Altar Call – O-A News

Walter Albritton

July 30, 2002



Retirement living provides an exciting journey to Niagara Falls


            During my final days as a pastor several people said to me, “Retirement will be fun, preacher; you can travel and go places you’ve never been.”

            I am traveling some but so far only to places I have been before.  This week Dean and I are staying in a lovely home beside a beautiful lake near Jamestown, New York. We are both speaking at a Bible Conference, or Camp Meeting, situated on Findley Lake. The small town nearby is Clymer, New York, though you cannot locate it on most maps.

            The Western New York Annual Conference sponsors the conference. People come here from as far away as Rochester and Buffalo; others come from miles away in western Pennsylvania.

            Attendees are lay people and pastors. Since it is a family camp, we have many children, youth, and adults. There are even a few ancient codgers who are older than me.

Spending a week at Camp Findley is a longstanding tradition for some families.

            Surprisingly, they have been inviting me to preach here for 27 years. This is my seventh time to serve as the evening evangelist. I guess they keep asking me to come back in the hope that I will eventually get it right.

            Winston Churchill was once asked to explain why he had to repeat the second grade in school. He replied, “I didn’t fail; they just gave me two years to get it right.”

That may be the only way I can be compared to Churchill.

            My wife Dean is back for her second tour of duty as the speaker for what they call the “Discipleship Hour.” We both love this place and the good people who are our hosts and friends.

            I came here first in 1975.  I brought my son Steve with me that year. He was 10. That year Bill Caulkins took us to see Niagara Falls. Since then we have been back to the falls three times. No one was ever more gracious to us than our dear friend Bill and his wife Marge. Bill died two years ago. We miss him, and Marge was unable to come.

            Niagara Falls is truly spectacular. There is no sight like it in the United States.  A young woman jumped off Rainbow Bridge the day we were there. No one knew why she killed herself. My guess is that the company she worked for forced her to retire early. Had they let her work until she was 70, she might have been able to handle it.

            We ate lunch in the Skylon Tower high above the falls. It has a revolving restaurant very much like the Space Needle in Seattle. You have no way of knowing how much I enjoyed paying sixty dollars for two quite ordinary meals. I will admit that the view was breathtaking.

            We drove around the countryside north of the falls on the Canadian side to see the sights. As we did we came upon a raging fire that threatened to consume a large home that now housed an art gallery. We started back rather than risk having the road blocked off later.

            Two fire trucks and several other emergency vehicles raced by us on their way to the fire. From a distance we assumed they saved the house since the billowing black smoke soon changed to a mostly white color.

            We bought some cherries, peaches, and apricots at a roadside stand. They were delicious. None of us could remember ever buying and eating apricots like that before.

            My two sisters, Neva Williams and Margie Flomer, flew to New York with us, along with our son Steve, his wife Amy, and their sons Jake and Josh. That has made this trip unique and much sharing has enriched our friendship. We have stayed up late each night playing cards, a game called “Liverpool,” which we all enjoy.

            Some of our sharing has been less than delightful. The eight of us have shared one bathroom for a week. Need I say more? My sisters, ages 67 and 65, can hardly believe how often Dean and I go to the bathroom during the night. They will learn.

            The most wonderful part of a week at a camp like this is seeing people who are in bondage turn to God. What a thrill! One man shared this story with me. His 16-year-old son was struck and killed by a drunken driver 10 years ago. Wednesday night God set this man free from 10 years of rage, anger, and grief. What an honor it was for me to be there when God released that man from his burden!

            The next stop on our journey is Elmore County. As much as I love being with these dear folks up north, it will be good to see the cotton fields of my home county next week. There really is no place like home.