Written by Charles Barnes:
The Post Register of June 17, 1977 contained an article entitled “Poll shows US in early stage of profound religious revival.” Various evidence and expressions of this revival can be found in the history of Idaho Falls. The following is a brief story of one man God brought to Idaho Falls who was affected by the revival and then greatly used by the Lord to affect the lives of others.
Dewey Wilmot grew up on a farm near Boise. He was a high school student when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. Dewey was so angry with the Japanese that he joined the Navy, and was given the job of fireman on the USS Wasp aircraft carrier. About the time the ship reached Japan, atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought about their surrender.
Shortly after coming home to Idaho, Dewey married Virginia McCullough, a girl he had known in high school. A few years later the couple moved to Idaho Falls where Dewey began a long career working for local television stations, including Channel 8 and Channel 3 in Idaho Falls and Channel 3 in Pocatello. And in Idaho Falls, Dewey and his wife raised their three children.
The Wilmots were involved at First Christian Church in Idaho Falls, and were faithful members there for many years. In the early 1970’s Dewey started attending a Friday night Bible study in the home of Ben Lunis, an INL project engineer and program manager. One reason Dewey was attracted to the group was the diversity of people attending, people of all ages and from walks of life, from church goers to former drug addicts. Ben had started the group as a chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, and it was here that Dewey became exposed to the teaching of the charismatic renewal movement of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It wasn’t long after he started attending this FGBMF Bible study that Dewey was sharing in teaching the group. He says that after he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, his teaching improved.
The Friday night group grew too large for Lunis’s house, and so they moved it to the Wilmot’ house, at 227 11th Street. This house had a very large combined dining and living room, and it wasn’t long before they were consistently seeing over 70 people come each week. At this point, Dewey and four other men in the group felt led to look for larger facilities and transition from a Bible Study to a church, which was named Christian Home Fellowship. Over the years they met in several buildings, and at their peak grew to about 275 people.
Dewey is still amazed at the number of people the Lord brought to him to minister to in the 1970’s. With faith that Jesus could help each person, Dewey sought the Lord’s direction, whether to counsel, lead to Christ, pray for healing or deliverance or whatever. Because of his job, most of this ministry took place in the evening, and Dewey shared with me that no matter how late into the night his counseling sessions went, he never got tired. Seeing how God could use him, Dewey trained a dozen other men to do what he was doing. Also, he also became responsible for starting FGBM groups in Wyoming, Utah and other towns in Idaho.
One of the men Dewey helped was Jim Spencer. In Jim’s Through the Maze Newsletter of November 2000, he reflects, “I consider Dewey Wilmot to be a ‘Father in the Lord.'” Just after Jim was born again, he learned about the Bible study in Dewey’s house. Referring to Dewey and other leaders, Jim writes, “They saw me struggle, just hoping my wife would be saved. When she was saved, they saw us struggle to hold our marriage together. During those early years Dewy and Virginia Wilmot counseled us into the wee hours.”
While the Christian Home Fellowship disbanded in the mid-1980’s (the last reinstatement of its incorporation was in 1985), Dewey’s local ministry continued, as have those of people he influenced. Turning 90 this year, he leads a weekly Bible study at Cornerstone Assembly of God, currently studying the atonement of Christ. His final comment to me was, “Anyone can do what I do, but you have to do what He (Jesus) wants.”