My parents and grandparents received the Holy Ghost in 1917-1918 under an Assembly of God evangelist, Johnny Higgenbotham. He remained their “circuit rider” pastor for several months in a small community called Union, some ten or fifteen miles southeast of Tupelo, Mississippi.
Mother was an English major teaching in the public-school system for the neighboring county and was home for the summer when she was filled with the Holy Ghost. She applied herself to the study of the Word of God during that summer of vacation from the classroom and found, through the revelation of the Spirit, that Matthew 28:19 never gave a noun (name) for the three objects of the preposition “of.” In looking further, she found none of the candidates for baptism were ever baptized in the titles, father, son, and Holy Ghost, but all were baptized in the only saving name, Jesus. Therefore, when Pastor Higgenbotham approached this ex-Baptist girl about being re-baptized in the Trinity, she said she would be re-baptized if he would baptize her in the name of Jesus. He immediately thought she had been talking to some “new issue” preacher but found this was a new revelation to her and pondered it in his heart. He later embraced biblical truth and returned to re-baptize her in the name that is above all names. She received her call to the ministry and never returned to the school room again.
My dad grew up a Methodist in the same community, but was drawn into the influence of that same Holy Ghost revival. However, he was drafted into the US Army six months after receiving his Pentecostal experience. He ministered in various ways while in the service and was successful in leading some to an experience with God, but he was not baptized until he returned home two years later.
At the age of thirty, Clinton Montgomery and Malinda Cole, both evangelists, began to feel the need for companionship and partnership in their ministry. They boarded a train from Tupelo, Mississippi, for a scheduled meeting in Grand Saline, Texas, on the day they were married in 1924.
Three children were born to this union: two boys, Robert and Paul, both ordained ministers with the United Pentecostal Church, and me, their last child, born on March 13, 1929, in the middle of a red-hot revival in Booneville, Mississippi.
Though I was raised in truth and sought God’s infilling every church night, I did not receive my personal Pentecost until age sixteen. Both my brothers had already felt a call to the ministry by the time I had quit “playing church” and began to seriously seek to truly know God for myself.
After high school, I decided to enroll in Pentecostal Bible Institute (later known as Jackson College of Ministries), desiring a degree in education. I remained there for two years, then later completed my education and received a bachelor of arts degree in education from Twin Cities University in West Monroe, Louisiana.
I married Benjamin S. Cole, a young man in my father’s church in Atlanta. Bennie had received the Holy Ghost a year prior to our wedding. When he began to feel a call to the ministry, and my dad needed a “cheap” secretary/bookkeeper for his life’s dream, I resigned my great position in an Atlanta attorney’s office and moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, to work for the “dream of my father,” Tupelo Children’s Mansion (TCM), while Bennie prepared himself for the ministry at the Bible college there.
He worked on the construction of the first two buildings: the administration building and Montgomery Hall. We were there when the first two sets of children arrived: four Jordan sisters from Alabama and three Morrison sisters from Texas.
When Dad and Mother quit traveling to promote TCM, Dad became the first district superintendent of the Georgia District and Mother was appointed the first Ladies Auxiliary president of that district.
My husband and I came back to Atlanta after his graduation from PBI, and I felt blessed to work beside him as he led the Georgia District youth division in its beginning stages. It was our responsibility to co-edit the district monthly paper. When he reached the age limit for youth work, Bennie was elected to serve as district Sunday school director, then district presbyter of Section Five. He later served as district secretary for ten years and district superintendent for eighteen years. In total, my husband served the Georgia District and the UPCI for some fifty-plus years of elected office. I was the un-paid, non-elected personal secretary for each of these fascinating and undeserving positions.
Somewhere in there, I found a little time to return to the lawyer’s office to finish twenty years as Attorney Roy LeCraw’s private secretary, raise five children, and give twenty years as principal of our private school. I also devoted fourteen years as the Georgia District Ladies Ministries president while starting a mission work in Jonesboro, Georgia. We were founder and pastor of that church for forty-four years.
After ten years of fasting and prayer, God sent Dr. Talmadge French to be our new pastor. It was one of the easiest transitions I have ever known, and he has consented to allow us to remain a part of that growing church family. Truly “one plants, another waters, but it’s God who gives the increase.” Pastor French is the first pastor I have ever had outside of my immediate family, and I am enjoying every minute of it as I soak up the Living Word.
It has also been my distinct honor and unmerited privilege to speak to ladies across our fellowship in several districts. I find that most of them are sincerely seeking to know the Lord Jesus in all His glory through the power of prayer and the knowledge of His Word.