How God Has Worked to Restore a Veteran
by: Stafford North | June 10, 2017
Phil Landrum of Pottsboro, Texas, a reader of Good News, sent me information about Wiley McDaniel, a friend at church who is ninety-three this month and whose life is a “good news” story.
Wiley McDaniel was born in Eldorado, Oklahoma, in 1924, and grew up in the church. His parents were strong members, he was always regular in attendance, and was baptized at age twelve. When he graduated from high school in May of 1942, the United States had been engaged in World War II for about six months. He had, of course, registered for the draft and expected to be called, but while waiting he moved to San Diego, California, to work in a shipyard. In May of 1943, he got the call and decided to enter the navy in which he served for two years and eight months—primarily on the battleship U.S.S. Indiana. During his time on this ship, the Indiana was engaged in nine major battles during which time it fired its 16” guns from offshore positions to help US soldiers and marines attack islands they had to capture as they moved toward Japan.
After the war, in 1946, Wiley married Lavora and they had three children. He worked in a cleaning and pressing shop, in the wheat harvest, eleven years for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, and many years in construction. As a construction superintendent, he oversaw the building of schools, a city hall, dormitories, and even the remodeling of more than a dozen post office buildings. He retired from such work in 1987 when his wife was ill, but she recovered and lived until 2006, giving them fifty-nine years of marriage. His wife was not a member of the church and over the years, particularly after their children were grown, Wiley stopped attending church. So he no longer had any connection with the church where he lived in Sherman, Texas.
About three years after his wife died, Wiley’s former construction company contacted him asking him to come back and oversee more construction projects. He was eighty-six at the time, but not being satisfied with doing nothing, he agreed to do more work. A project to which they soon assigned him was the construction of a building for a church of Christ in Pottsboro, Texas, a few miles north of Sherman. As he undertook this work in 2008, he got acquainted with the elders, preacher, and deacons of the church and was impressed with them. This experience led him to believe that he was missing something by no longer being part of the church so he made the decision to return—and just to be sure about his baptism, he was baptized for forgiveness of sins.
Since making that decision, he has been very faithful to attend services. He attends Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday men’s Bible class, and Wednesday evening Bible study. Sometimes he waits on the table and on other occasions he leads a prayer. For a time he helped take the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.
So—good news comes in strange packages. In Wiley’s case, it is the good news of a man who was brought up in the church, served his country in a time of peril to insure that we have freedom of religion, but who then fell away. Being associated with Christians in the building of their church house, got him back in touch with the Lord’s people and their good lives. This connection led to a re-commitment which has brought Wiley back to the Lord.
Currently at the age of ninety-three, Wiley lives in an assisted living center, but still attends regularly on Sundays and Wednesdays at the Pottsboro Church of Christ. Good news that Wiley came back. Good news that the church members where he went to build a building were a good influence on him. Good news that the seed planted by his parents early in his life still had an impact many years later. And good news that we should not give up on those who have fallen away. Every church needs a plan for restoring as many as possible of those who have drifted.