Thursday, June 12, 2008

Faith, A Wellspring of Joy

Barney left his father’s homestead in the late 1800s. Fifty years later, I arrived in the neighborhood mid-1927. I never met Barney, but I learned about him. I sang his odes of joy while growing up.

Barney met D. S. Warner and became a teenaged Christian. He left home to join Warner’s Evangelistic Singers. They toured the Midwest and Southland with Barney being the group‘s bass singer-composer. Later, Barney ministered around Springfield, Ohio. To my knowledge, he never returned.

In 2005, Dale Stultz came to our area, showing his pictorial history.. He and Doug Welch were assembling a unique publishing history of Grand Junction, Moundsville, Anderson. They planned to publish a coffee table volume, co-published by the Historical Society. It will be available for sale at the 2008 North American Convention.

One day, I accompanied Dale to our County Court House, where we found plat records for the unknown site of Barney Warren’s family home--just outside of South Haven. I spent my first 18 years there, but never knew the site identity or anyone who did.

Dale and I now know that it is the 40 acre site on the NE corner of 64th Street and CR384 (Section 20). The old house has been torn down, but Dale met the gentleman who bought the site and he personally identified it, as well as the house he tore down.

Unable to make positive identification initially, Dale returned that evening and found a 90 year old neighbor. He identified himself as the current owner--since 1928--having torn down the old house himself. Ultimately, he came up with the original Abstract, which he presented to Dale. It originated with government ownership in 1843. Tom Warren became the 20th owner of record, purchasing it in 1881.

Dale has become acquainted with Warren family members and they were excited about the church’s interest in their family history. Barney’s family helped the Historical Society relocate Barney’s Springfield campground cottage to East 5th Street, adjacent to Church of God Ministries--Anderson.

Barney never received a Gold for his music, He did become a minister-musician and songwriter. More than 2,000 compositions earned him the title of the Church of God’s “Chief Singer” (cf. To The Chief Singer/Bolitho).

Throughout his life he inspired faith through his message and his music. One of his heritage hymns declares,

I will sing hallelujah, for there’s joy in the Lord,
And He fills my heart with rapture as I rest on His Word;
I will trust in His promise, I will shout I am free;
In my blessed loving Savior I have sweet victory.2

Joy has long characterized Christianity. Early Christians, tho few in number, increased dramatically as people like Stephen modeled the yardstick by which people measured Jesus. Peter experienced the joy of deliverance from a lifelong racial prejudice and it empowered him to share his joy with a Roman soldier--enemy.

Paul endured lashings, shipwrecks, and stoning for the sheer joy of following Christ. Hunger, thirst, cold and nakedness only encouraged Paul to “Rejoice in the Lord.” “Again,” he wrote, “I will say rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4, NASV).

I never forgot the joy I saw in Madge. Now deceased, I met Madge as a very young man. I still remember her radiant joy--even when circumstances knocked her to the floor. As her Pastor, it fell my task to inform her of her eldest son’s death. I found her at home, on her 50th birth, waiting for his arrival.

A beer-drinking truck driver lost control of his Tanker Truck on a West Texas mud-slick. The tanker climbed the Buick carrying four young oil-fielders home from work. Buck--asleep in the back seat--never knew what hit him!

At Buck’s Memorial Service, Madge requested Frank Couvisier--minister-friend of the family--to sing a family favorite that agreed,

Some-day beyond the reach of mortal ken;
Some day God only knows just where and when-
The wheels of mortal life shall all stand still
And I shall go to dwell on Zion’s Hill.1

The Funeral packed that Ballenger, TX church. Following Frank’s moving solo, we all heard Madge’s barely audible “Amen.” It reverberated in the silence and we all knew the inner source of her “Joy Unspeakable.”

No one present that sizzling July afternoon ever doubted Madge’s grief--or her faith. Amid emotions, tears, and one word, arose an artesian well of joy flowing straight from God’s heart to hers.

I watched Madge carry heavy burdens, with quiet dignity. At one of life’s most impossible moments, I saw--first hand--deep abiding joy--“joy unspeakable and full of glory, and that is no soft soap.

Madge made people forget the ravages of alcohol and gambling she patiently endured. Later, she saw sons Marvin and Paul enter church ministry, and grandsons Cliff and Mike. Other children served equally well, and I am confidant that her joy in them sometimes spilled over.

I was very young then--fifty five years ago. Now in my sunset years, I believe Barney got it right when he wrote, “There Is Joy in the Lord” (Warren/Worship the Lord. Anderson: Warner Press, Inc., 1989, p. 616).
Joy-fully, Wayne

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