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Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is


by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library,
Yorba Linda, California
Lord’s Day Evening, April 8, 2018

Please stand as I read my life verse.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

You may be seated.

You may wonder why I chose the Nixon Library to celebrate my sixtieth anniversary in the ministry. When you read my autobiography you will discover how I got my life verse from President Nixon.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

My father left when I was two years old. I never lived with him again. I only lived with my mother until I was 12. After that I was moved from one place to another, living with relatives that didn’t want me. I attended 22 different schools before I graduated from high school. I was always the “new kid.” I was a virtual orphan. But the greatest loss was growing up without a father. I was on my own, without any assistance or support. But worst of all, I had no father as a role model. So I began to look to historical figures and create from them what a man should be. These men became my heroes.

I categorized them as secular role models and Christian role models. My heroes were all men who faced great trials and overcame them. My Christian heroes were men like Abraham Lincoln, John Wesley, Richard Wurmbrand and John R. Rice. My secular heroes were Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon. One of Nixon’s biographers said, “He was an introvert in an extrovert’s business. Incredibly he became a successful politician. Shy and bookish, he knew that he could be beaten down, counted out, and yet – always and no matter what the obstacles – rise again.” No, he wasn’t a Christian. But, yes, he always came back to fight again. Philippians 4:13 was Nixon’s favorite verse in the Bible.

After I found out why President Nixon liked that verse so much, I could never dislike him. He had overcome so many obstacles that I saw him as a kindred spirit. In the darkest hours of my life, I have often thought, “If Richard Nixon could live through Watergate, I can get through this.” Newsman Walter Cronkite said, “If you or I were Richard Nixon, we would be dead.” To me he was an archetype of determination. Nixon said, “A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” Nothing could stop him. He lost the Presidential election to John F. Kennedy in 1960. He lost the governor’s race in California in 1962. He won the Presidency in 1968. He was driven out of office over Watergate. But he always came back. That’s why, even though he wasn’t a Christian, he is one of my secular heroes.

The Apostle Paul said,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

That did not mean I could grow hair on my head! It did not mean I could fly! It did not mean I could do good in math! The Apostle meant that he could endure all trials, that he could perform all duties, that he could overcome all obstacles – through Christ which strengthened him. And I have found that this is true in me as well. I thank God for this verse. But I thank God even more for the Christ He gave to strengthen me! I failed in college, but Christ gave me strength to go back and earn three doctor’s degrees. I failed to become a missionary, but Christ made me a source of strength to people around the world through our website.

And as you read my book, you will see why the solo Mr. Griffith just sang is my favorite hymn.

The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary
   And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
   We follow the Saviour and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us, though doubt and temptation
   May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” through much tribulation;
   The children of Zion must follow their King.
(“The Master Hath Come” by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).

I wrote my autobiography because my son Robert told me to. I didn’t enjoy writing it because my life was so full of adversity, struggle and pain. Several times I felt like throwing the manuscript away because it was too negative. But John Samuel Cagan said, “Don’t throw it out, Dr. Hymers. All it needs is one more chapter. Tell about the time your mother said to ‘count your blessings.’” I listened to John and wrote the last chapter, which I will now give you in abbreviated form.

I was sitting beside my mother’s bed in the hospital. It was a few weeks after Thanksgiving. We had been talking about one of our favorite people, Abraham Lincoln, and how President Lincoln had made Thanksgiving a national holiday. We sang the song we had sung at Thanksgiving.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
   (“Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922).

When we finished the song, Mother said, “Oh, Robert, we really do have so much to be thankful for in our lives.” Then we began to count our blessings “one by one.” She started by giving thanks for our boys, Robert and John. Then she gave thanks for Ileana, my wife. “She is so good to me, Robert, and she is such a good mother and wife.” She thanked God that she was living in our home. She thanked God for our church. She gave thanks for our members, “one by one.” Then I gave several things for which to give thanks. And we sang the chorus again.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

It was very late at night. I kissed her, and as I left the room she said something I will never forget as long as I live. She said, “Robert, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.” Tears filled my eyes as I left her room, and walked out of the hospital into the night. It was the last conversation I had with her. She had a massive stroke later that night that took her life.

“Don’t throw your book away, Dr. Hymers. All it needs is one more chapter. Tell about the time your mother said to ‘count your blessings.’” So here are some of the incredible blessings God has given me in the pilgrimage of my life.

First of all, I thank God that my mother finally got saved. She was eighty years old and I thought she would never be converted. I was with Ileana and the boys in New York, where I was preaching in several churches. As I walked back and forth in our room, I was praying for my mother’s salvation. Then, suddenly, I knew she would be saved. I had “prayed through” as the old-timers would say. I phoned Dr. Cagan and asked him to go and lead Mother to Christ. She had never listened to him before. But this time she trusted Jesus. It was a miracle, as all real conversions are. That day she stopped smoking and drinking. I have been told by doctors that an alcoholic that stops drinking suddenly like that will have convulsions unless they are given Phenobarbital. But she didn’t. It was a miracle. She never smoked another cigarette and never took another drink. She read the Bible through several times and came to church four times a week with me. I baptized her on the 4th of July, her favorite holiday. I thank God for my mother’s conversion.

Second, I thank God for Ileana, my wonderful wife. She came to a wedding I was conducting. Before the wedding I preached a short sermon on John 3:16. It was the first sermon she heard in a Protestant church. She responded to the invitation and was immediately saved! The first time I asked her to marry me, she said, “no.” I was heartbroken. Orlando and Irene Vazquez (who are here tonight) invited me to go with them to Puerto Rico. I went, but I kept thinking about Ileana. She was thinking about me, too. She said, “I hope he will ask me again.” I did, and this time she said, “yes.” We have been married for thirty-five years. I thank God for my sweet little wife every day! She wrote me a note which said, “Robert, I love you with all my heart and soul. Love always, Ileana.” She is much like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. All you have to do is read that chapter to see that it describes my sweetheart, Ileana. I will cherish her in my heart forever. Her father is here tonight. He came all the way from Guatemala to be here. Thank you, Mr. Cuellar! And her brother and his family are here too. Thanks, Erwin!

Third, I thank God for my two sons, Robert and John. They are twins, and they are now thirty-four years old. They are both graduates of the California State University at Northridge. Robert is married to a beautiful Korean girl named Jin. Her parents are here tonight, and so is her brother and his wife. Thank you for coming! Robert and Jin are the parents of two girls, Hannah and Sarah. I thank God for giving me such beautiful grandchildren.

My other son is John Wesley, named after the great English preacher. Robert and John both attend every meeting of our church. Wesley is a man of prayer. He prays and reads the Bible, often for hours. He is a good Christian and he is my friend. I am pleased with both of my sons. They are an incredible blessing to my wife and me.

I thank God for Dr. Christopher Cagan. He is the brother I never had. He is my best friend and closest collaborator. We respect each other so much that we never call each other by our first names. Even when we are alone I always call him Dr. Cagan and he always calls me Dr. Hymers. I thank God for giving me such a wise and faithful friend. We understand each other. We both tend to be introverted, and we both spend a lot of time alone in prayer and Bible study. He is more scientific and mathematical in his thinking. I am more mystical and intuitive. But we are perfectly at ease working together. We are partners, like Holmes and Watson, or Johnson and Boswell (somebody added, “Like Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello,” old-time comedians).

I am an innovator and he is a consolidator. I am literary-minded. He is mathematically-minded. He considers me to be a leader. I consider him to be a genius. Our partnership has been a blessing to both of us. I thank God for Dr. Christopher Cagan.

I thank God for John Samuel Cagan. He is Dr. and Mrs. Cagan’s oldest son. John is the young man who is leading this service. He was ordained as a Baptist minister yesterday. So now he is Reverend John Samuel Cagan! He is a very good preacher and counsellor. I consider John to be my “son” in the ministry. He is in his second year at the Talbot School of Theology in Biola University. He is very intelligent. No wonder, since his father has two Ph.D.s and his mother Judy is a medical doctor. John is a straight A student. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in theology. At the age of 24 John has preached at evangelistic meetings in India, the Dominican Republic, and three nations in Africa. He preaches in our church every Sunday morning. We spend every Thursday afternoon together, discussing theology and the work of the ministry. I thank God for John. He will follow me as the next pastor of our church. He is my friend. It’s as simple as that.

I thank God for Noah Song. He is my other “preacher boy.” Noah is finishing his college work and will then go to seminary. He and John Cagan make a good team, and they will lead our church in the future.

I thank God for Noah, Aaron Yancy and Jack Ngann. They are our newly ordained deacons. Aaron is my buddy. He watches over me like a hen with only one chick. He is one of my closest friends. Jack Ngann is married and has two sons. And here is something you may not know. I’m not through yet! Next year I will be planting a brand new Chinese church in Jack Ngann’s house.

John Cagan, Noah Song, Aaron Yancy, Jack Ngann and Ben Griffith are my prayer partners. We meet every Wednesday night for prayer together in my home study. I thank God for these men. They have helped me get through some tough times, especially during my treatment for cancer.

I thank God for Dr. Chan, Mrs. Salazar and the “39.” Dr. Chan is our assistant pastor, in charge of evangelism and our telephone follow-up ministry. Mrs. Salazar is in charge of our Spanish ministry. The “39” are the faithful people who saved our church from bankruptcy during a great church split. I thank God for every one of them. I thank God for Mr. Abel Prudhomme. He is the man who stopped the church split. And I thank God for Virgel and Beverly Nickell. They are the couple who loaned us most of the money to buy our church building. They never wavered in their support of us. They are now honored members of our church.

Our church is made up by about fifty percent of young people under the age of thirty. I have always enjoyed pastoring young people. The group we have now is among the finest I have ever known. We have a wonderful group of deacons. There are eight ordained deacons, and we rotate them every two years. Aaron Yancy is the permanent Chairman of the Deacons, so he is the one who is never rotated. I thank God for these men.

The older people in our church give great support to all we do. They attend every meeting. They pray very well, and work hard to build up our church. I have no fear of leaving the Sunday morning service in the hands of John Cagan and his father, while I go to Montebello to start a new Chinese church. I trust them completely. I will come back to the mother church to preach every Sunday night.

My whole life revolves around the people in our church. They are my “kinfolks.” It gives me great joy to be the patriarch of such a wonderful extended family. Jesus said,

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

I cannot think of a better way to end this message than to tell you a true story. When I was preaching in the Church of the Open Door in Marin County, I always took a group of young people to San Francisco every Friday and Saturday night. I preached on the street while they passed out tracts. We often went to the North Beach area of the city. It was a pretty raunchy place, where people took drugs, and there were several “strip tease” joints. I usually preached on the sidewalk in front of a strip joint called “The Garden of Eden”!!!

One night some of the kids brought a young man over to me. He told me he had a very expensive heroin habit. He told me he wanted to get off of it. As I talked with him I sensed that he was sincere. At the end of the evening I told him to get in my car and took him back with me to my apartment. I put him in the kitchen, locked the door to my bedroom, and went to sleep.

Over the next several days he went through terrible withdrawal episodes while seated on the kitchen floor. Finally he calmed down somewhat and asked me if anyone had a guitar. I had our kids bring him one. He sat on that floor strumming it for a couple of days. Then he asked for a hymnal. We brought him one and he started inventing a new tune for one of the hymns. I forgot the boy’s real name. I always called him DA, short for drug addict!

Then one day DA said to me, “Listen to this.” He picked up the guitar, opened the hymnal, and sang Albert Midlane’s (1825-1909) hymn, “Revive Thy Work” to his new tune. Absolutely beautiful! We sing that hymn to DA’s tune to this day!

Revive Thy work, O Lord! Thy mighty arm make bare;
   Speak with the voice that wakes the dead, And make Thy people hear.
Revive! revive! And give refreshing showers;
   The glory shall be all Thine own; The blessing shall be ours.
(“Revive Thy Work” by Albert Midlane, 1825-1909).

When I came home to Los Angeles, I lost contact with DA. Life went on and finally our church was located in the building we now occupy. The phone rang one night. I went up to my office and said, “Hello.” The voice on the phone said, “Hi, Dr. Hymers, this is DA.” I said, “Who?” He said, “DA. You remember, Drug Addict – DA.” I almost fell over. I hadn’t heard his voice for nearly thirty years! I said, “Where are you?” He said, “I’m in Florida. I’m married. I have a couple of children, and a good wife. And I teach Sunday School in our church.”

I laughed for joy! I sang all the way home that night! It is times like this that make me glad that I went into the ministry 60 years ago. It was worth the suffering and pain after all! Winning young people, like DA, has made my joy complete!

The pain and sorrow melt away when I think of all the young people who have been saved. My sixty years in the ministry have given me great times of happiness. I wouldn’t trade the ministry for anything!

As always, I must take a couple of minutes to explain the Gospel. Jesus came down from Heaven for one main reason – He came to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He rose physically, flesh and bone, on Easter Sunday. He shed His precious Blood to cleanse us from all sin. He told us to trust Him, and we would be cleansed from sin.

I was trying to earn my salvation by being perfect. I was a Pharisee. But on September 28, 1961 at Biola College, I trusted Jesus. It was this song that brought me to Christ:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
   Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
   I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
   I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
(“And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Jesus was God incarnate. He died for me. I thought of Him in a new way. I trusted Christ. It is my prayer that you will trust Jesus and be saved. Then be sure to get into a Bible-believing church and live your life for Jesus Christ.

And to all of you I say, “May God bless you as He has blessed me against all odds and against all fears.” “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 4). Amen.

I will now turn the program back to Rev. John Cagan, to close this service. (John announces the birthdays of Dr. and Mrs. Hymers with two cakes, and “Happy Birthday to You.”)

WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. John Wesley Hymers: Psalm 27:1-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
   “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?” (by Thomas Shepherd, 1665-1739; first and last stanzas)/
   “The Master Hath Come” (by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926; last two stanzas).