Memories can be precious things. I remember my first visit to Galilee Baptist Church. I was just four years old and my mother and I lived with my paternal grandparents while my father was serving in the United States Coast Guard in the 1940’s. My granddad was Charlie Waterman and he was an old Baptist preacher. We lived at 1929 Claypool which was a few blocks from the Church. On Sundays, we walked together to Galilee for Church and Sunday School.
Granddad took me by the hand and in his other hand was his Bible. It was a precious book to him, brown leather and much read and greatly valued. All the way to Church, Granddad would sing old hymns or whistle the tunes. It made me happy and I felt loved and protected. We kept walking until we reached the Chapel doors with green and white stained-glass windows. I was led downstairs to the basement where the children gathered to hear God’s Word and learn about the LORD Jesus Christ.
There were many, many children in that place and ladies who helped us find seating so we could begin the lessons. That is where I first heard the words: “I will make you fishers of men. . .” It seemed the words were spoken just for me and I believe God wrote the words on my heart. I was skipping all the way home with Granddad’s hand in mine that beautiful sunny morning after church. “Fishers of men, fishers of men. . .” What did that mean?
Charlie Waterman worked as a baggage clerk for the railroad. He went to bed with the chickens—we DID have chickens in the backyard near a small barn–right next to the big garden he kept with fruit trees and a bounty of food for his family on an adjoining lot.
Granddad got up every morning at 3:30 a.m. to walk the railroad tracks to work. So he went to bed before dark. If we (myself and any cousins who were sleeping over on the weekend) were good, we were allowed to go in to see Granddad for a few minutes at bedtime. Grandma would open the door and there he was sitting up in his bed reading the old brown Bible and Smith’s Bible Dictionary which I called “the grasshopper book”. Granddad studied the Bible every night for awhile and he would show us pictures of the olive tree, a candlestick and other symbols and talk to us about God and His Word. The “grasshopper” was really a locust but I didn’t know it until I was much older.
Because he was a minister, Granddad often married young couples who came to call at his home. Grandma Waterman would shuffle all the youngsters into a bedroom where we would peek through the curtains to see the old leather book being held in well-worn hands and words being spoken from God’s Holy book. Then everybody would sign some papers and Granddad would pronounce them “Man and Wife”. It was all very official and exciting. The old brown Bible was something very important in all of this business.
After the war, life went on for our family. We moved many times and I was the oldest of three siblings. My grandparents passed but I have many memories of Charles and Bertha Waterman and their love for their family, their country, and God and His Word. The Waterman’s were hospitable people welcoming all who came to visit or lodge with them. Many relatives and friends sought refuge in their home throughout the years.
The prayers of the saints do follow them and I am sure my grandparents and parents prayed for me and for all those in our family. I would later receive Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and truly learn what the words “fishers of men” meant, sharing my faith in Christ with others and winning souls for Him. “And He saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
I returned to Galilee Baptist Church one day over 50 years later after viewing some old pictures of my granddad and me. When I entered the Church, I inquired as to whether they had a Sunday School class and I was invited into a room full of older people who welcomed me warmly. Most of them had gray or white hair and glasses. I thought they had put me in the wrong class until I went home and realized I, too, now have white hair and glasses!
Really, I felt like I had come home when I visited Galilee after so long a time. I began attending regularly and became a working member of the fellowship. I wanted to give back and serve and help where it all began for me as a child. The Church membership is smaller now, but we had a wonderful Time of Remembering last April when we celebrated our 100th Anniversary Celebration. I worked on the committee preparing for the event. Over 200 people from five diferent states attended. I learned Galilee was a missionary plant Church from Calvary Baptist and they had been a “sending church”, sending young people out all over the world after they were converted and discipled to share the gospel message with others. I am sure many of those believers became “fishers of men” also.
Thanks to my cousin, Cindy, I have Granddad’s old Bible. I took it to the Celebration and displayed it with a note saying it was the property of Charles Arthur Waterman, a man of God and my beloved grandfather who took his little granddaughter to Church and Sunday School at Galilee Baptist Church when I was just four years old. Thank You, LORD, for a giving me a godly heritage.
Sherry Waterman Goodwin, age 73
September 2, 2016Read More