Billy Bump had been drawn to faith since he was a nine year old attending Bible School at the Christian Church. He had walked the four blocks, and around the corner to the little brick church each day of the week long program. Other than a cursory contact with church, Billy had never thought much about the multitude of enjoyable facets of a life of attending church!
On the last day of the Bible School they were studying Moses and Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration found in the New Testament. Billy had been a bit of an introvert for a few years, especially after his mom and dad divorced, but he suddenly felt like answering the teacher’s question regrading what had happened on the Mount?
As Billy began to speak he felt a presence helping him to talk regarding the Bible story. When he had completed his remarks the instructor said that she had never heard a better explanation of the Mount of Transfiguration story and that Billy should consider becoming a preacher!
Billy left Bible School that day and sang the actor, Sidney Poitier’s, song from the movie that he stared in, ‘Lilies of the Field,’ where in a scene from the film he sang the song, ‘Amen!’ Billy felt warm inside…and happy….and a desire to be closer to God!
A few years later the church that Billy was now attending was planning on traveling to Topeka, Kansas for a Campground Meeting that would be held over five days and nights. Now, this was common in Billy’s childhood days…but is not unheard of today…as there is a large Tent erected outside of Carbondale, Illinois for the purpose of a Revival!
Billy asked Carl to attend and he was delighted to do so! Also attending were Jimmy and Doug and John and Ronnie and Steve, and many more. When the church bus arrived at the Topeka Campground it was apparent that it was a full complex of dormitories and buildings for meetings and a sanctuary and a full cafeteria. Billy had little earthly goods but he felt as if he was the richest young man alive when he woke the first morning in the men’s dormitory and felt the chilly air emanating from the large widows with no screens, but rather wooden shutters to close them.
He arose to a cold shower and a trip to the cafeteria and some of the most delicious breakfast that he have ever eaten! Did I mention that Billy’s future wife was there…but she did not realize it at that time?
Billy was excited about hearing Reverend Milford Hazelip preach and teach regarding the eschatology of the earth. Billy had witnessed Rev. Hazelip’s preaching in his local church and had marveled at his quite and powerful delivery of scriptures supporting the coming of Christ.
Now, the church bus was a former school bus…and it was extremely bumpy! Billy’s good friend, Steve, substituted for the regular bus driver, Jim, who was like a second father to Billy.
Jim had been an over the road truck driver and he loved the experience! Jim explained to Billy the vagaries and nuances of trucking and knew, by sight, every good resturant in the midwest and south of the United States!
Billy considered, even up until today, that there is a genuine and intrinsic reality to the faith of so many who do not have the benefit of a minister who has been educated in the elite of seminaries. There is a bedrock simplicy in calling on Jesus and asking for his help and his succor and his promise of relief for the downtrodden!
Billy often heard, Raul and his sister, Nancy, sing, ‘I Don’t Know Why I have To Cry Sometimes.’ and the power of the Holy Spirit would fill the sanctuary! Billy understood that any offering to God, from the heart of the supplicant, was precious!
So Carl awoke one morning at the Campground and announced that he had seen an angel! He went on to describe a woman who was dressed in white from her head to her feet and who had came to the dormitory in the middle of the night and told him to be of good courage because his prayers would be answered! Carl was not only quite enthused but he subsequently announced, later that afternoon, ‘he is here, referring to God!
So, Billy inquired of Carl what he had been referring to when he said that the angel had told him that his prayer had been answered and Carl responded that, I have been praying for my mother to recover from her grief of loosing my dad to a massive heart attack last year.’
When Carl returned home to El Dorado he told Billy that his mom was in much better spirits and had told him that God had told her that she would see Carol again!
Note: Photos courtesy of Google.