A Poem by Sherwood Eliot
~ MCMAKIN'S CHARGE ~
Scene: A raw pine tabernacle
in Charlotte, North Carolina, November, 1934
Albert McMakin, farmer, sat in the choir,
his Bible open to Romans seven and eight,
eyes on the back of Preacher Ham's bald head.
To him the music was the sound of heaven.
He couldn't sing the boys had sought the loft
just to evade that bony, pointing finger.
How Albert loved the gospel messages!
A year had passed since Christ first touched his heart,
and here he was, still eager for discipling
with two young charges on the plank beside.
He'd put them in the truck and brought them here,
praying that God might do for them tonight
what He had done for Albert. Now the choir
was on its feet; the time of invitation
was at hand, and Albert and his boys
stood with the others, mumbling through a tune.
Verse after verse they sang, while Christians prayed
for wives and sisters, husbands, wayward sons
and pleasure-minded daughters. "Come to Jesus
while there's time," cried Mordecai F. Ham,
and quiet penitents walked slowly down
the shavings trail to faith and hope and God.
They reached the closing verse when Billy Frank,
barely sixteen, said something that would change
the doctrine of the church in Western Europe,
remove the color bar in Birmingham,
shorten the Cold War with an early thaw,
and weld the world's evangelists as one,
while preaching Christ on every continent.
"I'm going down," he said. Just that. And Grady,
scion of Walter Wilson, said, "I'm with you."
They teetered on the plank, then walked the steps,
the tall boy and the chunky one, and stood,
faces upturned at last toward the man,
while Albert watched and wept and praised the Lord.
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