MY mother MARIE WILCOX and her sister Chanie Lawson Knuckles Huge
It was one of those summer, blue sky days that beckoned my country mama to go outside. “You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl!”
Barefooted, she grabbed my baby sister, an old quilt, and the hand of my other little sister to go out in the grassy front yard. The thin grass in the back yard was still trying to find its way through all the creek rocks (another story).
Fifteen month old Kimberly sat proudly on her mommy’s lap while both her hands stuffed peanut butter crackers in her mouth. Four and a half year old Tammy brought the tall Premium Cracker Can to sit on while she ate peanut butter crackers and watched the cars and bicycles go by.
As Marie soaked up the sun she spotted two ladies down the street, walking from house to house. Since, most people were at work they were leaving a flyer at each door. All of a sudden, Mom felt self-conscious in her plain sundress as the two ladies got closer. The women smiled bigger when they noticed my two little sisters.
“Hello there! My name is Joyce Wilder and this is Glenna Felty. We’re out on this gorgeous day inviting people to come to our new mission!”
“My name’s Marie Wilcox and this is Kimberly Mae on my lap and my other daughter is Tammy Sue.”
TAMMY SUE WILCOX and KIMBERLY MAE WILCOX 1963
“You pretty girls look just like your mother,” Glenna said with a radiant smile as she shook their hands.
“Yes, they are beautiful! It’s so nice to meet you!” Joyce smiled brightly as she patted the girls on their head and shook Marie’s hand.
Glenna handed Maie a paper flyer. “This is about our new mission. We hope you will bring these precious baby girls. Do you have other children, Marie?”
“Yes, I have two older children. Kathy is fourteen and Tim is eleven. They're around here somewhere. Where is the mission located?” Marie asked.
“Turn left out of the subdivision and drive a half mile east on Princeton. Then turn right on Gilmore and go another half mile and it's on the right,” explained Joyce. “We used to meet in my house further down on Canastota but we’ve grown so much we had to buy land and build."
"Tell me, Marie, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Joyce asked.
“Yes, I do. I was saved at seventeen when my Christian school showed a movie about the crucifixion of Christ. I finally understood what all Jesus suffered and did for me."
"Yes, Jesus did so much for us and it's wonderful to hear you are my sister in Christ, Marie!" said Joyce.
"AMEN!" said Mrs. Felty. "'The Lord Jesus is so good!"
"So Marie, do you go to church some where?" asked Mrs. Wilder.
We belong to Deer Park Baptist on Galbraith Road but it’s so far since we moved out here. It’s hard to get four children dressed and there on time for Sunday School,” Marie explained.
“I wouldn’t know about that since I have only one son who is about Kimberly’s age, named Douglas," she said. "This must be your blessed day! We’re also Baptists and the mission of course is only five minutes away!”
“That sounds good to me!” Marie said as Kimberly grabbed the flyer with her peanut butter hands. “Who is the preacher?”
“Archie Gabbard’s our stand-in preacher until we find a full-time minister,” Joyce said. “But before that we’ll need to establish the mission into a church.”
“What time does church start Sunday?” Marie asked.
“Ten o’clock for Sunday School and eleven o’clock for Church, and we have a nursery,” Joyce added.
“I will be there!” my mom promised. “This is an answer to prayer having a Baptist church so close!”
NORTH FAIRFIELD BAPTIST MISSION GILMORE ROAD FAIRFIELD TWP
We started going and we loved the little Baptist mission located between corn fields and a pond. The people made us feel at home and the preaching and singing were great. Mrs. Felty was an excellent Sunday School teacher and she made me feel important. I became very nervous and self-conscious when I met her handsome son, Donald.
There was only one problem; Dad refused to go because he wanted to keep going to our other church. Each Sunday for a month he stayed in bed while we went to the mission. Mom and I didn’t ask him to go anymore because he got mad so we just prayed God would change his mind.
One Sunday morning we dressed quietly as usual, careful to not wake Dad. As soon as Mom finished dressing Tammy she started on Kimberly. She finished that and placed her in the playpen in the living room for me to watch. Mom laid Tim's clothes on the bed and woke him up to get dressed.
I was eating a bowl of Cheerio’s when Mom came down the hall with funny look on her face. “Your dad is up and he’s getting dressed for church,” she whispered. "Don’t say anything when he comes out. We'll pretend nothing unusual is happening.”
“What changed his mind, I wonder?” I asked in a low voice.
“I have no idea,” Mom said as she put two bottles of milk and diapers in the diaper bag with some peanut butter and crackers.
Quiet happiness filled our red and white Oldsmobile as Dad drove us to church that June morning. After the sermon and during the invitation my dad leaned over to my mom and said, “let’s go ahead and join today!” Mom told him fine and they both went up front and joined the mission.
I was in shock when dad joined the mission so fast. I snapped back to earth and joined my parents and joined the mission. (Tim stayed behind since he wasn't saved yet.) I learned later when Dad prayed with the pastor, privately, he was rededicating his life to live better for the Lord.
My spirit swelled inside me so much I felt like I was floating out of the church to the car!
Our parents JAMES (Jim) & MARIE WILCOX
My mother asked my dad, later, what had changed his mind about going to the mission that day. He said, “You mean you don’t know?”
“No,” she said, “why do you think I know?”
“I thought you put her up to it.”
“You thought I put who up to what?”
“I thought you sent Tammy Sue in the bedroom to ask me to go to church.”
“No, I didn't. Did she wake you?”
“No. I was already awake feeling guilty for not getting up to take my family to church. But, Tammy did ask me something.”
“What did she ask you?”
She said, “Daddy, aren't you going to church today?"
My mother's mouth fell open, then she smiled.
Dad continued talking, "The second little Tammy said that something pierced my stony heart. My heart started flopping around in my chest like a trapped bird. I knew if l didn't get out of that bed I was going to have a heart attack and maybe die."
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
My family learned first hand that God can use a little child to get His work done. In the Bible, God used Samuel and David as young boys to do His will. So, why wouldn’t God use a little girl in modern times to lead her father back to church?