5. A Ministerial Student Speaks

This ebook by Howard Culbertson is a biography of Rev. Paul McGrady, pastor, evangelist and professor of evangelism. These seven chapters (including the Foreword/Preface) contain the story of his life asa well as one of his sermons. Mr. Evangelism was originally published by Pedestal Press of Kansas City

Jim Cummins was in his senior year at what is now Southern Nazarene University when Paul McGrady arrived. Here Jim gives his impressions of the passionate professor.

As president of the Student Ministerial Association, I was scheduled to work with the new professor coming to campus. Paul McGrady was to be our organization's sponsor. As I walked into his office and introduced myself, I found myself being welcomed like a long lost friend.

His handshake was not that of a weakling, but one of strength -- as a matter of fact, so much strength that I went away nursing my hand. His radiant smile, his contagious enthusiasm, his eagerness to see things move were not just for the first few days. Those things were him. The job of president of the Ministerial Association now took on a new meaning. It was now one of the most important items in that year, and all because of the new sponsor's attitude.

Paul Judson McGrady gave new life to everything he touched on the campus. They had been alive before his arrival, but he brought his own special touch to add to them. The Ministerial Association became a moving and meaningful organization. Because Professor McGrady knew the needs of the pastor and the problems his students would soon be facing, all things were geared to help meet the coming needs. He made sure that the Association knew how to plan and organize its programs. He made sure that things started on time. My collar became too tight one day when I slipped in a few minutes late to start the meeting with Dr. Williamson, and McGrady whispered to me, "When you get up to start the session, explain why you were late in starting."

Even though our lateness had been for taking pictures of the officers of the Association right outside the meeting place, getting the session started on time was important to him.

The first homiletics class session with the professor was an interesting one. I thought it would be good at first because it was a new professor but I figured before long that he would slip into a routine. However, after one year and 15 hours of classes under "The Kicker" I found that his classes never became dull and there was certainly nothing routine about them.

His methods were unusual. For example, in Evangelism class, the requirements were more than read the textbook and turn in a paper. One said, "Lead a person to Christ."

Who ever heard of that being a requirement for passing a course in college? Paul McGrady, that's who. While he wanted his pupils to become familiar with the history of revivals, most of all he wanted them to experience a personal revival. Not willing to assign a project and hope it was done, he oftentimes took that individual he felt needed help with him to a lost person's home. There, he modeled approaches to leading a person to faith in Christ. Then, he would say, "Now you try."

If I were to title his life it would have to be "Soul Winner." It made little difference which class he was teaching, some way you always were introduced to soul winning. In his practical instruction on how to conduct a board meeting the soul-winning element came in. The Communion service, the wedding ceremony, the religious education program -- everything was a tool for winning people to Christ. Soul winning was in front of us so much that we too became aware of the great potential. Often a term paper would come back with the notation: "Good work. I know you have a great future as a soul winner." He always kept soul winning before us. We were always aware of his great concern for individuals. His concern was not for the mass of unknown persons, but for those he knew and met. These were the people he could help. These were the people to whom he felt led.

He soon became a favorite with every student on campus. As one remarked, "I don't really know him, but just to meet him on the sidewalk and for him to say, `Hello,' and smile makes me want to know him better." As the pupils did know him better, they were not disillusioned. He was the same genuine, warm person after you knew him awhile. Always in a hurry, getting ready to go somewhere, preparing something, he still had time to listen to you. His enthusiastic spirit came through in class. His zeal even came through when he had to be out of town on one of his revivals and asked me to read his notes in class. I never liked to read them for the first time in class. I had to go over them a few times to make sure of the words. Usually I would have given him a D in penmanship. However, the content and the urgent message and the spirit melted away all thoughts of D's, and when the class was over I would have to mark it A+. I knew why he had not typed out the class notes -- he was too busy trying to win another person to Christ or trying to train another to do it.

Faults. Did he have faults? He would quickly answer, "More than anyone else." But this was part of his greatness. He knew he had faults and so many that he could not begin to name all of them. However, he worked on them. Some he just barely worked on, yet he was aware of his many shortcomings. He knew he was weak, and thus he had to depend on the Lord even more.

Challenged by the strong magnet to win and to lead people to Christ, I accepted my first pastorate. McGrady felt that one must have the very best education he could get, but never sell God short. As I talked with him about my hopes, he was thrilled about the prospects. Even though it was a small town of 3,000 persons, his enthusiasm burned through and he said, "Any church can grow. Where there are people, there are those who need Christ." Not only did he encourage; he even held a revival over one weekend. Witnessing to the ex-convict who was now a plumber living next to the church was thrilling to him. Trying to lead one of the city firemen to church was also part of his weekend. However the weekend would not have been complete if we hadn't taken time to look at some of the finest horses in that part of the country. His smile widened, his red hair shone in the sun as he fixed his eyes upon a champion quarter horse. His first love was for the Tennessee Walker, but he knew good horses when he saw them, and he loved to see them.

Whatever Paul was doing was the greatest. Wherever he was was the best. The revival he was holding was most outstanding. He was happy anyplace he might be, for he knew he was in God's will. As he came for our revival, he was thrilled with the work done and the bright future of the small town. In the quiet moments he would ask, "Have you thought about going to Seminary?" He knew the needs of the pastorate were demanding and one must be prepared to do his best. The weekend revival closed, but the influence of Paul McGrady lived on in my heart. His suggestions of making sure that all the city officials were met, getting acquainted with the newspaper editor, getting new prospects from the new move-ins at the water department, were all tried and carried out.

In class, hee told me in class that God wants a church to grow. In the field, he proved it to me. He changed my life from a drifting, nonchalant ministerial student to one who could hardly wait to get out to pastor a congregation. One year and 15 hours of classes under McGrady, my life, my whole ministry was turned around from half-heartedly facing a life of ministry to being wholehearted, positive-thinking, and Christ-centered in fulfilling my call to ministry.

What can one say about a person who has completely changed his life for the good? Where does one finish? Paul Judson McGrady believed that the ministry was the highest, holiest, hardest, and the happiest calling of all. He was a force for good, a changer of lives, a dynamo of energy, but most of all he was a soul winner.

    -- Jim Cummins

Paul McGrady's passionate message

arrow pointing rightWhat did Paul McGrady preach about? Here's the transcript of his sermon on New Testament Evangelism . . . [ more ]
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