King's Business - 1966-03

But once again a song gripped his heart and tran­ sposed his life. One Sunday evening as a college quartet sang at his church, Norm heard God’s call to full-time Christian service and vowed to use his voice always in consonance with the glory of his Lord. His musical training then took on added seriousness, as he realized that his vocal skill could amplify or deaden the impact of the words he sang. But the sacrifices were real ones. From the glamor of a professional career, Norm and his attractive wife, Georgia, turned to the hardships of financial and geo­ graphical insecurity. Norm worked as Youth for Christ director, as minister of visitation, as singer on evan­ gelistic teams, and as pastor. After over a dozen moves in ten years, the Nelsons and their little children finally settled down in a home which Norm, contrasting it to some of the parsonages and apartments they had known, describes as having “wall-to-wall floors.” At this point, God introduced a new theme, running contrary to the growing security of the young pastor. Norm was suddenly confronted by the challenge of mis­ sions. Already a dedicated minister, disciplined to a life of sacrificial obedience, surely the decision would be easy for him. .But no! He faced several real obstacles. The first was ignorance. Let Norm make his own confession: “ At best I had a distorted picture of mis­ sionaries and missions in general. Although I had pas- tored two different churches, missions to me was a charitable enterprise to which we donated our funds each year. And to be truthful, our incentive in giving to missions was the desire to be up towards the top in our district as a church. Since none of the other churches did very much for missions, we were third or fourth from the top, although we gave only around $1,200 a year from a church with 250 active members.” In the summer of 1955, a trip to the Orient opened Norm’s eyes. With an evangelist and a chalk artist, he toured Japan, Formosa, and the Philippines, singing in school assemblies, village plazas, and city auditoriums. People came to listen by the thousands, particularly in the Philippines, where the cordial American with his resonant voice was an immediate hit. The impact of his singing, coupled with the genuine and eager response of the people to the Gospel, woke up Norm. Scenes from the tour nagged at Norm that fall. Should he continue a ministry in the States when such an arpeggio of opportunity awaited in the Orient? When he received an invitation from Overseas Crusades to come and serve in the Philippines for two years, Norm took it as God’s downbeat. But there was a second snag. Georgia Nelson had not gone on that summer tour. She had stayed in America, expecting her fourth child and, for the first time in ten years, enjoying a measure of security. Norm had a good position in a fine church, with invitations to sing almost every evening through­ out the Los Angeles area. They had purchased a home of their own, and some of the furniture was already paid for. They had even arranged financing for a brand- new automobile after years of struggling with mechani­ cal has-beens. “ Could God really ask us to break up house and start all over again?” Georgia wondered. Knowing feminine psychology, Norm soon capitu­ lated to his wife’s arguments, saying soothingly, “ Honey, you are absolutely right. This measure of THE KING'S BUSINESS

Norman Nelson ministers to the audience of a Mount Herman Bible conference.

Davao City,” writes a Filipino girl. “You know, Sir, every member of my family received the Lord through the message in your wonderful songs.” Norm’s own life was transformed by the message of a song, one which he himself was singing. Singing was the thing he liked best to do as a child, and Sun­ day school and church provided him with an abundant repertoire. He was singing to himself one day when he realized that the words of the chorus were meant for him. “ Come into my heart, Lord Jesus,” he sang, mak­ ing it his own prayer and in that instant receiving new life as a son of God. Since the age of 13, then, Norm has belonged to God, but throughout his high school and college days again and again he faced the question of how best to use his growing talent. As a result of Norm's excellent portrayal of Faust in a high school performance of Verdi’s opera, his music teacher offered him a scholar­ ship to study for a career in opera. Already Norm was being coached by the leading operatic tenor in Denver and was invited to audition for the Jack Benny show. With his dynamic voice and winning stage presence, Norm was a natural for a career in professional enter­ tainment. 26

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