Delcia and the Traveling Preacher
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She was a young, impressionable mountain girl. She felt she needed to do something for
the Lord. As she attended the Grassy Creek Church she heard that there was a human need for salvation. She also heard that there was
a loving God who cares what we think and do.
Delcia decided that she wanted to do something
for the Lord. She wondered what a poor hillbilly girl could do for such a wonderful God. She thought and thought and finally come
to the conclusion that she had a wonderful talent for singing. She, and her brother, often harmonized after the evening chores were
done. They sang the songs that they were taught at Sunday School and singing along at church.
Delcia was also a wonder at the high school she attended. She was in the typing class and was one of the fastest on the old manual
Remingtons the school possessed. In fact, she was far ahead of most of the other students in her class who thought that school was
a time to just play around.
On Saturday mornings, Delcia was often greeted by the sounds
of a loudspeaker sending forth pre-recorded musical strains. This was followed by the voice of a traveling preacher named Bro. Coleman.
He often set up in neighborhoods, usually above a row of houses, and after playing a few songs would commence to preach a message
of hope and peace.
Somehow, Bro. Coleman found out that Delcia, and her brother Gustaf,
had been practicing harmony. One Saturday morning he stopped his long black Plymouth , with the loudspeakers on top right in front
of Delcia’s home. He walked boldly up to the door and inquired if he might be able to talk to Delcia and Gustaf’s parents.
“I need to have someone who can really sing to accompany me on my mission trips around this county, and neighboring counties, to have
a song service before I attempt to preach!” he told Delcia’s mother.
“Wal, I don’t have
any problem having her doing the work of the Lord, but you’ll have to ask her,” Delcia’s mom replied.
Delcia and Gustaf were not long in making up their minds. They joined Bro. Coleman, riding around in the long Plymouth, going to strange
and exciting places. This was the opportunity that Delcia had longed for. She even typed the preacher’s sermons for him and wrote
up some of the sheets of songs they would use along the way. Delcia and Gustaf practiced long and hard after the evening chores were
done. Their voices seemed to meld together as they sang the old familiar hymns.
roads they traveled were long and dark. Sometimes Delcia and Gustaf would sing out of fear. Usually, by the time they arrived home,
it was nearing midnight. Their mom would always be up anxiously awaiting their arrival. By the time they got to sleep it seemed a
short time until the rooster crowed awakening them for Sunday School at their local church. Delcia was a very faithful girl to attend
all the meetings she could as she wanted to learn all there was to learn about the wonderful Lord that saved her.
Brother Coleman was a firebrand! He preached of a burning hell and a savior who could save one from that horrible place. He often
had repentant sinners lining the makeshift altar he always carried around in the trunk of the huge Plymouth. Delcia would stand wide-eyed
with wonder at the marvelous things the reverend had to say. It almost made her want to preach.
One Saturday morning Brother Coleman came by and invited Delcia and Gustaf to accompany him to the neighboring county of Dickenson.
For some reason they did not feel to go. They told Brother Coleman he would just have to make do without them that day. This was a
very wise decision on their part because there was something down the road that they were unable, as a mere human, to be able to see.
Late that night the whole household was awakened by a loud thumping on the front door.
It was an acquaintance of their father, John, and the man was totally shaken up.
been a terrible wreck up at the Murtis Wade curve and looks like no one could have survived it!” the frantic man wailed.
“Who do you think it is?” John asked.
“I don’t know, but it looks like that big old Plymouth
with the speakers on top that comes around here every Saturday morning wakin’ us up!”
heart just dropped! “Oh Lord, it couldn’t be Bro. Coleman,” she bravely prayed.
dad ran as fast as he could the half a mile up to the steep curve that the man had mentioned. It was not hard to find the corridor
leading down to Grassy Creek as the huge automobile had cut a swath of underbrush and small trees as it thundered headlong into the
creek. What John found was not even a semblance of the aforementioned automobile. The engine had been shoved back into the front seat
on impact pinning Bro. Coleman into the back seat. Thankfully the doors had popped open and John was able to pull the determined reverend
from the wreckage.
“Thank God, Delcia and Gustaf did not go with me today, the dying man
moaned. Our Father which art in Heaven………..”
John held him in his arms until the preacher’s
life blood slowly leaked out into the waters of Grassy Creek. He died peacefully and his life reached its peak there below the lonely
mountain road that he had traversed every week for many years. He had fallen asleep, while driving, as he sang every song he knew
to keep himself awake.
Delcia’s grief lasted for many days thereafter, mourning for the
man who had given her a chance to learn the ways of life firsthand. She knew that he had also shown her an example of one who is willing
to give his all for a principle.
Delcia never forgot Brother Coleman the rest of her life.