In 1953, two or three years after he grabbed me by the back of my belt and the collar of my shirt and threw me out of the syrup factory, my brother, John F. Stith Jr., became a Christian.
Here is his story, in his own words:
“I have never worked any harder at a job than I did at the job of making Pioneer Syrup Company a success,” John wrote. But he wasn’t successful.
“Nothing I did seemed to be right. Each quarter the accountant who kept my books told me: ‘You’re losing money.'”
One day in the summer of 1953 John was working in syrup factory, alone, when he realized something was missing in his life.
“There was a void, an emptiness that I could not explain or even describe,” he said.
He had joined the church when he was 12 or 13 years old.
“I went to church as I had done before I joined the church; when I read the Bible, which was seldom, it was as meaningless as it had always been. In short, nothing really happened to me.”
“As I grew older…I went to church less and less frequently. I did absolutely nothing to further my spiritual growth. And interestingly enough, there was no one who seemed to care or to want to try to help me in such growth.”
He said he had an idea that the void he felt had something to do with the church.
“So, I told Mary [his wife] I was going down to see the preacher and I took off.”
Postscript: The “factory” John referred to was not on the farm. After Dad sold he farm in 1951 he relocated the syrup factory in a building on old Anniston Highway just outside Gadsden, AL.
Continued tomorrow: Salvation, Part 2.