|Fern Porter was only nineteen years of age when she became
Mrs. M. E. Hawkins.
Her mother was a sweet, godly woman who loved the study of the Word of
God. She often took children who needed a home into her house to be
part of her family. Up until the time of her death, she had a girl of
twelve named Eva living in her home.
When Mrs. Porter was in her sixties, she and her husband decided to rent
out the farm and move to Mishawaka. Ferd Porter was a very talented
carpenter. During the time he was in Mishawaka, he built three homes. He
and his wife lived in one of them, and he rented the other two.
They attended the First Baptist Church of Mishawaka where their
son-in-law M.E. Hawkins was pastor. Mrs. Porter was asked to teach an
adult Sunday school class of about forty members. They were mostly
younger married couples. I had a very unusual experience relative to
Mrs. Porter and her Sunday school, fifty years after she had been in
I attended a senior retreat at the Gull Lake Bible Conference (located
between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan). I happened to be seated
by an older gentleman. He told me later he was 94 years of age. We had
some casual conversation about where we lived. When I said I lived in
South Bend, he said he used to live in Mishawaka. I acknowledged that I
had lived there as well.
“Where did you live?” I asked.
I nearly fell out of my chair when he said, “1012 Charlotte Street.”
I said, “You did? That’s where I lived!” I told him my father used
to pastor the First Baptist Church.
Again he said, “That’s where I went to church. I received Christ as
my Savior in a Sunday school class taught by Mrs. Porter.”
In my astonishment I said, “That was my grandmother!”
I’ll let him tell you the rest of the story . . . .
The Story of My Conversion
by Edward Lorain Lewis
From my earliest childhood I had had a deep belief in God, but I knew
nothing concerning Christ other than thinking He must have been another
God. It seemed to me that would make it idolatry to worship Him. I went
to church and Sunday school as a boy and into my teens, but do not
remember anyone explain-ing to me what it meant to believe in Christ.
Eventually I dropped out of church and into a worldly life, and that led
me into the consequences of such a life. One day that kind of life led
me into dire circumstances, and I saw no way out of them. I called upon
God, promising that if He would show me His way, I would accept it. I
even joined a church and was baptized, but I really found nothing.
In time I found myself in Mishawaka, Indiana, in the autumn of 1923. I
attended Sunday school at the First Baptist Church and a class taught by
a Mrs. Porter. The lesson one morning was on Genesis 12, concerning the
Like any other boy at the age of thirteen, I had thought my father was
the greatest man in the world, and I believed anything he said. One
Sunday night in church, I heard him say that the Jews were “so well
cared for” that perhaps they were right in rejecting Christ, and maybe
we Gentiles were wrong in believing in Him.
[Now in 1923] Mrs. Porter explained that in the twelfth chapter of
Genesis, God told Abraham He would make of him a great nation and would
“bless them that blessed that nation and curse them who cursed
them.” I realized for the first time why Israel was so well cared
for—not because they rejected Christ, but because of God’s promise
It must have been the Holy Spirit working on me and answering my prayer.
Despite my affection for my father, I saw that he was wrong. I
immediately believed in Christ and accepted Him as my Savior.
I found my desire for worldly things leaving me and my desire for the
things of God increasing. I did not know what it meant to be “saved”
or “born again,” but I did realize I had become a Christian.
One day shortly afterwards, I read in 2 Corinthians 5:12 that “if any
man be in Christ Jesus,” he was a new creation and old things passed
away. I have never forgotten that Sunday school lesson 67 years ago, nor
Mrs. Porter who taught the class.
I promised the Lord that if He gave us children, we would do all we
could to teach them the truth of the Lord. We now have three daughters
and a son, all devoted believers, and their children are the same.
My Christian life has not been a bed of roses or a bowl of cherries, but
through it all my faith has never been stronger, and He has never left
me or deserted me.
Signed, Edward Lorain Lewis