Old Ben

Old Ben? I know what you are thinking…. (first 40 seconds)

No, No, this post has nothing to do with Obi-Wan Kenobi or Star Wars. I just felt like it was time to start sharing some more of my personal HISTORY with you guys – watch out! One of my earliest memories happens to be a very significant marker in my life.  I was probably between the age of 4 or 5 years old, close to the age that I asked Jesus to be my Savior (which I only remember because my mom reminded me of that night).  I remember this encounter as it was unique and a little out of the ordinary. I was with my mom in the local grocery store, Tuolumne Market, which hasn’t changed very much in the last 25 years! We were in the check out line and standing in front of us was an older man buying his groceries (I think someone was with him, helping). I still have a fuzzy image of that memory, partly because of the way this man was dressed.

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Before I share this gold of mine, I want to give a little background on this man who made a living from a mine of gold –

Benjamin Earl Fullingim, also known as ‘Old Ben’, was one of the last gold miners of his kind.  Ben was born in 1904 in Oklahoma, got married and took up farming like his dad. He found his way to Tuolumne after a bad divorce with his wife of 12 years. That’s when Ben said, ‘I started running and never stopped till I found this mountain.’ (source)

Obviously Ben was not an original ’49er, but he came to Tuolumne in 1953 and was the last ‘hard rock’ miner of a once popular yet not always successful occupation.  As a Gold Prospector he had 4 claims up on Mount Elizabeth, which is near the back side of Tuolumne City. When he wasn’t diggin’ for gold or sleeping in his small rustic shacks, he was traveling to California Fairs and teaching kids how to pan handle. Many Summerville Elementary School students of that time probably remember seeing Old Ben walk by the campus with his Mule in tow.

Benjamin Fullingim was known for being kind and hospitable.  I was told by an old friend of his (via email) that, ‘he had a wonderful sense of humor and was a good story teller.’  The Union Democrat did a short write up on him after his passing and said, ‘his cabin was a popular haunt for children and their parents, who accompanied Ben on hikes and gold-panning trips.’ (source)  He passed away at the good age of 99!

Source

 

So, back to the Tuolumne Market check out line.  Old Ben must have been 87 or 88 years old when I encountered him that day.  He turned around and looked at me and said, ‘You are going to be a mighty soldier in the Lord’s Army’.  I don’t recall the rest of the exchange, but that word stuck like a pick axe in the side of a hill!  I have carried that treasure with me for all these years and I am thankful that he took that moment in time to give that word to me.  In reality, what he said to me is worth more than a gold nugget, which he probably could have given to me instead!

It turns out Ben had a rich vein of christian heritage in his family.  His dad was a song leader in the church and both his grandfather and great grandfather were  influential pastors, ‘reverends’, in the Methodist Church.  I will always remember what Ben passed on to me and I am thankful that he wasn’t afraid to share what was passed on to him.

 

119876758_138379299538There is something powerful about the prophetic word of God.  It reminds us of His Word and let’s us know that He cares about us.  This word of encouragement and piece to my destiny has helped me in my walk with Christ.   I can take this and line it up with Scripture as I know that the Word of God says that He is the, ‘Lord of Hosts’ and Paul tells us to ‘put on the full armor of God’, just like a soldier would in the natural.  The second letter of Timothy reminds us that just as a soldier pleases his commanding officer that we too are to do the things that are pleasing to our Lord and be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I hope you enjoyed this piece from the particles of my past. Tune in next time to see what else I feel like sharing.

And since we are looking at treasures from time gone by, here’s an ‘oldie but a goodie’.

1 Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads again the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!

Refrain:
Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!

2 At the sign of triumph
Satan’s host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver
at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
loud your anthems raise! [Refrain]

3 Like a mighty army
moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
where the saints have trod;
We are not divided;
all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
one in charity. [Refrain]

4 Onward, then, ye people,
join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
in the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honor,
unto Christ the King;
This thro’ countless ages
men and angels sing. [Refrain]

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Benjamin ‘Old Ben’ Fullingim with his donkey Nugget. – Onward Christian Soldier!

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