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:


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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.

A Tribute to Sandra Waldron

September 13, 2011

This past Friday funeral services for Sandra Waldron, wife of evangelist Bob Waldron, were conducted at Dade City, Florida. This morning a memorial service was held in Athens, Alabama. In both services Bob spoke lovingly of his wife of some 48 years, and I paid tribute to a dear friend. The two of them have been of tremendous influence in my life.

My relationship with the Waldrons goes back to about 1969. I knew them before that through visiting the church at Sumiton, Al., where they were located, but it was in ’69 that I began to study with Bob. I knew that I wanted to preach, and I knew I needed the help that comes from studying with an older preacher. I was 16, and Bob was 27; he was my older preacher. Those weekly studies in their living room on Monday evenings were a great help to me. Bob had me memorize hundreds of passages; he taught me how to study, to be sensitive to people, that our purpose was to teach people, to help people that their souls might be saved. Sandra was consistently very supportive of what Bob & I were doing.

What Bob & Sandra were doing was not just giving me some of their time—they invested themselves in me; they gave themselves. What emerged is the kind of relationship that Paul discussed in Phil. 1:3,7,9: They are in my mind, in my heart, in my prayers. That friendship that began back in those early days has continued and deepened through the years to the present time.

I think of Bob and Sandra as a team. Sandra was truly a help that was meet, suitable. They were joint-heirs together in the grace of life, of one heart and one soul. What a team! Their writings (published by Truth Magazine) have influenced thousands already. May thousands more be influenced for good in the future. And  what is the emphasis of their teaching? Not cutesy stuff; not obscuring the text under the guise of “making it relevant.” Rather the underlying basis is that the Bible is already relevant, so we need to know the Bible, that we may know the God of the Bible.

Their work on the History and Geography of the Bible, a 52-lesson book that traces the theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, gives the historical and geographical setting of the biblical world, the setting and context of the events of scripture. Their work in this area was a tremendous factor in igniting my own interest in the Bible lands that you see reflected in this blog.

Like all who are saved, Sandra was saved by the grace of God. I’m thankful for the hope that this gives. I’m thankful that she believed in Jesus, she repented of her sins, confessed her faith, and was baptized for the remission of her sins. I’m thankful that she lived in the Lord, and died in the Lord. Oh what a difference the Gospel makes. I’m thankful for the hope and blessed assurance that we have today.

So ultimately this becomes an occasion to praise God, to praise Him from whom all blessings flow. His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. Trust in Him who will not leave you. Heb. 13:5-6. Whosoever believeth upon Him shall not be put to shame.

This photo of Bob and myself was taken this morning following the memorial service.

Leon Mauldin and Bob Waldron

May the God of all comfort sustain my brother Bob, and may He use the memory of Sandra for good.

In Sudbury

July 30, 2011

Our meeting for biblical studies in Sudbury, Canada got off to a good start last night. We are dealing with the theme, “Challenges Faced by the Early Church,” and making application to the church of the 21st century.

After last night’s meeting we gathered at the home of Denis and Danny Veilleux.

Sudbury, Canada. Gathering at home after meeting. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

John and Lisa Hains are the “bookends” in the photo. They drove up from Jordan. I asked John how long of a drive that was. His answer: “6 1/2 or 7 hours, not bad.”

I consider every such teaching opportunity to be a genuine privilege.

Click on image for larger view.

Bruges, Belgium

May 8, 2011

We are continuing to enjoy our association with our friends in Houthalen, Belgium, including folks traveling from some distance away. It is a joy to have such opportunities to teach the Bible. This photo was made following worship services this afternoon.

Group photo following Sunday services at Houthalen, Belgium.

Earlier last week we had the occasion to visit the unique town of Bruges, dominated by 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century houses and buildings. Our photo shows the market square, dominated by the Belfry and the Government Palace.

Market Square at Bruges, Belgium. Photo by Leon Mauldin

In the square one may see the monument to Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, heroes of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (July 11, 1302). In this battle the French were defeated.

Monument to Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

For those interested, Wikipedia has the following info re: Bruges:

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country.

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval-shaped and about 430 hectaresin size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge(meaning “Brugge aan Zee” or “Bruges on Sea”). The city’s total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008), of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”.

Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was the “chief commercial city” of the world.

Click on images for larger view.

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