Ambassdors of Jesus Christ Association of Churches
Church Apostle; Bishop, Dr. Ralphel Holloman, Sr., SC-C
"For the Work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
The year is 1925 in Wayne County, NC and its my father’s birthday. This is during a time when a black man couldn’t walk into the front door any store and purchase anything he wanted without first making sure that the white person was served first. The climate in North Carolina was the same across every southern state, full of racism, hatered, segregation and bigotry. But somehow and some way my father was able to live here and stay out of trouble, out of jail, out of prison and out of arms way. I can barely remember but I do remember that is; riding on the a rough, four wheeled wooden wagon that was hitched to one tan and white horse, we called “Dan.” I can remember my great grandmother saying to the horse; "getup" let’s go and off we would go across the creek, through the woods and for at least two or three miles, we fought of the bighting flies, nats, and occasional unfamiliar noises that didn’t seem to rattle my great grandmother at all. By the time we reached the little old wooden church, they had already started and was well on the way with what they called service. I have no idea what they said to each other, or what the preacher had to say to them. I am still asking myself over and over again, what in the world did that preacher say to his members that gave them hope. What did that preacher say to the audience of farmes, share croppers, factory workers, lumber yard stakers, janitors, housekeepers, tractor drivers and just maybe, just maybe a school cafeteria worker. I have no expectations, I have no spiritual hope or do I have I any idea that as a black child why do we need to go to this gathering every other Sunday to hear this man talk about a God that would never fail.
What is the world is this preacher’s subject or his theme for today’s service and what in the world is he going to say to this small crowd of black folks looking for some form of motivation to asssit them in getting through the next day, the next couple of weeks until they are able to come again and maybe hear something else to get them through the fall and through the winter. Now that I am 64 years old, I am more conscious of my father’s struggle to keep his family together, keep his wife and children safe and secure while answering the call of fatherhood. I am more aware of his abilities as a man to be motivated, encouraged and driven to his next day of life, the next week and onto the next month. What did my father use as a guiding force, as directions? Maybe it was his training in the US Navy or maybe it was his carpentry training school experience. Whatever it was, it worked and it allowed me to appreciate my father more. Mostly because he was able to raise a family, stay out of jail, stay on a job and take care of his family. My father went to church, but he was not openly committed to church practices or what was considered back then and even now a Christian lifestyle. I can remember in my younger days when it was my father’s will that we go to church services even while he himself, found more motivation staying busy around the house. Even now during family reunions I tell stories of how my father always encouraged us to go to church and learn how to pray and get some sort of connection with the Lord who just might help us all have a better life. In my little house where I lived there was my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and father, two brothers and five sisters. There were also times when other relatives ran out of money or ran into hard times the children would come and live with us until times got better. Their stay sometimes would last for weeks, but we would always share what little we had. My father and mother were very generous in helping others, because they would always tell us we are not that poor, but we are a long way from being middle class. The south was a place where most of my father’s relatives left the south to go north hoping to rid themselves of southern racisim and low paying jobs that would unltimately keep them poor and permately ensure their place out of the so called “middle class”.
It’s Sunday morning in this little church and I am sitting close to the back door and near the wood heater in the corner. Iam not participating in any of what they are doing, but I am wondering what in the world did this preacher have to say to these black folk to keep them trusting in this God that refuse to let the same black folk have equal rights, refuse to let the same black folks be treated farily and refuses to let just one of them get a break and move to a better life. What scripture did he use, what was his text or theme for those who will soon have to go back home and return to hopelessness, doom, poverty and a home with window panes missing, wood stoves to heat the entire house, water that is pumped by hand and brought in with a water bucket. This is an example of what my home was like as I grew up in North Carolina. This is a description of our mansion, or penthouse, our summer cottage year round. Yes! That preacher must have said something to give them hope, he must have said something to give them strength, because every time we left and wen home things would get just a little bit better, at least from my perspective. Regradless of my lack of understanding then, the Lord our God then, is the same God now and I must give him thanks for bring us from where we were to where we are.
I am not sure today what happen during my visits to the church with my grandmother, or with my mother, but I do know that somewhere along the way from riding the old wooden wagon to riding in the 1962 Ford Galaxie, the Lord that preacher talked about finally showed up and took us from the “Little House In The Prarrie” to “Goodtimes! I have no records of any of that preacher’s messages, but I hope I can somehow match what he must have said during those challenging times in the lives of black folk. What do you tell a famer when he can’t sell his crops, or the weather wouldn’t let his crops grow, what do you tell a factory worker whose paycheck is not enough to pay the bills the family have accumulated? Everytime I approach my pulpit I must always remind myself that if nobody is interested in salvation today, if nobody joins the church today, just maybe I can encourage a father to stay with his family, or maybe a can encourage a mother to hold on, life is gonna get better, or maybe I can encourage a teenage scholar that the money for college is coming, whatever I say on Sunday morning, I hope I can give the same hope that was given to me.