The Ballestero Blog

"That's what I'm talking about!"

The Skid Row Church

with 3 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skid Row Church

A flashing red neon sign interrupted the dark.  The Salvation Army Rescue Mission across the street was hard not to notice. The homeless drifted up and down the sidewalk looking for a hand-out. The window of the new storefront church had a hand-scrawled welcome sign inviting one and all to come in.

As the door opens, the smell of fresh paint announces the recent renovations. Battleship Gray paint was on the walls, the old wooden floor and on the home-made benches. Everything in the church was painted gray except the pulpit and the piano.

The piano had been pushed up against the wall on the main floor. Sitting close to the six-inch-high platform. It was positioned to the left of the pulpit. The pastor’s wife played sweetly. It was like she was anointed. She sat facing the wall, but when she looks into the antique mirror fastened on the old upright, she can see her husband, the pastor and watch for his direction. Oh, how they sing! They sang with all their heart. The presence of the Lord was easily felt.

There were no songbooks or microphones. A tambourine and the rhythm of hands clapping complemented the evening worship service. The pastor’s small children sat respectful and quiet. They knew not to play during church.

Untitled1

There are five children in the pastor’s family. The oldest was barely in his teens. They live in a migrant farm workers camp. The one room, clapboard shanty has been their home for a year. The shack they live in has no running water, no electricity, but it does have a wooden cook stove. The restroom facilities are about 200 feet away. One double bed, a built-in bunk bed, and pallets on the floor provided sleeping arraignments for them. Their little “house” looked just like the 75 or so others in the worker’s camp. Unpainted, no lawn, no porch, just shelter.

The whole family had picked apples in the local orchards when they had first arrived. It was harvest time. The ladders that the fruit pickers used, leaned tediously against the tree limbs. Canvas bags were strapped around the laborer’s necks that held the apples and became very heavy very fast. It was not easy work. It was piece rate labor.

Everyone one else living at “Schwarter’s Station was Hispanic. Their light skin stood out. The pastor finally got a day job at Libby’s Cannery and his wife worked nights at Del Monty’s Cannery to help make ends meet. Their 14-year-old son learned to help cook for the family on the old wood cook stove.

An older retired couple had lived in town for several years and had not gone to church anywhere because there was not a Jesus Name church in the area. They had grown cold spiritually. Now, they had rejoiced over the prospect of having a church in town. They were more than glad to help the new pastor start a church.

They found pails of old gray paint in the barn and felt, that though it might not look pretty, at least it would make the place look clean. There also was enough lumber in the shed to make a small platform and eight benches.

Counting the old drunk on the front row that only came inside because of the weather, there were ten people present and five of them were children. The drunk awoke during the altar call and left. The faithful few gathered around the front. They were disappointed that one got away. There was always the next time, if Jesus tarried.

 

The small group had no support from anyone, just a burden for souls.

This was Home Missions 1958.

(The Skid Row Church was in Yakima, Washington, and is still thriving today.)

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 15, 2017 at 9:20 am

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oh how I remember Yakima!!! It was Beverly and my chore to go pump water into a bucket on a daily basis!! A lifetime ago!!!

    Carlene

    December 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm

  2. Amazing history. I loved reading this Home Missions story and love the family in it!

    Carl

    December 15, 2017 at 2:41 pm

  3. Loved this story! 🙂

    Patsy

    December 15, 2017 at 10:29 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: