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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington , M. Div.

In my theology, as it is a lifelong continuum— I see the logical progression from sources to scripture.

I recall early in my childhood my grandmother was a missionary of our church (among her many church works— she had a key!).  But she made me learn to recite scripture and took me with her to visit the sick.  I learned the recitation of Psalms 1; 23; 24; 27; 121 and 150 among others that, unlike these, remain printed on my heart.

After “hiding Thy Word in my heart” for so many years, I come to “re-think Scripture” after leaving home (and the Church) with a vow to not return.  Upon entering Seminary, not as a choice or any directed knowledge of what I was about to get into; my first encounter was with the New Testament History professor, Dr. Thomas J. Hoyt, Jr. who was teaching his final New Testament Literature class before  leaving I.T.C. for Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and transitioning this life as a Bishop in the C.M.E. Church.

I was not alone in a class full of Seminary Students who just plain did not know what he was even talking about most of the time.  I had now vowed, in leaving my 8 hr. a day job, to study… 8 hrs a day.  I did at this point have a thirst for understanding so I began to leave school every day, go home, and handwrite my own “Gospels”.  I heard Dr. Hoyt talking about the life of SCRIBE.  I was like OMG it’s what I’m doing.  Here is where Scripture began to come through to me as clear as rain.  I had inherited from Dr. Hoyt a fervor and a passion for… Scripture!  Which now meant… Biblical languages, first Hebrew and Greek.  So now, I AM… a Bible Major.

When I think scripture, I think of my Old Testament History professor, Dr. John Waters who studied seven biblical languages with a dissertation in Assyriology.  Beyond Biblical Languages, initially, my discussion of scripture pivots upon translation— the Revised Standard Version used by both these Biblical Scholars as their teaching tool, as did Dr. G. Murray Branch, my Old Testament Literature professor, who came to class with only his grade book and the Oxford Annotated RSV and called the roll at 8:00 am on the dot.

When I think scripture, I think of the Documentary produced on Dr. Howard Thurman; and of his response to the question: if the Bible were taken away, what book would he keep.  He replied, The ‘139th Psalm’.  In considering how I would respond, again and again my word continues to return to ‘John 5’.  (Shout out to one of my Bennett College Students Da’Mica Wilson O’Bryant).  I used the John 5 text in facilitating the workshop: ‘Addiction: A Religious Perspective’ for the 2003 annual conference of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana for which she served as Planning Chair.  For this event, and for the first time in my life,  I saw the porticoes of Bethzatha as a place of addiction.

When I think scripture, I recall the 3-Night Revival that I preached at Mitchell Chapel/St. Luke Charge in Ashboro, NC while at Bennett College, where through the conversation in the Pastor’s study the first night, I heard a voice sing “The Lord, He Is, My Shepherd!  3 times! …  And I shall not want!”  I had the need to leave the study joining the service of Devotion.  The 2nd verse said, “He feeds me, when, I’m hungry!  3 times!…  And I shall not want!”  Unadulterated scripture… that 23rd Psalm is!.

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