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 as 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 as a new professor. Here, Jim gives his impressions of the passionate new instructor in the university's religion department.

Reflections by one of Paul McGrady's students

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 felt welcomed like a long-lost friend.

His handshake was not that of a weakling, but one of strength -- so much strength that I went away nursing my hand. His radiant smile, his contagious enthusiasm, and 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 took on new meaning for me. 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. One day, I slipped in a few minutes to start a meeting with Nazarene leader G. B. Williamson. My collar became too tight when 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 caused by taking pictures of the Association's officers 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 since he was a new professor, but I figured that he would slip into a routine before long. However, after one year and 15 credit hours of classes under "The Kicker," I saw that his classes were never going to become dull. There was certainly nothing routine about them.

Class assignment: Lead someone to Christ

His methods were unusual. For example, in Evangelism class, the requirements were more than reading the textbook and turning in a paper. One assignment said, "Lead someone 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 would get done, he often took a student 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."

Paul McGrady: Soul winner

If I were to put a title on Paul McGrady's life it would have to be "Soul Winner." It made little difference which class he was teaching. Somehow 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 could become a path 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 almost 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."

When students did get to know Paul McGrady better they were never disillusioned. He was the same genuine, warm person even after you had known him a while. Though seemingly always in a hurry, getting ready to go somewhere, preparing something, he still took time to listen to you.

His enthusiastic spirit permeated his classes. His zeal even came through when he had to be out of town holding a revival meeting in a church on one of his revivals. On some of those occasions, he asked me to fill in for him in class by reading his notes aloud.

Quite frankly, I would have given him a D in penmanship. Therefore, I never liked to get up in front of a class and start reading what he had written for the first time. I almost always had to go over them a few times ahead of the class to make sure of the words. However, the content, the urgency it expressed, and the spirit with which the notes had been written melted away all thoughts of bad penmanship and when the class was over, I would have to mark his work with an 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 training someone else to do it.

Faults. Did Paul McGrady have faults? "More than anyone else," he would quickly answer.

But this was part of his greatness. He knew he had faults and said he had so many that he could not begin to name all of them. He was aware of his many shortcomings and he worked on them. He knew he was weak, and thus, he determined to depend on the Lord even more than ever.

Growing a church

As I accepted my first pastorate, I felt challenged by a strong desire to lead people to Christ. McGrady believed that pastors should have the best education possible but also should never sell God short. As I talked with him about my hopes, he seemed thrilled about the prospects ahead for that church with me as its leader. me. Even though the congregation was in a small town of 3,000 persons, his eyes burned with enthusiasm as he said, "Any church can grow. Where there are people, there are those who need Christ."

Not only did he encourage me. He even came to that church one weekend to hold a revival over a weekend. Witnessing to the ex-convict, who worked as a plumber and lived next to the church building, was thrilling to him. Trying to interest one of the city firemen in attending church was also part of his weekend.

Of course, the weekend would not have been complete if we hadn't taken time to look at horses in that part of the country. His smile widened and his red hair shone in the sun as he fixed his eyes upon a champion quarterhorse. In terms of horses, 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 church in the small town. In some quiet moments, he asked me, "Have you thought about going to seminary?" He knew the needs of the pastorate were demanding and pastors needed to be prepared to do their best. The weekend revival closed, but the influence of Paul McGrady lived on in my heart. His suggestions of making sure (1) that all the city officials were met, (2) that I got acquainted with the newspaper editor, and (3) that I got new prospects from the new move-in list at the water department, were all tried and carried out.

In class, he said that God wants a church to grow. In the field, he proved it to me. He changed me from being a drifting, nonchalant ministerial student to someone who could hardly wait to get out to pastor a congregation. One year and 15 credit hours of classes under McGrady and my life and ministry were 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 is the highest, holiest, hardest, and happiest calling. He was a force for good, a changer of lives, a dynamo of energy. Most of all, he was a soul winner.

    -- Jim Cummins

Paul McGrady's passionate message

arrow pointing rightWhat did Paul McGrady preach about? Read this transcript of his sermon on New Testament Evangelism
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-- Howard Culbertson,

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