Thursday, July 12, 2007

It’s a Small World

Last night my wife and I spoke for an hour in regard to our 10-year IMB career at Bellevue’s summer camp for fourth and fifth graders at Camp Cordova in Memphis, an associational camp that I attended as a boy. About 200 campers were there, and they had some interesting questions for us at the end. One of them asked a question that I dread: “What is the strangest food that you ate in South Korea?” I don’t like this question because my answer always “grosses out” the audience, and such was the case last night. Interestingly, one of the counselors in the audience had lived in South Korea for four years near the DMZ, and I mentioned this to the crowd during the introduction. (He was not surprised at my answer to the food question.)

I have recently made another interesting discovery that makes me want to repeat the old cliché once again about our “small world.” Richard C. Strub wrote a book dealing with the history of the church in which I was reared in Memphis: The Eudora Baptist Story: God’s 150-Year Miracle, 1850-2000. I was surprised to find that J. R. Graves, the famous leader of the Landmark movement, served briefly as pastor of the church during 1868. Strub described Graves’ time in Memphis:

“One of the most notable of all Eudora pastors apparently served here only part of 1868. . . . He moved to Memphis is 1867 as editor and publisher—and helped bring the new Sunday School Union here. He served as interim at First Baptist, where he held a long membership. Union University benefited from his generosity when located at Murfreesboro and Jackson. . . . His wife and mother were Yellow Fever victims in 1867. Graves was an invalid following an 1884 stroke. He died here June 26, 1893.” (Strub, 13-14)

Graves had the stroke while filling the pulpit at First Baptist Church in Memphis, according to Samuel H. Ford (Life, Times and Teachings of J. R. Graves, 1899).