The Old Paths of God

Inman Creek Primitive Baptist Baptist Church

Inman Creek Primitive Baptist Church

I worked on an engineering project at the Georgia State Prison near Reidsville, GA, last week, and took a few minutes at lunch to find Inman Creek Church. The church, two rut road, and the surrounding piney woods look much like they did fifty years ago. The only difference I saw was the vinyl siding that had covered the faded pine boards that were there back then.

In the 1960’s (when I was a relatively young lad), my father, mother and I would travel the distance to attend the annual Inman Creek Homecoming. We made the trip because my grandfather on my Father’s side, Elder Mallie Jones, Sr.,  preached at Inman Creek for many years. His time there was before I was born, and all the trips I remember were after he passed away, yet, we kept the tradition alive to honor him.

I remember the strange feeling as we passed the prison on the way to the church. The prison was a large group of buildings (many of them large, too)  surrounded by a tall barbed wire fence out in the middle of nowhere. The prison operated, and still operates, a huge farm, raising crops, cattle, hogs and operating a dairy. So, it was quite a serene, pastoral sight when you could no longer see the prison. I couldn’t really comprehend what it meant to be in prison, but thought it didn’t look like a good thing.

Homecoming was around Easter because I remember Easter Egg hunts. One particular time involved the yellow of a boiled egg. In fact, it happened on one of those road ruts you see in the photo. Being a young boy, I didn’t like the yellow of boiled eggs. I had enjoyed the white part of one and didn’t want to eat the little yellow ball inside, so I pretended to accidentally drop it on the ground (oops!). I kicked it over to the side of the road and looked up to see a little girl watching me. I shrugged my shoulders at her, and she ran over and told her mother that boy threw an egg on the ground and was kicking it around. Thankfully, her mother didn’t think it was a great crime, so the girl’s mother turned and ignored me.

However, my favorite memory is of Brother Dewey Anderson. In my mind, I can still see his broad smile and hear his infectious laugh as he greeted people. You knew he truly was happy to see you and wasn’t just making a show. He led the singing and the joy of the Lord was evident in his continued smile and exuberance with each note. He was an expert in seeing a need and finding out how he could help. (I found out on this trip that they have named the road in front of the church “Dewey Anderson Road””. Quite fitting, I think.)

I titled this post “The Old Paths of God”. The ruts of the drive into the church are some of those old paths, where people began driving mules and wagons to Inman Creek Church in the 1800’s. But, Brother Dewey is the true example of following God’s Old Paths, with his love for God and his love for people, he put that love into action.

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 King James Version.

PS: A bit of personal history – I referred above to this preaching grandfather as being on my Father’s side, because my grandfather on my Mother’s side also was a preacher – Elder V Y Spivey, Sr. Perhaps more on him someday too.

Old Doctortown and God’s Old Paths

Railroad Bridge over Altamaha River at Old Doctortown (SE Georgia)

Railroad Bridge over Altamaha River at Old Doctortown (SE Georgia)

This railroad bridge and Old Doctortown are isolated in the back reaches of land owned by the Rayonier Paper Mill outside Jesup, Georgia. The Altamaha River that the bridge crosses is one of the largest along the Atlantic coast and for decades was filled with barge traffic bringing lumber and naval stores down to the coast.

Doctortown was once a thriving community located at one of the few crossings of the Altamaha. There’s nothing left now except a few mounds and some signs that denote where a few of the buildings were, and oak trees huge enough that it’s obvious they were growing there long before there was a Doctortown.

Being an engineer, I sure would like to see the drawbridge work (if it still does?)

As I get older, I seem to notice more places called “Old” something. In this busy, technological, digital age we can think things were so much different long ago, and “old” was just, you know, so old. But, as Solomon wrote “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV).

People are still people. Doctortown, before it was Old, had good people, middle of the road people and bad people, sorrows and joys, life and death, just as we have today. But, the greatest thing is the Living God back then is the same Living God we have today (“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”)! For that reason, we need to remember the old days and learn from them, changing things that need to be improved, but making no changes just for the sake of change, or especially, not making changes because the culture demands it. We need to follow the old paths when they are God’s paths.

“Thus says the Lord:  “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV

Doctortown Historical Marker (Southeast Georgia)

Doctortown Historical Marker (Southeast Georgia)

Here’s the Historical Marker for Doctortown. It’s located upriver from the actual site, at a location that’s accessible to the public.