David A. Oliver
Charles Brighton Homsher was born in 1925, the son of a southern Colorado rancher. As a young man he did just what his father and grandfather had done – plow, plant, and harvest the wide plains north of the Oklahoma panhandle. He was converted to Christ in his teen years while attending an area-wide revival meeting. One day, sitting high in the tractor seat, disking his ranch’s fertile soil, Charlie had an impression that changed his life. He did not hear an audible voice, but as he pondered the Lord’s great commission to preach the gospel to every creature, God impressed upon his heart, “I have other fields for you to plow.” This was his calling.
After serving one term in the Navy, Charles B. Homsher moved to the Denver area to attend Bible college. He began what was at the time an innovative ministry to reach the world’s most responsive field – children. He drove a bus into the inner city, collected neighborhood children, and taught them the Bible. So effective was this outreach that area churches began to invite him to bring this ministry to their communities. He developed a program and called it, Neighborhood Bible Time. He hired other young preachers to assist him during summer months so his ministry could expand. Over the next fifty years, NBT blossomed into an international ministry that serviced thousands of churches and reached hundreds of thousands of young people for Christ. More than 2 million children and teens have participated in NBT.
Charles B. Homsher was a mentor and teacher. He always understood his call to “plow other fields” to mean reaching young people with the gospel. He did not realize until later in life that his most effective ministry would not be reaching young people himself, but rather training others to reach young people for Christ. There are hundreds of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and Christian educators all around the world who were trained as Bible Time evangelists who are today plowing fields for Christ.
Those that worked closely with him were challenged by his unusual praying. Charles B. Homsher learned and lived better than most the biblical teaching that preachers are to give themselves to prayer as well as the ministry of the Word. He trained preacher boys but then sent them out on their own where his influence would be minimal. His boys affectionately referred to him as “the Boss.” His was a ministry of faith and trust. He prayed long hours asking God’s blessing on “his boys” as they reached “boosters” with the gospel. More than once his suit pants wore out in the knees.
His life was a example of faithful Christian stewardship. He was a man of means, but recognized that what he possessed was entrusted to him by God to use for His glory and the good of others. Only those closest to him knew that he never took a salary; that often small churches and church plants paid nothing for NBT; that he helped dozens of NBT evangelists with their college tuition. He modestly and anonymously gave God what God had first given him.
His life was marked by eccentricities, but he was a wonderful eccentric. Someone defined eccentric as “deviating from the center, or not having the same center as another circle.” All of Charles B. Homsher’s life circled around Christ and the gospel. His faith was not a part of his life; his life was a part of his faith. He truly lived each moment looking at the unseen.
Age and illness did not alter his dedication. When his health began to deteriorate and his mental faculties diminish, he remained as much as possible a soul-winner and a prayer warrior in the rest home where he spent his last days. The workers there comically yet respectfully referred to him as “the pope.”
Charles B. Homsher went to be with his Lord Tuesday evening, September 24, 2013 at the age of 87. Part of the eulogy for British preacher C.H. Spurgeon, who died in 1899, would be most appropriate for him: “Straight has been the furrow thou hast plowed. No looking back has barred thy course… Here for a little while shall rest thy precious dust, then shall thy well-beloved come and His voice shall cause thee to spring up from thy couch. Until then we will praise God for thee, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant, yet hope and expect to praise God with Thee.”
Dr. David A. Oliver is the pastor of Ashley Baptist Church, Belding, MI.