How one woman made a big difference

by Katherine Goldman

My mother, Mildred Aven, was born Minnie Mildred Johnson, November 2, 1900, in very humble surroundings. Her father was an itinerant Methodist preacher/farmer, and was away from home most of the time as a circuit preacher, leaving the care of the family to my grandmother, whom he married when she was only 15 years old. There were seven children, including two invalid children, and the times were very hard, with the brothers having to drop out of school to work the farm. The girls all married young, hoping to find a better life.

My father married my mother when they were both in their late teens. He was a baseball player, and some minor league teams were interested in him, but the Texas oilfields were booming, offering much more money. He went to work as a rig-builder, taking his wife, young son, and baby daughter to Wichita Falls, Texas, to live.

John R. Rice was holding a threemonth- long tent revival in Wichita Falls, and the first week in the city, my mother, carrying me in one arm and holding my brother by the hand, attended the revival the first night they were in Wichita Falls. When the invitation was given, with tears flowing down her face, she went forward to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior. She attended every night for those three months, and she became a passionate and fervent soul winner.

A short time later, the family moved to Tyler, Texas, and she joined a small Southern Baptist church, but she had a passionate desire to start a Fundamentalist Baptist church in Tyler like the one John Rice had started in Wichita Falls. Two other ladies joined with her, and they began teaching Bible classes in homes and winning souls to Christ.

Soon, what would become Central Baptist Church was started in a small rented building, with a part-time pastor. My mother wanted a full-time pastor, so she drove to Fort Worth to the First Baptist Church, pastored by J. Frank Norris, and talked to Louis Entzminger, head of the Bible Baptist Seminary. He recommended a young student named John W. Rawlings, who became the first full-time pastor of Central Baptist Church in Tyler.

My mother was a fervent Bible student as well as a great Bible teacher, but her passion was always soul winning. At her funeral in 1954 (she died at the age of 54), many of those who passed by her casket stopped to say, “Thank you, Mrs. Aven, for knocking on my door and winning me to Christ.” Tears flowed freely, not only from our family, but from many who were inspired to become soul winners too, just like Mildred Aven. My brother, Bill Aven, and his wife, Phylis, have and are now faithfully serving our Lord, pastoring several churches over the years.

Because of my mother, at 14 years of age, I played the piano for Brother Rawlings, who was holding tent revivals all over East Texas, starting at least one church every summer, until I was 17. When I was 17, I fell in love with a young man named Curtis Goldman who had just returned home from World War II, and we were married on March 28, 1946. Later, he surrendered to preach, attended Bible Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and we worked with Brother Rawlings in tent revivals in Center, Texas, and in Sulphur Springs, Texas. During the revival in 1948, my husband won J. T. Hughes to Christ, and when his younger brother, Bob Hughes, came home from the navy, he joined Central Baptist Church in Center, where my husband became pastor in 1950.

Bob Hughes became one of the greatest missionaries of the 20th century, winning thousands of souls to Christ as he built the Bible Baptist Church in Cebu City, Philippines. Out of that work, scores of churches were started, and now, under the ministry of Armie Jesalva, hundreds of churches continue to start and flourish. In 1953, God took my husband and me to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we started Temple Baptist Church, which grew to become the largest Baptist Bible Fellowship church in New Mexico. In the 50 years we were in Albuquerque, many young people were saved and called into ministries, including our own daughter, Sue, who is now married to Pastor Allen Garard. Also scores of military were saved and called to preach under our ministry in Temple Baptist, with many of them starting churches in America as well as in some foreign countries. All these things are due to the influence of one woman, Mildred Aven.

Our grandchildren and their families are all very active serving the Lord here in the USA as well as in Bagdad and Afghanistan. I ask, “Can one life make a difference?” As I pen these words, tears are once again flowing as I share with you the loving memory of my mother, one woman who really did make a great