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Preacher boy’s witness changed runaway’s life

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)??Fifty years ago when hitchhiking was a relatively safe practice, preacher boys frequently stopped to give a guy a ride on their way from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to churches in Oklahoma and Texas.
Roger Foree of Pasadena, Texas, never forgot the preacher boy who picked him up in 1949, the weekend of an Oklahoma?Texas game.
Foree was a 14?year?old runaway at the time.
“I thought I knew more than my dad, and when he pulled off his belt to take care of my problem, I took off running, got to the road, stuck out my thumb and was on my way,” Foree recounted.
As a three?state alert went out, Foree was riding with a trucker from Houston carrying a load of beans to a prison in Huntsville, Texas, where he helped him unload.
Back hitchhiking, an old blue 1936 Ford pulled over north of Dallas and the driver motioned Foree into the back seat. Foree recalled thinking that the two men up front had to be friends, the way they were talking. But when the driver stopped to let out the passenger on the front seat, Foree realized he was another hitchhiker.
Now it was Foree’s turn to sit up front, and somewhere between that point and Tushka, Okla., Foree heard the gospel message for the first time. Two months later he turned himself in to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Foree has talked for 48 years about this chance encounter that changed his life and has wondered about the man whose witness made such an impression on a runaway kid.
Recently, driving through Tushka, Foree stopped to inquire whether anyone might know the name of the student pastor of Tushka Baptist Church in 1949.
Someone sent him to the home of Charley and Georgia Mae Ezell.
“Do we remember him!” they said. “That’s Brother Carl Nelson! He came to our home one evening and won us both to Christ!”
Foree and Nelson met over the phone that evening, and recently Foree visited Nelson in his home near Blanchard, Okla. It was as joyful a reunion as that of long?lost family.
Wistfully, Nelson said afterward, “I wish I could find John L. Dosh. His witness to me at Pearl Harbor led to my conversion.”
Foree, a bivocational minister, is active at Queens Road Baptist Church, Pasadena, Texas. His wife, Phyllis, is the daughter of Ray Tidwell, a retired Oklahoma City pastor.