By Frances Garner
A testimony is evidence given in written or spoken form, usually preaching or teaching, of which I can do neither.
My evidence is sitting out here on all of these church pews. It is through all of you that I have learned to trust God with my life by your examples as I have grown up in this church and in this community.
Whatever I am, and I have no worldly accomplishments to cite, is a product of my parents, my church and my community.
I was blessed with good hard working honest parents who taught me faith at an early age.
My daddy was a tiller of the soil from sunup to sundown and my mother’s hands were never idle.
At an early age during World War II, when all four of my brothers were serving in one branch of service or another, I remember we would go for days and sometimes months before hearing from some of them and the tears of joy that would be shed after a trip to the mailbox.
An overdue letter or card would be there. There was not a lot of talk in our home about religion but we had the right example put before us. It was more “show than tell.”
When I was about 11 years old, I realized that I was accountable for my actions and the Lord was working in my life.
On a hot sultry night over at the Friendship Methodist Church, I made a profession of faith.
At that time that was the place the youth were going to MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) on Sunday night.
There were only about two cars, at the most, in our community that we had access to and where ever those cars went and picked up the youth, that is where we went unless we walked.
Later on, when my mother and sister moved their letter to Mt. Pleasant, I joined also and was baptized for the second time in the cold waters of Pigeon Creek.
It was here at Mt. Pleasant in my teens when I was introduced to Missions by Miss Evelyn Salter.
She formed a YWA (Young Women of America) group and would take us to Persimmon Creek swimming, picnicking, but also teaching from the Bible about missions.
Then as we married, we would receive a white Bible to use in our wedding. It was here that I saw God’s love portrayed in the lives of so many of you.
I recall the untimely deaths of Mrs. Era Till, Kendall Johnson, Ted Williams, Carolyn and Tommie Greene as well as many pillars of the church at the time like Mr. Marvin Greene, Mr. Grady McLeod, and Mr. John Lansdon.
Cancer deprived us of Frances Skinner and Lurlean Johnson before we were ready to give them up and I see how all of you have bounced back from tragedy and are still serving the Lord.
What I am trying to say is, your courage and faith in times of adversity have spoken to me and others also.
I married as a teen-ager, 16 to be exact. Let me quickly add, this is too young.
Young people, you can be matured physically but very immature emotionally and unable to deal with the problems and adjustments of marriage.
Before I reached my 18th birthday, I was a mother. If there was a turning point in my life, it was at that time.
I did not know one thing about babies. I was ignorant as to their care and I was afraid of the responsibility that God has entrusted me to fulfill.
I realized at that time that I would never be first again, and by choice, the needs of my child would always outweigh my desires.
Moving into a new neighborhood in Montgomery, no phones in Friendship to call mama, very little money, Robert taking two jobs to meet the bills, all this was a trying time for teenage parents.
I am quick to say that without God we would not have made it, marriage or family.
One of my neighbors in Montgomery was an older lady who visited me. Larry was skinny, scrawny looking baby.
She later confessed to me that she thought he would not make it. Perhaps she doubted him and me but I have living proof today that he did make it and you would never know he was a skinny little baby.
Thank God, he also realizes we only made it by the grace of God. (to be cont’d)