NORMAN, Okla. (BP)–Born Dec. 12, 1907, Clydia Prince has seen a lot of change, from the invention of radio and television to today’s ever-changing computer technology and the Internet. She remembers using a kerosene lamp for reading at night. Now, she reads the daily newspaper sitting in her comfortable chair in a temperature-controlled atmosphere at the Harvest Home residence in Norman, Okla., with ready access to electricity and the light bulb.
Born in Nevada County, Ark., Clydia was the oldest of seven siblings raised on a small farm.
Life on the farm became extra difficult when, at age 12, she lost her dad while her mother was expecting the seventh child. Being the oldest sibling, she labored alongside her mother in raising her brothers and sisters.
One way she helped out was by plowing the field. She said she remembers walking through the field behind the plow and an old gray mule for much of her teenage life. She was proud of her first harvest — a wagonload of sweet potatoes.
She assumed numerous other responsibilities, such as building fences, preparing meals, cutting wood and helping with the meals at church.
Traveling to and from church in a wagon, Clydia and her six siblings attended a one-room Baptist church during the days when churches brought circuit-rider preachers in by horseback. Services were held only once a month, with no Sunday School, but a dinner on the church grounds followed. A fence tied between two trees served as a table to hold the food.
When she turned 16, Clydia went through the motions of receiving Christ without realizing she had not really been saved.
At the age of 17, she met Earnest Prince at a neighbor’s house, and they were married a year later. Earnest and Clydia had their only child when she was 19. The Princes raised their son, William Jr., in church. Clydia believed strongly in transferring her legacy of being a Baptist to the next generation. She remembers her son regularly sitting on the front pew in church.
Her church memberships have included Mars Baptist Church of Caney, Ark. (1923-25); Bluff Springs (Ark) Baptist Church (1925-47); Park Baptist Church, Prescott, Ark., (1947-78); First Baptist Church, Bethany, Okla. (1978-2002); and Bellevue Baptist Church, Norman, Okla.
Clydia taught her son about the Lord and how to live for him. She made sure he was in church regularly. And she was very strict.
“You don’t know how many whippings I got in those days,” said William, who today is active at First Baptist Church, Newcastle, Okla., and has passed his own Christian legacy on to the following two generations.
Clydia, although living an exemplary life as a supposed Christian, began to doubt her salvation at the age of 94. Being the private person she is, she did not share her feelings of doubt with anyone for months. She said the conviction got greater and greater as she listened intently to her Sunday School class teacher at Harvest Home, Thelma Davis.
Pastor Mike Sturgell and his wife and family led the ladies at Harvest Home in Bellevue in a monthly worship service. He concluded it by telling the residents to “be sure you’re saved” and challenged them to serve God in their daily lives at the residence. Through Bellevue’s ministries at the home, Clydia said she came to realize she had never been saved.
Then came late December 2001, when she couldn’t stand the conviction any longer. “I cried out to God to save me!” she recounted; the prolonged burden immediately left her and Christ came into her life. “This time it was a real experience,” she said.
Still, she didn’t tell anyone about it until July 25. Dell, her daughter-in-law, said Clydia told her what had happened and she wanted to be baptized. “She came in and closed the door that day and told me,” Dell recounted. “I couldn’t believe it! Clydia said, ‘Dell, what if something had happened to me before I made that decision?'”
William soon contacted Sturgell and informed him of the Clydia’s desire to follow the Lord in baptism. The pastor met with her twice and planned the baptism for Sunday, Aug. 4. Five generations were there to see their loved one baptized.
The pastor had asked her about being baptized in a horse tank on the platform so she would not have to climb the stairs to the baptistery. “No,” she said. “I want it done right!” So Sturgell and Rick Garringer, a deacon, carried Clydia up in a chair. Once in the baptistry, the chair was removed, and she was given her walker.
The baptism, “done right,” Sturgell said, “was one of the greatest privileges I have experienced in the ministry. God’s saving grace never ceases to amaze me!”
Reprinted from the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CLYDIA PRINCE and NEVER TOO OLD.