Evangelist Eleanor Howell, shown here, about age 50.
This is my mother, hereafter I will refer to as “Mom.” Mom died on this date, a year ago. She was 86 years old. She left six children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She pretty much died suddenly. To this date, it is really not known exactly what of. She had either a stroke, an aneurysm, or both, and later diagnosed with a benign tumor that had completely enclosed her pituitary gland, making her survival impossible.
She died quietly in her sleep early in the evening on August 23, 2013. She was somewhat comatose in her last few days after she was stricken. I understand that only once, after stricken, did she revive to an extent to recognize any of her surroundings. Other than that, she was made comfortable and it is unlikely that she underwent any kind of suffering or discomfort.
In her life, my Mom was a “bigger than life” figure of sorts. She was from Welsh stock born in Ohio. She inherited her father’s love of horses, and was happiest when tending to them. My Mom had also a mystical type image. When she was four years old, she would try to mimic the Methodist minister in preaching at the church that her parents attended. When but a little girl, she would make pilgrimages to a small hill near her home. Every year, as she re-told it, she would put together a make-shift cross, place it in her wagon, and trudge up the hill, in which she would make an oblation of herself on “holy hill.” This mystic element to her was later determined to be part of the brilliant insanity that she possessed.
You see, my Mom was never quite a whole person. She was always seen as different. This facet of her persona caused her to leave school at sixteen, as she no longer fit in with any kind of peer group there. She had no close friends, or probably any friends at all, only acquaintances. She obtained a high school equivalent diploma and left home at the same age in which she went first to Columbus, Ohio. Her journeys took her to Chicago, San Francisco, Sausalito, California, to Phoenix, Arizona, and finally to Springfield, Missouri, throughout which, she worked a variety of jobs.
She was quite the adventurer. This was a lot of risk to take for a farm girl from Ohio at sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, to travel across the United States with no financial or emotional support.
She became converted to Pentecostal Christianity in Oakland, at the Oakland Revival Tabernacle. This church was officiated by a Reverend Doctor Cecil Lowery. I later met him myself in 1971. My Mom was converted in a revival being held there by an obscure revivalist and healing evangelist, Carl (Hjersman) Henry. This occurred, I believe, in 1944. Henry was a Dutch immigrant who had a singular gift in faith and healing in the Pentecostal Revival, which was still going on in some areas of the United States at the time. I have both of his books, that he wrote about his ministry, and the books are practically amazing with the recorded testimonies of his ministry. My Mom followed Dr. Lowery’s and Carl Henry’s ministry for a bit, as Henry was also based in Oakland, California.
My Mom got her wanderlust again, and went to Phoenix and worked there for a short while, and then decided to attend Bible school in Springfield, Missouri. When she got there, things did not go as planned, and my Mom got a job at a Kroger grocery store to make ends meet.
One night, when working late in the afternoon, she got on the wrong bus. She sat in the bus next to some other women. These women were going to a preaching revival being held in Springfield. My mother got caught up with them and decided to attend the services impromptu. The man who was causing a stir with his inspired preaching and message was my father, Melvin Spickard. This is where that they met.
They soon got married. My Mom was very attracted to the ministry of my father. This seemed to fulfill her whereas she had been searching before. My father was smitten with the attention of a younger woman and ordained it a divine occurrence.
My parents had four children. But after thirteen years of marriage, my Mom became restless. Despite her Christian testimony, she got involved with another man. My father was heartbroken but divorced my mother. My Mom married a man from the Ozark Mountain region that changed everyone’s life… but not for the better. They had two children, who I pretty much considered to be as much family as my immediate siblings, as that was something that my Mom had always stressed.
It took another thirteen years of marriage, or a type of hell, in which my brother and I secured the deliverance of our mother and family from this man. My Mom was able to procure another divorce.
She never remarried.
My brother and I, for the rest of her life, took turns in supporting and caring for her. Neither one of us married ourselves, until much later in life, so that we could protect her, raise the rest of the family on our own, and support her in her ministerial work. My Mom wrote two books on Christian essays and promoted herself as an Evangelist. She had good training sitting under my father’s ministry for some time. She was also a gifted individual in her own right. She could preach under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. She could minister under the anointing of the Spirit. Perhaps, one of her greatest meetings was in Austin, Texas in the early Spring of 1983, I believe, in a tent on Sixth Street. These meetings were conducted by a Hispanic brother and his church who invited my Mom to speak as they recognized her as having ministerial gifts.
The reader needs to study these photos carefully… My mother is seen ministering by laying on of hands in the second and third photo.
In the first and third photos, if you focus, you will see some interesting images/image that only showed on the film. No one saw these in the meeting until captured on camera. There are other images on other photographs taken of the same meeting.
My Mom ministered in many churches, from the East Coast to the West, where ever we lived. She had a radio ministry in which she broadcast in regional markets in the United States, and finally, on international shortwave. She was very good in radio. She could go into a sound booth without any notes, and start preaching under an anointing immediately. It was a gift that I witnessed several times.
This always amazed me.
She liked to minister in Hispanic and Black churches. I have probably been in more Black churches with her than many white folks have been in White churches. I can feel just as much at home in Hispanic or Black Pentecostal churches, than certainly in many White Pentecostal churches. I want to say for the record: in all these years of ministering with my mother in such minority race churches among the Pentecostal faith,… I never encountered any bias, prejudice or racism from folks of color in their services or churches… until I attended a Black Baptist church. You weren’t welcome there. In our own meetings, all were welcome, and my mother never discriminated against any, as well as my father, people who were black or brown.
She never attracted much, if any, following though.
This is where her brilliant insanity would come in. In her moments of accomplishments and achievements, she would say or do something that undid all the good that she had gained. She became narcissistic and manipulative. These are not traits of someone who is set apart or sanctified for a ministerial calling.
It was an interesting study.
That someone could be gifted spiritually, yet do things that were perverse attributable to mental illness.
Many legalistic Christians would have a hard time understanding how God could use someone like my Mom. How could God place gifts in such a faulty vessel? How could God anoint someone who was unsound in the first place?
I think I can answer these questions.
Paul told Timothy that there “are many vessels” in the house of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19-21). Some of these are to honour, and other to less honour. But they are still vessels, and still can be used by God.
The Bible has several stories along these lines. One is, King Saul. He was anointed by God. Yet, his end was not satisfactory. Another is the Prophet Balaam. God used him, but later he caused Israel to sin greatly. Yet, as an interesting sideline to this account, God spoke to Balaam through an animal.
If God wishes to speak through an ass, as he did with Balaam, well, He can speak through anyone. Even someone who is not sound.
The Bible says that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” or, change. If we have a gift of God placed in us, it will exhibit itself, whether or not we are that qualified to use it.
You have to be spiritually mature to understand much of this. You have to have your “senses exercised to discern both” the extent of “good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14b).
Since I understand this, I am not offended in God… nor my mother.
I am grateful for God’s purpose. I am grateful for my Mom. I am very sorry that she was such a tragic figure. I am sorry that she hurt folks, many times deeply. But I am not going to play God and judge her harshly. I will leave that to people who are more “righteous” than I. Sometimes in my thinking, God places such in our lives, to determine how we can overcome the persons or situations that develop.
I don’t know if my Mom was ultimately saved. She was never a whole person. I am not sure just how much she was accountable. In the Bible, accountability is implied to be important. She certainly had a stacked deck against her. She had enemies everywhere in which she never did anything to them. The Devil’s Crowd always “zeroed” in on her. The Devil knows who is, and who is not. In many respects, her calling and limited purpose attracted a good deal of attention from the Dark Side. I saw a good measure of this. But at some point, perhaps she could have made a choice in some clarity of mind… or maybe not.
I will leave that in God’s Hands.
Meanwhile, I will remember my Mom today. And despite her being not as she could have been,… I miss her. And, I love her.
I know for sure, one thing. She is in a better place. She is no longer tormented by the forces of insanity and unsoundness that finally destroyed much, if not all, the good that she ever did.
For me, I will focus on the good. I have seen too much otherwise, in her times of sacrifice and selflessness, to think that God would completely forsake her. One other thing I know, is that what purpose God had for her… she did do. She was obedient in this regard.
I cannot say that for a lot of people…
…who — have their right minds…
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.