Sam was only a few weeks old as a Christian but had already started to evangelize. He was endeavoring to convert his older brother. Fortunately for his missionary efforts, his brother had already begun his search for Biblical truth. Every time Sam learned something new from his preacher, he would tell his brother when he arrived home. Sometimes his brother would disagree but Sam would quietly ask him to find the relevant passage in the Bible. He would then read the passage or passages for himself and that would be the end of the argument
One night in January 1966, Sam invited Clayton to worship with him at the gathering of the tiny Kingstown church. When Clayton arrived at the place of worship, he was somewhat surprised at the sparsity of the congregation. He had envisioned a large crowd of people. He was unaware of the newness of the Restoration Movement to the island of St. Vincent. He had no concept of a distinction between the church of the New Testament and the denominations of men. As a matter of fact, that night before Sam’s invitation, he was already dressed and prepared to attend the evening service of a denominational gathering not too far removed from where the Wharton’s resided. However, when Sam invited him to go along to the worship of the Kingstown church, he changed his plans and went with Sam.
Clayton noticed that the worship of the tiny congregation of people who called themselves simply “Christians,” and members of the “Church of Christ,” was extremely simple compared to the sophisticated and ritualistic service of the Anglican Church of which he was a communicant member in good standing. The few members and fewer visitors sang, being led by the preacher, and then they prayed. The preacher stood up before the people and preached for about forty minutes, at the end of which time a song (which was later understood to be an “invitation song”) was sung. Before the song was sung, the preacher invited anyone who wised to become a Christian to come and stand up where he stood in front of the rest of the people. No one seemingly wanted to be a Christian that night. After the singing of the song, the communion was given to one lady who was absent from the morning service. They sang another song and after a prayer, the meeting was over. The whole affair lasted less than an hour.
The preacher’s message had no particular impact on Clayton that night. However, inn the days that followed, a certain passage from the gospel of John kept hounding his thoughts. Over and over again, the passage came to his mind: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3.
He had known that passage for many years previously, but its meaning came home more fully to him on the night on which Sam had made his decision to be baptized. He had supported Sam in his decision to be baptized and had thought then about his own condition. But he was not fully persuaded at that time. The more he thought about the passage in the following days, the more convinced he became that he should be baptized. “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” He had been sprinkled as an infant, but he knew that to be sprinkled as an infant was not the same as being baptized as an adult. He was troubled in his mind. He was impelled by the teaching of the scriptures, but was reluctant to obey, because he was afraid of the mockery of his peers.
January 22, 1966, was a holiday on the island. The missionary was about to try to establish a new congregation in Troumaca. About noon that day, he placed some benches (which he had made himself) aboard the little Volkswagen bus and started out for Troumaca. He took Sam along on the journey and Sam invited his brother, Clayton. When they arrived in Troumaca, they transferred the benches from the bus into the living room of a new dwelling house situated on the main road that leads to the village of Rose Hall. The house was owned by a certain Mr. Joslyn who having built the house was not then ready to occupy it. The ground floor of the house was rented by the owner to a group of people who used it for a handicraft center.
Ralph and the two young men arranged the benches on behind the other, thus forming a miniature church auditorium setting. However, there was no pulpit for the preacher. The room received no other adornment than the benches. The room itself was comfortable, having windows on two sides, and due to the fact that it was elevated, a gentle breeze provided natural air conditioning. They were fortunate in finding such a place to worship in Troumaca, because it was rare to find an unoccupied new house in most villages in St. Vincent at that time. (It was the same house that Ralph had rented about six weeks before when he conducted the series of meetings in Troumaca.)
The mission of preparing the room for worship being completed, Ralph drove to the next village of Rose Bank, about three quarters of a mile north of Troumaca. Sam and Clayton lived in that village. As the bus stopped in front of their house, they saw their mother hanging her washing on the clothes line. They went over and greeted her. She greeted them lovingly in return as she always did. Then she turned to Clayton and asked him, “Have you joined them yet?” “No,” he replied but he little knew that soon he would not only have “joined them” but he would be actively engaged in trying to convert others.
On January 23rd, the day after the journey to Troumaca and Rose Bank, Sam and his brother were back in Kingstown. Sam again invited Clayton to worship with him and again he went. In the afternoon Ralph was going out to the village of Lowmans where Aster Barnwell lived. Ralph was trying to establish a new congregation in that village too. Sam went along with him and asked Clayton to go also. Ralph had been going to Lowmans for a few Sundays previously. He held Sunday afternoon meetings in a building located on the main street of the village. (The building was later destroyed by fire and has since been replaced by a new concrete structure.) Aster Barnwell was then the sole member of the congregation.
The hall was bare except for a table on which were the various items connected with the communion. The few visitors who attended had nowhere to sit. They all stood toward the back, and some leaned against the walls close to the windows. The preacher stood close to the communion table across the small hall, facing those in attendance. The meeting began. Ralph led the few who were gathered in the singing of hymns. He prayed and then he preached. Clayton listened attentively, along with the rest. He thought about the preacher’s message. The preacher spoke about the Hebrews in Babylonian captivity. He told about the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abdnego. He explained how these men who knew the true God refused to bow down to an image of gold made by Nebuchadnezzar even though they knew that for refusing to bow, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. They were not afraid to stand up for the truth.
Clayton made the application of the moral of the preacher’s lesson to himself. He knew that he was not saved, and that in order for him to be saved, he should repent of his sins and be baptized in water. He believed in Jesus and knew that Jesus had died for his sins at Calvary. He wanted to be saved, but he knew that if he submitted to baptism, his friends would ridicule him. He was afraid. Upon hearing the preacher’s message and seeing how the Hebrew men who knew the true God refused to worship an image, he took heart. If they were unafraid of a burning fiery furnace, then why should he be afraid of the taunts of a few so-called friends, he thought to himself.
“…Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” The words of scripture came back to him and he knew that in order to be pleasing to God, he must do what he knew was true, regardless of the feelings of his friends. He must be born again. He must turn from his sins and be baptized and follow Jesus. The preacher ended his lesson and exhorted his hearers to become Christians. He began to sing a song to encourage his hearers to begin their walk with Jesus. Clayton could no longer restrain himself. He walked toward the preacher and stood in front of him. The song ended. The preacher looked at him with a questioning look on his face.
“But why have you come?” he asked. “I want to be a Christian,” Clayton said. “But, but, ….” stammered the preacher. Then he recognized him. Ralph had mistaken Clayton for his brother Sam. They went back to Kingstown that Sunday afternoon and as they drove, Ralph explained the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch to Clayton. Sam and Clayton stayed on for the Sunday night worship of the tiny Kingstown congregation. After the worship, they went to Villa, where the Caribbean Sea was calm and peaceful for the baptizing.
Instead of having one person to be baptized, there were two. Ralph’s son Randy, told his parents, after the worship, that he, too, would like to become a Christian and that he would like to be baptized. When they arrived at Villa, it was already dark. Ralph carried along a flashlight. He baptized Clayton first, then his son. The water was cool and pleasant. Clayton came out of the water almost unaware of its coolness, but his eyes were filled with tears of joy as he realized that his sins were forgiven and that he was born again. His firm resolution was to follow Jesus, never to turn back regardless of what his friends might think.
He became a member of the Kingstown congregation. The Kingstown church was then made up of eight members. There were three members who had been baptized by Winston J. Messiah in 1960: Charles Creese and his wife, Dorcas, and an older lady, Netta Tucker. Then there was Ralph and his wife, Ruth, and his son Randy, also Sam and Clayton. As of January 23, 1966, this was the total membership of the Kingstown church. There were two isolated Christians on the island, who did not worship with the Kingstown church. There was Aster Barnwell in Lowmans and Muriel Williams in Barrouallie. All had been baptized by Ralph.