Connections: Milton R. Davis
July 13, 2014
The Original Hillcrest Kid
Milton R. Davis, along with his older brother Carl and younger brother Ronnie (now deceased), is one of the first three foster children to live at Hillcrest Children’s Home, the Assemblies of God ministry started in Hot Springs, Ark., by schoolteacher and minister Gladys Hinson. Milton was only 3 when he moved into the home in September 1944. Davis, who lives in Southaven, Miss., recently spoke with Pentecostal Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy.
evangel: What are your earliest memories of Hillcrest?
MILTON R. DAVIS: My earliest memory is of our dad shooting and killing our mother in front of us in McGehee, Ark. Drinking alcohol triggered what he did. Gladys Hinson read about it in the newspaper, and asked our cousins if she could start a children’s home with us three boys. We’re so thankful that she did.
evangel: Gladys was only 30 when you arrived.
DAVIS: She itinerated with us. We can remember sleeping on the floor of the home for a little while. We loved her like a mother.
evangel: Tell us about the time you found a new resident on the doorstep when you were 5 years old.
DAVIS: It was my job to get the milk in from the front. One morning I saw a little baby girl wrapped up in a box. We named her Sharon Rose. We had been talking about the Rose of Sharon in a devotional and thought that would be a great name for her.
evangel: You still lived at the home when Gladys Hinson died of cancer at the age of 35.
DAVIS: We stayed at the home six years. Gladys called the three of us in before she died. She encouraged us to keep on with Jesus. I had made a commitment to the Lord.
evangel: How else did Hillcrest shape you?
DAVIS: Even though Gladys didn’t stay as long as we did, she cared for us, loved us, and mothered us. Most of the houseparents showed us Christian love, and their help blessed us.
evangel: Your dad regained custody of you.
DAVIS: Dad got saved in prison. He served five years. After he got out, he remarried and took us in. He begged our forgiveness and we forgave him. As a Christian, he was the best dad a kid could ask for.
evangel: You went on to become an Assemblies of God pastor.
DAVIS: I started preaching every once in a while at a local church in West Memphis, Ark., when I was 13 years old. I went to Central Bible Institute (in Springfield, Mo.) just after I got married to my wife, Chris. I also for years wrote the Gospel Publishing House Sunday School quarterly for the deaf.
evangel: How long did you serve in full-time ministry?
DAVIS: About 30 years total, but most of the time I also had secular jobs because the churches were small. I joined Edward Jones Investments 20 years ago, and still work for the company full time.
evangel: But you remain involved in ministry?
DAVIS: For the past 20 years, off and on, I’ve been traveling on weekends, telling the Hillcrest story. My heart is to preach for Hillcrest. I don’t ask for any funds, but if people want to know how they can help, I tell them to send funds to Hillcrest. I figure I have another 10 or 15 years left, and I can raise a little bit more. Hillcrest was so good to me.
Editor’s note: When Hillcrest holds its 70th anniversary celebration on Sept. 27, the ministry hopes to reunite Davis and Sharon Rose for the first time in 64 years. A museum will open at the renovated original two-bedroom cottage, which at one time housed 17 children.