J.C. was my maternal grandfather. He died on Friday, June 11, 2021 at his home in Millbrook, Alabama. He was almost 90 years old. His wife, my maternal grandmother died a couple of months before. She was 88.
Let me describe to you what kind of person he was. His name was J.C. and that didn’t stand for anything. It wasn’t his initials. It was his name. He was from Louisiana. He had to stop school after the 8th grade and start working full-time. His father and his brother had debilitating problems with alcohol. I recall someone telling me that his dad was the town drunk. My grandfather never touched alcohol, he hated it all of his life.
He married my grandmother two weeks after meeting her at a bowling alley. Incredible. Those were different times. After they married, he purchased her the first article of clothing that wasn’t a hand-me-down. They both worked, but she earned more money than he did in the early days of their marriage.
A few years ago, he sent me a copy of his testimony, how and when he became a Christian, and his experience of it. Here’s what he wrote:
“I really don’t know why I am writing this, except that one day, my grandchildren might want to know why I take the stand I do on some issues. Dr. Walter Martin said, “A man who will not take a stand for something is likely to fall for almost anything.” The Apostle Paul writes, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). I became fully persuaded on some issues many years ago….and, I still stand on them.(J.C. Breazeale testimony from an email he sent me.)
I suppose a good way to begin this would be to give a word of testimony of my salvation….how and when I came to know the Lord.
I was saved Tuesday night, June 25th, 1963, at the altar of Centennial Baptist Church, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I lacked 3 months being 33 years old.
I had been brought up in church, in my early years. Mr. paternal Grandfather was a “lay preacher” who was well known and respected in our area. I was too young to know about doctrine, but from what I can find out, he preached sound Baptist doctrine. After his death, my family drifted into a “Pentecostal” type church, due to influences from relatives on my mother’s side of the family. I attended their church, though I never became a part of it. I knew that I could never live good enough to keep my salvation, and I refused to make a mockery of salvation, as I had seen many do.
The night I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, I had been to a union meeting. We had a member whose name was Oliver Jordan, who had a habit of coming to the meeting under the influence of alcohol and wanting to argue about everything that came up for discussion. I detest beverage alcohol, and I had made up my mind (or I thought it was me that had made up mind) that the next time Oliver came to the meeting drinking, I was going home. That night Oliver came and he had been drinking, so I went home. That night happened to be the visitation night of Centennial Baptist Church.
I hadn’t been at home but a few minutes, when there was a knock on our door. When I opened the door, there was Bro. Jesse Whitley, the pastor of Centennial Baptist Church, and Bro. H.B. Hall, one of the Deacons. I invited them to come in. And though Bro. Whitley had visited before, there was something different about that night. Times before, I had been able to change the subject, off salvation, and talk about sports or other things. But that night, I could not seem to come up with anything. I really could not tell you one word Bro. Whitley spoke, until he said, “We can kneel right here by your couch and you can call upon the Lord to forgive you and save you,” I remember the first word that came from my lips: “No.” But that “no” was followed by, “I always said that when I got saved, it would be at a church altar.” With that, Bro. Whitley replied, “Then let’s go down to the church.” And that is what we did. Bro. Whitley, Bro.Hall, Ann, and myself went down to Centennial Baptist Church, and knelt at the altar.
When my knees touch the floor, I remember starting to cry. My heart was broken as I came to that moment in my life. Bro. Whitley prayed, and then said to me, “Bro. J.C., will you pray and ask the Lord to come into your heart and save you?” I couldn’t answer. All I could do was weep. Finally, I uttered 8 words which I will never forget. Through my tears I prayed, “Lord, save me. I’ve been wrong so long!”
I couldn’t tell you what happened at that moment, but there was a change in my very being. There seemed to be a great weight lifted from me. There was a peace that I had never known before. What I later come to know from 2 Corinthians 5:17 suddenly became a reality. Life took on a new meaning. After almost 14 years of marriage, Ann had a new husband, my children had a new Daddy….not perfect, but new.
I Had lived a life of being under conviction from the time I was about 17 until that Tuesday night. I would take my family to church and go get them after church. I knew it was good for my family to be in church, but “it wasn’t for me.” I would go to church occasionally, but when the invitation was given, I would suddenly need to go to the restroom or get a drink of water. Whatever excuse I could come up with was all I needed to get away from the Holy Spirit’s drawing. I had run from the Lord ever since I could remember. But that night, I lost the race!
Several other things changed that night. I had an extremely foul mouth (though I never cursed at home). I asked God to help me quit my profanity, and it stopped as though you had flipped a light switch. That night, He gave me a desire to read and study His word. I have tried to do this daily since that time. It was a few months later that I dedicated my life to be used of the Lord with whatever abilities He gave me. Though I have failed Him many times, He has always remained faithful. AMEN!!!”
My grandfather loved to sing about what the Lord had done for him. He had a small P.A. system that he would load up from time to time and travel to small churches all around Arkansas. He would set it up and lead the singing and do special music for Sunday night services and hymn sings, and gospel quartets and bluegrass. Some of my fondest memories are being at some of those events and being around his friends.
He also edited and published a newsletter for many years from his church. He would collect the articles from various people, edit and copy and paste all by hand (way before computers) and then take them down to a printer to be copied. I remember watching him prepare the newsletter with his exacto knife and paper cutter and bits of glue. Once the printer was finished, he would stamp and send hundreds of these to people all over the South. I wish I had a copy to show you.
Grandpa (Paw-Paw when I was small), did read and study the Bible everyday. He loved to do word studies. Where he would systematically work through a book of the Bible by looking up the definition of each word in the original language. It was tedious work. He also made copious notes in his Bible with a .3mm mechanical pencil on very small hand drawn lines. It’s an understatement to say that he treasured the Scriptures. He was completely committed to the King James Version.
I remember him ending every day, by getting on his knees by the couch and praying for each one of his children and grandchildren. Every time we visited or called, he would remind us, sometimes individually how much he loved us, that he was praying for us, and to try and “help your mamma.”
As a child, I remember him telling me: “Andy, you can do whatever you put your mind to.” Man, did that go down deep. And, it gave me a lot of hope, when hope was scarce.
I got to spend the summer with my grandparents in my early teens. I left Florida and spent several weeks in Opello, Arkansas. I cut grass, weeded the garden, played basketball, went fishing, shot a .22, and helped him build an addition on to the back of his house. Grandma gave me Coke-a-Cola and a candy bar almost everyday. It was the best summer I had as a kid.
He bought me my first real Bible that summer. It was a KJV, from Oxford Press, with a Genuine Leather cover. It was very expensive. That was the Bible I read and studied when as a young adult. I still have it.
One more story, and maybe the one that really inspires and challenges me. It’s a good one to leave you with.
One Saturday during that summer with them, we went into town to get a haircut. While we were waiting for our turn, one of the men there began to use foul language. My grandpa piped right up and said: “I’ll thank you to not use that language in front of my grandson.” The man excused himself.
I’m very, very grateful for his example in life.
And, I know very well, how my life has been privileged because of that Tuesday night at Centennial Baptist Church.