Texas: Precious Memories

Posted on July 1, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

A Sunday afternoon phone call last week informing us that Betty Neasbitt (photo below) had died stirred a flood a memories and emotions as we remembered this dear friend from Sadler, Texas. We immediately threw some things together and jumped into the car, driving well into the night in order to be present for her funeral the next morning.

TexasMemories-SadlerBaptistBetty and Ele Neasbitt were among those choice friendships that abide over time and distance. Our times together have been infrequent since we left the pastorate of Sadler Baptist Church to go to the mission field, but their letters and phone calls have been consistent over 43 years. They were just a few years older than Bobbye and me, but were the support and encouragers every pastors longs for. Ele was a deacon and Sunday School teacher; Betty was church secretary, organist, youth leader and simply did whatever needed to be done.

TexasMemories-BettyI had been youth minister and associate pastor at Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in Fort Worth but needed pastoral and preaching experience before missionary appointment. Sadler was the perfect fit; in fact, they had a pattern of nurturing young pastors on their way to the mission field. My youthfulness is evident in the picture above in front of the church 45 years ago). Attendance reached 120 on good Sundays, but the church led the entire State Convention in per capita giving to missions.

TexasMemories-BobbyeParsonageBoth of our children were born while we were there so their Texas roots made our bonding with Sadler even stronger. Bobbye is pictured in front of what for us at the time a spacious parsonage that became a center of community activity from ladies gathering in the mornings to young people hanging out in the afternoon. The photo is a reminder of how the constant Texas wind was a challenge to her coiffeur. Those years were filled with learning experiences in which gracious, elderly deacons helped a young, visionary pastor balance innovation with respect for tradition. We were blessed by dear saints who knew the Bible–KJV of course–and could pray down heaven.

I also learned the necessity of multi-tasking as a three-year seminary degree stretched to five. In addition to church responsibilities and giving attention to a growing family, I was asked to teach Bible and start a Baptist Student Union at the nearby community college. Most days I would go to the college in the morning, commute 100 miles to seminary for afternoon classes and back home in the evening for visitation and family.

TexasMemories-Jerry&friendsThe funeral brought back many memories. I recalled conducting burials for many elder church members in the neighborhood cemetery. A few of the older folks were there, but it was mostly those from our youth group who are now in their 50s and 60s. It was a joy to see Nick Karpis, (pictured with me and Ele Neasbitt). Nick was a Russian immigrant and Air Force fighter pilot turned farmer with whom I spent many hours debating religion and philosophy. I was one of the few in attendance at the funeral not wearing blue jeans or overalls, only the preacher and I wore a tie, but remembering the setting I did wear my cowboy boots.

2 Comments on “Texas: Precious Memories”

  1. Polly Earnhart

    Jerry, Thank you so much for putting this together. I am so grateful that you and Bobbye were a part of our lives in Sadler for those years. You had such a strong influence on me, and I will forever be blessed because of it. Than you for sharing the pictures, your memories, and your time. As soon as I can find a little time, I will round up Frankie and/or Barbara and make a trip to Clinton. I’ll be in touch. Love you guys! Polly

  2. Vickie Mascagni

    Wonderful memories. Randy and I just spent the weekend with our first couple friends from MHBC – that would be friends for 36 years. How gracious is God to give us these life long friends? What a testimony to her that you made such a quick trip and that it moved you so much….a testimony that the ones of us who never go but are called to hold the ropes for our M’s really do make an impact. Thanks for sharing this.

Leave a Reply

More News