Roanoke Church of Christ



By my friend, Ben
Jim Bob were laid out all peaceful-like in his casket. He were. I reckon I‘d never seen him look so good. That were because Jim Bob were one of them unhappy folks what were on the mean side. He were. He’d married a girl named Amy Justice, but he beat her an’ their little boy so bad they put him in jail. They did. When he got out he went back to his pa an’ worked the mines. He did. Like his pa, he did a lot of drinkin’. He were a well-known bar fighter an’ spent a sight of time in jail. He did.

How he come to die were because him’n Billy Joe Hartley, who were about the only friend he had, decided to jump offen the Blackwater bridge one night after doin’ some heavy drinkin’. In the dark, an’ not bein’ all together, Jim Bob dove into the shallow part of the river an’ hit a rock. Since it were dark, an’ Billy Joe were three sheets to the wind, he couldn’t find Jim Bob until it were too late. It were.

His pa looked up at me from the corner of the room an’ frowned. He did. I reckon he wondered why I were there. I weren’t even sure myself. Jim Bob sure weren’t no friend of mine. He weren’t. I reckon I came because I were perty sure not too many other folks would. An’ from the looks of things that seemed to be right. It were. I took one more look at Jim Bob an’ nodded to his pa an’ left. I did.

I knowed Jim Bob an’ his pa since they come to town when I were about ten years old. I did. Jim Bob were a bully, an’ more’n once me an’ him had it out on the school yard. We did. The last time were when he said somethin’ nasty to Sara Jane. I saw the look on her face when he said it an’ I stepped between them an’ looked Jim Bob in the eye. I did. I told him I knowed it wouldn’t do no good for him to take back what he said, cause he’d already said it. But iffen he ever said anything like that agin to Sara Jane, or any girl while I were around, he’d have to answer to me. I did. Well, Jim Bob looked at me like he wanted to kill me. He did. As he drew back his fist I told him I didn’t want to hurt him none, but iffen that fist came forward, it’d better knock me out. Cause iffen it didn’t I be on him like a flea on a hound dog. I did. Well, he walked away cussin’ an’ promisin’ to get me when I weren’t lookin’. He did. An’ all the years since he’d kinda nod his head when he saw me, just to let me know he hadn’t forgotten that day on the schoolyard. He did.

But I reckon what I remember most about Jim Bob were a day when he an’ his pa were in town. It were passed about that the ma’d run off with a feller an’ took a little sister with her. Some folks said ol’ man Jones only kept Jim Bob so he could make him do all the work around the house while he worked in the mines an’ did some drinkin’ an’ carousin’.

On that day me’n Ma were in town doin’ some shoppin’. We were. As we was walkin’ toward Jamison’s Mercantile, Jake Jones parked his truck a ways ahead of us an’ got out. He were mad about somethin’ an’ it seemed to be Jim Bob. Ol’ Jake pulled Jim Bob from the truck an’ shoved him to the ground. He did. He started slappin’ an’ cussin’ him out. He did. An’ then he drawed back his foot as iffen to kick him. He did.

Now Ma were a right strong woman. She were. An’ as fast as lightenin’ she stepped forward an’ hooked ol’ Jake’s drawed back foot with her umbrella what she were carryin’. She did. It caught ol’ Jake off balance an’ he spun around an’ went down. He did. When he got his bearin’s an’ saw ma he jumped up an’ I knowed he were gonna hit her. I did. Ma held her ground an’ told ol’ Jake he weren’t gonna be beatin’ on his boy while she were around. She did.

I reckoned ol’ Jake mighta done somethin to ma, but by that time Fred Wallace an’ his son Bill were walkin toward us. They was. Ol’ Jake just grabbed Jim Bob by the collar an’ put him in the truck an’ off they went. They did. As they drove away Jim Bob looked back at ma like he were glad she were there. He did.

Now none of that kept Jim Bob from bein’ a bully. It didn’t. Fact is, he got worse. So the day me’n him had it out over Sara Jane, I asked Ma about it. I did. She said, “Benny, do you remember that ol’ dog what wandered in here a few years back? Remember how he were all beat on?” I told her I did. “Well Benny, you remember how even though we fed him, he still were afraid of us, an’ growled when we got too close? He’d been damaged so much all he could do was be afraid an’ be sure nobody got close enough to hurt him no more. One mornin’ he were gone. Do you remember? Benny, that poor dog had been so mistreated, he couldn’t trust nobody. Folks are that way too. You know how Jim Bob’s dad treats him. Well, Jim Bob knows iffen he fought back he’d get it even worse. So he takes his hurt out on other folks, like them kids at school.”

As I drove home I thought about Pa. He didn’t take none to church. He didn’t. He weren’t agin it, he just weren’t for it. I asked ma about it one time an’ she said pa were raised real strict-like an’ went to a church with one of them hell-fire preachers. He kept folks afraid of him and God. She said he were always preachin’ on how nearly everything was worldly an’ how one little unforgiven sin would send a body to hell. An’ pa’s ma n pa believed every word of it. Problem were, they found out the preacher were doin’ about all the things he were condemnin’. He were. So when pa left home he stopped goin’. He did. She said they’d talked about it, but were like the die had been cast. It were.

I reckon Pa, Jim Bob an’ that ol’ dog had something in common. They did. They was all shaped by the bad things what happened to them. The things what were supposed to make ‘em what they could be were the things what didn’t.

Once Ma told me she loved me with the love of the Lord. She did. When I asked her what that meant, she said it meant she would live an’ die for me, just like the Lord did for all of us. She did. An’ I reckon iffen we treated folks an’ animals like that we’d be shaped the way the Lord wants us to be. I do

CONCERNS: Mark McRoy has asked for prayers for a friend who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. His name is Ken Teatino. Mary Smith is receiving rehab at the Berkshire Health Care, room 10. Del Bolin has asked for prayers for Sharon and Ellen. Sharon has lymphoma and Ellen’s illness is terminal. Remember also Del’s co-worker Jen McCready, who must have monthly treatment to keep her sight. Tony Smallwood a truck driver who was seriously injured in an accident has been removed from life support, but as of this writing was not dead. Jim Hunter has started radiation treatments. Donna Brutto (cancer). Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder and Health Talents International, Bread For A Hungry World and for the will of God on the earth.

MONDAY: Psalm 119:57-72
Tuesday: Matthew 12:38-50
Wednesday: James 1:19-27
Thursday: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Friday: Romans 6:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 113:1-9
Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 138:1-8

On Sunday, April 15, the new members of the steering committee will be formally introduced and blessed with prayers and welcome from the congregation. They are: Del Bolin, Martha Foy, Susan Jordan and Wayne Phlegar.

Sunday is also Super Sunday. What more appropriate day to welcome and encourage the new committee members than at a fellowship meal. Plan to stay.

There will be a steering committee meeting in the library following the Super Sunday meal.

Students from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Jefferson College of Health Sciences are helping the Rescue Mission by collecting clothing. They especially need plus-sized clothes for women as well as men. A box has been placed in the downstairs kitchen. If you have more than the box will hold, place the bag next to it. Someone from those two places will come and collect this when they are called. A reminder is on the downstairs bulletin board.

Pull off the aluminum tabs from drink cans and bring them to the building. These help the local Ronald McDonald House. Save the cans for AC Branch. A friend of hers has a friend is incarcerated. His friend wants to collect as many aluminum cans as possible to give him something he can sell to get started when he gets out. The cans may also be placed in the downstairs kitchen. A box has been placed for the tabs.

We are making progress in replacing our old sound system. Contact has been made with a church member in Greensboro, NC who is in the audio/visual business. He has offered to work with us on quality and cost. More information may be available by Sunday’s steering committee meeting.

With the warm weather coming, we hope soon to start on some improvements to the air conditioning.

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