Escape From Death

The Slaybaugh Story

By Rose Slaybaugh



WHEN Roy and I were married, Roy was everything I wanted in a husband; he was good, kind, and thoughtful. But I think I was just a little disappointed after the honeymoon, for when I asked, "Darling, don't you think we should start going to Sunday school and church now?" he smiled a little and said, "Rose, you run along to Sunday school the way you're used to doing; but, you know, Sunday school and church are for women and children. No real he-man goes to church."

He was right at the height of his career. He was a wrestler. I suppose the world would call him a roughneck, but he was a good one, and I loved him.

Roy and I were fortunate to have been born of Christian parents. His mother and father were strict Methodists; mine, strict Baptists. I cannot remember the time that I was not taken to Sunday school and church. I think I was born a church member. Roy cannot say that, however, because after he reached the age when a boy is too old to spank and be made to go to Sunday school, he believed he had all the religion he needed. He thought he had finished his Christian experience. But not I. I had always been a worker in one department of the church or another. When I was just a slip of a girl, I was a teacher of the little ones. First I taught in the kindergarten division, then the primary; and when I grew older, I was given a high school group. For many years I was the teacher of those boys and girls.

This was not because I was a student of the Scriptures, for I was not. But I think I knew about as much about the fundamental teachings of the Bible as the ordinary churchgoer. Many times I stood in the classroom and looked at the picture of Daniel in the lions' den that hung on the wall, and wondered, How did he ever get into that place? Why was he in there? Did he ever get out of it? It never occurred to me to read the story in the Bible. We had never had a Sunday school lesson dealing with it or heard a sermon preached about it.

In a few years our home was blessed with a tiny baby boy. How we loved that precious little bundle of life, our own little son! We named him Jack. We didn't need anything more. We were so completely happy that we didn't want anything else in the world. But this was not long true of our little one. He was growing and beginning to ask questions. He would often ask, "Mom and Daddy, can't I have a little brother and sister like Mildred across the way?"

Well, we had to find a little one that needed a home. About this time I was called to sing at the funeral of a young mother who had died suddenly, leaving her husband and three little children—two girls and a boy. Oh, how I wanted that blue-eyed baby girl! Later we got acquainted with the father, and I asked him if we could have little Shirley. He did not want to give his children away, and he did not want to separate the girls. Lorraine was two years older, and a sweet child. To our great joy, we were able to arrange with him to take both of the girls.

Now our family was growing rapidly—one boy and two girls! We were all happy together, especially Jack. He loved the girls as though they were his own sisters, and was always concerned about them.

Soon another little girl came into our lives. She was older than the other children. I practically sneaked her in through the back door. When Roy came home the day she arrived, he asked me about her—who she was and where she came from. I told him, "Oh, just another little guest."

"Well," he said, "Rose, can't you be satisfied now? Three girls and a boy! After all, I do have to make the living, you know."

We should have had a dozen! We had such fun together! (The girls are all married now and have homes of their own.)

Did I send these children to Sunday school? No, I didn't send them; I went with them. On Sunday there was usually a late breakfast, and after breakfast, a scramble to the front porch for the "funny papers." Each little one would seize a sheet and settle down on the living room floor because they had to hurry and exchange so they could read all the sheets before we had to leave.

Presently I would look at the clock. "Now, darlings, we must hurry. It's almost ten o'clock, and we mustn't be late for Sunday school."

In each little hand was placed a penny. Those pennies did not always reach their proper destination, for right down on the corner was a grocery store where penny candy was sold. The children just swarmed around that corner every Sunday morning on their way to church.

After the services were over, we would hurry home. Then it was the children who were hurrying me. "Oh, Mommy, Mommy, hurry! Look what time it is! It's almost two o'clock, and we mustn't be late for the show."

This time in each little hand was placed ten cents. Sometimes the children would beg, "Oh, if we could only have two dimes today! There are two shows and we'd like to see both of them. If one is just awfully good, couldn't we stay and see it over again?"

I thought the moving-picture theater was the finest place in the world for children. I did not know that we were sending them to the devil's playhouse, but surely God has forgiven us for that, as well as for so many other things of which we were ignorant.

And what were mother and dad doing all Sunday afternoon? At home reading the precious truths in God's Word? Ah, no, far from it! We either had friends come in or were guests in their homes. All afternoon and away into the evening we were playing cards. That is the way we honored the Lord.

Life went on in this careless way until God took a hand in our affairs. By this time our son was tall and handsome and twenty years old. We were living in Moscow, Idaho. One day Jack complained of a slight pain in his throat and the back of his neck. I called the local doctor. After examining Jack, he said, "This isn't anything for a local doctor. Hurry him to Spokane. I'll call the specialists, Dr. Sprowl and Dr. Joseph Lynch. I'll have a room ready for you in the Sacred Heart Hospital."

We hurried Jack there the same afternoon. The doctors were waiting for us. They soon diagnosed Jack's case and came and told us the dreadful news that Jack could not live. He had cerebral meningitis in its worst form.

We couldn't understand what they were talking about. This happening to us! No, not to our Jack! Re had never been sick a day in his life aside from the diseases of childhood.

Special nurses were placed on his case. Among them was a young man who was given the duty of placing hot compresses on Jack's eyes and ears. His name was Waverd Lamb, and he was the same age as our son. Waverd was a real Christian. He was not only taking care of Jack's physical needs, which was, of course, important; but, even more so, he was helping Jack with his spiritual needs. He was a true witness for Christ, telling Jack all about the wonderful plan of salvation and the love of Jesus. Soon he was praying with our boy.

Waverd told us a few months ago, when we had dinner with him in his apartment in Los Angeles, how he used to slip his Bible under the tray and cover it with a napkin in order to read it to Jack. At the time we didn't know that all this was going on in Jack's room.

Near the end Roy said to me, "Rose, Jack is dying. Shouldn't someone pray with him?"

I answered, "Roy, I never really have been taught to pray. Couldn't you pray?"

"Rose, after all, you should know how," he said. "You are the church member of the family."

Although we had been reared in Christian homes, neither Roy nor I had ever heard our mothers or fathers pray aside from offering the blessing at the table. Now had come the crucial time in our son's life. If ever Jack needed praying parents, it was now, but how utterly we failed him! The only prayer I taught our children, the only prayer that I had ever been taught, was the childish prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep." But God never fails anyone. He placed Waverd Lamb in the room with Jack during that week.

Almost a week passed. It was Wednesday night. Waverd was in the room a long time. We knew Jack was slipping away from us rapidly and had but a few hours left. Finally Waverd came out and held the door open for us to go back in. He could see that Roy and I had been crying. Our hearts were just crushed and broken. As he held the door open for us, he said, "Folks, I wish you wouldn't feel so bad about Jack. He is going to be all right. I'll remember him again in my prayers tonight."

I said, "Young man, what did you say?"

"I'll remember him in my prayers tonight."

"Why, young man, what kind of church do you belong to?"

"I'm a Seventh-day Adventist."

All I could say was, "Oh." I had never seen a Seventh day Adventist before. We had heard about these people and how strange and peculiar they were supposed to be. But here was one of them, a young man who knew how to pray, and who was praying for our darling. It did not make any difference to us what church he belonged to—for he knew how to pray.

It was Thursday morning. Jack was asleep. All the pain was gone. The doctors came in and said, "Don't disturb him. He will waken during the day." Toward evening he started moving around a little bit. He opened his eyes, and as he did so, he looked at a beautiful picture of the boy Jesus opposite on the wall. Jack looked at it for a while, and then said, "Dear Jesus." Then he looked up at us and said, "Oh, please, please, turn to Christ."

I said, "Yes, darling, we will."

He said, "Thank you, Mom. Now I must kiss you good-by." I reached down and kissed him, and Roy reached down and kissed him, too. But Jack reached his hands up and said, "Oh, Dad, I must kiss you on the face again."

He seemed to be worried about his father, for his father never went to Sunday school and church with us. Then he closed his eyes and went to sleep, and it was all over. He will rest until the Life-giver calls him again.

When our son died, life went out of us also. What was there left for us to live for? All our plans, all our hopes, had centered around our son. Why couldn't we lie down and die with him? But we had to go on living the best we could.




WE moved back to the farm. One evening Roy and I were sitting in front of the fireplace, talking things over. He said to me, "Rose, now I'd like to be a church member. I'd like to go to church with you. I'd like too do what Jack asked us to do, and I want to be a real Christian."

I said, "Roy, so do I. What church shall we join?"

"It doesn't make very much difference which church we join," he said. "They are all more or less alike. But I do want to join a church that believes in baptism by immersion. I do want to be baptized the way the Bible teaches, the way Jesus was baptized."

I said, "All right, how would the Christian Church be?" Roy said that would be all right, so I called the minister of the large downtown Christian church in Spokane, told him who we were, and asked if we could be baptized and join his church. He said he would be happy to have us do that.

"Next Sunday morning you be in church, and when I give the invitation, just walk down the aisle, and I'll meet you and ask you a few questions."

He called up later in the week and said, "We are going to make that baptism Sunday night. Next Sunday is Easter, and our choir is singing a cantata; we would like to combine the two."

We were there Sunday evening, sitting in the back row. After the music the minister gave the invitation, and Roy and I stepped out alone and walked down the aisle. He met us and shook our hands, asked us a few simple questions, and we were baptized while the congregation was singing. Then we came back and signed our names together in a book. Now we were both members, and happy.

The minister did not ask us about our characters, our habits, nor did he give us any instruction in the Christian faith. He did not tell Roy that he should stop drinking and smoking. He did not tell us that we should stop our movie-going, our card playing, and our dancing. He told us nothing whatever about Christian living.

But I think we fooled that minister just a little bit because we went home and started studying the Bible. We had a beautiful Bible, just as pretty and new as it was twenty-five years before when Roy had given it to me as a gift. We did not use that Bible every day; we couldn't let it lie around the house carelessly. We had to take care of it. It was always placed up in the bookcase on a shelf. Whenever I would entertain the Ladies Aid society, or when the pastor would call, I was always proud to present that beautiful Bible. The minister would open it and read a verse or two, and then it was put away for safekeeping. Once in a while the children would get it down and look at the pictures, and I would say, "Oh, no, no, honey, not this pretty book! If you want to look at pictures, you have your picture books and comic books." I would take it away from them and place it high out of the reach of their little hands.

But now we got the Bible down, this beautiful new Bible, and started opening the pages, many of which had never been opened before. Have you ever heard of anyone quarreling about a Bible? I do not mean really quarreling, but when I had it, I would be reading something interesting; and Roy would say, "Rose, don't you think it's my turn to have it for just a little while?" Then he would tell me by the clock just how long I had had it. I would hand it over to him and sit and watch the clock; and pretty soon I'd say, "Come on, honey, hand it over. It's my turn to have it." Reluctantly he would hand it back.

We soon put a stop to that though; we bought another Bible. But that didn't help much. No, I would be reading something interesting and say, "I didn't know this before," and Roy would say, "Rose, come, see what I've found in mine." I'd say, "Honey, if you knew what I'm reading here, you'd close yours and come and see what I've found."

What do you think we were looking for? We wanted to read with our very own eyes just what the minister had said at Jack's funeral—that he went right straight to heaven, and that he was there waiting day by day for mother and dad to join him. The minister said he was up there singing with the angels and praising God. He had also said, "Take the shape of the grave; it's the shape of a doorway. Jack passed right through that doorway and went straight to heaven."

Another minister calling on us and trying to console us in our grief said, "You shouldn't feel so bad about Jack. You should feel good over the whole thing. Why," he said, "you are the parents of an angel!"

For many years I had done professional singing and playing for funeral homes. I guess I have listened to literally hundreds of funeral sermons by pastors of different denominations, and they all preached the departed ones right straight up to heaven. I don't know that any ever went down, regardless of their character. I do remember a poor man in Moscow, Idaho, who committed suicide. The preacher didn't say where he went—whether he went up or down. He just left him hanging in space. I was so indoctrinated with that belief that the moment it was all over in Jack's room, I rushed out and down the corridor, threw open the doors, and went out on the balcony. I wanted to see Jack's spirit ascend toward heaven. I didn't know what I would see, but I thought I was going to see something. Hadn't we read an illustrated magazine article just a short time before about a man's photographing the spirit leaving a body? But I didn't see anything, not a thing but the cold stars, shining above.

When we started studying the Bible, we started reading it just as a little child reads his first primer. We didn't know where to find anything. We had to search for what we were looking for. Did we read anyplace that Jack went straight to heaven, and that he was waiting day by day for mother and dad to join him up there? Did we read anyplace that he was up there singing with the angels and praising God? Or did we read anything to lead us to believe that we were the parents of an angel? No, we didn't find anything that even sounded like that. But we found verse after verse telling us Jack was asleep in the grave, waiting for Jesus to call him. We read such scriptures as Ecclesiastes 9:5: "The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything," and Psalm 115:17: "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence."

We were a little disappointed, but the Bible is true. God never makes any mistake, and He knows what is best for us. In looking for these scriptures, we found many other things that we didn't know were in the Bible before.

One evening Roy looked up from his Bible and said, "Rose, every time I open my Bible, it doesn't make any difference where, from the very beginning all the way through the New Testament, I read something about the commandments of God."

I had noticed that too. Roy asked, "Rose, what are the commandments of God?"

"I don't know, honey, unless they are the Ten Commandments. I don't know that God has any other commandments."

"Well," he said, "just what are the Ten Commandments?"

"Why," I said, "you should know what the Ten Commandments are! Everyone knows what they are. You're not supposed to lie and steal."

"Oh, yes," he said, "I know that, but I'd like to read them. Where are they in the Bible?"

I said, "I'm sure I don't know, but we'll find them."

By this time we had discovered that the concordance could be a help to us. We soon found where the Ten Commandments were. Perhaps I read a little faster than Roy did, for I found something about halfway down the list that I didn't want him to see. He asked so many questions! He was always asking me questions that I couldn't answer, and I didn't want him to see this. I tried to call his attention to something else.

He said, "Sh, don't say anything, honey. I'm reading something I never knew before."

So I turned back and read it again.

"Why," he said, "Rose, I never knew before that the seventh day is the Sabbath!"

Well, I just did not want to talk about that.

He said, "Is Sunday the seventh day of the week?"

"Of course not There's the calendar. Sunday is the first day of the week; Saturday is the seventh."

"Well," he said, "this doesn't make sense to me. Here it says plainly that the Sabbath of the Lord thy God is the seventh day of the week, and we worship on Sunday, the first day of the week."

Then I thought about what I had been taught, and said, "Roy, you know that was changed."

"Changed? When?"

"Oh," I said, "at the resurrection of Christ" It had been taught to me that way all my life.

"Is there a scripture authorizing the change?"

"Of course. There's scripture for everything."

"Where is it? I want to read it." "It will be easy to find."

"What does it sound like?" Roy asked; "I'd like to read it now."

I said, "It goes something like this: 'In commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, the seventh-day Sabbath was changed to Sunday, the first day of the week, and now it is called the Lord's Day."'

"Oh," he said.

Back to the concordance we went.

Roy said, "What shall we look for first?"

"Let's look up all the scriptures that mention the first day of the week."

We found them, one by one. We found eight or nine different places. When we had finished reading them, they hadn't helped us one bit.

Roy said, "They don't have anything to say about the change of the Sabbath."

We searched all evening for that text, and we couldn't find it. Roy was working out in the fields at this time; and as he left early the next morning, he said, "Rose, if you don't do anything else today, find that scripture for me! I want to read it."

I said, "Don't worry, honey; I'll have it for you." And I didn't do very much else that day but read and search feverishly. I knew that I had to produce that scripture, or else. Roy came in that evening from work. After supper he helped me with the dishes as he always did, and then we went back to study. He sat down at his side of the table, opened his Bible, and said, "Rose, where is the text? I've been thinking about it all day. Where is it? I want to read it."

I said, "Roy, I couldn't find it."

"You couldn't find it? Well, did you look?"

"Honey, I haven't done very much else. I've hunted all day for it, and I can't find it."

He looked straight at me and said, "Rose, do you mean to tell me that you really don't know where this scripture is?"

"No, Roy, I don't know."

"Well," he said, "do you mean to tell me that you have been going to Sunday school and church all your life on Sunday, the first day of the week, when the Bible plainly tells us here that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God?"


"Well, all I've got to say to you is that you're a fine Christian! You've been at me for over twenty-five years to go to Sunday school and church with you, telling me where I was going if I didn't go with you, and you don't even know why you have been going on the first day of the week!"

I said, "No, Roy, I don't know why."

"We're going to find out. I want to know."

"How can we find out?" I asked.

We both hunted, we read, we searched; but we had no one to help us.

"We'll get someone to help us," Roy suggested; "you have many minister friends in the city."

I did know several ministers because of my contact with them in funeral work.

"We're going to invite one of your friends and his wife to come out and have dinner with us some night," Roy continued; "I want him to find that scripture for me."



Home | Bookstore | Links | Comments


PO BOX 300