Friday, June 21, 2013

I Remember Joe

Joe was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Hannibal while we were there as pastor in the 1970's. He was a Sunday School teacher and since my husband was interested in having the very best teachers in Sunday School classes,  he visited all the classes to listen to the teachers present their lessons. When he got to Joe's class of men, he thought, "I've never heard a poorer teacher. We need to get these men somebody else to teach them."

He went to Bob,  one of the men who had been on the pulpit committee that brought us there (who happened to be in that class), and said, "We need to get you another teacher."

"Oh, no, pastor," the man said. "Please don't bother our teacher."

"He can't teach," Charlie told him.

The man agreed. "We know that, and we can study our lessons,  Please don't bother him. He needs to be the teacher of our class."

My husband said again, "He can't teach."

"Well," Bob said, "you just have to know Joe."

So my husband set out to find out about Joe. He discovered that Joe was an alcoholic. He was dry and had been for several years at that time, but my husband learned that when Joe used to drink, he would get mean. He would beat his wife. He would tear up things around town. The police had to bring him home many times and other times he ended up in jail.

So he and his wife made an agreement. Whenever she saw that he was heading for a binge, she would lock him in the bathroom. Special locks were installed on the outside of the door and a little hinged opening was cut in the bottom so she could slip food to him. He slept in the bathtub and everything else he needed was right there. No matter how loud he yelled or beat the door, or whatever he did, she did not let him out until she knew he was stone-cold sober.

She had to check the bathroom before she put him in there because he would hide liquor in the cabinets so he could stay drunk longer. She would get all the liquor out and lock him in when she knew he was heading for a binge and she knew trouble was coming. This happened several times. Joe agreed to this because he knew he could not control himself when alcohol got hold of him.

Then something happened to Joe. His wife had invited him to church many times and he had refused to go, but one night during a revival meeting, he agreed to go. God spoke to him, he walked down the aisle and got saved, and in a miraculous one-time event, God did a mighty work. He delivered Joe from the his sins and from the desire for alcohol. Joe never took another drink.

Now Joe was teaching a Sunday School class for men at Calvary Baptist church. He was living a Christian life and helping alcoholics to kick the habit. He said to my husband, "Preacher, you call me anytime, day or night if you have an alcoholic who needs my help. I have an agreement with my boss and if somebody needs help to get off alcohol I can come. I'll stay with him until he's past the bad time, no matter how long it takes."

Anytime a child needed money to go to camp or for anything else related to the church, Joe was the first person to give.

My husband used to say in one of his sermons, "If God could save Joe and deliver him from alcohol at the same time, He can do anything for anybody. We just have to let Him."

Yes, I remember Joe. He is gone now, yet I still marvel at the work God did in him. He didn't make him a marvelous Sunday School teacher, but he made him a recovered alcoholic. He made him a lover of people and a giver to little children. And his life spoke for God. My husband got to know Joe, and he agreed with Bob. When we left that church a few years later, Joe was still teaching that men's Sunday School class.

(Disclaimer--the picture is NOT the picture of the actual church. When we were there, the church was housed in a white building in town, but the congregation is now in a beautiful new building. Bro. Jeff Anderson is pastor there. This picture was chosen from stock photos on the internet.)

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