Welcome and thanks for dropping by. Take one of those rockers and sit a moment while I tell you about my old friend, Raleigh.
It was some 60 years ago. I still think of Raleigh to this day and remember his influence on us!
Both of us had just been commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the Transportation Corps of the United States Army and found ourselves at Ft. Eustes, Virginia, for the Officer’s Basic Training Course. We were billeted in different barracks, so my only contact with Raleigh B. Washington was during training -- which was most of our life at that time. To get to the training fields, we were transported in long trailers we called cattle trailers, and they were pulled by two-ton Army trucks.
Raleigh was a black Baptist preacher and he was anything but ashamed of his faith in Jesus Christ. His stature was short, broad and muscular. Surprisingly at his young age, he wore false teeth. And, surprisingly we discovered that Raleigh was a great singer and not at all shy.
After we had loaded up whether we were going to or returning from the field for military training, Raleigh would begin singing hymns and before long all of us in the trailer would be following his lead.
One of the hymns was clearly his favorite. I can still remember part of it.
“Lord, build me just a cabin
In the corner of Glory Land,
Underneath the Tree of Life,
That will forever stand”
One of the reasons, I remember this particular hymn was while his bass voice booming at full volume, he kept time for our singing by taking out his false teeth and using them as percussion castanets! It was absolutely hilarious ans caused all of us all to break out in uproarious laughter, shake our heads and sing with great gusto during the trip.
Those moments were imprinted indelibly on my heart and mind. I'm sure there were others like me. The witness of this genuine and very real disciple of Jesus Christ was just so natural and powerful to me -- and all who were with him.
Our training was intended to prepare us for combat in Viet Nam. To say our training was rigorous would be an understatement. We all dreaded it as we were taken to our limits which most of us believed was way over our limits. At the end of every day we were utterly exhausted. But after climbing in those truck trailers, either going or coming to the training field, my friend’s witness to his faith in Jesus Christ and the future He has prepared for us, changed us all into a joyous hymn-singing Congregation.
I have no idea what happened to the preacher Raleigh B. Washington, whom I last saw in August of 1963. But I remember him... his song... and his witness.
I know now that for me, he was an angel of God at a time of great stress and questions in my heart!
Wherever you are, Raleigh, please know how grateful I am to you and our God, that you witnessed in the Name of Jesus Christ through your beautiful spirit and voice as you were led by the Holy Spirit.
Raleigh. I look forward to visiting with you in the “Cabin” you had us all sing about and which Christ has built for us.
"Thanks again for dropping by. Come back again when you can."