Background Information

picture of a wooded area with two tire ruts leading through it. Light is coming through the trees in the background.
The di­rec­tion of my life was formed by meet­ing with the Lord on a reg­u­lar ba­sis ear­ly in the morn­ing in the near­by woods.

Background Information

“Educationally Challenged”

When my par­ents sent me off to pub­lic school, it did not take long to con­firm that I was a very poor stu­dent. So, af­ter a year in first grade, my teacher very thought­ful­ly asked me, “Billy, how would you like to be a leader in your class next year?”

That sound­ed like a good idea. But what she meant was that I would have to re­peat first grade!! Failing first grade was on­ly the be­gin­ning of my aca­d­e­m­ic strug­gles. At the end of my sec­ond year in first grade, there was talk of me stay­ing in first grade for an­oth­er year. I just could not learn to read or re­mem­ber what I read.

Reluctantly, I was al­lowed to pass on to sec­ond grade — but on­ly on pro­ba­tion. The pro­ba­tion con­tin­ued year af­ter year un­til I reached eighth grade.

Then one day, my old­er sis­ters said to me (with a groan), “Next year you will be with us in high school — IF you make it; and we will be­come known as the sis­ters of a “dumb-​bell!” Those words mo­ti­vat­ed me to get bet­ter grades.

During my first and sec­ond years in high school, I would reg­u­lar­ly spend up to five and six hours a night on home­work. But my grades would nev­er get above av­er­age.

The Promise of Success

Then one day a god­ly woman asked me if I want­ed to be suc­cess­ful in my life. I as­sured her that I re­al­ly want­ed that. She ex­plained that for me to be suc­cess­ful, I must mem­o­rize Scripture on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. She then gave me a book­let with about twen­ty vers­es to mem­o­rize each week.

Every week she would call me and have me quote the vers­es to her over the phone. Then she would ask, “How will you ap­ply them to your life?” Honestly, I had such a hard time mem­o­riz­ing those vers­es that I would go over them word by word as I went to sleep at night. Without know­ing it, I had in­ad­ver­tent­ly dis­cov­ered the bless­ings and ben­e­fits of “day and night” med­i­ta­tion.

This is what David spoke about in Psalm chap­ter one: “Blessed is the man . . . [who de­lights] in the law of the LORD; and in His law he med­i­tates day and night . . . and what­ev­er he does shall pros­per” (Psalm 1:1-3).

The Rewards of Meditation

At the next grad­ing pe­ri­od, my school grades jumped to an “A” av­er­age — and with no ex­tra time on home­work!! This con­tin­ued un­til the end of high school; I even grad­u­at­ed as a mem­ber of the National Honor Society and was of­fered a schol­ar­ship to Harvard University!

Picture of Bill Gothard's Second Place Science Achievement Award. Full Text: The Future Scientists of America Foundation. This is to certify that William W. Gothard, Jr., a student in the twelfth grade of Lyons Township High School, has received Second Place in the 1953 program of Science Achievement Awards for Students sponsored by the American Society for Metals and conducted by the National Science Teachers Association. The opportunities presented by a career as a scientist, a technician, and engineer, a science teacher, afford the greatest possible opportunity for a useful and satisfying life work and the ability to contribute to the welfare and advancement of the world of tomorrow. Given under our hand and seal this first day of October, 1953. Signed by Charlotte L Grant, President, and Robert H. Carleton, Executive Secretary, National Science Teachers Association; Ralph L. Wilson, President, W H Eisenman, Secretary, American Society for Metals; and Phillip L. Johnson, Chairman, Future Scientists of America Foundation.Not on­ly did my school grades go up, but God pros­pered every­thing else that I did. I en­tered a Future Scientists of America con­test and won a top award, plus a mem­ber­ship in their as­so­ci­a­tion. This opened up oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties. The same re­sult came when I en­tered a book writ­ing con­test. During the years that I med­i­tat­ed on Scripture “day and night,” I ac­tu­al­ly felt like I had an “un­fair ad­van­tage” over oth­er peo­ple. But the times that I failed to med­i­tate, I lost God’s mar­velous bless­ings.

How the Basic Seminar Started

As I ap­proached my 30th birth­day, I want­ed to fol­low the ex­am­ple of Jesus in hav­ing a 40-​day fast. A Northwoods Lodge was made avail­able to me for this pur­pose.

During those mar­velous days of seek­ing the Lord and the trea­sures of His Word, I be­gan writ­ing out the con­tents of the Basic Seminar. When I re­turned, I re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion from Wheaton College to teach a sum­mer course on youth work. They ti­tle the course, “Basic Youth Conflicts.”

Forty-​six stu­dents at­tend­ed the first course. They asked me to re­peat it the next sum­mer, and 120 at­tend­ed. The fol­low­ing year a thou­sand stu­dents at­tend­ed the sem­i­nar on var­i­ous cam­pus­es. Then it grew to 10,000, to 50,000, and up to 350,000 one year. Thus far, close to 3 mil­lion have at­tend­ed this 30-​hour sem­i­nar. The on­ly pro­mo­tion was the word-​of-​mouth rec­om­men­da­tions of those who at­tend­ed the sem­i­nar.

So, God chose a very or­di­nary boy who had no spe­cial skills or abil­i­ties and who was not able to make good grades to demon­strate to the world what He will do through any­one who will med­i­tate on His Word “day and night.”