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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Delbert Bucher
March 17, 2013

A Century’s Perspective

Delbert Bucher, 100, caught the attention of the Springfield [Mo.] News-Leader in 2012 for his continued athleticism at 99. Bucher plays a free round of golf every week thanks to a park board ruling that provides the service to anyone 90 years old and older.

Bucher is just as energetic when sharing his faith in Jesus Christ, something he did regularly during 50 years of ministry as an Assemblies of God pastor. He sat down recently with Scott Harrup, Pentecostal Evangel managing editor, and recapped some of his life’s spiritual milestones.

evangel: Few people enjoy as lengthy a perspective on life as you do. Would you talk about the day you accepted Christ as Savior, and how that impacted your life?

BUCHER: I was in my early 20s when I gave my heart to the Lord. Prior to that, I attended a large Mennonite church with my family in Morgan County, east of Versailles, Mo. There, I had more of a head belief rather than a change of heart. I wanted to see my life change in my attitudes and thought patterns and relationships with other people. A Christ-like change makes the difference.

I accepted the Lord in nearby Excelsior, a little town of perhaps 60 or 70 people, at a church that constantly held revivals. People would even stand outside the church at the open windows to hear what was going on inside. An evangelist came and preached a very convicting message, and my twin brother, Elbert, and I went forward and knelt to pray. We were crying out, “Lord, save us,” and I didn’t know what to do then. The evangelist saw my frustration, and he insisted, “Now, you must believe.” And when he spoke of faith, it took hold of me. I was rejoicing in the Lord.

My mother, who sat in the back, enjoyed coming to the services for the singing and preaching. But she didn’t understand what had happened, or the joy that came. When I got saved, she came down to the altar to get me. “You can do your praying at home,” she said.

Elbert and I did pray regularly at home from then on, and it sort of disturbed our parents because we really prayed.

evangel: How did your decision for Christ change your life plans?

BUCHER: My father had just two boys, Elbert and me. We had five sisters, but he wanted Elbert and me to live on the farm and follow his pattern. But that wasn’t the Lord’s pattern.

And God’s pattern was different from the plans Elbert and I had. Prior to that time, we were very good in baseball. We wanted to come to Springfield to try out for the minor leagues. I could throw a tremendous drop. Elbert was a great catcher. I played in Versailles, and I struck out 16 in one game. That ball just dropped so tremendously, it had nothing left when it hit the catcher.

Dad wanted us to be on the farm. We wanted to play baseball. But God had other plans. In 1936, we came to Springfield to Central Bible Institute. Dad was crying when we left. We found out later from our family doctor just how hard that was on him.

We felt a strong urge to live as the Spirit directed. The result was, instead of coming to Springfield to play baseball, we studied the three-year program at CBI and then traveled as evangelists after we graduated.

evangel: Describe your evangelistic ministry.

BUCHER: Those were times when they really had revivals. Some lasted five weeks. In 1939, we were in a meeting in Kansas City, Mo., and some people heard us preach. They were from Elwood, Kan., just across the river from St. Joseph, Mo. They asked us to come and hold a tent revival in their town park. We built plank seats, put up a tent, and for three weeks held a revival. People came from all over.

Elbert and I were both trombone players. We could harmonize. And people would hear the music and come to the tent. I believe 20 or 30 people came to Christ during those meetings.

Then we went to the St. Joseph Assemblies of God church and talked to the pastor and asked him to help guide the new believers in Elwood. They ended up building an AG church with that pastor’s help.

evangel: You became an Assemblies of God pastor. Where did you serve?

BUCHER: I first went to Jackson, Mich. After quite a number of years, I moved to Kenosha, Wis. Years later, the Kenosha church moved to the edge of the city and purchased 50 acres and built a large church and Christian school. I also pastored in St. Louis in the 1970s and led a building program there.

evangel: From your years as an evangelist and pastor, what would you say to a young man or woman starting in the ministry today?

BUCHER: Be sure you are ready to listen to what the Spirit is saying to you. Have the right connection with God. Love the people.

The relationship between a pastor and the people needs to be close. It needs to be like the relationship of the Spirit with the people. Know your people. Know their tests and their trials. Let your heart feel what they feel. Your responsibility doesn’t end with your sermon. You live in your community. You live with your members. You want them to grow stronger in the Lord and hear His voice, not just the voice of a preacher.

evangel: What is a key to effective spiritual growth?

BUCHER: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” Jesus says, “but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” There’s the key to the Kingdom. I said, “Lord, give me the keys to the Kingdom.” He wants to share what He has provided. That way, you can help people.

If you’re not helping people, you’re not who you ought to be for God. In my prayer life and daily devotion, as old as I am, I still pray, “Lord, make me a blessing to somebody today. I’m available.” And I try to have an open heart to what He is trying to tell me.

People won’t talk with you much. But I can say to someone, “Did you know, I’m 100 years old?” And they’ll say, “Well, you don’t look that old.” And you get into a conversation. They’ll ask, “What’s the secret of your longevity?” That’s not an easy answer. But I’ll say to them, “Turn to the third chapter of Proverbs where it speaks of living in the commandments of the Lord.”

Now, you can fall into legalism, if you don’t understand that correctly. Paul encountered that on the subject of circumcision and the Law with the Galatians. The real issue is faith. You are the Lord’s. You belong to Him, and it’s through faith only.

So the key to following those verses in Proverbs is faith in Jesus Christ. And when you do that, the writer of Proverbs concludes, “It shall be health to thy navel and marrow to thy bone.”

Before you were born, you were connected by the navel to your mother’s womb. You lived on what she produced. That cord had to be cut. Man is so made, that he has to have a connection to something. If it’s the world, that will shape your life. But God has something better for you. Jesus died to set you free.


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