Ms. McCain is the Story of the Rural Church Part 1

I met Ms. McCain in July 2004.  I had been the pastor of Cottage Grove Baptist Church for one whole month, and was making an attempt to visit in every church member’s home.   Ms. McCain was 91 years old and had been a member of our church for 80 years or so.  Since I didn’t want to impose unexpectedly, I gave her a call to see if I could come by.   I didn’t know what to expect since all she said on the phone was, “Yeah, preacher, come on by right now,” followed by an abrubt “click”.   

Obeying her orders, I drove to the next county and pulled up to what can be best described as a hole in space and time.  The first thing I noticed was that she was out on the porch waiting on me.  The house was a three room slat board home that was built before electricity and was leaning slightly to the right.  It seemed to be defying gravity, and made me a little nervous to step onto the porch.  Marie looked every bit of 91 and the house made a fitting backdrop for her as she stood up and greeted me with, ” ’bout time preacher”.  Every inch of her face was wrinkled, and as she shook my hand I could feel all 91 hard-earned years in her calloused hands.  She invited me to sit down on the porch and talk with her because the July sun had made her un-airconditioned house an oven. 

Since we were just getting to know one another, and because I really didn’t know what to say to someone who lived in a house without running water, I asked her to tell me about herself.  I have learned, since our first meeting, that small talk is not Marie’s gift.  Her life had demanded that she be direct and firm, but on this occasion, perhaps because I was the newbie pastor, she was thougtful and insightful.  She told me all about her childhood, which was frought with difficulty and work.  Her adult life, if anything, became more difficult as she married, worked, and eventually buried her husband.  

The one constant throughout her life was Cottage Grove Baptist Church and her faith in Christ.  Grace, through circumstances and conditions that would make most of us crack, was her theme.  Here was a woman who never had anything except Christ, family, and the church, and who wasn’t bitter or remorseful about anything.  If her life was a simple story of grace worked out in the life of an obedient woman, the story would be fantastic enough.   But there is so much more.  Ms. McCain’s life is also tied to her twin brother’s life.  Her sacrifice for this brother would touch his life and the lives of thousands of people she would never meet.  It is a monumental story of love.  Her story is the story of the rural church.  This is the story I will tell you in part two.             

Published in: on January 22, 2008 at 3:13 am  Comments (6)  


  1. I have goosebumps! I can’t wait for part two.

    Years ago I read a statistical report that stated the Happiest individuals were poor black women and the contribution to their happiness was to their strong faith in Christ.

  2. I can’t wait for part two – I love the elderly ladies in our church – they are such a blessing to us!

  3. I will post the rest of Ms. Marie’s story tomorrow.

  4. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

  5. Kim,
    I will have part II posted tomorrow morning. Your blog is fantastic.

  6. […] 26, 2008 Part I and Part II are the prequels to this post.  […]

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