Pigs gave Pop Willey a free ride back to Cuba...
Pigs Paid the Passage
by Tim Jordan
I will always remember the day in my childhood when three preachers and a missionary came to our home for lunch. It was the last week of July 1952. My brother and I sat quietly and listened (a rare occurrence for sure) to the animated conversation of these four men of God.
Reverend S.T. Shutes was my pastor. Each weekend, he faithfully drove 35 miles from Colquitt, Georgia, to preach at Howard Grove Free Will Baptist Church in Southeast Alabama. T.O. Terry was a visiting revival speaker from North Carolina, and Ralph Bell was a neighbor who had only been preaching for a few months.
Then there was the missionary. Thomas (Pop) Willey was a big fellow—six and a half feet tall, with a booming voice and piercing eyes. When he spoke, everybody listened! He spoke with so much love and affection for the people of Cuba, and we hung on every word. He didn’t slow down…even when his shirt became drenched with sweat. I really think he thrived on that south Alabama heat.
The lunch conversation ranged far and wide, from President Truman’s pull out of Korea to the ongoing revival. It had been a good meeting. Many people had been saved and the church was packed each night, with the windows opened so the crowds gathered outside could hear Reverend Terry preach.
Then the conversation took a turn that fascinated me. Preacher Shutes generously offered to crate up two pigs for Mr. Willey to take back to Cuba. Ralph Bell’s brother-in-law was station manager at the nearby Ashford, Alabama, train depot, and he assured Pop Willey the pigs would be properly crated and ready to travel.
Pop Willey was thinking far ahead of those fellows, and he quickly accepted the offer. He knew the pigs would save him ticket fare from Miami to Cuba because the freight line would need someone to care for them. When Preacher Shutes offered Pop Willey the pigs, he had no idea that he was also giving him a free ride back to Cuba…with the livestock. Pigs paid the passage!
As I grew older and met other missionaries, I learned that many of them are hawkish about saving money, because advancing the gospel can be very expensive. I also learned that I could help them save money and be blessed at the same time by providing a place in my home for visiting missionaries.
This ministry does not have to be limited to missionaries. We have kept a guest book for many years, and it is filled with preachers, national leaders, and college students. We see many of them each year at the national convention, and I like to imagine the great reunion we will have some day in Heaven.
As mission budgets get tighter, I challenge you to set aside a guest bedroom where missionaries can stay when they are in your area. If you can’t offer a room, find something you can give. If God could use pigs, just imagine what He will do with you.
About the Writer: Tim Jordan is a member of First FWB Church in Dothan, Alabama. He and his wife Merle live in the nearby town of Cowarts.