A Little Cardboard Suitcase

WHAT IN THE WORLD

I sat in the large chapel yesterday. It was crowded beyond capacity. This was the chapel building on the campus of Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan.

Last Lord’s day, in the early hours, Dr. Tom Malone, Sr. slipped away from his sickroom into the presence of Christ. Now, today, January 10th, I sat with hundreds of other preachers and their spouses. It was Dr. Malone’s funeral. As I looked around I was conscious that not only were there many older preachers there, but there was a wonderful and godly-looking cadre of younger preachers as well. I thought to myself, “Dr. Malone would love this,” young preacher boys and those a little older, with their wives, looking for one or two of the scarce empty seats left in this auditorium. Dr. Malone dedicated his life to enlisting people, young and old, in the army of the Lord. He would take great satisfaction in knowing that, though he was gone, there were many fine young people ready to go to work for Christ and to win sinners out of this wicked world.

Tom Malone was born in 1915. He grew up in very humble surroundings. Shortly after he was saved, he knew he had to answer God’s call to preach. There was a small school for preacher boys in Cleveland, Tennessee, called “Bob Jones College.” He determined he would go there. This backward, uncultured boy packed what few belongings he had in a little cardboard suitcase and set off for Tennessee. He prayed it wouldn’t rain on him as a considerable part of the trip would be on foot.

Dr. Malone said, “When I got to college, they put a tie on me for the first time in my life. When they did, I thought I was tied so I never moved.” This humble young man was to be used mightily of God to raise up an army of preachers and missionaries and their wives who now circle the earth. Theirs is Tom Malone’s message: “Get saved and let Christ change your life.”

Eventually, that “uncultured” preacher boy would also become a number of things I’m sure he never dreamed he would that day they “tied” him. Tom Malone learned to fly airplanes. He eventually earned an instructor’s rating on multi-engine aircraft.

Among the numerous academic degrees he received was his bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones College. Later, when I knew him, he was working on a Ph.D. at Wayne State University. One room in the chapel building, where he had a study office, was completely devoted to hundreds of volumes all on the same subject. He was a serious student of Shakespearean literature. His doctorate was awarded to him after studying, directing and performing in numerous Shakespearean plays.

After fifty years as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Pontiac, Dr. Malone could also look back on the success of Midwestern Baptist College which he founded in 1953. The college rose from a farm field given him to invest for the Lord. Emmanuel Church had been a dance hall before the Malones came to Pontiac.

God allowed many difficulties to come into Dr. Malone’s life, but he rose above them all to yield his life to Christ from that day he left home with the little cardboard suitcase till the day he entered Heaven last Sunday, January 7, 2007.

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