A Poem by Sherwood Eliot Wirt

               ~ 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."

Page 18

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.

                                                                  - S.E.W.

Introduction  ||  Table of Contents