wear as a mask--maybe someday he would remember my name--maybe someday he would mention my family from the pulpit during a sermon--maybe someday he would say "hi" to me in the hallway--maybe someday he would send me a letter he wrote with his own hand!
Recently I heard some chatter from some current members of FBCH about how Dr. Schaap was invited to the White House for a meeting with the POTUS. I also read about this and saw a picture of Pastor Schaap with President George W. Bush in an issue of "The Voice". The same shock and awe that Hyles' stories and image created in me years ago were evident in the glimmering eyes of those who regaled me with tales of a Baptist preacher going to Washington to set things right! It brought back memories of times when Hyles would talk about actually refusing a meeting with either Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan when he was President--Pastor Hyles was far too busy to meet with any mere President--he was carrying a nation and a world on his shoulders!
Adoring fans, bodyguards, and tall tales--all the ingredients for a hyper-fundy superhero! This was my relationship with my pastor for over 20 years--now you know why I am so wacky.