Every time I walk into Eastside Baptist Church, I think of my beloved daddy and how much he loved that church. Before it was a church, tent meetings were held in the field (where the church was later built). I was very young but the fondest memory I have of that time, was the night a bad storm was raging outside. My daddy was afraid the wind was going to tear the tent down and he was determined that he was going up there to make sure it was alright. We were swinging to his coattail and begging him “please don’t go.” He finally gave in to us and I’m sure God was looking down and smiling at us because that tent stayed put!
Later, a small long building was built from lumber bought from another church, that was in the process of building a new bigger Sanctuary. Our building had two doors, one at the front and one at the back. It wasn’t long until the people started coming and my daddy was their first pastor. Those were such good times, no need for a committee for this and a committee for that. We just worshiped God with praise and thanksgiving. I remember especially, one Sunday morning when my sister Loretta or either Sherry got their comeuppance from daddy. She had been waiting until daddy got into his sermon and then she would sneak out the back door and hightail-it home. Daddy was aware of it because he happened to see her as she stole across the church yard. The next time she tried that, he simply walked to the door and made her walk back into church. Man, she never, ever did that again!
I also remember the night, three of us girls took our dates with us to another church across town, where daddy was preaching a revival. Daddy often used us as examples, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. That particular night, it was raining cats and dogs (as we say in the south). Daddy was congratulating everyone for coming to church in such rainy weather, and he said “Take my girls back there. They will wade in water up to their knees to go to the picture show but they don’t want to go to church if its raining the least bit”. I remember trying to slide down as far as I could in the pew. Everyone sure did chuckle over that. I’m afraid we didn’t think it was funny at all, seeing as how we were trying to impress those boys.
I have never met anyone like my daddy. In all my years with him, which wasn’t but 26 short years for me, I never ever heard him utter one unkind word about anyone, never complained even though he had to work a full time job and preach too, to support a big family of seven girls and four buys. I think he loved everyone he met with a love, so like his God and Father.
I can still remember walking by his room at night and hear him praying for the lost and for all his family to ask Jesus to come into their hearts and lives. God took him home when he was only sixty four years old. So he didn’t get to see all of his prayers answered. But he had his bible laying open on his lap and had the plan of salvation written on paper. He left that for us. He also told us from time to time that God had promised him that none of his children would be lost. Thank you,daddy! For loving us so much and trying to lead us in the right way.
When I walk in that church, it seems like I can still see him standing in that pulpit, the anguish on his face when the invitation was given because the thought of someone dying without the Lord was more than he could bear. He was a gentle, sweet caring soul. They just don’t make them like my DADDY anymore. I still miss him more every day. One day I will see him once again! When I step into Heaven he will be waiting for me.