C.D. Brooks graduated from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in Huntsville, Alabama, 62 years ago. When his class celebrated their 50-year reunion, he told this story.
My first year attending Oakwood College was in 1947. Four years later, in 1951, my friends and I graduated together. Most of us had studied for the ministry.
That year, one of our favorite teachers and the pastor of the church, C. E. Moseley, was leaving Oakwood after 17 years of service. We wondered, “What can we do to honor Elder Moseley after all he has done for us?”
On campus there was an old bell. Before this land belonged to Oakwood College, the bell was used to call slaves in from the fields. When the school was started, the bell was used to call students to class, meals, and worship.
In art class I had drawn three designs of a bell tower. Someone said, “Let’s use one of C.D.’s designs and build a bell tower. We can save the bell and honor Elder Moseley too!”
Together, we went into the mountains, lifted large and heavy stones, and brought them down to the campus. A farm wagon with two gray horses and an old Jeep from World War II helped us move the stones.
We located the same stone masons who had built one of the buildings on campus. My friend, Russell Bates, and I laid out the structure using the flagpole as the center and we dug up the grass for the foundation.
The contractors were excited about our project and wanted it done right. We told them we wanted the stone work to match the other building which has stones nicely outlined with molded joints. But the builder said, “Fellows, you won’t have time. Cement must have a certain consistency in order to be molded. This is Friday. Your Sabbath is coming. You won’t have time to wait on the cement. Just plow the joints and it will look fine. The building is far enough away and people won’t notice.”
The work was done in a hurry. We helped with the labor and discovered that the cement remained very soft. This meant the joints couldn’t be plowed right away. We started on one side. As the masons finished their work, we could move behind them to begin molding the joints. We also began to watch the sun. Sabbath was coming fast! Would we get the entire job done?
The sky was turning red. Long shadows were bending toward the east. Soon it would be time to prepare for evening worship. There was no way the section in front of the administration building could be finished without working on the Sabbath. We couldn’t come back to do it later because the cement would be dry. Should we finish the project or simply stop and leave it unfinished? Soon we would graduate and become pastors. We would be preaching to others telling them to be faithful in all things, including the keeping of the Sabbath.
We decided to just leave it. If our work was criticized, it would be a testimony to our faith and to the Sabbath. With sundown approaching, we walked away.
I challenge anyone to go and inspect what we built and find where we stopped working. You can’t tell! Did angels finish our work? This is the mystery of the “unplowed joints.” We left the work unfinished, but somehow it was completed.
The bell still stands in Moseley’s honor. And whenever I see it I remember when a group of young men stood firm for the Lord and honored the Sabbath and God finished the job. Now, if you ever see it, you can remember this too.
—This talk, adapted for KidsView, was given by C.D. Brooks at Oakwood University, in Huntsville, Alabama on April 13, 2001. You can read his words at blacksdahistory.org/The_Mystery_of_the_Unplowed_Joints.html.
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