Dr. Sightler did preach a lot all over the South. He received an honorary doctorate from Bob Jones University. He was a peer with Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. He was also friends with Jack Hyles.
Jack asked him to come to his church in Indiana to preach. The next week Dr. Sightler was back home and he shared how Hyles had blessed him with so much monetary kindness while he was preaching for him. He said Dr. Hyles bought him a suit, had flowers in his hotel room, gave him $1000, some chocolate covered peanuts, which were his favorites and two rolls of quarters for the drink machine in the hotel lobby. Dr. Sighter said he didn’t care anything about the flowers. He did eat the peanuts, but he didn’t use any of the money.
He always stated and believed that he was paid a salary by his congregation and would not take money for personal use—except for travel expenses—whenever he was preaching abroad. He placed the two rolls of quarters on the pulpit and told the head of the children’s home to get it and buy all the little kids some ice cream the next day. He said the reason he preached so much outside of TBC was because he believed the next pastor of TBC would not have as many opportunities and there may come a time when the children’s home would need financial support.
Therefore, all the monies he made on his trips was put in a fund for the children’s home. It had over $1, 000,000 in the fund in the late ‘80’s. This is how he viewed the ministry: you give everything you have for the cause of Christ, the church was first. You leave your brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers would be an interpretation that meant if you focus on God’s work, he will take care of your family.
Dr. Sightler’s grandson, Benny, was on staff at TBC. We became friends early on. He was graduating as I was coming in. Benny was under his granddads shadow and granddaddy had aspirations for his only preaching son/grandson. He dressed in ‘40’s apparel: fedora and bowtie and black and white two tone shoes with double-breasted suits. He was a throwback to another era.
It was not unusual for Fundamentalists to hold strongly to the past. The present day can be viewed by some as an evil time and the past has some special memory of how things ought to be therefore there was an affinity for the past, in their minds, though hardly any of them lived in the past in reality as far as no TV’s, old cars, Internet, credit cards, DVDS, etc. That is why, in part, the older “saints” were revered because they came from a time when God was considered “more active” and revival was always imminent. Today we can mimic the past with our props like “revival meetings” which are not really revivals. It is merely in name only. Benny was a present day “picture” of the past. He dressed like it. He would practice preaching in front of a mirror and trained his voice to mimic Oliver B. Greene a once-upon-a-time “evangelist” who was revered in that circle.
Benny was fun to be with. He was smart and had charisma as well as a leadership gift. I’m glad we were friends.