My Mother's Story

My Mother's Story
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Young Preacher Thomas

When Esther first met Thomas in Garrett, Indiana, he was a self-proclaimed evangelist who traveled across the state holding meetings in churches, meeting halls, and tents. In this photo, Thomas is in his mid-fifties. Esther, who was a teacher in a rural schoolhouse, was in her early twenties. While her mother, Maude, was completely "taken in" by Thomas' religious doctrine, Esther remained skeptical. She couldn't understand why Thomas urged parents to take their children out of school because they would be indoctrinated in "worldliness." He managed to convince Maude to withdraw her children from school, even though Esther sought in vain to encourage her brothers and sisters to keep on with their education.

In this photo, Thomas has a pleasant expression as he examines the grapes in a local vineyard. He is probably pondering how he will use this experience to illustrate one of his sermons based on Matthew 20, the parable that Jesus told about laborers in a vineyard. Thomas held the strong belief that "many would be called, but few chosen," and that it was his job to spread this message far and wide.

Esther, who was devastated to lose her teaching job, as well as her job in a factory, finally agreed to marry Thomas because, as she said, "it was something I could do." The Great Depression had come to send her family into poverty. She could no longer contribute her salary to their support, so she thought her absence would ease the financial burden on the family.