Sharecroppers were a part of the American farming landscape for decades, particularly in the south in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. For those unfamiliar with the term, a sharecropper lived on land they didn’t own, in a house, usually a roughly nailed together shack which they also didn’t own, farming for the person who owned the land and the shack and the farm. The payment for their work was a share of the crop they harvested; hence the name, sharecropper. They worked very hard and, in many cases, barely survived on the share they received. They were so low down on the socio-economic totem pole there wasn’t much place to go but up.
The Blackwood family were sharecroppers in Choctaw County, Mississippi, in the heart of the south in the early 1900s. William Emmett, the oldest of ten children, married Carrie Savala Prewitt in the late 1890s. On Christmas Eve, 1900, they had their first child, a son, whom they named Roy Emmett. Next was a daughter, born on New Years Eve 1904, named Lena Madeline. Then another son was born to them in 1911, who they named Doyle Jimmie. Last, but not least, was a son, born on August 4th, 1919, named James Webre. Emmett and Carrie often worked side by side in the fields, and Carrie tended the home and the children as they came along. Carrie also became the unofficial midwife of the area and, in her lifetime of serving as such, assisted in the delivery of ninety-nine babies!
As the Blackwood boys grew, they helped their dad in the field, primarily picking cotton, a common cash crop in the red clay hills of Mississippi. Emmett and the boys would also hunt for supper, hopefully bringing home a squirrel or a rabbit for Carrie to prepare for the family’s evening meal. Life was hard and amusement was practically non- existent. At Christmas, the kids would get an apple or an orange and a nickel and, if it had been a productive year, a bag of hard candy, a shirt or overalls.
I remember a story my dad told of praying for a little red wagon for Christmas. I think he was about seven years old at the time. On Christmas morning, Santa had brought the bag of hard candy, a shirt and overalls, but no red wagon. Later that day, they went to have Christmas dinner with a rich uncle in Louisville, Mississippi. Under the tree at his house were bicycles, trains, toys and games, and a little red wagon. My dad was heartbroken that it was for someone other than him. Several months later, my grandmother wakened him for school and, as he entered the front room, there sat a shiny red wagon! My dad thought that Santa had finally come through. Later that day his older brother, Doyle, spilled the truth when he shared that my grandmother had been saving her egg money for months to get the little red wagon my dad so deeply wanted.
In 1918 Carrie Prewitt Blackwood had an encounter with God that would forever change not only her life but the life of her family. She attended a revival meeting in which she became aware of her need for a true salvation experience, something more than just living right and going to church; a real relationship with Jesus Who would live inside her and fill her with His Spirit. She was the first person to the altar that night and she became a different person. Although a respected godly woman, this encounter gave her a new perspective on the power of God. She received a lifelong ministry of prayer and intercession. Several members of her family who had not come to faith in Christ walked, rode horses and trains to get to revival meetings in that old country church as a direct result of grandma Carrie’s prayers. My dad, James, was born in the summer of 1919 as this wave of revival and spiritual awakening impacted the Blackwood family. At just six years old he gave his heart to Christ in that old country church. I have heard my dad describe how my grandmother would take her Bible out to an old stump behind the house and kneel and read and pray for hours, interceding for her family to come to know Christ the way she had.
I share this story with you to ask, who are you praying for? Do you have family members who don’t know Christ? Do you love them enough to give up some sleep and some favorite shows to intercede and lift them before the throne of God? Can I tell you that I believe God is still answering my grandma’s prayers? She prayed that her family would be used of God. He has certainly answered those prayers even to this day, over fifty years after her passing.
You see, prayers don’t have an expiration date. God is still answering the Apostle Paul’s prayers recorded in Ephesians, chapter one, where he prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” God is still answering that prayer for believers!
God is in the process of answering Jesus’ prayer in John 17:11 that the Father will “keep through Your name those whom You have given me, that they may be one as We are.” We don’t see the completion of that answer, but one thing is for certain, the answer is on the way! The fact that you are reading this suggests that someone prayed for you, that you would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You are God’s child today and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because someone prayed fro you. It could have been one or both of your parents, another family member, a godly grandmother or grandfather who lifted you to the throne, perhaps in your case as in mine, even before you were born!
Today, may I challenge you to take time to pray for your family members and even those yet born, that God would draw them and save them and use them for His glory. Prayer time is time well spent. My prayer is that you will learn as I am learning to make prayer time a priority. God honors time spent with Him in prayer and “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!” James 5:17
Billy Blackwood / questions and/or comments to [email protected]