Davy was six years old. And he liked what most six year old boys liked; animals of all kinds, investigating caves and woods, which was his favorite past-time, milking cows and tying things up with rope. He also enjoyed eating his mothers buttermilk biscuits, flapjacks, hot apple pies, cornbread, meatloaf and just about everything else she could whip up for mealtime. Davy was a little short for his age, his younger brother was only four pounds lighter and nearly the same height. Yet there was two years difference between them! But Davy made up for his lack by his spunk. He worked hard helping his pa whenever he asked for it, and even sometimes when he didn’t. He was always the first one up in the morning, usually reading a chapter of the Bible before his brother Joshua was even awake. And Davy, believe it or not, he even enjoyed his chores! He wouldn’t just scrub the barn floor he would SCRUB the barn floor! And he always would do more than his mother expected. Sure, he wasn’t as tall as the other six year olds in and around town but he could work just as hard as any of them. Well, today was the big day. The Hodges family had sold their farm, all 160 acres, and today they would be leaving it for the last time. They were to stay in Nashville tonight with their Uncle Amos and Aunt Grace, then leave for North Carolina the following morning. There were a lot of things that Davy would miss about their home here in Murfreesboro, but his pa’s brother, Uncle Jack, had passed away late last year. And that left Aunt Mildred to care for the Iron Station General Store, or rather, hire out to manage it while she stayed at home with the four little ones. Being a God-fearing and Christian lady, Auntie Mildred knew that, while she helped Uncle Jack many times, her place was at home, certainly not off running some business. So pa felt that he needed to be there for her, as there was no other kin around for 1000 miles or more. Aunt Mildred promised pa that he could have their other home, a log cabin on 40 acres, that was just two miles outside of town. She also told us it was real pretty country, almost as pretty as Tennessee! So even though this move was not pleasant in the sense that Davy was leaving the only home he ever knew, he was also plenty excited about his new home, with all of it’s new surroundings. Plus Davy trusted his pa’s decision to move. Not that it was the place of a child to question his father, for that would certainly be wrong and a good reason for a modest whipping, but Davy knew his pa was just plain smart about such things, and what was better for everyone involved.
Davy got on his knees and prayed just like any other morning. He then read one chapter of Exodus. (It had taken him a while, but he had finished Genesis.) Then he performed his usual chores of feeding the chickens and milking the cows. His older sister Charity fed the rabbits, and his other sister, Hope, also older, fed the horses and the cows. Then it was time for breakfast.
Everyone was there, as they were for every meal in the Hodges household. Though the children said very little, this was a time for everyone to be together and talk about the days events. Pa, big and strong, yet quiet, spoke of the order of the day. Each member of the family was assigned responsibilities, mostly relating to the move. “This will be a really big trip,” Pa said, “Not like a venture into town. We all need to work hard and be ready to leave by noon.” After they were done eating it was work, work, work. But Davy looked at it as a challenge and was done 30 minutes early!
All loaded, Pa, Ma, Charity, Hope, Davy, Joshua, and Beth Ann left for Nashville. Just as Pa had said, this trip was going to be a long one. To go to Nashville would only take about three hours, but that was just to visit his Uncle and Aunt, as they might never see them again. The trek to North Carolina would be much, much longer, close to two months, Pa estimated.
Nashville came rather quick, Davy thought. Actually it probably was three hours, but Davy spent the whole time looking out at the scenery. He was hoping to see a bear, which he didn’t, but he did spot a family of deer and a bunch of smaller animals. He remembered the words that his Pa said one time during evening Bible reading, how that the Lord made the trees, the animals, the stars...everything. And that people should enjoy the things that He made and not always look for other ways to be “entertained”. Davy’s Pa was not against books, but he had commented that he noticed how people were beginning to get so interested in them that less and less the beautiful work of God was being appreciated. Davy would always love the outdoors, it would never be boring to him!
Well, here they were. Nashville. And they made it to Uncle Amos’ just in time for supper. Davy sure did not mind that. Aunt Grace could cook almost as good as Ma...almost. Davy ran up and gave each of them a hug, as did everyone else. “I saw some deer” Davy said excitedly. “I was hoping to see a big black bear, but I must not have looked good enough. I’m sure there were some out there.” Aunt Grace smiled. “I’m sure there were, Davy, I’m sure there were.”
Supper consisted of chicken, biscuits, corn on the cob, cows milk and cherry pie for dessert. As good as it was though, the conversation overshadowed the meal. Uncle Amos had brought up the preacher that was in town and had invited them to stay an extra night so they could hear him. Pa and Ma both loved church and listening to preaching, especially if it was to-the-point, no holds-barred preaching. But delaying the trip another day, that was a tough one for Pa, who was anxious to get started on their new life. He looked at Ma, “Are you up to waiting a day dear? I know you’re just as interested in getting to Carolina as I am.” Ma, adjusting little Beth Ann in her arms as she spoke said, “Now, James, whatever choice you make is fine with me, you know that.” Now six year-old Davy Hodges didn’t care either way. Right now he was eating his second piece of chicken, and big it was! This one must’ve been the one that scared off all the smaller chickens so it could eat their portions of feed. But little good it did him; now he was someone else’s food: Davy’s! Just as Davy was diving into another delicious bite, Uncle Amos glanced at his father with an almost sneaky look in his eye. “Of course, James, you know that Grace and I missed tonight’s evening meeting due to your visit.” Uncle Amos’ face went real serious as Pa looked at him, then they both broke out laughing. It was then that Pa threw the cloth napkin in my Uncles direction and said at the same time, “Now that is simply not fair, but I guess you win, brother.”
So that settled that. Davy lay in his bunk with Joshua beside him and thought about tomorrow. He wondered what was so special about the church meetings. Aunt Grace said that there were four meetings a day, whereas there was usually just one on Sunday. She did mention that the preacher was a very special person, that the newspapers were all writing about him and everyone was talking about him. More importantly, he was getting all this attention because it was said that he was a real man of God and that God was with him. Davy was interested in seeing a man who was that close to God.
As he drifted off to sleep, Davy tried to think of his name, Uncle Amos and Aunt Grace had both mentioned it. That’s right, it was easy, Davy thought, an easy name to remember. The name of the preacher that he was going to hear tomorrow was Sam Jones. Samuel P. Jones.
It was almost 11:00 A.M. when the Hodges family, Uncle Amos and Aunt Grace reached the site of the revival meeting. It was very, very big, was the first thing Davy noticed. “I guess you are not the only one who has heard about this preacher Jones,” Pa said to Uncle Amos. The reason for that statement was how many people were here. That was the second thing Davy noticed.
The building was a huge auditorium, in fact it looked like all the population of Nashville could fit into it. And just at this moment, it seemed as if they were doing exactly that! It must have been thousands of people, and they were coming from every area of the city! “My, you would think that the president was in town,” sighed Ma, eyes opened wide, as if she just saw the largest, biggest animal ever.
They pulled up to an empty spot, after taking many minutes to find one, that is, and Uncle Amos tied up the horses. Pa helped secure the carriage while Ma and Aunt Grace gathered up all the children. They entered the building, which looked even bigger from the inside, and soon found some seats fairly close to the front. Davy sat expectantly for what seemed like a long time. Then a funny looking man carrying a clipboard appeared at the front and announced that due to the crowd they were going to allow more people to come in and stand in the aisles. He meekly asked that everyone be patient and thanked the crowd for their understanding.
Davy suddenly heard a loud noise and then realized that it was a bell, and probably a very big one, that was ringing 11:00 A.M. Immediately the large room became silent and Davy couldn’t understand why. Then he gazed up front and saw Sam Jones.
There was no introduction but Davy somehow knew that this was the much talked-about preacher. He was not overly big, being smaller than Davy’s father, who was so big some people often mistook him for a lumberjack. This man was thin and wiry but looked very serious. He took a moment and sized up the crowd, as if a challenge was before him. His eyes went from side to side, front to back. The audience did not make a sound. Slowly preacher Jones cleared his throat. In a rather quiet tone the preacher thanked the city of Nashville. But then things changed. “Which of the devil’s vices and habits are keeping you from being converted?” he proclaimed loudly. Then silence. Preacher Jones looked over the room again. “I said, which of the devil’s vices and habits are keeping you from being converted to God?” The dynamic man preached, at times mentioning things Davy’s father had always taught him were wrong. This Sam Jones hated these same things; gambling, alcoholic beverages, etc. Davy’s eyes were glued to this man as he railed against all sorts of terrible sins. Davy noticed that many, many onlookers had almost pale faces, some had broke out into a sweat, and not from the heat it seemed. Others had red faces, full of shame.

Some of you profess religion, are members of the church, yet you partake of some of these devil’s vices and habits.” Preacher Jones’ voice thundered through the auditorium. The hour-long sermon was drawing to a close. “If you need converted, whether a drunkard or a card-player, or whether a church member, come now to the altar, repent of your selfish and wicked ways and turn to Christ.” Some started to leave their seats, but Mr. Jones held his hand up, motioning them to stay in their seats. “Do not come, however, if you are not sincere, if you are not fully ready to give up your sins. But if you are really genuine and desire a new life in Christ, then come. But I warn you, bring therefore fruits meet for repentance. Do not bow before this altar if you intend to go again to the gamblers boat or the local brewery.”
Hundreds hurried to the front. Davy felt something move next to him. It was his father and mother, joining the crowd down front. Both of them had tears in their eyes. Davy edged closer to his Aunt and watched as his parents went to their knees. He had seen them pray many times at home, but this seemed strange for them to pray with everyone else around. Something happened to them, Davy figured. Minutes later, preacher Jones spoke. “Many have come denouncing their sin, now willing to stand for righteousness. This can only be done by the power of God and one can only have this power when they come to Christ under His terms. It is my earnest prayer that many more will be converted throughout these meetings. My next message will be at 2:00 this afternoon. Please pray for the hearts of the sinners of Nashville.”
Davy’s parents came back to meet Davy, Uncle Amos, Aunt Grace and the other children. “Is everything okay, Papa?” Davy asked. “We are fine, son, aren’t we mother?” Davy never saw his parents so happy; their faces were glowing.
The group of them went towards the exit. It took a few minutes as there were so many that attended the meeting. As Davy reached the door he dropped his English-style cap that he got for his birthday the year before. With the onrush of people, however, it got trampled and kicked and finally ended up about ten feet away under a now empty seat. Just as he put his hand down to retrieve it, someone beat him to it. “Here you go, young man,” said a voice amongst the crowd. Sam Jones stepped out and handed Davy his cap. Davy was tongue-tied but finally blurted out, “Hel...hello, Preacher Jones s.s.sir.” Sam Jones smiled and patted the boy on the head. “What is your name, son?” he asked. Davy quietly answered. “You need not be so quiet, Davy,” Sam Jones said as he knelt down to be at Davy’s level. “I’m just a preacher, you’ve no need to be afraid of me.” He slowly draped his arm around the lad and with a very serious look said, “Are you a follower of Christ, Davy? Have you ever turned from your sin to the Lord Jesus Christ?” Davy thought hard for a minute. He did read his Bible every morning and he prayed every day. Quickly his mind went to the time that he had disobeyed his mother. He was four years old, and had asked his Ma if he could have some raisins. She told him not before dinner, but he had snuck some and hidden behind Pa’s chair to eat them. Papa caught him and explained to him about disobeying and that not doing what Mama said was a sin. Davy also remembered how his Papa broke a branch off of the big tree out back and whipped his backside. Now here was this important preacher asking him this question. “Well...sir, I do...read my Bible...and I do believe in the Savior.” Davy’s face sort of scrunched up, “But I don’t know if I really follow Him.” Preacher Jones smiled again as he replied, “You see, Davy, that is a true christian. And though you may not understand now, you must tell the Lord that it is your desire to become a christian. One day Davy, you will understand enough to believe and be saved, and that will be the most glorious day of your life.” Sam Jones stood up and held out his hand. Davy took it and they shook hands. “It was nice meeting you son.” As the preacher turned to go, Davy called out, “Preacher Jones, thank you for my cap.” Sam Jones smiled and nodded at the boy. Then he was gone into the crowd. Davy looked around until he saw his family and then joined them.
A few hours later they were all back at Uncle Amos’ house, eating the lunch meal. Davy’s father continued the conversation that had been started on the ride home. “Amos,” he said, “I am certainly glad that you were so forceful about our attending the meeting today.” Both Uncle Amos and Aunt Grace smiled. “You can see now why we wanted you to hear him” Aunt Grace said. “He is what our country needs at this time, what with all the moral backsliding going on and all.” Uncle Amos gently picked up a buttermilk biscuit dipped in the fresh gravy on his plate. “More importantly James, we were not sure of your spiritual condition. Not that we doubted your sincerity, but neither of us were positive that you had truly been converted.” At this point he looked up at Davy’s father eye to eye. “Not to try to offend you James, we just had concern for you both.” Davy’s father took his turn to smile, “No offense taken Amos. If not for a straightforward sermon like Preacher Jones delivered, I may never have realized that I had never truly become a christian, in the true sense of the word of course.” James leaned back in his chair. “I was...religious to a degree, we both were. But we had not turned to him in our hearts, with that repentant attitude that Preacher Jones kept mentioning.” Davy’s mother refilled everyones mug with pure white cows milk. Davy gulped his down as politely as he could while he listened to his mother. “Well James and children, we are heading to North Carolina tomorrow for a new life in many ways.” She sat down and gripped her husbands hand, “Isn’t that right?” Davy’s father smiled again at his mother. Davy noticed that he sure had been doing a lot of smiling this afternoon. “That’s right Martha...that is right.” They all sat at the table, doing more talking than eating it seemed. Davy did not mind, he listened all he could. If this matter of becoming a christian was that important of a decision then he needed to learn all he could. Besides when Preacher Jones talked to him about following the Lord, something inside Davy felt sort of...guilty. And yet at the same time it made him interested in finding out more.
It was bedtime. Davy’s father tucked him in after they prayed. Davy loved his papa so. Always his papa told him the story of how he had prayed for a long time for a little boy and the Lord answered that prayer by giving him Davy. Then unexpectedly the Lord doubly-blessed Davy’s father by giving him a second boy, Joshua. Davy’s father opened his Bible and read some of it to Davy. He read about a man named Jonah, a prophet that disobeyed God and tried to run from him. After a few minutes the story was over and Davy’s father prayed that the Lord would be with Davy. Then he lay the blanket over his tired six year old. “Get some rest now son, tomorrow we leave for North Carolina, and it will be a long trip.” Davy glanced up and smiled, he liked that his pa had read the Bible to him. Though it was read much at dinner, Davy had never had read it to him at bedtime. He secretly hoped that his father would always read the Bible to him at night. “Good night papa, I love you.” James reached down and hugged Davy in his big strong arms. “I love you too my boy, I love you too.” Davy was very tired and that was the last thing that he remembered before he fell asleep. Except that he wished that he could always be in his fathers arms where he did not feel afraid of anything.
It was morning. Davy was half asleep as he realized that he was being loaded into the wagon. He quickly rubbed his eyes and sat up. Everyone was in and ready to go, excepting his father and mother, who were saying goodbye to Uncle Amos and Aunt Grace. Then they made their rounds hugging all the children. “Bye, I will miss you” Davy said very sadly. Then he blurted out like six-year-olds often do, “and I’ll miss your buttermilk biscuits!” The whole group of them burst out laughing. “Good bye” Davy’s father said solemnly as he and Davy’s mother took their places on the wagon. James took hold of the reins and yelled “Giddy up.” The last thing Davy heard as they pulled out was his Aunt Grace saying, “The Lord be with you all.”
The days were long and hard. Sometimes they would stop to let the horses rest and Davy and the others could get out and run and play. One day Davy and Joseph found a snake and Davy knew it was a rattlesnake, which is a kind not to be played with. He may have been all boy, but he was smart enough not to mess with a poisonous snake. He remembered one boy in Murfreesboro that got bit by one last year and nearly died! Still, it was neat to see the slippery, slimy creature slither through the dirt on its way most likely to eat some mouse or lizard that it found in the woods.
There were other stops along the way too. Many nights the family was invited to sleep in a strangers barn or home. Pa hesitated to accept most of the time, but often gave in due to his concern for ma and the little ones.
One of these times was at the home of an especially nice man named Mr. Witherspoon. The thin gray-haired man had another visitor in his home, a man named Ira Sankey. Pa and Ma were both very interested in Mr. Sankey. He was a christian hymn-writer and singer who worked for the Internal Revenue Department. After singing, “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood” in the evening, Pa asked him why he did not go full time with an evangelistic speaker. Mr. Sankey calmly replied that he desired to do the LORD’s work without receiving any pay, he was completely content serving him while working for the government. Mr. Sankey also prayed for them and their trip and his traveling. He was in the area for business and was heading back to a place called Newcastle Pennsylvania tomorrow. Davy had never heard of such a place but his pa said that Newcastle was a very, very long ways away.
Another fun stop was in North Carolina in a big city called Charlotte. This was just a few days before they reached their new home. It had started snowing quite hard, so Davy’s father stopped at a clearing to eat, hoping that the snowstorm would slow down. Well, while Davy’s mother and sisters were preparing the noontime meal, Davy and Joshua discovered a big hill. Now the big hill was pretty to look at, until Joshua found a large snow shovel that was missing the handle. Between the two of them, they came up with a real brainstorm; ride down the hill on the big, shiny shovel piece! And ride they did! Or rather slide! Over and over they would get on, one at a time and whisk quickly to the bottom. Then they would, carrying the shovel of course, walk to the top only to do it again. And after a time Davy’s mother dismissed Charity and Hope from their chores, and they joined in too. Even Pa went down a couple of times! Sadly after a while though, the snowflakes stopped coming down and when mealtime was over they left. But for Davy, that was one of the best times that he ever had!
They had arrived! It was late at night and very dark! It seemed like it took forever to get to Iron Station, North Carolina but now they were here, their new home! They all shuffled in as Aunt Mildred showed them where the bedrooms were. She had been staying at the log cabin waiting for them to arrive. Everyone was tired so they all went straight to sleep. Pa told them that there would be plenty of time for talk and looking around tomorrow. Which was okay with Davy, he was so tired he had trouble keeping his eyes open the last hour of the journey. As he drifted off to sleep, he was thinking of the snowhill and how much fun it was.
Boy was the log cabin big! That was the first thing that Davy noticed. Four bedrooms! And the dining area was twice the size of the one in their old home! Ma and the girls had plenty of room to work around each other while fixing the meals.
Davy spent most of the morning helping his pa unload the wagon. Then in the afternoon, he and Joshua were allowed to scout around the property, while their pa and ma went into town to buy supplies. (Many things Aunt Mildred had already stocked in the house but they still needed some things). So Davy and his brother spent hours just seeing where everything was and looking for a place they could call their favorite spot. Sort of a hiding spot that every boy liked to have where he could go and be alone if he felt like he wanted to be. They did, after much time, find a place that suited them. It was down by the river, a small cave that was hidden behind some tall oak trees. Both Davy and Joshua were pleased, any young boy would have been excited all over to have their very own cave on their very own land!
Aunt Mildred was just as sweet as Pa said she was. Davy didn’t see her much the first day as she was at the store a lot, but in the eventime he got to spend some time with her. She told everyone that the store was very busy and how happy she was that they had come to help her. The plan was that Pa would run the store and keep about a fourth of all the profits. Pa said that seemed like it was too much money, but Aunt Mildred insisted.
Well, it was bedtime. The first day at their new home was full of chores and fun. Davy was thinking of all the places to explore and all the new animals that he could make friends with. Then his thoughts shifted. He started thinking of the revival meeting with Preacher Jones and the short talk that they had afterwards. Then he recalled the time at Mr. Witherspoons house. Davy had listened to Mr. Sankey sing and as he talked about the LORD. Davy knew that he was not a Christian the way these men were. He especially remembered the words that Preacher Jones said about becoming a Christian when he got older and understood more. It was then that his Pa walked into the bedroom.
He smiled at Joshua, already asleep in the bed next to Davy, then went to Davy’s bedside. “Still awake, son?” his Pa asked. Davy smiled back, “Yes sir.” It was a well-known fact around the Hodges household that Davy was the last of the children to fall asleep.

Pa, I’ve been thinking.” Davy’s smile turned to a stern but curious gaze. “Did you know that Preacher Jones spoke to me after the meeting in Nashville?” Davy’s father sat down on the edge of the bed, “No Davy, I didn’t, what did he say?” The six year old sat up and looked very seriously into his fathers eyes. “Well, he didn’t come over to talk to me especially, at least I don’t think he did. You see Pa, I dropped my cap and Preacher Jones got it for me. Then he spoke to me.” Davy quickly quieted and turned his eyes downward. “Well Davy...is that all, you said that he talked to you?” “He did Pa, he told me that I should tell the LORD that I want to be a christian when I grow up...when I can understand how to be saved.” His father sat there as if waiting. “Well pa, I do want to tell the LORD that when I am older I want to follow Him. Preacher said that I should tell Him that being a Christian is my desire...and Pa...I want to tell the LORD now.” Suddenly Davy’s face started to shine, “I want to be a true follower of JESUS just like you and ma have become.” Davy’s pa smiled the biggest smile that Davy ever saw. “That is great Davy, that is absolutely wonderful.” He scooped Davy up in his arms and brought him over to the handmade wooden rocking chair. “Why don’t you tell the LORD of your decision right now Davy, and then I will rock my boy to sleep...you aren’t too old for me to rock now, are you?” Davy grinned a sheepish looking grin, “I’ll never be too old for that Pa, never!”


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