My family did not attend church regularly until I was 10 years old in 1939. We began attending church when we moved from Lakewood Heights in Atlanta to the farm. Life was simple on the farm.
We worked in the fields, and grew cotton, corn, potatoes, and vegetables. We had cows, chickens, hogs, and a mule. We had milk, butter, eggs, and meat to go with the vegetables.
Church was simple. The country churches had preaching services once a month. As time went on, some churches began to have two preaching weekends and Sunday school every Sunday. Many had Sunday school in the afternoon.
The preachers did not have any formal education in the Bible. Many did not attend high school. However, they studied the Bible and fervently preached the Bible with power. The Baptist churches that called themselves Missionary Baptist churches had the same “Articles of Faith” as the Primitive Baptist churches, but the services were different. The Primitive Baptist only had day services with no Sunday school, no musical instruments, and no protracted meetings. They would have several “union” meetings where several different Primitive churches and preachers would join in. Sometimes they had two day meetings (morning and afternoon) at a central church “meeting house.” The Missionary Baptist churches did not believe in missions. The church was the mission. They would “call” the pastor each year for one year. Most preachers would serve an average of 4 years unless they continued to baptize several candidates.
The people in the churches we attended were happy people. They were content with living on the farm and content with a simple church and faith in Jesus Christ. They loved their church and each other. Most church problems were over personal differences. However, they were always true to the basic (fundamental) doctrines. They did not approve of preachers going to Bible college to learn to preach. City churches were looked on with little or no respect. Now after many years of Bible study, a Bible Institute, a Bible Academy, then later Bible college and seminary with tutors, I am amazed how much knowledge and wisdom those old preachers had. They would teach each other. Sometimes they would criticize, and sometimes they would divide over points of doctrine and preaching. Yet, they showed love and grace to their fellow brethren.
They wanted their children to get a good education. My generation was the first to have a majority finish high school. I was the first to go away to school for formal Bible classes. I had learned from the preaching and Sunday school, so I had a fair background to build on. In my life I have not learned any contradiction of the doctrines of Christ different from my early years in the old churches. I thank the Blessed Lord for my early years. The preaching and old time churches are still my foundation
I was saved the first Sunday in May in 1941, at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church near Lawrenceville, Georgia. I was baptized in a pond in a pasture in August of that year. I began fervently to study the Bible. I still have not learned everything I should know at the age of 83. I am still learning. I hope I am still growing. I am still spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever and to whomever I can get to listen. May this reflection on my life be a challenge and a blessing to all of you.
(March 21, 2012)