Invisible Institutions The church was the most important institution in the African American community. Its influence reached so far that some scholars concluded that the African American church was the African American community. Since the founding of separate, independent Baptist and Methodist denominations among African slaves and ex-slaves, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the African American church became the most dominant force of liberation in the African American community.  The African American church in America was often obscured in the plantation church experiences. African Americans worshiped in balconies or to the rear of the master’s church.  Frequently overlooked was that these African Americans, who worshiped as slaves, who drove their masters to church, cared for their children, and performed other tasks.  It was not in this atmosphere that the African American church emerged. The African American church developed its own distinctive pattern long before official efforts to Christianize the New World Africa, according to Harold Carter, author of The African American Church: Past, Present, and Future. Seventeenth Century society considered slaves infidels. The 1830 Census reflected that there were 682 slaves in Randolph County, Georgia and increased to 2,619 by 1840.  The very belief that slaves were not intelligent enough to reason and to worship made it possible for the slave’s “secret religious meetings” to promote practices of beliefs they held dear. Slaves translated their African beliefs into English and Christian culture. They adapted Christian culture useful to them in the slave experience.  Carter contented that “by the time the masters were willing to concede souls to slaves, satisfied that the Christian faith could be used to enforce obedience and increase market value, the slaves had long since established their underground version of the true faith; and they were well along in their own “invisible institution”, or underground church.” Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church was such an example. Origins of the church dated back to 1834; however, the church may be older. Fifty to sixty years of the church’s history was lost prior to 1966.  The church was established in the northwestern area of Randolph County had its location about eleven miles northwest outside of the city limits of Cuthbert in Randolph County, Georgia. Located on lot number one hundred and sixteen in the ninth district, was once known as the Piney Grove Settlement, also referred to as the upper corner.  The brush arbor was the first edifice the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church.  The brush arbor was also referred to as a bush arbor or yarbor.  The documented history consisted solely of oral accounts passed down through generations. The brush arbor was used by slaves probably much like a praise house.  According to Albert J. Raboteau’s, Slave Religion: The Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South, the bush arbor was a hut or building the slaves used for their nightly meetings of prayer and song.   Sometimes these praise meetings were held in secret in open fields.  In these meetings the slaves vented their emotions and feelings about their life’s conditions under an attitude free from the restrictive presence of the master.  The slaves practiced their religion conversions, danced, and poured out their hearts to God. Slaves felt free during this time of “secret” worship without fear of punishment or death. In the “secret” place of worship, slaves were not inhibited by the presence of their owners. Records did not emerge that indicated who the early members were who worshiped during Piney Grove’s bush arbor era. However, an early historical compilation entitled The History of the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church by Dr. James White revealed one oral account from an Anthony Sampson, who was a native of Africa. According to Sampson’s account, a white man named Turner Harris purportedly purchased him and brought him to Randolph County, Georgia where he lived within the Piney Grove Settlement. Sampson took part in building the brush arbor structure that later became Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church. There was no written record, however, to confirm Sampson’s claim. The elder members of Piney Grove contended that worship was held in brush arbors for nearly thirty-six years, according to a compilation of several oral accounts in 2003. It was not until 1870, that the members decided to build another church in the same location, a wooden structure that would stand as a foundation for generations. Oral accounts contend that twenty-three ministers served as pastor for the church. However, written records available extend as a far as 1877 and only identify sixteen former pastors.  Undoubtedly, still rich in history and culture, the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church will celebrate its 179th Anniversary, Sunday, June 16, 2013. Remarkably, the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church has evolved from a brush arbor to a modernized sanctuary. Though its physical structure changed several times, its traditions and cultures remained relatively the same.#

Invisible Institutions

The church was the most important institution in the African American community. Its influence reached so far that some scholars concluded that the African American church was the African American community. Since the founding of separate, independent Baptist and Methodist denominations among African slaves and ex-slaves, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the African American church became the most dominant force of liberation in the African American community.

 The African American church in America was often obscured in the plantation church experiences. African Americans worshiped in balconies or to the rear of the master’s church.  Frequently overlooked was that these African Americans, who worshiped as slaves, who drove their masters to church, cared for their children, and performed other tasks.  It was not in this atmosphere that the African American church emerged. The African American church developed its own distinctive pattern long before official efforts to Christianize the New World Africa, according to Harold Carter, author of The African American Church: Past, Present, and Future.

Seventeenth Century society considered slaves infidels. The 1830 Census reflected that there were 682 slaves in Randolph County, Georgia and increased to 2,619 by 1840.  The very belief that slaves were not intelligent enough to reason and to worship made it possible for the slave’s “secret religious meetings” to promote practices of beliefs they held dear. Slaves translated their African beliefs into English and Christian culture. They adapted Christian culture useful to them in the slave experience.

 Carter contented that “by the time the masters were willing to concede souls to slaves, satisfied that the Christian faith could be used to enforce obedience and increase market value, the slaves had long since established their underground version of the true faith; and they were well along in their own “invisible institution”, or underground church.”

Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church was such an example. Origins of the church dated back to 1834; however, the church may be older. Fifty to sixty years of the church’s history was lost prior to 1966.  The church was established in the northwestern area of Randolph County had its location about eleven miles northwest outside of the city limits of Cuthbert in Randolph County, Georgia. Located on lot number one hundred and sixteen in the ninth district, was once known as the Piney Grove Settlement, also referred to as the upper corner.

 The brush arbor was the first edifice the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church.  The brush arbor was also referred to as a bush arbor or yarbor.  The documented history consisted solely of oral accounts passed down through generations. The brush arbor was used by slaves probably much like a praise house.  According to Albert J. Raboteau’s, Slave Religion: The Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South, the bush arbor was a hut or building the slaves used for their nightly meetings of prayer and song.  

Sometimes these praise meetings were held in secret in open fields.  In these meetings the slaves vented their emotions and feelings about their life’s conditions under an attitude free from the restrictive presence of the master.  The slaves practiced their religion conversions, danced, and poured out their hearts to God. Slaves felt free during this time of “secret” worship without fear of punishment or death. In the “secret” place of worship, slaves were not inhibited by the presence of their owners.

Records did not emerge that indicated who the early members were who worshiped during Piney Grove’s bush arbor era. However, an early historical compilation entitled The History of the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church by Dr. James White revealed one oral account from an Anthony Sampson, who was a native of Africa.

According to Sampson’s account, a white man named Turner Harris purportedly purchased him and brought him to Randolph County, Georgia where he lived within the Piney Grove Settlement. Sampson took part in building the brush arbor structure that later became Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church. There was no written record, however, to confirm Sampson’s claim.

The elder members of Piney Grove contended that worship was held in brush arbors for nearly thirty-six years, according to a compilation of several oral accounts in 2003. It was not until 1870, that the members decided to build another church in the same location, a wooden structure that would stand as a foundation for generations.

Oral accounts contend that twenty-three ministers served as pastor for the church. However, written records available extend as a far as 1877 and only identify sixteen former pastors.  Undoubtedly, still rich in history and culture, the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church will celebrate its 179th Anniversary, Sunday, June 16, 2013. Remarkably, the Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church has evolved from a brush arbor to a modernized sanctuary. Though its physical structure changed several times, its traditions and cultures remained relatively the same.#

Keep the will, and HE will make the way… Instant gratification seems to be the standard mode of expectation in today’s fast paced society.   Disappoints sets in when countless hours and resources have been invested to achieve goals and dreams but somehow fail to materialize as quickly as first conceived. It has been said that where there is a will there is usually someone or something in the way. Read More

Keep the will, and HE will make the way…

Instant gratification seems to be the standard mode of expectation in today’s fast paced society.   Disappoints sets in when countless hours and resources have been invested to achieve goals and dreams but somehow fail to materialize as quickly as first conceived. It has been said that where there is a will there is usually someone or something in the way.

Read More

Letting Go The art of knowing when to let go is a timeless life lesson. Holding on too tight to people, places, things, and, more especially, a specific outcome can be unhealthy.  One thing I know for sure is that letting go is more easily said than done. However, letting go is not impossible.  Foremost, one must have faith and be ready to embrace not only the concept but the process of letting go.  One must also trust that ultimately that everything happens for a reason and in divine order. Read More

Letting Go

The art of knowing when to let go is a timeless life lesson. Holding on too tight to people, places, things, and, more especially, a specific outcome can be unhealthy.  One thing I know for sure is that letting go is more easily said than done. However, letting go is not impossible.  Foremost, one must have faith and be ready to embrace not only the concept but the process of letting go.  One must also trust that ultimately that everything happens for a reason and in divine order.

Read More

There but for the grace of God go I… It was a gorgeous fall day in November 2011, and I was on the road traveling home from a business trip. I drove in silence to meditate and to reflect. The view along the way was spectacular. Mother Nature’s autumn palette was perceptible and tantalizing to the eye. After sometime, hunger set in. And so, I decided to stop and have lunch at a popular eatery. I purchased a meal and parked in the parking lot nearby. Nothing out of the ordinary there was.   Read More

There but for the grace of God go I…

It was a gorgeous fall day in November 2011, and I was on the road traveling home from a business trip. I drove in silence to meditate and to reflect. The view along the way was spectacular. Mother Nature’s autumn palette was perceptible and tantalizing to the eye. After sometime, hunger set in. And so, I decided to stop and have lunch at a popular eatery. I purchased a meal and parked in the parking lot nearby. Nothing out of the ordinary there was.

 

Read More

Seasons A favorite pastime as a youngster was to listen to the life experiences of elders. Two of my favorite storytellers were my great aunt Jessie Sampson (1918-2003) and paternal grandfather Albert Murphy (1911-1993). I recall sitting for hours listening to their every detail.  As they shared their stories, I would often imagine what the times were like to actually live through the Great Depression, World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and to experience life before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Each brought history lessons learned to life since they both lived during a time of great change in America. Read More

Seasons

A favorite pastime as a youngster was to listen to the life experiences of elders. Two of my favorite storytellers were my great aunt Jessie Sampson (1918-2003) and paternal grandfather Albert Murphy (1911-1993). I recall sitting for hours listening to their every detail. 

As they shared their stories, I would often imagine what the times were like to actually live through the Great Depression, World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and to experience life before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Each brought history lessons learned to life since they both lived during a time of great change in America.

Read More

Train up a child in the way he should go… One day my eight year old nephew entered the house wearing a baseball cap. Before I knew it, I had pulled him aside and explained to him that a gentleman never wears his hat inside a building as a symbol of respect. Of course, the concept was ludicrous to him. Old-fashioned, maybe, but what is wrong with traditional customs? One is never too young or too old to learn and to practice the fundamental customs that impart self-pride, disciple, and respect. Old fashioned values have brought me a long way. I recall learning early lessons about honor and respect. Caring adults provided guidance and training in the home, so there was no guessing game as to what was expected. Read More

Train up a child in the way he should go…

One day my eight year old nephew entered the house wearing a baseball cap. Before I knew it, I had pulled him aside and explained to him that a gentleman never wears his hat inside a building as a symbol of respect. Of course, the concept was ludicrous to him. Old-fashioned, maybe, but what is wrong with traditional customs?

One is never too young or too old to learn and to practice the fundamental customs that impart self-pride, disciple, and respect. Old fashioned values have brought me a long way. I recall learning early lessons about honor and respect. Caring adults provided guidance and training in the home, so there was no guessing game as to what was expected.

Read More

A Leap of Faith It was mid-year of my freshman year at Valdosta State University when I decided to change majors. Initially, I thought computer science was the direction that I should take. Employability and the opportunity to make a living after graduation were primary factors in selecting a career. I discovered, however, that life does not always work according to plan. My first day in class as a computer science major was uneventful but sometime later it became more than I expected. By mid-quarter, I began to wonder if I truly was on the right path.  One day, I was given the assignment to develop a program to compute the quadratic formula. Sounded simple enough, right? Tried as I did, the “simple” assignment was much more that I could handle. It was also the precise moment when I knew that I was on the wrong path. I decided to change majors in the spring of 1994 despite the dismay of my parents. So off I went to the guidance counselor’s office to discuss the change. Though I had no clue with regard what to do next, I believed in faith that the next step would become clear. As I was leaving my counselor’s office in Nevins Hall, I noticed a rack of pamphlets displaying the various programs offered. The possibilities were unlimited, but there was one that stood out-art. “Art. Yes, I think I’ll do that,” I said. And so with much enthusiasm I enrolled in the fine arts degree program. In the fall of 1994, I attended my first art class. I was excited, yet intimidated. I was hopeful, but yet unsure. There was one thing that I was certain of however; I was in the right place. I learned a lot about self and discovered that I had the gift of artistic expression. Eventually, I discovered purpose employing my gift to chronicle and to preserve African American cultural themes, oral histories, and traditions in the rural south. Though seemingly insignificant, the experience taught me the importance of taking risks during times of uncertainly and following one’s own path. Despite reservations from others about my decision, I decided to listen to the still voice. I employ artistic skill in everything that I do and consequently discovered self in the process. Had I allowed others to define direction for me, life may look completely different. The lesson learned was that the direction one must pursue in life is not always clear yet requires faith to take risks on unknown paths.  Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “You do not have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step in faith.”  I concur. Though the first step is usually the most difficult, it is a prerequisite to achieve anything worthwhile in life. I wish for you always a new sunrise.~ Quote for the week: Take the first step in faith and believe that God will do the rest.

A Leap of Faith

It was mid-year of my freshman year at Valdosta State University when I decided to change majors. Initially, I thought computer science was the direction that I should take. Employability and the opportunity to make a living after graduation were primary factors in selecting a career. I discovered, however, that life does not always work according to plan.

My first day in class as a computer science major was uneventful but sometime later it became more than I expected. By mid-quarter, I began to wonder if I truly was on the right path.  One day, I was given the assignment to develop a program to compute the quadratic formula. Sounded simple enough, right? Tried as I did, the “simple” assignment was much more that I could handle. It was also the precise moment when I knew that I was on the wrong path.

I decided to change majors in the spring of 1994 despite the dismay of my parents. So off I went to the guidance counselor’s office to discuss the change. Though I had no clue with regard what to do next, I believed in faith that the next step would become clear. As I was leaving my counselor’s office in Nevins Hall, I noticed a rack of pamphlets displaying the various programs offered. The possibilities were unlimited, but there was one that stood out-art.

“Art. Yes, I think I’ll do that,” I said. And so with much enthusiasm I enrolled in the fine arts degree program.

In the fall of 1994, I attended my first art class. I was excited, yet intimidated. I was hopeful, but yet unsure. There was one thing that I was certain of however; I was in the right place. I learned a lot about self and discovered that I had the gift of artistic expression. Eventually, I discovered purpose employing my gift to chronicle and to preserve African American cultural themes, oral histories, and traditions in the rural south.

Though seemingly insignificant, the experience taught me the importance of taking risks during times of uncertainly and following one’s own path. Despite reservations from others about my decision, I decided to listen to the still voice. I employ artistic skill in everything that I do and consequently discovered self in the process. Had I allowed others to define direction for me, life may look completely different.

The lesson learned was that the direction one must pursue in life is not always clear yet requires faith to take risks on unknown paths.  Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “You do not have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step in faith.”  I concur. Though the first step is usually the most difficult, it is a prerequisite to achieve anything worthwhile in life.

I wish for you always a new sunrise.~

Quote for the week: Take the first step in faith and believe that God will do the rest.

Finding Purpose By Kuanita E. Murphy Carl was no stranger to hard-knocks. The eldest of three children, he was mature for his age because he learned early the responsibility by helping out around the house and watching his younger sisters. Home life was not a stable place for Carl. He knew his father, but their relationship was not always on good terms. His mother was a drug addict and was often gone from the home sometimes several days and sometimes weeks at a time. When Carl was 15, he had his first run in with the law and was sent to a juvenile detention center for six months. His life was forever changed. Carl eventually dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. By the time he was eighteen, he was a regular in the penal system. Carl would spend his entire young adult life in and out of prison. Family was important to him and was the only sense of stability in his life. However, the family was not always a cohesive unit. His two younger sisters had their share of issues and problems too-one was raped at the age of 14 and the other was an alcoholic. Between times out of jail, Carl lived from house to house with friends and acquaintances. By the time Carl was in his mid-thirties, he learned to live life on his own terms. He managed to identify successfully how to survive on the streets and to take each day as it came. He was content to live life as a free spirit with no responsibilities. Carl had returned home from a brief stay in prison for a parole violation when he became ill. He went to the local clinic and was given a series of tests. The news that he received changed his life forever. Carl learned that he had full blown AIDS. Coping in the only way he knew how, Carl resorted to drinking daily. In his view, alcohol was a means to escape. Life had a cruel way of jolting one in to reality. Life for Carl had no meaning.  Life was fading fast for Carl. Life was dealing different had for Sharon, who was a woman of great faith and strength. She believed that her life-given purpose was to help others and was always first to reach out to others when there was a need in the community. She worked vigilantly for many years to serve as a light for the lost; however, Sharon grew weary in well doing. She began to question whether her life and efforts really made a difference. Was there a greater purpose at all or was life merely a list of tasks in the name of helping others? Consequently, she began to seek God in prayer for guidance to see her through this awkward period in her life. She desired truly to hear from Go, and so, Sharon prayed religiously for several weeks with seemingly no answer. It was a Saturday in April when Sharon decided to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. The homeless shelter was sponsored by her church and was often filled to capacity. While there Sharon noticed that the room was filled with men, women, and children; but there was one young man in particular that she was drawn to. He stood out because he appeared not well and distant in a world of his own and in a world all his own. Sharon went over and introduced herself. She learned that his name was Carl. Though Carl had living relatives in the area, but due to his illness no one wanted take him in. Carl and Sharon become fast friends. His story touched Sharon, so much so, that she gave him her business card and told him to call if he needed anything. Two weeks passed, Sharon did not hear from Carl and resolved that he was doing fine. Then Sharon received a phone call from the local hospital. Carl was in the emergency room extremely ill and wanted her to come as soon as she could. Sharon immediately went to the ER to find Carl not only ill but alone. His mother was back in jail again and his sisters and father could not be reached. For the first time in his life, Carl was scared, and he needed someone.  Sharon became a primary contact for Carl and helped him as much as she could. Things were challenging for him because he had no income or medical insurance. Sharon was able to locate his family to let them know about Carl’s condition, but they were unwillingly to help. Eventually, Sharon was able to get Carl admitted to a hospice program temporarily. Sharon could not visit Carl every day, but she call frequently to inquire how he was doing. Sometimes a nurse would hold the phone to his ear so that she could talk to him. When she did visit, she often shared with Carl words of encouragement, passages of scripture from the Bible, and prayer. During a visit, Carl accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and the gift of salvation. A few days later, Carl’s condition grew worse. The doctors said that it was a matter of time before he expired. Sharon missed Carl’s final phone call while out of town on business. Sharon was deeply saddened to learn of Carl’s demise. However, she felt a sense of peace and a strong knowing that he was in the Master’s care. Carl’s family asked Sharon to assist with his final arrangements, and she graciously did so. The day before Carl’s funeral Sharon was busy attending to last minute tasks, when a friend dropped by to return the GPS system that he had borrowed. The friend informed Sharon that he would have to replace it because the system had been damaged by water. His five year old son had thrown it into their pool and the devise was now inoperable. After the friend left, Sharon placed the devise on the kitchen counter as she began preparing dinner. She used the time to reflect upon the day and to commune with God.  Sharon wondered if she truly able to made a difference in Carl’s life. He had made a profound difference in hers. Consequently, she had rediscovered her life purpose-to serve others. She was deep in thought when the GPS on the counter went off. The message was loud and clear, “Arriving safely home to destination.” Sharon immediately checked the device but discovered that the screen was black. She tried desperately to turn the device on but nothing happened. In her spirit, she knew that was Carl’s message to her. He had made it safely home. The next day, after Carl’s homegoing service, his sister approached her. In her hand was Sharon’s business card-the one she had given to Carl several weeks prior. She said, “When his body was being prepared for cremation, the funeral director discovered the card in his tightly clutched hand. He said that whoever she is must have really meant a lot to him.” Sharon’s doubts about her life purpose and service to others disappeared. At that moment, she knew with certainly that God had a divine purpose for her life-to serve as a lifeline of love, charity, and hope those in need.~

Finding Purpose

By Kuanita E. Murphy

Carl was no stranger to hard-knocks. The eldest of three children, he was mature for his age because he learned early the responsibility by helping out around the house and watching his younger sisters. Home life was not a stable place for Carl. He knew his father, but their relationship was not always on good terms. His mother was a drug addict and was often gone from the home sometimes several days and sometimes weeks at a time.

When Carl was 15, he had his first run in with the law and was sent to a juvenile detention center for six months. His life was forever changed. Carl eventually dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. By the time he was eighteen, he was a regular in the penal system. Carl would spend his entire young adult life in and out of prison.

Family was important to him and was the only sense of stability in his life. However, the family was not always a cohesive unit. His two younger sisters had their share of issues and problems too-one was raped at the age of 14 and the other was an alcoholic. Between times out of jail, Carl lived from house to house with friends and acquaintances. By the time Carl was in his mid-thirties, he learned to live life on his own terms. He managed to identify successfully how to survive on the streets and to take each day as it came. He was content to live life as a free spirit with no responsibilities.

Carl had returned home from a brief stay in prison for a parole violation when he became ill. He went to the local clinic and was given a series of tests. The news that he received changed his life forever. Carl learned that he had full blown AIDS. Coping in the only way he knew how, Carl resorted to drinking daily. In his view, alcohol was a means to escape. Life had a cruel way of jolting one in to reality. Life for Carl had no meaning.  Life was fading fast for Carl.

Life was dealing different had for Sharon, who was a woman of great faith and strength. She believed that her life-given purpose was to help others and was always first to reach out to others when there was a need in the community. She worked vigilantly for many years to serve as a light for the lost; however, Sharon grew weary in well doing. She began to question whether her life and efforts really made a difference. Was there a greater purpose at all or was life merely a list of tasks in the name of helping others? Consequently, she began to seek God in prayer for guidance to see her through this awkward period in her life. She desired truly to hear from Go, and so, Sharon prayed religiously for several weeks with seemingly no answer.

It was a Saturday in April when Sharon decided to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. The homeless shelter was sponsored by her church and was often filled to capacity. While there Sharon noticed that the room was filled with men, women, and children; but there was one young man in particular that she was drawn to. He stood out because he appeared not well and distant in a world of his own and in a world all his own. Sharon went over and introduced herself. She learned that his name was Carl. Though Carl had living relatives in the area, but due to his illness no one wanted take him in.

Carl and Sharon become fast friends. His story touched Sharon, so much so, that she gave him her business card and told him to call if he needed anything. Two weeks passed, Sharon did not hear from Carl and resolved that he was doing fine. Then Sharon received a phone call from the local hospital. Carl was in the emergency room extremely ill and wanted her to come as soon as she could.

Sharon immediately went to the ER to find Carl not only ill but alone. His mother was back in jail again and his sisters and father could not be reached. For the first time in his life, Carl was scared, and he needed someone.  Sharon became a primary contact for Carl and helped him as much as she could. Things were challenging for him because he had no income or medical insurance. Sharon was able to locate his family to let them know about Carl’s condition, but they were unwillingly to help.

Eventually, Sharon was able to get Carl admitted to a hospice program temporarily. Sharon could not visit Carl every day, but she call frequently to inquire how he was doing. Sometimes a nurse would hold the phone to his ear so that she could talk to him. When she did visit, she often shared with Carl words of encouragement, passages of scripture from the Bible, and prayer. During a visit, Carl accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and the gift of salvation.

A few days later, Carl’s condition grew worse. The doctors said that it was a matter of time before he expired. Sharon missed Carl’s final phone call while out of town on business. Sharon was deeply saddened to learn of Carl’s demise. However, she felt a sense of peace and a strong knowing that he was in the Master’s care.

Carl’s family asked Sharon to assist with his final arrangements, and she graciously did so. The day before Carl’s funeral Sharon was busy attending to last minute tasks, when a friend dropped by to return the GPS system that he had borrowed. The friend informed Sharon that he would have to replace it because the system had been damaged by water. His five year old son had thrown it into their pool and the devise was now inoperable. After the friend left, Sharon placed the devise on the kitchen counter as she began preparing dinner.

She used the time to reflect upon the day and to commune with God.  Sharon wondered if she truly able to made a difference in Carl’s life. He had made a profound difference in hers. Consequently, she had rediscovered her life purpose-to serve others. She was deep in thought when the GPS on the counter went off. The message was loud and clear, “Arriving safely home to destination.”

Sharon immediately checked the device but discovered that the screen was black. She tried desperately to turn the device on but nothing happened. In her spirit, she knew that was Carl’s message to her. He had made it safely home.

The next day, after Carl’s homegoing service, his sister approached her. In her hand was Sharon’s business card-the one she had given to Carl several weeks prior. She said, “When his body was being prepared for cremation, the funeral director discovered the card in his tightly clutched hand. He said that whoever she is must have really meant a lot to him.”

Sharon’s doubts about her life purpose and service to others disappeared. At that moment, she knew with certainly that God had a divine purpose for her life-to serve as a lifeline of love, charity, and hope those in need.~

Working the Railroad, I-my very first oil painting! Wow, my how time flies!
It Takes A Village, IV