By: Pastor Curtis Terry
Upon my arrival in Woodruff back in 1987, I learned there were some important names in the town that represented things I might need. Bobby Turner for food, Audrey Bettis for interior design, Charles Stewart for furniture and appliance repair, Jackie Cooper for a car, Willie Varner coached our football team and a few other names that escape my mind right now. In my opinion, there was one more that needed to be added to that list… Charles “Buster” Ball. Let me explain.
Buster Ball had been in almost every house in Enoree and Woodruff, not to mention many others in the surrounding towns. You see, Buster Ball sold insurance for Liberty Life and did it well. He knocked on doors and successfully sold insurance products to people. That experience is what made Buster Ball equally successful in bus evangelism at Woodruff Church of God. Every Saturday, Buster and others traveled down the streets knocking on doors, handing out bubble gum and inviting kids to ride his bus. And for years and I mean years…Buster Ball did that every week. The list also included the Outreach Minister at Woodruff Church of God. Buster worked the absentee list from the church, knocked on doors of new folks and took “hot leads” on people, much as he did in the insurance business. As Buster would say, he still sold insurance…fire insurance (hell is real folks!).
The interesting thing is that nobody seemed to dread seeing Buster coming. I’m sure when he sold insurance if the bill was due, people might not be happy to see him. However, as Buster served his community, people did not dread him coming, but they sent word or called him to come. You see, Buster Ball believed in the power of prayer. People depended on his prayers and depended on him being there in their moment of need. Their need took him to homes, hospitals, Hospice Houses, stores, streets…it made no difference where their need was mentioned, he stopped, took off his hat and prayed a prayer that touched heaven. People so believed in Buster’s prayers, they sought him out to visit the hospital and bypassed the Pastor altogether. I certainly didn’t mind and completely understood. Buster Ball could get a prayer through.
It was said at his funeral by Pastor James Shealy that Buster “pastored the town of Woodruff”. No truer statement could be made. He visited anyone and everyone. It made no difference to him what your skin color was, your denominational preference, or which side of the railroad tracks you lived on. He wanted to pray for you to be healed, and he wanted to know if you knew Jesus. He would try just about anything to get an audience with you. If he wasn’t knocking on a door, he was paying someone’s gasoline, groceries, lunch, or water bills…you name it, and Buster Ball went the extra mile to show people what Jesus looked like. He knew that we, as Christians, are the only Jesus some people will ever see. I am confident that when people saw Buster Ball, they saw Jesus. They saw Him in his actions. They heard Him in his voice. They saw Him in his tears.
Woodruff has lost many great people in her history. All the people I mentioned at the beginning except for one, have passed away. And so has Charles Buster Ball. It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem fair. Yet Buster is experiencing the very thing that caused him to knock on doors. He sold insurance because he knew someday, death would come knocking. He knocked on doors to invite kids to church because he knew that getting kids turned onto Jesus could save their lives. He knocked on the doors of absentees because he wanted them to know they were missed and not to grow careless. He knocked on the doors of new folks because he firmly believed that everybody should come and worship at Woodruff Church of God (no offense to any other church, but I hope you feel the same way about yours!). He knocked on doors because one day while a young lady sang about the Love of God, a man by the name of Jesus knocked on his heart’s door and invited Buster to a personal relationship with Him. Buster answered the door, and the rest is history. Buster is now in the presence of the Lord (the Bible teaches to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…for those that have accepted Jesus as Savior). His answering the door has paid off and no doubt when reward time comes, Buster Ball will be rewarded greatly. Countless doors knocked upon. Countless prayers prayed. Countless meals fasted. Countless miles driven on buses and vans. Countless Saturdays away from family. Well done, Brother Buster. Well done!