The Reverend Manley Beasley Sr. left us a great legacy by teaching us a very simple way of developing our faith in God. Those of us who have studied the Bible know how necessary it is to develop our faith, because we need access to the provision God made for us, and it can only be manifested through faith.
We are reminded by ministers that all God has is ours, and if our faith was of the size of a mustard seed we would have it all. But usually that's all we are told, it is left to us the parishioners, to learn how to accomplish it, and we get stuck. However, Rev. Beasley Sr., in his booklet on Faith No. 1, of which we are going to print some passages, explains to us in detail how to develop our faith in God. He teaches us what we need to do to have the faith that led him to trust and depend totally on God, in spite of having had a life with so much adversity.
Next, some biographical notes of his life.
INSTRODUCTION TO THE LIFE OF REV. MANLEY BEASLEY SR.
September 10, 1931 – July 10, 1990
A Prodigal Returns Home. The life-choices her son was making weighed heavily on Vera Mae Beasley, when she told her pastor that she needed to talk with him right away. Manley had again left home, headed for yet another voyage somewhere across the seas. This last visit at home had not been a happy one. He had again been drinking with his friends. She was in desperate need of a word of counsel. She needed someone to talk to. “God, how far are you going to let Manley go?” Pastor Webb dropped by the next day, a Monday. Once more Vera Mae walked him through the story of her wayward boy who, at age 14, had left home as a Merchant Marine to sail the oceans of the world. She talked about his drinking and gambling. She described how discouraged she felt when he returned home for brief visits between tours. She told her pastor that all she had to hold on to, was the promise she’d received from the Lord at Manley’s birth, and again when he was dying at age of two – the promise that he would live and that he would grow up to be a preacher. They didn’t know that when he had left home that weekend he headed for the Port of New Orleans. At that moment, he was looking for a ship on which he would work his way to the Orient.
Manley would later recall how, that Monday, perhaps even as his mother and Pastor Webb had been praying, he suddenly was overwhelmed with a desire to return home. He couldn’t shake the urge, so he counted his money and found that he had just enough to buy a ticket from New Orleans to Port Arthur. He could hitchhike home from there. He would not understand until later that this desire was the prompting of God; the Holy Spirit, the One who had pursued him around the world and now was about to accompany this wayward, chosen child, on his last few miles home. Home, In God’s providence, a youth-led revival was being held at First Baptist Church, Port Neches, that week. Manley was persuaded to attend the Friday evening service. He had not been to church in so long. Several of the young people then talked him into joining them the next morning for a “breakfast service”. He agreed because his first cousin W.C. Beasley, a decorated WWII hero, would be the speaker. He listened intently. He really admired his cousin.
Manley returned to church that evening. Cecil Pemberton, one of the young people in the church who had recently surrendered to preach, was the speaker. At the end of the message an invitation to respond publicly was extended. As the invitation was coming to a close, Lee Wilkerson, that year’s, Baylor University Homecoming Queen, left her place in the choir to go stand beside a handsome young man in the congregation. “Are you ready to give your heart to the Lord, Manley?” she asked. He said nothing. His mother prayed. Lee took his arm and the next thing he remembers, he was standing at the front. In looking back, Manley recalls his having already began to cry out to God for forgiveness as he has listened to his cousin, W.C. Beasley, share his testimony that morning. Now, as he took the hand of the pastor Webb, no question existed in his mind that the transaction had been completed. The prodigal was finally home! For his mother, however, this was but the first step in God fulfilling the promise He had made to her – a promise that only a few of her prayer partners knew about, a promise that had never been shared with Manley because, as she told her friends, “I don’t want another ‘Mother-called’ son in the ministry.”
Now, there he stands… It must have been through tears that Vera Mae watched her boy walk to the front of the church again, a few weeks later, this time to tell the pastor that he felt God had called him to be a preacher. There he stands – the son who had been born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, that little baby who was almost black as coal, who was not able to breathe. That little boy whom the doctor said would not live. Now there he stands. You can almost hear her whisper: “God, I promised you that if you let him live I would give him entirely to you. And you let him live, Oh God!”
Henry and Vera Mae had lived all their married life in Rockport, MS. Henry was 16 and Vera Mae, was 15 when they vowed to be faithful to each other ‘til death would part them. When Vera Mae took those vows, however, she didn’t realize what life had in store for her. Despite not having gone beyond the eighth grade, Henry soon became a successful businessman in this small community of the Pearl River, located just 60 miles south of the State Capital of Jackson. He developed a 40-acre farm where he grew tomatoes and other vegetables, which were shipped by truck all over that part of the United States. Life treated them well. They eventually were blessed with five children; three daughters, Henry Mae, Joyce, and Patricia, and two sons; Manley and Kenneth. But then things started to take a turn for the worse. Henry became addicted to alcohol. Sometimes under its influence, is personality changed. Though he never seriously harmed the children, his dear Vera Mae suffered greatly. When sober, however, he lived the life of a hard-working man.
Regrettably, Henry’s addiction began to affect his business. Eventually he lost the 40-acre farm, the trucks, and their lovely “house on the hill” where Manley was born. Then, one day, Henry announced that they were going to move to Texas… And so it was, in the spring of 1945, just as WWII was winding down, the Beasley family headed west where Henry had a job waiting. Unknown to Vera Mae, Manley was suffering from Dyslexia, a condition no one knew anything about back then. Dyslexia results in people having difficulty with language skills such as spelling, reading, writing, and sometimes speaking. Is a condition that often leads to problems in school, in the workplace, and even in relating to other people. It leads to stress and many dyslexic students become so discouraged they don’t want to continue in school. And this was exactly what was happening to Manley. He was becoming so frustrated and angry that he began to lash out at the school system and society he thought were to blame for what was happening to him. And so, it was that a loving mother, not knowing what else to do agreed to let Manley see if he could join the Merchant Marines. He applied and was accepted, but only after lying about his age. He gave them a 1929 birth date, rather than 1931, the year he was actually born.
This was a whole new world for young 14-year-old Manley Beasley as he moved from the flatlands of East Texas to the rolling waves of the ocean. He departed June 13, 1946, aboard the Gunner’s Knot, headed for Yokohama, Japan. Though he no longer had to face the frustration of not being able to keep up with his school peers, he would now be confronted with the challenge of adjusting to the life of a sailor. He would have to quickly learn the discipline and requirements of life at sea. And learn he did, as attested by his eventually becoming the ship’s cook on his several years of service while circumventing the globe two times by age 16.
These would also be years when God’s grace would be extended in great measure to this teenager, for in God’s providence, in the midst of the rough and tough existence of a sailor, God was pursuing this wayward child. God was holding on to him, preparing him, even in his rebellion, for that day when he would be used to touch countless lives around the world.
Pastor Webb was surprised at how soon it was, after his conversion, that Manley sensed God’s call to be a preacher. He may have questioned the validity of such a quick decision on the part of anyone else, but being aware of the promise Manley’s mother had been holding on to for years, he knew that this was no ordinary moment. “Brother Webb, I believe God has called me to preach. What do I do next?” What do you say to a young man who dropped out of school when he was 13 because of his not being able to keep up with his studies? What advice do you give to someone who has little reading and writing skills? How do you counsel this most unlikely candidate for the ministry? Pastor Webb knew that his response would probably determine the next steps Manley would take. Actually however, unknown to either of them, God had already prepared the way for this “prodigal come home” pastor Webb was about to be His messenger. “Manley, you are going to need to go to school. You must improve your reading and writing skills. Though your memories of past school experiences are not the best, you must now take it seriously.” Manley knew this and he was ready to put forth the effort, but how? Pastor Webb added: this encouraging word, a word that Manley held on for the next several years: “Manley, if God is truly calling you to preach, He will make a way for you to go to school.”
Six weeks later, Dr. W.M. Ethridge, Vice president of East Texas Baptist College in Marshal, TX. paid a visit to pastor Webb, who told him about Manley. He arranged for them to meet. Dr. Ethridge was so struck with Manley’s sincerity and depth of faith that he told him he would give him an opportunity to study at the college by waving the usual high school diploma requirement. He said that if Manley made it through the first year with passing grades, he would be allowed to continue. Manley registered that next semester and roomed with Pastor Webb’s son. That first year proved very difficult. It did not help that his father resented the fact that his son was going into the ministry. But in spite of this, Manley would retreat to Port Neches as often as he could for encouragement and counsel from his pastor and to pray with his godly mother. He struggled but persevered and ended the year with passing grades.
By Ron Owens
Count It All Joy
When Manley first became ill, God impressed on him, that he would be given two options:
1) The miracle of an instantaneous physical healing, or
2) The miracle of being kept alive by the grace of God.
Knowing his own heart and the danger of becoming prideful in what God would have done – or having the passage of time diminish the wonder of God’s miracle of healing – he chose the second option. He chose to live each day by the grace of His creator. He knew that this would keep him constantly dependent on God for the very breath he breathed. Manley knew that life’s greatest lessons are learned in the school of adversity. So rather than asking God for deliverance from his affliction, he trusted God for the grace to live victoriously in his affliction. During those years of living in the presence of death, the resurrected life of his Lord was so manifested that touched the lives of countless others.
Testimony: “I had the glorious privilege of serving as Manley’s pastor for six years. During those years, he was my teacher. He taught me many things, but the first and most important thing he taught me was about prayer. The first time I had Manley in a meeting, after the service he announced that we were going to stay at church to pray. We prayed until 1 AM. Next morning at five o’clock, I heard a knock on my door and there stood Manley, I said: ‘Is there an emergency?’ He said: ‘There sure is, We need to pray.’ We went back to the church and prayed until noon. That was the beginning of a glorious revival in our church and community.
“I will never forget what Manley did the third day of that meeting. He wrote something on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope and said ‘put this in your Bible, then read it after I am gone.’ He had written down everything he was trusting God to do, and I tell you, it was exactly what happened. I wasn’t used to that. I had always preached and hoped something would happen. I would pray and hope to get an answer some day.”
On July of 1990 Brother Manley went home to be with the Lord at the age of 58.
He Received the Promise - Even though he was not very old as we measure a life's span; he left behind a legacy of faith that was rarely seen in his generation. We pray that he will be honored and the Lord glorified by this attempt to share this legacy with all who would live a life of faith that is truly pleasing to God.
The Test of Faith - There came a time when Manley believed the Lord gave him a choice of complete healing or daily healing. Manley chose daily healing because for him it was an act of faith that each day the Lord had to heal him to the point that he could get out of bed. During those years he had more confinements in the hospital, as well as trips to Europe and revivals all over the United States. He led Bible Conferences, revivals, and shared his personal testimony with others dealing with illness.
Standing firm in the Faith - Over the ages there are men that continue to stand true to both the message and the methods of God. One such man was Manley Beasley. In 1970 Manley was stricken with diseases that the doctors stated were terminal. He went from 210 Ibs. to a meager 140 in a few short months. Practically every muscle in his body collapsed.
He Received a Word from God - the Lord gave Manley a verse in Psalm 128:6 “You may live to see your children’s children.”
The Walk of Faith – His walk of faith began in earnest. For the next year his condition grew worse and he spent it in the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. His mission field for that year was the hospital. Believing that what God had promised, He was able to perform, Manley continued to give the glory to God and ministered to people that the Lord sent in his path through the hospital. He knew when God was finished with him in the hospital that the Lord would raise him up and allow him to continue to minister. That year confined in the hospital God provided for the Beasley family and ministry as if he was still traveling and preaching. For the next 20 years God continued to allow Manley to minister to people and share what he has learned about the walk of Faith.”
Rev. Jimmy Robertson
“Come Help Us Celebrate the Life of Manley Beasley” So read the announcements on the marquee of First Baptist Church Euless, TX, that Friday, July 13, 1990. And they came. They traveled from across America and beyond. Man, and women, old, and young, arrived at the service to pay tribute to a man whose life and message had changed the course of their own lives… People from every walk in life expressed gratitude to God for having Manley Beasley’s life intersect with theirs.
By Ron Owen