Little church in the country
Growing up my earliest memories of church took place at Zion Methodist Church. This country church is just east of the town of Mt. Vernon, Illinois where I was born many, many years ago. My mother and father made a commitment to serve the Lord in this little church when I was just a few months old. Although I was obviously too young to remember anything about this event, I heard my father tell the story so many times I feel as if I do remember it.
The Story Goes
My parents were not followers of Christ and enjoyed going to the movies on Sunday nights. My oldest sister, who was nine years old, started attending church with my aunt and uncle. Although only a young girl she understood the simple salvation message the minister preached and made a commitment to God. After that she began begging my parents to attend church with her. One evening to just shut her up they agreed to pass up the movies and go to church with her.
Adam, where art thou?
My father sat through the worship, but about halfway through the sermon, his cigarette habit called to him. At least that was the reason he was giving for leaving in the middle of the service. Later he admitted he was feeling God speaking to his heart and he knew if he did not get out of the building, he would have to surrender his life to God.
He got up and started to the center aisle when the minister reached the point in his message where he said,
And God said, Adam, where art thou?
My father often spoke of this moment with great feeling. He said his ears heard “Adam where art thou?” but his heart heard “Hal, where art thou?”
At that moment he knew he had to make a decision. Would he turn to his right and walk out of the church and silence the voice of God speaking to his heart? Would he turn to his left and walk down to the altar and surrender his heart and life to Jesus Christ?
I am so thankful he made that turn to his left and said yes to the call of God. I spent the first six years of my life every Sunday morning at the church. My Sunday School teacher was the same one my father had when he was a young boy and attended that church with his mother.
The church was heated by a pot belly stove in the center aisle. In the summer there was no air conditioning, but we used paper fans. Most of the fans had advertising from a local funeral home.
Because I was very young, I would often fall asleep in the Sunday evening services. One evening my family started home, my folks in the front seat and my siblings in the back. About half way home they realized I was not in the car. My parents had thought I was sitting on my older sister’s lap in the back seat as I often did that. My siblings thought I was layig down on my mother’s lap in the front. They quickly turned around and headed back to the church. Thankfully I was still asleep in one of the pews. I cannot imagine how frightened I would have been if I had awoke and found myself alone in the darkened church.
Such are my memories of this little country church. On a recent trip down memory lane I asked my husband to take me to the church and let me get a picture. Standing in front of the church – all the memories that came flooding my heart and mind. My parents are now gone, my aunt and uncle also. But I will always treasure that little church where I first heard the words:
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”