"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38
Webby Williams is amazed God chose him to support an orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti 40 years ago.
"Why would God pick a man like me?" the 73-year-old pastor and missionary, who is now struggling with blindness, recalls his first trip at age 33.
"I was just a kid playing with other kids, but the sight of those children playing on a dirt floor in a church basement tore me up. God changed me that day. I have never been the same," Williams said.
His blindness began after a surgery in June to remove a tumor from his pituitary gland. Surgeons had to leave part of the tumor behind.
"The Lord still lets me see well enough that I don't run into a door and kill myself," Williams said with his infectious laugh.
The story of his family's involvement with Haiti began in 1976, 44 years ago when his mother, Gladys, an aunt, a cousin, and others traveled with Bishop Adams to visit the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Three years later it was Webby's turn to visit Haiti which shares the Island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
Webby has totaled 115 trips often going back with his mother and other extended family, his wife Evelyn, and four children: Mattie, Tracey, Sara and Phillip.
Help comes from a number of churches and private individuals who support The Way Of Jesus Orphanage. Williams supports 16 of the children in the orphanage.
"Sometimes they call me Daddy," he said suddenly overcome with emotion. He stopped and shook his head.
Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Phillip is the youngest of the Williams children and has gone with his dad several times over the past five years. He now has a 16-year-old daughter who has not yet been, but wants to go.
How has a former textile worker who also cut pulpwood to supplement his income been able to feed, pay for private school, cover medical bills, and provide other support for the orphanage?
He refers back to that Luke 6:38 passage and becomes very emphatic as he slowly says, "Give and it will be given to you. Read it in the book."
He talked about a time he was preparing a trip, had raised the money to cover travel, medicine, clothing, other needs that would be met upon landing in Port Au Prince.
"All of a sudden this brother just hands me another $200. When we got down there, we learned a good friend had been shot. I had to convince them to take him to the nearest hospital because it was a Seventh Day Adventist hospital. They didn't want to take him there. I told them I had been there and knew they had good doctors. The man needed help fast and we made it to the Seventh Day Adventist hospital. When we got there, they needed money. I was the only one who had any money. I had that $200. I heard the Lord say so clearly, 'It wasn't your money to start with.' That's right. It was God's money the whole time," Webby said.
It is impossible to listen to Webby and Phillip without a deep sense of miracles, answered prayers, kingdom cooperation among various congregations. In their case, they are supported by two churches in Kentucky, one in Marion and one here in Rutherford County.
Donations can be mailed to The Way Of Jesus Orphanage, 403 Hamilton Street, Rutherfordton, 28139.
Webby's point of view changed radically in 1979 when he got home from that first trip.
"My wife would say, 'We got nothing to eat,' and I would just go off. We had meat in the freezer, cans on the shelf. Nothing to eat? After you've been to a place like Haiti, you never say "We got nothing to eat.'" Webby said.
Another turning point came when he'd been traveling to Haiti, supporting the orphanage, paying bills for the impoverished children there for 20 years.
He stood in the back of a pickup after insisting that the orphanage's director sit down. A bus blocked the road ahead of them and when the pickup's driver tried to swing around the nose of the bus, the bus driver pulled even further forward to block more of the road. The pickup driver swung toward the back of the bus and the bus driver started backing up.
"I said then, because I knew there was a ravine behind the bus, I said right then, 'This is it.'" Webby ended up in the road staggering around when the pickup flipped. "One sister came up and asked for prayer for Brother Red because he was badly hurt. I went to my knees to pray to the Lord and woke up later in a clinic."
With broken ribs and other injuries, he and another accident victim were moved from the clinic to the main hospital in Port Au Prince in a truck bed.
"There was a rope that ran from the front of that truck bed to the back. It was there for us to hold onto, but with broken ribs I could just barely hang on. I hurt so bad I didn't know how bad I was hurting," he said.
In the days to come, he would be transported in a wheelchair tied into the back of a van as the U.S. Coast Guard prepared to fly him back to the U.S. for badly needed surgery.
"They were supposed to take me to Atlanta, but I go so bad they had to land in Miami and put me in the hospital there," Webby said.
How long did that recovery take?
"Parts of me still haven't recovered," he said with a laugh. He added, "I believe God saved me to keep on living and doing this work."
Webby also acknowledged not everybody supports what he and his family are doing.
"There are people who don't want you to succeed," he said and again shook his head with emotion.
But overall he praises God.
"He told us He would never leave us nor forsake us. And that is true. It is so true. He told us in His book. Mission work is the most wonderful kind of work in the world. There is nothing like it. You are really living when you do that work," Webby said.
He remembers coming home after that first trip and hearing what he believes was the voice of God, "I could have had you born down there." He added, "I have never been the same."