CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Apparently, God doesn't care a whit about the cost of gasoline. The Gospel trumps everything.
Which is why the Rev. James H. Mosley Jr., commutes 1,000 miles each month from St. Albans to Logan, every Sunday and Wednesday, to tend to his flock at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. Factor in funerals and home and hospital visits and you've got a Lincoln pushing more than 200,000 miles.
But God called "Bimp" Mosley to this ministry, and who can argue with God? He tried to fight it. He wanted to be a chef. He wanted to join the Marines. Eventually, like always, God won.
His affable manner and quick smile works well in the pulpit. But his ministry goes far beyond preaching. He's the ultimate Good Samaritan, cutting grass for those who can't, providing food for those who need it, anything he can do to better the lives of others.
When he isn't taking care of God's business, he's on the links. He has three holes-in-one to his credit. Apparently, somebody up there likes him.
"I grew up in Vandalia, which is between Fort Hill and South Charleston above the Patrick Street Bridge. My father worked at Union Carbide. He was the first black that ever got to eat in the cafeteria.
"I had a great childhood. I played football and ran track. In the summer of the ninth grade, I got a job at South Charleston Junior High helping the janitor clean the school for the next year.
"In 10th grade, I got a job at Charleston General Hospital in the dietary department. I thought I was going to be a great chef one day. I went to Carver the first year it opened and took commercial foods.
"In the 10th grade at Charleston High, I got saved. I didn't go to church often -- Christmas, Easter, Bible school -- just when they were handing things out.
"We would watch Rex Humbard out of Akron, Ohio, and his wife, Maude Amy. We would laugh at them because of the country music and the twang. He'd always give the same invitation: 'If you die today, would you go to heaven? Let me see your hands.'
"At that time, it seems like everyone in my house would hear the doorbell ring even though we didn't have a doorbell, or they'd have to go to bathroom or get a drink. Nobody wanted to hear that invitation.
"One day, I heard it, and I couldn't leave the room. He said, 'If you didn't raise your hand, I want to pray for you. If you are at home, put your hand on the radio or television screen.' I put my hand on the TV screen and gave my life to the Lord that day.
"I didn't see lightning flashing or the thunder roar, but I just felt a peace, a calmness, that I had made the right decision. I started going to church. We didn't have a big youth program, but Ben Toliver Sr., and his son, Tom, started taking me to the Bible Center. We would go to Bible class on Mondays. From there, I got the call. I ran from it for several years.
"I wanted to join the Marines. My mother had different plans. I was in Roanoke visiting my cousins for a farewell because I was joining the Marines. My mother snuck and signed me up for West Virginia State College. She said I had to come home for freshman orientation. I had no idea what that was.
"Here's how naïve I was. I stood in the registration line. When I got to the cashier, she said, 'That will be 125.' I threw a $10 bill on the counter. She said, 'No, it's 125.' I said, 'Take it out of the 10.' She said, 'I meant $125.' I had to go home and come back the next day to register for college.
"I majored in health, phys ed and safety. I was at State from '71 until '76. I did two years full time, got married early and had a family early. I took day classes sometime and night classes sometime, but I was a chemical operator at Carbide, and working shift work and going to school don't mix.
"When I told my pastor I'd been called, he reminded me that I'd just bought a house and had two little children and a good job at Carbide. So I forgot that idea. He wanted me to see the big picture and not make an impulsive decision.
"A year later, I told him that even if I failed and lost everything, I wanted to do it and it would just be part of my testimony.