David and Marilee Wring

This week, guest host, Pastor Jared Baldwin, spoke with David and Merilee Wring about David’s family moving to Guam and the beginning of Harvest Baptist Church.

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Episode transcript:

Chris Harper: Welcome to Harvest Time. My name is Chris Harper, and our guest host this week on the program is pastor Jared Baldwin, executive pastor at Harvest Baptist Church. Every week, we spend these 25 minutes together telling you the stories of our church by interviewing our members and other friends of the ministry. We’d like to invite you to join us at Harvest Baptist Church this week. We have service during the summer months, which will be at 10 AM.

We have Japanese and Korean translation during that service. So please join us this week at 10 AM. We also stream on hbcguam.org, hbcguam.org. This week, pastor Gary will be back with us for the Sunday morning service. Let’s begin today’s harvest time by welcoming pastor Jared Baldwin.

Hi, pastor Jared.

Jared Baldwin: Hey, Chris. Thank you very much. Hafa adai to you and, those that are listening to this great interview. We have a rare treat. And and I say that a lot when I get to interview people, but this is especially unique because I’ve never got to talk to someone that was here the day Harvest Baptist Church began, really here before it began.

And we have in studio here David and Marilee Wring And they, on their own dime, decided to do kind of a reunion tour, so to speak. You guys came all the way out here from Kentucky to visit where you have a very unique attachment to Harvest Baptist Church. Why don’t you tell us a little bit just about where you guys live and what you do and then tell us what your unique attachment is to Harvest Baptist Church?

David Wring: Okay. Thanks so much. We currently live in Holly Springs, Mississippi, which is about 45 minutes south of Memphis, Tennessee. And we are working in a family real estate business that my father actually started along with my mother.

My sisters and I work in it, and now my sisters and I own it. And, that’s what he did after he, retired from mission work. And, so Merilee works at the business as well. And then, I do also raise Beagles and, have a somewhat of a ministry there using Beagles as a way to talk to people about good Christian values and things that we can learn from dogs and apply them to everyday life. Yeah, great.

Well, um and what is the name of your beagle business by the way?

Beagles on Fire.

Jared Baldwin: I saw that on your email handle, and I was wondering what that was.

David Wring: Yeah. It’s beaglesonfire.com. There’s also a Facebook page for Beagles on Fire.

Jared Baldwin: Awesome. And, Marilee, David, drugged you all the way out to Guam. What’s been your impression of Guam so far?

Marilee Wring: Well, it’s absolutely beautiful. Definitely have been hearing forever about David’s memories. And so it’s been amazing even in the tour this morning to just kind of relive that with him. And, we’ve had some really great food since we’ve been here, and we snorkeled this morning. So That’s great.

Beautiful. So good stuff.

Jared Baldwin: Awesome. Well, let’s talk about some of those memories. David, you got to walk around Harvest Campus 2024. When was the first time you stepped foot on this property?

David Wring: So probably sometime in May to June of 1975 would have been when I first set foot on the campus, which back then it was an ugly rundown concrete building. Nothing like what you see here now

Jared Baldwin: Yeah.

David Wring: At all. And a lot of the places that you have buildings now were jungle or boonies as they called it.

Jared Baldwin: Yeah.

David Wring: And, it’s just amazing to see something 46 years later. It’s amazing.

Jared Baldwin: Yeah. And so let’s let’s talk a little bit about that. For some of our listening audience, they might have been in church and heard your brief testimony. But for those that weren’t, tell us, how did you end up here, in that 1975 first time on campus, old rundown building. How did you end up here?

David Wring: Okay. So my family was all from Kentucky. My father was a pastor there for a few years and felt the Lord calling him. Prior to that, he was a farmer and he loved farming. He just got his own farm.

But he remembered singing the song, Jesus use me. Oh, please, Lord. Don’t refuse me. Surely, there’s a work that I can do. And God spoke to him and said, do you really mean that?

Because I want you to go out of farming and into full time ministry. And he struggled with that. He’s like, God, this is what I really wanna do. He actually went to school at Murray State University and graduated with an agriculture degree. And so he went to Tennessee Temple Bible College back then for a year and they would if you had a previous college degree, one year of Bible school would get you the degree you needed.

He did that and became a pastor in Kentucky. And then he felt God calling him into missions. And then long story short, he God laid on his heart the island of Guam. And as a kid, island of Guam, you might as well picked out something

Jared Baldwin: The moon.

David Wring: that’s a foreign language. Exactly.

I didn’t have any idea what what is Guam. And so, he started doing a little research on Guam and he told us it’s 8 miles wide and 30 miles long. And in 1974, he made an exploratory trip out here by himself and I was probably 10 years old at the time. And I remember thinking as a kid, wow, you know, what is this? Is this like, what did you heard about Africa?

You know, are the are the native people there running around with spears? Do they live in huts? You know, what exactly is this? And just the imagination of being a kid. And when my father came back, we couldn’t wait to hear all these wild stories and and everything.

But, the main reason that he felt the calling to come to Guam was back then, he was told that, that the 99% of the island was Catholic. And to the best of my knowledge, I’ve been told that this is the truth and I think it is that back in 1974 and 75, there were no protestant churches on the island other than the military based chapel services and maybe the Episcopal church. And so that presented a need for a church, he felt. And, and then, you know, he also felt it was a English speaking. He needed to go to an English speaking, you know, culture because he always said I struggle enough with English in Kentucky.

So he felt like he needed to go to a English speaking place. And so that’s what brought him here. And to answer your question, 19 May of 1975, all of our family came. It took a little while to raise the support because he had to go to churches and raise his own support to get enough to feel like he could live here and start a church. And so we went around the churches and heard the same sermons over and over again because he preached about 5 or 6 different sermons.

And I remember hearing that, the sermon so much I told him at 11, hey, I can preach these sermons if you need me to if you ever get sick. And I, I was serious and cutting up at the same time. But, we came here. We landed. And I remember getting off the plane, humidity hitting you back then.

You stepped off instead of through a covered area, you just stepped off on a plane off of a ladder ramp basically and come down. And and was like wow it’s it’s hot here. And and so we went around the island. I remember, we were so thirsty and back then there was no bottled water. So we were drinking Cokes, not realizing that’s not going to quench your thirst and everything.

So anyhow, the very first Sunday, we had been fortunate enough to get into a, a University of Guam professor’s house to stay in for the summer while he was going back to the states. And there was a lanai out there on the house. It’s pretty good size. And, of course, I had to look that back up when I came over here because in Mississippi, us rednecks call that a porch. And so if you got a covered porch, you’ve got something.

And so, the very first Sunday, we were told to set up folding chairs and we did and had a little music stand for a pulpit. And there was roughly around 15 or so people from what I can remember because he had made some contacts with some people. And, of course, out of that 15, 5 of them were our family. Sure. And so, the the funny part to get to your ask about the concrete building, the block building, my father quickly went looking for a place to have church because we knew we couldn’t have it in that lanai for very long.

So that only happened for, I don’t know, no more than through the summer. And, it started growing and he found this old block building that was a rundown printing former printing press. And it had debris and you name it, it was there. It was just, you know, they probably the owner of it probably thought, boy, I found a sucker here that wants to rent this building because it had been vacant for a while. And I remember the bottom floor had a lot of water in it, an old printing press and all kinds of debris.

We went to work cleaning that. People from the church and mostly our family every day, I was over cleaning it. It must have went pretty quick because, you think about it. If you land in May and you end up starting a school sometime the first part of September, that was a short period of time to throw something together enough. It wasn’t totally finished to the product that it was when we left, but it was far enough along you could have church in the upstairs part of it. And it was the old block building that was here that’s now gone, obviously.

But my father found a deal on some exterior paint, and it was at a Department of Defense auction. It was that old ugly Congo Brown paint, and he painted that. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t pretty, but it sure was cheap and it had Harvest Baptist Church on it. And then I also remember that he, he had a slogan that he came up with pretty much right into the beginning of it, And he put it on the church vans. He got a couple of VW church vans, the old black blue and white ones you remember.

And it said Harvest Baptist Church, no place like this place, had the phone number, had the date, the times of the services and everything. And they would drive that around town. And the tagline that he had was no place like this place, which was short for what his whole saying was. And his whole saying was there is no place like this place anywhere close to this place, so this must be the place, which was kinda unique that he had that. And, so, you know, the first the first church first school service, school opening was in September of 1975.

That was the birth of Harvest Christian Academy. And from there, it started off upstairs. The main auditorium was upstairs, all of the schools upstairs. And then as the basement area or lower floor got got to where you could use it, they moved it. It was larger area so they moved it down as the church grew.

And it was mostly a lot of military families and some local families. And a lot of the local families, Filipino, Chamorro people would start to send their kids to school there. And that was a major outreach, which is still going even stronger today. Thank, thank the Lord. So it’s really, really neat to see that.

And and so I remember that, that saying very well, but it was very exciting to be a part of the beginning of this and the you know, as a child, I remember going through like typhoon Pamela in 1976 was was the strongest typhoon that we went through and one of the strongest ones in the history prior to some of the ones that have come since then, but it was 225 mile an hour winds. And I remember we were in a flat single story house with a wall around it, and it had a little add on as a lot of you see places around here that had like the wood with the tin roof over it for your parking area. Well, it wasn’t long till that went over the front of the house and out into the street somewhere. But you could watch coconut trees and you just stare at the coconut and you’d see it take off like a cannon with the 225 mile an hour winds. And I remember the old, louvered

Jared Baldwin: Yep.

David Wring: Windows and putting the typhoon boards up and and going through that and then the eye coming and and everything. And it was just a really exciting time that it was good to go through it once.

Jared Baldwin: Yes, yep.

David Wring: But I’m glad I don’t go through that anymore. But, we were without power for, I think, 12 weeks and without water for 9 weeks. And I remember this. This was really a funny part of that is my father was always looking for a deal, and he had found a deal on some some beef. And so we didn’t have a huge freezer, but had a had a little, you know, one of the freezers with a lid on top, you let down.

And he went and bought a bunch of beef to save money because we were missionaries trying to trying to skimp any way we could. And so that happened like a week or 2 before Pamela hit. So when Pamela hit, no power. So he starts cooking up steaks and anything in there and we’re trying to give it away to people and everybody are on the same thing. So some people took a little bit of it, but we cooked that and we actually ate steak for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

And in the beginning, it’s like, oh, this is great. Cooked in our little bitty hibachi grill.

Jared Baldwin: Yep.

David Wring: And at first, like, this is great. This is awesome. And then you never would think it. But after a while, especially when you’re eating cold steak for breakfast, lunch, and supper and drinking hot Doctor. Peppers or Coke.

So back then there was no bottled water and, you know, there’s no ice. And so that was our meals for that time. And I remember since the water was out, you filled your bathtub up and that was to use in emergencies like to flush the toilet. I remember one night I was asleep. My father came and grabbed me.

So come on. Let’s go. It’s dark. What are we doing? It’s raining.

Bar soap and some towels. That’s how you took a shower. So some really wild times back then that’ll look back on and think about it.

Jared Baldwin: Some of the listening audience can relate because we did have a huge storm just a little over a year ago. And, when you listen to the meteorologists, they compare a lot of times to Pamela. Pamela is still a legend of a storm here because of some of the things that it did, the way it hit certain part of the island and things. So the people that were here in the seventies, they look back at that being maybe the worst storm ever. And so, you know, it’s been on how you measure it.

It was pretty bad. And and you guys were without power and water for months. Right?

David Wring: Right. Right. And and I remember the unique thing was when you seen how strong that was and the damage that it did, and only 1 to 2 people lost their life was a miracle. Yeah. But, you know, those were some exciting things that happened here.

But the most how old

Jared Baldwin: were you at that time?

David Wring: In 75, I was 11. So in 76, I would have been 12.

Jared Baldwin: Okay. Yeah.

David Wring: Roughly. Yeah. And, I remember that even though that had come through and done a lot of damage, unless that storm happened and I don’t recall the days, but if if there was a Sunday involved there, that would have been the only Sunday we didn’t have service.

Jared Baldwin: Sure, Sure.

David Wring: But other than that, the building, thank God, was not damaged.

To a point you couldn’t use it and we were able to to use that and continue church on. Those were some exciting things. But the most exciting thing for me that happened was obviously accepting Christ

Jared Baldwin: Yeah.

David Wring: While I was here in the ministry and being baptized. And, you know, I remember the very first baptistry that the church had was a shipping container, a wooden shipping container that they lined filled with water.

It didn’t last real long, but it did the job for a little while. Then they started using the ocean because that’s always reliable.

Jared Baldwin: Yep.

David Wring: And then, someone donated I think an above ground pool.

Jared Baldwin: Sure.

David Wring: And I was baptized in that above ground pool and, you know, got the job of I always volunteer to go out there and clean the baptistry because that means you put snorkels in and went around. A lot of fun for the child. And back then, if you remember that building, it was the right side, that little roof that

Jared Baldwin: That ended up becoming athletic storage. That little lean to, they enclosed that and that became the athletic storage, area until Pongsona sent our uniforms and sporting goods all through the village.

David Wring: That’s amazing. And, you know, it was just extremely exciting to be a part of seeing many military families. A lot of single guys came to know the Lord over here and actually went into ministry and have spread seed all over the world really. And a lot and some locals joined as well. And then I remember John Lewis was a member of the church and was a deacon during the time that we were here.

And, at the time he was here that we were here, he worked in a, in a grocery store. He was a manager of the grocery store real high up. And so every time he went to the to the store, if he saw you, he’d come and pick at you or talk to you or whatever. And so one day we were in there. It’s funny story on John Lewis with his sense of humor that he to this day, when I talked to him, he asked about this.

And so anyhow, my mom was in the store, and we’re going around grocery shopping. And he said, how are you doing? She said, well, I’m doing fine, but I’m just trying to figure out what in the world to make. I’m just running out of ideas of what to make Sunday for for lunch after church. He said, I got the perfect thing for you, Anne.

I got it. So we’ve got Cornish hens on sale. So to get you that, get you a couple of frozen orange juice and and add water to it. Just put it in a crock pot and cook it overnight. You’ll love it.

So my mom’s thinking, wow. I’ve got something new hip and happening thing to try out on the family. So she did. And it was embarrassing for her because he was cutting up about that and it was the worst tasting meal I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Jared Baldwin: Oh, boy.

David Wring: And when she went to him, she said, John Lewis, I’m gonna have to choke you and wring your neck. And he said, why? And she , I tried that Cornish hen orange juice recipe, and it was horrible. He started laughing. He said, I’ve told several people that, and you’re the only one that’s ever been crazy enough to actually try it.

So to this day, if you talk to John Lewis, he’ll bring that up. I’m sure. So that was some of the funny stuff that, that happened. And, you know, we just had so many things. While I was here, my father wanted, want all of his kids to learn to play the piano because he said, I don’t have reliable people to do that.

Nobody was here at the time that played and his experience in the past was people would be late. And so he said all 3 of y’all are

Jared Baldwin: It’s still true. People are still late. That that’s just, I was leading a college bible study yesterday, and I took a picture of my watch in the room at 6 o’clock last night. There was no one in there.

David Wring: Right.

Jared Baldwin: And so at the start time, there was no one there. Now 30 minutes later, we had 16 people there. But so there’s nothing nothing has changed actually in almost 50 years in that respect.

David Wring: That’s probably why God’s got the rapture plan. He wants everybody to be there on time.

Jared Baldwin: Oh, boy.

David Wring: So anyhow, but he he had us to to all take piano lessons. And as a boy, I was into sports.

I played sports. I actually played baseball here all 3 years I was here. I played football one year while I was here. I was all into it. And I said playing the piano is for sissies.

So we were told we had to practice 30 minutes a day and I, I wouldn’t. My mom had this little timer, one of the old ones you turn the kitchen timer and it ticks. And when she wasn’t looking, I’d turn it down a little lower so it’d be over a little quicker. And so there was this lady that taught all 3 of us and my poor mom had to go sit in her living room and there was a piano and then there was just like a loveseat and a sofa and my poor mother had to listen to 3 kids try to take a piano lesson.

Jared Baldwin: Yeah.

David Wring: Went back to back. And so one day I went in there and this piano teacher was about 4 foot 2 and about as wide as she was tall. Her fingers were real short and she had a bow, a violin bow in her hand and she would point when you hit something wrong. She’d slap it against that note on the on the music and say, what was that? Hit your hand and say, you didn’t play that.

And, so, you know, I was going through this. I don’t give a flip about any of this. And so one day, she just chewed me up one side and down the other and said, you’re on probation, son. You haven’t been practicing like you’re supposed to. You got one month.

If you have one bad lesson in the next month, you’re out of here. And I’m thinking, great. That’s awesome. And so when we got done, we went home and my mom told my father said, I think he’s gonna he’s gonna quit. And my father said, Wrings don’t quit.

And I knew back then that meant it’s not an option. So my attitude changed and I said I gotta do this. So I started practicing and I started, you know, doing and my mom went from begging me to practice to coming and saying, would you please just stop? And I started to find a little success and long story short, God allowed me to play the piano here at Harvest.

And in less than a year, right at a year, I was playing. And, my father just threw me right in the fire and he said that’s how you’re gonna learn. And so I, I was the piano player and found some success and God blessed. And and since then, I’ve played the piano and so to God be the glory for that. But I thank my father for making me do that because I would have gave up.

Jared Baldwin: Sure. Sure. I can imagine. I’m thinking back to my very short lived piano career, and I think I think I think my parents were happy for me to hang it up and and pursue something else. So, well, so David, coming back here, obviously, we are, you know, so blessed to have you come and give us a a bridge to the past.

We we don’t get that very much. You know, in Guam, people move away. People and stories kind of fade over time. And so for you

to be able to come back and share some of this has been a real blessing. Kind of as a final thought, final question, what what do you remember as far as the spiritual foundation that your dad tried to set when he planted this church? What what was he trying to accomplish spiritually? What were some of the things that he was focused on?

David Wring: Focused, a lot on evangelism and getting people because over here, you know, you had you had a a unique situation. A lot of people back in the states, you know, they yeah. I go to church. Family goes to church. I hit or miss.

Over here, they became a little bit bored and, you know, they they’re looking for something. They look something to belong to, looking for a family. And so that’s the unique thing is the church family becomes your family, especially if you’re in the military. And so his focus was on growing the church, reaching people, with the gospel and and through the school, he was able to reach some people that he wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise, but but a lot on biblical teachings as well. He did a lot of expository preaching and growing, not just getting people to become Christians, but then taking them from where they were at that point as far as he could.

And you you lost a lot of people because of military rotation.

Jared Baldwin: Right. Right. So it’s it’s neat to hear you say that because we still have an emphasis on expository preaching even now, almost 50 years later. I guess one final final question is your dad was here for a couple years. He’s a he’s a true pioneer.

You know, there’s some people that are pioneers and some people are settlers. Right?

David Wring: Mhmm.

Jared Baldwin: So he’s a pioneer. He pioneered this work. How long was he here? And what did he go on to do after here?

David Wring: So here from 1978, May of 1978, or sorry, 1975 to sometime in 78. It probably was in the summertime after school was out. From there, he felt God called him to Germany to start churches over there with the military. Obviously, not speaking German, but went over there and actually founded Eiffel Baptist Church. We went back to the states for a time of building more support deputation work and then went on to start Eiffel Baptist Church and Eiffel Christian Academy.

So that was planted over there. And then long story short, over the course of years that he was there, he started about 10 churches. Wow. And actually did a little work behind the iron curtain in Romania.

Jared Baldwin: Wow. That’s awesome. What a great testimony. David, Marilee, thanks for coming by for this interview. I think it’s really neat to see how God has sustained Harvest.

David Wring: Yes.

Jared Baldwin: not every institution that was started 50 years ago is still on the same path or even still in existence. And so it makes us just that much more grateful and grateful. I know your dad passed away. Your mom’s still alive.

David Wring: Yes.

Jared Baldwin: And, of course, if she gets to listen to this podcast, hello from Guam. Hafa adai. But thank you so much for taking the time and coming up.

David Wring: Absolutely. A privilege to get to do it. To God be the glory. And one last thing, there is no place like this place.

Chris Harper: Well, thank you for listening to this harvest time. We do wanna invite you again to this place. Harvest Baptist Church, 10 AM is when our services are throughout the summer. We’d love to have you there for that 10 AM service. There’s Japanese and Korean translation available during that time, and at that time also, you can listen live if you can’t visit on 88.1 FM and khmg.org. Thanks again for listening to Harvest Time.

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