Escape From Death

The Slaybaugh Story

By Rose Slaybaugh



Mother Slaybaugh came to visit us at this time, so we had both mothers with us. What a controversy went on in our home, and in our hearts!

Our mothers started in on us, both of them. "Why can't you be satisfied? Why do you want to trouble yourselves with all this?"

Mother Slaybaugh said, "I've been a Methodist all my life, and I intend to be the rest of my life. Methodism's good enough for me."

And then my mother said, "Yes, and I've been a Baptist all my life, and I'll be a Baptist the rest of my life. The Baptist Church is plenty good enough for me. I brought my children up that way. I don't know, Rose, why you want to fool around with anything like this."

It was a struggle! Finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I said, "Now you two grandmothers come here. Mother Slaybaugh, you sit here, and Mother, you sit here. Now I'm going to ask each one of you a question, and if you can't answer it, I don't want to hear anything more."

Perhaps that wasn't the right way to talk to mothers, but sometimes I think they need a little help, too.

I looked at Mother Slaybaugh and said, "Mother, give me just one reason why you are a Methodist. Tell me just why you are a member of that church."

"Why," she said, "I don't know, Rose, unless it's because all my friends have always belonged to the Methodist Church."

I said, "No, Mother, not that kind of answer. Please give me a Bible reason for belonging to your church."

She looked at me and said, "Why, I don't believe I can tell you."

I said, "All right, Mother, we'll not hear anything more from you concerning this!"

My mother was cringing a little, and I turned to her and said, "Now, Mother, I want you to give me just one reason why you are a Baptist, and why you reared us children in the Baptist Church."

"Rose, you can ask the strangest questions."

"I don't think it's strange," I said. "You can ask me a dozen questions, one after another, about why Roy and I decided to go all the way with Christ and walk in all this new light that we have received and I'll open the Bible and give you the answers. Now, Mother, I just want one Bible answer. Why are you a Baptist?"

Mother said, "Rose, I can't tell you why. I don't know."

"All right, Mothers, from now on let's just all study this thing together, shall we?"

Harvest was over. The grain was all in the granary. Roy and I were alone. As we drove into the city from time to time we noticed that at Mallon and Monroe streets a building was being built. It was going to be a huge one. Soon it was finished. We wondered what such a large building would be used for. Then a sign went up,

"Spokane Tabernacle, Bible Auditorium; Speaker, Evangelist R. H. Nightingale." I couldn't stand it any longer. I said to Roy, "Do you suppose we could sneak into that place some night? I must see what a Seventh-day Adventist woman looks like. I want to see how she dresses."

Roy said, "I'd like to see what they look like myself."

We drove into the city that same night. We parked our car in the shadow of the courthouse just around the comer from the auditorium, and then we looked this way and that way to see if anyone was watching us. We need not have worried, for no one was paying any attention to us. People by the hundreds were going into the auditorium. We were pushed along with the crowd down the aisle to seats eight or ten rows from the front, right on the aisle.

"Why," I said, "Roy, look at all the people in here! This must be something good!"

I kept looking back at all the fine-looking people. I said, "Roy, do you suppose they have all come out of curiosity as we did?"

He said, "Rose, I don't know, but if I were you, I wouldn't stare quite so much."

"But," I said, "I don't see any queer, peculiar-looking people."

"I was thinking the same thing."

Soon the services started. A lovely young lady stepped up to the piano. We weren't interested in her. She couldn't be one of them. She was just a musician that had been hired to come and play the piano for them, we supposed. Soon a tall, handsome young man came out and started to direct the music. We weren't interested in him either. He was just another one of the musicians that had been hired from the city. But soon another tall, handsome young man in a white suit stepped out. We recognized this man. His was the face that we had seen in the paper. There was something wrong here. He looked intelligent!

We forgot all about looking for strange, peculiar looking people when he started to preach. We had never heard such a sermon.

Before leaving home that evening, Roy had said, "I'm going to get each of us a notebook, and you take down every scripture the minister quotes, and I will too. If I miss one, you'll get it; if you miss it, I'll get it."

No one was going to fool the Slaybaughs! How busy we were writing scripture after scripture!

That night as we drove home I preached to Roy all the way; Roy preached to me. I didn't hear one word he said; he didn't listen to one word I said. As soon as we reached home, we compared our Bibles and notebooks, looking to see if all the scriptures that this young man had used in his sermon were in the Bible. We found them there, every one of them.

Night after night we went back to the tabernacle, but still we didn't see any peculiar-looking people, but, oh, the wonderful, wonderful truths that we were learning!

Finally I said to Roy, "I guess the only way that we're going to get to see any Seventh-day Adventists is to attend their church sometime. Surely we'll see some there."

We'll never forget that first Saturday morning that we put on our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes to go to church. Roy should have been out in the field working. I should have been scrubbing, baking, and cleaning-getting ready for Sunday.

We were there in plenty of time, but almost two blocks before we reached the corner where the church was located, there were cars parked on either side of the street. "Roy, look!" I said. "What do you suppose is going on in this neighborhood?"

"Well," he said, "it looks to me like there's been a fire up here."

Ah, yes, there was a fire there—one that water can't quench. We drove on past the church and a block and a half farther before we could find a place big enough to squeeze our car into. Then we started toward the church. Just before we reached the steps I slipped my hand through my husband's arm. "Honey, let's sit right by the door, so we can get out if it gets too bad."

"All right."

"There's the preacher!" I exclaimed. He stood at the top of the steps in a dark suit. As we came near to where he was standing, he stepped over to us and extended his hand. "Good morning, friends; we're happy to have you with us this morning," he greeted, making us feel very welcome.

Just then another man stepped out from the door, and he too called us "friends." He started to apologize, "I'm sorry, folks, I don't believe there's another seat left, but come in. Would you mind sitting in these two little folding chairs right here by the door?" He handed us a hymnbook and we sat down.

I nudged Roy a little and said, "Just what we ordered, right here by the door."

We looked at that large congregation. I think that church seated six or seven hundred people, and there wasn't a seat empty. What were all these people doing up here this Saturday morning? We couldn't imagine that they had come here to worship. The place where we worshiped every Sunday morning in the downtown church seated fifteen hundred, but there was generally only a little handful of people present.

"Roy," I said, "there must be something special going on here. Perhaps they're having a wedding."

He started to get up, saying, "We'd better not stay."

"Sit down. They won't know we're here." (I love weddings!)

But there was no wedding. I looked at all these people and said, "Roy, look!"

He said, "Rose, look at all the fine men. Look at the young men, look at the old men."

"Men, nothing. Look at the ladies. Look at these fine, well-dressed ladies."

What a surprise we got that morning! One thing we noticed above everything else was the atmosphere of reverence in this church. There was no whispering. Everyone was sitting quietly, some reading the Bible, some with their heads bowed.

We shall never forget the first sermon we heard there, "What and Where Is Heaven?" The minister used more Scripture in that one sermon than we would hear, I dare say, in a year's time in the church we had been attending every Sunday morning. I don't mean that the sermons at our church weren't good; they were all good. The minister would read a verse of Scripture, then take a few words out of it, and build a beautiful story around it. But this was direct from the Bible. Here were people worshiping the way we hungered to worship. If we could come to this church and hear such sermons, how wonderful that would be! This was what we were longing for, and we had found it in a Seventh-day Adventist church!



Roy said, "We're going to put a stop to all this. We can't go on like this any longer. There must be a reason why thousands and thousands of people all over the world worship on Sunday, the first day of the week. There must be a good reason. We'll find it yet. As soon as we finish our lunch, Rose, you're going to that telephone booth and call our minister."

Why hadn't we gone to him for help before? Perhaps because he was a very busy man. He was not only pastor of a great downtown church, but he was also an officer in four or five of the civic clubs in the city. He was the president of the ministerial association. He had more weddings and funerals than any other minister in the whole city. In short, he was one of the most popular ministers in the city of Spokane. Could we bother such a busy man with so simple a question as "Who changed the Sabbath?"

"He's going to give us a little of his time," Roy said.

"He'll straighten us out. No," he said on second thought, "he isn't going to just tell us like these other ministers have, but he's going to open the Bible and read a scripture that says that we, with thousands upon thousands of people all over the world, can deliberately break the Fourth Commandment every week and please God."

I called him. He said, "You know, Saturday afternoon is the busiest time of the week for me."

"But," I said, "it's very important, and we'll take only a few moments of your time."

"All right. Come over to the church. My secretary is in my study, and she will let you in."

The secretary seated us in two chairs in front of the minister's beautiful, highly polished, mahogany desk. Not a thing was on it but a beautiful Bible. Soon the minister came in and sat down in front of us. "What is it now?"

I said, "Just a moment and we'll be gone, but we've come to ask you for help."

"Well, what is it?"

And then Roy asked him. He pointed to the Bible and said, "Would you please open the Bible and find us a scripture authorizing worshiping on Sunday, the first day of the week?"

The minister became angry. He couldn't speak. He turned white. He pushed himself back from the desk. When he had his back turned to us, he said, "You’ve been talking to some Seventh-day Adventist; that's what is the matter with you."

I said, "That is hardly fair. We don't even know any Seventh-day Adventist to talk to."

After he got control of himself, he sat down and preached to us for over two hours, and the more he talked, the more confused he became and the less we knew.

"The Ten Commandments?" he said. "We don't keep the Ten Commandments any more; they were nailed to the cross at the time of Christ's death on the cross."

Roy said, "Then you mean that we can go out and lie and steal and do all these things?"

"Oh, no," he said, "you can't do those things; it's the Fourth Commandment that you don't have to keep any more. We're living in New Testament times. We're not under the law; we're not living according to the Ten Commandments. They were done away with."

"Why," he said, "do you know that most Christians worship on Sunday? The majority is always right."

But what had we read in Deuteronomy 7, beginning with the sixth verse? "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people." And in the ninth verse, "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations."

Then I asked, "Do you say that we don't have to keep the Commandments any more?"

"Why, of course not."

"But," I said, "what does this mean in Ecclesiastes 12:13? The wisest man in all the world wrote these words: 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."'

"Oh, well, Mrs. Slaybaugh, you're reading now out of the Old Testament! We live according to the New Testament."

"All right, what about John 14:15? Jesus said, 'If ye love Me, keep My commandments.' And in 1 John 2:4, 'He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."'

He looked at me. "Mrs. Slaybaugh, you ask too many questions. The trouble with you people is you've been reading too much. You've been studying too much. You're taking these things too seriously. Now," he said, "if you must read the Bible (and he turned to a small portion in the center), here are the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Read these, but don't take them too seriously, or you're going to get yourselves into trouble."

Roy stood up. "Thank you," he said. "We'll be going now. But before we go, would you please tell us who these people are whom God is speaking about in Revelation 14:12? He's calling somebody 'saints.' 'Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."'

The minister didn't answer him. Then Roy turned a few more pages to Revelation 22:14. He put his finger on it, and said, "Please tell us who these people are whom God places a special blessing upon, for it reads, 'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.' "

With that the minister slammed the Bible shut and said, "I can't do anything more with you people! You're bound and determined to take the Bible literally. You can't do that! Do you know what you would have to be if you tried to live according to the Bible just as it is written?"

"No," Roy said, "what would we have to be?"

"Why,' he said, "you would have to be Seventh-day Adventists, but who wants to be a Seventh-day Adventist!"

We thanked him and left, and never again did we go back to that church. But every Saturday morning found us in the Seventh-day Adventist church. We were there in plenty of time, too, so that we didn't have to park our car way down the street, or sit in those little folding chairs by the door. We were right down in the front where we could listen and learn.

After several weeks of attendance, we said one morning at the close of the service, "Pastor Nightingale, may we please join this church?"

"We'd be happy to have you. But there are a few things you must learn first."

"Oh," I said, "we know everything now."

"Yes," he said, "I know. But we'll come out and give you some Bible studies."

This Seventh-day Adventist minister was a busy man. He was holding meetings six nights a week. He was pastor of a large church. But he was not too busy to come out to our home regularly and give us Bible studies.

One Wednesday after Pastor Nightingale had been with us all afternoon, he said, "Next Friday night you're going to be baptized with that large group that's going to be baptized right there in the tabernacle."

We were so happy we could hardly wait. As he was leaving he looked at Roy and said, "Brother Slaybaugh, you look like a man that doesn't use tobacco. You don't smoke, do you?"

I laughed right out loud. "Smoke, why he smokes like a steam engine! He should have been made with a pipe up the back of his neck. He smokes all the time."

"Oh," he said, "I'm sorry. The men in our church don't use tobacco; they don't smoke."

I sympathized with Roy. I could be baptized, but he couldn't. Why, he wouldn't even look natural without his old pipe.

Do you think he was fooling Pastor Nightingale? Not one moment! There was his smoking stand, and ash trays were everywhere. Our whole house smelled like a smokehouse. It was obviously apparent to the pastor.

I felt very sorry for Roy. He had his mind set on joining the church, and now he was to be left out. I knew he couldn't live without smoking, especially since he lost his son. He missed him so much, and when it seemed that he couldn't stand it any longer, he seemed to get a great deal of comfort out of sitting and smoking.

After Pastor Nightingale was gone I looked at Roy and said, "Honey, I'm so sorry. I don't know what to say to you."

He walked right past me to the back part of the house, and then came back. I was standing by the fireplace. He had a package of cigarettes in his hand. Each of his shirt pockets bulged with the shape of a package of cigarettes. He came into the living room and took out a cigarette. He put it in his mouth, lit it, and stood there puffing away.

I said, "Roy, honey, I don't know what to say to you, I'm so sorry for you."

After taking a few more puffs, he said, "Rose, you don't have to feel sorry for me. Nobody has to feel sorry for me. If this is what it takes, this is what it's going to take." He took the cigarette out of his mouth and threw it into the flames, and then he took the packages of cigarettes and threw them into the fireplace. That was the end of that. Don't think for one moment it was easy though. How that man suffered! He was saturated with poisonous nicotine, but he never touched tobacco again in any form.

Just before Pastor Nightingale left that afternoon, he looked at me and said, "Sister Slaybaugh, there are a few things that you must learn, too."

"Oh,' I said, "I don't smoke. I don't do anything bad."

"No," he said, "I know you don't. But there are a few things that—well anyway, I'll be out tomorrow. I'll come out tomorrow early, and we'll have another study."

I wondered what I was doing that was wrong.



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