There was a time when people walked not for recreation or pleasure but as a primary mode of transportation. That time was not so very long ago. In fact it is still here in many parts of the world. When the Church of God arrived in the southeastern corner of Georgia in the early 20th century people walked to church, not a few blocks, they walked for miles.
My Aunt Eula Mae, who was my mother’s oldest sister, somehow ended up in a revival service at the Bachlott Church of God. The church was meeting in the old community school/church house. Bachlott was a turpentine village at the time. There was a still there for processing sap gathered from pine trees into turpentine. A small village of shacks for the workers had developed around the still. The land where the church building sat had been donated by my Great-grandfather, George Washington Johns, to the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South. He had also donated the adjoining family cemetery to the community. The Methodists had abandoned the building and it served various community purposes until the Church of God set up shop. My mother’s family lived about seven miles away through swamp land and flat woods.
Young Eula Mae was saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. When my Grandfather heard about it he forbade her to return to the holy roller church. She said, “Papa, you had may as well go ahead and spank me cause I can’t not go back.” She told me that story herself.
For a while Grandpa would walk her through the woods to church. He even snaked the logs for the new church building. But he got offended and quit which left my Grandmother to walk Eula Mae to church. Soon the whole family, minus Grandpa, was attending. Well, Grandma and her daughters attended the services, while her sons got into mischief with the other boys outside.
I owe my spiritual heritage as a Wesleyan Pentecostal to my Aunt Eula Mae. I also owe her a portion of my image of God and my vision of the global character and mission of the church. For several years Uncle Frank and Aunt Eula Mae lived in Jacksonville and Mom would take us to visit Aunt Eula Mae frequently. I think they met to pray about once a week but I was usually in school. Momma prayed with great fervency, like she had to fight her way into the presence of God. Aunt Eula Mae prayed like God was sitting next to her and they were carrying on a conversation between friends. From my mother I learned the awesomeness of God’s gracious power. From Aunt Eula Mae I got a glimpse of Him as gentle, loving Father.
On one of our visits she lent me a book published by Church of God World Missions, Herman Lauster: One Man and God. That book changed my life. For one thing, I actually read it from cover to cover. But primarily it introduced me to the global nature of the church. A second biography on the life of Paul C. Pitt expanded that vision.
I am deeply thankful for my Aunt Eula Mae. She had the courage of David, the devotion of Daniel, the wisdom of Samuel, and the graces of the Holy Spirit. Because of her our family was brought into Pentecost and my mother was mentored into maturity. Today, she's walking the street of gold.
March 23, 2010