Contact: P.O. Box 2518, Escondido, CA 92033 760-741-2755 www.foundationofpraise.org
Mailing List Members: 30,000
Founder: Merlin Carothers (1924-2013)
Born: Coal Country in Pennsylvania
Formation: Marion College, Marion, IN; Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, KY
Years Ordained: 40
Ed. Note: The late Merlin Carothers and his autobiography Prison to Praise are well-known throughout the Christian community. Having sold over 19,000,000 copies of his 18 books (each translated into 59 foreign languages), Carothers is the first author to have three books listed simultaneously as top ten-bestsellers on the National Christian Bookseller Association’s list. His responses to this week’s Sheep and Goats interview are excerpts from Prison to Praise unless otherwise indicated.
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Merlin Carothers: I have come to believe that the prayer of praise is the highest form of communion with God, and one that always releases a great deal of power into our lives. Praising Him is not something we do because we feel good; rather it is an act of obedience.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
MC: It seemed that God had His plans for me all set. I couldn’t sleep nights, and the longer I thought and prayed, the more exciting the whole idea became. If God could make a preacher of out an ex-jailbird, paratrooper, gambler, and black-marketeer, that would be a greater adventure into the unknown than anything I’d every tried before.
SDR: What is the mission of your foundation?
MC: Now that I have graduated to Heaven, my prayer is that as a non-profit organization, it will carry on for many years. I hope and pray that many thousands of praise books will continue to be printed and read for years and years to come [from a letter Carothers wrote before his death].
SDR: Where is the strangest place you found God?
HC: One Sunday evening shortly after getting back from Germany [at the end of World War II], I went to see Grandmother and Grandfather. I quickly realized I’d made a mistake. They were getting ready to go to church….It was getting close to church time, and I couldn’t say to my grandparents: “I just don’t want to go.” At the zero hour I had no choice. Off we went together. The church service was held in a barn, but everyone there seemed happy. Poor people, I thought, they don’t know anything about real life out there in the world, or they wouldn’t waste an evening in a barn. The singing began and I picked up a hymn book to follow the words. At least I had to look as if I was with it. Suddenly I heard a deep voice speak directly to my ear. “What-what did you say?” I whirled around to find no one behind me. There was the voice again: “Tonight you must make a decision for Me. If you don’t, it will be too late….” Was I losing my marbles? But the voice was real. It was God, and He knew me! In a flash I suddenly saw it…. God was real; He was the answer. In Him was everything I had ever searched for.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
MC: Satan wants to lure into sin every person created in God’s image and then see them eternally separated from Him. But God has His own plan. He wants to prepare us for an eternity with Him and will allow anything that He knows will help us reach that goal. [from June 2006 message].