Dear Preacher Charles,
Well here it is Monday morning and I ought to be out in the field but I just think I better get this letter off first. It was a real interesting day yesterday. In some ways, I think it was the best day of my life and in other ways it had to be one of the worst.
I had told Joe Bob I would be over at his house at about 8:00 o'clock so about a quarter 'til I started out to the car and Patricia Hathaway came roaring up in her car and told me she was going with me. Of course that made me pretty happy but I couldn't help but wonder if a lynching party would be looking for me as soon as that word got out. We went on over there and arrived just as Momma and Daddy came driving up. We all went in together and when all the hugging and handshaking was over, we sat down there in the den and just kind of looked at each other like nobody knew what to do. It was a pretty uneasy time because we just really hadn't talked about what we was going to do and when.
Joe Bob looked around at everybody and said, "Well we didn't gather here to stare at each other, so who would like to suggest what we do first?" My Daddy said he would like to lead in prayer so that got things started off. Then Molly Bea said she had everything ready for the Lord's supper and that kind of surprised everybody but anyway she had baked some fresh unleavened bread and had some juice that she had put up from their own grapes so we did that next. After that we just took turns reading from the Bible and then we would talk about what we had read and everybody spoke up to ask questions and make comments. Now and then we would have a prayer when somebody thought we should and once Joe Bob said he never had said a prayer but he felt like he ought to talk to the Lord. Now that prayer didn't sound much like you usually hear but I'll just bet the Lord was real pleased when Joe Bob thanked Him for making it possible for him and Molly Bea to find out about God. And he told God how sorry he was that he had wasted so much of his life in the way he had. I have to admit I cried a little when he thanked the Lord for "his dear friend, Sammy Boy."
All of a sudden before anybody realized it, it was 12 o'clock and nobody really wanted to quit but Momma and Daddy had to get home. Of course Patricia needed to get home even though she said she dreaded it and I needed to do some chores. It's kind of funny the way you get tired of sitting there after an hour in Church but none of us were the least bit tired after four hours. Anyway, Daddy said a prayer and we all left. I told Joe Bob I would be back at 6:00 o'clock and Patricia said she would sure try to be there.
As soon as I got my lunch down I headed for the barn to do some overdue chores and before I had been down there very long, I looked up and John Hathaway's car was pulling into my driveway and I could see that Preacher Simkins was with him. I knew all along it was going to happen but it still upset me a little and I prayed all the way to the house that I would be able to keep my cool.
We sat down on the front porch and John Hathaway got right to the point. He said that "my little game had gone far enough and he wanted me to put a stop to it." Now, I thought that was a little strange but I just said we were not playing games and we thought it was real serious. Preacher Simkins wanted to know why we're trying to start another Church out here in the country and I told him we didn't want to start a Church anywhere. Then he wanted to know what I called what we did that morning. Charles, I didn't know what to say and I sure did feel lonely and I was beginning to be a little irritated but I stayed cool. I said, "Preacher, we don't want to start a Church and all that happened this morning was that Joe Bob, Molly Bea, Momma and Daddy, Patricia and me got together and worshipped God like it says to do in the Bible." (I noticed that when I said Patricia, John got real pale.) Then I told them that I thought we had done a very good thing out here and two people had been baptized and the way I saw it there was rejoicing in heaven because of that and if they were thinking right, they would rejoice too.
Well, the Preacher said I really hadn't done anything for Joe Bob and Molly Bea unless I could get them to Church. I have to admit that got under my skin a little and I got a little sarcastic. I said, "Preacher, it sure is funny that Philip didn't tell the Eunuch about getting into Church and the poor old Eunuch was so dumb that he just went on his way rejoicing and the Lord didn't know that Philip's job wasn't completed because He just took him away. It looks like if he didn't finish the job, the Lord would have sent him back." (Charles, isn't that sort of like the denominations say? First you're saved and then you join the Church?) Then John accused me of pulling people away and splitting the Church but he never did mention Patricia's name. It went on like that for about two hours. They kept telling me that I was splitting the Church, establishing a new Church (they even wanted to know what I was going to call it), leaving the truth, and converting people to a false doctrine. I could see that I wasn't going to do any good with them so I just told them I was going to keep right on doing what I thought was right.
After they left, I called Daddy and told him all about it and he did the strangest thing. He just chuckled and said, "Sam, I told you before that you were about to find out what it means to be a Christian and now I think you know." I'm not sure what he meant but I sure do feel strange. I'm real happy and real sad all at the same time. Maybe I'll get it all straightened out in my mind in a few days. Anyway, Sunday night I went back to Joe Bob's and Patricia was already there. I don't know what happened over at her house but I bet it was a stormy session. She was just as chipper as you please and said she enjoyed Sunday morning so much that she sure wasn't going to miss being with us again.
Well Charles, now you have the story. I sure hope I haven't done anything wrong and I don't think I have. I can't help but think that I have done some powerful good. Joe Bob has already talked to his neighbors on the other side of him and they have promised to study with us. Wouldn't it be nice if we baptized them? We decided that we can't study every night because we just have to get back to some farm work but we will study three nights a week plus just about all day on Sunday.
Now I'm going to give you time to answer, this time, before I write again and I sure do want to hear from you. I just can't wait to know what you think about all of this. And we sure would be honored if you could come down here and study with us for a few days. We can't pay you anything, but we sure would fill you up on fried chicken and blackeye peas. Until I hear, I remain
Your faithful friend,
Sam Hill, Jr.