Category Archives: places

Whether the Suck or the Kettle, it Was My Home

If you were to go there today, what you would find is something far different from the place I knew growing up. The community on the Tennessee River is known by a name going back to the days of the settlers, Suck Creek.

If you are unfamiliar with this small section on the Tennessee River just outside of downtown Chattanooga, you may think the name is funny. However, the “suck” or “kettle” was a whirlpool formed by the water from Suck Creek flowing rapidly into the river. It was a serious obstacle to maritime travel.

Family History

My paternal great grandfather, along with his sons, hoboed a train out of Rainbow City, Alabama, and wound up in Tennessee. When he first got here, he went to work in the mountain above Suck Creek as a logger. From what I’ve been told, they didn’t have much and even slept in tents.

But sometime in the 1940’s my great grandfather and my grandfather built my grandparents’ house. It was small, but so well-built you could probably roll it down a hill and it would stay intact! They constructed it out of wood they milled themselves, all true 2×4’s and tongue-in-groove pine. The pine was so hard that when my dad tried to do some remodeling, the saw blades got stuck or broke!

The house that my grandfather built – the one in which my grandmother, my dad, and my uncle would live, too – was in a spot looking down into the Tennessee River Gorge (or Cash Canyon) and right above Suck Creek.

Below is a painting I just finished today. It’s a view of the river as might be seen from the front yard of our house. All I did was leave out houses and “progress” and imagined what it might have looked like 150 years ago.

“Suck Creek as Seen from Home” (acrylic on canvas)

The Whirlpool and Early-American History

But getting back to the story of the whirlpool, most people are unaware of how in 1780 it temporarily trapped the Donelson party. You see, in 1779 John Donelson (co-founder of Nashville) took a large party of settlers in a group of flatboats down the Tennessee River. They were heading to Fort Nashborough on the Cumberland River. But all along the way they were harassed by Cherokee and Chickasaw.

When the Donalson part reached the place where Suck Creek flowed into the Tennessee River, the flat on which Donelson and his family traveled became stuck in the whirlpool. This meant that they became stationary targets, and the result was one death, besides other injuries. The following quote is from an extensive article in Wikipedia.

“Several miles downriver, beginning with the obstruction known as the Suck or the Kettle, the party was fired upon throughout their passage through the Tennessee River Gorge (Cash Canyon); one person died and several were wounded.”

Wikipedia

Skip forward 70-80 years to the Civil War era. Photos and etchings exist of steam-powered paddle-wheelers being tethered to ropes and winched (warped) close to the riverbank in order to avoid the powerful whirlpool.

“Antique illustration of a steamer on the Tennessee River at the mouth of Suck Creek. Engraving published in Picturesque America (D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1872).”

These Days

So, what about Suck Creek these days? Well, to begin with, back in the early 1900’s the government began constructing hydro-electric power dams along the river. These dams raised the water levels of the river just enough to negate the whirlpool and make river travel easier. However, whenever there are torrential rains that cause the creek to swell and flow rapidly into the river, a whirlpool does form, only not as powerful.

And as to how it’s changed since I grew up there? Let’s just say that the old homesteads and property along the river that once belonged to my relatives is no more. Gone are the old shacks. Gone are the front porches where folk would sit and play guitars and banjoes. Gone are the remnants of the long-abandoned moonshine stills. Now all you will find are million-dollar homes, boat docks, and a view that still beats most I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and the old house where I grew up is actually still there! One of my cousins owns it and refuses to sell, even though he’s been offered enough to live comfortably for a long time.

Sometimes a view is worth more than all the money in the world.

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I Went to Pakistan (Part 4): Roads

I love to drive, and I love to drive fast. As a matter of fact, every automobile I’ve owned (with only a few exceptions) has been taken up to 100mph at least once. It’s just a thing I do.

Have you ever driven on a freshly paved road? Remember when in the movie “Cars” they drove around on a freshly re-paved road and loved it? That’s the kind of driving surface that cries out for speed! I love it.

And then there was Pakistan.

Rough Roads

Honestly, the roads in Pakistan were not as bad as some others on which I’ve driven (or ridden). The roads in Zimbabwe were pretty darn rough. They were so rough that guys would sit on the side of the road with air compressors and offer to air up your tires for a dollar. The roads were so bad that your tires would lose pressure!

Then there are also the roads where I live in middle Georgia. The paved roads are just fine; it’s the DIRT roads that are sometimes a challenge. There are a lot of dirt roads in middle Georgia.

However, in Pakistan the roads, on average, were not capable of sustaining any kind of speed. The only time that was possible was when one traveled on the main highway between major cities. That was as nice as a modern American highway.

Rule-less Roads

But it wasn’t the roughness or the smoothness of the Pakistani roads that stuck in my mind. No, what contributed to my PTSD was the fact that there are NO RULES!

Oh, I know what you are probably thinking. You think that I’m overreacting. You think that it’s only because I’m used to the rules of the road in my own country, that there are rules, but I was not culturally sensitive to them.

And you would be wrong. Sorry.

Look, the only – and I mean ONLY – rule I observed over the many hours my life was put in danger was that there were two directions. In other words, when you want to go somewhere in Pakistan, you go in that direction. When you are going in that direction, you and all the other people traveling in that direction are to use only one side of the road. All the people going in a different direction are to use the other side of the road. That’s it!

Oh, wait… I just thought of another one. My bad.

The only other rule has to do with who has the right of way. It’s pretty simple, though. The bigger the vehicle is the more right of way it has. It’s called the “Get out of the way or die!” rule.

Only Guidelines

Now, remind me … did I say that there were essentially only two rules of the road in Pakistan? I’m sorry for misleading you. Actually, there are no rules – they are only guidelines.

Remember how I said that you only need to stay on one side of the road? That’s not entirely true. You know those lines we have in the middle of roads that separate lanes? Not in Pakistan. No, all you have is a road. YOU decide where it is on the road you want to be, depending on who is in front of you.

Here in America, we have rules regarding when it is safe to pass another vehicle. One of the rules of which you might be familiar is “never pass when there is a double yellow line.” Not in Pakistan. When someone is slowing you down, just pass them … even if traffic is coming in the opposite direction. I mean, they will move over into the dirt when they see you coming, so do what you need to do!

Something Strange

But there is something strange about the differences between Pakistani driving and, let’s say, the way people drive in a large American city.

For example, when I drive through cities like Nashville, Chattanooga, Augusta, and Atlanta, what I see are multiple lanes of organized and heavily regulated traffic. Here there are clearly delineated lanes, traffic lights and signs, and even plenty of law enforcement to keep a watch on things.

Pakistan vs. Atlanta, GA

When I traveled on the roads of Pakistan, there were no lines, no regulations, very little law enforcement, and hardly any street/traffic lights or signs.

Yet, the whole time I was in Pakistan – no joke – I never witnessed a single accident. Not one!

THAT should make a person question a lot of things, right?

Travel down any American highway and you will see accidents all the time. Even in the most orderly and regulated settings, somebody is going to do something stupid and crash. And even if you don’t witness cars having a wreck, let somebody cut another person off and you WILL see fingers raised and maybe a little road rage.

Travel in Pakistan and you will see people weaving in and out, cutting others off, driving aggressively and pushing themselves into flow, yet you will never see anyone flipping another off or hear anyone yelling obscenities. No, what you will see is mutual respect, acceptance, understanding, and this attitude of “it’s just the way things are, so don’t get your panties in a wad.”

With all our rules, American drivers are less mature than those with no rules or regulations. Strange.

A Powerful Lesson

So, I think there is a powerful lesson to learn from all this talk about traffic. It has to do with the rules and regulations that are constantly pushed upon us and down our throats.

It’s not only America, but in most all Western nations there is this idea that the government knows best. They treat all us citizens as children, not adults, who need to have our hands held through every facet of life, especially when driving.

One of the greatest examples of this is the traffic camera. Because the government (local and otherwise) cannot trust us to drive responsibly, they put of cameras that check our speed, watch us at intersections, and generally track us wherever we go. It’s like, “I’m giving you rules to show you what you’re allowed to do, but I’m not going to trust you to make the right decisions.”

People who are treated like children will act like children.

But in Pakistan, where there are literally no lines, no lanes, no signs, no lights, and no cameras, the ones treated like responsible adults act like responsible adults – and even in the most dangerous traffic don’t have wrecks.

So, consider the following scriptures. One is from the Old Testament, while the other is from the New Testament (quoting the one from the OT).

But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. – Jeremiah 31:33
For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: – Hebrews 8:10

Where legalism exists, the one subject to the rules and regulations rarely makes the issues of right and wrong a matter of the heart. No, the primary response to legalism is the temptation to push the limits and/or rebel against the authority. This is why so many people who grow up in overly strict religious environments go hog wild when they get out on their own.

Yet, when people are taught what is right and wrong and eventually trusted to make the right decisions as responsible, mature adults, the “law in the heart” guides even when the cameras are missing.

Your thoughts?

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A Special Request – No Joke

DATELINE: Warthen, Georgia, USA
March 26, 2022
Subject: Victor’s Birthday and Needed Books

Greetings in the Name of Jesus!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dr. Anthony C. Baker, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Warthen, Georgia. However, you can just call me Brother Anthony, or “preacher,” or whatever. I’m just a regular guy.

The reason I am writing is to ask of you something very important, and it’s something that I can testify without any reservation to its validity – Brother Victor Samuel is becoming an older man … and he needs a birthday gift.

Now, when I say, “he needs a birthday gift,” I’m not asking that you send him a new tie or a gift card to Cracker Barrell (which he needs to experience one day). No, Victor has asked me to make it very clear that he has enough clothes, and he rarely wears ties, anyway. And as for gift certificates to restaurants, well, they don’t sell bacon in Pakistan, so don’t bother.

Seriously, though, Victor has only one request for his birthday tomorrow (the 27th), and that is for donations toward purchasing the desperately needed schoolbooks for this year. As it is right now, classes at Grace Charity Schools are having to be held back because they don’t have the needed materials.

What kind of cost are we talking about? Well, the total is around $7,000. WHAT! Yes, around $7k. I know that’s a lot for a birthday gift, but it’s not like he’s asking for a second-hand Rolex or a used Toyota. No, in celebration of Victor Sammuel’s birthday, and the fact that, somehow, he has survived another year of Pakistani traffic (which is certifiably insane), all he is asking – along with me – is that you would consider giving generously to help buy these books.

As you may know by now, I have made the trip to Pakistan to see with my own eyes the works in Toba Tek Singh and Kamalia. Folks, all joking aside, these schools are saving not only souls, but also the lives of hundreds of children. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. The need is real.

I know Victor is notorious for asking for money. What? Did I just type that out loud? Yeah, I did. It’s like every time we turn around or click on Facebook, there he is asking, “Hey brother! How are you?” But honestly, if you were in his position, one in which 98% of your funding came from outside donations, what would you do? Part of it has to do with the culture in which he lives, but most of it comes from a sincere heart for reaching the families working in the brick kilns. He is their voice, too.

So, would you help? Would you kindly and gently twist the arm of a loved one or friend? Is there a crack in your child’s piggy bank? Is there any way you could help get these books purchased so 400 plus children can go to school, learn, and not have to stay in the fields making bricks?

You can contact me directly by calling my cell phone, texting me, messaging me on Facebook, or emailing me. You can send money yourself, or you can forward it to me using Venmo, PayPal, etc. Whatever you send and however you send it, when I receive it I will then send it via Western Union. I will pay the sending fees.

My contact info is as follows.
Phone: 423-645-8884
email: PastorACBaker@yahoo.com

Church Info:   Bethlehem Baptist Church
                        95 Bethlehem Church Road
                        Warthen, GA 31094
                        On Facebook @BethlehemBaptistWarthen

Shoe size: 9.5EEE

God bless each and every one of you!

Your fellow servant in Christ,
Brother Anthony

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I Went to Pakistan (Part 3): Objectives Met

There were two main objectives that needed to be accomplished when I went to Pakistan. Those two objectives were:

  1. To verify all that I had been told about the work and ministry of Grace Charity Schools and Pastor Victor Sammuel was true.
  2. To encourage local pastors and fellow believers with biblical teaching and preaching.

For several years I’ve been the funnel through which many people have given lots of money to support Brother Victor and the ministry in Pakistan. People send me money via PayPal or check, then I send it to Victor via MoneyGram or Western Union. And as you can imagine, each time I would do this there would be someone wondering in what fashion I was being scammed.

Let’s be honest, funding an overseas ministry you’ve never seen in person is risky enough. However, in this day and age when people are losing their life’s savings to scammers every day, it’s no wonder I’ve been thought of as naive, to say the least.

On a side note, we are still trying to get an updated “Memorandum of Understanding” from the Pakistani government, and that is all that remains before Grace Charity Schools can be vetted by an organization called CAFAmerica.org. Once that is done, no more Western Union transfers will be necessary. But until then, I’m stuck with the hand I’ve been dealt.

But, again, that is the main reason why I felt it necessary to travel to Toba Tek Singh for myself. I needed to see what was going on so that I could show everyone else. As the photos below will show, I made it to the school (both campuses) and can testify that the work is legitimate.

The second objective, that being to encourage local pastors and believers, was met in a huge way! Not only did I get to speak at two separate pastor conferences, but I got to speak at several other places, including to a small congregation of believers in a tent right next to a brick kiln.

There are so many other things, but I don’t have the time at this moment to share them with you. However, keep coming back for more insight into this part of the world. What I have to say may surprise you 😉

God Bless!


Stay tuned for more. There’s a lot left to discuss 🙂

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I Went to Pakistan (Part 1) “Introduction”

The looks on the faces were not encouraging. When I told my wife and family, including my friends and church family, that I felt God wanted me to visit Pakistan, no one – not one – smiled with approval.

As a matter of fact, it was at least four or five years ago that Pastor Victor Sammuel of Grace Charity Schools asked me to come see the work there in Toba Tek Singh, a small town in the Punjab district. But when he first asked me to visit, the reflection of my face in a mirror would have mirrored the ones I was now seeing. You know, the kind with raised eyebrows and a slightly tilted head?

“I’ll pray about it,” was my typical response. But the actual prayers were more like: “God, did you hear what Victor asked me to do? Can you believe him? That would be crazy! I have NO desire to go there, and I don’t think YOU want me to go, either.”

However, time and association have a way of replacing apprehensions with burdens. As the Lord allowed me to be in a unique situation which caused me to become more and more involved with the work there in Pakistan, the more familiar I became with the needs. Yet, as I would share what I learned with others, skepticism remained. Honestly, I couldn’t blame them.

Even when I told the deacons in the church where I pastor that I wanted to go, their skepticism became evident when they immediately began discussing the possibility I was walking into a trap! “How do we know Victor Sammuel is who he really says he is?” one asked. “How do we know you’re not being set up?”

I didn’t. But I trusted God.

And that’s one of the main reasons I wanted – I needed – to go to Pakistan! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to defend myself for giving to a ministry I’ve never seen in person and a man that continually asked for money. If for no other reason, going to Pakistan would either clear Victor Sammuel’s name and my reputation for discernment, or it would confirm the skeptics were right all along and I had been snookered.

Hopefully, finding out I was being scammed would be the worst that would happen. But as everyone knows, Pakistan isn’t known for its Christian-loving hospitality. A lot worse could happen, especially since I would be going it alone.


Stay tuned for the next post! I will continue to unpack the story of my once-in-a-lifetime trip to the land of “killer busses.”

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A Popular Painting: Doolittle Pond

You know, it was just a year ago that I started painting in earnest. Up until then I only drew stuff for fun, other than when I illustrated the stories in my school bus book.

However, a recent painting I completed for a client (a commissioned work) has stirred a lot of response. On one Facebook page it’s garnered over 2,100 likes and 631 comments! It is a painting of an actual pond in Sandersville, Georgia, called Doolittle Pond. If you Google it you will find it on just about any Georgia map.

The painting is of the south side of the pond where a couple of old structures dating back to the 1800’s still stand. The actual property is a little more wooded and shady, but he wanted me to “clean up” the view so that the buildings could be seen clearly.

Instead of the cold-pressed paper I usually use for watercolor or Gouache, I went with a 12’x24″ stretched canvas made for watercolor. I am glad I did because the pond – the water part – was a real challenge! I had to “erase” it and redo it 3 times before I was happy!!

Needless to say, I put FAR more hours into this than I planned. The agreed price doesn’t even come close to what it’s worth, really. The owner is getting a steal of a deal 😉

But if you like it, you can contact me via email (pastoracbaker@yahoo.com) and I can provide options and pricing for prints. You can also follow me on Facebook at @AnthonyCBakerArt and/or my website (under development) WallHoleCoverings.com.

AND, if you’d like for me to paint something for you, I’m always willing to negotiate – especially for a watch 🙂

“Doolittle Pond” 12×24″ Watercolor & Gouache on stretched canvas

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matt. 5:16

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Helping a Museum

In Sandersville, Georgia, just a few miles south of me, is an old jailhouse. What makes it special is that up until the 1980’s it was one of the very few jailhouses where the Sheriff actually lived!

Now the jail is a museum and also houses the historical archives for the area. However, because of tourism being down, like with most places, they could use some extra funds to keep things up and going.

If you would like to purchase a print of the painting I did of the jail, click on the link below and 75% of the profit will go to the museum.

Thanks a lot!
Anthony

Click here for the Old Jail website.

Sandersville Jail Museum

$15.00Buy now

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Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: “Visitation”

This is the view from my windshield as I was leaving the home of a church member.

Honestly, I miss the internet speeds of Gig City (Chattanooga), but you can have the traffic and the hustle.

This is where I belong, now.

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Church, community, ministry, nature, places

Countdown to Jamaica (15 days left)

As of this moment, alone in my quiet office, having just finished my preparations for Sunday morning’s sermon, I have only 15 days till I’ll be in Jamaica!

Yeah, for some of you that’s no big deal; you’ve probably been there multiple times. But for me, this is my first time going there, and I think I have a right to be excited. Don’t you think?

I will be flying out of Atlanta on the 20th, a Friday evening. Unfortunately, flying is the worst part – I have a love/hate relationship with it.

If you are curious, I will be preaching in a week of revival services at Leith Hall Baptist Church, along with ministering at several other locations throughout the week. Lord willing, I will also be speaking to the local police officers (please pray about that).

To my surprise I found a video on YouTube that shows the very street I will be traveling and the church in which I will be preaching! How cool is that?

I’m told this area of Jamaica is considered the poorest in the country. Those who do have jobs likely drive all the way to Kingston to work. For the rest, the unemployment rate is near 80%

Most of the children where I will be eat only one meal a day, and that’s their lunch at school.

As the days get closer, I’ll keep you guys updated.

Also, if you feel led to help support this trip, what I don’t use for personal items, food, fees, and all that junk, I will be leaving in the hands of those whom I can help. Simply click on the PayPal tab and designate what the funds are for.

 

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Prayers for Nashville

Tornadoes

Image result for nashville tornado

ABC News

Last night one of the most terrifying things in nature descended upon the capital of my home state of Tennessee. Destructive and deadly storms brought tornadoes right through Nashville, leaving (as of this writing) 9 people dead, possibly more. As of this moment, several of my friends have already checked in as “safe,” but a few more have not responded.

I hate tornadoes! I’ve been close to 4 or 5 and actually been in a hotel in Clarksville, TN when it was damaged by one that destroyed houses across the street. Tornadoes scare the crap out of me. I think that might be one reason why I experience feelings of panic or anxiety when I feel/hear a train (because the sound of a freight train is very similar). In a matter of seconds, everything can be gone.

I’m thankful to God that what came through Nashville last night was not as destructive as what destroyed so much of Georgia back in April of 2011. That storm, if you remember, killed nearly 300 people and decimated Ringgold, GA. But for Nashville, our prayers and thoughts are with them.

Thoughts and Prayers

What about those “thoughts and prayers”? What does that even mean?

As of late, many in the media have started to publically make fun of and shame those who say “our thoughts and prayers.” Some politicians have even been so bold (and arrogantly foolish) to stand up and declare that our prayers are worthless; we need action!

Granted, thoughts don’t do much other than say, “We’re thinking about you.” Unless that thinking leads to help in some tangible way, what good are the thoughts except to let the people who are suffering know that others know they are hurting?

And what about the prayers? First off, unless the Object of our prayers is capable of doing anything, they are actually of less value than “thoughts.” Keeping someone who is hurting on your mind might lead you to do something to alleviate the suffering. However, prayer is calling upon the aid of Another, or those whom He will send to address the need.

Yet, if the prayers are made by those whom God hears, then they are not worthless, but helpful and empowering. God moves on the backs of our prayers, and godly prayer has a tendency to become self-fulfilling (i.e., when we pray for workers to collect the harvest, we often become the workers). That’s one of the ways He works “mysteriously.”

So, my thoughts and prayers this morning concern Nashville.

Help me pray, would you?

  • Heavenly Father, nothing that happens in this world catches you by surprise – You know all things. There is nothing outside of your all-seeing, all-caring, all-judging eye. I am thankful you already know what has happened in Nashville, and even long before last night you were working in ways we will never comprehend.
  • Lord, comfort the ones who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Bring peace to them through the power of your Spirit.
  • Ease the pain of those who are wounded, and give the medical personnel added measures of endurance as they are pressed into longer shifts and greater stress.
  • Please protect those who are on the ground clearing debris, directing traffic, and protecting the most vulnerable.
  • Give a mighty voice to those who survived! Like so often is the case, send the reporters and news crews to the places where survivors give You the glory so the world may hear your name praised.
  • Jesus, as we know you have the power to calm storms, You also have the power to use storms. you know the hearts of the people of Nashville. Open their eyes to your mercy and grace.

Amen.

 

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Filed under community, General Observations, places, Struggles and Trials, Weather