My dear friend Hugh Fulford tells of this marvelous preacher who began preaching more than 100 years ago. Brother Fulford told about this brother in Arkansa at the FHU lectures last year.
BROTHER JOE BLUE.
Born Sept. 18, 1875 in Izard Co., Ark. Obeyed the gospel when he was 16. Preached his first sermon on Nov. 1, 1896 near Poughkeepsie, Ark. (21 yrs. old). Preached all of 1897…Baptized 75 people…Established one cong…Paid $19 for his entire year's work!
Preached once a month for a cong. and held their meeting. Paid $4 for all his efforts. Preached monthly for another cong. 20 miles from his home…held their meeting…was paid $1 and given a bushel of seed corn.
Jan. 1904 – he and Bro. O. L. Hays (song leader) were called to Cotter, Ark. to hold a meeting. Each was paid $2 and given a handkerchief "apiece" for their efforts. When the meeting closed, a 3 in. snow on the ground. They walked home – a distance of 46 miles!
"I have gotten off the train at Hardy, Ark. in the night and taken my suitcase and walked home that night, a distance of 25 miles. Many times I have set (sic) up in a cold depot all night because I did not have the price of a bed and enough to take me on to my meeting. I have done without something to eat in my travels just because I did not have money to buy it and get on to my meeting." (Arkansas Angels, Boyd Morgan, 81).
"I made four crops after we were married (he married on Nov. 9, 1897), and the rest of the time I have been doing evangelistic work. We have remained on the farm all the time. We have our orchard, garden, cows, hens, hogs, horses, and goats. We have been married 46 years, and Mary has made two trips with me for meetings. She has been busy on the farm caring for the children, stock, garden, and chickens. We have bought 25 pounds of meat in 46 years. We have never bought any butter, laundry soap, or vegetables of any kind. We never did buy any wood. We have raised three children, two of our own and an orphan girl. I have conducted 107 debates. I have one of the best collections of religious books in the state. I have never been the man to complain about what the brethren paid me for my work." (Morgan, 80-81).
"When we were married we had six members of the church of Christ in the neighborhood. In the same neighborhood we had a Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Holiness, and Pres-byterians, but today we have only the church in the neighborhood, and there has not been a sectarian sermon preached in the neighborhood in 35 years." (Morgan, 80).
Fulford: "When I read these words (and those describing the work and sacrifices of many others like Bro. Blue), tears come to my eyes. I am reminded of the words of Heb. 11:37-38a-- They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented – of whom the world was not worthy!
We who preach today stand on the shoulders of such men. I bristle when I hear them put down as ignorant and unlearned men. Few, if any, of us would be willing to suffer as they suffered – and without complaint!"
Thank you, brother Hugh, for reminding us of what others have done so that we might have a church to love and serve today.