The wood country

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Senior Member
Jun 30, 2016
It was toward the end of summer and we were waiting on things God had promised us, mainly children. So it was just Martha and I that summer of 1978. We didn't have a lot of money but wanted to take a little mini-vacation somewhere. We enjoyed going up to Eureka Springs whenever we could. We'd go to the passion play, eat out and poke around in all those little shops that were filled with everything imaginable. Thorn Crown chapel was always a must see.

We prayed together about this, asking God if it would be OK, if it was a good time to go and so forth. After we prayed I was impressed very strongly with a scripture.

Joshua 17:15 KJVS

And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country , and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

Well, that was as clear as it could be! God had placed the desire to go in our hearts then confirmed it in His word. I was, as every man usually is, thinking about the money but God assured me we would go and return with money to spare. While we sat and discussed our trip the phone rang. It was my little sister and she was calling to see if Martha and I would like to go up to Eureka Springs with her and her husband Louis, their kids and stay for a few days! Talk about confirmation. Louis had a camper trailer and they planned to camp at Beaver lake.

We all packed up and left on a Friday along with my two nieces, Cindy and Jennifer. As we neared the Beaver lake area their car began to overheat a little since we were pulling a good load up those steep highways. We stopped to look at the engine and after we did a passerby kindly stopped to see if we needed any help. I told him we were going to find a place to camp on Beaver lake and he began to direct me to a very good spot he knew of. God was guiding us all the way. After reaching the campground we sat up the trailer and got everything arranged. It soon began turning cooler and a rainy front was passing through the next day. The kids were disappointed because it was too cool to swim.

We were all cooped up Saturday morning in the camper and so we decided to escape our two active monkey nieces and even though it was misting a little, Martha and I went out to walk around the lake for awhile. We walked until we came to a small train yard where several train cars were being restored. The small railroadthat is now in Eureka Springs wasn't yet running in those days. A good bit of track was laid and they would take visitors for a ride on an old Kalamazoo motor car. I can remember that it was green. With the cool rainy weather absolutely no one but us was out and about. There was a little red caboose sitting on the tracks that apparently served as an office and we didn't think anyone would be there with the bad weather keeping everyone inside. We knocked anyway and were surprised when a uniformed man came out to greet us.

His name was Ray Bottomsley and he was a railroad buff and volunteer worker on the restorations. He taught in the public high school but spent his spare time at the railroad. We were the only riders on the Kalamazoo motor car that drizzly day and with Ray wearing his conductor's uniform we rattled off down the rails. We had a private tour that day as he related the history of the area. He stopped the car and pointed out the old vertical hand drill marks left in the rock faces by old timers drilling and then using black powder to blast out a flat road bed in the Ozark rock.

Originally the Butterfield stage ran over that very route long before a railroad could be imagined. As we rode and conversed back and forth with this enthusiastic fellow, the sun popped out just a little through the grayovercast skies. As it did the spirit of God settled over me along with the sunshine, and with it a solid knowing that Martha and I were going to be witnessing Jesus to Mr. Ray Bottomsley. He was about our age, in his early thirties, and we all had a really excellent rapport.

After motoring back to the train yard there on the rails he invited us to come into the littlecaboose for a cup of coffee. We all sat down and the increasing sunshine filled the place through the small windows. Maybe, I thought, we would be able to go to the passion play that night after all. As we talked, God directed our conversation to Him, so Martha and I witnessed of the many things we'd seen Him do in the short time we'd been Christians. The anointing of the Holy Spirit filled that little caboose with a sweet perfume of joy and expectation.

After giving our testimonies and laying out what was necessary to be saved, we didn't push for Ray to decide then and there. The time and place was up to God. One plants another waters but God grants the increase. We did pray with him and asked God to move upon his heart and reveal Himself to this open hearted fellow. It was time to go now so we swapped phone numbers, addresses and made our farewells. That night we did get to go to the passion play and after another day headed back home. As God had told me beforehand, we came back with money still in our pocket.

In the days that followed I mused on our little trip and how God had directed and orchestrated the entire thing so that we would sit in a little red caboose and witness Jesus to a railroad conductor. I'd pray for Ray to be savedwhenever he came into my spirit and it was about two weeks when I got a letter from him. He related that he had asked God to save him and was a joyful new Christian! The full meaning of the little trip was plain. He had blessed us with family time, for my sister was also a baby Christian and had also brought another soul into His kingdom.When God moves everyone gets blessed.

After several months we went back to Eureka Springs and while there stopped by Ray's home for a visit. He was very excited over his salvation and had dove into the bible with his might. He had joined a church and was was teaching some in Sunday school. His joy, zeal and enthusiasm were palpable. Over the years we've made many trips up to the "woodcountry" but none so fruitful as the one where we gathered in a little red caboose on a rainy Saturday and witnessed Jesus the Christ to a railroad conductor.

1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

To God be the glory, for He has done, is doing, and will do great things.