April 2012

Comfort through God

Pastor Bishop's compassion

In 1951, I was eight-years-old. An incident occurred in the summer of that year that has stayed with me ever since. I was attending Vacation Bible School at my Baptist Church—a three week affair—where we studied the bible and performed activities designed to reinforce biblical teachings. Vacation Bible School was attended by boys only and the days were well-planned and organized with one event following the other. Every one of my friends thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

Preacher Riley's Sunday Circuit

He gave them what they needed

As a boy growing up in Dallas, Texas, I sometimes skipped my home church on Sunday and instead accompanied my friend and his father—a self-ordained preacher—to one of the small churches he made a circuit of on the Sabbath. Preacher Riley, as he was known, was welcome at the small “Hard Shell Baptist” and “Primitive Baptist” Churches because of the manner in which he was seized with the spirit when called upon to preach.

And he was a sight to behold, a regular force of nature behind the pulpit. Thunder issued from his throat and lightning crackled from his eyes. He danced around behind the pulpit while throwing his hands wildly in the air—one of which always clutched a large bible. At times he stopped dead and flipped frantically through the bible, concentrating mightily with his nose in the good book until finding an obscure reference to substantiate a point in his sermon; whereupon he then shouted out and waved the bible about like the jawbone of an ass; all the while looking heavenward, crying unabashedly and thanking the Lord profusely.