Ferrell Jenkins Conducts 50th Anniversary Tour: A Tribute to my Friend

April 27, 2016

The March 28 – April 8, 2016 Israel tour directed by Ferrell Jenkins was advertised as his “50th Anniversary Tour,” thus completing 50 years of Distinctive World Tours, designed and led by Mr. Jenkins. What a remarkable, incredible milestone! These tours, custom-designed with Christians in mind, have literally gone around the world, but the emphasis has been on travel to the lands where the biblical events transpired. That of course includes Israel, but also Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt and more; literally from Ararat (where Noah’s ark landed; book of Genesis) to Patmos (where John received the Revelation). All who have traveled with Mr. Jenkins have profited, but it is especially the Bible class teachers (men & women), preachers and elders who have made the greatest use of resources, photos and knowledge gained. In that way also the folks “back home” that do not travel have benefited as well.

His blog, Ferrell’s Travel Blog was started in 2007, to feature not only photos of Bible places but also helpful info, biblical texts and other resources/links. Since then his blog has received more than two million visits. (You will also find biblicalstudies.info to be a very helpful site).

Mr. Jenkins wrote, “I have been preaching and teaching the Word of God since 1952, and I have always loved it. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than teaching at the sites where biblical events occurred. Thanks for the memories. It is my conviction that an understanding of the Bible lands can enhance one’s Bible study and improve understanding of the text. This, in turn, must be converted to action in obedience to the will of the Lord, and in service to Him” (Biblical Insights, Dec. 2009, p.28).

Ferrell Jenkins outside Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Ferrell Jenkins outside Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem (Apr. 14, 2016). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

On my part I wanted to say Thanks! for a job well done, for such an outstanding contribution to the field of biblical studies. It is amazing to look back at those last 50 years and think of the good that has been accomplished. Though retired, Mr. Jenkins continues to study several hours daily, and writes and does some teaching as time permits. He has devoted his life to helping people, especially young people, better understand and be equipped to teach the Bible. All of his work has been done with the loving support of Mrs. Elizabeth Jenkins.

On a personal note, I was able to join this 50th tour on the evening before its final day. Then after the tour group left for home, Mr. Jenkins & I rented a car, and for the next several days visited sites all over Israel, using Tiberius and Jerusalem as our “base,” especially focusing on places we had not seen before. We were also able to do some aerial photography from Joppa to the south as far as Beersheba and east to Jerusalem. I have enjoyed and profited from several personal study trips he & I have made of this nature.

So to my fellow Gospel preacher, former professor, and traveling friend, please accept this small token of my lasting gratitude, and of the high esteem in which you are held, furnished by the occasion of this extraordinary milestone! To God be the glory!


Passing of Harry Pickup, Jr.

January 28, 2016

Joshua described his approaching death with the words, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth” (Josh. 23:14). In context, he was encouraging Israel to be faithful to their covenant with the Lord: “And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed” (ibid.).

Another of God’s servants has gone the way of all the earth: Harry Pickup, Jr., of Temple Terrace, Florida, at the age of 91. A faithful gospel preacher, and also for many years in public relations with Florida College, he was an encourager to many.

Harry Pickup, Jr.

In the fall of ’69 Mr. Pickup came to my high school (Corner, in Jefferson Co., AL), to recruit me for Florida College. I had not heard of the college, nor had I previously met Mr. Pickup. My preacher, Pryde Hinton, had mentioned me to him. He came by to see me a second and a third time. I already had determined to be a gospel preacher, and he discussed the ways that Florida College could help me prepare for that work. I attended the Jan. ’70 FC annual lectureship with friends Bob and Sandra Waldron (their 10th class reunion), and by the time we were headed back to north Alabama, I had made the decision to enroll that fall ’70.

That decision impacted my life for good in so many ways. The good men there that influenced me; the tools with which they equipped me to work–I will always be thankful. I’ve told bro. Pickup I was so grateful for his interest in me and encouragement. It was always pleasant to see him from time to time down through the years. The last time we talked was after the untimely death of his son Marty (2013). He has a special place in my heart.

You can hear some of his lessons at sites such as http://www.wordsfitlyspoken.org/audio/irving_tx/

He has a chapter in the book, Letters to Young Preachers, edited by Warren Berkley and Mark Roberts.

Shane Scott noted:

Each summer he would pay for several younger preachers to come and hear a panel of teachers speak for a few days, delving into a wide array of biblical topics. Though the subjects were frequently controversial, brother Pickup created an environment in which issues could be discussed openly, with cheerful fervor. His commitment to truth and to service converged beautifully in Pickup University. And his great sense of humor was reflected in the initials of this “school,” PU! (http://focusmagazine.org/harry-pickup-jr.php)

As King David said, “”Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Sam. 3:38). Goodbye for now, Dear Friend.

Ruth the Moabitess

November 15, 2014

After studying the book of Judges, especially with the material recorded in chapters 17-21, the book of Ruth is so refreshing, like a breath of fresh air! This 4 chapter book tells how Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons left Bethlehem in time of famine for the fields of Moab, sojourning there for ten years. The sons married women of Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Elimelech and both sons died. When Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem, Ruth made the choice to go with her. She said,

Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:16-17).

The text narrates how Ruth met and married Boaz, describing Ruth as a hard worker, showing kindness to her mother-in-law, and known throughout the town as a virtuous woman, and depicting Boaz as equally magnanimous, walking in the fear of the LORD. But the real reason Ruth is in the Bible does not become apparent until the closing verses. Starting with Judah’s son Perez as his beginning point, the writer informs us:

Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron. 19 Hezron fathered Ram, who fathered Amminadab.  Amminadab fathered Nahshon, who fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz, who fathered Obed.  And Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered David (Ruth 4:18-22).

Ruth is thus seen in the lineage of the Messiah! Her story is one link in the chain of God’s Old Testament promise to bring Christ into the world to accomplish His great redemptive work. Matthew begins his gospel record with the genealogy of Christ, including Ruth: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse” (1:5).

Our photo, taken on the NW shore of the Dead Sea, looks across to the mountains of Moab, Ruth’s home.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

OT Moab is today the territory of Jordan.

Click image for larger view.


Tribute to Hollis Creel

July 19, 2014

Hollis Creel, a beloved gospel preacher, passed away on Tuesday, July 15. Funeral services were conducted yesterday in Pleasant Grove, AL., with nephew Josh Creel and myself conducting services. It was an honor to me to be asked to pay tribute to this godly man. Uncle Hollis (really my wife’s uncle) would have been 86 on Aug. 14. He and Robbye Creel had been married 63 years. He had worked as evangelist for 57 years with churches of Christ across the southeast. It is estimated that he preached more than 6,000 sermons, plus countless Bible classes and home studies. He touched many lives. Yesterday at the funeral home, every seat was taken, and the back of the auditorium as well as lobby were filled with people standing.

Hollis and Robbye Creel.

Hollis and Robbye Creel.

When Abner died, David lamented to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? (2 Sam. 3:38). Uncle Hollis was one of my heroes. I have known him for about 50 years. He was a friend “who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 14:17). “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 18:24).

He loved the Lord, and loved the church, the people of God. He was not a “big shot.” His one purpose in life was saving souls. He was a quiet man, a humble man, and he had a tremendous influence for good. His convictions ran deep; he was not for sale. When churches were troubled by various issues his only concern was to take a kind but firm stand for truth. His aim was to please God.

Proverbs 10:7 states, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.” I have good memories of Uncle Hollis. I’ll remember his loved for his family. More than anything else, he wanted each family member to go to heaven; to “choose the one thing that is needful.” His children loved and respected this quiet, unassuming, strong man. He and his wife have been a wonderful team. He had recently mentioned to his daughter, only a couple of weeks ago,  how very blessed he was with his family, including extended family.

Hollis and Robbie small

I’ll remember his sense of humor. And I’ll remember him as a great story-teller. He also had a bit of mischief about him. Also, he could laugh at himself.

He was a “good sport.” Twenty-five years ago we were moving from Lexington, AL, to our present location in Hanceville, AL. Uncle Hollis was in Lexington to conduct our fall gospel meeting with the church there. During the course of the week he helped me move my shop tools to Hanceville. I had borrowed a full size van which had no back seats; my wife and I occupied the two front seats. He sat on a 5 gallon bucket all the way down, helped me unload the tools, and sat on the bucket all the way back.

He enjoyed buying and selling. He could take a piece of “junk” and turn it into a beautiful piece of furniture.

But the “tie that binds” is Truth, the truth of God’s word. To have that in common is most important by far. What attracts men and women of all ages to someone like Uncle Hollis is in reality seeing the influence of Christ in his/her life; such are “adorn[ing] the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10) by letting the gospel have free course in their lives.

Hollis Creel

Hollis Creel

I am thankful that Uncle Hollis lived in the Lord; that when he died, he died in faith. He died in the Lord (Rev. 14:13) and thus died in hope. I’m thankful for the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Goodbye for now, Dear Friend. May “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:4) sustain and comfort the Creel family at this time.


Farewell to a Friend: Eliemelech (Elie) Ben Meir

June 10, 2014

Ferrell Jenkins (May 31) wrote a very fitting tribute to Eliemelech Ben Meira guide he has used in Israel for two decades. Elie died May 23, following a stroke.  Also Barry Britnell (who is currently leading a tour in Israel) made a nice post here.

I also wanted to share a few memories of Elie, whom I first met in 1999. I began taking groups to Israel in 2009. I never considered asking for any guide except Elie. He and driver Fawzi were close friends. Elie always wanted to be sure I put in a request for Fawzi to be our driver.

At Natana, Israel. Fawzi, driver at left, and Elie, center. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

At Natanya, Israel. Fawzi, driver at left, and Elie, center. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

I selected a few photos from this past Oct. 2013, that are from a variety of places.

At Dan, the northern most city in ancient Israel, and the site of Jeroboam’s shrine, which was condemned by faithful prophets.

Elie at Dan. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Elie at Dan. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

In Jerusalem our group saw the “wailing wall.” At our approach to the site Elie was giving info and instructions.

Elie instructing our group as we neared Wailing Wall. Photo by Gary Kerr, ©Leon Mauldin.

Elie instructing our group as we neared Wailing Wall. Photo by Gary Kerr, ©Leon Mauldin.

At the Jordan River, at the traditional site of the Jesus baptism, there is a high water mark for Jan. 1, 2013. Though the Jordan does not flood as it did in biblical times (see here), it still gets well out of its banks at times as this photo shows. (click to enlarge photo; see info on board upper left).

Upper left shows high water mark reached Jan 2013. Elie is seated; tour member Keith Crews is at right. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Upper left shows high water mark reached Jan 2013. Elie is seated; tour member Keith Crews is at right. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Of course Masada has tremendous historical significance.

Elie instructing our group at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Elie instructing our group at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

At Masada in particular Elie would remind everyone to bring their water.

This sampling also represents somewhat of the tremendous variety within the land of Israel itself. Elie was versatile and well equipped to help us very literally “from Dan to Beersheba.” I hate to say goodbye to old friends. He will be missed.

DVD of Sandra Waldron’s Memorial Service

October 16, 2011

I previously posted a tribute to Sandra Waldron, wife of evangelist Bob Waldron, on Leon’s Message Board which you may see here.

Bob and Sandra Waldron

I have recently received a DVD of the memorial service for Sandra, conducted by Bob Waldron and myself, in Athens, AL, on Tues., Sept. 13, 2011.

Bob requested that I make this available for those who would be interested. When I converted the DVD for uploading, it was rendered into three parts, which are here below in consecutive order:



Things To Do At Age 100

October 11, 2011

One of our church members, Mrs. Elma Bradford, celebrated her 100th birthday today with a large gathering of family and friends from church.

Mrs. Bradford is a resident of the Nursing Home in Hanceville, AL. Her mind is as sharp as a tack.

Leon Mauldin, Elma Bradford, Linda Mauldin. Photo by Nancy Picogna.

Before we ate, I made a brief tribute to this sweet lady. In summary, I said:

Tribute to whom tribute, honor to whom honor. We are here to honor Mrs. Bradford on her 100th birthday. Here are some things you can do when you are 100.

1. Set a good example. Mrs. Bradford has done and continues to do that.

2. Maintain a sense of humor. Once while visiting her at the nursing home, I began a sentence, ‘Well . . .’ She immediately said, ‘Where ya gonna dig it?’ That’s rather typical for her.

3. Read your Bible. On many occasions when I have gone to her room, and she could have no idea I would be coming, I would find her reading her Bible. She loves the Lord. She loves the Lord’s people. Her hope is set on heaven.

So in case you’re wondering, these are some things you can do at age 100.

BTW, none of the above happen accidentally; people who do these things choose to do so.