I Rode By My Old Home Church
Jeremiah 6.16 "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein."
Today, Wednesday, July 12, 2005, I rode by my old home church, Youmans Chapel. Seeing the church brought back many fond memories.
The year was 1959, and I was in the second grade. The members of Youmans Chapel Baptist church called my Daddy, the late Rev. A.J. Rozier, to be their pastor. This small country church was located in a farming community and the congregation was made up of some down to earth folks. We sang hymns out of the old hymnal...I can still hear the song leader say, "Get your song book and turn to page 57 and let's all sing Amazing Grace like we mean it." Some of the other songs that still ring in my ears are "On the Jericho Road", "Camping in Canaanland", "Just a Little Talk with Jesus", and "I'll Fly Away". Several of the congregation could really sing and the piano player sure could rattle them keys. Back in those days, we didn't have nurseries and such, so babies and all the little children sat with their parents. Daddy was a bi-vocational preacher...he also sold furniture. He knew that God had called him to preach and pastor at Youmans Chapel. I can see him now, standing behind that wooden pulpit, delivering a message to the hungry congregation...a message straight from the throne of God.
We had a few small Sunday School rooms, but we had no social hall. The sanctuary was not air-conditioned, so we used those hand-held cardboard fans to ward off the heat of the hot Georgia summertime. We did have two gas space heaters for the cold of the wintertime. After all week revivals, we would have Sunday dinner spead on tables set up under the towering pine trees. Man, there sure was some good home cooked food and deserts at those Sunday eatings! After dinner, we would go back into the church and have special singing. I immensely enjoyed hearing those good old gospel songs even though I was a small child. Daddy preached at Youmans Chapel until mid 1965, and then was called to another church. The Lord called Daddy home in 1966..he was 40.
Some of the families who attended Youmans Chapel were kin to each other, and to Mr. Youmans, who donated the land for the church. I fondly recall the Carters, Youmans, Eatons, Godwins, Howells, Pittmans, Bowens, Moores, Battens, Dowlings, Harpers and Bryants. All these folks hold a special place in my heart. Sister Margaret Bacon played the piano, and her husband, Gene, was a close friend of my Daddy's. Those two could really sing, and they had beautiful children. Brother Gene and my Daddy are now singing around the throne.
I helped David Pittman, whose Daddy S.L. was a deacon, with his farm. David grew tobacco, corn, soybeans, pecans and raised hogs. We worked hard but had fun working and we always ate good dinners. David's wife, Ruby, his Mama. Mrs. Pittman, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Harper, took turns cooking for us. We ate like kings! When Wednesday rolled around, we always knocked off early so we could go to prayer meeting. They were well attended and the Lord answered many a prayer put up at these meetings.
When I was 19, I joined the Army and stayed for several years. Whenever I would come home on leave, I would visit with my old friends at Youmans Chapel. In 1987, I was released from the Army and moved back home. My three children and I (I was a single parent) started attending Youmans Chapel. I taught Sunday School and sometimes would preach...behind that very same pulpit where my Daddy had once stood. The pastor, Rev. Lowell Lee, was a spirit filled man of God, and greatly encouraged me to preach God's word. Later, Brother Lee, retired, and then the Lord moved me to other places. I no longer attended Youmans Chapel, yet I would go there on occasion. The last time I preached from that old pulpit was New Year's Eve, 1993, at a watch night service. There were only a few of us there, but the presence of the Lord was very special that night.
Now the old church sanctuary is mostly used for the youth. A big new building, including many Sunday School rooms, a large social hall, pastor's office, reception area, and more sits on some of the land where I used to help David farm. Most of the farms in that community are no longer there. In fields where acres of crops once grew stands subdivisions. The Youmans Chapel community has rapidly filled with people and I hope the church is still a shining light on that small hill. Things change, people come and go, but the Lord changes not. Sometimes I feel like change is not for the better...like that old expression "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
Yes, as I rode by the church, I remembered my childhood days, that small sanctuary full of people of all ages, lifting their voices to heaven as they sang about Jesus. Times were less complicated then, and in my humble opinion, churches were, too.
"O, I'd like to go back to that old country church, to hear them songs of praise...I'm redeemed by love divine, glory, glory, Christ is mine, all to Him I know resign, I have been redeemed. In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore."
Isaiah 46.9 "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,"
Copyright 2005 Irvin L. Rozier
About the Author: Author of My Walk with the Lord, http://www.selahbooks.com, various other articles and poems (do a google or yahoo search on my name), preacher, retired US Army