Don Locke Story

  I was raised in the Methodist Church. I attended Sunday school and church regularly, joining the church at thirteen.

My school-teacher parents were sincere, teaching enough about God that I really wanted to come into a closer relationship with Him. However, as far as I knew, becoming a church member was the step necessary to put me on the road to heaven.

During World War II, serving as crewman of a carrier-based patrol bomber, I began to think a good deal about God. Assigned to some very dangerous patrols, skimming along a hundred feet above the heaving Pacific, flying low to avoid detection by enemy radar, I knew that the distance between the plane and those hungry waves was all that separated me from eternity. Such situations make a man think seriously about forging a personal relationship with his God. I began to read my Bible, stopped drinking and cursing, but otherwise made no complete surrender of my life.

Returning home safely after the war, I also returned to the routine formal church going that had been our custom. No one had explained to me the necessity of being born again.

While attending the University of Oklahoma, from which I graduated, I worked for a plumbing supply firm and gained valuable experience in that field that later fitted me to become the manager of a plumbing supply store.

We enjoyed a measure of prosperity, but somehow my wife and I had not found happiness. We attended church, but again we were substituting church membership for a personal relationship with God. Business activities required many social contacts that always seemed to include social drinking. At first it appeared innocent enough, and "everybody was doing it." Gradually the pressures of business in this highly competitive field began building up. I tried to fill the void in my God-hungry soul with thrill-seeking and drinking, but it didn't satisfy.

One evening in 1954, I was watching television in my home in Oklahoma City— extremely nervous, and emotionally upset, dissatisfied with my life, yet not knowing what to do about it. Almost unconsciously I found myself becoming interested in the broadcast. It was a very positive evangelistic message about the power of released faith in God. The lamp of faith began to glow. Perhaps there was something I had missed. I told my wife about it and we began to watch the program regularly.

When it was announced that Evangelist Oral Roberts would be holding a crusade in Oklahoma City we made arrangements to attend as often as possible. Our eyes were gradually opened to a new spiritual realm— a realm in which, according to the evangelist, a man could actually walk daily with his God. My wife gave her heart to the Lord during that crusade, but I was stubborn. I wanted to rid myself of the sin that made me miserable, but still thought it possible to do it myself. At least I wanted to clean up my life so it would be fit to offer to God, not realizing that if a man could rid himself of his sin, then Christ need not have died. Though yearning for the peace and happiness my wife had found, I had some ideas about what I thought was "fanaticism." I even ridiculed her spiritual experience.

In spite of my resistance, it became evident that the Spirit of God was dealing with me. I cannot explain this except that the Lord looks into the heart and He knew the sincerity of my desire to draw closer to Him. Somehow I felt that He would have me resign my position and launch out into something He would show me. Determined to find my way to God, it dawned on me that the only way to Him was through obedience. The next day I resigned my position. This move seemed foolish to many of my friends. I had no other job, and didn't know how I was going to support my family. Convinced that God was trying to show me something my human mind was too dull to understand as yet, I took that first big step toward Him by faith alone.

Six months later a dream came true that had been in the back of my mind since college days— I opened my own wholesale plumbing store in Bartlesville, Oklahoma— the first Locke Supply Store. Going into this particular business on even an ordinary scale was supposed to require $50,000. We had only $1,200 net when the doors were opened for business.

That was the blessed year of 1955. It was a tremendous milestone in my life, because the greatest thing in the world happened to me that year. God saved my soul! It was then that life really began for me. One evening, in a Full Gospel church, my search ended and I made my peace with God. The best description I can give of that experience is that perfect peace came into my soul. It was as though all the winds that had been buffeting me had stopped blowing and everything became completely calm. My soul, mind and spirit were at peace for the first time in my life.

There came to my mind the promise that if we will honor the Lord with our tithes and offerings, He will pour out a blessing so great that we shall not be able to contain it. Kneeling before God in complete dedication, I entered into a pact to honor Him with my finances as He prospered me. That night I found the key to success and began using it for His glory.

That first month we gave 10 percent of our gross income to God. It was only $35. We needed that money to purchase materials, but were determined to keep the pact. We gave it in faith that God would multiply it to His good purposes.

In the months and years that followed, the Lord blessed us so abundantly that we increased the gift to 15 percent, then 20 percent, and finally 30 percent of our gross profits. The devil tried to make me believe that such profligate giving would ruin my business, but the business wasn't mine– it was God's– and His business doesn't fail! Every time we gave more to Him, our profits increased. We just couldn't out-give God!

We felt impressed that the Lord would have us move the business from Bartlesville to Oklahoma City. Others did not see the wisdom of such a move. I didn't quite see it myself at that time, but it has been my experience that when a man turns aside into his own paths and relies on his own wisdom, he is apt to end up in a mighty dry desert.

Less than four months later we were open for business in Oklahoma City. From that point, the growth of the company has been outstanding. Eleven additional stores have been opened as the Lord has directed and provided the way. Of course there have been some difficult situations, times of testing, a great deal of hard work and many nights of prayer, but God has never failed to take us through.

However, the battle of wills was not over. Until approximately six years ago, I resisted the teaching of the Holy Spirit baptism—thinking it was fanaticism. Yet sometimes in the depths of my soul, I had to admit something was lacking in my life.

When finally I accepted the fact that there was a deeper walk with the Lord toward which He was gently urging me, my pride still got in the way. I wanted to receive the Baptism in my home or in my car, in a nice, quiet way.

Then I began to feel that God was grieved with my stubbornness. I really loved the Lord, and the last thing I desired was to grieve Him. At last I acknowledged to God that I was not accomplishing fully what He apparently wanted done, and in desperation asked Him to either give me the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or take away everything He had given me and give it to someone who could carry through according to His will.

God responded to that prayer with a glorious baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is wonderful how God works a man over inside, makes a different being of him, fills the aching void in his heart and gives him a language in which he can pray for souls as he never prayed before.

It was at that time that God called me to accept a directorship in the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship where, as a layman and a businessman, there is a tremendous opportunity for service. I definitely feel that God calls men to make money to support His work, just as surely as He calls ministers, evangelists, and missionaries.

Men often ask the secret of my business success. Actually, my own business ability is very ordinary, but God is my partner. Without Him I would have folded long ago! The secret is simple: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

I have long since given up and handed the business over to the Lord. I act only as steward to run it for Him.

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