No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Bishop Dwight Jacob’s Story
This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
I Timothy 3:1-7
“That’s my girl,” Dwight said to no one in particular. He, his wife, Rosalind, and his mother-in-law, Charlene, were sitting in the living room in front of a black and white television watching the airing of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, Texas. The camera zoomed in on Jackie Kennedy sitting beside her husband with the grace and elegance that no woman possessed as richly as she.
“Even her wave is dignified,” Dwight said with a laugh as Jackie joined her husband in waving to the onlookers. The presidential motorcade rolled down the main street. The sidewalks were packed with well-wishers.
“That’s a woman with class,” Dwight said without taking his eyes off the screen.
“Are you saying I have no class?” Rosalind said with a smile.
“No, baby. You’re one classy woman yourself. That’s why I married you.” He reached over and patted his wife’s enlarged stomach.
The year was 1963. Dwight Jacobs, his wife of one year, Rosalind Kezia Randall-Jacobs, and his mother-in-law, Charlene Elizabeth Randall, sat in awe in their living room before the old black and white television with the rabbit ears. The picture was hazy, but they watched with pride as their beloved president, John F. Kennedy, waved to the residents of Texas. Their pride turned to shock and disbelief in a matter of seconds; but the news report was clear: President John F. Kennedy had been shot. They held their breath and listened as the reporter reported the incident in bits and pieces amidst the chaos that ensued.
“What are we going to do now?” Charlene said with anxiety evident in her voice. “He was the hope of wider doors of opportunity opening up for us. He stood with King.”
“Mother,” Dwight said to his mother-in-law, “you worry too much. Hold a minute …They’re trying to figure out where the bullet came from. I feel for you, Jackie. Poor soul. Look at her holding her husband with all that blood spilling out on her. Wait a minute … the reporter says it may be just one bullet … no … maybe two …”
“That makes no sense. Who would want to kill President Kennedy?” Rosalind said.
“What will happen to this nation now?” Mother sighed.
“I thought your trust was in God,” Dwight said glancing at his mother-in-law for a split second.
“My trust is in God, but He often works through men,” Mother said with another sigh.
After listening to the news for a few more minutes, Dwight said, “Well, we don’t have it as bad as many of those down South. Slavery may have been abolished on paper, but it still exists in the minds and attitudes of the people.”
“But I must say, New York has been good to us compared to what others have gone through,” Rosalind said shifting to a more comfortable position on the couch. She was nine months pregnant with their first child and was expected to go into labor any day now.
“Well, I only hope what’s down South stays down South. Dr. King is already doing his thing down there. I just hope Kennedy’s killing has nothing to do with the racism that’s so prevalent in our country,” Dwight said turning his attention back to the television.
As they were getting ready for church the Sunday morning following the president’s death, Rosalind went into labor—one week from the expected due date. Dwight was in a fluster. Even though they had their little spats every now and then, Dwight appreciated his mother-in-law stepping in and doing what only a mother would know to do.
“I’ll stay with her. I’ll get her to the hospital!” Dwight said in a frenzy not knowing whether to hug his wife or just leave her alone.
“Nonsense. You wouldn’t know what to do,” Charlene said laughing. “She has about another ten hours plus before this first baby comes. Yes, first babies take a long time to come. I remember when I had my first child. I woke up with labor pains at seven-thirty—ain’t nothing like labor pains—and I weathered it until about twelve-forty-five that night when my contractions got closer. Seventeen hours; I was in labor for seventeen hours. Can you imagine that!”
Dwight was not in for his mother-in-law’s non-stop rambling. “Mother, we have an emergency here. Can you do something?”
“Oh, yes. Right. Just remain calm, Dwight,” Charlene said. “She’ll be alright. You go ahead on to church and I’ll just keep her busy to take her mind off the pain. Plus, who’s going to minister to the people through song if you stay with Rosalind. No, sir. You go right on ahead. There is nothing you can do for her right now. You staying here and worrying will only cause her to worry. We might end up calling the midwife and that might even scare you more.”
Charlene hurried him out the door.
When Dwight came to New York about three years ago with his brother, Elijah, Dwight visited the St. Paul Apostolic Church where his brother was a member. Somehow, word got around that Dwight ‘had a voice on him.’ The second Sunday, the choir director and lead singer fell ill and being that they needed a replacement, Elijah put Dwight’s name in the hat. As his mother-in-law reminded him many times after that, “You rocked that place.” Word got around and before long Dwight was being called on to bless the congregants through song not only at St. Paul’s, but in other churches in the area as well.
“You have a calling on your life,” Pastor Relick of St. Paul’s told him one Sunday.
“It’s strange that you say that,” Dwight told Pastor Relick. “My grandmother and my mother said the same thing when I was a little boy. They said my head was shaped like a preacher’s.”
Pastor Relick laughed. “I don’t know about the shape of your head having anything to do with God’s calling on your life. All I know is I just sense it.”
Dwight met his wife at St. Paul’s. He saw her singing in the choir and “swaying those hips” as he later told her, and he asked his brother, “Who is that girl in the red skirt and the white blouse?”
“That’s Rosalind Kezia Randall. Her mother, Charlene Randall, is the lead singer in the women’s choir. As you can tell, she can sing up a storm, and Rosalind can carry a tune as well,” Elijah replied. “What ideas you got up your sleeves now, brother?”
“Just inquiring. Just inquiring,” Dwight chuckled. “Seems we already have something in common.” From then on, his and Rosalind’s relationship resembled a sprint; before Dwight knew it, they were married.
St. Paul’s afforded him the opportunity to develop his singing skills. “I don’t understand why the church members keep pushing and encouraging me to make singing my life pursuit,” he shared with his brother. “I just want to be an encouragement to the people of God here in the church—not make a living out of it.”
Rosalind, however, was running on a different track. “We’re going to make a song bird out of you,” she said. “You must learn to dream big—in this case, bigger than your home church, bigger than the surrounding churches; even bigger than New York.”
Little did Dwight realize how true his wife’s words would turn out to be.
Dwight and Rosalind’s first child was born 1:32 on a Monday morning at the Jewish hospital.
“You’ve got to give him a Bible name,” Charlene insisted. “Your name can bring blessings or cursings on your life, so I insist you give my grandson a Bible name.”
And so they named him Dwight Joseph Jacobs III.
About six months after their son was born, Dwight received a letter from his sister, Mable-Lee, in Georgia. His mother, Tessie-Mae Jacobs, was very ill and wished for him to come home. Not only had he been one of the main bread winners for the family having taken over his father’s role after his father’s disappearance in the South, but he and his mother shared a special relationship—one that never waned in strength even after he moved to New York. Dwight continued to send money to help take care of her and visited her whenever he could.
“I just know you all are not going to leave me here by myself,” his mother-in-law said after Dwight told her of his decision to move back home permanently to be closer to his own mother.
“Mother, I’m the oldest son and I have to go see about my mother,” Dwight told her. “That does not mean I don’t love you. We’ll come and visit as often as we can.”
“Well, couldn’t you leave Rosalind and the baby and make a quick trip? I’m so used to having y’all around, I don’t know what I’m going to do … Rosalind’s been with me all her life … and the baby … I’m not going to get to see my grand-baby grow up. Good Lord, have mercy on me.” Mother got into one of her whining fits.
“Mother, you can come and visit us anytime,” Rosalind said rather abruptly. She was tired of her mother making her and others feel guilty—even over things they had no control over. “Plus, you have Eli and Eunice to–”
“You know I can’t depend on them. That brother of yours is worthless, and your sister? I won’t even waste words talking about her. But you, Rosalind, have been the only child I could depend on to do right. You’ve always been there when I needed you, and–”
Dwight and his wife listened.
Within two days Dwight, Rosalind, and their baby had packed all their clothes and anything else they could fit in their two-door Ford and made the move to Georgia to be with his mother (Mama Tess, as he affectionately called her) whose health had taken a turn for the worst. They prepared themselves mentally for her death, but through much prayer, God miraculously saw fit to raise her back up to good health.
Jobs were not easy to come by. Dwight took anything that he could find. He saw every open door, no matter how small, as a door of opportunity. Mama Tess taught Dwight and his siblings to do all in their power to have and to maintain a good name and thus have a good reputation, and to exercise common sense, and provide all things honestly. “Have pride in all you do—not a puffed up pride. Feel comfortable with who you are because that is who God made you to be.”
Dwight secured a part-time job in his uncle’s tobacco field starting out. He felt he was moving on up when he landed a job working at the hardware store full time. To supplement their income, being that his wife was home with their child, he also worked as a janitor at a radio station.
“This may be a long shot, but why don’t you ask the manager for a two minute spot,” Rosalind said. “You can’t just sit there and let your voice rust out. You could be ministering to hundreds of people.”
“I’m already ministering to the people at the church,” Dwight said. “I don’t need to go anywhere else. I’m quite comfortable staying right here in my hometown singing for the Lord at the church.”
Rosalind was a go-getter and was always looking for ways to try out new things. “I don’t know about you; you have no get-up-and-go.”
Little did Rosalind know Dwight was already taking note of how the disc jockey operated the music equipment and wishing and dreaming of singing on the radio. Some of Rosalind’s words would come to his mind ever so often: It’s no use dreaming if you’re not going to do anything to fulfill that dream. At least try doing something. And so he kept on dreaming.
“You should reach out for something bigger than yourself,” Rosalind told her husband in frustration.
One night the station manager, Mr. Cummings, left early. Sneaking into the recording studio, Dwight flipped the ‘on’ button and sang Amazing Grace. A certain feeling came over him—a feeling he had never felt before. I’m in Heaven, Dwight thought as he basked in what could be. After a few minutes of dreaming, he pushed the ‘erase’ button. Satisfied that he had erased his ‘sneaky deed,’ he finished his janitorial duties for the night and headed on home.
“Is this you?” Mr. Cummings asked the following evening when Dwight went in. He flipped the ‘on’ button. Dwight heard his voice and could not hold back a quiet chuckle.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Cummings. I know you told me not to touch the equipment, and all that, but …”
“…but, we have a rising star,” Mr. Cummings said. “We’ve had quite a number of listeners to call in asking who did that new voice belong to.”
Dwight chuckled again. “I thought I had erased it. So you’re not mad with me?”
“I should be; but, no, I’m not mad. Ratings is what it’s all about and if your singing brings in more listeners, then you will sing on KGGC.”
“I knew it! I knew it!” Rosalind exclaimed throwing her arms around her husband’s neck. “I even have your radio name already picked out for you. From now on you’ll be known as ‘The Songbird.’”
“The Songbird? Why can’t I just use my real name?”
“All the great singers have a stage name. And you are headed for greatness.”
“Okay, you the boss.” Dwight was too happy to argue with her.
Dwight’s mother was extremely happy. “We’re going to have us a singing preacher in the family for sure. The legacy will live on,” she said.
“What do you mean, Mama?” Dwight asked.
“You’re probably too young to remember, but your great granddaddy was a preacher, and boy, could he preach. Nobody out-preached him during his time; he could also strike up a tune and so could your granddaddy. Your daddy was supposed to have followed in their footsteps. I kept telling him that God was calling him to be a preacher, but he kept telling me I was crazy and that I just wanted to have a preacher for a husband. I told him it was in the family line and God had him to marry into the family for a reason. I told him to put the bottle away long enough so he could hear God calling him, and to go ahead and clean up his life. One day, he just disappeared; he just up and left.”
Mama Tess tilted her head and looked toward the front door as though she was listening for her husband’s footsteps on the porch. “My only interpretation is that he got scared and was trying to run away from God, and as far as I am concerned he’s still running and hiding. You was young then, but you might remember he’d turn up ever so often for one or two days and then disappear again. I have not heard from him in years—since you were about thirteen.” Mama Tess sighed. “So your granddaddy’s mantle has fallen on you and I want you to take it up and carry the legacy on. Don’t follow in your daddy’s footsteps and skip out on God. I bet if he saw how well we’re doing now, he’d regret he ever left us.”
“I’m not going to run out on you for sure, and I love God too much to even begin to think of skipping out on Him. He’s been good to our family,” Dwight said. “But if you don’t mind, I think my thing is singing and showing love to God’s people and to all people.”
“Do you hear that, Rosalind? He does not want to be a preacher. Now what’s so wrong with that?”
“I never said that, Mama Tess,” Dwight chuckled. “I just have not heard God calling me yet. But I’ll stay close to the phone just in case it rings.”
“Don’t worry, Miss Tess. I’ll work on him,” Rosalind said.
“It’s truly amazing how women see and hear the call of God on the lives of their husbands and sons way before they see and hear it,” Mama Tess chuckled.
“You need to listen to your mother,” Rosalind said to her husband later that night. “Your father didn’t and where is he now? Whether he’s dead or alive, no one knows for sure. The devil’s pulled him away and that is what is going to happen to you if you don’t answer that call soon. You can run from God, but you definitely cannot hide from Him, and you can only run for so long.” Rosalind then chuckled, “I don’t even know why your mother did not just forget him and marry someone else. Wasting all her years hoping he’d turn up.”
“That’s because my mother is a classy lady.”
Rosalind opened her mouth to respond, but changed her mind. After a few minutes of thoughtful silence, she said, “I think I’ll ask her one day.”
With Rosalind’s relentless promotional efforts, “The Song Bird” soon became a household name in the region. Dwight’s fame as a Gospel singer spread throughout the South. Many churches asked Dwight to come and minister to their congregation. Rosalind basked in her husband’s fame. She, however, was not satisfied with the five-minute spot he had on the regional radio station. She talked him into seeking at least thirty minutes on the air.
“You expect me to sing for thirty minutes nonstop? You must be crazy!”
“Why not? Many people are doing it,” Rosalind said. Then smiling she added: “When we used to go to the clubs, didn’t the musicians play and sing nonstop way past thirty minutes into the wee hours of the morning. Anyway, like I said: dream big. Don’t limit yourself. Might I remind you, ‘Faith without works is dead.’”
“My faith is where it has always been and it shows itself through the love I show to everyone I meet.”
“You can meet and reach a whole lot more people if you listen to me,” Rosalind said. “Just imagine a large crowd sitting in a concert hall waiting for you to perform. They want you to share God’s love with them through song and through an encouraging word here and there. In-between each song, you can share some Bible verses — preach to them a little.”
Dwight thought about his wife’s words. Eventually, he did ask Mr. Cummings for “a little more time on the air.” “Ratings is what it’s all about,” he reminded the station manager.
Dwight and his wife began attending Mt. Providence Baptist Church shortly after they settled down in Augusta, Georgia. Rev. Ezra Helton was the senior pastor.
“Seems like Pastor Helton has it going on,” Dwight said to his mother after their second Sunday partaking in the morning worship service.
“Oh, yes, he’s a Godsend. We had a fit trying to find someone to fill in Pastor Nathan’s shoe after he passed away,” Mama Tess said.
Pastor Nathan C. Goolesby had died while Dwight was in New York. He had been a blessing to the Jacobs family especially after finding out that Dwight’s father had disappeared. He had told a distraught Mama Tess, “I tell you a man like him was not worth having in the first place. Any man who skips out on his wife and children is not worth the ground he walks on. A man should know up front whether or not he is up for the husband-father task. But don’t you worry, Mama Tess. We’ll look out for you.”
“Pastor Nathan was a true blessing to us. Rev. Helton is from a different cut,” Mama Tess said.
“He seems to be a big supporter of Dr. King,” Dwight said.
“Yes, he’s from Mississippi, and he’s been involved in some of the marches. You will hear a lot about that social justice stuff in his sermons. He believes Jesus is for all people but that Jesus has a special place in His heart for those who have been mistreated.”
“Apart from a few new faces, things have not changed much,” Dwight said to his wife. “The church is being a blessing to the community and the Word is still being preached. That’s what it’s all about.”
“Yes, and some pastors have a knack for making the Word come alive thus putting life into you as you listen. Other pastors kill the Word with their dry preaching and kill your spirit as you listen to them,” Rosalind said curtly.
“Now what are you getting at? What’s wrong with Rev. Helton’s preaching?”
“Did you hear me mention Rev. Helton?”
“Well, he’s the one behind the pulpit,” Dwight said. “I know you grew up in an Apostolic Holiness church, but I was born and raised a Baptist, and that’s where I started serving God.”
Rosalind huffed. “I never set foot in a Baptist church until we moved down here.”
“So you don’t really know anything about the preaching, do you?” Dwight said.
Rosalind ignored him. “We should at least visit the Apostolic Holiness church down the street. There’s nothing like getting in the Spirit, lifting up holy hands, and letting out a good shout. You Baptists don’t have the shout like we Pentecostals do. You’re just too dry.”
Dwight chuckled. “You can’t have any lasting fire if you don’t have the plain teaching of the Word.”
Despite her reluctance, Rosalind accompanied her husband to Mt. Providence Baptist Church for several months voicing her displeasure each time they left the house.
I’ve had enough of boring Baptist church services, Rosalind thought one Saturday afternoon as she drove around town looking for another church similar to the one she had attended in New York. I got to find me a feet-stomping, hand-clapping, hallelujah-shouting church. She slowed down so she could read the sign on the small, brick church building at the corner. Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth. She pulled into the parking lot to get a look at the service times posted on the door.
A lady in a long skirt walked out just as Rosalind was getting ready to leave. The woman waved and came over to the car window. She introduced herself as Ketura Dunbar, the pastor’s wife. She and Rosalind talked for nearly an hour. “If nothing happens, I’ll be worshiping with you on Sunday,” Rosalind assured her as they said goodbye.
On Sunday morning, Rosalind hurriedly fixed breakfast. She got her son, Dwight Jr. (DJ) ready, and while seating herself at the breakfast table, informed her husband and Mama Tess, “I meant to tell you this, but I got invited to the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth, so I won’t be worshiping with you all today.”
Mama Tess raised her eyebrows. Dwight looked at her. “What do you mean you meant to tell me? You don’t forget stuff like that when going to church is a thing we do as a family,” he said.
“What’s wrong with me visiting another church by myself?” Rosalind asked dabbing DJ’s mouth with a napkin. “Besides, I promised Ketura I would be there. I can’t break my promise.”
“Who’s Ketura?” Dwight asked.
“Ketura Dunbar. She’s the wife of Robert Dunbar, the pastor. I met her last week and we got to talking,” Rosalind said. “You are welcome to accompany me.”
“Now, you know we can’t come with you on such short notice—especially me. I have obligations at Mt. Providence. I have to sing this morning,” Dwight said.
“Oh, right. For a minute, I forgot,” Rosalind said with mock seriousness avoiding eye contact with Mama Tess. She could feel her mother-in-law’s stare drilling into her.
“If you had let me know earlier in the week, we could have made arrangements to have someone replace me then we could have gone together. I can’t leave the people hanging like that,” Dwight said. “You do this all the time — going off and doing something without checking with me first.”
“I guess we’ll have to go to separate churches today then,” Rosalind said with feigned disappointment, “because, like you, I can’t leave Ketura hanging.”
Mama Tess cleared her throat.
While Dwight was ministering at the Baptist church, Rosalind was jumping up and down, her hands uplifted, shouting ‘Praise the Lord!’ and ‘Hallelujah!’ This is where I’ll be each Sunday from now on. You can best believe that! Rosalind thought as she fellowshipped with Ketura and a few others and exchanged telephone numbers and addresses. “I’ll be back,” she told them as she departed.
When she got home, Dwight and Mama Tess were in the kitchen putting a meal together. “We didn’t know how long you were going to be, so we fixed ourselves something to eat,” Dwight said dropping the dishcloth on the countertop. He picked up two plates, each having two ham sandwiches, a whole sweet pickle, and some potato salad, and marched past Rosalind. “Do your job, woman. Come on, Mama, get a load off your feet and enjoy your meal. I’m sure she’ll have something hot ready for you to eat later on.”
Rosalind smirked. She laid DJ down to sleep, then quickly made a ham sandwich, added a whole sweet pickle to her plate and walked into the living room to join her husband and her mother-in-law. They were watching a special music presentation on television.
“I tell you, Mama, that Lena Horne is something else. I’d love to sing with her,” Dwight said. “She’s my girl. I love her.”
Rosalind was still basking in the afterglow of her experience at Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth to let her husband’s comments get to her. “You should have come with me today,” she blurted out. “Y’all don’t know what you missed!”
“Be quiet, woman. I’m listening to my girl sing right now,” Dwight said.
Rosalind fell quiet.
Mama Tess finished her meal and finished watching the special in silence. “I’m going to get some rest,” she said quietly excusing herself.
As soon as Mama Tess left, Rosalind spoke. “Dwight, you should have come with me. I had a time. That preacher, Rev. Dr. Apostle Robert Dunbar, is a preaching machine. He called down the fire today. If you think Relick at St. Paul’s can preach, you haven’t heard nothing ‘till you hear Apostle Dunbar preach.”
Dwight did not say anything.
Rosalind did not let that dissuade her from saying what was on her mind. “Talk about being in the spirit. Oh, man! Apostle Dunbar preached over half his sermon in tongues. That’s what’s missing at Mt. Providence. Y’all don’t emphasize tongues enough.”
Dwight cast a glance at her.
Rosalind continued speaking. “You all shout and praise God when the singing is going on, but the whole atmosphere is different at the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth. The spirit was all over the place. You have to come with me next Sunday.”
“Thank you for letting me know a whole week in advance,” Dwight said sarcastically. “Who says you’re going next Sunday? We have commitments at Mt. Providence. I believe next Sunday, you’re supposed to teach Sunday School with Ms. Green, and you are supposed to be a part of the choir.”
“Listen, Dwight, my worship experience has not been the same since we left New York. I’ve tried to fit in at Mt. Providence, but like I said, something is missing. Today’s experience at Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth confirmed what I had been feeling all along. I belong to a church with more fire in it. And talk about praying with power! I thought Relick could pray, but he can’t touch Apostle Dunbar,” Rosalind said. “I’m sorry, Dwight, but I just have to go back.”
“And what if I don’t let you?”
Oh, you’ll let me. You always let me have my way even if you try to put up a fuss first, Rosalind thought. She smiled pleasantly. “I’m just asking you to give it a try. You’ll love it just as you did St. Paul’s Apostolic.”
“And what about your teaching at Mt. Providence next Sunday? I hope you don’t plan on leaving Ms. Green hanging.”
Rosalind laughed. “Of course not. I’m going to give her a call right now and let her know. She’ll have a whole week to find a replacement. The choir won’t miss me. Remember, I don’t sing with them every Sunday anyway.”
Mama Tess was in much thought as she lay on her bed in her room. I love Rosalind, but, Lord, I don’t like some things I’m seeing in her. Dwight’s a good man, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son. He wants to do right as a husband. I just hope he knows what he may be up against with a wife like that. And, Lord… I hope these negative vibes I’m getting about Rosalind are wrong.
Although the Civil Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, like many blacks, Rosalind found that having equal rights did not mean equal respect and fair treatment. Being four months pregnant with their second child, Rosalind made an emergency visit to the hospital one evening as she was feeling ill.
“Mama Tess, they had me waiting so long I thought I was going to be there until I completed my nine months and had the baby in my arms before the doctors tended to me,” Rosalind said to her mother-in-law when she finally made it home around 9:30 that night. “To make matters worse, the doctor acted like he did not want to take care of me. Just racist.”
Mama Tess looked out the window at a bird flying overhead. Dwight, Rosalind, young DJ, and Mama Tess were taking a Sunday evening ride out of town and into the country — one of Dwight’s favorite things to do with his family.
“Just because they signed a piece of paper does not mean people’s hearts are going to change overnight,” Mama Tess said quietly. “America has had these problems for years, and it’s going to take years to get rid of it—if it ever goes away.”
Rosalind glanced around in frustration as Dwight drove down the road tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the gospel music that was playing on the radio. She sighed for the fourth time as she thought of the things she would rather spend her Sunday evenings doing — such as window shopping. “This is such a waste of time, Dwight,” she muttered.
“You didn’t have to come. It might have been a more pleasant outing without you.” Dwight had waited at home for an hour until Rosalind returned from yet another visit to the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth.
“Just because you want to run off to another church does not mean we can’t still do things as a family on Sundays. Isn’t that right, Mama?” Dwight glanced back at his mother in the rear view mirror.
Rosalind sat in the passenger seat. DJ, now two years old, sat between them. She listened for the most part as her husband and her mother-in-law chatted about their plans for the upcoming week. Rosalind took note of the new model Ford Granadas and BMWs as they passed by. I am going to get me one of those new cars soon, she thought. I am tired of riding in this ol’ jalopy – what do you call it, Oldsmobile Cutlass? You got that right; It’s an old car that needs to be cut up and thrown away.
As they drove through an all-white neighborhood, Rosalind smiled to herself. I’m going to have us a house just as nice, if not nicer… and bigger, too. A man standing by his mailbox stared at them as they passed. He didn’t look too happy. “You better hurry and get us out of this neighborhood before you get these white folks all riled up,” Rosalind said to Dwight.
“You worry too much,” Dwight said turning off onto the main street that ran through the middle of town. “Those days are gone.”
Rosalind shook her head. “You’re too trusting of people. It’s a far different atmosphere up North than down here in the South. Blacks up North are freer and move around with more confidence. Blacks down here move more cautiously—almost like they’re afraid.”
“What are you talking about?” Dwight asked. “I got the same spirit I had in New York, and I deal with all people the same—be they black or white, up North or down South.”
“Stop the car right here and I’ll show you what I’m talking about,” Rosalind said. She hopped out of the car after her husband pulled over to the curb in front of a delicatessen with two water fountains on either side of the double doors. There was hardly anyone on the street. Rosalind pointed to the faded signs above both water fountains. One was dangling by a single nail and someone had tried to paint over the words written on both, but the faded print could still be seen if one looked close enough. She tried to yank one of them free, but without success.
Dwight shook his head. “That woman is crazy,” he muttered as three pedestrians—a young black couple and a middle-aged white gentleman—glanced askance at Rosalind and gave her a wide berth as they passed on the sidewalk.
“That is what I mean,” Rosalind said slamming the car door. She pointed to the signs. “Colored only; whites only. I am not going to subject this little boy,” — she pointed to DJ — “nor this one yet to be born,” — she patted her stomach — “or any other children we may have to that.” Rosalind pointed to the signs again. “Oh, no. The government likes to talk about equal rights; I’m going to make it so for my children. My children are going to have it far better than we did.”
Dwight just shook his head as he drove off.
Late that evening, Dwight kicked off his shoes and sat down on the bed in the master bedroom. His wife came out of the bathroom dressed in her nightgown. “Rosalind, do you know how embarrassing it is to be married and to turn up at church Sunday after Sunday without your spouse?” Dwight asked. “People start thinking that you’re having marital problems, that you’re separated, or that you’re about to get a divorce. Is that what you want people to start thinking about us?”
Rosalind frowned dismissively. “Is that what the folks at Mt. Providence Baptist Church are thinking about you? Cause I don’t worry about what folks are thinking about me. I am my own woman and I think for myself.”
“I see you’ve got a hold of some of that women’s liberation talk. The way I see it is that women are out fighting for their rights — and that’s all fine and dandy — but they’re doing it to the detriment of their families,” Dwight said. “That’s what your wanting to go off to another church is all about. You just want to be Miss Independent Butt.”
Rosalind said, “Well, if you start your own church, then you won’t have to worry about us not going to church together.”
Dwight sighed. “There’s just no talking sense into your head.”
One Sunday, Rev. Helton pulled Dwight aside after services and asked him: “What’s going on between you and your wife? Some of the ladies have been whispering about Rosalind’s absence. If you need counseling or something…”
“Thanks for your concern, Rev. Helton,” Dwight said with embarrassment. “It hasn’t gotten to that point. Rosalind is used to worshiping in a Pentecostal-Holiness church. That’s the tradition she was raised up in. In fact, when I was in New York, which is where we met, I worshiped at her church. It was a new experience for me, but she misses it and has determined to attend a church of that nature. She’s over at Church of the Living God — uh, you know — the one with the real long name across town. She won’t attend here with me anymore.”
Rev. Helton nodded. “I see,” he sighed. “You know your wife better than I do, so you have to lead your family in the direction you think God is leading you. But, in my opinion, a man and his wife ought to decide which church they are going to attend together. And the man should have the final say. That’s the problem in our community: women run everything.”
Dwight chuckled. “I’ve stated that in so many words to her, but she won’t listen,” he said.
“Do you think it would help any if my wife spoke with her?” Rev. Helton asked.
“She can try, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it will change her mind. Rosalind can be stubborn at times.”
“Well, I’ll definitely pray for both of you. I’d hate to see you leave us. You’ve been a blessing to us here at Mt. Providence. But whatever your decision, know that I’ll always be here if you need me,” Rev. Helton said.
On Monday evening, as Dwight was stepping out the front door to go to his janitorial job at the radio station, the phone rang. He retraced his steps to answer it.
“Hello, Sister Helton … Yes, she’s in. Hold for just a second.” Dwight called his wife and handed her the phone. He checked his watch and decided he could hang around for a few minutes and still not be late to work.
“Hello, Bertha. How are you?” Rosalind said. She listened as Rev. Helton’s wife stated the reason for her call.
“I never said anything to Rev. Helton about leaving Mt. Providence,” Rosalind responded glaring at her husband. “My visiting another church has nothing to do with my not following Dwight’s leadership. I’m just used to worshiping in a Pentecostal-type church. If my spiritual life is going to be what it ought to be, I have to have that kind of church experience. God wants us to grow in the faith as I am sure you already know, and I’m afraid Mt. Providence is not quite what I need to grow at this time.”
Dwight smiled. Rosalind turned her back to him.
“Bertha, Dwight is free to make his own decision and to lead the family in the way he sees fit,” Rosalind said.
The question is: are you going to let me lead without resisting everything I try to do? Dwight thought.
“I’ll pray about it some more. Thanks for calling,” Rosalind said. She dropped the phone back on the receiver causing it to rattle. Glaring at her husband, she said, “Don’t you have a job to go to?”
Dwight walked out the door.
“Lord, please don’t let her take this the wrong way,” Mama Tess prayed as she joined Rosalind in the living room.
“Rosalind, do you have a minute?”
“Sure, Mama Tess. What’s on your mind?”
“Rosalind, I love you; you do know that, don’t you?”
Rosalind slowly nodded.
Mama Tess continued, “Don’t you think you’re causing unnecessary discord with Dwight? What’s wrong with you all just going to Mt. Providence as a family? The pastor is preaching the Word — that’s all that matters.”
Rosalind smiled. “Did Dwight ask you to talk with me, because — ?”
Mama Tess waved her hand. “No, he didn’t. He doesn’t even know I’m talking with you, so spare him your words when he comes home.”
“Okay,” Rosalind said. “I’ll be frank with you. I’m not getting that spiritual lift that I’m used to getting whenever I go to church. I come away from Mt. Providence feeling drier than when I go in. I feel I am wasting my time going because I don’t get anything out of it. I know that’s your church, but Mt. Providence is boring me to tears.”
“Boring?” Mama Tess asked.
“No offense, Mama Tess, but Rev. Helton does not know how to speak in tongues. You can’t have church unless you speak in tongues.”
Mama Tess chuckled. “I’ve never spoken in tongues in all my born days, and I have been in the church all my life.”
“The Bible says speaking in tongues is a way of edifying believers,” Rosalind said.
“And I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover, and nowhere does it say Jesus spoke in tongues. He’s my example,” Mama Tess said. “But Rev. Helton does preach the Word and that is all that matters.”
“We preach the Word at the Pentecostal-Holiness church also; we just do it with more zeal. We call down fire,” Rosalind said getting animated. “You should visit with us some time, Mama Tess. You just don’t know what you are missing. If you want to hear some heart-felt ‘Amens’ and ‘Hallelujahs’ you visit Church of the Living God.”
“I hear you,” Mama Tess said. “On a serious note, what are you going to do if Dwight puts his foot down and tells you he won’t allow you to attend that church anymore? Before you answer, remember the Bible says a wife is to submit to and obey her husband, especially if he’s not telling her to do anything wrong.”
Rosalind rolled her eyes. “Mama Tess, I know what the Bible says. But these aren’t Bible days. More women are doing what they want for a change instead of getting tied down at home barefoot and pregnant.”
“Rosalind, you’ve got it all twisted,” Mama Tess said. “Women’s liberation is great as far as us not being bound by old-fashioned social ideas — such as not having a say in our government and not having the opportunity to work outside of the home. But God’s laws don’t change just because society changes. You can’t go around God’s laws and be blessed. It just will not work.”
After a rather busy week at the hardware store — doing janitorial work, helping one family build their home, helping another couple with home repairs — fulfilling his duties at the church, and meeting the obligations of his daily radio broadcast, Dwight relaxed in his easy chair late Saturday night as he listened to Evangelist Billy Graham, his favorite radio preacher. Listening to him on Saturday nights and late Wednesday nights was one of his favorite ways to unwind.
I’d do anything to go to one of his meetings, Dwight thought as he munched on his Lorna Doone cookies. “Have you heard anything about him coming to Georgia to hold one of his evangelistic meetings?” he asked his wife who was preparing to lay DJ down for the night.
“No. I haven’t heard anything, but one thing I’ve heard is that he draws large crowds wherever he preaches,” she replied. “That’s the kind of crowd I envision us having each Sunday when we begin the Love and Peace Apostolic Center.”
“Love and Peace Apostolic Center? What in the world are you talking about?” Dwight asked.
“I am talking about the calling on your life. The pastoral line that was passed down to you. I haven’t forgotten what your mother shared with us. It’s time for you to begin moving forward on that.”
“You mention ‘us’ and ‘we’,” Dwight said. “As far back as I can remember, the one who wore the pants was the one who stepped in the pulpit.”
Rosalind laughed. “Times are changing. Doors once closed to women are now opening up big time. And I love it.”
“Maybe in other areas, but not in the pulpit. My Bible still says let the women keep silent in the church.”
“I don’t even want to go down that road, so let me go lay DJ down,” Rosalind said.
“I don’t want to go down that road either, so you do that,” Dwight said. “You might want to go ahead on to bed yourself. Remember tomorrow’s first Sunday—a big day for Mt. Providence Baptist Church.”
“Oh, Dwight, I forgot to tell you. I won’t be coming to Mt. Providence Baptist Church tomorrow; it’s a big Sunday for the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth as well. They will be having a special extended service with food on the grounds between services. We’ll be having a guest speaker and will be combining our choir with the Greater Bethel Apostolic Church choir as they join us for worship. It’s going to be an exciting day. Why don’t you come with me?”
“We’ve already been through this and I don’t want to get into it again with you. Just go on to bed and let me listen to Billy in peace,” Dwight said turning his attention back to the radio.
“I could put in a good word for you and you could bless us with your musical voice. It’s not too late to get you in on the program, especially when I tell them you are the Song Bird they’ve been hearing over the radio,” Rosalind said as she left the room.
“I tell you the truth,” Dwight muttered. “You’re out of your mind, woman.”
“Dwight. Dwight, time to get up,” Rosalind said shaking him. “Billy Graham must have preached up a storm. You fell asleep in the easy chair. I’m going to be leaving in a few minutes. I promised Ketura that I would help her and the other ladies get things ready. The invitation’s still open to you and Mama Tess to join us.”
“I need to get ready myself and get my voice tuned up,” Dwight said pushing himself up out of his chair.
“I’m going to finish breakfast and box up the baked chicken I promised to bring. Don’t be surprised if I’m gone by the time you get out of the shower.”
“Now I know she could have waited until I got out of the shower,” Dwight said to his mother as they sat down to a breakfast of buttered grits and fried fish. “At least she fixed us something before she left.”
“You know, Dwight, it’s none of my business and I try not to interfere, but Rosalind is going through a stage that many of our black women, and some black men too, are going through now,” Mama Tess said. “We have been denied certain privileges for so long that as soon as the doors of opportunity opened up to us we marched through those doors with a strong determination to get ‘what should have been ours.’ And it’s not just in the working world or in the social world, but I’m afraid that mentality has seeped into the church as well. It’s only a matter of time before women begin seeking pastoral positions in the churches. You watch and see.”
“Do you really believe that?” Dwight asked.
“With all my heart,” his mother said. “It may not happen before I die; but it’s coming.”
Dwight and Mama Tess enjoyed the up-lifting service at Mt. Providence Baptist Church. Dwight almost brought the house down with his singing when he sang ‘I Hear Music in the Air’. Even though God used him greatly to minister to the people, he was disturbed in spirit. After fellowshipping for a short while with some of the congregants, he excused himself.
“Mama Tess, I’m going to stop by the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth and see what’s going on over there. You’re welcome to come with me; if not, I’ll get Sister Beatrice to take you home when you get ready. You have your key to the house, right?”
“I do. You go on ahead. It would be nice of you to surprise Rosalind with a visit,” his mother said.
When Dwight got to the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth he had to park nearly half a block up the street as the church’s parking lot was full. They must really have it going on in there, he thought as he walked up the walkway leading to the front door. He was met with hearty singing as the combined choirs closed the first services out with one of their uplifting songs.
Dwight slipped in and stood at the end of the back pew scanning the auditorium for his wife’s wide-brimmed lavender hat with feathers. He hurried after her as she was making her way through the auditorium with three other ladies greeting anyone who crossed her path. Apostle Dunbar had already made his way to the back of the church to greet the people as they filed out.
Catching up with his wife, he held on firmly to her arm. Rosalind turned around. “Surprised to see you here,” she said with a smile. “I didn’t think you would come.”
“I thought I would stop by and see what’s going on over here,” Dwight said looking around. “Seems like you all are doing quite well. There’s an excitement in the air.”
“That’s because the Lord is with us. By the way, you just missed some dynamic preaching. Oh, man! Rev. Dr. Jerome Bennett is a dynamic preacher. He’s going to be preaching the other service as well. Come let me introduce you to Apostle Dunbar, his wife and the others.”
“Apostle Dunbar,” Rosalind said approaching him. “I don’t know whether or not you have ever heard of Dwight Jacobs Sr.—the great Gospel radio singer?”
“I believe I have,” Apostle Dunbar said. “Is he here?”
“Yes, here he is, and he happens to be my husband,” Rosalind said proudly.
“He’s your husband! Why didn’t you say so earlier. We could have placed him on the program. It’s so good to finally meet you,” Apostle Dunbar said shaking Dwight’s hand. “God bless you!”
“He’s ready to minister to us,” Rosalind said.
“Brother Dwight, you are on the roster for this evening’s celebration service,” Apostle Dunbar said. “I hope that’s enough notice.”
“Yes, Apostle Dunbar. I’m always ready to minister to the saints,” Dwight said.
“Mama Tess, I was so blessed. I tell you, no matter what denomination we are we can fellowship because it’s all because of Jesus,” Dwight shared with his mother when he and Rosalind returned home. “There is nothing like a group of believers coming together to fellowship around the preached Word. I tell you: it does not matter what denomination you are—Jesus is Lord.”
“So does this mean you’re going to begin coming to the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth with me?” Rosalind said. “You fit right in.”
“I make no commitment,” Dwight said. “I’m no stranger to anybody; I fit in anywhere I am.”
“Mama Tess, you should have been there. While Rev. Dr. Jerome Bennett, the visiting preacher, was preaching, I actually had a vision of Dwight in the pulpit ministering to thousands not just through song, but through the preaching of God’s Word. I told Dwight I believe God was showing me something.”
“Tell her what you told me,” Dwight said.
“The Lord wants you to launch out and go full-time for Him. I mean, what’s the hold up?”
“You have to count the cost: time, finances, building, people—the whole nine yards. What did Jesus say? What man sets about to build a house and does not consider the cost. You can’t just jump into it. Besides, I have to make sure God is calling me and not you calling me,” Dwight said. “I don’t want to be a mama-called preacher or a wife-called preacher, I want to be a God-called preacher.”
“God is calling you. That vision was not in vain,” Rosalind insisted. “You have to learn to move forward by faith. And if money is a problem, I’ll go get a job.”
“I don’t think you need to,” Dwight said. “You already have a job taking care of little DJ and we have another baby on the way. You’ll be busy enough working in the house. I do not want you out there working.”
“It would help us not to live a hand to mouth existence,” Rosalind muttered.
“We’re living within our means. We have food, clothing, and shelter with a little to splurge now and then.”
“Mama Tess, he’s your son; you talk to him,” Rosalind said.
“There’s no rush. You all have been here almost two years now,” Mama Tess said. “Give him some more time to pray about it.”
Rosalind sighed. All I know is, I won’t be wasting all my young years staying home when I could be making money to give my children what I did not have, and what is rightfully theirs. I’m going to work for my own money and spend it when and where I please.
Dwight, Rosalind, and Mama Tess were relaxing in the living room later that week. DJ was sitting in his father’s lap. They were listening to the news.
“Almost time to begin cutting the heater on,” Mama Tess said pulling her comforter closer to her body and tucking it around her legs. “It seems like we’re in for an early winter this year. My old bones can barely take the slightest chill.”
“I’ll fix you some hot mint tea,” Rosalind said.
“Baby, while you’re up, could you please adjust those old rabbit ears for me? Turn it a little to the left. Pull the right ear up all the way. Go slow now,” Dwight said.
“I can’t spend all my television watching time adjusting the antenna, especially now,” Rosalind said rubbing her enlarged stomach. “The baby’s protesting, and my feet are killing me.”
“You’ve been home all day so don’t give me that ‘my feet are killing me’ mess,” Dwight said. “You should have been resting. You know you’re due to give birth any day now.”
“When you get this far along, it seems the more you rest, the more rest you need,” Rosalind said. She tugged hard on the rabbit ears.
“Well, you can just tell that little one in your stomach to calm down because I call the shots in here,” Dwight said. “That’s it. You got it. Let it go. Perfect picture. Thank you, baby.”
Rosalind rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
Dwight turned his full attention to the television where an old broadcast of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech was playing. Rosalind quickly returned with a cup of tea for Mama Tess and two Cokes for her and Dwight. She sat back down on the couch. They listened as Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“Amen,” Dwight said.
“That’s my dream for our children,” Rosalind said. “I remember I used to sit outside and watch my mother wash tub after tub of clothes for other people trying to make ends meet. Then she would iron them and deliver them. In fact, we were living in Alabama at the time. I was about six years old. It was just before we moved up to New York. She did some washing in New York, but it was different. Anyway, one day I was watching her, and Mother said, ‘Rosy, you pay close attention to what I’m doing because you may have to do this one day to provide for yourself and your family.’ I thought to myself, ‘Oh, no I won’t. I’m going to do better for myself.’ So, MLK, I have a dream for my children as well, and that is for them to rise up in society and be treated equally as their white counterparts, and not succumb to society’s injustices.”
Dwight nodded at his wife. You’re one tough woman, he thought.
Just the thought of giving her children all she could only dream of having as a child gave Rosalind the motivation to go out and get a job so she could have the finances to give them what she never had.
The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months and the months into years. Dwight, as he told his mother, “expanded his coast” by worshiping at Mt. Providence Baptist every first and third Sundays, and visiting the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth Church on second and fourth Sundays. “I just want to be a blessing to as many people as I can before I pass off the scene,” he said even though deep down he knew he was “expanding his coast” as an attempt to appease his wife. It did not take long for him to settle into that routine. In addition, he accepted the increasing number of invitations from various churches in the South and along the eastern seaboard all the way up to New York where he originally started to minister to folks through song.
The Lord blessed Rosalind to give birth to three more children over a four year span: Rachel Beatrice, Kennedy Ryan, and Jessica Katylee. Although home with her four children and helping out in the church, a spirit of restlessness stayed with Rosalind constantly. She desired more out of life, but was not exactly sure what it was she desired.
About a month after the birth of their fourth child, Dwight was invited to minister to the brothers and sisters at New Hope Holiness Church in Fairhope, Alabama.
“Did you say New Hope Holiness Church?” Mother Randall asked when Rosalind called her mother to tell her about that meeting.
“It’s New Hope off Lennox and 12th Street.,” Rosalind said. “There’s a park, more like a playground, right across from it.”
“That’s the one!” Mother said. “I don’t remember there being a playground across from it, though. Rosa, that’s the family church. You don’t remember it? Well, you may not remember it. You were six years old when we left. I visited it about four times since I moved up to New York. I thought I took you children back with me a couple times when I went to visit the family. I can’t believe they’re still going on,” Mother said.
“The pastor, Rev. Dr. Apostle Alfred Morton, put two and two together and figured out I was your daughter. I vaguely remember him. I remember his daughter and I used to go to school together. We were best friends. Dimples. We used to call her Dimples because she had a fat dimple on either side of her cheeks,” Rosalind said. “Dimples is married now with eight children. She said every year after she got married she got pregnant until finally she decided to put a stop to it.”
Mother laughed. “Yes, I remember Dimples.”
“Apostle Morton had nothing to say but good things about you,”Rosalind said. “He was pleased to know that you are still using your gift of singing to be a blessing to the people there at St. Paul’s.”
“Yes. I remember them. I can’t believe Apostle Morton is still alive and still overseeing the church. I haven’t had contact with them for several years now. I thought he had passed away,” Mother said.
“He’s still alive, but his wife passed away over a year now. He lives with Dimples and her family in a big house; they have the second biggest house on their street,” Rosalind said.
“You know, Rosa, I’ve been seriously thinking of moving back home to Alabama. New York has been good to me, but I’m up in this big house all by myself. After you and Dwight left I rented out two of the rooms, but I stopped that two years back as the last people I rented it to, I had to tell them to leave because they weren’t acting right. They wanted to party and play loud music all night long. I had to put a stop to that. Plus, I haven’t seen my second and third and now my fourth grand-babies. The Lord has shown me that I’m not getting any younger so I need to start preparing for my old age. I said, ‘Lord, where do you want me to spend my last days?’ He told me just as clearly as I’m talking to you to go back to Fairhope and be a blessing to those at New Hope before the Lord calls me home.”
“Mother, don’t talk like that,” Rosalind said. “You have many more years ahead of you.”
“Well, when your own children who you give birth to stop visiting and looking out for you and they live around the corner, you know you’re getting old and senile, and they don’t want to be bothered with you.”
“What are you talking about?” Rosalind said.
“Eli and Eunice are not acting right. I’ve been having nothing but trouble out of them both for some years now. You know how sorry they both are. I feel so lonely and lost in this big house since you and Dwight left. I miss my grand-babies. I haven’t even held my last three grand-babies–”
“Mother!” Rosalind called out. “You’re rambling again. Stop rambling. Please. What are you trying to say?”
“I’m getting on up in age; I can’t do like I used to. Eli and Eunice have not been by to see me in a long while. Plus my nerves is acting up. I could always depend on you. It was a pleasure living with you, and –”
“Mother, are you trying to ask can you come live with us?”
“Well, … it would be nice. Then I won’t have to worry so much about getting sick and no one to take me to the doctor with you being so far away, and Eli and Eunice –”
“I thought the Lord told you to go back to Alabama,” Rosalind said.
“Yes, He did. But I wanted to stop by and spend some time with you and Dwight and my grand-babies. At least I know you care about me, and–”
“Mother, I’m sure you can come live with us. I’m sure Dwight’s brother won’t mind driving you down here. He stops by every other month to check up on Mama Tess.”
“Now that’s a good son. If I could get Eli to do that then I wouldn’t have to bother you. Thank you so much, Rosa. I don’t know if I should plan on bringing all my furniture, or just buy some more. What do you think, Rosa?”
“Mother, it’s Rosalind. Please do not call me Rosa. That’s my little girl’s name. Don’t worry about the furniture. Is there anything else you want, Mother?”
“Okay, Rosalind. Are you sure I can come stay with you all? I don’t want to impose. Don’t you have to ask Dwight? You know I don’t want anything to come between you and him and me, and –”
“Goodbye, Mother. I’ll call you later.”
“What?” Dwight said after his wife told him about the conversation she had with her mother. “I have no problems with her coming to live with us. She allowed us to stay with her when we just got married and that was a great help to us. My problem is I told you not to make any big decisions without my input.”
“She’s my mother. I couldn’t just turn my back on her,” Rosalind said. “The way she was talking, I had to give her an answer right then lest she had a nervous breakdown. I believe Alzheimer’s is setting in. I don’t even believe she knows what she is saying half the time.”
“It’s not a matter of turning your back on her. It’s a matter of respecting me as your husband. Now, would there have been anything wrong with you telling her you needed to check with me? And remember, this is not our house, yet. This is still Mama Tess’s house, and even though she’s given us free access to everything we still have to show her some respect and not abuse our stay here.”
“That’s what I was trying to tell you the other day and a few other times before then. It would be nice to have our own place,” Rosalind said quietly. “Then we would not be having this conversation.”
“Well, right now we don’t. And it will be a while before we get our own place because I need to be with Mama Tess. She does not have much strength in her body. I really don’t think she has many more years before her.”
“Mother does not have much strength in her body, either,” Rosalind said.
“Come to think of it, they would be good company for each other,” Dwight said. “They both can enjoy their grandchildren together. Where will we put her? All three bedrooms are being used right now. In all my years, I have never seen Mama Tess turn anyone away, but what if she says, no, this time; after all she is getting on up in years; she may not want too many people around her all the time. Then what are you going to do then?”
Rosalind sighed. “I’m sure Mama Tess will accommodate her. She’s a kind-hearted person and would give you the very shirt off her back. I’ll go ask her now. Anyway, Mother staying with us is a temporary situation. She did mention going back to Alabama to live with family. Sounds like that is going to be a permanent situation.”
Stopping in the doorway on her way to Mama Tess’s room, Rosalind said, “You know we could add on another room or two; we have the yard space to do so. That room could be our guest room. Your brother sleeps on the sofa whenever he comes to visit. I’ll ask Mama Tess about that, too.”
“Lest you have forgotten, New York’s not just a skip, hop, and jump away,” Dwight said. “Just to go pick her up will take some planning, and I’m sure she plans on bringing down some, if not all, her furniture.”
“Don’t you think I know that. Your brother can drive her down on one of his trips to visit. We can bring her things down little by little. We have roughly three weeks before your brother visits again. I’m sure Mother would want to come down with him then and stay with us for however long. That should be enough time to get her room added on, and if it’s not ready, knowing how slow you move to get things done, she can use the children’s room. They’re still small enough to sleep in here with us. We’ll just get an extra bed. DJ can sleep on the couch or we can make him a pallet on the floor in the living room.”
“We’re probably going to have to go with her to Alabama to get her housing secured; but I’ll be talking with her more on that. Well, let me go talk with Mama Tess,” Rosalind said walking off.
“I tell you the truth,” Dwight muttered. “You’re always doing things without consulting me first. One day, your mouth is going to get your behind in trouble.”
For a little respite and a break from her children, Rosalind spent a few hours on Saturdays and on Tuesday evenings in church work with the ladies of Pillar of Truth Church.
“It seems like Pillar of Truth has a weak women’s ministry,” she shared with her husband upon returning home one Tuesday evening. “All they do is sing in the choir, cleanup the church, fix food when they have dinner on the grounds. They don’t usher; they don’t voice anything during the church services; Sister Dunbar does not even have a word from the Lord for us on Sunday mornings.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Dwight asked.
“Women hear from the Lord, too,” Rosalind said. “The Lord told Deborah to take over and lead because Barak was scared.”
“Apostle Dunbar does not seem scared to lead,” Dwight said.
“I believe it was Phillip who had four daughters who were prophetesses,” Rosalind continued.
“They were prophetesses, and they did not preach in a church,” Dwight said.
“And, Anna, I believe ministered in the temple–”
“Through prayers and fastings,” Dwight said. “It says nothing about her preaching in the temple.”
“You keep using the word ‘preaching’; I didn’t say anything about preaching.”
“But that’s what you are implying,” Dwight said as his mother’s words came to his mind: It’s only a matter of time before women begin seeking pastoral positions in the churches. You watch and see.
“All I’m saying is, Sister Keturah Dunbar should be able to share an encouraging word with us ladies from the pulpit. That’s all I’m saying,” Rosalind said. “Women hear from the Lord, too. We’ve remained silent for too long inside and outside the church. I believe it’s time for us to speak up.”
“If I recall accurately, Paul told Timothy that women, including Sister Dunbar and Rosalind Jacobs, ought not to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be silent in the church,” Dwight said.
“I never said anything about Sister Dunbar usurping authority over Apostle Dunbar. All I’m saying is, we women have unique needs, and nobody understands a woman like a woman—not even a male pastor. Even Solomon said a man cannot understand a woman.”
“Where is that in the Bible? I cannot recall reading that in my Bible? Solomon did say one cannot understand the ways of a man with his maid. Are you trying to use your psychological magic on me under the pretense of Bible teaching?” Dwight asked.
“So exactly what are you getting at?” Dwight asked.
“They need a stronger women’s ministry and one that ministers from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Sister Dunbar may not be the one because she’s kind of feeble; she does not have that aggressive go-get-’em personality. She lacks charisma. She does not project her voice. One of the other women should head that ministry,” Rosalind said.
“I wonder who that other woman could be?” Dwight asked. Not receiving an answer, he continued speaking. “Now don’t you go stirring up the peace at Pillar of Truth. Everyone is happy with the way things are going. Apostle Dunbar is doing a great job and his wife is just as sweet as can be.”
As if I would, Rosalind thought. Not able, or rather, refusing to make it a passing thought, Rosalind planted that seed in Keturah Dunbar’s mind.
“I just believe women ought to have more voice from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. I don’t see anything wrong with that being that many women come out only on Sunday mornings. Do you see anything wrong with that?” Rosalind said to Keturah after their next meeting together. “There’s no need for the men to dominate the pulpit. We’re supposed to be working together to do God’s work here on earth.”
Keturah listened patiently as Rosalind continued talking.
“Women were treated as lower class humans back in Jesus’ days, and I believe He came to do away with that. He had a bunch of women following Him and working with Him when He was on earth. In fact, it was a woman who told the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection. That just says that Jesus wants women actively involved in His work. The men ran away when the soldiers arrested Jesus, tried Him, and crucified Him; but the women stayed with Him to the end.”
“So are you asking me to preach?” Keturah asked pointing her thumb at her chest.
“To the women. I know the men are going to be sitting in there as well, but you can make it clear that you are only speaking to the women. I’ll be more than happy to help you if you want me to. As I said, you’ll be ministering to many women who, for whatever reasons, can only make it out to Sunday services.”
“I believe you have a point there,” Keturah said after thinking on Rosalind’s words. “I’ll see if that will go over with my husband. He’s running the church the way he thinks God is leading him, and I do not want to stand in the way.”
“Alright,” Rosalind said giving her a hug. “I’ll pray for God to touch his heart and to help him to see where we are coming from. You let me know what he says, alright?”
Rosalind talked with Tammi for a long time after the other ladies had left for home. Tammi was a member of the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth.
“I tell you what, Tammi, I was thinking about you and how you would be a great person to head the women’s ministry. Maybe give Ketura about a one year break. I listen in awe as you speak. You know your Bible. And on top of that, you have a bold, cool, no nonsense way about you when you talk. You don’t break a sweat.”
“I don’t know about all that now,” Tammi said laughing. “I’ve been studying the Bible since I was a little girl. That’s one thing my parents insisted on. Did Ketura say anything about taking a break?”
“In a roundabout way; but you can look at her and tell she needs a break,” Rosalind said. “I know I haven’t been worshiping here as long as you have, but lately it seems to me that she’s been looking very tired. I want to say, haggard, but I don’t want to be too harsh with my words. On top of that, she seems so frail; I know we all want to keep her around for a long time.”
“Well, she’s always been on the small side. She’s just not as energetic as you and me,” Tammi said. “I often wonder how she manages to stay so small what with the many dinners we’ve had on the grounds.”
Rosalind smiled. “I’ve noticed how much her hands shake while she’s turning to a Bible passage; and even her voice trembles a little as she explains something to us from the Bible. She seems unsure of herself at times. Some people get that way when they need to take a break,” Rosalind said. “Of course I haven’t mentioned this to anyone lest my eyes and my ears are playing tricks on me.”
“She’s shy. Always has been shy. She gets a little nervous starting out, but she gets over it once she’s into the message. She has a good heart, though. But like you said, maybe she does need a break,” Tammi said. “I’ve been attending Pillar of Truth for about four years now, and I can’t recall her taking a break.”
“This leads me to something that’s been on my mind,” Rosalind said. “How do you feel about Ketura giving us a word from the Lord from the pulpit on Sunday mornings—just to be an encouragement to us and to the many ladies who can only come out on Sundays. If she’s too shy, I thought about you doing it. I would do it, but, you know, I still consider myself a newcomer. Anyway, just pray about it. Share it with the other ladies and tell me what they think. Okay? Now don’t mention this to Ketura, yet. If everyone is with us on this, we’ll bring it to Ketura’s attention as a surprise gift—a kind of sabbatical for her so she can rejuvenate and be strengthened.”
Before the week was over, Rosalind had a buzz going among the ladies at Pillar of Truth. By the time her original proposition got around, it was all twisted. By the time of Tuesday’s meeting, a spirit of discontentment had settled in the hearts of some of the ladies. Rosalind remained quiet as they voiced their thoughts.
“Ketura, we want you as the pastor’s wife to minister to us from the pulpit on Sunday mornings,” Tammi said.
“I bet you Apostle Dunbar would be all for it,” Molly said.
“I don’t know about that,” Ketura said. “You’ve all heard him say from the pulpit that this is a male-run church; you’ve also heard him say a couple of times to us women to hang in there as he has great plans for us.”
“I know he would let us do it if enough of us were to bring it to his attention,” Coralee said. “You’ve never asked him so you would not know. Plus, you’re his wife, so why would he not want you to share the pulpit with him?”
“It’s not like you’re going to take over the pulpit. We know our place,” Tammi said exchanging a glance with Rosalind who encouraged her on with a smile.
“He’ll see the need once you mention the many wives, mothers, and single women sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings, who can’t make it out to the church throughout the week. They don’t always want to hear from a male,” Coralee said, “especially if they have been at odds with their husbands. They want another lady to encourage them from the Word.”
“You got that right,” Marybeth said. “Don’t you get encouraged when you fellowship and share womanly things with us here? It’s a different kind of encouragement that even your husband cannot give you.”
“It’s just not the same coming from a man,” Coralee said as some of the women nodded in agreement.
“I don’t know about all this that you all are talking about,” Millicent said. “Why can’t we keep things as they are. I kinda like it that way.”
“Me, too,” Genevieve said. “We’ll be too rushed on Sunday mornings. Plus, if I have a question I can’t just wave my hand and ask my question.”
“You can ask all the questions you have when we meet during the week,” Coralee said.
“And,” Tammi said, “we’re more rushed on Tuesday evenings. Most of us rush in from work barely able to cook a proper meal, let alone eat it, before taking off to come here; then we have to hurry back home to tend to our children and husbands and other family members.”
By the time the meeting adjourned, the group was split seventy-five percent to twenty-five percent in favor of Ketura or any other lady giving them a word from the Lord from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Rosalind went home pleased.
Ketura Dunbar drove home in deep thought after the meeting. Maybe they are right. Maybe they do need to hear from me as the pastor’s wife or some other female on Sunday mornings. It shouldn’t take much. I don’t know if Robert’s going to go for that. He’s kind of old-fashioned.
“Robert, I’m home,” Ketura said as she entered the front door of their house.
“Hey, Ket. How’d everything go?” her husband asked.
“Are you sure there was no problem? You sound kind of hesitant.”
“Robert, you ask me that after every meeting. Why would there be a problem?” Ketura asked.
“You know how it can be sometimes when a group of women get together,” her husband said, “especially when they lose focus on why they are meeting.”
“One thing did come up,” Ketura said. “There was a unanimous vote for me to say a word from the Lord from the pulpit to the women on Sunday mornings.”
“Oh, really? And what was your response?”
“I just listened to what they had to say. They spoke as if I was not even in the room.”
“Did they want this word from the Lord for women before or after the worship hour?”
“During,” Ketura said.
“How much word did they want you to say?” her husband asked. “And who brought this up? Because I know it wasn’t you.”
“They just want me to give an encouraging word from the Lord to the women being that many who come on Sunday mornings cannot make it out on Tuesdays when we have our regular meetings or on Wednesdays for prayer.”
“Who brought this to your attention?”
“Rosalind first asked me. I guess she mentioned it to a few others. That was the main thing we discussed tonight,” Ketura said.
“I should have known,” Robert said. “Are you going to go along with the majority?”
“Well, to be honest with you, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I probably won’t be the one to give the word though; you know how nervous I get when I stand before a crowd,” Ketura said. “Rosalind did say she was more than willing to speak to the ladies.”
“I see. Did anyone else offer to step into that position?” her husband asked.
“Rosalind kind of suggested Tammi. She’s very articulate. Has good brain to mouth connection. Tammi never said she would take that position, though; then again, she never said she wouldn’t take it either,” Ketura said.
“I see,” her husband said.
“It seems to me they may have already been discussing it among themselves. I may be wrong so don’t hold me to that,” Ketura said. “Anyway, I think you should give us about five minutes each Sunday, not counting when we read the announcements and welcome the visitors.”
“You can have seven minutes if you’re the one giving the Word to the women because I know you’ll do exactly as I tell you. But as you indicated, you are not ready for anything like that. And as I shared with you, I have plans for a great women’s ministry starting at the beginning of next year,” Robert said. “As I think about it, I don’t know where we have gotten the notion that the pastor’s wife must be the one to speak to the women, the pastor’s wife must head the women’s ministry, or sing the special song, or read the announcements and welcome the visitors. I just want you to be my wife and that is all I want you to be.”
“I’m satisfied being just that,” Ketura said.
“I never told you this, but I have being wondering why Rosalind comes to our church every Sunday and has been coming here for some months now, but her husband only comes on second and fourth Sundays. I’ve asked myself: What’s up with that? Especially since he does not have a Sunday job. I did my own investigation and I talked with Pastor Helton at Mt. Providence Baptist where Dwight attends church the other two Sundays. Pastor Helton says Dwight is a good man, but his wife is the domineering type. He lets her have the last word. Because she refuses to go to church at Mt. Providence with her husband, it seems he has compromised and now he is split between two churches. It’s only a matter of time before he leaves Mt. Providence altogether. You watch and see.”
“I didn’t know all that,” Ketura said.
“A lot of things you don’t know. Remember she said she used to go to St. Paul Apostolic Church up in New York with Apostle Relick. We worshipped there a couple times a few years back when we’d go up to New York. Remember I told you that what turned me off from attending that church whenever we go up to New York was the women taking up much of the worship time talking, sometimes about nothing—getting all emotional and bordering on confusion. I cannot have all that confusion and playing on people’s emotions in my church. We are strictly a Word church and as long as I am overseer, we will remain a Word church.”
“I wondered why the name St. Paul Apostolic sounded so familiar,” Ketura said.
“Another thing that she’s been doing is this—and don’t you mention a word of this to anyone—and that is, the two Sundays her husband doesn’t come, she pays one of the teenagers to keep her children in another room during the services. She does that on Wednesdays also.”
“Oh, my soul!” Ketura said.
“I know because one Sunday I asked Tay-Lyn, why she had Rosalind’s children while services were going on and she told me. I left the matter alone, at least for right now. And that’s only because Tay-Lyn says Rosalind pays her a little money which is a help to her grandmother. Her grandmother is barely making ends meet having to take care of all her grandchildren. I am thinking of confronting Rosalind about it, though.”
“I’ve never really paid any attention to what she does,” Ketura said. “I’ve only noticed she has her children along with her husband when I do see them. I just don’t think about it when I see her by herself.”
“Well you’d better think about it and pay closer attention to what’s going on with the people of the church—especially the women,” her husband said.
After Wednesday Prayer meeting, a group of ladies—Rosalind, Tammi, Coralee, Molly, and a few others—corralled Ketura as she was hurrying out of the auditorium.
Oh, brother! I was trying to do the disappearing act, Ketura thought.
“So did you talk with your husband yet?” Coralee asked. “We’ve decided Rosalind and or Tammi would be the best; we agree with Rosalind: you do need a vacation.”
“What are you all talking about?” Ketura said.
“Rosalind, I thought you said you told her,” Coralee said glancing at Rosalind who smiled and raised her eyebrows but remained silent. “Anyway, we agree with Rosalind: you need a vacation; we’ll hold the fort down while you take a break.”
“We’re not talking vacation like going on a trip for any length of time or anything like that,” Tammi said. “We’re talking more like a sabbatical from church duties. Rosalind and myself can split the Tuesday meetings and the Sunday Word from the Lord for Women—that’s what we decided to call it. Rosalind will be the main speaker.”
“I got you,” Ketura said thoughtfully.
“So what do you say to that?” Molly asked.
“I don’t think I need a vacation, but–”
“Sure you do,” Tammi said after Rosalind gently nudged her in the side. “You’re tired and you don’t even realize it. You’ve been losing weight and you have been looking a little tired lately. Sometimes the body can be tired but the mind defiantly says, ‘Keep going. Keep going. You’ve got more to do.’ Before you know it, you fall out too tired to move.”
“So we want to prevent that from happening,” Molly said.
“That’s so thoughtful of you all,” Ketura said. “Let me go say, ‘hello’ to Genevieve before she leaves. If you all will excuse me.” Ketura slipped over to Genevieve ignoring their stares.
“I think Apostle Dunbar should hear this directly from us,” Rosalind whispered. “Ketura is not going to do anything about this.”
“Let’s go talk with him now,” Coralee said. “I think he just went back to his office.”
Coralee and the group marched out the auditorium through the side door towards Apostle Dunbar’s office.
“Come on in,” Apostle Dunbar said after hearing the knock on his office door. Just as I expected. “How can I help you ladies?” he asked.
“Apostle Dunbar, we have something we would like to talk with you about,” Coralee said standing sure-footed before his desk. Tammi and Molly stood on either side of her. Behind them stood Rosalind, Marybeth, and a few others. “We’ve already spoken with your wife about it.”
After stating their purpose for stopping by his office, Tammi said, “Rosalind says at St. Paul Apostolic Church up in New York where she used to worship the pastor lets his wife or any of the women say a word or two during the services—a lot of it on the spur of the moment.”
“Is that so?” Apostle Dunbar said looking at Rosalind who returned his look with a smile. “Tell me a little about St. Paul, Rosalind.”
“It’s a big church; in fact, it’s the biggest church in the area. I’m surprised you’ve never heard of it. Pastor Relick is a preaching machine. He’s known all over, and his preaching has greatly impacted many,” Rosalind said.
“What position did you hold in that church?” Apostle Dunbar asked.
“I sang in the choir, and every now and then I’d do the welcome and the announcements.”
“Now, did you say a word to the ladies as well?” Apostle Dunbar asked.
“Yes. After I gave the welcome I would share a word of encouragement from the Lord with them, and they loved it,” Rosalind said confidently.
“See, she knows all about it,” Coralee said.
Just as I thought. I also know there will be nothing but confusion, Apostle Dunbar thought.
“We’ve decided to call it, Word From the Lord for Women,” Tammi said.
“Is that so?” Apostle Dunbar said. “Well, the only word from the Lord that you will be hearing at this time will be those coming through my lips. Is there anything else you ladies wish to discuss?”
The women looked at each other before turning to leave.
“Nothing more for right now, Apostle Dunbar,” Coralee said. “I know the Lord wants us to do this. What’s our next move, Rosalind?”
Rosalind, the instigator, Apostle Dunbar thought. There’s a Rosalind in every church. I’m ready to face all the Rosalinds who stop by here.
“I say we start our own church,” Rosalind said quietly once she was sure they were out of Apostle Dunbar’s earshot. “No one can stop us from doing that.”
“Do you know anything about starting a church? We don’t even have a building,” Marybeth said.
“Somebody could offer us the use of their spacious living room,” Rosalind said casting a glance at Coralee. “After all, we’re supposed to be doing this for the Lord.”
“Don’t look at me,” Coralee said. “I may have a big living room, but we only have about ten of us. I’m not going to any church with only ten people.”
“Don’t you worry about that. We’ll recruit some women. Once the women begin coming, they’ll bring their children, then their husbands will have no choice but to come with them,” Rosalind said with calm confidence.
“I thought this was supposed to be a women’s only church,” Marybeth said.
“It is; but we cannot help it if the men come to hear us. Now can we?” Rosalind said.
“You can use my living room,” Tammi said. “It’s pretty big; it extends into the dining room.”
“Where are we going to recruit the other women from?” Coralee asked.
“Think, Coralee,” Rosalind said. “Just privately mention our new church first to the women here at Pillar of Truth and invite them to join us if they are so inclined. Mention how we will meet their needs that are not being met there. You can also mention it to the women on your job and to others in passing. We must do this discreetly so people won’t know what we’re doing.”
Rosalind received a phone call from her mother three weeks later. “I’ll be riding down with Elijah next time he’s going down that way. The family in Alabama says the house is almost ready.”
“That’s… good news,” Rosalind said. Elijah was Dwight’s brother who came to visit twice each year.
“I’ll be closer to you real soon,” Rosalind’s mother continued. “Then I’ll get to visit my grand-babies more often. Rosa, I’m so glad. You all still want me to come over?”
“We’ll be looking forward to seeing you, Mother,” Rosalind said a little despondently. I forgot she could come and visit any moment. I hope this does not hinder us from what we are doing at our new church. Rosalind said a hasty goodbye to her mother and resumed looking over her Bible lesson. Maybe it won’t be that bad. She could help with forming a choir and even teach one or two of the Bible lessons while she is here. It could work out to my advantage after all.
Rosalind’s mother settled down in Augusta, Georgia, with her daughter and son-in-law two Saturdays after her phone call to Rosalind. She planned on spending at least two weeks with them before moving on to Fairhope, Alabama, where she planned on spending the remainder of her years. She was in church with her daughter her first Sunday there.
Although the women of Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth continued coming to the Tuesday evening meetings, it seemed that too many of the regulars were absent for Sunday services. It did not take Apostle Dunbar long to figure out what Rosalind and her friends were up to. “Has she said anything else to you?” he asked his wife.
“No. Nothing more. But, I didn’t feel the same energy in our last two meetings. I don’t know what they’re up to,” Ketura said.
“I’ve noticed a coolness among the women, in general,” Apostle Dunbar said. “Something is brewing.”
Apostle Dunbar and his wife stopped by Rosalind’s house one Sunday after services. She was not home.
“I was under the impression she was worshipping at your church today as at other times,” Dwight said to Apostle Dunbar and his wife. “Mama Tess, did she say anything to you about going somewhere else?”
“No, she didn’t,” Mama Tess called from the living room.
“She hasn’t been in the services for the past month. We thought maybe she was sick or something,” Apostle Dunbar said. “I did hear that she may have started her own church. Do you know anything about that?”
“That’s news to me,” Dwight said. “But like I said, I thought she was worshipping with you all. Her mother even went to church with her today; she’s visiting with us for a while.”
“Let her know we stopped by,” Apostle Dunbar said as he and Ketura said goodbye.
“Now, what was that all about?” Dwight said to his mother. “Where could that woman be going for a whole month without letting us know what she’s doing? And how in the world could she start a church? Where would she get a building? She had better have a good explanation for her absence.”
“You know Rosalind has always been restless,” Mama Tess said.
“And she’s been taking the children with her. What if something were to happen to them? And she took her mother with her this morning. I wonder if Mother is in on whatever she’s doing?” Dwight said.
“We’ll be finding out soon,” Mama Tess said as the noise of a car pulling into the driveway reached their ears. Mama Tess adjusted the pillow behind her back and tucked her afghan around her legs. She interlocked her fingers and rested her hands on her lap.
“Hello! Hello!” Rosalind said as she walked into the room. “Let me get the children something to eat before I put them down to sleep. It’s been a long day, but a great one.”
“You do that because it’s going to be an even longer night,” Dwight said. “Have a seat, Mother.”
“Dwight, Mama Tess, you both should have been out to worship with us this morning. Rosalind has something going on,” Mother said.
“What are you referring to, Mother?” Dwight asked.
“We worshiped at Tammi’s house. Tammi delivered a fiery message. Rosalind preached up a storm herself,” Mother said. “I sure hate that you missed it. You would –”
“You all did not go to Pillar of Truth today?” Dwight asked.
“No. We went to Tammi’s house. They started a new church. I thought you knew about it,” Mother said wide-eyed.
“You said Rosalind preached up a storm? What is going on? I don’t know anything about that,” Dwight said. “Rosalind, get in here!”
“She was telling me how they started about a month ago,” Mother said. “They started with a few women, but I saw a couple of men there today. She said they are the daughter church of Pillar of Truth. I tell you, that’s a good thing they have going on.” Mother sat down on the couch beside Mama Tess. “Now, I’m wondering why a pastor would not want to give the women some say on Sunday mornings. Back at St. Paul’s, as you well know, Pastor Relick let the women speak for as long as they were led to. It’s a blessing to hear from someone who is going through the same thing that you are going through.”
“Rosalind, get in here now!” Dwight said.
“Quiet down, Dwight. The children are taking a nap,” Rosalind said as she hurried into the living room. “What’s so urgent, you had to holler like that?”
“What’s this about you going to this church at Tammi’s house and you preaching?” Dwight said. “Mother said you just left Pillar of Truth and started your own thing behind Apostle Dunbar’s back.”
Rosalind started to protest.
“Are you going crazy? And when did you plan on telling me?” Dwight said.
“Soon enough,” Rosalind said.
Mother looked shocked. “You mean to tell me Dwight knew nothing about this?”
“You’re darn right I didn’t know anything about it,” Dwight said. “This explains why you suddenly had to take care of something last Sunday when I went with you to Pillar of Truth, and why you rushed off saying you had to stop by Tammi’s house the previous Sunday. Now that I think about it, it did take you a long time getting back from her house.”
Mama Tess and Mother looked at each other.
“Rosalind, I told you to leave things as they are at that church,” Dwight said. “Everyone is happy with the way Apostle Dunbar is running things. I specifically told you not to go stirring anything up. What kind of treacherous woman are you?”
“There is nothing treacherous about what I’ve done,” Rosalind said. “I had a vision, and I could not fulfill that vision at that church, so, I left that church and I am starting my own.”
“Well, apparently, you are causing some problems because Apostle Dunbar and his wife stopped by earlier inquiring about you and wanting to find out why you hadn’t been attending services,” Dwight said. “How many people were at this church you say you’ve started?”
“You don’t need to concern yourself about that,” Rosalind said. “Jesus said where two or three are gathered in His name He is in the midst, and He did not specify male or female.”
“There were about fifteen people there,” Mother said. “And a couple of the women said they enjoyed being there better than at Pillar of Truth.”
“What? You stole some of the women from Apostle Dunbar’s church to join your little rebellion?” Dwight said. “I can’t believe this.”
“Rebellion?” Rosalind said incredulously. “Those women have a mind of their own. They can make their own decisions. They chose to leave Pillar of Truth. You’re just trying to put me on a guilt trip because I’m moving forward in serving God without your help.”
Everyone fell silent.
After a few seconds, Mama Tess cleared her throat. “Do you remember when Miriam, Moses’ sister, questioned how Moses was leading the Israelites? She was bold enough to get Aaron to join her in speaking against how Moses, under God’s direction, was running things. God did not take too kindly to what Miriam did. He immediately struck her with leprosy.”
“Mama Tess, I’m not staying there and causing a problem,” Rosalind said. “I quietly left so as not to cause a problem.”
“But you took some of Dunbar’s people with you—members who were not even thinking of leaving the church before you got there. God’s not pleased with that and He’s not going to bless you for that,” Mama Tess said. “In fact, He’s not going to bless your church because of the way you went about putting it together.”
Rosalind remained silent.
“You should shut down the whole thing and go apologize to Apostle Dunbar,” Mama Tess continued. “God does not have a problem with you starting an all-women’s church if you want to call it a church. But if I understand my Bible, He wants each church under the authority of a man, and He wants women to be silent. That is not to say women can’t help. You’re going to have nothing but cacophony in your church because you’re not silent.”
“That means silent in spirit,” Rosalind said.
“Well, if you’re silent in spirit, then you’ll be silent in your words and actions,” Mama Tess said. “And you shouldn’t call whatever you have started a church either.”
“You don’t have to worry about her apologizing,” Dwight said “I’ll make sure she apologizes to Apostle Dunbar and his wife.”
Looking to her mother, Rosalind said, “Mother, you were all excited about it when you saw what was going on. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with us forming an all-women church starting out. Children are going to come; you saw some there. Eventually, the husbands are going to start attending with their wives. After a few months, we’ll begin looking like a real church.”
“I can’t believe you just said that. After all Mama Tess just said, you are still talking stupid,” Dwight said.
“I was excited, Rosa, until I found out how you went about forming this church,” Mother said. “You didn’t tell me everything. I have to agree with Mama Tess. It’s not the actual formation of the church, it’s how you went about doing it. God’s not going to bless that. I’ve told you many times that God does not play. But I do know that He’s a merciful God, and He’ll extend His mercy for a long time if you cry out for it. Yes, ma’am, my God is a merciful God, and His mercy extends for a long time. He’s –”
Rosalind rolled her eyes and sighed. By her mother’s tone she knew she was getting ready to start preaching a little herself.
“You’re right, Mother,” Dwight said. “God is a merciful God. I’m sure Rosalind fears God enough to fix this mess she’s caused before God starts whipping her behind. Now, won’t you?”
Rosalind’s only answer was to march into the kitchen. “I think the roast is ready,” she said. “I can handle the rest of the dinner by myself.”
Dwight, Mama Tess, and Mother exchanged glances. They heard pots and pans banging in the kitchen.
“Keep it quiet in there!” Dwight said.
“I’ll keep it quiet,” Mother said, starting to get up.
“No, leave her be,” Mama Tess said. “It’s best she shoves the pots around than shove us around. She’s not stupid. I think she’ll come around to do what’s right.”
Dwight thought the tension in the air at dinner was as thick as the roast he was trying to slice.
Mama Tess and Mother spoke mostly to their grandchildren as they ate. Dwight’s attempts at conversation were met with smirks and eye rolls by Rosalind.
When dinner was done, each retired to their room except for Dwight, who watched television until it was late. When he finally climbed into bed, his wife said, “You need to be a bit more quiet; people are trying to get some sleep.”
“My watching TV late at night has never disturbed your sleep before,” Dwight said, “unless your conscience is bothering you and keeping you awake. Or maybe you want it quiet so you can lie awake, scheming and plotting without being disturbed. No wonder you wake up so irritable.”
“Just go to sleep,” Rosalind said.
“I expect you to make things right with Apostle Dunbar by disbanding that church immediately and apologizing to him tomorrow for trying to destroy his church,” Dwight said. He nudged his wife after receiving no answer. “Did you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Are you going to do it?”
“Look, Dwight. I’ll do what I feel led to do. Okay? Now, go to sleep. I’m sure you plan on going in tomorrow because I don’t think we’ll want to be around each other all day.”
The following day during his lunch break, Dwight stopped off at the Pillar of Truth Church.
“I’m glad I caught you,” he said as Apostle Dunbar invited him into his office. “I won’t keep you long.”
“How can I help you?” Apostle Dunbar asked.
“What you heard is correct. My wife got the stupid notion to start a church headed by women just for women. It took her mother to tell me what was going on. She went to this church, which they are holding at someone named Tammi’s house, yesterday.”
“I see,” Apostle Dunbar said. “God told me something was going on.”
“And, I hate to tell you this,” Dwight continued. “But most of the women worshipping with her are from Pillar of Truth.”
“I thought that much,” Apostle Dunbar said.
“I apologize for all the trouble she’s causing,” Dwight said. “She can be stubborn at times, but I just didn’t know she would take it this far. I thought she at least had that much respect for the church of God, and–”
“Brother,” Apostle Dunbar said, “you don’t need to apologize for your wife’s behavior. She can take care of her own apology if she is sincere and wants to repent. Now, I respect you as a man and as her husband — and please don’t take this the wrong way — but you need to get control of what goes on inside your house. I heard your wife was dissatisfied with how things were going at Mt. Providence and that’s why she started coming over here.”
Dwight nodded. “I told her she needs to disband that church,” he said. “I’ve been praying all morning for her not to give in to her flesh and the devil,” Dwight said.
“That’s right. Brother Dwight, you do what you need to do with her as your wife. I’m going to do what I have to do with her as a pastor protecting his flock,” Apostle Dunbar said. “She is banned from entering this church at any time, no matter the occasion, until I receive a sincere verbal apology from her to me, to my wife, and possibly to the church family. I also do not want her to have any contact with my wife or any of the other ladies in the church until she apologizes.”
“I’m with you on that. But why does she have to apologize to the church?”
“She has caused disruption among some of the families. A few husbands and wives are already at odds with each other because of this, and as you know, if there is unrest in the families that make up the church, there’s going to be unrest in the church body.”
“You’re right,” Dwight said, standing up and extending his hand. “As you can imagine, there’s much unrest in our house right now. Please be praying for us as I talk with her again.”
“I sure will,” Apostle Dunbar said, giving Dwight’s hand a firm shake. “God bless. By the way, you are welcome to visit us here anytime. We still want you to minister to us. Don’t let your wife’s behavior dampen your spirit and hinder the calling God has on your life.”
Later that evening, Dwight reiterated to his wife Apostle Dunbar’s conditions for things to be made right. “You would not listen to me and now look at the shame you brought upon yourself and on this family,” he said.
Rosalind rolled her eyes.
“And don’t you go behind our backs to try to talk with his wife to get her to smooth things out for you. They have a great relationship and I don’t want you messing it up as you’ve already done for some of the families at Pillar of Truth,” Dwight warned his wife.
Rosalind looked at her husband. “Just because you went sticking your head in matters that do not concern you, I am not going to apologize. But knowing you, I’m sure you’ve apologized for me already.”
“It’s not the same and you know it. You’ll be the talk of this town and I don’t mean in a positive light either. If I were you, I would not show my face at any church around here until you make things right.”
“You’re not me,” Rosalind said. “Stay out of my business. Maybe if you had just gone ahead and started our church we would not have to deal with this.”
“What do you mean by ‘we’ and ‘our’?” Dwight asked.
“Yes. We. Our. We’re husband and wife, aren’t we?” Rosalind snapped.
“Oh, so now you want to talk like that? Well, since we’re supposed to be one, we ought to be in agreement with each other, so you should have no problem apologizing. Is that not right?” Dwight said.
“Huh!” Rosalind said.
“Until you make this situation right,” Dwight continued, “you and I will never have a great relationship. Things just won’t be the same and things have to change.”
“Rosalind, you were always a strong-willed child. Look at all this tension and unrest you’re bringing into this house,” her mother said. “You can’t walk around the house ignoring your husband. That’s not going to help the marriage any. You have to force yourself to talk to him—even if what you say does not make sense to him. Think about how it will affect the children. Why can’t you just put your family and the church ahead of what you want and let God take care of the outcome? Will it kill you to do that?”
“Are you ready to go to Fairhope or not?” Rosalind said, rolling her eyes.
“The only thing it will kill is your pride,” her mother continued. “And that is something we all need to kill everyday.”
“I thought you were going to stay longer,” Rosalind said.
“I was. I wanted to stay for a month, but your attitude is driving me out of here. I don’t see how Dwight can let you keep such a bad attitude going on five days now and not say anything about it. It will only cause a root of bitterness to crop up inside both of you, and believe me; that is something you do not want to take place because, once it happens, it is very hard to get rid of.” Mother sighed as she went on. “You know, the more I think about it, that’s probably why your daddy left. I would use the silent treatment to control him; it did nothing but drive us apart.”
“What did Gretta say about the house?” Rosalind asked impatiently.
There is just no getting through your thick skull, Mother thought. “She said, except for some yard work and a little more fixing up on the two back rooms, everything else is in place. Eli and Eunice are waiting to hear from me as to when to bring my furniture down. I’m going to look at the house first then call them and let them know what they should bring with them. Knowing them, they’ll probably send the furniture down rather than bring it themselves. They are so irresponsible. I tell you, I’m surprised Eli is still married. Eunice—she’s talking about a divorce. I kindly asked her where she was planning on living after the divorce. I think that made her think twice. She’s not coming to mooch off me. That’s why I am telling you; you need to cut the bad attitude and silent treatment mess and talk it out—fight it out if you have to — ”
“Mother, I get the point. Alright?” Rosalind said. “ I think you need to call Gretta and double check everything. Then call Eli and Eunice, and maybe have Dwight call Elijah to oversee the moving of your furniture. Dwight said Elijah has a couple of friends who have a big enough truck that he can borrow to move your things down here in one trip instead of bit by bit.”
“Well, alright,” Mother said. “I guess we’ll be going to church with Dwight tomorrow, right?”
“You can go with him; I’m not going,” Rosalind said.
“Where are you going to go to worship? There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“Don’t worry about me, Mother,” Rosalind said. “I’ll be somewhere tomorrow.” Even if it’s in bed.
On Sunday morning, the two grandmothers, Dwight, and the three oldest children worshiped at Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth Apostolic Church. They left Rosalind in bed because she said she had a migraine headache.
Having the assurance that the family was well on their way, Rosalind got herself dressed, and then the baby dressed. She arrived for worship at Tammi’s house even though things were still tense between them.
“I’m sorry I’m late; I have had a real bad headache since last night,” Rosalind said after she was called to share a word with the women. “I was tempted to stay in bed, but I couldn’t neglect the Lord’s work. I won’t claim it; I’ll claim healing instead. Yes, Lord. I refuse to claim it.”
As she finished her sermonette, Tammi said, “Let’s surround Sister Rosalind as I lay hands on her. We’ll touch and agree as we command that evil spirit that’s causing this headache to leave, that almost caused us to lose out on hearing a blessing from our sister, to flee from her right now.”
After an emotional prayer time, Rosalind took her seat on the front row as Tammi took over the preaching. Rosalind’s ‘Amens’ and ‘Hallelujahs’ were not as loud as they normally were. Her narrowed eyes and wrinkled forehead deceived all into thinking that she was still suffering from a headache, but, in reality, she was trying hard to concentrate on the sermon being delivered as stray thoughts bombarded her mind. I wonder who told Apostle Dunbar of our meeting here?
Rosalind, pointing to her head, waved bye to Tammi before the service was over with. She hurried home.
“Whew! Thank God no one’s home yet,” she sighed as she pulled up into the empty driveway. I don’t know how I am going to tell Tammi and the others what Apostle Dunbar said. This church has to go on. But what they don’t know will not hurt them, she thought as she climbed out of her car.
Once in the house, she replaced her church attire with her house dress. And after placing the baby in her rocker, she leisurely set about the task of fixing oven-fried chicken, collard greens, corn, rice, and cornbread. I don’t feel like it, but I guess I can whip up a pound cake.
The rest of the family returned home while she was taking the cake out of the oven.
“I thought for sure you’d still be in bed,” Dwight said as he sniffed his way into the kitchen. “Whatever it is you’re cooking, it sure smells good.” He set a couple of bags on the counter.
“I figured I could at least muster up enough strength to fix something for y’all to eat,” Rosalind said.
“We could have handled the food, Rosa,” Mother said, walking into the kitchen still holding Rachel’s and Kennedy’s hands.
“A headache does not mean I’m incapacitated,” Rosalind said. “Hey, children.” She gave her children a hug as they greeted her.
“It could mean you need more rest,” Mama Tess said. “I may be up in age, but I still know how to throw down in the kitchen.”
The family laughed.
“Children, let’s get your clothes off before you mess them up. After you eat, I’m afraid I’ll have to lay back down.”
“They may not be hungry. We had dinner on the grounds,” Dwight said. “That’s why we took so long getting back. I told Apostle Dunbar and his wife that you weren’t feeling well. They packed us enough food to last a couple days. They also wanted us to let you know that they are praying for you.”
Rosalind forced a smile. I’m sure they are, she thought as she surveyed the food Dwight took out of the bags. “I’ll put my food away then and eat what they sent. I’ll give Ketura a call later to thank her,” she said.
“You do that,” Dwight said. “And while you’re at it, go ahead and apologize and get things right with them.”
Rosalind ignored him. While the rest of the family each ate a slice of pound cake, Rosalind nibbled on the plate of food Mother fixed for her.
After putting on his kick-around clothes, Dwight reclined in his easy chair in front of the television where he spent the rest of the evening. Mama Tess and Mother visited with each other in Mama Tess’ room. The bedroom door was left ajar. Rosalind placed the two youngest children down for a nap. She allowed DJ and Rachel the privilege of camping out in the living room. Leaving her door ajar, Rosalind laid down next to Kennedy and Jessica. She could faintly overhear her mother and mother-in-law conversing.
“I don’t know why Rosa wants to go mess up a good thing at Pillar of Truth,” Mother said. “From just talking with Apostle Dunbar today, he has a great vision for a women’s ministry, which he plans on executing at the beginning of the year. She’s messing up a good thing.”
“That’s what happens when we refuse to submit to the authority God places over us and try to push our agenda,” Mama Tess said.
“If only Rosa had waited… Apostle Dunbar said he saw leadership qualities in her and he was thinking of having her work alongside his wife. But he also noticed a little bossiness in her and was making sure that she was the one God wanted him to let work with his wife.”
Sure, Rosalind thought. Any explanation to place himself in a good light. I just hope word about his plans do not get around to Tammi and the others. That would just dampen their spirits and hinder our growth.
“He saw her as an asset to the growth of the church. He even mentioned something about a person named Tammi. Do you know her?” Mother asked.
“Yes. She stopped by here once when Rosalind had just started going there. She’s pretty friendly,” Mama Tess said. “I’m afraid Rosalind will just have to learn some things the hard way. Anyway, when were you planning on moving to Alabama?”
“In a few days,” Mother said.
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to, and once you move, you’re welcome to visit any time. You don’t have to wait for an invitation.”
“Thank you, Mama Tess. I was planning on staying a month, but Gretta, the lady who’s getting my house all cleaned up, says the house is ready except for the two back rooms and some yard work. I figure I’d better go and take up occupancy,” Mother said. “Plus, I do not want to inconvenience you all any longer. My grand-babies need their room. I’m so glad I was able to see them again — ”
Rosalind turned her thoughts away from their conversation and to the phone call she said she would make to thank Ketura for the food. I’ll thank her and talk as we did before to test the waters a little. I do not see where an apology is necessary. I’m sure she’ll ask about the church, and when I tell her the good crowd God has blessed us with these past four Sundays, she and her husband will see more clearly our side of things.
“My goodness, I must have fallen off to sleep,” Rosalind said to herself as she sat up in the bed looking around the semi-dark room. She glanced out the window. It was dusky outside. Let me hurry and get this phone call out of the way before I change my mind. She made her way through the living room to the door separating the living room from the kitchen where the phone was hanging on the wall by the door entrance.
“Hello, Ketura. This is Rosalind,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean to call this late, but I fell asleep. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the food you sent. I only ate a little as I was still not feeling well, but what I did eat was delicious.”
“You’re welcome. I hope you’re feeling much better,” Ketura said.
“It’s one of those headaches that comes on suddenly and leaves you wondering where it came from,” Rosalind said. “Anyway, thank you for your prayers.”
“You’re welcome, and I won’t keep you any longer. I’m sure you want to get some more rest. Have a good night.” Ketura hung up the phone before Rosalind could say anything else.
* * * *
“No apology?” Apostle Dunbar said to his wife.
“No. Not even an attempt at one,” Ketura said. “She started to mention something her mother said you mentioned to them about starting a women’s ministry next year.”
“No apology, no fellowship,” Apostle Dunbar said with finality. “What she wanted to do was to talk with you as though nothing happened. I’m not going to let her disrespect me or you or the church family like that. And if I have to, I’ll warn pastors in the area about her.”
“I’m sure it took some humility for her to call even to thank you,” Ketura said.
“Saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ are two different things,” Apostle Dunbar said. “I know you have a soft heart, but she must see us as being one on this.”
* * * *
“That was mighty nice of you to call and thank the Dunbars,” Dwight said after his wife hung up the phone.
“I thought you were asleep,” Rosalind said.
“I heard everything you said. I heard a ‘thank you’; but I did not hear ‘I am sorry for such and such,’” Dwight said. “You’re always talking about doing what the Bible says. The Bible says to be at peace with all men. Right now, you are not at peace with the Dunbars, nor with the Pillar of Truth Church family, nor with me. And you are definitely not at peace with yourself. That being the case, you cannot be at peace with God either. I believe your so-called headache came from a guilty conscience. In our eight years of marriage, I’ve never known you to have a headache that keeps you in bed all day and especially away from church services.”
Rosalind started to protest, but Dwight raised his hand to silence her. “I’m just calling it as I see it,” he said.
* * * *
Dwight and the family pulled out from their home in Savannah, Georgia, to take Mother to her new home in Fairhope, Alabama.
“Lord willing, I plan on spending the remainder of my days right here in Fairhope,” Mother said. “I can’t wait to pick up where I left off at New Hope Holiness Apostolic Church and to fellowship with Rev. Dr. Apostle Alfred Morton again. I sure wish Prophetess Morton was still alive. Gretta tried to get me caught up on everyone and everything, but it seems like so much has changed. I can’t wait — ”
Rosalind turned her mind to other things. The ride down was more tolerable than enjoyable as things were still tense between her and her husband. This was one of those few times she appreciated her mother’s rambling and her children’s incessant talking; it helped her ignore the tension between her and Dwight.
“Isn’t this a nice outing, Rosalind?” Dwight said to his wife.
“I guess so,” Rosalind said, still looking out the side window.
“Go ahead and smile. You know you’re enjoying this time away from the house and from the pressure and guilt of trying to figure out who knows what and who can be trusted, and — ”
“Can you just drive and –”
“I am driving. Isn’t that what I’m doing, children? Mother? I’m sure I’m driving—driving this old Ford that you so hate to be seen in.” Dwight joined the children in laughter.
Rosalind snickered. “And that’s what it is: an old Ford. You’ve had this old clunker for what? Over nine years? It’s about to fall apart. Every trip we take, you have to rebuild it. Just does not make any sense. Why can’t you buy a new one? Everybody else is moving on up but us.”
“Not everybody now,” Dwight said. “And you can at least fake being pleasant for the children’s sake.”
DJ, now almost eight years old, listened to the adults as they conversed. Although a rambunctious little boy at times, there were times when he seemed deep in thought, as he was for most of this trip. It seems like almost every trip we go on, Mom’s mad about something. If she didn’t want to come, why didn’t she just stay home?
“Come on, smile for your children like you do for the church folk,” Dwight said jovially. “Smile with them now, or when they grow older, they’re not going to want to smile with you.”
DJ’s younger brother, Kennedy, nudged him and whispered, “Why does Mom always complain about the car? It rides fine to me.”
“That’s because Mom wants a bunch of fancy things that Dad doesn’t want to buy,” DJ whispered back.
“I don’t need anything,” Kennedy said.
“You wouldn’t understand,” DJ said. “You need to listen to them more when they talk and not play so much.”
For Dwight, Rosalind and their children, it was good to see old friends again and to fellowship like old times in Fairhope, Alabama. Sunday services were a blast. Not only were the folks at New Hope Holiness Apostolic blessed to have the Song Bird minister to them, but they were doubly blessed to have Mother minister to them through song as well. Sunday evening found the Jacobs family breaking bread at the Dimples’ house with her family and Rev. Dr. Apostle Morton, along with a few other members of the New Hope church family. Rosalind renewed her friendship with Kameo whom she had met on their last trip to New Hope Holiness at the invitation of Apostle Morton.
“Are there many job opportunities here in Fairhope for black folks?” Rosalind asked. “I couldn’t help but notice the many ‘Help Wanted’ signs.”
“Oh, yes. Quite a bit,” Kameo said. “In fact, there are two openings at the pharmacy where I work; there’s a lot of openings at restaurants; there’s house cleaning if you don’t mind doing that. Are you looking for a job for yourself or for your husband? I thought you all lived in Georgia. Are you thinking of moving down here?”
“I was just wondering if the same opportunities were available here as they are back in Georgia. I tell you, I need something to help occupy my time,” Rosalind said. “As you can tell, the children are growing up and they will be in school all day. Soon I’ll be sitting at home drumming my fingers on the kitchen table while staring at the four walls.”
“Can you sing? You can always sing along with your husband and hold Gospel concerts and charge a fee. That’s one way to make some extra money,” Kameo said. “But then you got all those children; you probably have no choice but to stay home at least until they pass through grade school.”
“I don’t know if I’m going to wait that long,” Rosalind said with a sigh.
“Me, now… I want no children and no husband. For what? Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that marriage and children is not for all people, and I’m one of those people,” Kameo said with a laugh.
Rosalind laughed as well. “I don’t know about that husband part; there are just some things a husband can do for you that can’t nobody else do.”
“You’re right about that,” Kameo said after thinking about it. “But I’m serious about the husband part. Anyway, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a job here, especially off Main Street. If you’re going to stay on into the week, I would offer to watch the children while you go check the job openings out; they seem to be well-behaved.”
“Don’t worry about that; their grandmother can watch them, or Gretta’s daughter can watch them,” Rosalind said.
“Here I am talking with you like you’re planning on staying,” Kameo said with a giggle.
“You never know what the future holds,” Rosalind said.
After making sure Mother was settled in and not in need of anything, Dwight prepared to return to Georgia.
“What do you mean you are not going back unless you go get a job?” Dwight said to his wife.
“What part of that don’t you understand?” Rosalind said. “I know I’m speaking English. I am not going back to Georgia unless I get a job once I return.”
“We’ve been through this before,” Dwight said. “You will not be getting any job. You already have a full-time job taking care of our four children. Plus, where are you going to get a job?”
“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there are a lot of ‘Help Wanted’ signs around town.”
“No, I haven’t noticed; but I have noticed a lot of ‘Help Children’ signs around the house and I’ve heard a lot of ‘Mommy, help’ voices,” Dwight said. “And I’m not saying that to be funny either. Now let’s gather everything so we can hit the road.”
“You can make light of it if you want, but when you’re driving up the road by yourself you’ll see how serious I am. The small suitcase with your things is by the door,” Rosalind said.
“Does your mother even know you’re staying?” Dwight asked.
“Not yet. But she’ll welcome having me and the children,” Rosalind said. “In fact, I’m going to let her know right now. Breakfast will be ready in about twenty minutes.”
Rosalind bounded out the door closing it behind her.
That woman is crazy, Dwight thought. He voiced the same to his mother-in-law. “Mother, tell her she cannot just make a decision like that on the spur of the moment. Tell her she has a husband and children to tend to.”
“Dwight, I try not to get into married people’s business, but considering you are family…” Mother turned to Rosa. “Rosa, your husband’s right. You can’t just up and leave everyday on your little children like that.”
“Mother, you did it. You left us with Big Mama. I remember that. You worked every day since I can remember, and we all turned out good,” Rosalind said. “And, please stop calling me Rosa.”
“It was different during my time. I had to go to work if I was going to put food on the table. I didn’t have a husband to provide for us. I would have loved for him to have stayed. Your daddy was there until you were about five years old; then he just left. He said he was going to look for more work and send more money back to us. At first he sent some money—not more money—some money; then he stopped. After struggling for about a year, your Uncle Josiah persuaded me to come to New York saying things were better up there — ”
“Mother, that was over twenty-three years ago; things have changed –”
“But some things haven’t changed. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done anything to have your daddy stay.”
“Mother, our situation is different,” Rosalind said.
“Here you have a husband who’s willing to work two jobs so you do not have to stress yourself working outside of the house and leaving your children with whoever to take care of them all day, and you refuse to take advantage of that blessing,” Mother said.
“That’s what I tried to tell her,” Dwight said. “That’s just foolish thinking.”
“Women don’t have to stay cooped up in the house any more and I’m one of them,” Rosalind said. “Anyway, I’m staying here longer. You can stay with us if you want to.”
“Now you know I can’t stay any longer. I have two jobs to go to. I told both my bosses I’d be back by Wednesday. Plus, I have a live daily radio broadcast to do,” Dwight said.
“Well, I guess you’d better hit the road then,” Rosalind said. “I’m not coming with you.”
“Dwight, I don’t know what else to say,” Mother said breaking the silence that had planted itself in their midst. “If it were not for my grandbabies, I would tell her she could not stay here; but I have to look out for my grandbabies. I’m sure you understand my position.”
“Yes, Mother, I understand, and you should not have to be bothered with this. I would take the children with me, but she’s their mother and she’s going to keep them. I’ll be back not this weekend, but next weekend,” Dwight said. He hugged the children, told them to be good, then went on his way back to Georgia. He made good time and worked half a day at the hardware store and put in a full night at the radio station doing his janitorial work and his recording.
“I didn’t know Rosalind and the children were staying,” Mama Tess said to Dwight at dinner later that evening before he went to the radio station.
“I didn’t know either. She dropped it on us at the last minute,” Dwight said. “Then she talked about not coming back unless she gets a job.”
“I think it’s more than her getting a job,” Mama Tess said after thinking on her son’s words. “I think she’s embarrassed to come back. She still has not apologized to Apostle Dunbar and his wife. Constantly looking over her back wondering who knows about the situation is wearing her out. She does not know how many people know.”
“I did not even think about that,” Dwight said. “But now that you mention it, that makes sense; she wants to run away rather than face it head-on. She pulled the getting-a-job trick because she knows I would be against her and that would give her an excuse not to return.”
“I don’t think it’s a trick; I think she’s serious about getting a job, but that’s another matter,” Mama Tess said. “Tammi called on Sunday evening and this morning asking for Rosalind. She was supposed to have led the services and they were supposed to get together to discuss their first Wednesday night Bible study and prayer meeting. Of course, Rosalind was not here. Tammi did not know about her going to Alabama.”
“I tell you the truth,” Dwight said.
“News has gotten around. A couple of the women at Mt. Providence Baptist asked me about what she had done,” Mama Tess said.
“I can’t even walk through town because of the embarrassment she’s bringing upon the family,” Dwight said to his mother. “I told her it would come back to bite her in the butt. Excuse the expression, Mama Tess.”
Mama Tess chuckled. “I wouldn’t let it embarrass me. Anybody who asks, I would tell them the truth. I would roll all the balls right back into her court. Son, I know you have a soft heart and you love your wife and that’s why you let her have her way at times.”
“It’s not a matter of letting her have her way. I let some things go to keep the peace, especially for the children’s sake.”
“That’s just a false peace that won’t last long,” Mama Tess said. “Sometimes, you have to create a little war to create true and lasting peace.” She chuckled. “If I were you, I’d go back to Fairhope, put the children in the car, take her firmly by the arm and march her into the car and dare her to get out. I’d bring her on home where she belongs.”
“She’s only going to resist and cause a ruckus,” Dwight said.
“Then let her. Which do you want: a broken up family or one that’s together even with some problems? You just stand your ground and let her know, in no uncertain way, that you are serious. You can’t give up, especially when you know you’re right,” his mother said. “Like I said: sometimes you have to make war to have real peace.”
The following weekend found Dwight on his way back to Fairhope, Alabama, to collect his wife and children and bring them back to Augusta, Georgia.
“I just came to do what I should have done the last time I was here,” he said to his mother-in-law. “She’s going home whether she likes it or not. That’s where she belongs: home with her husband and children.”
Mother smiled as she hugged her grand-children.
“Put their clothes and your clothes in the car, right now,” Dwight told his wife. “And, hurry, because we will be in church tomorrow as a family and I have a concert on Sunday evening and we will all be going.”
Rosalind started to protest, but her husband’s tone of voice and the sharp look her mother gave her advised her against it. She tossed the packed suitcases in the trunk of the car.
“Here, Rosa,” Mother said placing another bag in her hand. “Some of the children’s clothes and your two dresses were outside on the line.”
“Those can stay,” Rosalind said.
“No, they can’t. Go put them in the car. I have no time for your tricks,” Dwight said. “Children, get in the car.” He scooped up the youngest in his arms. “Good bye, Mother. Thanks for everything. Call us if you need anything.”
Dwight stopped by the front door and turned to his wife. “Rosalind, get in the car, and do not cause any unnecessary scene before your mother or the children. They’ve seen enough.”
“Ahem! I’ve been meaning to tell you: I got a job; I begin on Wednesday,” Rosalind said.
“You do not have a job so just get in the car.” Dwight took her firmly by the arm and marched her out to the car. Rosalind sat in the front passenger seat looking straight ahead. Dwight placed the baby on her lap and slammed the car door shut. He climbed into the driver seat and revved up the car engine.
“Here you go,” Mother said placing a small basket with sandwiches, fruit, and Little Debbie snack cakes on DJ’s lap. “Something to eat on the way. God bless you. Rosa, be good.”
Rosalind rolled her eyes. She muttered, “See you later” to her mother as Dwight drove off.
“Did you children have a good time at your grandmother’s?” Dwight asked.
“Yes, Daddy. We want to go back again. I wish we could have stayed longer,” they said.
“See there. Even the children wanted to stay,” Rosalind said.
“That’s because some of you do not want to go to school,” he said laughing with the children. Turning to his wife, he said, “I know you didn’t enjoy your week.”
“You don’t know that.”
“How could you when you left Tammi and the other women hanging. Weren’t you supposed to have delivered the sermon on last Sunday and led the first Wednesday night Bible study and prayer meeting?”
“She knew I was taking Mother home,” Rosalind said.
“But she expected you back. And you did not even have the decency to call and let her know you decided to stay longer,” Dwight said.
“She could have figured that out.”
“When? At the last minute? You just don’t care about others, do you? When your friends and those women at the church begin to desert you, don’t come crying to me,” Dwight said.
“How can you even fix your mouth to say that when I’m the one who has reached out to them to help them birth a dream that can impact the whole world—a dream they were too scared to make a reality?”
“No, they weren’t too scared; they just had enough respect for Apostle Dunbar to wait on his agenda as God gave it to him,” Dwight said. “And that’s why you did not want to come back. You do not want to face up to the mess you left there. You do not want to apologize to Apostle Dunbar and the others. That’s just childish and hypocritical. You can’t be telling the children to say ‘I’m sorry’ to each other when they hurt each other or when they disobey us and you not do the same when — ”
“That’s right, Dad,” DJ said from the back seat.
“DJ, shut your mouth! What have I told you about talking when grown folks are talking?” his mother said.
“Don’t you tell him to shut his mouth when he’s saying the right thing,” Dwight almost shouted at his wife.
“Well, nobody was talking to him,” Rosalind said.
The children nudged each other as they continued listening to their parents argue.
“And where and why did you get a job knowing you don’t live in Fairhope?” Dwight said, “especially after I told you not to?”
“Because we need it. I could spend the weekdays with mother and come home on the weekends. We’re hardly making progress. It’s been seven to eight years and we have nothing of our own to show for it.”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Dwight said. “As long as you’re serving God, being a blessing to others, and showing God’s love to everyone you are making progress.”
“That’s not what I mean, and you know it. We could be further along the road if you get off your do-nothing and go start the church you know God is calling you to start. If you had done that, I would not have had to use Apostle Dunbar’s members to begin one, and — ”
“So now you’re going to blame me for your stupidity?” Dwight said. “Do you know what I’ve been doing this past week? Facing those people and making excuses for your stupidity. But like Mama Tess said, I’m not gonna cover for you. I’m throwing all the balls back into your court. So you got a lot of explaining to do when we get back in town because people are talking.”
“Who’s talking?” Rosalind asked.
“You’ll know once you get back,” Dwight said. “Now be quiet so the children and I can ride in peace.”
“As if I wanted to talk to you in the first place,” Rosalind muttered. The rest of the journey home, she tried to figure out just who knew what and how she would answer them.
Tammi was upset that Rosalind left her hanging for almost two weeks. When she finally caught up with Rosalind at her house, she did not spare her words.
“Hey, Tammi! Come on in,” Rosalind greeted her.
“Don’t you ‘Hey, Tammi’ me,” Tammi said stepping just inside the door. “How could you do me like that? You could have called and let me know you were not going to be there for two Sundays and also that you’d miss our first Wednesday night prayer meeting. Thank God, I had gone ahead and prepared a Bible lesson.”
“See, it all worked out then,” Rosalind said.
“That’s not the issue and you know it,” Tammi said. “ You did not have the decency to call me and let me know something; that’s just being selfish and disrespectful to me and to the others. By the way, I ran into Ketura at the store and I invited her to visit us one Sunday.”
“What did she say?”
“She declined. She did not want to say why but the little that she did reveal leads me to question your motives. Is there anything wrong with you apologizing to Apostle Dunbar and to her? I had envisioned us joining up with them eventually to have an explosive ministry for women. You ruined a good thing.”
“Are we together on this good church thing, or are you siding with Dunbar?” Rosalind said.
“I’m not siding with the Dunbars or with anyone for that matter. I just believe you should humble yourself, set the record straight and let’s go on if your motives are right.”
“What about you helping to set the record straight?” Rosalind said. “And Coralee? And Gertrude? And Marybeth? You all were with me on this now. Have you forgotten that?”
“You instigated it!” Tammi said.
“You all didn’t have to join me.”
“Oh, so now you’re trying to pass the blame on to us. You just wait until I tell the others,” Tammi said. “You’ll be preaching to only a handful on Sunday, and it won’t be at my house.”
“Don’t go ruining a good thing,” Rosalind said. “Give it time and Apostle Dunbar will see that we are on the right track.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s already ruined. I’ve had some phone calls from people asking about you stealing members from Pillar of Truth in an attempt to take over that church. Some even insinuated that I knew what you were trying to do and that I was in on it; that’s why we all were using my house. Some have told me they will not be coming back to worship with us. What do you have to say to that?” Tammi said.
“Who asked you all that?”
“You don’t need to worry about who asked. All I know is this: I do not want my name associated with any part of your scheming. Good bye, Rosalind.” Tammi turned sharply and headed out the door.
“Wait just a minute! I’ll call those people and set the record straight, but you’ll need to give me their names,” Rosalind said.
“I’m sure you will,” Tammi said without looking back. “You need to set things straight with Apostle Dunbar and his wife first and that will take care of the others.”
“Just give me a couple more days,” Rosalind said. “I just got back in town.”
Tammi got in her car and drove off.
Dwight called to check on his mother-in-law and found her in a negative mood.
“I tell you what, Dwight, I’ve been talking to my daughter, Eunice, from up in New York and she and her husband are not getting along; half the time she does not know where he is. I mean she can’t handle life. She wants to come stay with me. I don’t know what to do. She’s just a basket case. Of all my children, I never thought–”
“Mother, calm down,” Dwight told her. “What’s the matter with Eunice now?”
“I tell you, Dwight, I told her not to marry her husband. I smelt trouble coming from him, but she wouldn’t listen. He done messed around up there in New York and gave her a nervous breakdown, and now she’s trying to give me one. Good Lord, have mercy,” Mother said. “I’ve been asking around and there’s a little yellow house around the corner from me; I’m thinking of getting it for her. I don’t even know if I want her here with me until she pulls herself together. I don’t know why they never had any children. I tell you. I don’t know, Dwight.”
“It will all work out. Just pray to God and ask Him to work everything out for Eunice,” Dwight said.
“Thank you so much, Dwight,” Mother said. “I sure do miss you all and Mama Tess. We just had us a time when I was there with you all. I just don’t know about Eunice. I tell you. If she had children that would help keep her mind off things, but she wouldn’t listen to me–”
“Mother, don’t worry about a thing, and especially about Eunice,” Dwight said. “She will be all right. God will comfort her heart. Put your trust in God.”
“Rosalind,” Dwight said to his wife later that evening, “your mother is a worry wart. Either that or she’s going senile. She talks about trusting God, but she worries her head off over every little thing.”
“That’s been the story of her life,” Rosalind said. I have more important things to concern myself about right now.
Four growing children, an aging mother with increasing health issues, and a wife constantly whining about not having this and that added to the financial burden and stress upon the family. Dwight, who was always frugal when it came to spending money, cheerfully did the best he could in making ends meet. Rosalind, on the other hand, got tired of living a hand-to-mouth life.
“Where’s Rosalind?” Dwight asked his mother after coming in one evening and not finding his wife at home.
“Out looking for a job. She must have gotten one because she’s been gone since before the lunch hour.”
“What? Who told her she could go get a job?” Dwight said. “I can’t believe she left you here with all four children. And you say she’s been gone since this morning?”
“No harm was done. They’re my grandchildren. I’ll do anything for them. Eva from next door stopped by to help me,” Mama Tess said.
“Mama Tess, that is not the issue. You’re up in age and dealing with your own health issues; you don’t need to be bothering yourself taking care of four little children—grand-children or not. Why didn’t you call me and let me know what she was up to? I probably could have come home early and put a stop to this.”
“You couldn’t do anything about it. You know once your wife sets her mind to something there is no stopping her. Anyway, she has good reason,” Mama Tess said matter-of-factly.
“And what reason is that? Cause she sure did not tell me anything.”
“I’m sure she’ll let you know as soon as she comes in,” his mother said. “You know, Dwight, times are changing. Women are no longer choosing to stay home with their children and neither do we have to resort to doing just laundry or other menial jobs. Those days are gone. We now have a voice in everything. Why keep yourself back when you can move forward?”
“What are you trying to tell me?” Dwight asked. “I thought you were all for her staying home with her children.”
“You and Rosalind will talk once she comes in. I promised her I would not discuss anything with you. She should be home soon. Eva and I fed the children, and Kennedy and Jessica are asleep, so they should be good until she comes home.”
Dwight sat before the television while DJ and Rachel, the two older children, played on the floor with their toys and read their picture books. I just can’t believe she left her children all day like this to go find a stinking job. And she waited until I left before she took off. Lord, help me not to blow my top when she gets in. You poor children, Dwight thought glancing down at them. DJ glanced up at his father a few times.
An unwelcoming glare met Rosalind when she came through the front door a little after six.
“Why are you looking so crazy?” Rosalind said kicking her heels off as she reached down to hug her children. “How are you all doing?” she said giving each of them a hug. “Where’s Kennedy and baby Jessie?” she asked as the children resumed playing.
“They’re asleep in Grandma’s room.”
“Go knock on Grandma’s door and tell her I’ll be right there as soon as I get things going in the kitchen,” Rosalind told DJ. “You’re still looking crazy,” she said throwing a quick glance at her husband.
“You know why I’m still looking so crazy. When I left this morning you were home; I return eight hours later and you’re gone. I had to hear it from my own ailing mother that you were out hunting for a job,” Dwight said. “Where’s this job anyway?”
“At the pharmacy. Is anything wrong with me getting a job when we need the money?” Rosalind said.
“Need the money? We are managing quite well,” Dwight said. “We are not hurting for nothing.”
“Apparently you have not noticed, but I have. Things are getting tight and I don’t want us to be scraping pennies together. By the way,” Rosalind said, “take a look outside before you blow your top.”
“Look! I am not in for any games,” Dwight said as he got up to look outside.
Rosalind opened the front door for him.
“Whoa! Whose car is that?”
“Yours? You have got to be kidding me. Where in the world did you get the money to buy you a car? And what was wrong with the one Mama Tess gave you? Where is her car anyway?” Dwight walked off the porch and walked around the car peering through the windows. He opened the front door and looked inside sliding his hand over the front seat upholstery. He sat behind the steering wheel and tooted the horn.
Rosalind watched from the porch.
“Now we can ride around a little bit more comfortable,” she said with a smile as he stepped out of the car, “and in style.”
“What I want to know is where did you get the money from to buy a new car?”
“Close to new,” Rosalind said. “And can’t I for once do something without having to offer up an explanation?”
“Close to new. New. It’s all the same to me. First, you go off and get you a job without telling me anything, and when you come home you’re driving a new car and you just expect me to not say a word about it either? Woman, you must be crazy! So, I ask again, where did you get the money from?”
Rosalind tossed her head to the side, turned, and walked into the house.
Dwight marched into the house behind her.
“If you must know,” Rosalind said, “I traded in the car Mama Tess gave me. She said it was mine to do whatever I wanted to do with it. To add to that, I’ve been saving up some of the money you’ve been giving me. Mother gave me some money, and Eli gave me some money as well, and a friend gave me some.”
“So now you owe a whole lot of people money,” Dwight said.
“I already had planned on buying a car if I got a job so you don’t have to worry about how I’m going to finish paying for it. By the way, I started my first day today. I’ll be working a full eight hours each day except for Sundays.”
“Over my dead body,” Dwight said. “And just who is going to take care of the children while you’re gone? I hope you realize I am not going to let you put that burden on Mama Tess.”
“It will be no burden to her at all. I already spoke with Eva about it. She says she’ll help keep an eye on them for a few dollars,” Rosalind said. “She’ll be good to have around, especially with Mama Tess’ health failing as it is.”
“And just how do you plan on paying back your mother and brother and friend? I’m sure you plan on paying them back, right?” Dwight asked.
“I have already calculated it all out in my head,” Rosalind said. “I figured if I just got a job that brings in a certain amount and add that to the money you’ve been giving me, we won’t even notice the added expense. Plus, I don’t have to be in a hurry to pay Mother or Eli back. They’re family.”
“If you continue to buy things on the spur of the moment like that then we will be scraping for pennies, and you cannot keep borrowing money to buy stuff,” Dwight said leaning forward in his chair. “And this is not the first time you’ve done this. I told you if we can’t pay cash for it then we don’t need it. You are going to take that car back, and you’re going to quit that job. I did not tell you to do either of them. And what’s more important to you: getting a job and driving around in a new car that you’re still paying on and leaving your children with their grandmother who’s already weak in body, or being content with the car you already had, and staying home with your children as a mother should?”
“The children will be fine,” Rosalind said. “They know I love them, and they will appreciate me sacrificing to do this when they understand I am doing it so they will have a lot of things I did not have and could not have when I was growing up. You don’t want them to begin feeling inferior because their friends have new clothes and they have to wear hand-me-downs, do you?”
Dwight drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Getting a new car isn’t the only reason I got this job. I’ve always dreamed of having my own spacious house that I can fix up the way I want to with each of the children having their own rooms, plus a guest bedroom with its own bathroom,” Rosalind said. “I want all my dreams to come true.”
“The problem is, you’re dreaming over your head,” Dwight said. “It’s okay to dream, but your dreams must be based in reality. Here’s what I mean: we’re living here free of charge. Mama Tess already said the house is ours after she dies. It’s big enough. What more could you ask for? On top of that, she gave you her car. You just don’t appreciate what God blesses you with.”
“It’s not that I do not appreciate it. I would just like to have our own house that I can fix up and beautify the way I want to. In spite of what you think, this house it too small. Right now, the children are sharing a room. What are we going to do when they get bigger? Plus, this is not my dream house; I want a big two-story house with columns surrounded by a spacious yard, and instead of a picket fence, hedges surrounding it. Is anything wrong with that dream?” Rosalind said.
“I guess the next surprise you’re going to spring on me is telling me you bought a house, huh?” Dwight said.
“If you keep on jumping out there and making these huge purchases you’re sure enough going to put us in the poor house. We cannot have it all. Don’t you know that by now? Like I said, take the car back first thing tomorrow and get your money back, and don’t even turn up at the pharmacy. We are doing quite well without you getting a job.”
“I believe God wants us to have things,” Rosalind said.
“Oh, so now you’re presuming upon God,” Dwight said. “He wants us to do things the right way. As long as I am breathing and have my health and strength, we will always have a place to stay, there will always be food on the table, and we will have clothes to wear. It may not be fashionable, but it will cover us up.”
Rosalind shook her head and smiled. “I want to do more than cover up. My children are not going to go out of the house looking like who-dun-it.”
“Look, Rosalind. I’m making enough to take care of all our needs. We may not have too much of the extras of this life right now, but we can live honestly and not get into debt,” Dwight said. “Are you trying to say I can’t take care of my family?”
Rosalind chuckled. “I did not say anything about not living honestly, and neither did I say anything about going into debt. I have it all figured out, and you do not have to help me out with anything.”
“We’ll see,” Dwight said, eying his wife as she walked off toward the kitchen. “We’ll see. Just don’t come crying to me when you can’t finish paying for the car and they come and take it back. How did you even know there was an opening at the pharmacy?”
“If you’ll excuse me, I need to get something cooking.”
“See what I mean: this is the first day on your so-called job and we’re already eating late,” Dwight said. “The next thing you’re going to do is to come home complaining about how tired you are—too tired to even cook. I tell you the truth. You don’t need to bother going down to the pharmacy tomorrow; just call them in the early morning and tell them you can’t take the job. Do you hear me?”
Despite her husband’s protest, Rosalind was up early the next morning and had a hot breakfast of buttered grits, fried fish, and toast with jelly on the table by the time Dwight got dressed for work at the hardware store.
“Why are you all dressed up?” he asked his wife.
“Dwight, we’ve already been over this; I don’t want to go into it again,” Rosalind said. “I have to be at work by eight thirty. Since this is officially my first day, the manager wants me to come in a half hour early for training. I’ll be home by five, and you don’t have to worry about eating late: the roast is already in the oven, the collard greens is on the stove, the rice won’t take long to cook once I get in, and I’ll pick up something sweet to go along with the meal. Eva is all set to watch Jessica and to make sure DJ, Rachel, and Kennedy get on the school bus safely. Mama Tess won’t have to lift a finger. Now can you please eat; I would like to leave a clean kitchen.”
Rosalind’s curt tone left Dwight speechless. He looked at her for some seconds before he resumed eating his breakfast in silence. I can’t believe she’s going against what I told her to do. “Have you checked on Mama Tess, yet?” he finally asked. “I have not heard her since I’ve been up.”
“No. She probably needs the extra sleep this morning. You know how it is some mornings,” Rosalind said. “Rachel and Kennedy, eat your food up! I do not have time for any foolishness this morning.”
DJ, who had been listening to his parents and had stopped eating quickly finished off his breakfast, got his book bag, and went outside in the front yard to wait for the school bus.
Before leaving, Dwight checked in on his mother. She did not respond immediately to his voice or to his knocks on her bedroom door. Thinking the worse, he entered her bedroom. She was lying in the bed.
“Mama Tess! Mama Tess!” he said shaking her. He breathed a sigh of relief when she stirred. “You had me worried there for a while. Are you feeling alright?”
“Just a little weak in the body, son. Nothing new,” Mama Tess said weakly. “My body can’t do like it used to. I’ll be alright. I just need a little extra rest.”
Dwight and Rosalind made Mama Tess as comfortable as they could after helping her with her breakfast. Eva would tend to her during their absence.
“Don’t you feel badly taking off to go to a job you don’t need and leaving your mother-in-law in the state that she’s in?” Dwight said to Rosalind as they stepped off the porch headed for their cars.
“I don’t feel like answering you right now because I have no time for a husband who tries to put me on a guilt trip,” Rosalind said. “But if you really want me to respond, why don’t you stay home with her? She’s your mother. Plus, at her age, she can die any minute now. I’ve already prepared myself for her death.”
Rosalind got in her car, turned the key in the ignition, backed out the driveway, and headed on to the pharmacy. Dwight let out a deep sigh as he pulled out behind her.
Mama Tess was sitting up in her bed when Dwight and Rosalind checked on her during their lunch break.
“I’m feeling stronger,” she told them. “I’ll still be here when you return this evening. God’s not ready to take me yet.”
* * * * *
DJ was quiet on the bus ride to school. He was in deep thought oblivious to the chatter of the other students on the bus. Why does Mom always go against what Dad says? She is always doing something he does not want her to do. A new car is nice, but why buy it without his knowledge? It’s okay to get a job, but why do it against his will and when you don’t need it?
He was surprised to find Eva still there and not his mother when he and his siblings returned home from school. He stopped by Mama Tess’ room to say ‘hello’ to her.
“You can sit on the floor and play awhile until your mama and daddy come home,” Mama Tess told him.
DJ sat on the floor with his books.
“How was school? Did you learn something new?” Mama Tess asked.
“Yes,” DJ said. “Want me to read one of my books to you?”
Mama Tess listened as DJ read to her. “That was very good. Just speak up louder and emphasize each word. Here,” she said reaching for her Bible. “Read me something from the Bible. Start from the beginning.”
“Grandma Tess, why did Mom have to get a job?” DJ asked.
“Oh, she just wanted something extra to do to help bring some money into the house.”
“Well, Daddy’s making enough money, isn’t he?” DJ said.
“Yes. But your mother wants the extra money to buy you children some of the things she did not have when she was y’all age. She does not want you all to have to do without like she did.”
“I’m not hurting for anything. I have everything I need,” DJ said.
Mama Tess laughed. “That’s the spirit to have. You be content with what you have; that’s the attitude God wants you to have.”
DJ read the Bible to his grandmother until his father came home. His mother came home forty minutes later.
Wednesday evening saw Rosalind hurrying off to Bible study at Tammi’s house. Things had been cool between them since Rosalind left her hanging the week she visited her mother in Fairhope, Alabama. That night’s Prayer Meeting and Praise Service was shorter than usual.
“You all are welcome to hang around and fellowship for a while,” Tammi said. “But if you’ll excuse our leaders, we’ll be having an important meeting.”
Tammi, Coralee, and Marybeth left the other members in the living room. Rosalind followed behind them to the family den in the back of the house.
“I didn’t know we all were having a meeting,” Rosalind said taking a seat on the sofa next to Coralee.
“We can’t keep up with you,” Tammi said. “I called your house several times but you’re never there. I didn’t bother to leave any messages because I’m not sure what has been going on with you since you came back from visiting your mother.”
“We also heard through the grapevine that you got a job,” Coralee said. “When did you plan on telling us? Not that it’s any of our business.”
“I was going to tell you,” Rosalind said. “I just wanted to make sure I was secure in my job position. And if you all want to know where, it’s at the pharmacy and I love it.”
The ladies exchanged glances of disapproval.
“I called this meeting because after sharing some things with you, ladies, and getting your feedback we have come to a crossroads in our ministry: a major decision has to be made,” Tammi said. “And this has to be put into effect within the next two weeks.”
“Excuse me, but what things did you all share? I don’t recall you sharing anything with me,” Rosalind said.
“I had a long talk with Apostle Dunbar about a week ago,” Tammi said. “He shared with me his vision for a great women’s ministry that will impact not only our small town here in Augusta; but it will spread all up and down this side of the country all the way up to New York. He has contacts and he’s partnering with some other churches in the denomination. I can’t begin to tell you what all he shared with me.”
Rosalind straightened her back. “Exactly what are you saying?” she asked.
“I’m saying we may want to consider joining up with him and the Pillar of Truth Church family,” Tammi said.
“In other words,” Coralee piped in, “we’re thinking of disbanding this church and going back to the Church of the Living God Pillar of Truth Apostolic where Apostle Dunbar is overseer.”
“You can’t do that!” Rosalind said.
“Says who?” Marybeth said.
“Says me. I started this church,” Rosalind said.
“No. We started this church,” Tammi said. “You would not have a church without us.”
“And you were not even thinking of starting a church until I mentioned it,” Rosalind retorted back. “This is my church and it’s going to continue.”
“Says who?” Marybeth said again.
“Says me,” Rosalind said looking from one face to the other.
“After that long talk I had with Apostle Dunbar and with Ketura,” Tammi continued, “and after thinking about it and turning things over in my head, the more I’m beginning to realize we went about this the wrong way. We tried to usurp his authority, and –”
“Here we go again,” Rosalind said rolling her eyes.
“As I was saying,” Tammi continued, “it’s getting to be stressful and I’ve had two ladies to share with me that it’s adding stress to their marriage and family as their husbands have refused to join them over here. They shared with me that they and their husbands are arguing more and there is constant unrest between them.”
“They just need to stand their ground,” Rosalind muttered.
“We heard that,” Marybeth said. “How would you like to be arguing with your husband every time you get ready for church or every time you come home from church. You might can go for days not talking to your husband and come to church acting like all is well; I can’t do that and I refuse to carry on like that any more. I’d rather close this church down and keep a good relationship with my husband.”
“Are you trying to say me and my husband are not getting along?” Rosalind said scooting to the edge of her seat. “Because if that’s what you are insinuating, you’d better watch it because you don’t know nothing about what takes place between me and my husband.”
“I’m just saying,” Marybeth said.
“Ahm, Rosalind, we did hear that you and your husband were not getting along; and how comes he hasn’t been over here to at least bless us with some Gospel singing? He’s still the Song Bird, isn’t he?” Coralee said quietly.
“As I was saying,” Tammi said, “after talking with Apostle Dunbar, I went ahead and apologized to him for disturbing his church and for allowing the devil to use me like that . . . which is more than some of us are willing to do.”
“Are you calling me the devil?” Rosalind said straightening her back.
An uneasy silence settled in the room.
“Those in favor of us disbanding within the next two weeks and returning to Pillar of Truth raise your hand,” Tammi said. “All who oppose may leave.”
All raised their hands except for Rosalind. She shot up out of her seat. “Well, I’ll just get my own building and get people who I can work with.”
Rosalind marched angrily out the room and out the door to her car.
Rosalind slammed the front door of her house.
“Whoa! Are you trying to break the door down?” Dwight said sitting up in his recliner. “And what took you so long to get home? It’s going on eleven. I know church did not last that long.”
“You don’t know that,” Rosalind said tossing her purse on the sofa and kicking her shoes off before plopping down on the sofa.
Mama Tess cleared her throat. “Want to talk about it?”
“I have never been so humiliated and disrespected in my life and over something that when you look at it, was not my fault at all. People can think for themselves!” Rosalind said.
“What people?” Dwight asked.
“People. Tammi. Coralee. Marybeth. Accusing me of causing some of the women in the church to be at odds with their husbands. I didn’t beat any of them over the head and threaten them into joining our church. I just knew I was going to have problems out of them.”
Mama Tess and Dwight looked at each other.
“I told you it was not going to work,” Dwight finally said. “Like Mama Tess, your own mother, and I told you, when you don’t do things God’s way, it will never work.”
“What was said?” Mama Tess asked.
“A bunch of hot talk about going back over to Pillar of Truth and that I’ll have to find another place to continue the church if I intend on going on. Just a bunch of hog wash,” Rosalind said.
“I wouldn’t call it hog wash,” Dwight said. “Those women are talking some sense. I told you to disband the church, apologize to Apostle Dunbar and he would welcome you back into the church with open arms and treat you as though nothing ever happened.”
“Yeah, right,” Rosalind said.
“You know, Rosalind, maybe that’s God trying to lead you into doing the right thing. Sometimes He has to force us out of what we are doing and force us into doing what He wants us to do.” Rosalind looked at her mother-in-law as she spoke. “In the first place, you should not have been worshiping at Pillar of Truth by yourself; you should have been worshiping with your husband and children at Mt. Providence Baptist Church.”
“What’s wrong with me worshiping at Pillar of Truth?” Rosalind asked.
“Nothing’s wrong with that if Dwight gave his consent,” Mama Tess said.
“And I sure did not consent to that,” Dwight piped in.
“You must have; you’ve been going there every other Sunday,” Rosalind retorted back.
“Only to minister to the people in song,” Dwight said.
“Yeah, right. Anyway, I believe Mama Tess is talking to me,” Rosalind said raising her eyebrows.
“As I was saying,” Mama Tess continued, “you have to be one in everything—even in your biblical beliefs and place of worship, and when there is conflict, someone is out of place. When there is a conflict in the church, someone is out of place. When there is conflict in the workplace, someone is out of place.”
“I got the point,” Rosalind said.
“Well, if you got the point you’d be doing the right thing,” Dwight said.
“I’m going to bed,” Rosalind said, pulling herself up from the sofa.
As she turned the corner at the end of the hallway she heard the children’s bedroom door close softly. She stuck her head through the door just in time to see DJ pulling the covers over his head.
“DJ, what are you doing up? Were you listening to us talk?”
Rosalind stood over him for some seconds but was not rewarded with a response. Heading to her bedroom she closed the door behind her.
Whew! That was close, DJ thought as he removed the blanket from around his face. I just don’t see why Mom can’t settle herself down and do what Daddy wants her to do.
Dwight joined Rosalind in bed.
“So what are you going to do?” he asked.
“You don’t need to worry about what I am going to do,” she said.
“I told you it was going to come back and bite you in the butt,” Dwight said, smothering a laugh.
“I’m trying to get some sleep over here, and your constant yacking is keeping me awake, so please go to sleep,” Rosalind said. She refused to think about what she was going to do until she heard her husband snoring.
Two more weeks. I’ll show them. I always get whatever I set my mind to. The audacity of them calling a meeting behind my back when I’m the one leading them to do something worthwhile and that could impact hundreds of women for God. I’ll show them.
The first Sunday after the church disbanded, Rosalind got up as usual, got dressed, and was heading out the door when Dwight stopped her.
“Wait a minute. The children and I are coming with you today,” he said.
“I don’t have time to wait. I’m running late as it is already,” Rosalind said tightening her grip on her purse while adjusting Jessica in her arms. “Plus, aren’t you supposed to be singing at Mt. Providence today?”
“Aw, they can do without me for one Sunday.”
“Who’s going with Mama Tess?”
“She’ll ride with Eva. It’s all been arranged,” Dwight said. “Come on, children.”
To Rosalind’s chagrin, Dwight, DJ, Rachel, and Kennedy marched out the front door and into her car. After taking her place in the driver’s seat, she backed out the driveway and drove slowly down the street.
“Seems to me you would drive a bit faster if you’re running so late,” Dwight said.
“I’m the one driving,” Rosalind said.
“Hey, I thought Tammi’s house was down that street,” Dwight said pointing to his left.
Rosalind blew and rolled her eyes. She parked before a small shop jammed between two other shops. The two front windows, one on either side of the door, had burglar bars over them. A hand-written sign was barely visible through one of the windows. It read: NEW BIRTH APOSTOLIC CHURCH, Overseer: Rosalind Randall-Jacobs.
“I see you all got a new building,” Dwight said.
Ignoring her husband’s comment, Rosalind hurried into the building. Five people—two women, one teenage girl, one little boy, and a man in his late fifties—were sitting down on the few folding chairs in the room.
“Good morning! Good morning!” Rosalind said. “So glad you all could come out to be with us today. Others will be joining us. Let’s give them about another five minutes then we’ll begin. You can fellowship while I look over my sermon.”
Dwight set the children down as he greeted those already present.
“I’m Dwight, Rosalind’s husband, and these are our children.”
Rosalind, who had taken a seat by the makeshift pulpit of four crates stacked one on top of each other and covered with a maroon tablecloth, and who appeared to be going over her sermon rolled her eyes as she heard her husband mention how they were related. I do not know why he had to come. She called the services to order so as not to give Dwight room for further conversation. At the end of the services, she called upon him to minister to them in song.
“I didn’t know the Song Bird was your husband,” one of the women said. “I’ll be back to hear him again, and I’ll definitely bring some others with me.”
A Mr. Dwyer entered the building while Rosalind was saying goodbye to the last attendee. Oh, no! Rosalind moaned within.
“Mrs. Jacobs, I came by with the papers for you to sign,” Mr. Dwyer said handing some papers to Rosalind.
Dwight looked on with curiosity as Rosalind quickly took the papers. “I’ll stop by and go over it with you on tomorrow,” she said. “I do thank you for stopping by.”
“We agreed to finalize it today,” Mr. Dwyer said.
“Excuse me, sir, I’m her husband. What are you both talking about?”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Jacobs. I’m Mr. Dwyer. I’m referring to the rental agreement for the use of this building on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings.”
Dwight reached out to take the papers from Rosalind. “I don’t know anything about this. When did you rent this building?” he asked his wife.
Rosalind balked as she reluctantly released the contract to her husband. “Well, we needed a place since we can’t meet at Tammi’s anymore, so I searched for another place to meet.”
“Where are Tammi and the others anyway?” Dwight asked. “I thought you all had disbanded the church.”
“They couldn’t make it,” Rosalind said.
“Is it they couldn’t make it or they’re never going to make it?” Dwight asked.
“Look, Dwight, if you don’t mind, this is between Mr. Dwyer and me,” Rosalind said.
“No, it’s between us and Mr. Dwyer,” Dwight said. “You rent a building . . . for how much now?”
“$350 per month,” Mr. Dwyer said.
“See, woman, here you go again,” Dwight said shaking his head in disbelief. “How do you plan on paying $350 per month? And I know you don’t have the money. Mr. Dwyer, when did you all talk about this?”
Mr. Dwyer cleared his throat. “My building was up for rent and a little over a week ago, your wife called and said she was interested in renting it, but would not have the down payment of $450 until the end of the month, but that she needed to begin using it today. After she told me it was for her church that had been meeting at a friend’s house, I told her she could use it this Sunday and next Wednesday and pay me at the end of the month. I figured a church that’s been going on for a while should have some money saved up; $350 is as low as I can go.”
“Well, they don’t have the money and neither do they have any people,” Dwight said. “And as her husband, I don’t have the money to pay for her rebellious dream. The church had its last meeting this past Sunday.”
“I guess you won’t be needing this then,” Mr. Dwyer said pointing to the contract in Rosalind’s hand.
The children, as instructed by their father, were quiet on the ride home. “You all go to your room and play until I call you,” he said to them as they climbed out the car. After making sure the three oldest children were all playing quietly and Jessica was asleep in her crib, Dwight went into the kitchen where Rosalind was shoving things around in the cupboard.
“What in the hell were you thinking? How could you be so devious to go and rent a building at $350 per month without my knowing and then try to lead me into believing Tammi and the others were behind you on this? And on top of that, leading Mr. Dwyer into believing you had a lot of people coming to the church.”
“Well, all we needed was another place to meet,” Rosalind said. “Tammi needed her house.”
“We? Who’s ‘we’? And it can’t be Tammi and the others because Tammi called on Thursday a little before you got home and left a message saying they were returning to Apostle Dunbar’s church this Sunday and that the church was officially closed and not to come to her house anymore.” Rosalind’s mouth gaped open. “She also said not to call any of the people who had been attending because she and Coralee had already contacted everybody.”
“Seems to me you’re the one being devious. Why didn’t you tell me she called?” Rosalind said.
“Because we wanted to see what you were going to do this Sunday,” Dwight said. “And we saw.”
“And who’s ‘we’?”
“Me and Mama Tess,” Dwight said.
“I’m the one who answered the phone.” Dwight and Rosalind were so busy arguing they did not notice Mama Tess sitting at the end of the dining room table next to the wall almost hidden by the curtains. She was nibbling on some crackers and cheese. “I passed the message on to Dwight and he told me not to say anything to you about it.”
Rosalind looked from Mama Tess to her husband and back to Mama Tess. “Are you plotting with Dwight against me?” she asked her mother-in-law.
Mama Tess chuckled. “No, baby. I don’t plot against people. And another thing I don’t do is interfere in people’s marriages—be it family, friend, or foe—unless I’m called upon. I respect Dwight as head of his house and he kindly asked me not to say anything after he asked my opinion of the whole matter. You should respect his position as head and just submit to his wishes so there won’t be any conflict.”
“You had better listen to your mother-in-law,” Dwight said. “As I was saying, coming up with $350 every month is a problem—a problem I guess you already have in mind how to fix. Anyway, the real issue is you did it behind everybody’s back.”
“Look, Dwight, I can think and make decisions for myself,” Rosalind said.
“You doggone right you can and that’s why you think so stupidly. You refuse to listen to what anybody else has to say,” Dwight said. “First, you thought for yourself and went out and got a job adding unnecessary stress to the family; mind you, we were doing quite well without that job.”
“That’s what you think,” Rosalind muttered.
“Second, you thought for yourself and went out and started this church which only existed a few months and within that short time caused discord in some families, even families in another church.”
Rosalind rolled her eyes.
“Again, you thought for yourself and went out and bought a car using other people’s money. And now, fourth, you thought for yourself and went out and rented a building without even having the down payment let alone the first month’s rent. You doggone right, you can think for yourself. And you’re going to suffer the consequences for yourself as well.”
“Dwight, you’re sticking your head into something you don’t need to be sticking your head into,” Rosalind said.
“You’re the same one who’s constantly complaining about not having this or that and wanting this or that. If you keep spending money like you’re doing, you are going to run us into the po’ house fo’ sho’,” Dwight said. “And I’m not trying to rhyme either.”
“I’m renting the building to do the Lord’s work. Don’t you care about that?”
Dwight chuckled. “You’re not going to use that line on me. And, yes, I care about the Lord’s work when it’s being done in the right way. Like you’ve always heard me say, there’s a thin line between faith and foolishness, and you’ve been acting foolishly.”
Mama Tess cleared her throat.
“Go ahead, Mama Tess. Maybe this time she’ll listen to you because I can’t get through her thick skull.”
“I won’t say much, but Rosalind, if you really want God to bless you, then you do as you know God wants you to do. You’re not a dumb person but you’re flighty; you’re restless. You need to settle down and stay in your place.”
“She won’t be needing the building,” Dwight told Mr. Dwyer the next day. “She tends to jump ahead of herself at times.”
* * * * *
“You did what?” Rosalind said to her husband later that evening when he told her he spoke with Mr. Dwyer. “You’ve really messed up now. I told you not to stick your big head into what does not concern you.”
“It does concern me when you’re getting ready to run the family into the ground. You need somebody to lay hands on you and cast that spending demon out of you,” Dwight said with a chuckle.
A phone call from Mother Randall interrupted their conversation.
“Dwight, it’s so good to hear your voice. How are my grand-babies doing? When are you all coming back to visit? How is Mama Tess? I miss you all so much.”
“Hello, Mother. What’s happening down there in Fairhope, Alabama?”
“We’re being blessed! We’re being blessed!” Mother said. “Have you heard from Apostle Morton? He mentioned having you over to preach a one week revival for him. We are so excited. Are you going to come and preach for us? They’re still talking about how blessed they were when you came and sang for us.”
“Now, Mother, you know I am no preacher,” Dwight said.
“Well, you got to start some time,” Mother said. “I’m just bragging about you to everybody and how God’s put a calling on your life. I’m so proud you’re my son-in-law. Yes, siree, the Song Bird is just the beginning. I claim it and I declare it.”
Dwight laughed. “Mother, you’re too much.”
“It’s strange you called at this time, but you may be the one to talk some sense into her head as she’s at it again.” Dwight shared with his mother-in-law all that had transpired since she left to go to Alabama.
“Put her on the phone and I’ll try talking to her,” Mother said. “Now you stay close to the phone as Apostle Morton will be calling you.”
* * * * *
Dwight was in a contemplative mood over the next two weeks as he kept turning over in his mind the conversation he and Apostle Morton had, and he just marveled at how good God is. Lord, I can’t believe You put Your hand upon a little old nobody like me in this way.
“Apostle Morton, I count it an honor that you would even consider me. But why me? I have never really preached before. I’m sure there are other preachers who have been preaching for years who could better fill your pulpit for the revival.”
“That is true, but I see something in you. You’re a humble person and you’re not trying to push yourself forward. From what I’ve seen of you, I believe you deeply fear God, and there’s no telling how God can use a man who fears Him,” Apostle Morton said.
“He’s a mighty good God, and He’s been good to me,” Dwight said. “Why don’t you just have a Gospel concert and I’ll be the guest singer rather than the guest preacher?”
Apostle Morton laughed. “Don’t try to get out of it, Brother Dwight. God told me you’re the one. The Gospel songs you sing — just remove the music and preach the words of the song to us. How about that? If the words can bless us through song, then the same words ought to bless us without music.”
“On a serious note, though, God told me to have you to be our main preacher for the entire week. You won’t be alone as we’re all praying for you,” Apostle Morton said. “There’s another reason I want you to preach and I’ll talk to you about it at the end of the week; for right now, just preach preacher, preach!”
* * * * *
What should have been an extremely joyous week for Rosalind leading up to the revival was a turbulent one.
“Aren’t you happy for me?” Dwight asked.
“Believe me. I am happy for you,” Rosalind said.
“Well, your face and tone of voice could have fooled me,” Dwight said. “Do you know why you’re not happy? It’s because you’re still scheming and because you did not have an input in Apostle Morton’s decision. Anyway, I thought you always wanted me to be a preacher. Well, here it is, I am a preacher.”
“I don’t have time for your sarcastic remarks,” Rosalind said, then added, “You could have been preaching at your own church a long time ago.”
“What’s the last thing you just muttered?” Dwight said.
“Dwight, I’m glad Apostle Morton called on you. Okay? Now go study and pray so you can have the power upon you next week.”
“What do you want me to preach on? I’m sure you have a bunch of ideas,” Dwight said picking up his Bible. “Now you know you’ll have to get the week off from your job because it’s too far to travel back and forth for a whole week especially for the children and Mama Tess because we’ll all be going.”
Rosalind sighed. I knew this was going to happen, she thought before answering. “I just started the job. I can’t leave for a whole week. It won’t be that far for you, me and even for Mama Tess to travel back and forth. Eva can watch the children for us that way they won’t miss school. Or they could just spend the week with Mother Charlene.”
“That will not be happening,” Dwight said.
“Mama Tess can sleep during the day time like she normally does and you and I are young enough to rough it for a week. I can work half a day each day for that week, I’m sure,” Rosalind continued.
“We’ll see,” Dwight said. “And I’m sure you won’t mind us using your new car for this special occasion. Is that not right?”
“This is a dream come true,” Mama Tess said as she, Dwight, Rosalind, and the children pulled out early Saturday morning headed for Fairhope, Alabama, for the one-week revival at the New Hope Pentecostal Holiness Church where Dwight was the guest speaker. “My son, the preacher. I prayed for you to answer God’s call. Thank You, God, for allowing me to live to see this day.”
“I can’t figure out what took him so long,” Rosalind said.
“It’s all in God’s time,” Mama Tess said. “You can’t push God’s hand forward, and neither can we hold His hand back. I can’t wait to sit down and have a long talk with Mother Randall. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Are you comfortable back there, Mama Tess?” Dwight asked his mother.
“Yes. Me and my grand-babies are having us a time back here,” Mama Tess said.
“Mama Tess, I’m no baby,” DJ said.
“Me, neither,” Rachel piped in.
“You’ll always be my grand-babies, even when you get big,” Mama Tess said. “How old are you any way?”
“I’m nine,” DJ said.
“I’m seven,” Rachel said, “and Lincoln is four, and baby Jessica is two.”
“Well, I guess I only have one grand-baby then,” Mama Tess said. This made her grand-children laugh.
Dwight looked across at Rosalind. “Thank you for letting us use your car.”
“You’re most welcome; you need to learn how to travel in style,” Rosalind said.
“And you don’t have to worry about your job; I’m sure it will be there when we get back,” Dwight said. “It wouldn’t hurt me any if they give it to someone who really needs it.”
“Yeah, right. I’m sure it wouldn’t,” Rosalind said in a huff.
* * * * *
Mother Randall, Rosalind’s mother, was so glad to have her family with her for the week. “I tell you what, we’re going to have us a time. I can feel it. I’ve been praying and claiming the victory all week. Dwight, what are you going to preach on?”
“The love of God,” Dwight replied, “because that’s what it’s all about. If you love God, then you’ll love everybody. Loving people is what’s going to make the difference.”
“Amen,” both mothers said.
The church building was filled to capacity on Sunday morning, the first day of the revival. The buzz around town was that the Song Bird had arrived.
“We’re gonna have us a high time in the Lord this week,” Apostle Morton said before introducing Dwight. “I see some new faces and some familiar faces. Some of our sister churches will be joining us throughout the week. Plan to definitely be with us on Wednesday when Apostle Dunbar from Augusta, Georgia, and his church family will be joining us in worship. Apostle Dunbar will be preaching with Brother Dwight Jacobs. Now, you know he’s a preaching machine. So we’re just gonna have us a time for sho’.”
Rosalind was at her best. She had a smile on her face throughout the week as she pitched in to help not only with the preparation of the food, but also in serving the meals prepared each night before the meetings as well as helping out with the ushering.
“We’ll need all hands on deck this week,” Apostle Morton said.
Rosalind over-compensated at the Wednesday night meeting as familiar, but convicting faces stood out in the crowd in support of Apostle Dunbar. Tossing her feelings of guilt aside she reached out to them. “Hey, Tammi, Coralee. It’s so good to see you all again. I trust you all had a very pleasant ride down here.”
“We sure did,” Tammi said.
“I didn’t know your husband was a preacher,” Coralee said. “What a great combination: a singer and a preacher.”
“Tell me about it. He should have been preaching for years now, but his stubborn self would not move forward,” Rosalind said laughing.
Look who’s calling someone stubborn, Tammi thought as she laughed along with Rosalind and the others.
“It’s all working out then because you don’t need two preachers in the same family. Baptist and Pentecostal won’t get along for long under the same roof,” Coralee said matter-of-factly.
Same old Coralee just running off at the mouth, never thinking before she speaks, Rosalind thought. Let me calmly set her in her place. “Are you trying to insinuate that my husband and I are not getting along?” she said with a smile that belied her thoughts.
“I’m just saying. No need to take it personally,” Coralee said. “I’m happy for you both.”
Tammi cleared her throat. “Let’s go and greet some other people before we leave,” she said taking Coralee by the arm. “There’s Annabeth and her husband and children.”
“You go ahead,” Rosalind said turning in the opposite direction.
The meeting was a tremendous success. Many joined the New Hope Pentecostal Holiness Church as Dwight challenged the attendees throughout the week to return to their first love:
“Ephesians chapter five likens our relationship with Christ to the relationship between the husband and the wife. Do you remember when you just got married and you were in your honeymoon period? You could not get enough of each other. You talked to each other every chance you got. In fact, when you temporarily ran out of things to talk about, you just sat there and held the phone and breathed at each other. You spent as much time as you could with each other. Your thoughts were: What can I get him or her? What can I do for him or her? Is that not right? But something happened and you began to stray away from each other; you no longer want to be around each other. Why? Because you lost your first love.
“It is the same with your love for Jesus. When you just met Jesus you were in love with Him, and you went through that honeymoon period with Him, and you thought about Him every waking hour, and you did all you could to show Him how much you love Him. But something happened and you no longer love Jesus like you used to; you no longer read His Word like you used to; you don’t talk to Him as much as you used to; you don’t talk to others about Him like you used to; you don’t even come to church as often as you used to and definitely not with the same eagerness as you used to. Is that not right? What happened?
“You lost your first love. The honeymoon is over with. But David tells us ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.’ God is still good. So why don’t you still love Him like you used to? The Bible says you ought to love God with all your heart, all your might, and all your mind, soul, and spirit. Love God with everything that you have. Why don’t you still love God?
“The songwriter says, The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell / It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. That’s some love. Isn’t it? So why don’t you still love God?
“Some of you are saying right now: ‘Brother Dwight, I still love God but . . .’ You still love God, but . . .? But what? Only you can complete the ‘but’ statement. But my Bible says Jesus said, ‘If you really love Me, you’d keep My commandments.’ If you still love God, you’d still be obeying Him. Your prayer ought to be: Take me back to that place where I first believed in You. Come to the altar, tonight, dear saints. The doors of the church are open.”
* * * * *
“Brother Dwight, God certainly used you this week,” Apostle Morton said as they met for lunch the Saturday following the meeting.
“God’s love will do it every time because love is what it is,” Dwight said.
“Now I know you mentioned returning to Georgia today, but as I expressed to you, I’d love for you and your family to join us in our services on tomorrow,” Apostle Morton said. “Remember I told you I had something very important I wanted to discuss with you. Well, as you can see I am getting on up in age what with my grey hair and failing health. I am seventy-six years old and I am ready to turn over the work the Lord used me to start here in New Hope to someone I have every confidence will faithfully carry on the work for God’s glory. I’ve been thinking of passing the baton on to my own son, but after praying about it, the Lord showed me that my son is not fit for such a task. The Lord showed me that he won’t be faithful and he’s just going to run it into the ground. So I’m going to break tradition and pass it on to someone outside of the family.”
“Who do you have in mind?” Dwight asked.
“Only one name keeps coming to my mind each time I pray and that name is Dwight Kensington Jacobs, The Song Bird.
Dwight let out a deep belly laugh. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“Do you see me laughing? God wants you to take over this church while I move down to warm sunny Florida where the weather is better for my health,” Apostle Morton said. “You shucked the corn every night this week. That only solidified my decision. Even Apostle Dunbar is in agreement.”
“You talked with Apostle Dunbar about this?” Dwight asked.
“Oh, yes. He’s a long time friend of mine. We discuss a lot of things. He’s been praying with me about it for some time now and we touched and agreed on it Wednesday after you both preached.”
“I don’t feel I am worthy to take over this great work the Lord has blessed you to do all these years,” Dwight said. “I’m sure there are more experienced preachers who would do a better job at it than I would. I mean, I have no preaching experience whatsoever.”
“As long as you’re saved and you’ve been walking with God faithfully and being obedient to Him, as far as I’m concerned, you can do the job. So, I won’t accept ‘no’ for an answer,” Apostle Morton said.
“Well, I’m honored,” Dwight said. “Don’t I even get time to pray about it?”
“No. I have done all the praying for you; you just need to accept the offer,” Apostle Morton said.
Apostle Morton waited for Dwight to digest the news. Dwight gladly accepted the offer but with some internal reservations. I just don’t see how Apostle Dunbar could even recommend me what with my wife almost ruining his church. I wonder has he said anything to Apostle Morton?
“You’re probably thinking you may have to discuss it with your wife and get her opinion and all that before you fully come on board. But here’s what I believe: I believe when God calls a man, that man does not need to have his wife’s endorsement. If the wife has her heart right, she will go right ahead and fall in place, after all, she’s supposed to be a help-meet and not the final decider.” Apostle Morton said. “Is that not right?”
Those final words solidified everything for Dwight thus setting his mind at ease. “That’s alright with me,” he said.
“That’s why I want you to worship with us tomorrow. I’ll be announcing your acceptance to the church family,” Apostle Morton said. “You don’t know this, but I spoke with your pastor, Rev. Ezra Helton at Mt. Providence Baptist, and he says that you’re one of those members he would hate to see leave.”
“It’s only by the grace of God he can say that because I say with Paul: I am what I am by the grace of God,” Dwight said.
The New Hope Apostolic Holiness Church family received Dwight Kensington Jacobs with a standing ovation coupled with resounding Amens and applause. Mother Randall was elated. “Dwight, I’m so happy you took the call. Apostle Morton shared with me he had you in mind and I just prayed and I just prayed that you would see it as God’s will for you and Rosalind and the children. He asked me how you were as a son-in-law. I had nothing but good words to say about you. Then he asked me about Rosalind. Well, you know she being my daughter, I didn’t want her or myself to look bad, so I told him she had her issues as all of us do but that she’ll be an asset to you as she’s a leader. Ooo! I’m so happy. And to think you all will be living closer to me.”
Dwight let his mother-in-law ramble on as it was warranted this time.
Rosalind almost lost control of herself. “I’ve been claiming it for years now. You’ve finally seen the light. Oh, praise the Lord! New Hope, here we come. First Lady Rosalind Kezia Randall-Jacobs has a certain ring to it. Doesn’t it?” Rosalind said to her mother and to Mama Tess. “You just wait until I tell Tammi and Coralee and the others as soon as we get back. They are going to be shocked.”
“There’s no need for you to go rubbing it in,” Dwight said. “Let them hear from someone else.”
“He’s right,” Mama Tess said
“Wait till I tell Ketura,” Rosalind said seemingly unaware of her mother-in-law’s words.
“Ketura already knows as does Apostle Dunbar. In fact, Apostle Dunbar gave his full endorsement despite what you did to him,” Dwight said. “I’m just keeping it real.”
Rosalind fell quiet and turned her mind in another direction. The things I will do with this church. Renovations, especially to the auditorium. We’re going to have the biggest, most beautiful church in this town—even bigger than First Baptist Church. Ladies, we’re going to soar high and wide. We buy that lot next to us and move the parking over there we’ll have room to expand our building. We’ll have a rich color scheme. Burgundy, royal blue, or crimson red. The first thing we’ll do is change the name of the church.
* * * * *
Dwight was in the pulpit at the New Hope Apostolic Holiness Church as its new overseer a month later.
“Just look at that sign,” Rosalind said beaming as they pulled up into the parking lot. “The Reverend Apostle Bishop Dwight Jacobs. It certainly has a ring to it.”
“I don’t see any ‘Reverend Apostle Bishop’,” Dwight said.
“Oh, it will be there before the week is over with,” Rosalind said.
“As you already know, a title means nothing to me. All I want is ‘Bishop’ before my name. The other titles you have to earn and that comes after years of preaching,” Dwight said. “Apostle Morton and I have already discussed the name change, so leave it as it is.”
Rosalind smiled as they climbed out of her car. “Another thing is, we have to get you a newer model car, one that fits your new status.”
“And get us into more debt,” Dwight said.
“Apostle Morton has him a new car.”
“That’s because he’s earned it. After almost forty years of faithfully serving the Lord in this location, what do you expect? He deserves everything: new house, new car, new clothes. He’s earned whatever new thing he gets,” Dwight was quick to say.
“A church of this size is doing well financially, I’m sure,” Rosalind said.
“In case you’re thinking you have a lot in this, I’d advise you to slow that thinking down because you’re just my wife—supposed to be my help meet. Right now, I’m the only one who’s been called to preach,” Dwight kindly reminded his wife as he headed to his office to look over his sermon.
The Lord allowed Mama Tess to bask in her son’s glory for two more months. She passed away in her sleep. By the grace of God, Dwight kept his composure as he delivered the eulogy.
“This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do as I feel I have just lost my best friend. But I am glad she lived to see me answer God’s call on my life. Mama Tess, as we affectionately call her, was always talking about God’s love. She would want me to tell you that you can only experience God’s love if you come to Him through Jesus Christ, so come to God right now.”
As the weeks turned into months and the months into years, under Dwight’s leadership, the Newhope Apostolic Holiness Church grew at a steady pace. In addition to overseeing the church, Dwight secured a daily thirty minute spot on the radio where he continued to minister to its listening audience through song and sharing encouraging words. Rosalind took her position as First Lady seriously—maybe too seriously. One of the first things she did was to get a job to “provide the extra money to enhance the appearance of the church,” she told her husband against his protests. “We need a more modern-looking building, one that is more inviting.”
“If you have your heart in the right place, you won’t worry about how modern the building looks as long as it is kept clean and is being used to glorify God,” Dwight said.
“You’re not a woman; you will never understand these things,” Rosalind said. “Also, as I’ve been telling you, if you want more people to come you have to cast aside some of your boring Baptist beliefs and ways of doing things and sway a bit more to the exciting Pentecostal side. Some of the women are already voicing to me that they’re concerned because you don’t speak the heavenly language; that’s part of our belief and strength as Pentecostal Holiness believers.”
“Pray tell, what’s the heavenly language?” Dwight asked.
“Speaking in tongues. I can’t believe you’re that ignorant. Anyway, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples all spoke in tongues and look what happened: over three thousand souls got saved,” Rosalind said.
“Well, I’ve never spoken the heavenly language before and God’s still using me to be a blessing to folks.”
“That’s because of your singing. You have to pray to God to bestow that gift of speaking in tongues upon you; you obviously lack that gift. You might want to ask Apostle Dunbar and some others to lay hands upon you again and to pray specifically for that gift to fall upon you.”
Rosalind was successful in planting that thought into Dwight’s mind so much so he began praying for that gift and began secretly listening to other preachers over the radio as they spoke in tongues while preaching.
Rosalind awoke around two one Saturday morning to hear sounds coming from the direction of the bathroom. She quietly walked up to the door and listened.
Whoa! she thought. He’s got it! He’s finally got it! She quietly slipped back into bed.
“Where have you been?” Rosalind asked with a yawn when her husband finally climbed into the bed about thirty minutes later.
“I didn’t know I was gone that long,” he replied.
“Long enough for me to wake up and notice your absence,” Rosalind said, pulling the blanket over her shoulders.
“I was studying. This is the only time I can do some concentrated studying,” Dwight said.
“You must have been doing some heavy reading; all that noise you were making woke me up,” Rosalind said with a smile. “Well, you go on ahead and get you some sleep. As you know, we have a long day tomorrow.”
Sunday services created a new excitement among the congregants. Word had gotten around that their new bishop had finally “gotten it.” The congregants worshipped with a new fervency when Dwight’s tongue was, to use Mother Randall’s words, “cut loose.”
“Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, good Lord! There’s no telling what heights he’ll bring New Hope to now. Oh, we’re going to soar like the eagles,” his mother-in-law said.
Some of the Mothers sitting off to the right in their white dresses, white hats, white gloves, and white embroidered handkerchiefs kept dabbing at their eyes in-between waving their handkerchiefs as the name “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” came rolling off their lips.
The deacons in their three-piece black suits and black shoes stomped rhythmically on the floor as they accompanied the Mothers in their chant. The musicians consisted of two women playing their tambourines, one young man striking a tune on a washboard, one middle-aged man tapping on a drum, a man playing a banjo, and blind Mr. Cummings playing his trusty harmonica. The atmosphere inside the auditorium was the hottest they had experienced since Apostle Morton turned the church over to Dwight.
“The doors of the church are open. Won’t you come and be a part of our flock here at New Hope?” Dwight said with extended arms as he closed out the services. “Maybe you just want prayer. Folks, remember that God loves you; yes, He does.”
“Bishop, we had church today for sho’,” some said as they shook Dwight’s hand after the services.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many come to the altar at one time,” Dimples, Apostle Morton’s daughter, said. “I wish Daddy was here to witness this. I’ll be giving him a call tonight for sure.”
“Bishop, you raised the roof; you raised the roof,” Deacon Saunders said as he shook Dwight’s hand. “First Lady Rosalind, what can I say but behind every great preacher there is a great First Lady,” he said giving Rosalind a hug—a hug that caused one of the church ladies, Mildred Magan, to raise her eyebrows.
Rosalind pushed relentlessly for a wider voice for the women in the church after a few months of observation.
“Why can’t you just be happy serving as my wife and helping in the women’s ministry that Dimples already has going?” Dwight asked out of frustration. “She’s doing a great job organizing the women into visiting the sick and shut-in, keeping me abreast of the birthdays of the church family and sending them birthday cards, taking care of the dinner on the grounds whenever we have them, organizing the Sunday school for the children, seeing that we have fresh flowers for the pulpit and the vestibule every week, and being an encouragement to everyone, and even making sure I have a cold glass of water as I preach.”
“That’s because after her mother died, those duties fell upon her as no one else would step forward. And remember, her mother was Apostle Morton’s wife, and I am your wife. Need I say more,” Rosalind said.
“You don’t have to remind me of that,” Dwight said.
“Plus, that’s too much for one person to handle. She’s going to wear herself out trying to do all that by herself,” Rosalind said.
“So what are you suggesting?” Dwight asked.
“You focus on studying and preaching the Word. I’ll help with the day to day things that we women are so good at,” Rosalind said.
“Maybe if you quit that job you will be better able to help with the day to day things of the church,” Dwight muttered.
“See, I told you,” Rosalind said to Dwight a few days later. “Dimples gladly turned over the leadership position of the women’s ministry to me. She agreed with me that I am your wife and I should be the one heading it as it would be better and easier to bounce things off of you being that you are my husband.”
As if you ever bounced anything off of me, Dwight wanted to say. “Are you sure you didn’t force her into agreeing with you? You’re good at that.”
“Now why would I do that?” Rosalind said with a straight face.
“You know,” Dwight said. “Why don’t you bounce some of your great plans for this church off me right now.”
Rosalind chuckled. “Since you asked: we must come up with a more catchy name for our women’s ministry. How does ‘Mighty Women for the Lord’ sound?”
The only thing you’re mighty in is telling people what to do, Dwight thought.
About a week later, Rosalind presented Dwight with a flyer. It read:
Come Worship With us at the
Love & Peace Pentecostal Holiness Church
where the Rev. Bishop Dwight Kensington Jacobs presides as Overseer
assisted by his wife, First Lady Rosalind Randall-Jacobs, co-pastor
at 942 Cherry Parkway right across from the park
New Name + New Bishop = New Beginnings
** Home of ‘Mighty Women for the Lord’
“What is this?” Dwight asked as he read the flyer.
“A flyer announcing our church,” Rosalind said.
“Our church? This says Love & Peace Pentecostal Holiness Church. The printer must have given you the wrong flyers,” Dwight said looking up. “Plus, New Hope has been in existence for years now; we really do not need any flyers to announce the church . . . maybe for a revival or something, but not just to announce the existence of the church.”
“Just keep reading,” Rosalind said.
“What is this?” Dwight asked after reading the flyer.
“The new name does have a ring to it, doesn’t it?” Rosalind said. “That’s the new church name. We had it changed from New Hope to Love & Peace which is more inviting and which represents you much better. Love and peace lets people know right off the bat that that is what you are about. Is that not right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Dwight said. “But, I didn’t authorize this.”
“We have two hundred printed up and ready to pass out. And I can get some more printed up when we run out,” Rosalind said ignoring her husband’s last words. “Like I told you, you focus on studying and preaching, and I’ll take care of the day to day operations of the church. By the way, the new sign went up today. My boss has given me permission to give a flyer to each customer who comes into the store.”
“Apostle Morton has already laid the foundation for us. New Hope Pentecostal Holiness is already a household name. I mean, what are you trying to do?”
“Trying to expand our coast. Dwight, you’re not seeing this as clearly as I am. You are short-sighted in your vision. You have to get a name for yourself—fast. You can’t ride off Apostle Morton’s name. You create your own name and you ride off your own name,” Rosalind said. “I’ve split up one hundred of the flyers among some of the ladies. That’s why I’m late coming home; I had to drop them off. As soon as we eat I’m taking DJ, Rachel, and Kennedy with me to pass out as many as we can this evening and throughout the week. I’m sure you won’t mind watching Jessica while we take care of the Lord’s work, now would you?”
Dwight’s only response was to read the flyer again.
* * * * *
“Dad, we had fun,” Kennedy said when Rosalind and the children returned home. “I handed out the most.”
“I passed out just as much as you did,” Rachel said.
DJ did not say anything because he felt that his father did not authorize the flyers.
“Okay. That’s enough arguing,” Dwight interrupted his kids.
“See,” Rosalind said, “even the children had fun inviting people to the House of the Lord.”
As soon as Rosalind and the children settled down, Dwight left to go see the new church sign. He examined every letter. I know some money went into this, he thought as he ran his fingers over the glossy surface. I wonder whose idea it was to light it up at night?
Love & Peace Pentecostal Holiness Church. Well, love is what I am all about, Dwight thought as he climbed back into his car.
When Dwight returned home Rosalind was sitting up in the bed with her Bible on her lap and a notebook in hand.
“So how do you like the new sign?” she asked.
“Who says I went to look at the sign?” Dwight said.
“Come off it,” Rosalind said with a smile. “That’s the only place you could have gone.”
“Since you asked: I must say I love it. My question is: how much did it cost? And where did you get the money to pay for it?”
“You worry too much about how much things cost,” Rosalind said. “Can’t you just enjoy the sign? But since you asked: Deacon Saunders gave the okay and paid for it out of the church funds.”
“What? Now you know you can’t do that! We have to call a deacon’s meeting and get their consent before any money can go out of the church funds. And I have to be involved in it as well. For something like this, we may even have to have the entire church involved; some may not want the name changed,” Dwight said. “Are you trying to run the church into the ground like you tried to do Apostle Dunbar’s and like you expressed dissatisfaction at some of the things we did at Mt. Providence?”
Rosalind sighed. “Most people don’t know what they want, so if you lead them they’ll follow you. Besides, Deacon Saunders is the head deacon; he’s the final decider. He’s been around long enough to know the heartbeat of the other deacons to make a decision without them. He also knows the heartbeat of the people of the church. Just don’t worry about it; you just preach.” Rosalind picked up her Bible, read a little and started scribbling in her notepad. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to get my next lesson ready for the women’s meeting. You might want to do the same and not wait until Saturday or Sunday to get your sermons ready.”
Lord, am I going to have problems out of her going forward? Dwight wondered as he got ready for bed.
* * * * *
Dwight was not only known as the ‘Song Bird,’ but he also became known as the ‘Love Pastor.’ “That’s what it’s all about,” he shared with those who had gathered at his house for an after-church love feast. “Jesus was all about love.”
“You got that right,” Mildred Magan said.
“The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins,” Deacon Saunders said casting a glance at Rosalind.
Rosalind blushed and excused herself to go to the kitchen to bring in the food.
“Mom,” DJ said after following her to the kitchen, “may I please get my food first and go eat in my room?”
“Now you know our guests get served first; that’s just good hospitality. And you’ve always sat out here with us. Are you feeling sick or something?” Rosalind asked.
“No. I feel fine.”
“Then what is it?”
“It’s just that after they all dig into the food I hardly get any. The last Sunday they came over I only got one piece of chicken and I don’t like eating with a bunch of people,” DJ said.
“Well, that bunch of people happens to be your church family. You can sit with your brother and talk with him like you normally do,” Rosalind said.
They may be your family but not mine, DJ thought as his mother fixed his plate. I’m so tired of having all these people over here every Sunday eating up all the fried chicken and collard greens and cornbread and drinking up all the Kool-Aid. “Mom, you forgot the apple pie,” he said as his mother handed him his plate.
“Another thing,” Rosalind said as she cut him a huge piece of pie, “haven’t I told you not to ever go to sleep in church especially while your father is preaching?”
“Yes, ma’am. I couldn’t help it this time; I was so bored.”
“DJ, you’re twelve years old. You can’t be falling asleep in church. That’s disrespectful to your father and to God. I told you to stop staying out late with your friends especially on Saturday nights, but you refuse to listen.”
“Well, Deacon Wilson always falls asleep in church.”
“That’s because he’s an old man.”
“And grumpy, too,” DJ said, then added with a laugh, “Maybe if he stops using all his energy to hide that alcohol bottle in that brown bag he’s always turning up to his mouth as soon as he steps out the church door, he might be able to stay awake.”
Rosalind stifled a laugh. “I am serious. If you fall asleep again, you’re going on the mourner’s bench so we can lay hands on you and cast that sleeping demon out of you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” DJ said as he hurried out of the kitchen and headed to his room. “The mourner’s bench is the last place I want to be.” I don’t know why people want to sit around and talk when there’s a football game on, he thought as he turned his television on loud enough to block the laughter coming from the living and dining room. He had claimed Mama Tess’ twelve inch television for himself after she died. Ah, this is the life, he thought as he took a bite of his chicken.
He had barely swallowed his first bite when Kennedy pushed his bedroom door open.
“I see you’re trying to disappear from the church crowd too,” Kennedy said. “Need some company?”
DJ nodded. “As long as football is on your mind. Come in and make sure you lock the door.”
Dwight’s pastoral duties at the church began to increase as more people became members. Dwight was being called on more to speak on social issues in the community of Newhope. He, in his own way, had become a leader among the people as he gave off a spirit of genuine love and compassion for them. He would sometimes drive around town tooting his car horn at the folks, waving and shouting a greeting here and there. “That’s what it’s all about: loving all people with God’s love,” he said to his sons who he often took with him as he rode around town.
Dwight’s air time on the radio was increased to one hour each day. From out of that, he produced a Gospel album in which his mother-in-law played a vital role. He offered to clean the radio station in exchange for free air time. Sometimes DJ and his brother would accompany their father and help him as he cleaned the radio station.
“I know you boys can think of a hundred things you would rather do on a Monday night than help clean up a dirty radio station; but a big part of life is doing dirty jobs and doing things you don’t like to do as you will find out as you get older. Any way, a dirty job is not a dirty job if you do it for the glory of God,” Dwight told his sons one evening when DJ displayed a bad attitude when he was asked to empty the ash trays.
“If Dad thinks I’m going to spend my life emptying ash trays and emptying other people’s trash cans, then he’d better think again,” DJ whispered to his brother when Dwight left the room. “There are a hundred things I could be doing right now.”
“Yeah, like what?” Kennedy asked.
“Like riding my bicycle in the rain, or maybe trying to outrun the train–”
“Or walking across the beam on the bridge like you’re some acrobat or something,” Kennedy said laughing. “You had better be glad Dad and Mom never found out.”
“Yeah, that was kind of stupid. But I had fun doing it.” DJ chuckled as he resumed picking up the trash off the floor so his father could mop.
“If I was Dad, I’d quit this job and focus on the church,” Kennedy said. “Or focus on just singing and recording. He could make a lot of money doing just that. I’d travel from place to place like the Sensational Nightingales and Diana Ross and the Supremes, and I’d charge people a bundle to listen to me.”
“Aren’t you too young to be talking about making money?” DJ said to his brother.
“Not me. I’m going to make a lot of money and buy me a big house and do whatever I want to do.”
“I hear you. Ain’t nothing wrong with making good money,” DJ said with a laugh. “Well, let’s hurry up ’cause I’m ready to go home and watch some television.”
“I’m glad to see you boys are having fun,” Dwight said walking into the room. “What’s so funny?”
DJ and Kennedy looked at each other. “Just something Kennedy said,” DJ said. “Anything else you want us to do, Dad?”
“I think that’s all,” Dwight said. “You boys can wait in the break room while I mop the floor. While we wait for the floor to dry we can pick the trash up outside, then we’ll be good to go.”
“Okay, Dad,” DJ and Kennedy said as they headed for the break room.
“Man,” DJ said. “I hope there’s nobody outside ’cause I don’t want my friends or anybody seeing me picking up trash outside of a radio station. They’ll laugh me to scorn for sure.”
“So did you boys have fun?” Dwight asked his sons on the drive home.
“I did,” Kennedy said.
“It was okay,” DJ said. “Dad, I thought now that you’re a big time pastor you didn’t have to do this kind of work anymore,” DJ said after some time had passed.
“I really don’t have to do this, son. I’m only doing it to be a help and a blessing to others and to show my appreciation for them letting me have some free radio time.”
DJ was thoughtful on the rest of the drive home.
Sunday afternoons saw the family going on one of their family outings. It was a favorite past-time of Dwight—to surprise the family by taking them on a drive somewhere especially on Sunday afternoons.
“I met this older couple a few weeks ago and I promised them I would take ya’ll to meet them,” Dwight said as he, Rosalind and the children got into his car. “Remember I told you about them.” He glanced over at Rosalind as he backed out the driveway. “They are an older Jewish couple. They used to live in New York. I’m not sure if I ever told you children this, but I used to work for a Jewish gentleman at this fur factory when your mother and I lived in New York. DJ, you were a baby then. All you other children were born in Georgia.”
Rosalind sighed. “This had better be worth my time,” she said. “We had a long day at church. Couldn’t we have just stayed home tonight? It’s going to be dark soon. Do we really have to visit them right now?”
“Once you meet them, you’ll be talking differently,” Dwight said.
“Dwight, we could have visited them on a Saturday when we have all day,” Rosalind said.
“Saturday? You work half the day at the pharmacy and the other half you spend running all across town doing only God knows what,” Dwight said.
“Taking care of household stuff and church business,” Rosalind snapped back.
DJ listened to his parents argue. Kennedy sat quietly beside his brother, remembering his brother’s words to him on one of their trips: You play too much. You must learn to listen more.
There goes Mom again, never satisfied with anything and never wanting to do anything Dad suggests unless she’s in charge of it. Why can’t she just enjoy the ride? DJ thought. When she gets ready she visits her friends and stays out as late as she wants to.
“Children, you’re going to love meeting Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein. You know the Jews have an interesting history. They are God’s chosen people and God has watched over them in a special way. Everything they put their hands on God blesses,” Dwight said. Turning to his wife he said, “We ought to take a special trip to New York and stop by the fur factory where I used to work. I wonder if Mr. Hirsch is still alive? You children would love him. What do you think about that, Rosalind?”
“That would be nice,” Rosalind said. “But I really don’t see any need for it. We would need at least two weeks to make the trip worth it. New York is not a hop, skip, and a jump away. On top of that, you’re too busy. Who would fill in for you while you’re gone?”
“You sure know how to put a damper on things,” Dwight said. “Can’t you look on the positive side of things rather than always looking at the negative side?”
“Maybe if more people looked on the negative side of things we would not be hit with so many surprises,” Rosalind said.
Dwight shook his head. “Which of you children want to visit New York with me in the summer . . . even if we have to leave your mother behind?” Dwight asked.
“I would,” DJ, Kennedy, Rachel, and Jessica all said.
“You have your family roots there,” Dwight said.
“Dwight, stop lying to the children,” Rosalind said.
Here we go again, DJ thought.
“My family came from Alabama, so half of their roots is from right here. The other half is from Georgia where your family comes from. They really have no ties to New York at all.”
“Well, one thing I know and it is this: all of our roots are in Adam and that is all that matters. Isn’t that right, children?” Dwight said with a chuckle. “On a more serious note, it would be nice to take a short trip to New York so you can meet your cousins and your uncles and aunties and visit Coney Island. That’s the first place I took your mother to when we first met. She was all smiles then.”
Dwight looked across to his wife.
Rosalind tried to hide her smile.
“Go ahead and smile. You know you enjoyed that little trip. Those were some good days,” Dwight said. “Remember, I bought you the biggest and most delicious hotdog you ever had. That’s what you told me, so you can’t deny it.”
The children giggled.
“Dad, can you tell us more about when you were living in New York and some of the other places you visited?” DJ asked.
“Yeah,” Kennedy said. “Did you ever march with Dr. King?”
For the remainder of the drive to the Goldstein’s home, Dwight shared with his children his experiences in New York, in Georgia while growing up, and playing baseball while in the Air Force.
“I think that’s what I want to play—baseball,” Kennedy said.
“Not me. I still think football is the best sport,” DJ said.
DJ sat on his bed tugging at the neck of his white shirt. Even his newly washed and pressed black pants felt foreign to him.
This is the Sunday I’ve been waiting for, he thought with a smile. Now I’ll know what it feels like to be baptized.
“Are you ready for this special day?” Dwight asked DJ after the family was seated at the breakfast table.
“Yes, sir,” DJ said with a grin. “I can’t wait to go under the water in the pool at First Baptist Church.”
“It’s more than just going under the water,” Dwight said. That water signifies the washing away of our sins. You’re going to go down a sinner but once you come up out of that water you are a new creature in Christ.”
“Amen,” Rosalind said. “That means you have to put away your childish foolishness and begin acting right.”
“Do you have any idea why we choose to baptize you at twelve years old? And all you other children will be baptized as well when you turn twelve,” Dwight said. “Jesus was twelve years old when he traveled to Jerusalem with His parents. When Mary and Joseph were on their way back home, they couldn’t find Jesus. After searching for Him they found Him in the temple teaching the grown men. Isn’t that something? It would be like you teaching me the Bible.”
“Like I’ve been telling your father, it’s time for us to have our own baptismal pool added on to the church. It makes no sense for us to keep going down to First Baptist Church,” Rosalind said. “Your grandparents used to go down to the river to get baptized. I remember those days. We could only do it during the summer time though. We used to sing, ‘Take Me to the Water to Be Baptized.’”
“Did you get baptized in the river?” Rachel asked.
“Oh, no. When I got baptized we were so-called moving up as black folks,” Rosalind said. “We had a huge, I mean, a giant-sized rectangular portable tub. You had to climb up on a few make shift stairs to get into that thing. In fact, I got baptized here at New Hope by Apostle Morton. Mother insisted that I get baptized at the church where I was christened as a baby. So we took a one week trip from New York just for that. Dimples and two other girls and myself got baptized on the same day. It was a day I’ll never forget, and DJ, don’t you forget this day either.”
The excitement at Love & Peace Apostolic Holiness Church was contagious and it fed into the baptismal services around four that afternoon. This special service opened with their traditional baptismal song:
Take me to the water
Take me to the water
Take me to the wa-a-a-a-t-e-r-r-r-r
To be baptized.
None but the righteous
None but the righteous
None but the ri-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ighteous
Shall be saved.
DJ listened more closely to the words of the song as he, Johnny Boy, and Marcus waited their turn on the front pew while Sarah-Lee and Mable were being baptized. Noticing Johnny Boy’s trembling hands, DJ whispered to him, “Are you scared, Johnny Boy? This is nothing to be scared of. You just close your eyes real tight, keep your mouth shut, take a deep breath, cover your nose with your hands and plunge under the water. You’ll be up outta there in seconds.”
Johnny Boy nodded his head, but fear was still in his eyes. His hands trembled more. He looked like he was going to throw up any minute. Marcus was baptized first. He had a big grin on his face after he came up out of the water. He waved to DJ and Johnny Boy.
“See there’s nothing to it,” DJ said to Johnny Boy.
He watched as Johnny Boy trudged toward the door leading to the baptismal pool. He had on a white shirt that clung to his already skinny body. And his black pants which were a size or two too big for him were held in place by a belt that almost went around his waist twice.
Oh, boy, DJ thought when Johnny Boy came up from under the water sputtering and coughing. Well, at least he did not chicken out.
DJ had a grin on his face when he came up out of the water. That night as he laid in his bed watching the little black and white television he got when Mama Tess died he thought over the events of the day and things happening in the family as it related to the church and to God.
I got baptized today, but I don’t feel any different. Am I supposed to feel different? I’ve seen grown folks in the church get baptized but I don’t see them acting any differently.
The words of the baptismal song came to him:
Take me to the water
Take me to the water
Take me to the water
To be baptized
Do I have religion now that I’m baptized? Is being baptized the same as being saved? What does it mean to be saved? This is confusing.
DJ got out of bed and knelt on the floor, “Lord, show me the light. Please show me the light.”
It was nearly nine on Thursday night when Dwight burst through the front door with a brown paper bag in his hand. Rosalind, who was sitting on the couch, with her Bible study materials looked up in surprise.
“What’s the problem? Is somebody chasing after you?” she asked.
“Billy. I can’t miss Billy Graham,” Dwight said turning the television on to the live airing of the Billy Graham 3-day crusade being held in South Carolina. “I had forgotten all about it until I heard the announcement at the radio station. Where are the children? I want them to listen to him. He’s a great man of God.”
“The children are already asleep,” Rosalind said with finality. “You know they have school in the morning. DJ might still be up. I told him to stay in his room and read or watch television until he falls asleep.”
“DJ!” Dwight shouted. “DJ, come on out here.”
“Dwight, you’re going to wake the other children up,” Rosalind said.
Dwight sat down in his easy chair. “Go wake the other children up. I don’t want them to miss any of this preaching. Listen to that great singing. Thank God he hasn’t started preaching yet.”
“Dwight, the children are–”
“Go get them,” Dwight said without taking his eyes off the television.
“Hi, Dad,” DJ said as he walked into the living room.
“Hey, DJ. I want you and your siblings to listen to Billy Graham with me.”
Rosalind returned to the living room with Rachel, Kennedy, and Jessica. The children sat down on the floor next to DJ.
“Daddy!” Jessica said reaching up to her father.
“Come up here and sit on my lap, little boo,” Dwight said placing his youngest daughter on his lap. “Did you children have a good day today?”
“Yes, Dad,” they all said.
“I woke you up because I want you all to listen to Billy Graham with me,” Dwight said.
“Dad, we listen to him preach every Monday,” Kennedy said.
“Yes, I know that. Tonight he’s holding a special crusade in South Carolina and I want us to listen to him,” Dwight said.
Rosalind who had picked up her Bible and study material started towards their bedroom.
“Where are you going, Rosalind? Sit down and listen with us,” Dwight said without taking his eyes off the television. “Come on, children. Let’s make a joyful noise unto the Lord with George Beverly Shea. That will help wake you up. Say, Rosalind, do you think I could get a little concert with Mr. Shea? Don’t you think we’d make quite a team?”
Rosalind rolled her eyes as she sat back down on the couch.
Bring them in, Bring them in,
Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.
The children tried singing along, but they stumbled over most of the words. Even Rosalind had a smile on her face as she listened to the children trying to sing this ‘new’ song.
“They sure sing differently from how we sing at church,” Rachel said as she picked up the brown bag that was lying on the floor next to Dwight’s chair.
“Here, Dad,” she said handing him the bag.
“Oh, I had forgotten all about that,” Dwight said. He pulled out a package of Lorna Doone cookies from the bag and divided it up among himself and the children. “It can’t get any better than this: munching on Lorna Doone cookies while listening to the greatest preacher of all times. Rosalind, why don’t you get me and the children some milk to go with the cookies. Hurry. He’s getting ready to preach.”
For the next hour, Dwight and his family listened as Billy Graham spoke the Word of Truth.
“He is on to something,” Dwight said after the preaching. “He is definitely on to something. Salvation only through Jesus Christ and nothing else. He said those words at least five times. I’d do anything to go to one of his meetings. I need to find out when he’s coming to Georgia. We can make it a family thing and stay in a hotel for that week depending on where he’ll be preaching.”
“We can put on a huge conference like that someday, too,” Rosalind said, “especially if all in our denomination come together as one.”
“There you go again,” Dwight said. “Can’t you just be happy for the success of others without wanting to compete with them? Anyway, I’ll find out his schedule for the rest of the year. I can probably write to his ministry or something. Who knows? He might just end up here in Fairhope, Alabama.”
“I can’t believe how my grand-babies are growing,” Mother Randall said when she stopped by to visit Rosalind and the family on Friday evening. “I’m so proud to hear you’re all doing well in school. And I’m so proud of you, DJ, for being the first of your sisters and brother in getting baptized. You went down under the water like a young boy, but came up like a man. Rachel, you’re next, right?”
“Mother, I’ve been telling Dwight that we don’t need to keep using the baptismal pool at First Baptist. It’s time for us to get our own pool,” Rosalind said. “Don’t you think so?”
“What’s wrong with using the pool at First Baptist? As far as I know that hasn’t been causing a problem. We’ve been using it since before Apostle Morton left,” Mother Randall said.
“No, there’s no problem—yet,” Rosalind said.
“What do you mean by ‘yet’?” Mother Randall said.
“As thick as racism has been in this area and still is, do you really think all the folks at First Baptist are pleased with us using their baptismal pool? It’s only a matter of time before some disgruntled person says something about it. You watch and see,” Rosalind said. “Anyway, to prevent that from happening we need to get our own pool installed. We need to make progress. I’ve already started looking into the cost and all that it would entail, and –”
“And it’s going to cost a lot,” Mother Randall said. “Have you spoken with Dwight about this?”
“Let’s just say it’s another surprise that’s in the hat for him. Like I told him, he does not need to worry about the everyday management of the church. He just needs to focus on studying the Word and preaching the Word,” Rosalind said. “Don’t say anything to anyone about this. I’ll need to talk with Deacon Saunders and the deacon board first.”
* * * * *
“Yes, Mrs. Rosalind. What’s so important we had to steal away from the crowd to talk about?” Deacon Saunders said with a grin as he met with Rosalind in one of the church classrooms after morning worship services. He closed the door behind them once they were inside the room.
“Just something that I need for you to put into play for me without any hesitation whatsoever,” Rosalind said setting her purse on one of the tables. She pulled out two sheets of paper and unfolded them.
“Anything for the first lady of my church,” Deacon Saunders said still holding his grin.
“I want you to look into how much it will cost to get our own baptismal pool installed with hot and cold water,” Rosalind said matter-of-factly. “Something similar to First Baptist except we don’t want the sliding doors. We want thick curtains that we can either raise or draw to the side. And, we would like chandeliers hanging from the ceiling right smack in the center. That way we can have a heavenly ambiance when we baptize our folks.”
“Who’s we?” Deacon Saunders asked. “And do you know how much this is going to cost?”
“Don’t worry about the ‘we,’ and don’t worry about the cost. Just have faith in God,” Rosalind said. “I already know that there is more than enough money in the church budget to take care of it.”
“Mrs. Rosalind, we’re already putting all that money into the expansion of the church building so that we can accommodate our ever-growing crowd.”
“I wouldn’t say ‘all’ our money. I believe if you just add that as part of the expansion-renovation work being done, then the people will continue giving and may actually increase their giving,” Rosalind said. “And when you get up next Sunday to give an update, then just mention the baptismal pool being added to the renovation work being done. And when you do mention it, don’t mention my name. I’d rather remain in the background. I don’t want anyone thinking I’m pushing myself forward because I’m Bishop Jacobs’ wife. I’m sure you can understand that.”
“Mrs. Rosalind, we took the plans for the renovation of the church before the congregation after the deacons, Bishop Jacobs, and myself agreed on them, and the congregation gladly stood with us because they felt it was something good. They don’t want us springing any surprises on them, especially when it involves their money,” Deacon Saunders said.
“You can just tell them you forgot to mention it and give them a few reasons why we need to have our own pool installed,” Rosalind said. “You’re not head deacon for nothing. We’re paying your salary.”
Deacon Saunders eyed Rosalind. “Mrs. Rosalind, that would be lying. You know that. The talk never came up before about installing our own baptismal pool. Plus, for something major like that, all of us deacons and Bishop Jacobs have to agree in most cases before we even bring it before the church,” Deacon Saunders said in a more serious tone.
“Is there anything wrong with us getting our own baptismal pool?” Rosalind asked. “I think not. Anyway, I figured you would balk at this, so I went and spoke with the foreman of the construction company,” Rosalind said. She plopped the two sheets of paper on the desk they were standing next to. “He already gave me an exact quote and we drew up an addendum to add to the other contract. See for yourself. I already co-signed. He just needs for you to sign as head deacon just as you did the original contract.” Rosalind took her pen out of her purse and held it out to Deacon Saunders.
“Have you talked with your husband about this?” Deacon Saunders asked.
“The Bishop and I have already talked about this some. But we agreed when he took over the church that I, along with others of the church, that is those who have a position of significance like you do, would take care of the daily operations of the church while he focuses on preaching the Word and on prayer,” Rosalind said. “Go ahead and sign your name just above mine. I told the foreman I would bring the papers back to him on tomorrow.”
Rosalind smiled as Deacon Saunders took the pen from her. She pointed to the line right above her signature. “Date it also,” she said. She folded the papers and returned it to her purse, along with her pen.
She pulled something else out of her purse. “Here’s one hundred dollars cash. Give me the honor of being the first to donate to the installation of the baptismal pool,” she said placing the cash into Deacon Saunders’ hand.
“You don’t have to. You’re the Bishop’s wife. You don’t have to donate to any cause here. It’s our job to take care of you and the Bishop,” Deacon Saunders said laughing.
“I just want to do my part,” Rosalind said, “Besides, I have three more children yet to be baptized and I want them baptized in our own pool and not some other church’s pool. On top of that, I’ll make it worth your while next time you come over for Sunday dinner.”
“What do you mean by that?” Deacon Saunders said the grin returning to his face.
“Crispy Southern fried chicken thighs and lemon cream vanilla pound cake with extra sweet vanilla glaze,” Rosalind said swinging her purse under her arm and adjusting her hat.
“You sure know how to get to a man’s heart,” Deacon Saunders said.
Ain’t nothing to it especially if it’s a soft man like you, Rosalind thought. “You take care of me and the things I desire for this church, and I’ll take care of you,” she said as she walked by him. She swung the classroom door open and stepped out into the hallway.
“Hello, Mildred. Were you looking for me?” Rosalind asked as she fell in step with Mildred Magan who was coming down the hallway.
“No. But I believe your husband is,” Mildred said casting a quick glance through the open door to see Deacon Saunders stepping towards it.
* * * * *
“Rosalind, what is this that Deacon Saunders is telling me about you and him signing an addendum to the contract for the installation of a baptismal pool?” Dwight said to Rosalind after Wednesday night Prayer meeting once they got home and put the children in bed. “You have no power in this church to do that. You do not and you cannot authorize anything, especially something as major as that. I don’t even have to ask you have you lost your mind because I’m afraid you have. I’ve been trying to get this through your thick skull and that is that you have no special power in this church. Even though you are the first lady, any church issues that you may have need to be placed before the deacon board and we have to approve it. You’ve already talked Dimples into giving up her position as head of the women’s ministry so that you could have that position. You put up a new sign without my approval or without having the church to vote on it. And you’ve done some other things that I am too tired to even go into with you. Why can’t you just settle yourself down and let us godly men run the church as the Bible orders?”
“I am letting the men run the church,” Rosalind said. “I just merely suggested to Deacon Saunders that he might want to consider adding that to the other work being done on the building. He has a mind of his own. He could say yes or no. I did not twist his arm in any way to force him to sign the contract.”
“From what he told me that’s because you had already spoken with the construction foreman and signed the contract for the installation of the baptismal pool,” Dwight said. “Why didn’t you just come to me and ask me? I’m the pastor and I’m your husband. We live in the same house. We see each other every day and every night. We may not always be on great speaking terms but things have not gotten that bad where we don’t talk,” Dwight said.
“Dwight, you don’t need to worry yourself about things like that when it comes to the daily operation of the church,” Rosalind said. “The devil will have you become so consumed with that that you lose focus and then you don’t study as deeply as you should. And that will come out in your preaching.”
“Any excuse to justify what you did. Even the deacons know not to make a major decision like that without running it by me. I’m very surprised Deacon Saunders went ahead and signed the papers. I trust his judgment and everything, but for something major like this he should have gotten in touch with me first,” Dwight said. “I’m telling you again for I don’t know how many times, to let the men run the church and you just sit back quietly like all the godly women and if you have a question or suggestion about anything you ask me. If you don’t do that, and that is biblical might I remind you, you are going to ruin this church just as you almost did Apostle Dunbar’s church and Rev. Helton’s church. Thank God those men saw through you and did what they had to do to protect their church family.”
“What is wrong with getting our own baptismal pool?” Rosalind asked. “There is nothing wrong with that, now is there?”
“No, there is nothing wrong with us getting our own baptismal pool,” Dwight said. “That is not the issue though. I already had it in mind to do so. But we have to do things according to priority and as the Lord provides the money. We can’t just jump out there and spend every penny and not look into future needs.”
“Well, I’ve already seen the church budget and we have more than enough money. Plus, it’s not like you are going to pay the builders all the money at once. We’ll be making monthly payments, so we won’t run into the ground financially speaking,” Rosalind said.
Dwight shook his head. “Like I said, preaching takes a lot out of you and I am beyond tired and I just don’t have the energy to deal with you about this.”
“I take it you’re letting things go on as planned?” Rosalind said.
“Do I have a choice?” Dwight said. “You know when I married you I never thought you would be so devious, but like they say, you never really know people until you live with them.”
“Oh, I’m not devious. I just see things that need to be done and jump on them if others are moving too slow,” Rosalind insisted. “And as I’ve told you before, Dwight, you move too slow on getting things done. You know it needs to be done but it takes you a long time to get the momentum to get it done. It’s almost like I have to wind you up.” Dwight looked at her frustration, but Rosalind continued, “I also know that if one person takes the lead and makes whatever decision needs to be made, those following will accept that decision and fall right in line. Anyway, good night. You go and get your rest. You deserve every bit of sleep you can get. Oh, one last thing. I’ve been thinking, you probably need to quit your job at the hardware store and focus on the church.”
“Why don’t you quit your job,” Dwight said with a yawn as he reached over to turn off the lamp on his side of the bed.
DJ got up early on Saturday morning and was out in the front yard practicing doing the wheelie on his bicycle. He rode on the back wheel while twisting and turning. He tried riding on the front wheel but his bicycle almost tipped over pitching him forward.
“I can do better than that,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“Because I didn’t want to be disturbed. This takes concentration,” DJ said. “Is Mom finished with breakfast yet? I can’t compete on an empty stomach. I need all the energy I can get.”
“Nope,” Kennedy said. He pulled his bicycle from under the car porch and joined his brother on the lawn.
DJ made a sharp turn around the side of the house towards the back. Kennedy followed as closely as he could. When he cut the corner he saw DJ picking himself up off the ground. Kennedy burst out laughing.
“If that’s the best you can do then you’re gonna lose the competition,” Kennedy said. “I’m nine and I can do better than that. Watch me.”
“I’m just having a bad morning,” DJ said picking up his bicycle.
“Well, this is not the morning to be having a bad morning,” Kennedy said. “Like I said, watch me.”
Kennedy rode his bicycle as hard as he could around the house—twice. He met up with his brother in the front yard. “That’s how you do it.”
“I give credit where credit’s due. But you have to do something more than that—something original. You were fast, but don’t think you’re going to enter in the competition with me and my boys,” DJ said. “You’re under-age.” DJ did a quick flip and twist. “That’s how you do it.”
“Under-age means nothing. It’s whether or not you have the skill. Now really watch me,” Kennedy said crisscrossing across the lawn. He then got up on the back wheel making a move that caused DJ to open his eyes wide. “That is what I call a whirlie-gig,” Kennedy said with his head held high.
“Man, if you teach me that I’ll win the competition,” DJ said.
“Only if you let me compete,” Kennedy said.
“My boys have to vote on it.”
“They’re not your boys if you can’t tell them what to do,” Kennedy said.
“DJ and Kennedy, Mom says to come on in. It’s time to eat,” eleven year old Rachel shouted from the front porch. “She also says if she comes out and sees tracks on her lawn you’ll both be in a world of trouble. By the way, that was a great move Kennedy.”
“Y’all better get in here now. You know Mom doesn’t like for you to have her waiting,” seven year old Jessica shouted from behind her sister.
After laying their bicycles on the ground under the car porch, DJ and Kennedy hurried inside the house to a sumptuous breakfast of cheesy grits, fried whiting and scrambled eggs.
“Where are you two boys headed to in such a hurry?” Dwight asked his sons after they asked to be excused from the table.
“Me and my friends are just going to ride around on our bicycles and take care of business. We’ll stop by Grandma Randall to see if she needs for us to do anything for her,” DJ said.
“That’s so thoughtful of you, DJ,” Rosalind said. “How about you, Kennedy?”
“DJ said I could tag along with him,”Kennedy said with a grin while ignoring the glare DJ threw his way.
The boys said goodbye and hopped on their bicycles. When three o’clock came they still had not been by their grandmother’s house.
“They told me they were going to stop by to see if you needed for them to do anything,” Rosalind said to her mother when she stopped by to drop off some fresh vegetables she had picked up from the farmer’s market.
“Well, you know what they say: boys will be boys,” Mother Randall said. “They’re probably out exploring and having fun.”
Dwight and Rosalind planned on having a quiet Saturday evening as they rested up from a week of hard work in preparation for Sunday services. “I don’t know where those boys can be. It’s time to eat,” Rosalind said after glancing at the clock for the third time since supper was ready. “It’s already past six o’clock.”
“Awe, don’t worry about them. This is not the first Saturday they’ve been gone all day exploring as they say. But they always turn up in time to eat,” Dwight said with a laugh. His laugh was interrupted when Kennedy burst through the front door.
“Dad! Mom! Come quickly. It’s DJ. He’s hurt.”
“What do you mean he’s hurt?” Dwight said bolting out of his seat.
Rosalind dropped the dish cloth on the table. “Where is he?” she asked.
“Kennedy, stop!” Dwight said as Kennedy turned to head out the front door. “Slow down and catch your breath. Tell us where DJ is and what happened.” He placed a hand on his son’s shoulder to help calm him down.
“He’s bleeding badly. We have to go now.”
“From the head?” Rosalind asked following Kennedy out the front door. Dwight hurried after them with the car keys.
“He’s bleeding from his leg. He can’t walk,” Kennedy said.
“Get in the car. Hurry!” Dwight said. “Where is he?”
“He’s down by where they are building the new houses where Peter lives,” Kennedy said as they climbed into his father’s car.
“What in the world were you boys doing all the way down there? Didn’t I tell you boys not to ever play down there as it’s too dangerous?” Dwight said. “Were you all playing inside one of the unfinished houses?”
“DJ and his friends were having a bicycle freewheeling competition when his bicycle hit something and he lost control. It kind of flipped him in the air. When he landed on the ground his bicycle landed on top of him. His leg got caught in the back wheel and he’s bleeding a lot,” Kennedy said.
* * * * *
“He’s going to be off his feet for at least three weeks,” Dr. Merchant said to Dwight and Rosalind after he examined, X-rayed, then wrapped DJ’s ankle in bandages. “We’ll keep him overnight as he’s lost quite a bit of blood. The bicycle spoke tore his muscle and ligament down in the ankle. Thank God the bone is intact as it could have been worse.”
“I hope you learned your lesson,” Dwight said to DJ as he lifted him out of the car the next morning and took him into the house. He placed him on his bed. “When I tell you something, it’s for your own good. Don’t play by the construction site. You will get hurt. Well, I thank God it’s not as bad as it could have been.”
DJ soaked up the extra attention he received from his siblings and his mother and father over the next few weeks. Watching TV all day. Reading my comic books. Having everyone at my beck and call. It’s not bad being on bed rest except for one thing, he thought.
“Oh, Mom,” he moaned when Rosalind plopped his school assignment next to him on his bed a few days after the accident.
“Dr. Merchant didn’t say there was anything wrong with your brain,” Rosalind said. “Plus, it’s getting close to the end of the school year. You cannot afford to miss any classes lest you end up repeating your grade.”
* * * * *
It was five o’clock in the morning when Dwight awakened DJ to say goodbye to him and to Kennedy two weeks after the bicycle accident. He was preparing to make the five hour drive to Blessed Hope Community Church for a two-day Gospel concert. Dwight would be performing with other great Gospel singers.
“DJ, as you know, I wanted to take you and Kennedy with me to my next concert at Blessed Hope Community Church, but I guess that leg is not healing fast enough,” Dwight said to DJ and Kennedy. “They have been planning this concert for almost six months now, so I can’t back out.”
“I’m sorry, Dad, and I really wanted to go with you,” DJ said. “Remember Dr. Merchant said it will take about three weeks to begin healing.”
“Yes, he sure did. Anyway, I’ll be gone for about two to three days, but you’ll be alright without me for those few days,” Dwight said. “I’ll let Kennedy stay here and keep you company. Now you be the man of the house while I’m gone and keep an eye on things for me.”
“I will, Dad,” DJ said smiling, proud that his father had entrusted him with such a great responsibility—even if he had to do it from the comfort of the couch.
“DJ, you ought to stop that lying,” Kennedy said to his brother when they were alone in their bedroom shortly after their father had left and their mother had returned to her room after seeing their father off. “You know you don’t want to go to any Gospel concert. You’re not even too eager about going to church to hear Dad preach.”
“Oh, well, you know,” DJ said with a chuckle.
“By the way, you seem to hobble around this room with ease, but you seem so helpless when Mom and Dad are around. You even have Jessica and Rachel fooled. What’s that all about?” Kennedy asked.
“Oh, well, you know,” DJ said.
It was noon when Dwight checked into the hotel. After getting a good five hours sleep he gave his wife a call before heading out to the Blessed Hope Community Church.
“I made it in safely. Pray that God would anoint me from on high and that His presence would be felt,” Dwight said to his wife.
“I will,” Rosalind said.
“How are the children doing? DJ didn’t seem too pleased that I could not take him with me,” Dwight said.
“Oh, he’s doing well. If he’s sad about not being able to go with you then he’s certainly not showing it. He’s trying to be the man of the house, ordering his sisters and brother around, shaking his crutch at them every chance he gets,” Rosalind said with a laugh.
Dwight laughed. “That’s my boy. He’s taking my words seriously. Anyway, I have to go. I don’t want to be late .”
“When will you be back?” Rosalind said. “I want to have a great meal ready for you when you come in.”
“It’s a two day concert, so hopefully I’ll be back day after tomorrow,” Dwight said.
After dinner was over with, Rosalind with the help of her two daughters, Rachel and Jessica, made enough buttered popcorn topped with home-roasted peanuts for them to snack on before going to bed. While the children were watching television, munching away at the popcorn and acting silly the phone rang.
“Hello, Deacon Saunders. Hold on a minute,” Rosalind said. She untangled the phone cord and stretched it as far as it could go toward her bedroom. DJ strained to listen to the phone call. He wondered why his mother was not conversing right there in the living room as she normally did.
“Yes . . . he made it in . . . day after tomorrow . . . alright . . . around ten ten-thirty is fine . . . just beep your horn once . . . Bye now.”
Rosalind hung up the phone. The light playful tone she had with them before the phone call turned into a more serious one. “Okay, children, wrap it up now. It’s already nine o’clock. You all have to be in bed and asleep by nine forty-five. Eat up. I’ve let you play around for as long as I can. Plus you have school tomorrow.”
“Awe, Mom,” Jessica and Rachel said.
“Dad would let us stay up longer if he was here,” Kennedy said.
“None of that. You won’t want to get up in the morning.”
“Oh, I always want to get up,” Jessica said.
After the girls were in bed, Rosalind helped DJ hobble to his room. After seeing him and Kennedy safely in bed, she went to her own room and shut the door.
DJ layed awake long after his brother had fallen off to sleep. He was watching his little black and white television even though he had the volume turned down all the way.
He thought he heard a car pull into the driveway. He thought nothing of the sound until he heard a single car horn blow. He heard his mother open her bedroom door and go to the front door. Shortly after, he thought he heard whispering as she walked back pass his bedroom door. He heard his mother close her bedroom door again.
Curiosity drew him out of his bed. Leaning on his crutch, he peeked through his bedroom window. There was no mistake. Deacon Saunder’s car was parked out front. That’s strange. Dad’s not here, so what’s he doing here? He climbed back into bed in deep thought.
The same scenario was repeated the following night. DJ was greatly disturbed as he turned things over in his mind.
* * * * *
Instead of staying over and pulling out for home early the next morning as he had originally planned, Dwight decided to drive on home after the second night of the concert. He was so energized from the uplifting time he had, he drove right on to Fairhope, stopping only once to stretch his legs.
It was after three when he pulled into town. He stopped by the church just to check on things. He swung by the radio station and chatted with Mr. Cunningham for a short while. He then hurried on home hoping to surprise his wife. As he swung onto the street his house was on, he saw a familiar car backing out of his driveway.
Deacon Saunders? That car looks like his. What is he doing here this time of night?
Dwight drove past his house and circled around the block once. He then drove by Deacon Saunders’ house to see him getting out of his car. Dwight drove by and after making the turn off the street, he slowly drove on home. When he got home his house was in darkness except for the front porch light.
When he entered his bedroom, his wife was asleep. She did not seem too pleased nor surprised when he awakened her. “Can we talk in the morning? I’m sure you’re tired and would like to get some rest.”
“I thought I saw Deacon Saunders leaving here,” Dwight said.
“At . . . what time is it?” Rosalind said glancing at the clock. “At 3:25 in the morning? Your eyes were playing tricks on you. Like I said, get some rest. You’ll be thinking differently in the morning.”
Dwight left the bedroom to check on the children. He awakened DJ. “I just wanted to let you know I made it in safely. Your mother told me you handled things like a man. I’m proud of you son.” Dwight turned to leave then as an afterthought, he sat on DJ’s bed. “DJ, by any chance was Deacon Saunders over here tonight?”
“Yes, sir,” DJ said with a yawn. “And he was over here last night as well.”
“What time did he come?”
“After Mom put us to bed.”
“Okay, son, you go back to sleep,” Dwight said to his son. “I’ll tell you all about the concert on tomorrow.”
DJ watched as his father left his bedroom, closing the door behind him and leaving him in semi-darkness. He lay awake in bed for a long time, thinking over the happenings of the last few days and wondering if things in his family were about to change for the worse.
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