F EATUR E
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An Eleutheran Profile:
Frank Vento Perry (87) By elizabeth bryan
Introduction: Frank Vento Perry, a dynamic, yet humble, preacher, counsellor and evangelist, at 87 years old, is still continuing in his life’s work of reaching people for the Lord. On a sunny afternoon in early December 2016, I sat and chatted with Brother Frank at his home in Spanish Wells - a place that has welcomed him as one of their own for the past 59 years. He was born in Bermuda on May 28th, in 1929, at the end of the roaring 20’s and brought up there during the Great Depression and World War II, before making his way to the Bahamas in the late 50’s. Conversion: Frank’s Christian walk has been a leading factor in the paths taken on his road of life. So it is there where he began his story. “My mother wanted me to attend an evangelistic service, on the last night, with a famous preacher. People were getting converted and I knew that, so instead of going to church, I went to a beach party - I organized it really, and I was drunk for two and a half days. The irony of it was that I always hated drunkenness, and many a night brought my friends home on my bicycle, drunk, and I never drank. This one time it was to get away from going to church. That Monday, after all day with a hangover, that night is when I got really convicted by the Spirit of God and at my bedside I gave my heart to the Lord. I knew all of the answers and knew the scriptures, because I had been brought up in the church and in Sunday school. Mama and Papa were great Christians, and there were ten in the family - my older brother, Fernance, was a great witness to me as well, and he and I were very close.” Frank was fifteen when he gave his life to Christ, and since that moment was inspired to share his experience. “It was during the month of November, with age sixteen just a few months away. With spiritual work, I started preaching (if you could call it that) right away, in the back yard of my father’s home, in the open air. I did that for about two years, preaching. My brother Fernance was also a speaker/preacher. I attended his church and heard a lot of preachers, a variety of them.” Frank has now been preaching and sharing the gospel for 72 years (if you count the first two shared in the open air, he quipped). “It was really encouraging recently. An elderly lady the other day wanted to know from my younger brother - ‘what about Frankie’ - she always called me Frankie. ‘Where is he?’, and he said, ‘Oh, he’s in the Bahamas, and has been there for many years’ - ‘Well tell him I was one who got converted in the backyard of his Daddy’s when he used to preach, and I’ve been going on ever since.’ So that was inspiring you know, encouraging,” smiled Brother Frank.
Marriage and Education: While still in Bermuda, Frank went on to work in Real Estate, also spending time as a Butcher, working in a Hardware Store and finished up working with his brother as General Manager of his large supermarket, before pulling up roots. “I married when I was 19,” shared Frank, and continued, “Emily was her name, and she was quite a girl, now deceased twelve years ago. She was a great help with whatever I wanted to do. I went to Emmaeus Bible School, in Toronto, Canada when I was 19, in 1948, about 4 months after we got married and she went with me. “Ed Allen, Heskitt Johnson and Will Nottage (life-long colleagues) were also there at the same time. One year was all that I could afford. Emily worked, which was a blessing and I went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon. That’s how we got through. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. What Emmaeus did for me was
it taught me how to study, and gave me the historical background of all the books of the Bible. So that when I was reading it I knew what I was reading about. They were a tremendous help to me.” Bermuda to the Bahamas Frank left Bermuda in January of 1957 at the age of 27 to come out to the Bahamas. Explaining his motivation for the move, he shared, “My first trip here was in May of 1955. I was visiting a Bermudian who was a Brethren missionary in Simms, Long Island (he and I grew up together). He and his wife Eloise were there in Long Island for five years. I went to see them, and I got a good idea of the Out Islands in particular. In Bermuda you had a church on every street corner, practically - well
evangelized. I came out here because there was a greater need, especially in the Out Islands.” He didn’t end up in Spanish Wells right away, but in New Providence, however, he wasn’t to stay there very long. “I lived in Nassau for one year, but I couldn’t get our children, Savannah and Mark into the same school,” said Frank, “and another problem I had was my wife Emily couldn’t drive and didn’t intend on driving - she made that clear to me. So it was real difficult, as I couldn’t travel around as an itinerant preacher. So one day I met this man on Bay Street - I didn’t know him from Adam, and he told me that he had a house on rent for 5 pounds a month, fully furnished. So I told him, ‘Good, let’s go see it’, and he said, ‘No, it’s in Spanish Wells!’ My heart sank when I heard, because I was paying at the time 28 pounds a month, and that made it very difficult too, rent-wise you know. Fortunately though, I was coming to Spanish Wells for meetings, and when I came up I looked at the house, called Emily, my wife and said, ‘Honey pack your bags, we are going to Spanish Wells’. The children could go to school, she didn’t have to worry about driving or anything. So Spanish Wells became my headquarters, and I’ve been here ever since - 59 years.” Reflecting on his tremendous blessings as a father, father-in-law, grandfather, great grandfather and now great great grandfather, he shared, “There were only four of us that came (Frank, Emily, Savannah and Mark), and now there are fifty two in the family.” Frank and his wife Emily were blessed with six children. Tragedy befell one of their sons at four years old when he became the first recorded road fatality in Spanish Wells. From the other five children, said Frank, came 11 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, sons and daughters in-law and recently a great great grandchild, who had visited with him a day earlier. Early Ministry and Memories: Continued On Page 13