Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Secrets: Growing Up

No Secrets:  Growing up

I was born the second son of a sharecropper and his wife. My father died when I was 13 months old, and my mama, brother, and I moved in with Grandpa.  Grandpa had lost everything he owned in the Great Depression, and he too was a sharecropper.  Growing up, life was hard, but it better prepared me to face the hardships that lay ahead.

Granddaddy Lindsey
(The Daddy, my daddy never knew)

When I was eleven years old, my mom married again, and we moved to a neighboring county.  I shared a home with a step father and six step brothers and sisters.  Having no dad, wearing thick glasses that were bent out of shape, and poor, I felt inferior in this new house with a large family.

Grandpa had taught us to work hard and I worked even harder to prove myself to my new siblings.  We all had to work in the fields and take care of the livestock.  No matter, I made sure that I worked a little harder to stay ahead of them.  When we picked cotton, I tried to pick more.  

Shortly after moving to the new town, I began to hear weird things about a weird church filled with people who did weird things when they got happy.  Some people in the community referred to the church as "Happy," or "Happy Holler."  It was named that because when people got "happy," they "hollered."

A neighbor drove us to Sunday School and my fears kept me on the outside. On the outside looking in,  I heard first hand that what others said was true.  Little by little, I began to realize that these people were "shouting."  I finally got the nerve to go inside.  It was there that I saw the prettiest little girl in town.

The following summer, I went to FFA Camp with the school while the youth from the church went to church camp.  A great revival broke out and many were saved.  Upon returning, the teenagers would meet in the "prayer room," and pray out loud.  I could hear my name being called. One of those praying was my sweetheart, Doris Haywood.  On my own, I tried to break the old habits that controlled my life.  I knew that to date the prettiest girl in town, I had to stop smoking, cursing, and fighting, but I found I could not do it on my own.  Feeling what I discovered was "old-time conviction,"  I knelt beside a pew in the choir loft and confessed my sins.  God came in a wonderful way.  I jumped up, raised both hands in the air and shouted to the top of my lungs.  I experienced a peace that I never had known.  

The following Sunday, I surrendered my will completely to the Holy Spirit's control and was filled with His Spirit.  I wanted everything the Lord wanted for me.  I began to feel a calling to preach the gospel.  I was asked to share my testimony at a cottage prayer meeting.  Prayer meetings were often held in homes in those days.  I preached for what some said was an hour.  From that night on, I knew that God had called me to preach, and I have never doubted that calling since. 

I preached anywhere I was called.  There was an old preacher who preached every week in an old school house.  Getting close to retirement, he asked if I would fill in for him.  I gladly accepted.  I began to prepare sermons as the Holy Spirit led.  I had never prepared a sermon and had no theological education.  At 15 years old, God gave me the subject, the introduction, several points, and a conclusion.  I was unable to drive, but had no problem finding transportation.  It is no secret that when God guides, God provides.

In those days, school began with a devotion.  I was invited to have the morning devotion for my homeroom.  I never missed an opportunity to share the Good News. 

In Memory of Rev. and Mrs. J. Emory Lindsey
Dedication of the First Church of the Nazarene
J. Emory Lindsey Outreach Building

I know this is not Daddy's car
because he once said, 
"I didn't own a car, and didn't even know how to drive
but God always provided."

A young preacher of a young, home mission church.

Daddy always said that a growing church
had children of all ages. 

Mama was always beside Daddy.
Everything they did, they did together.

More teenagers.

It was seven years before their first child,
so Mama and Daddy always brought
children home with them from church.

This picture was taken on their wedding day.
They went back home that evening
and went "house calling" the next Saturday.

Daddy always said, 
"She was the prettiest girl at Mt. Olive."

To Be Continued



  1. Bonnie- what a sweet story. Back then, you just did what you had to do to get somewhere, make something or survive. Today the world is filled with to many excuses. If only people would trust more.

  2. What an inspiring post! It reminds me of stories I heard as a child of how the preachers would travel from place to place to preach the gospel. Things were so different then (as far as man is concerned). Thankfully, God is the same still today!!


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