Editor's Note: The previous five letters appeared in the March 88 paper. To get the full benefit of these two additional letters it would be best to have read the previous five. But the new readers can pick up the story from these two and understand the glorious results.
Dear Preacher Charles,
Well, it has been a couple of months now since I bothered you with a letter. In fact, I haven't written since I got that nice note from you and I feel like I should have written before now because you said you sure was interested in what happens about Joe Bob Farnsworthy and all of that. It was real nice of you to take the time to write and encourage us like you did. I read your letter to the whole group the first Sunday after I got it. Everyone was real pleased to hear that you agree with what we are trying to do and they all said they sure would like to have you come down here and help us some with our studies. It sure pleased Joe Bob when you said he was right about his ideas about the word Church.
A lot has happened in two months and I don't think I could tell you all about it if I worked all night on this letter. We are still meeting at Joe Bob's place on Sunday morning and evening. We decided that Joe Bob and I would take turns being a sort of discussion leader so that we would have a little direction but everyone is free to speak up and tell their own ideas anytime they want to. Most of the time someone's question turns out to be the main subject for discussion at the next meeting. It sure keeps me jumping but I sure do enjoy it and I feel like I am really learning a lot about God's Word. I just hope we are getting it right. Molly Bea found a few old song books so we try to sing some songs. Molly Bea is the only one of us that can sing, so she has to start us off and then we all join in. Probably a lot of folks wouldn't be too impressed with our way of doing things, but I just can't help but believe that God is pleased and that is what counts. If you see anything wrong with what we are doing, I sure hope you will tell us. But most of all tell us why because we don't want to just take somebody's word.
On Wednesday evening we meet at Joe Bob's and we started with Matthew and plan to go straight through the New Testament just reading and discussing what it says to see if we can agree on the meaning as we go. On Monday night Joe Bob and I have been going over to his neighbor's house to study with them. They are Methodist and sure have been interested in what Joe Bob learned about the meaning of the word baptism. Patricia has been meeting with us on Sundays but she still goes with her Mother and Daddy on Wednesday night. Patricia's daddy is still pretty cool toward me and doesn't say much but he sure does question Patricia about what goes on out here. On Friday night I go over and get Patricia and we go to Joe Bob's house. We have a general discussion session and have started to do some singing. Patricia and Molly Bea can sing pretty good but Joe Bob and I just sort of "make a joyful noise."
My Daddy and Mother came over and met with us a couple of Sundays ago and Daddy told us a little more about his thinking on all of this. It seems that after years of study, he had come to the same conclusions that we did about the Church. He planned to talk to me about it but before he got around to it, I got involved in this deal with Joe Bob. Well, Daddy decided he would just keep his mouth shut and let us work this thing out for ourselves. That is the reason he kept laughing at me and saying that I sure was going to learn something. I thought that was real strange at the time but I guess he was right as usual. Daddies are like that.
Well, anyway one of the main things Daddy talked to us about was that we needed to start saving up some money because sooner or later we are going to need it for some needy person or to help in some way to spread the Word. We talked it over and did some studying about the situation. We decided that we would each save up some of our own money for those purposes and if we see a need then we will individually take care of it. If it is more than we can handle alone, then we will tell the group about it and maybe we can put our money together and handle it that way. Do you think it is OK to handle it that way?
Last week Carl Jackson, who rents a farm from John Hathaway, stopped to talk farming for a few minutes and before he left he said, "Sam I want to ask you a question and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to." I didn't have any idea what was coming but I said go ahead. He said, "What got John Hathaway so upset with you?" Well I nearly fell off my tractor! You probably remember that John is the Elder (and Patricia's daddy) who has been a little upset with me because I'm not going to Church with them anymore. I didn't really know how to handle that situation because Carl is a real strong Baptist and John has sure tried hard to change him to Church of Christ. I decided that the truth was the best policy and I briefly told him what had happened with me and Joe Bob. He just grinned and said he had been hearing a little about it and sure was glad to get the story straight. I told him we were just trying to follow God's Word and sure have a lot to learn but we will keep trying. Then he asked me if he and his wife could meet with us some. That sure did thrill me and I think they will be over at Joe Bob's Friday night.
Monday night, instead of going with Joe Bob to his neighbor's house, I went to meet a couple that moved in on the farm just east of me and I found a real sad situation. They are a young couple with two little girls and the wife has been sick for about a month. Well, last week they had to put her in the hospital and they really don't know how long she will have to stay there. They have a small insurance policy but it doesn't pay much and the bills are piling up and those little girls sure do need their mother. I told the Daddy - his name is Herb Crandal - that we would get him some help. Tuesday morning I went over there with Joe Bob and Molly Bea and we took a lot of food from our gardens and Molly Bea got some good hot food into those little ones. We plan to talk about it Sunday and see if we can't help them with some money.
Preacher Simkins came by to see me again and brought one of the other Elders with him. I thought it was interesting that John Hathaway didn't come. Anyway the Preacher got after me for not coming to Church and I told him I thought I was doing right and could he tell me what I was doing wrong? He never did really answer that but just kept talking about how bad it was to "leave the Church." I told him "If it isn't in God's word, I don't think it is bad to leave it!" Well, he just looked at me for a while and then said "Sam do you consider yourself a member of the Church of Christ?" Now I had really been avoiding that question in my own mind but I knew it was time to face up to it. I said "Preacher, I am not a member of any Church including the Church of Christ - I am in Christ not in a Church." He left pretty quick after that but he did say something about it being bad enough to leave the Church but it is even worse to take others with you. You see there has been a few of the people down there at the Church of Christ who have been pretty interested in what is going on. Some of them have met with us a time or two and some others have said they will. They seem to be impressed with what they see and hear when they come out. They sure do ask a lot of questions.
Well, I better close this thing up and get some rest. I hope you don't get tired of hearing from me but I just have to tell somebody. If you have any suggestions for us, please let us know. In the meantime, I remain your faithful friend,
Sam Hill, Jr.