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Memories of Union Chapel & Roberson School

Lewis Glen Smith

I was born near Doolittle Mills in Crawford County to Henry and Minnie Smith on July twenty-second nineteen and twenty five. I attended the Finch grade school. I went one year to English High School, then, felt that God wanted me to join the army to be a witness for him, which I did. I served as acting Chaplin in the South Pacific under General Macarthur. The sights that I saw, the men that God helped me to win to him and those that I was able to comfort would make a book in itself. After I got out of the army, I married Mildred Bowen. I attended Frankfort Pilgrim Bible College to prepare myself for the ministry.

My Memories of those early years revolved mainly around the Union Chapel Church. At least, the memories that I want to mention happened around the church. I have other memories, but they are not worth mentioning. Thank God, he has forgiven me of all the bad ones. I have listed twelve important events that happened in my early life that brought me to where I am today. Some happened before my conversion and some happened after my conversion to Christ:

(1) In 1935, when I was ten years old, I was gloriously saved in my grandparent's barnyard, playing church. My cousin Irene and sister Dorothy began teasing me, so I began to swear to get them to leave me alone. This was the beginning of five very unhappy years for me.

(2) At the ages of twelve, thirteen and fourteen I would go out with my cousins drinking and fighting. Sometimes I would get beat up real good myself. But I never learned; I just went back for more.

(3) I celebrated my fifteenth birthday on Monday the twenty-second, nineteen and forty. I spent the day drinking home made bootlegged whisky, beer and wine. What a way to celebrate your birthday. I'm sorry to have wasted my youth that way, but the story doesn't stop there.

(4) I attended a revival with my cousin and others at Union Chapel. Basel Seaton, an auctioneer, was the evangelist. We would attend the revival when it was going on, but when they were dismissed we would fill our time with our usual activities. We would drink and fight members of other communities. My choice weapons were a twenty-two single shot pistol, an ice pick, a blackjack and a pair of "knucks".

(5) It was in one of these services that I was dealt with by Ernest Batman's mother. The conversation went as follows: Sister Batman said, "Young man, do you expect to go to heaven"? This comment made me mad. I said, "Of course I do! Everybody does"! (Her next comment, she whispered very sweetly to me). She said, "Do you think you'll go, living like you are"? This conversation troubled me greatly. Every night God replayed the entire conversation in my mind I didn't go back into the church.

(6) To understand the following events, you would need to understand the customs of the day. During the summer when the churches would have revivals, they would raise the windows to let in some fresh air even though it was hot. There were no air conditioners and padded pews in those days. Some of the men and the grown boys would congregate on the outside the church, so that there were about as many on the outside as there were on the inside. During one such revival as it was coming to a close, we began to plan what we would do when it was over. I bragged that on the last night of the revival, "I'd go up to the alter, kick, holler scream and say, I've got religion". The rest of them said that I didn't have the courage to do it, but I said that if anyone would go with me, I'd go. A few of my buddies said that they would go with me. "They don't know us," I said, "And besides, we will stay outside after that, they'll carry on the meeting another week and we will have somewhere to go". I don't know if I could have actually been that mean, but my buddies took me serious.

(7) The last night of the revival finally came and it was time for me to make my move. I think it was July twenty-seventh, nineteen and forty. I was on the outside with my buddies when the time for the alter service came. People began to stand and sing the invitational song. I could have heard just as well through the open window, but I said, "I'm going in to see if they announce if the revival is closing tonight".

As I walked through the door, my plans were suddenly changed. As I was standing in the isle by the back door, all at once, a heavy conviction gripped my heart. A voice began screaming in my head, "Run, get out of here, you've tried being a Christian before and you couldn't do it". Just then, another voice chimed in and said, "Go to the alter and pray, this is what you have always wanted, to get religion". This conversation with the two voices only lasted a few seconds, but it seemed like an eternity.

(8) All at once, I was walking down the isle, totally forgetting everything, including my brags. My buddies thought they ought to keep their part of the bargain, so they came in the other door and came to the alter to "pray". I prayed, wept, hollered and screamed, begging for God to have mercy. My buddies hollered and screamed too. It wasn't very long till my prayers were answered and God forgave me of my sins. I stood up a changed person. I began to testify, not only for myself, but for my buddies also. I told them of my brag and my plans to mock the alter service and cause the revival to go on another week. I also told them how I had come under genuine conviction when I had come in the door and had forgotten all about my brags. At this, my buddies split and ran.

(9) Following the service, I went behind the building to the pile of my weapons that I had hid under some leaves. I threw all the weapons away, except for the revolver that a friend had half interest in. I took the revolver and returned it to my friend.

(10) On the way home I began to make my restitutions, the first of which was to a neighbor. We had gone into his melon patch to steal some watermelons, but when we found that the melons were not ripened yet, we simply tore up the patch.

(11) The next morning, my family did something interesting. During the summer, we children were usually accustomed to sleeping as long as we chose, but this morning was different. The entire family was seated at the breakfast table waiting on me. Although my stepfather had been in bed the night of my conversion, he had somehow heard about it. "You got religion last night, didn't you?" He asked. "Yes," I replied. "I am not a Christian," he said. I'm a backslider, but I know what it means to be one. Let us bow our heads and you pray for the food. He started family alter right then, and every day after, the family would gather to read the scripture and pray. A few days later, both he and my mother were saved.

(12) Revival had been extended and one or two nights after my conversion, something strange happened. As I was sitting with the older men of the church, Ernest Batman's mother once again approached me, inviting me to go to the alter. I was very surprised that she hadn't heard of my conversion. I said, "I was at the alter the other night and got everything. When I said "everything", I couldn't have felt worse than if I had sworn. On the way home, I was very blue. I said, "Lord what is wrong?" "I didn't speak mean to her, I only told her that I got everything." "You're new," the Lord spoke to me. I said, "Lord, if there is something more for me, I want it." When I said this, I felt wonderful. The next night I went to the alter and was sanctified. That was more than sixty years ago, and it is just as real now as when it first happened.

Looking back over the course of events, I discovered some interesting things. I was told that the church people had heard about my bragging the night of the twenty-seventh and it was difficult to get anyone to pray with me. I was also told that the evangelist went away totally defeated. He felt like a complete failure. Except for one dear lady that frequented all the community alters, the only ones to pray were children and young people. Time has proven that revival was anything but a failure. I'm still going after sixty years. There are others who are Christians yet today because of that revival. It was during that revival that the Lord took me, a fifteen-year old delinquent and changed me completely. I had very little to offer him. I had failed in the fifth grade, but he chose to use me for his glory. With the help of another student at Bible School, I went on to start the church that I was privileged to pastor for fifty years.

The last year of my pastorate, the church averaged one hundred and two on Sunday mornings and seventy-five at night. I also reopened two other churches. We have eight children and seven of them are in full-time Christian ministry. I have had the opportunity to make trips to eight mission fields to preach the gospel. I have also had the privilege to preach in revivals and camp meetings all across the country. I am so honored that the Lord chose to use for his glory. And I am so thankful that a preacher was faithful to God, even when he felt he had failed. If it had not for the faithfulness of the servants of God, where would I be?

I am thankful for the Union Chapel Church. Many others have found forgiveness of their sins just as I did. I can think of a few other ministers who came from Union Chapel. There was Ernest (Junior) Batman, who pastored for years, then was Superintendent for a number of years, Sam Mills, pastored for forty-four years, Paul Mills, pastored for forty-three years, also serves on the Board of Trustees of God's Bible School, Cedric Wilson, pastored for many years. Besides ministers, Myrl Luff and Hilda Mills married ministers and served faithfully for many years. Norma Mills (Woolems) has served the English Wesleyan church faithfully in nearly every capacity except for pastor for many years. Others have served the Lord in different capacities in other churches as well. Only eternity will reveal what has happened because the Union Chapel Church existed.

Besides all those who were saved at the church and are now gone to their eternal rewards. Thank God for Union Chapel. Two closing notes. At the second Prayer Meeting after the revival that I was saved in, I was asked to have the scripture for the service. I read from the seventh chapter of Matthew.

Before I was saved, I was riding my bicycle down one of the steep hill west of the church. There was a man standing in the road. I didn't want to stop, but he just stood there. Just as I decided to hit the ditch, he decided to hit the ditch too. I did hit him. I said, "Mr. Reasor, are you hurt?" He was upset and said, "Yes, you broke both my ankles." But I didn't really.

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