Most of the time when you think of a man reaching his 90s, you think about a life of a retiree who has spent the last 20 to 25 years enjoying life without worrying about a job and having endless sunsets sitting on his porch after the last doctor’s appointment. That is not the case with this white, blue eyes, good looking elder with a beautiful smile, Wedge Alman, 87, who sat down in his living room to chat with me after arriving from a long flight from Argentina. While interviewing him, his humbleness softly sang in every experience he shared, his song was about the grace of Jesus. Wedge and his wife have been in 60 countries sharing the “good news” of Jesus for more than 60 years, pioneering the work of Youth with a Mission in Latin America.
Wedge was born in Montana and reared as an only son by his mother and grandparents in Atlanta, Georgia. He said he was a sick and physically weak child, but he remembers when he got his first bicycle and decided to become a paperboy. “Son, almost every man that made a name in life had a paper route,” a man told him from his town to inspire him in his new venture. Early on, Wedge acquired a strong work ethic.
He said one of his first mentors in his youth was Evelyn McClausky who he described as a good, kind and well-disciplined woman. Mrs. McClausky had a neighborhood Bible study group of mostly young people in which Wedge acknowledge he received good and sound Bible teaching.
At 18 he headed to Chicago where he was admitted to the missionary aviation program at Moody Bible Institute. After a fatal crash of one of the airplanes of the program in which Wedge lost three dearest friends, the program was canceled, so he changed to the pastor-training program. He graduated later from the Assemblies of God’s Bible Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
When asked about his love story, he said, “Those days I used to play a Hawaiian steel guitar. It was an instrument with a beautiful romantic sound, and I was looking for a piano player to practice.” That’s how he met Shirley Campbell, a piano student also from Moody Bible Institute who became his practice partner. They got married in 1950, and Shirley has been a help meet for him for 66 years.
Working with the Assemblies of God, he and Shirley were encouraged to move to New Mexico to serve a church in a Hispanic community where he started as a Bible teacher for the children and later planted a church.
Ten years later, Wedge and Shirley became pioneers of the work of Youth with a Mission in Latin America and for the past half-century, they have reached, discipled and trained hundreds of Latin Americans in the mission field.
On his first trip, he drove his 1950s Chevrolet pulling a trailer of their belongings all the way to Mexico. ” When I saw the tires of my old Chevrolet after I hook up the trailer home I said to my wife, “What are we going to do?” Then he prayed and told her they were going to drive for 10 minutes, and if the tires didn’t melt, they would know God was with them. “We drove for about 20 minutes and finally stopped, examined the wheels and they weren’t hardly even warm. We knew God was with us,” he said about that first trip.
Sharing in his home office at the apartment where they live now in Tyler, Texas YWAM’s base, he pulled out photographs of a few leaders and missionaries he and his wife had formed over the years.
In my attempt to gather more information about simple things in life, like your favorite TV show or movie, he laughed and said: “I don’t have any favorite TV show now.” He paused and finally said he used to like Gun Smoke and that he was a Star Trek fan. One of his regrets is not having read enough, hard thing to believe coming from him, one of the greatest Bible teachers I’ve ever had. One of his favorite scripture verses is Mathew 13:45-46 on which he based his message for this new generation, represented by my ten years old son who was there as my assistant; ” Jesus is the Pearl of a great price and if you get that pearl you’ve got a true treasure.”