By Lynn Jones
When I was growing up in Plainview, Louisiana, we had a large bell mounted on a pole in the churchyard of Plainview Baptist Church. Now, I know that it is traditional to have the bell mounted in the steeple of the church, but we had a problem—the church in those days had no steeple. So, we settled for the next best thing. We mounted the bell on a sturdy steel pole in the churchyard.
We had no one in the church appointed as the official bellringer, so the job fell to whoever arrived at church first. Since Tevis Slaughter was generally the first man to arrive at church, he was usually the bellringer.
The sound of that big bell would carry a long way across the fields inviting and encouraging people to get ready and come to the services. In those days, my family usually didn’t attend church except on Sunday morning. Since only our back field separated us from the church, however, we could always hear the pealing of the bell. Like an accusing and appealing voice, it encouraged us to come at other times in addition to Sunday morning. That bell beside the church was an unwavering witness to the call of God upon our lives. It was also an enduring witness to a lot of important things that God did in that little church.
As I was growing up, I often thought about accepting Christ as my Savior, but I was very shy about doing anything in front of a crowd, so I kept putting it off. It was not until the summer of my 14th year that I finally did what I had known for years that I needed to do.
Our church was having a revival led by a young man named Jack Comer. His age and his style appealed to me, but I left to attend a 4-H Short Course on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge as the revival was beginning. When I got home on Friday, I discovered that my younger brother Rick had made his profession of faith that week. The Lord used that to motivate me to do what I needed to do.
I heard the church bell pealing beside the church that evening as I made my way to the services. Without any hesitation, I went forward at the conclusion of the service to make my public profession of faith and commitment to Christ. I didn’t wait any longer. I don’t know what direction my life might have gone had I not made that decision. That decision that I made as a 14-year-old boy has shaped and controlled everything that I have done in my life since making it. It was the most important decision that I have ever made. I was saved that evening. I was saved by the bell!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.