USING THE SITE
Every day something new is added. Always look on Home Page at “What’s New Today”. Note that the various categories of postings are all stored (archived) there in the chronological order of their posting, with newest at the top.
Important: Use “search” to locate items by key word or by Scripture text. I am storing (archiving) main comments and messages on Bible texts under “Commentary.” These may be located by searching by text or key words.
VISION FOR THIS WEBSITE
It was more than 65 years ago when I began active ministry for the Lord. Reflecting back over all these years, two things stand out. First, I was led to focus on individual discipling as a direct way of expanding and deepening the whole church ministry. Second, I put things down in written form, including years of training materials used in the local churches, instructions for college and graduate school, pastoral seminars and the like.
It is my hope now to make this material available on my new website. You will see there on the attractive home page that you have access to these pages: Let’s Get Acquainted, Words for the Heart, Leadership Training, Discipling and Outreach, Counseling and Family Life, Through the Bible Commentary, My (published) Books. As you can see this covers a lot of ground!
The address is the same as my former site: bcbministries.com. My aim is to post new material day by day on one or more of the pages, announcing on the home page what’s new and where to find it. All the teachings will be archived in their proper categories. In addition, I hope to integrate all the postings, along with my Bible comments, according to Scripture texts.
Please join us in prayer as Cheryl and I begin this very large undertaking. Psalm 40:17. Amen!
PS. Please help! I am very much relying on each of you to extend this ministry by informing others. May God help in this!
HAROLD E. BURCHETT
Born: August 2, 1924 in Clarksville, Tennessee
Early Youth: News reporter for home town paper, The Chronicle, at age 16. U.S. Navy during World War II aboard a destroyer, southwest Pacific.
Gordon College – A.B.
Gordon-Conwell Seminary – M.Div.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School – D.Min.
Ministry as Pastor: More than thirty years in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, U.S.A. and 7 ½ years at High Park Baptist Church, Toronto, Canada; Senior pastor of Virginia Beach Community Chapel, Virginia, for 6 years. More recently he was full time homemaker and care giver for his late wife, Jane, who had Alzheimer’s Disease. (Born to them were two sons and two daughters who gave them 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.)
Service as Professor: Several years as Professor of Pastoral Studies at Graduate School of Columbia International University, Columbia, SC, and 20 years as adjunct professor there.
Authored Seven Books:
People Helping People
Spiritual Life Studies
Healing for the Church
Bringing Christ Back
Overseas Ministry: With missionaries in Brazil, Argentina, India, Guatemala, Italy and Russia.
Also, for several years was regular teacher-trainer at the Missions Institute for the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada for all their new appointees and for furloughing missionaries.
Key Ministries: A concentration of more than a half-century on discipling and training individuals to, in turn, disciple others who will become disciplers.
PRESENT WEBSITE MINISTRY: Wife, Cheryl, shares her secretarial and computer skills in developing this new ministry. See bcbministries.com.
“HELLO, I’M HAROLD – I’VE BEEN IN HIBERNATION”
These were my words of introduction in the following pamphlet I wrote and distributed to a surprised neighborhood where my ill wife and I had just moved. It continues:
Jane and I live in a deep mine shaft, though right among good neighbors. Sometimes we make a brief appearance out on the street, but even then we carry our chamber of confinement right with us. Jane has Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Each new day I go to the cemetery and leave there another part of my wife of nearly 50 years. That’s how it seems. Try as I might, I can’t stop the process. It goes on…and on, as it has for more than seven years. Alzheimer’s has been well named, “the long goodbye.”
Sorry I don’t know many of you. But now you know my name, and let me add, I am not who I was. AD has not only changed Jane but me as well. Rather than squeezing life out of me, AD has squeezed life in. If you have a few moments, I’ll tell you our story.
Slowly it dawned: “It’s getting dark!”
Nearly eight years ago, Jane began having difficulty with our friends and especially with me. This caused me much soul searching. Was I troubling our marriage? No, it wasn’t that—though I could be difficult at times! Jane was changing. It seemed as though her mind was getting all snarled up. Reality was sometimes confused with fears and imagination,, and memory was failing her. This left her agitated and at times angry. Not knowing what the developing dementia was doing to her mind, Jane assumed that people around her were fouled up.
For about a year, I joined her in thrashing about in this unexplainable turmoil. Slowly the dark truth became clear. My strong and steady life partner was becoming unstable and unpredictable. It had to be Alzheimer’s, or some form of dementia, I finally concluded.
Then I went underground
Any suggestion that the problem was hers put Jane on the defense (or the offense!). And, in this early stage, I felt guilty at even the thought of telling our sons and daughters that something was wrong with their mother. Furthermore, I was then senior pastor of a very active church in Virginia Beach. How could I tell them that their pastor’s wife was afflicted with dementia? We were just getting nicely started here. I’ll just sit on the problem, until I know what to do, I reasoned.
But how do you hide Alzheimer’s? Relentlessly its grip tightens. Names of friends went first from her memory. Soon even family members could not be recalled by name. As months passed, the one who was family champion at speed word games could not spell or write her own name, or tell time, nor could she tell the year, month or day, or even where we live.
Alterations in the routines of our lives were coming fast. Jane must not drive any more. Changes came in household and personal matters. Decisions had to be made. Then came all the medical and psychological testing that confirmed my fears.
The neurologist asked to see me alone first. “I wish I could tell you that your wife has a brain tumor…” he began. The diagnosis “Alzheimer’s” both shook me and yet relieved me. All worrisome wondering was over, but a numb grief, followed by a giant loneliness, wrapped me in its shadows as I walked to my car. Turning on the ignition, a voice from the radio came with these very words from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Next, I brought Jane to the doctor’s office, and we sat side by side in front of his desk. As kindly as he could, he informed her. “Well, you see I am not falling apart,” is all she said.
Outside, I proposed that we not talk but go get an ice cream instead. Then we spent the next day or two weeping. Literally our tears pooled together as we held one another. All thought of being brave was overwhelmed by our anguish over what we were to endure and what we were losing. Words would no longer work. We just cried with each other before God.
Then we began to function. The family was told everything; what about the church? Jane decided to tell the congregation herself, publicly. I encouraged her. (After our doctor’s appointment, the remainder of Friday and most of Saturday were for tears, so Sunday was upon us.) My sermon title was simply, “Trusting in God.” Based on Psalm 84. I think God helped me through it. Then I added these words,
Jane and I soon will have been married 45 years. As many of you know, she has been undergoing medical tests. She is here to tell you personally of the results, because what we heard from the doctor was heavy, very heavy indeed.
Standing at the pulpit she opened with a simply poem she had selected bearing the theme “He holds my hand.” Jane’s next words brought many audible gasps and sobs from our dear church friends.
A little more than 40 hours ago, Harold and I sat in the doctor’s office to get the report on all the rests. Already we have told our four children. Now I want you to know. The doctors say I have the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. We need your prayers as we prepare for difficult days. I love you all. Thank you.
The outpouring of hugs and tearful words of encouragement immediately and forever erased any doubt about going public so early. Now we could set ourselves to figure out how to cope. Shadows were already gathering at a fearful rate.
Staggering but still standing…
That is how I would describe the next several years. Having never done much in the way if household duties and still less of serious care giving, I staggered from one day to the next as these responsibilities claimed an ever increasing amount of my time. The much practical assistance from the church, including three hot meals a week delivered to our table enabled me to continue active ministry for four more years. But there was a heavy price.
With neither warning nor preparation I was being ushered into new experiences. Choosing my wife’s clothing for each day and finally having to dress her. Then came bathing, dental and toilet care, so often made excruciatingly tedious by a stubborn refusal to cooperate. “What do you know about these things?” “Yes, but you can’t go out like that; you haven’t finished dressing!” Or, “No, you can’t wear that in the bath.”
How does one go about brushing another one’s teeth, when that one says, “No!” Someone should write a book on how to do this and include a few lines on how to get the dentures out and then back in when the “victim” insists that she has no such thing as a “tenure” or “pate of teef” in her mouth. (That is how she hears “denture” and “Plate of teeth.”)
Meaningful communication becomes increasingly difficult as a loved one hears you say what you did not say and forgets what she is saying even before the sentence is completed. For example, “Harold, please come and sit here; listen, it’s important.” “O-k now what is it.” “Uh, well, you know, don’t you? I forget.” “That’s o-k. We’ll think of it later.”
Often “hot” means “cold.” “Strong” might mean “long” or “big” or “heavy.” Even her “no, no” often means “o-k.” The names of colors are forgotten or interchanged. Underlying every dimension of life is the loss of memory. Unrelentingly, this specter reaches into each area of relationship, devouring everything.
Daily, hour by hour effort to hold open the closing door of Jane’s memory bank is something I have to do, but I continue to lose the battle. In fact, I myself need to talk over things, but the past is almost erased. Now, the eraser swipes out the past five minutes, or even closer. A special restaurant meal is forgotten before we arrive home: “I’m hungry; could we get something to eat?” is our regular return trip theme.
A real person is there some place.
A man in personal crisis came to our home to see me. He had been released recently from prison and felt he was seriously failing to live as a new Christian. Jane answered the door and then proceeded to entertain, much to my delight – while I got myself ready. Soon was singing a very touching song about God’s willingness to forgive one who stumbles and falls in life. (This occurred while she was still able to sing and play a bit.)
That God has apparently guided my wife to sing right into his heart the very message he so sorely needed made an impression on our caller. Later I thanked Jane and explained how important a thing she had done. Her response was simply, “That’s why I chose that song.” A thrill went through my whole being: This was the very person I’d always known.
During such moments, I try to recall the sober warning of a good friend whose wife also has Alzheimer’s. Cherish and try to remember the good times because they won’t last, and he added, in effect, when really bad times come, don’t over-worry because things will surely get worse! I have found it to be true indeed.
Sometime after Jane was made aware of her disease, but while she was still able to think with some clarity (perhaps a year or so after diagnosis), I asked her, “Honey, if you could have your wish, would you choose to go back like we were before the Alzheimer’s or would you rather have our relationship like it is now and have the sickness.” Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I like it the way things are now.” I agreed. We have had a good marriage that has lasted nearly half a century, but there is a new tender caring between us now that is beyond anything we ever dreamed.
Daily and at any time or place, she puts her love for me in earnest expression, “O I love you so much! You are so good to me.” Christians are taught in Scripture to love the Lord Jesus and long for His return from heaven. Jane makes this real to me in many ways. For example, when I used to see her anxious face at the window waiting, looking for me to come home from the church office. Then wrapping eager arms around me, “Oh, God heard my prayer! I I was praying and praying you would come. This is what I was talking and telling myself what kind of a man you are and how I love you. I knew you would finally come.” Experiences such as this had made it easier to step from full-time pastoral ministry into my present demanding, perplexing calling as full-time caregiver and full-time homemaker.
With a strong finality it has dawned on me that many precious experiences will never again be part of our lives. Vacations. Even a day off. A meal prepared and served by her. Or, any further use of our dinnerware, in a proper manner. A garage sale brought sadness…as if I were a grieving widower breaking up our home.
Whenever self-pity moves in, Alzheimer’s strong arm begins immediately to destroy every vestige of hope and sanity. Often I have looked down into Jane’s anxious eyes and promised as I did at the wedding altar (this time with tears and many years of growing up), “Jane, you are the dearest on earth to me and, with God helping me, I will never, ever leave or fail you.
Some will ask
How can you hang in there day after day through months and years? I have several very good answers to that.
First, I love her and want to do it, even as I would have wanted her to do for me, had I been the broken one. (And, I must remind readers that my wife served sacrificially through decades of very exacting life, always faithful to me.)
I hope this does not sound as though I am sainting myself. It is just that God has taught me the difference tween what I WANT and what I OUGHT. He can wonderfully enable us to do what we ought to do and free us from slavery to what we want to do. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” John 6:36.
Second, Jesus showed the way to love and bids us follow, as Hebrews 12:2-4 says.
Third, Jesus offers real daily help, of two kinds. 1) Inner strength from His Spirit. 2) Practical answers to prayer. (And, AD prompts prayer!) Except for theses works of God, it would be impossible for you or me to go through our life-assignment. Though time and again I grow impatient and fail, exasperated and weary in the way, He helps me get up again and follow on.
Fourth, God uncovers to a searching heart great truths about the way His love works. If you would know the heart of everything you have been reading in this pamphlet, consider very carefully this Bible verse.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
That is it! In God’s book, the greater the need, the greater the love. In man’s book, the more attractive the woman, the greater the emotional surge called “love.” But God loves us even to the point of sacrificing His Son on our behalf while we are yet in a condition that repels His holy nature. Now, we can trust ourselves to such a loving God.
The question is simply – will you do it? You are invited to have a forever-marriage to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Don’t be a SECRET ADMIRER OF THE ALMIGHTY. Let Him know in a definite prayer of engagement and commitment.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27,28
So, Good Friend, you see where I’ve been these years. How is it with you and yours? My prayer is that this pamphlet might come into the hands of one who needs its message. If you happen to be that one, get in touch with God at once. And, please let me know if you have been helped to find our Lord’s salvation. Perhaps I can be of further assistance.
Harold E. Burchett
Postscript — After more than another decade of Alzheimer’s difficult challenges, Jane quietly died in her sleep. She left me, a grieving husband, but most grateful for all the lessons learned.MY
MY ORDINATION PAPER READ BEFORE THE BAPTIST COUNCIL ON MAY 9, 1952, NASHUA, NH
I. MY CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE AND CALL TO THE MINISTRY
The witness to the personal, saving power of Jesus Christ is sure within my own heart and life through the gracious work of God’s Holy Spirit. This became an actual experience during my early teens when, after considerable years of conviction and spiritual tension, my eyes were opened upon my blessed Lord and my soul found rest in Him. Very conscious of my lost, sinful condition, with bowed knees and humbled heart I cried unto God for Salvation and believed in His Son as my Savior. The years of walking with the Lord have taught me that I am weak but He is ever faithful.
There has been throughout these years a definite longing to know the full blessing of serving exactly where God wanted me. I never found this complete satisfaction in the career of newspaper reporter which I began in youth.
In the Southwest Pacific while serving aboard a destroyer God laid it on my heart to prepare for Christian service in a definite way. I promised God to use my all in winning souls as He might lead. The very next day I received an unusual one-man transfer back to the States, and finally was sent to Boston where I learned of Gordon College. In May 1952 I expect to receive my Bachelor of Divinity degree from Gordon Divinity School.
II. MY DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
God’s special revelation to man, comprising the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, I firmly hold as verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing. No true teaching may contradict the Scriptures. They are of supreme and final authority.
The true God is One God, eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Within this Holy Trinity there is no subordination of one Person to another, but each Person possesses the entire divine essence.
From all eternity the Father generates the Son and initiates the plan of creation and redemption. The eternally begotten Son mediates the works of redemption and creation. The third Person of the Trinity, or the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and Son, brings to completion the aforementioned works.
Man in his original holy state was created in the image of god, but “therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned,” (Romans 5:12). Thus, the sin of Adam, as our representative head, brings guilt and corruption upon the entire human race. All human beings are born in sin, thereby incurring physical and spiritual death.
For salvation depraved men must hope only in God’s gracious redemptive plan. This, God accomplished in the sending of His only begotten Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. As previously said, the Son of God is true God, and upon the incarnation He also became true man. Though having these two nature, our Mediator is one Person.
The incarnation of Christ commenced His state of humiliation. His perfect life is vicarious for us who know Him as Savior. His sufferings in death are vicarious for the sinner and God accepts the blood shed in substitutionary atonement for the sin of each one who believes.
After death our Savior was raised in power and glory and ascended to the right hand of the Father where “he always lives to intercede for them,” (Hebrews 7:25). Thus, it is that our Savior “is able to save completely those who come to God through him.” Without this justification and regeneration no man can enter the Kingdom of God.
Believers of all ages make up the Body of Christ — the universal Church, expressed on earth in local assemblies. The two ordinances of the Church are believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The mission of the church is to build up and extend itself in sharing the Gospel at home and abroad.
This same Jesus will come again. I believe in the personal, bodily, and imminent return of the blessed Savior. There will be a bodily resurrection of the dead and a final judgment. All believers shall be changed into the likeness of the glorified Christ, “and so we will be with the Lord forever,” (I Thessalonians 4:17). In contrast to the eternal blessedness of the saved one who inherit the new heaven and new earth, the wicked shall go from judgment into everlasting punishment.
These basic doctrines as revealed in God’s word I hold most true and essential for personal faith and practice and the preaching of the Gospel.