Swartz, Charles Edgar (Ex-worker)

I write this in the hope that it may help others to see, and understand the Real “Truth of God.”

I am Charles Edgar Swartz of Scottsburg, Indiana. As a young man in the late 1930s, I was quite worried about my soul’s salvation; however, I had only discussed this with the Lord in praying and asking as only I knew how. Just before Thanksgiving of 1936 when I was 20 years old, two women came into the small town of Dogwood, Indiana, and got the use of the little one-room schoolhouse and started holding gospel meetings. My sisters came home from school telling about them and the way they were dressed AND about their black stockings. Everyone was calling them the “tramp preachers.” They were able to board with our next-door neighbors who lived about 1-1/2 miles from the school.

Most of the people around were curious to see what this was all about and in a small place like that turned out to see and hear. Of course, I went, usually with a neighbor boy. I have always been fond of music and good singing and I also liked to sing, so we really enjoyed that part of it. After about four weeks, my folks and I professed. This was quite different than anything we had heard and we were told over and over this was the ONE AND ONLY TRUE WAY–all other ways were false. It always seemed peculiar to me that all the churches were false, yet they would use them to have meetings in if they were permitted.

Everything went along pretty well. The sister workers spent some time with us supposedly getting us off on the right foot. There was little teaching but emphasis was placed on the way we were to view other people and the other churches. Of course, they were all false until or if they heard the gospel and professed. We were to have meeting in our home since we were so far from anyone else and did not have any way to go. That fall (of 1937) the workers made it possible for us to get to our first convention held at Shoals, Indiana, and all three of us were baptized.

In the fall of 1938 at the age of 22 years, I was approached by the head worker of the state, John Freeman and he asked if I had ever thought of the work. Of course, I had. He told me there was an opening in the work if I wanted to go since there was a girl who had offered for the work and it seemed there had to be a brother go out before she could go. So, I decided to go that fall. I was under the impression we were to be called by God, but soon found out it was the worker who did the calling.

After the convention, John Freeman and I began our first mission in a little one-room schoolhouse near Valean, Indiana. To get to the school we had to drive up a creek bed. In the process of turning the car around one night, John backed into the bank and bent the tailpipe on the car we were using so badly that it had to be replaced. This was my first experience in finding out what a young companion’s job was. I was blamed for this accident because I was told I was not watching and telling him what to do. I listened to his ranting and raving about this incident until one day when I told him I had heard enough about it. I wasn’t driving the car and I did not have to take that from him and would not! I told him I would pack my things and go back home. I had gone into the work because I thought it was God’s work and not to be treated like that. That quieted him down. I soon learned though, that a young worker was just a boot-licker for the older one. It was, you do this and you do that.

Much of my time in the work was spent picking up George Walker and hauling him around. I never could understand why he was treated like “God Himself,” when he was around. Everyone told me that I had the greatest honor anyone could have being around him. I had a different name for it. The workers and friends as well, acted like they were afraid to speak up when he was around. He would ask you a question you could not answer and then act like you were stupid. That really burned me up!

As far as any teaching that was done while I was in the work, there didn’t seem to be any. All you could do was try to dig out of the scripture whatever you could find and pray that the Lord would give you something you could speak about.

One time John and I were to baptize a woman. I knew nothing about the procedure or what was expected of me and assumed I would be there to assist John with it. When we got ready to leave for the pond, I received a severe lecture because I did not have extra shoes and clothes ready to take with me. I got the extra things I needed and we left. When we arrived at the home and went to pond, we saw the husband of the lady about to be baptized sitting on the opposite bank by himself and he made no attempt to come over and join us. I received no instructions on how to go about this baptism, but was just told to do it. After I had blundered my way through the process and came out of the water, I learned that the woman’s husband had threatened that he was going to sit on the opposite bank of the pond and shoot whoever baptized his wife! This was the kind of teaching I got. If anyone was to be hurt, you took the pressure off the older worker and were not even told of the danger you were in!!

We got through that winter and after that, I was to join Lloyd Wilson for the summer. This was some better. At least we did read and study our Bibles together. Our first mission was on the east side of the state–another one-room schoolhouse several miles from the town. We usually walked out to the school on the afternoon of the meeting and sometimes we walked back afterwards. Most of the time though, the friend we were staying with would come to meeting or come after us.

One evening I was to visit with some folks who were coming to our meetings and ride to the meeting with them. On the way there, I was asked by these people that if they were to profess if it would be alright for their children to continue going to Sunday school and the church they were attending. I thought about it and answered from my heart. My answer was that if I were professing and leaving the church I would not want to continue sending my children back to something I wanted to get away from. When my companion learned of this discussion later that evening, he was most upset. He said I should never have told them that. I told Lloyd that I had answered from my heart and that anything else I could have said would have been a lie. We did not agree about that at all and the people did not come back to our meeting after that. But today I still feel I was honest with them.

After that mission, we moved to Medora, Indiana and set up a tent and started meetings. We were joined there by Willie Wilson and George Walker. My health had been failing and I began having problems with my thyroid and nerves. By convention, I was down with a nervous breakdown. After convention, I again went out with John Freeman but before the winter was over I was sick again. I tried to find some work around Indianapolis for a while since I wasn’t able to preach at this time but since I had no references and work was hard to find, I failed at that attempt. I finally began working for one of the friends and worked for him until spring when the work was finished. I offered at this time to go back into the work but was advised that George Walker thought it would be better for me to go home. I don’t remember exactly what was said but something to the effect that my doctoring expenses could be used for better purposes, so I went home. I’ve never been sorry for that decision!

I worked around home helping out and doing outside jobs when I could find work. That fall I was able to get a part-time job in Indianapolis and then in February 1941, I got full-time work for the Pennsylvania Railroad. This turned out to be a steady job. In July of that year, between draft calls and work, my wife Margaret and I were married. Things concerning the Truth never really got any better. Some of the workers had tried to keep us from marrying but we had decided only God himself or death could stop us. It was getting to the place where we had to stand up to them and let them know our feelings.

Things began happening in some of the churches either in that winter or the following one. A terrible fuss was started over John Freeman and the wife of one of the friends who were supposedly having an affair. This I could not believe at the time and I was really torn up by this. They had a big meeting about it but I refused to go. It nearly turned out to be a free-for-all and the whole neighborhood seemed to know about it. It really turned out to be a disgrace.

I could not make myself go against the two blamed in this. I had been a companion to John and spent time in the home where this had supposedly taken place and could not believe this to be true. It was my opinion that it was just a lot of jealousy because I had heard talk about workers not visiting one home as much as others, etc. However, since I’ve now heard some of the things that have happened and continue to occur–I could have been wrong! This home was broken up as a result of this incident which was very sad. John was sent somewhere else and Fred Kinglake was brought in as the head worker of the state of Indiana.

Fred proved to be the slave-driver type. He made trouble for workers and friends alike. This created quite a stir. My first encounter with him was when I volunteered to help out at McCordsville Convention. When I got there and asked what I could do to help, I was sent to Fred. The first thing he did, instead of giving me a job to do, was to start ranting and raving about me trying to grab everything I could get my hands on, etc. (I had a responsible job with the railroad and HAD to work!) I finally told him that I didn’t know where he was getting his information from but it was surely all wrong. I told him he was talking like a fighting man, not like a worker and if he proceeded to call me a liar again, I would jerk the buttons off his shirt.

He never told me anything to do after that, so I went home. I don’t remember if I went to convention that year or not. Some of the other workers told me they were having problems with him as well. He even found fault with my younger brother and refused to sign and send his conscientious objector papers to the Army for him–his excuse was that my brother didn’t write to him. I don’t think my brother even knew him! Fred’s companion told me later that he found my brother’s papers and signed them and sent them off unbeknownst to Fred. This man was always a Christ-like man to me, his name was Virgil Simpson.

In April of 1947, we left the city and my job with the railroad for a farm, in the southern part of the state, where we still live. It seemed while we were in the city, there was some sort of uproar constantly amongst the friends and workers and we were anxious to get out of the middle of the problems.

Our first year on the farm was pretty rough. This was just at the close of the war and it was impossible to get machinery to farm with. We tried farming with horses but we had a very rainy season and really lost money. We had little left to go on. Our Sunday morning meeting was about six miles from us and sometimes there wasn’t enough money for gasoline. Also, three of our four children were small and with sickness, etc., we sometimes missed meetings. Of course, in their view, there was no excuse for missing a meeting. To me, their views were quite contrary to what we read in the Bible, and I let them know this which didn’t help matters any.

We had some in the meeting that kept the workers informed as to what they thought and the way they wanted things to go. One particular worker, Earl Huckleberry whom these same people had helped out during World War I when he refused to have ANYTHING to do with the army and was imprisoned as a result, was the one they would always go to with any problem. Of course, he usually settled things in their favor.

One Sunday morning he got up and preached a sermon about what a saint’s financial circumstances should be. I did not like what he had to say. He took one of the cars and left after meeting. I knew where he was going, so I wrote to him and asked him to stop by our house when he returned the car. I wanted for him to explain to me what a saint’s financial circumstances SHOULD be! He did not come by but sent a letter saying it did not matter and he had more important things to take care of. What a fine way to answer a question! Once I offered to take my truck to move a tent for him. He told me that he would get one of the other men’s trucks because theirs was so much better than mine was. You can guess how much help he got from me after that.

Once I stayed away from meeting for three or four weeks and was confronted by a sister worker about it. (This concerned another incident with some of these people we met with and some accusations they had made.) I told her that obviously they had got to her first and as was usual the sympathies were on their side. She told me it would be a shame for one of those old men to go out from meeting at their age. I told her it sure would but what about us younger ones who had to put up with such nonsense. I would go to meeting to take my wife and kids but was out for a year or more. Then I went back which I see now as a huge mistake. There was little satisfaction in going to meeting because our eyes were starting to be opened. I was forcing myself to go only to take my family. I kept telling my wife during our Bible studies together that if the Bible was right, then the workers were wrong. The two things did not coincide as they should.

We heard the workers often talk about how wonderful different people in the meeting were and wasn’t it a shame that their grown children or family didn’t profess. One Sunday morning before meeting started, the elder of our meeting announced that an old man we’d all known well for many years, in fact he had been the elder of the meeting before he got too sick to carry out his duties, was critically ill in the nursing home nearby. We’d all thought so kindly of this man, and my wife and I decided to stop by and see how he was. When we arrived there we found him dying, with his family alone by his bedside. Where were the workers when they could have been there by this man’s side and with his family to comfort them? Well, they had a gospel meeting to go to and that was evidently more important.

This man had opened his home for every Sunday morning meeting for many years, and before that was the elder at an old lady’s home until she died. There were countless times when the workers used his car, spent the night in his home and put their feet under his table to eat a meal. He was very loyal in attending gospel meetings throughout the years, never missed helping out with preparations at convention. He drove back and forth every day to the convention at least 50 miles each way every day because he had a farm and had chores to do morning and night. You talk about a man who loved God, the truth, friends, and workers until the day he died–he was such a man.

Yet he died without one of those workers by his deathbed to pray with him or to offer comfort or compassion to him or his family in THEIR time of need. I couldn’t feel this made his children and grandchildren feel very good; and to this day as far as I know, none of them profess or even attend meetings–small wonder! Of course, they were there to preach the funeral and friends from far and wide attended that service. The words seemed a bit hollow though, considering what we knew.

Not long after this incident, we were hearing a lot of talk about things happening here in this state and also in Colorado and other states. We were at meeting one Sunday morning and the elder told us a young worker from Indiana who was in the work in Colorado was coming home. This being near convention time, I asked him if he was coming back to stay or just for convention? He asked why I would think he was corning to stay. I told him from what I’d heard about things in Colorado and read about what was going on, I wondered if he was getting out of the work. Of course, that was the wrong thing to say. He began with hoping no one else in the meeting had heard me say this (this was just after meeting and some people were still standing around) and we shouldn’t be reading those books and talking about the workers like that. I told him it would be good for him to read those books and the workers too. I told him I couldn’t believe people would lie about how this was all started and in telling people it was from the beginning or from Christ. He followed us out to the car still lamenting that he hoped no one else heard me say these things. I told him I did not care who heard me and if he felt that way about it, I would not be back again. That was the last Sunday morning meeting we attended.

We didn’t go anywhere for two or three weeks. I had previously talked to the preacher at the Christian church near us and he had invited us to church many times. He had told me how many of the people there were our friends. Of course, we knew them as neighbors and hardly recognized them only to speak. This was something I never understood since the Word tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet the workers seem to think we were to shun them.

I suggested to my wife one Sunday morning that we go up to the little church and see what it was like. (I felt we needed to be doing something or going somewhere.) She said, “Do you think it would help us?” I said, “Let’s go and see.” We got there a little early for church and slipped into the back seat while they were finishing Sunday school which was soon over. I think everyone there came back to where we were sitting and shook hands and welcomed us. This made us feel pretty small to think that people we had shunned all these years would welcome us with open arms. They proved to us that what we read in the Word was right and the other HAD to be wrong.

We sat through that Sunday morning service and I even contributed to the collection plate when it was passed and didn’t feel the least offended in doing so. (We did not take the bread, wine as we were just checking things out.) After the service, we were again made very welcome to come back the next Sunday and told how glad they were to have us. We started home and I told my wife, I don’t know how you feel, but feel I learned something this morning. She said she did too. The next Sunday we were ready to go back. Yet, I had been forcing myself to go to meeting for some time. I felt we had found something that really helped, and I was eager for more of it. I did not want to rush my wife into anything as she had been raised in this so-called truth.

After two or three months we decided to go into the Christian Church. God had opened our eyes and we were seeing how wrong this other way had been. Today we enjoy true fellowship in the Lord. We have a minister to teach us and help us to learn from the Word a truth we have never known but have truly desired to know. I could never understand why workers would get someone to profess, then they did not know how to teach them from the Word. They always just said go to gospel and other meeting and you praised them for their wonderful work.

Today we know what it is to praise a true and living God. It was really hard for us to believe after walking in this way for 57 years, how little we knew of the Word of God. Today we are permitted to use our talents He has given us in praise to Him. I play the harmonica and enjoy playing at other churches as well. We enjoy going to county hymns sings and enjoy every minute of them. I serve on our church board and help out in the church in any way I can. I pass the bread and wine and the collection plate too when I’m needed.

I can tell any worker or friend that I am very grateful of the place He has given me. I have nothing to hide from anyone and can hold my head just as high as they can. God is leading the way in my life though I know they would say that we have left God and everything we ever stood for. I can honestly tell anyone that we never at ANYTIME left God. He was never out of our hearts and thoughts. He just opened our eyes to see, as He did Paul. And like Paul, I would just like to be able to show the world what He has done for me. As the old song says, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

Our last encounter with the workers was a short time after going into the church. This elder where we went to meeting came out to our house one afternoon. We visited a short time, and he finally told us how much they missed us in the meeting and wondered if we ever thought of coming back. I told him, “No, why would we ever want to come back to that when we had found something better!” His reply was “FOUND SOMETHING BETTER?” I said, “Yes.” Read your Bible and you will find you are not worshipping God. You are worshipping the workers. If you read your Bible and pray to God for true help, you will find they are not preaching God’s way, but only man’s way.

I know this was being a little rough on him but truth is truth. After a while he asked if we were mad at him. I said, “No we are not mad at anyone, just hurt to think that after so many years we knew so little of God’s Word and how we had been lied to.” After he left, we decided if they thought we were mad, we would try to prove to them we were not. Three of the sister workers were having meetings nearby so we decided we would go on Sunday afternoon, between our morning and evening services.

We walked into the meeting amid cold stares that hurt. How could one-time friends turn out to be SO cold? The meeting got underway and Margaret Carey, the older worker got up to speak from the 17th of Acts. She forgot what she was going to speak about and instead she tore loose on the churches built by man. How false they were, about the false preacher, the collection plate. Oh, how she hated to see that collection plate passed before her and on and on. We never heard a word about that 17th chapter of Acts. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to get up and walk out. But, I figured if she could dish out such lies and accusations, I could endure it until she ran down.

We walked out of the meeting and a few who sat closest to us did speak. Of course, she was at the door. I wanted to really tell her how wrong she was but thought that would only create a scene they would all like to see. We came on home and as soon as I could I wrote her a letter and told her I was sorry that we had deflected her thoughts from the chapter she was going to speak on. I told her before she condemned the churches made by man, she’d best think of who built the homes they meet in. Also think about the money that is spent on the convention grounds and buildings each year to be used a few days ONLY during a year, on grounds they do not even pay taxes on.

As for the collection plate, the money that is collected is put up on the registration board for all to see. Nothing is hid from anyone. It is used not only to keep up the building but also to help others and wherever it is needed for the Lord’s work. I told her it was quite different than sticking your hand out to shake a hand and taking the money and poking it in their own pocket. No one knows how much they take in or what it goes for. They talk of being poor and homeless, yet it’s more like some who give their last dollar to the workers, then get looked over like they never existed. Yet we read that “GOD” is no respecter of persons? The workers always have a nice car to drive and seem to pick the nicer homes to stay in while the poorer people look on and wonder why.

Today we can just praise God that he has opened our eyes and spared us from such false doctrine. We just hope that after so many years in such a meaningless adventure, we can live our lives closer to God. I pray for people who would preach such a way to others and those who believe in such, that God would strike them blind as He did Paul and someday they may see what we see now. There is also a wonder in my mind for those who have and will die in that way. We pray God will be merciful to them.

I don’t know how much good this may be to others But if it will help one poor soul who is being led astray by such false doctrine, I will consider myself well-paid for the time and effort it has taken to tell my experience. I thank God He did not let me get any farther in the work than I did. Most of those who professed in the meetings I was in have either left or passed on and I regret I had any part in their choices.

I have written this so that it may help others to see and understand the real “Truth of God.”

By Charles Edgar Swartz
Scottsburg, Indiana, USA

Note by Joetta (Swartz) Heiser: Dad passed away November 17, 2000, at Scottsburg, Indiana. Mother died April 8, 2002. It gives us four children much comfort to know that they are together again. Their funerals were celebrations of their lives and though we miss them, we know we will be reunited with them one day.

Click Here to read the story of Charles’ daughter Joetta Heiser.