I recently heard from Bill Long, the preacher who baptized me in 1957. After reading my book, Spillin’ the Beans, he reminded me of a couple of his additional memories of Mother and Daddy.
He always stayed with us while he held “gospel meetings” at the white frame Clearview Church of Christ. He’d preach every evening and some afternoons for a week and we had huge crowds in the little country church where I grew up.
He especially loved Daddy’s homemade freezer ice cream—hand-cranked, of course. We’d have it a time or two every time he came, and Mother always made her chocolate chip cookies to go with it. Sometimes Daddy would even play the saw for him, which was a treat for all of us.
On one visit, someone—probably Mother—planned a softball game at the old schoolhouse across the street from the church. It was originally a two-room school where my aunt first taught, Daddy went to school, and Mother taught when they were first married. The school closed in 1947, and eventually the church bought it to use for fellowship gatherings.
Mother felt strongly that Bill should participate in the game to build camaraderie with the community, but he had brought only dress clothes. He was much taller and larger than my dad, so Mother insisted that he go down the road and borrow a pair of overalls from Mr. Luther Armstrong, Miss Velma’s brother (in case you’ve read “Waving at Miss Velma” in Spillin’ the Beans.)
He did so, and in so doing began building a good relationship with Mr. Luther. He invited Mr. Luther to come to hear him preach, and by the end of the week Mr. Luther, who’d been taught the Bible as a child but had never committed to Christ, was baptized. As far as I can recall, he remained “faithful unto death.”
Mother never stopped looking for ways to bring people to Christ. Who knows how far that reach extended? Ray Boltz has a great song, “Thank You,” that always reminds me of how much influence Mother had when she didn’t even realize it. She just really cared about people’s souls.
Today, we’re really great about helping people in need and feeding the hungry. I just hope we can be equally interested in saving their souls.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16