Harold Hilton - Sharon, Ohio Convention - 2000

I am very grateful to be here at Sharon convention this year. I want to tell you children a little story. When you get home you can find in your world atlas, below California, a part of Mexico called Baja, California. It is about 1050 miles long, and it's desert, and everything that grows in the desert has thorns, and they say, "Come on out and we will stick you." The desert is a harsh land. But, a few people live there in the mountains of Baja.


There was a journalist from National Geographic Magazine and he went up into those dry, harsh mountains and he found some people that were raising goats and they were making cheese; that was their livelihood. This man had never been around such country and such primitive people. He was from New York where there was electricity, running water, refrigerators, air conditioning. Everything we have seen, these people had never seen.


Coming upon a little grandma watching her goats, he asked her, "How is life in the desert, grandma?" Grandma said with a smile, "Life is good. There is water in the well." The wonderful thing about this well of salvation that God's people have is that it is not a dry hole. There is always water in the well. If anyone here has spent thousands of dollars drilling a well and has come up with a dry well, you know what I am talking about. You don't have a very good feeling when you spend a lot of money on a well and it comes up a dry hole.


John 4, the woman at the well asked Jesus for a drink and she received a well. That was a pretty good deal. That was a bargain. That is what happens to God's people; in their thirst, they ask for a drink and He gives them a well. "The woman saith unto Him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not.'" Jesus told her, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."


John 7:37, it doesn't speak of it as a well but as the source of living water. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.'" The great day of the feast, could we not call it convention? These days of convention we can drink of those rivers of living water. This is not a dry hole.


The children probably know about a wishing well. Usually it has a little water and you can toss in a penny or a nickel, and if you are lucky, maybe a quarter. Then you are supposed to make a wish, and it is supposed to come true. Of course the only way it might come true is if you had all the money that people have tossed into the well. This well of salvation is not a wishing well. You just don't wish for salvation or hope for salvation, but it comes from revelation. The revelation of Jesus Christ the living water and the promise that we will never thirst again. The water supply here at convention I hear comes from a living spring of water. The living water we have found in Christ will never go dry. It's a living spring of water.


Isaiah 12:3 tells us about something that is in this well, in this water, and it's joy. We draw with joy from the wells of salvation and this whole chapter is a chapter of praise. In our thirst and in our need we turn to God, we ask and He gives us a well. The 3rd verse, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."


This is a little story for the children. This is a story about two buckets that were talking to one another. Did you ever meet a talking bucket?? One bucket said, "I am getting a little tired of coming to the well empty." The other bucket said, "That is no problem to me because I always leave the well full." What kind of a bucket are we? What kind of a bucket do we want to be? Do we sometimes feel I am kind of tired of convention? Your parents and grandparents when they come to convention feel I really need a good convention. Workers need convention, too. They don't just prepare for you. Workers love to get ready for convention. We come to convention empty, but we go away full. We are so thankful that at this convention we have been filled.


The problem sometimes is not the water in the well. The trouble for most of us is getting to the well. When I was a little boy, I would go visit my grandparents and they lived in a place called Boring, California. It was a wonderful place to spend the summer because it was always green and everything grows there. I remember grandpa putting a bottle of root beer in his hip pocket for later, and in those days, it was called Hires root beer. He would tell me, "Ok, Harry let's go clear some brush." We would clear brush to the spring so that the cattle could get down to drink and cleared the trail. So the trouble is not bad water, the trouble is no water. The trouble for me is getting to that water. Lots of brush sometimes to clear, but we need that water. We want that water. Keep the trail clean.


Back to that woman in John 4. In this water, there is life. Here at this convention, we draw with joy from the well. Isaiah 12, draw with joy ... "praise the Lord, call upon His name, Sing unto the Lord for He hath done excellent things; Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." For many of you, this is your home convention, and year after year, you come here and year after year, you leave with joy.


I grew up in a family and part of me is serious and part of me is not so serious. The not so serious comes from my mother's side. Her maiden name was Jinks, so that makes me half a Jinks, doesn't it? I had been in the work a while, eight or nine years, and I was at Gilroy convention and I saw my grandma Jinks sitting at the table with a couple of her friends. I thought, "Well, I should go find out how grandma is feeling." I slipped over beside her and asked, "Well, Gram, what kind of a convention are you having?" She answered, "Well, Harry, I am having a good convention, of course." I said to her, "Gram, when did you start coming to convention?" She said, "Well about 1921 or 1922." I told her, "Gram, that's over 50 years and I have been thinking now that you are getting up in years, why don't you just come every other year? It takes an effort for you to get ready to come and another week or two just to get feeling better again. Have you ever thought about just coming every other year? Just take it easy?" She said, "No. I have never thought of that, and I don't like the idea either. Now isn't there something you can do besides picking on your old grandma?" Over 50 years and she still wants to come to convention. It's rich and it's life giving. We are thankful grandma brought her family to convention year after year. The time came when my grandma couldn't come to convention. Grandma passed away while we were at convention. She died on a Friday morning of convention. I am glad that grandma brought us to convention.


There is another time that we come to draw from the well and that's for comfort and strength. Sometimes we drink deeply of that comfort and strength. Early in my ministry, when I was just a young worker, a little family began coming to our meetings. Grandma had moved from Indonesia to Los Angeles, so grandma's daughter and family were coming to our meetings. There were eight children in this family and one child named Rosie that professed.


About 3 years ago, I was back in Orange County near Anaheim; the children would know that's where Mickey Mouse lives...and I stopped by to visit Rosie. I asked her, "Rosie, how was it that you were the only one out of all your siblings to profess when the gospel came?" She was about 15 years old then. She said, "Harold, it was because I shared my room with my grandma and I saw her read her Bible and pray."


Last year, Rosie and her husband started the adoption process on three little girls. They already had two of their own. On the Wednesday of our Buttonwillow I convention, I received word that Rosie's husband had passed away, just a very young man from what was supposed to be minor surgery. The Monday after convention was the funeral. On Wednesday, we were getting ready for Buttonwillow II convention. I called over to Santee convention to talk to one of the brothers and he said, "Harold, you are not going to believe who I see walking over toward the meeting tent." Rosie and her five children. She was coming to that well for her comfort and strength. She told me later, "God will keep me. God will help me through this experience." In our deepest need and when the struggle is the greatest, that is when the water is the sweetest.


In the 24th chapter of Genesis, we read about another well. Abraham spoke to his servant and said, "I need a bride for my son." He told his servant not to take a bride from the daughters of the Canaanites. But what I want to speak to you about is the well that was found in this chapter. It speaks to me of the spirit of service. What we can drink from this well is the spirit of service. When the servant met Rebekah at the well, not only did she offer him a drink but she offered to water his camels. I am sure you have heard some calculations of how many gallons that would have taken to water 10 thirsty camels. How many trips to the well would it have taken, go down and come up, go down and come up?


We are here at this convention and the water we are drinking has come from the spirit of service. We are glad for our little ones who are here at convention and glad when they come to us and ask for a job. Can I have a job? We would never want to take service out of convention. Jesus was the greatest of all servants. He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Jesus didn't feel He was losing anything by serving. I appreciated what our own Dennis (Faub) mentioned, "I just want to be His servant as long as I can." We will never lose when we serve.


Then in Genesis 29, we read about Jacob and his journey and another well. "And he looked, and beheld a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it." Here at convention, there is another well that we draw from, the well of His love and all the love we have in this family of God. It was here that Jacob saw Rachel. "And Jacob loved Rachel." I am not a matchmaker and the workers here are not matchmakers, and I'm just an old bachelor; but boys look at girls, and girls look at boys during convention, and no harm to that and I'll tell why I know it happens. When my old dad was dying, twice we drove up the Napa Valley to the convention grounds, and dad said, "Pull over here." Dad pointed out an old barn and said, "That's where I used to sleep as a young boy when we came to convention. See that open field down there? That's the first place I saw your mother running across the grounds with her long braids." Well, "How old were you, Dad, when you first saw mom?" He just grinned...huh...hum; hum.


I want to tell you something else mom and dad did. I don't know maybe the word for it, but I thought it was pretty "gutsy" of them. You know what they did? When they started dating and writing one another, they both agreed, "We are going to have an open home." Dad said, "I want an open home for the workers and God's people, and if you don't want an open home, then let's just forget it right now." Mom said, "I want an open home too, a place for God's servants and people." I thought that's pretty "gutsy" of mom and dad to feel as they did, "If we are not going to be in this all the way as a couple, then let's just forget it." Beyond the human family, we come to convention because we need love. We need the love of Jesus in our hearts. We need the love of God. That's why we are here at convention.


I will tell the children just one more story. On the 17th of January 1994 at 4:31 AM, we were all knocked out of bed by an earthquake, the Northridge earthquake. On Friday night for supper, we had a celebration with the little family we were staying with. The family had bought a "fixer-upper," that is an older home that needs a lot of work. That little couple, one board at a time, one brick at a time, one rug at a time, one room at a time, remodelled their little house. So that evening, we had a little barbecue and after that, the dad had to go to work, he worked nights. The next morning at 4:31 a.m., everything started coming down, the earthquake hit. The mom threw her arms and body over her little baby and yelled to her young daughter, and a friend that was staying with her, "Get under the bed, get under the bed." After a few minutes, the shaking stopped and the mother yelled, "Get outside! Get outside!" We all stood around outside for a while and then went back in the house.


An hour later, the aftershock hit. The aftershock is more damaging to people psychologically than the first shock.  It seems much stronger than the first shock and you begin to wonder is this ever going to end, is it ever going to stop?? The mom yelled again, "Get under the bed!" and then we were able to get outside. Now there are fires all around, emergency vehicles screaming, the dogs going berserk, the horses and animals running back and forth.


Now, here is mom, with her children all around her, noise everywhere, the house in shambles and she is trying to hold it all together, not knowing about her husband, all the phones are down, and the younger daughter says, "Mom, can I say something?" Mom says, "Sure, you can." She says, "Mom, now remember, we have to remember that life is good...there is still water in the well."


In our deepest sorrow and in our deepest joy, just remember our future is water from the well.