MY PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH
WORD OF TRUTH WEBSITE
WORD OF TRUTH FELLOWSHIP WEBSITE
I am Brother Given O. Blakely, and have been a minister of God's Word since 1954, having held ministries in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri. Prior to living in Joplin Missouri, my ministry was for The Church at 78th and Independence [originally "The Church at 26th and Colfax], which I founded, in Merrillville, Indiana. I ministered there for 32 ½ years (1/60-6/92).
I was raised up in the Campbell-Stone movement, commonly referred to as The Restoration Movement. This movement is currently divided into three major segments (Christian Church--Disciples of Christ, Independent Christian Church, and Church of Christ). I have ministered to congregations in all three of these segments during the years from 1954 through 2014.
Perceiving that the body of Christ extended beyond the boundaries of this movement, I have also ministered to churches from the following groups. Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Mennonite, Assembly of God, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Four Square, Independent Bible Church, and Grace Bible Church. Due to this freedom, some of my brethren have branded me liberal, charismatic, and even cultist. In some circles I am considered controversial. But wherever there is a love of the truth, I have found godly congeniality and a certain spiritual wholesomeness that yields joy and edification.
From this point on, I will speak of myself in the third person.
Brother Blakely held two crusades in Vijayawada, India, where he ministered to gatherings of 12,000-19,000 people, five times daily (1980 and 1985). This is a low-cast, and thus poverty stricken, area in India. At the conclusion of those crusades, several hundred people were baptized into Christ, all coming from a Hindu background. THE WORD OF TRUTH, published quarterly by brother Blakely, was translated and printed in the Hindi language of India for several years during the 1970's and 1980's. It was also translated into Korean, and distributed in South Korea during the 1970's and 1980's.
He has also held crusades in four cities in Pakistan (2005). During that time he was accompanied by brother Aaron Hutchcraft, an associate minister at The Word of Truth Fellowship in Joplin, Missouri. Brother Aaron also ministered in Pakistan in 2002. During these meetings crowds ranged from 1,000 to a little over 3,000. Over 5,150 people responded to the Gospel invitation. Given presently maintains an extensive ministry in Pakistan, publishing a monthly magazine for Christian teachers and leaders. As of 7/20-2014, the monthly distribution is 4,400. These leaders minister regularly to around 500,000 each week. He has also published 14 books in the Urdue language, with a total distribution of over 100,000. The book on "Baptism" has been reprinted five times.
Brother Blakely was author and editor of The Word of Truth publication from 1960-1992. Prior to 1960, he published this periodical weekly under the name "Salt Shaker," while ministering in Marshall and Dallas City, Illinois. From 1960 through the mid-1980's, The Word of Truth was a Monthly publication. Since then, it has been published quarterly. It is presently a 40-page 5.5" X 8.5" magazine, and is sent free throughout the world to all who request it. You can read more of this publication, and subscribe to receive it, by going to the Word of Truth Periodical webpage. Following a stroke in 2009, brother Blakely was unable to keep up the editorship of this magazine. His elder son, Michael Paul Blakely, assumed editing responsibilities in 2014. Brother Blakely still writes for the publication.
Given was the founder and speaker for The Word of Truth Radio Broadcast for ten years. This radio broadcast was 15 minutes in length, and was aired over numerous stations throughout the United States. He also moderated and spoke on The Word of Truth Radio Forum, a one hour call-in broadcast centered in the Chicago area. During the program, questions and comments were received from listeners. During the latter 1980's, this broadcast had a confirmed listening audience of approximately 10,000. After moving to Joplin, Missouri in 1992, brother had a daily (Monday thru Friday) broadcast at a local radio station (KNEO in Neosho, Missouri). Following his stroke, he was unable to keep up the fast-paced speaking thje program required.
Brother Blakely has produced 65 teaching videos through Good News Productions, Intl, in Joplin, Missouri. These include five series, designed to lift the confidence of God's people. Each series consists of thirteen 30 minute presentations. They are as follows: (1 Looking Back on Your Baptism, (2 The Uniqueness of the New Covenant, (3 Christ, Our Great High Priest, (4 The Second Appearing of Christ, and (5 Inner Conflict and Its Remedy. More information can be obtained by contacting Good News Productions at 2111 North Main, Joplin, MO 64801, telephone 417-782-0060. These are also featured on this website (http://wotruth.com).
Brother Blakely has also written the book, "THE KINGDOM OF GOD," a 466 page volume published by College Press of Joplin, MO. Although out of print since 1990, a republication of this valuable book is being considered. Many public libraries and Christian Colleges across the country have this book among their volumes. It was reprinted in 2010 by an independent printer, and is now available in all major bookstores. In addition, he has written a two volume commentary on the book of Colossians: "THE DIVINE REMEDY FOR DISTRACTION." This is also available at Amazon and other book outlets.
During the years from 1958 through 1992, brother Blakely worked in the industrial world. While not a preference, this was necessitated by a falling out with the religious group with which he was affiliated. Many varied stories have been circulated concerning this unfortunate conflict. It centered in Given's student years at a Bible College. During the fourth year of his education, he began a street ministry with several other students. The ministry took place in the bar and night club district of town, and proved effective in reaching a number of very needy people. Because the ministry did not meet with the approval of the college he was attending, brother Blakely was eventually expelled, and ostracized from that particular brotherhood. This resulted in his termination from three different congregations due to the influence of the school which he had attended. The official disapproval of brother Blakely lasted for 30 years. It was so thorough he could not minister in a single congregation belonging to the group from which he was expelled. During that time, the church in Indiana was started, and the radio, writing, and other ministries began. In 1988, brother Don DeWelt, from Joplin, Missouri, now present with the Lord, brought brother Blakely back into favor with a good part of the brotherhood involved. At that time, "The Kingdom of God" book was written, and the teaching videos made at Good News Production, Intl.
During the 1980's word was circulated that brother Blakely was a Calvinist. All of this was the result of his renewed perception of Scripture. After being isolated from his brethren, Given immersed himself in Scripture. Much to his consternation, he found that God did not accent what he and the movement to which he belonged had stressed. One of the effects of this was an emphasis on the Sovereignty of God, together with His keeping power. Throughout his experience with the group with which he was affiliated, he had heard very little about a great and dominant God, ruling the affairs of men. Yet, he found such a God on nearly every page of the Scriptures. This compelled him to speak strongly concerning these things. He found that brethren among whom he had walked were almost totally ignorant of these things. They tended to be more church-centered than God-centered. Thus, reports were raised of his defection to Calvinism, which reports were totally false and malicious. In His grace and tender mercy, the Lord kept brother Blakely from tumbling into the chasm of theological lop-sidedness.
During the 80's and 90's brother Blakely was also branded as a charismatic because of his frequent ministry concerning the Holy Spirit. Although he saw the Holy Spirit was not the thrust of the Gospel, yet it appeared to him that the power and ministry of the Spirit had largely been withheld from the people among whom he was raised, and with whom he was affiliated. While the Holy Spirit was by no means the emphasis of his preaching and writing, many felt convinced he had fallen into a sort of Pentecostal mind-set. Still, he found great liberty in speaking of the Spirit leading us to mortify the deeds of the body, strengthening believers in the inner man, and enabling them to abound in hope. He remains persuaded that such things ought not be withheld from those who are pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ.
As the 90's rolled by, even others felt brother Given had become Baptist. This was largely owing to his frequent mentioning and expositions of the grace of God. Again, he was strongly impressed with a near-total absence of preaching and teaching on the grace of God. He felt himself to have been robbed of this precious truth by an inordinate emphasis upon the church, its organization and recruitment programs. Many of these circumstances were very troubling to brother Blakely. He knew the people of God should unite around a mighty God, the ministering and empowering Spirit, and the marvelous grace of God. Yet, these very subjects had become the reason for further divisions and argumentation among the people he knew so well. In all of this, brother Blakely has no regrets for embracing and proclaiming these wonderful realities. He has found them to be a source of such strength as enables the believer to grow, be stabilized in the faith, and have strong consolation and good hope through grace.
In 1979, Given was widowed by the passing of his wife of twenty-five years (Adanna L.). She died of Lou Gherig's disease after a one year battle in which she rapidly declined from being a vigorous and athletic woman, to not being able to move a muscle in her body. Her migration to the unseen world was a triumphant one, in which her faith was maintained and strengthened. One of the battles she fought was with the doctrine that healing is in the atonement. She was told by well-meaning friends, that if she only had faith, she could be instantly healed. Others told her she was under a generational curse. Our family learned during this time of the debilitating effects of such doctrines. The superiority of faith, and the powers of the world to come, however, brought sister Blakely the victory. She gloriously triumphed over these corrupt teachings, entering into the glory with a strong faith and good hope.
After being widowed in 1979, brother Blakely remarried. His wife, sister June, has been a great asset to his ministry and personal life. An integral part of the ministry, sister June is also a proficient teacher. As of June, 2004, she completed the home schooling of the four children she bore to brother Blakely. She was the administrator of a local home schooling association, and was instrumental in assisting several families in assuming the responsibilities of home schooling. Having been a High School principal in Florida prior to her marriage to brother Blakely, she is unusually adept at teaching. Sister June has also held conferences, work shops, and classes for ladies. She also is prominent in The Word of Truth Fellowship which meets regularly in the Blakely home.
Brother Blakely has eleven children, twelve grand children, and one great grand child. Six of his children were born during his marriage to sister Adanna (Pamela, Rochelle, Michelle, Michael, Leah, and Mark). One was raised in our home from a boy to manhood (Richard Sankowski). Four were born during his current marriage to sister June (Adah, Benjamin, Jonathan, and Eva). As of July, 2014, only one of the children remain at home -- Benjamin Seth. Our twins, Benjamin and Jonathan are now (2014) twenty-nine years old, and Eva is twenty-six. Jonathan works for Waste Management, is marrieds to Mattie (Coob), and has three children, Benjamin works at a local care facility, Eva is a departmental manager at Hobby Lobby. Adah is a chaplain at a local hospital, and is married to Jason Hutchcraft, living in Joplin. All of the children in Joplin are active in the weekly ministries of the Word of Truth Fellowship. The other children have married and reside in other States (Indiana and California, Pamela was married to (George Brewer) -- she is now deceased, having also passed away of Lou Gherig's disease. Rochelle (Day, Dewayne), Michelle (Trycha, Scott), Michael Paul (Michele), Mark Phillip married to Jkross Sadsomboon), Adah (Hutchcraft, Jason), Richard (Karen). The other daughter, Leah (Oney, Forest), went to be with the Lord in 1997, leaving two small children behind. She also died of Lou Gherig's diseasafter a brief battle of around nine months.
Since 1989, brother Blakely has sponsored the annual Refreshing Waters Renewal. This is a series of meetings lasting three days, usually Tuesday through Thursday, beginning on the first Tuesday of August. During that time 15-19 sermons are delivered, numerous formal testimonies, together with organized audience discussions. Preachers from a variety of backgrounds are asked to speak at these sessions. They are required to be knowledgeable of God's great salvation, and have the ability to present the truth in an insightful manner. Personal participation in the grace of God and the pursuit of holiness are also required. These meetings are sponsored by a volunteering local congregation. Those traveling from a distance are offered accommodations, and the Word of Truth Fellowship serves three meals daily for all who atend. The Renewals have proved a source of great encouragement and instruction to all who have attended them. They are designed to give believers the advantage by strengthening their faith, enhancing their joy, and stabilizing their hope. More information on these gatherings can be obtained by going to our Refreshing Waters website.
In 1992, brother Blakely retired from Lever Brothers Co, where he was employed for nearly 33 years. Most of his employment was spent in upper management in the systems and automated engineering area. Following that retirement, the Blakely's moved to Joplin, Missouri. Their welcome to Joplin began with the discovery of a brain tumor in one of their nine year old twin sons, Benjamin. Following extensive tests, he was found with a serious form of brain cancer. At the time of discovery, the tumor was the size of a golf ball. Seven days later, an extensive surgical procedure resulted in the removal of a complex tumor from the left front lobe of Benjamin's brain. The tumor was unusually large, having doubled in size, we were told, every day. When removed, it was the size of a man's fist, approximately 4" x 5" in size. In the following year, Benjamin lived on the brink of death. Sister June, his mother, was trained to be his nurse, and cared for him with grace and effectiveness. Today, (2014), Benjamin is twenty-none years old, over six feet tall, and around 205 pounds. He carries a large scar on his head, and his hair never grew back. He participates regularly in our ministry, and is a fine young man. During the year 2000, Benjamin earned a black belt in karate, together with his twin brother Jonathan.
The Blakely's purchased a large historical home in Joplin as a base for their anticipated ministry. As of 2014, and over 120 years old, the home is three stories tall and has a basement. It has over 6,000 square feet of living space, twenty-four rooms, and is where our gatherings are regularly held. Upon the advice of local people, the Blakely's hired a supposed Christian contractor to refurbish the home, as it had been unoccupied for nearly 20 years. This arrangement proved to be an exceedingly great trial for their family. The contractor took their money, yet failed to do the work, leaving them with a massive undertaking and no financial resources. The outcome was that they lost $110,000, an amount they have never been able to recover. In spite of this unfortunate experience, however, God has sustained them, and they have been able to continue their ministry with joy, and without incurring debt. One aspect of the trying of their faith was found in the fact that all of brother Blakely's retirement income was devoted to his printed ministry.
From 1992 to 1997, brother Blakely was employed by Ozark Christian College as the Director of Church Development, later changed to the "Coordinator of Church Relations." This required a massive financial adjustment. Although receiving a fair wage from the school, brother Blakely's weekly take-home income was reduced by $1,600. God blessed the family, and no inconvenience or trauma was experienced. Over that period of time he ministered in over 165 different congregations, preached 36 revival meetings, and held four interim ministries. During this period, brother Blakely's mother went to be with the Lord. Shortly thereafter, one of his daughters also moved into the presence of the Lord (Leah). In 1997, brother Blakely was released from the College due to the obsolescence of his position. The position was reinstated shortly after his release. This created a trying situation, as Given was retired with no source of income. From June 1997 until December 1997, the family lived without any sure source of income. Several brethren graciously determined to support their ministry, thus enabling them to maintain their family without incurring a single dollar of debt. In December of 1997, brother Blakely began receiving Social Security.
In 1993, the current Word of Truth Ministries began in the Blakely Home. Initially, meetings were held every other Friday for discouraged church leaders (A Ministry for Hurting Leaders). It later expanded to include everyone desiring to be edified, being renamed "A Ministry for Hungry Saints." This ministry continues to this day (7/18/2014). As of thois date, over 530 meetings have been held. During these studies on 90 key topics were delivered, together with brother Blakely's complete commentaries on Hebrews, Revelation, First John, Romans, Daniel, Second Corinthians, Colossians, and Genesis. Currently we are preparing to go through thre Gospel of Luke. Most of these studies can be found on brother Blakely's Commentary Page.
Word of Truth Ministries also includes meetings every Wednesday, and morning and evening meetings every Lord's day. Wednesday evening is devoted to an hour of prayer and an hour or so of study. Studies have included the completion of Ephesians, Galatians, First Peter, Second Timothy, Second Peter, Philippians, First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, Nehemiah, and Hosea, Mark, and Amos. Our present study is of the book of Jude. We are preparing to go through the Gospel of John. Each series has been approximately forty lessons, with Nehemiah having seventy-two lessons, and Hosea seventy. We have covered one hundred and fifty lessons in Mark. These also can be accessed on brother Blakely's Commentary Page. During Lord's Day evening services numerous foundational subjects have been covered, together with expositions of Jude, Habakkuk, Second John, and Third John. Lengthy series on "Divine Nomenclature" (Series One and Two) "The Kingdom of God," "Spiritual Life," "The Tabernacle," "The Second Coming of Christ," "Joseph, A Type of Christ," "The Lord's Table, "The Second Coming of Christ," and other subjects have also been covered. Some audio and video presentations of these can be heard and/or downloaded on our Audio Ministry page.
As of July, 2014, brother Blakely continues the Word of Truth Ministries, contributing to The Word of Truth Quarterly, Authoring a monthly publication in Pakistan, ministering every other Lord's Day, Wednesday, and every other Friday evening. Given began the Pakistani publication in January of 2003 in Pakistan, and is still being published. It is published in the Urdu language, being regularly distributed to over 4,000 Pakistani preachers and teachers. Until prohitded by locak Pakistani authorities, his videos were regularly played over the public television channel in Faisalabad Pakistan. He has written and published twelve books in the Urdue language for Christian leaders in Pakistan, including the following: The Relation of the Word of God to Faith, Vol 1, The Relation of the Word of God to Faith, Vol 2, The Centrality of Preaching, The Importance of Teaching, Baptism Into Christ (6 reprints), The Need for God's Salvation, Christ's Increasing Kingdom, The Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Why Are There Calamities? The Ministry of the Word, and Christ in the Bible.
Additionally, some of his writings have been translated into French for French-speaking Christian teachers and leaders. The first book, "Divine Protection," has been printed and is scheduled for distributed throughout the French-speaking world. Two additional books are ready for the printing: The Centrality of the Gospel, and "Confidence and Assurance."
DEBATES. Brother Blakely has had five major debates over the years. In 1957 he debated with Carol Puckett of Montgomery Alabama on the subject of the validity of Instrumental Music in rendering praise to God. In 1960 he debated a professor from Roosevelt University, in Chicago, on "The Theory of Evolution." In 1985 he debated Guy N. Woods (now departed), and then editor of The Gospel Advocate, on the subject of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In 1988 he debated John Gibbs on the subject of Instrumental Music and praise to God. In 1989 he debated Alan Highers on the subject of Instrumental Music and the Worship of God. The 1985 and 1989 debates were widely advertised and were attended by a significant number of people.
Brother Blakely is also available for Revivals and other specialized meetings as he iks able.
In addition to the above, I would like to share with you the eight Scriptural proclamations that have most impacted my life. All of these are within the framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the primary fountain that refreshed and clarified these things to my spirit.
1. The Divine imagery found in man (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1-2; 9:6; 1 Cur 11:7; James 3:9)
2. That we are justified by faith (Rom 3:25-28; 5:1; Gal 3:24).
3. That the very righteousness of God is imputed to men through faith (Rom 1:17-18; 3:21-22; 4:18-25; Phil 3:9).
4. The world to come (Matt 12:32; Mk 10:30; Heb 2:5; 6:5).
5. The war between good and evil that rages within the believer (Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:17).
6. The marvelous grace of God (Acts 18:27; Eph 2:8-10; 2 Theses 2:16; Tit 2:11-12; Heb 2:9)
7. That we have been called into the fellowship of God's dear Son (1 Cur 1:9), and that ONLY within the context of that fellowship, can we successfully we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
8. That all Divine resources -- or "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" (Eph 1:3) -- are obtained through the "knowledge of God" (2 Pet 1:3).
Although my trek to glory has been attended with several unusual sorrows and trials, I do not regret a mile I have traveled with the Lord. I have experienced the heartache of being rejected by the religious associates with whom I was identified. I have known the sorrow of losing employment during unusually difficult economic times. I know what it is like to lose all of my financial resources, with no apparent way of recovering them. I have known the loss of a wife, two daughters, mother, and father. I have experienced the sorrow of seeing my own son afflicted with cancer, and lingering at death's door for over a year. I have experienced the loss of health and the feelings of absolute helplessness.
Yet, these are not the only things I have known. I have also experienced the come-back power of Christ's resurrection -- being able to get up after I have been knocked down. I know the sweetness of Divine fellowship when no comfort can be found in this world. I have the blessing of a godly wife who knows the things of the Spirit of God, is my yokefellow, and my minister as well. I have known the fellowship of precious brethren who have stood with me in joy and sorrow, and carried me on the wings of prayer to Jesus. I know what it is to be lifted up, strengthened, have joy unspeakable and full of glory, and peace like a river. I do not regret a mile I have traveled with my Lord, or a single decision I have made for His glory.
If I had my life to live over, I would give myself to the Lords earlier, labor more heartily, and be more productive. I would waste less time, and revenge any disobedience more quickly. I would leave fruitless religion earlier, and embrace truth more quickly. I would be more eager to follow my heart more, and my head less. I would fight harder, run with more stamina, and quit more like a man.
God has faithfully sustained me, granting me joy and refreshment when it was sorely needed, and sending considerate brethren my way at the most appropriate time. My heart is burdened for the condition of the American church, which I consider to be the greatest mission field. I have grown discontent with the juvenile bantering of would-be theologians, and weary of stilted and lifeless religion that rests in creeds and procedures. It is difficult for me to hear the mindless and fruitless discussions that go on among those who have little or no idea about what God is now doing in Christ Jesus. I do not care one whit for the religious fads that are cropping up here and there. My solitary quest is to appropriate a full measure of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, and at last dwell forever in the house of the Lord. I count it all joy to find a person who loves the Lord with all of their heart, and is eager for the Lord's return. I choose to identify with such people, and do so without apology or shame. I choose to renounce all names and associations that cannot transfer into glory. Whatever I will be forced to leave behind when I disembark from this world, will not be held tightly while I remain in it.
Given O. Blakely, as of 7/18/2014
WORD OF TRUTH WEBSITE