Willis met Sarah on November 1, 1940 at a friend’s wedding. Like a good bachelor, he got her name and address. Like a 24 year-old man, he promptly lost it. The next several weeks were spent desperately trying to locate her. I guess it wouldn’t be proper to chase down the groom on his honeymoon to get an address that you’d just received. The letter that follows is the earliest correspondence we have from Willis to Sarah. He must have somehow tracked her down and still made a good impression. During this time, Willis was earning $5 per week as the head pastor of First Baptist Church of Lexington, Illinois. His train ticket from Chicago was $4.95. He was working in Chicago to pay for his head pastor role in Lexington.
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 21, 1940
We have much to be thankful for today, don’t we? It’s great to know he is ours and we are his. I cannot help but think of Colossians 1:18 especially the last part of that verse. May Christ always have first place in our lives, that by all means we may win some. (Daniel 12:3).
I cannot help but tell you how happy and thankful I am this day. Your life has and is an inspiration to me, because in even such a short time as I have known you. This one thing for outshines all else, “you are a consecrated Christian and are longing for a deeper experience of God’s Holy Spirit.” This makes me happy. (God’s Joy lasts) And I as you am longing for his infilling of his Power. My prayer is that I may help you as well as others. And of course we can lead others no farther than we ourselves have gone. (Phil 3:9,10).
Sarah! I’m so happy I can hardly express my feelings. I do hope you understand. It seems I’m dreaming, but it’s a great dream.
One must be careful being so happy, for it can be Satan’s opportunity if we are not on guard. Therefore we must be much in prayer and always remembering Proverbs 3:5,6.
Twenty-five young people from our church attended the Thanksgiving Service in Chenoa at seven o’clock this morning. We all had such a fine time.
At ten here in Lexington we had our Union service. The church was filled, and I’m most grateful to God for his blessing and leading.
You are having a fine time I’m sure, but I do miss you. And will be anxiously looking forward to seeing you.
This is full of disconnected thoughts, but forgive me, it’s hard to write when so happy. Words have such a hollow meaning on paper .
May God richly bless you this weekend according to your faithfulness.
Most Sincerely Yours,