Table of Contents
Chapter 9 - Hyles, Two Years Later
While we doubt that people are moving to Hammond anymore
to worship at First Baptist Church, there may be many doing so to attend
the college. If you know young people thinking of attending Hyles-Anderson
you might want to share this CD with them. There are so many good evangelical,
fundamental schools out there offering a sound, scholarly education
it is a shame that young men and young women end up at H-AC.
The kind of cult mentality observed around Hyles described in this CD
is seen in the fact that his first church building has already been
moved from Texas and rebuilt on the Hyles-Anderson College grounds.
It is currently used as a spare classroom. In less than 9 months after
Hyles' death, plans were announced to move the house where he was born
to the campus. An associate at the church, Ray Young, who was given
credit for the idea by the local media, said he wasn't sure yet what
it would be used for, but promised it wouldn't be as a spare classroom.
If we may offer a prediction as to its use, it will be as a "worship
center," if you know what we mean. The Hammond Times, in announcing
the story, described it as "a permanent monument to Hyles."
In our electronic age there are many web sites, we understand, dedicated
to exposing Dr. Hyles. May their tribe be multiplied. Unfortunately,
those we have seen have little more to offer than what the sponsors
gleaned from our past articles – and few of them give any credit
to their sources. Alas, some didn't even get the facts straight. We
are not complaining about their use of our material – we merely
wish they would be accurate in what they publish. As for me, I am just
glad the message is getting out. Hopefully, many lives and ministries
will be saved as a result.
Unfortunately, the same sordid story is still going on. Out of many,
many examples we could give, here is just one fruit of the Hyles mentality
and practice, something we published in our May-June 2000 issue of The
Biblical Evangelist. It will probably remind you of the David and Brenda
Hyles situation with little Brent Stevens. This was the editorial:
ANOTHER TRAGIC HYLES FALL-OUT!
We consign this terrible tragedy to the Hyles syndrome because, for
one thing, the man in question was formerly head of the Hyles-Anderson
College Bible Department and billed by Dr. Jack Hyles as the greatest
Bible teacher in Christendom, or words to that effect. For another thing,
he is a Hyles clone, the man who testified publicly that he sometimes,
in petitioning deity, catches himself praying, “Dear Brother Hyles”
– a matter which may not miss the mark all that much for many
of the Hammond elite. His name is Joe Combs and until recently he was
pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Bristol, Tennessee (now defunct).
This sad story began in 1977 when Joe and Evangeline Lopez Combs, unable
to conceive children, decided to adopt a son. Evidently they were pleased
and the following year the couple went to what is now the Baptist Children’s
Home and Family Ministries, Inc., in nearby Valparaiso, Indiana –
a highly respected organization on the approved list of social agencies
at the time for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
– and selected a beautiful 4-month old girl. They signed an adoption
agreement and took custody of her, naming her Esther Alice Evangeline
Combs. (Strangely, the womb was then opened and the couple produced
four biological children.) So far, so good.
Alas, this beautiful story ends right there. The Combses made that precious
soul their personal slave and subjected her to a life of horror and
abuse – physical, mental, emotional and social – one that
ended only when she went to authorities in Georgia and told her tale,
bringing to termination nearly two decades of horror. (She had been
sent to that State to live with Joe’s brother and his family because
Tennessee police had filed a petition for guardianship on Esther –
and for the first time in her life she discovered living.)
A life of horror for Esther? Let me count some of the ways.
Å° Her earliest memory was of being thrown down the stairs
while strapped in her high chair.
Å° At age 3 or 4, after accidentally dropping a spoon in a
pot of hot oatmeal, her hands were burned when Mrs. Combs made her dig
Å° Accused by siblings of jumping on a bed, Mrs. Combs hurled
her against the wall and knocked out two front teeth, which were hurriedly
placed back in their sockets and grew oddly spaced and crooked.
Å° On one occasion, in a fit of temper, Mrs. Combs threw a
shoe at her, hitting her in the head and opening a bloody cut. Evangeline
promptly sewed it up with needle and thread, then referred to the scars
as “her marks of the beast.”
Å° She was beaten with a hose for falling asleep in church.
Å° Esther was treated as a slave for the rest of the family
her entire life, told by the Combses that this was God’s purpose
for her life. When she didn’t finish her duties on time, she was
Å° Over the years she was burned with a curling iron, beaten
with a baseball bat, and tortured in other ways. Altogether, there were
410 scars on the poor girl’s body, all documented and charted
by the prosecution for the jury!
Å° While the other children were home schooled, she rarely
got to attend. When a baby sitter taught her to write her name, Esther
was beaten and the greatest Bible teacher in Christendom told her that
Jesus didn’t learn to read and write until He was 12 years old,
and she shouldn’t either. By the way, this girl and another sitter
testified that they suspected abuse, but were afraid of this highly
revered Bible professor. The other girl did report her misgivings to
the school president, but no action was taken. (The policy is, you may
recall, If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen; even if I
did see it, I was probably mistaken; and even if I did see it and wasn’t
mistaken, someone else had to have seen it in order to confirm that
I saw it!)
Å° As a teen-ager, Combs bound a rope around her neck, then
draped her over his back, cutting off her air supply until she passed
Å° It was also as a teen-ager that the greatest Bible teacher
in Christendom raped her repeatedly, usually on church property (where
they were living).
Å° Esther said Mrs. Combs repeatedly pulled chunks of her
flesh out with a pair of pliers.
Å° On at least two occasions Esther ran away from home, not
getting far either time and each time brought back by police –
when she was severely beaten for her actions.
Å° Finally, as a legal teen-age adult, desperate and unhappy,
she decided to end her life by drinking antifreeze. She was found unconscious
and rushed by ambulance to an area hospital and the seeds for ending
the abuse were planted. Physicians found layers of scar tissue from
wounds and fractures than had not healed properly. She had no birth
certificate, no school records, no medical records, and no Social Security.
Because the frightened girl denied being abused, she was returned to
the horror house, but a few months later the police filed their petition
Prosecutor Barry Staubus summed it up well: “Esther lived as a
broken person, devastated by physical, verbal, psychological and sexual
abuse without any other family… and deprived of self-worth.”
Is the above true? I would certainly be interested in someone explaining
those 410 scars on Esther’s body in any other way! The jury concluded
both were guilty on 15 of 16 charges (Judge Jerry Beck had dismissed
four charges earlier, agreeing with the defense that the prosecution
had not filed them in time – not that the pair was innocent of
them) and the verdicts certainly pointed to their guilt. (By the way,
the fact that the jury only deliberated four hours indicates the panel
thought the evidence was overwhelming.) The only acquittal came on the
charge against Mrs. Combs of aggravated assault, which her husband had
committed but during which she had stood passively by and hence permitted
Joseph Combs was found guilty on 11 counts, namely, charges of especially
aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated perjury, aggravated
rape, and 7 other counts of rape. The jury imposed fines totally $240,000.
Evangeline Combs was found guilty on 6 counts, namely, charges of especially
aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and 4 counts of aggravated
child abuse. The jury levied $150,000 in fines against her. The actual
sentencing was scheduled for April 25th (past our deadline for reporting)
and, if sentences ran consecutively instead of concurrently, “the
greatest Bible teacher in Christendom” could get 144 years in
the slammer and Mrs. Combs 73 years. It is our conviction that neither
should ever see the outside of a prison wall again, but we are enough
of a realist to know that American jurisprudence in our day and age
doesn’t work that way.
The big surprise to us was that the “great American emancipator
of preachers from sin’s penalties,” Jack Hyles, didn’t
fly to Tennessee and testify for the Combses, trying to get them off
the hook – as he has done for so many others over the years. Perhaps
he realized there was too much evidence for even him to offset in this
Strangely, the Baptist Children’s Home apparently didn’t
follow up properly on the adoption and may be in a spot of trouble itself.
While the legal adoption was the duty of Combs and his wife, the Home
was seemingly negligent in making sure it took place, i.e., that it
was finalized. While the Home sent letters to the couple in 1980, 1984
and 1994 inquiring about the adoption status and requesting a copy of
the court record, those letters were not answered and the 1994 missive
was returned as undeliverable. Combs’ excuse for failure was that
the Home wanted ten percent of his income over an undetermined period
of time and he refused to give it. False! The Home never asked for a
Are you ready for a final shocker about this case? Do you remember our
major book review of that horrible tome by Roy Branson, Jr., Dear Abner,
I Love You, Joab, that we so profusely panned [The Biblical Evangelist,
November 1, 1992] because it appeared to give carte blanche to antinomianism?
The glowing Introduction was written by Branson’s pastor at the
now defunct Emmanuel Baptist Church in Bristol, “the greatest
Bible teacher in Christendom,” Doctor Joseph Combs himself. No
We have other editorials we could run, but have determined this sample
I am afraid the full record of the damage done to Christendom and to
individual Christians by Hyles and those in his orbit can never even
be imagined – to say nothing of being told – this side of
the Judgment Seat of Christ!
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