Originally uploaded by kosova cajun
I meet a lot of fascinating people on my travels -- preachers and atheists, hunters and vegetarians, hitchhikers and cab drivers, war-lords and peace activists, Albanians and Serbs, Christians and Muslims... I'm enchanted by the stories of these people, and one of the things I hope to do with this blog is to share some of those stories.
In that spirit, I'll start with a story told to me by this man, Ray Janway. Ray and his wife Betty recently opened their home to me for a few days while I was on business in North Louisiana. The hospitality they showed to me was truly amazing! Anyway, here's the story:
When Ray and his older brother Cecil were young children in southern Arkansas, their mother was a churchgoer, but not their father. He worked hard all week and fished all day Saturday and Sunday. He said that he didn't want to go to church because he figured that he couldn't be held responsible for what he didn't know. He would always take his boys fishing with him on Saturdays, but on Sundays he made them go to church with their mother.
One Saturday Ray and Cecil and their mom and dad were out in the boat fishing. They had fished for hours without so much as a nibble. Ray's father jokingly taunted the fish: "That's ok, don't bite. I'll just come back and catch you tomorrow. You won't get away!"
"If we caught a mess of fish, would you come with us to church tomorrow?" Ray's mom asked.
"Yes, if we caught a mess of fish, I'd come to church," he answered.
No sooner than were the words out of Mr. Janway's mouth than Mrs. Janway's rod bent double. She shouted, "Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!", as she landed a large blue channel catfish. After that the fish were practically jumping into the boat. They caught one after the other and many different kinds -- catfish, bluegill, bass, crappie.
The next day Mr. Janway was dressed for church before any of the rest of the family. He attended that week and the next and the week after that. After a month he asked to be baptized.
Cecil, the older brother, grew up to be a beloved pastor and eventually a denominational official in his organization, the Assemblies of God. Ray became an electrical engineer but was always active in church. Today he is retired, but he is a volunteer with the Gideons and helps to lead a ministry to the local parish lockup. (Louisiana has parishes rather than counties.)