Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

For October 19, 2003


Alabama farmer shares an inspiring story of meeting God on a tractor


            My good friend Grady Watson Jr. lies in a hospital bed in the Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville. His wife Vermelle is by his side. His doctors are puzzled about how to treat his fever and headaches.

            Meanwhile, dozens of friends in many states are praying for Grady’s recovery. So many people whose lives have been touched by his testimony love this farmer from Repton, Alabama.

            Several years ago, Grady shared a dream with me. “I want to tell the story of the Lay Witness Movement and how God changed my life, but I am not a writer.” I encouraged him to record the story on tape and try to find someone who could transpose his words into a manuscript.

            Grady did just that, coming up with dozens of stories on tape. Then his dear friend Carolyn Larrimore volunteered to transform the tapes into written form. The project took weeks to complete but it was a labor of love for a friend of 30 years.

            Now, the manuscript has become a beautiful book of 290 pages, published this month by Express Press in Lima, Ohio. The title is Any Old Bush Will Do.  It is “An account of the Methodist Lay Witness Mission Movement as seen through the eyes of Grady Watson Jr., Laity and Pastors.”

            Ben C. Johnson, the founder of the Lay Witness Movement about 40 years ago, says, “This book relates the extraordinary achievement of an ordinary man committed to Jesus Christ. Through the Lay Witness Mission Grady Watson shared the Gospel with hundreds of lay men and women with life-transforming power.”

            Dr. Maxie Dunnam, president of Asbury Seminary, said, “When the history of church renewal in the second half of the 20th century is written, the Lay Witness Mission will get much attention. Along with the Christian Ashram, Faith at Work, and the Emmaus Walk, the Lay Witness Mission played a huge role in revitalizing congregations and winning individuals to Jesus Christ. I and two congregations I served were recipients of this blessing. I have met countless persons who are in ministry today because of the movement. I thank God for it. The story of the Lay Witness Mission needs to be told.”

            With the help of Carolyn Larrimore, Grady Watson has told the story. Carolyn, the mother of four children, and grandmother of eight, serves as Lay Speaker with her husband Jeff in their church, the First United Methodist Church of Brewton, Alabama.

            While the book tells the story of the Lay Witness Mission, it does so “through the eyes and the voice” of this lovable farmer who met God on a tractor. There, with the tractor running out in a field, Grady found peace with God. Grady’s witness has blessed hundreds of people for many years, especially in Lay Witness Missions in churches.

            To give you a sample of what to expect in this wonderful new book, I will let Grady share his unique testimony with you:

            “I was a lost human being…. I saw myself as rotten as a human being could ever be. I was so undone. I saw that I had run from the Master for too long. I had wasted so many years….What was most important was that I was away from Jesus. And I knew it, and I began to tell Him (to confess, that is, just exactly how I saw myself: a lost sinner.

            The tractor was still running, going up and down the rows and I began to tell Him how rotten I saw myself, as honestly as I knew how to I confessed it all, and the first thing I knew tears began to come in my eyes. Now remember, I had been in the war, on bloody battlefields, and had not cried in years, but tears began to run down my face and drop off my chin. I couldn’t see how to run the tractor any longer, but I kept telling Him all the rottenness that was inside….I just kept telling him until I told Him all that I knew and understood of my rotten, selfish self.

            “I finally finished, and when I did, I lifted my hands up in surrender, and just said, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, will you take me now just like I am? Jesus, I can’t clean myself up. Jesus I need You. I want to give myself to You, all of me, just like I am. Will you take me please, and clean me up?

            “And then it looked like all of heaven opened up to me. God, through His Holy Spirit, came to me in a fresh way, in a fullness that I had never before experienced. He brought me peace beyond any peace I’d ever found in all my days….He brought me a peace that I never dreamed possible, and He brought me something else – to my amazement, He brought me a love beyond any love I’d ever known, to let me understand that He loved me – just like I was.

            “He didn’t ask me how much I cursed. He didn’t ask me how much more was wrong with me. He didn’t ask me anything, He just took me like I was, just exactly like I was.

            “The next thing I knew, I began to just reach my hands up as high as I could get them and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ And, I said, “Lord Jesus, will you do something else for me? Will you take this cursing away from me? I don’t want to curse anymore. I want to get rid of this, Lord. I don’t want it to be a part of me anymore.’ And He did – He set me free of it. He took it off my lips. He took it out of my heart for good. I haven’t uttered another word of profanity since that day….

            “Then I took that old tractor and put it in gear, and started going down the row praising the name of Jesus. The victory that I needed God had been willing to share with me – just like I was; I could not help but praise Him, over and over and over and over.”*

            If this excerpt whets your appetite for more, copies of Any Old Bush Will Do may be secured from Carolyn R. Larrimore, 2203 Dogwood Lane East, Brewton, AL 36426.

            I recommend it highly! + + + +