Thomas Little Jr. spends a lot of time writing about ministry
(This week The Atmore Advance spotlights 68-year-old Thomas Little Jr., who lives in Jay, Fla. and is a former resident of Bratt, Fla. where he pastored First Baptist Church of Bratt for 10 years.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: Sandy Hollow! Sandy Hollow is a big gully or river of sand about 10 miles SW of Jay, Fla. It has been there for maybe 100 years or more. On the north bank of this river of sand stood a house. It was a small wood frame house made of unpainted lumber. I was born on Dec. 12, 1937.
Q: Who were your parents?
A: My parents were Thomas Little Sr. and wife, Suzy Anna Nelson Little.
Q: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I have one sister, Betty Sue Little White. She is two years younger than me. She has been married to Lamar White for over 40 years. They have two sons, Tim &Steve, who each have a son, Lucas and Gage.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I attended Century Elementary and Century High School. I graduated from Century High School in 1956. Later, after surrendering my life and family to the gospel ministry, I attended Baptist Bible Institute (now Baptist College of Florida) and graduated in 1974 with a degree in theology. I then moved to Pineville, La. where I attended Louisiana College, a Southern Baptist liberal arts Christian college. I graduated there in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in religion and a minor in New Testament Greek. I pastored Lincecum Baptist Church between Pollock, La. and Georgetown, La in the Kisachie National Forest. I then moved to New Orleans where I graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in December of 1979. While I was there, I preached in the area around New Orleans including several churches in Bernard Parish.
Later I pastored at Hillsdale Baptist Church near Amite, La. I have enough master's level semester hours to have from five to seven master's degrees from state colleges depending on the area you major in. I say this to point out the thoroughness of education you receive from Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries. A person with a PhD in theology from a Southern Baptist Seminary has the equivalent of 12-15 years of disciplined academic study.
Q: What activities were you involved in during school?
A: I was the art director of the school annual as a senior. I drew a lot of pictures, posters and signs for different projects in the school. My favorite was when I was in the third through sixth grades. I had to draw a large picture on the large chalkboard in the lunchroom each Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really enjoyed this.
Q: How did you travel when you were younger?
A: Our travel in my childhood and early teens was primarily walking. I walked from Century to Jay many times as a young lad. Occasionally we got lucky and got a ride on a horse and wagon. I remember well the wagon yards in town where the farmers would park their horses and wagons, tie them to the hitching post and then go shopping for groceries and clothing. Finally, in the early 50s, my dad bought a 1937 shiny, black Chevrolet car for $75. We were so excited over that car. Then, in 1955, he purchased a 1949 Ford with a V-8 engine. That car would get up and go. This was the car I was driving when I first dated my future wife, Joyce Carnley. I guess it worked pretty well. We've been married 46 years.
Q: Did you work after you got out of school?
A: Yes, Every evening after school, I had a full time job at home keeping enough wood split to cook and warm with in an old cast iron heater. I also had to keep the water supply for each day by using a hand pump. In those days we didn't have green lawns. I had to keep all of the weeds and grass cut in the yard. Our yard was plain, bare dirt with a few flowers. I had to keep the ditches around our yard dug out and clean. I also had to work in the garden; planting, plowing and harvesting the vegetables.
Q: What jobs did you do?
A: After I graduated from high school, I worked at a meat packing plant in Pensacola. Then I went to work at the Western Auto Store in Jay. I worked there for seven years. After Western Auto I worked at Monsanto Company (formerly Chemstrand, now Solutia Co.) in Pensacola seven years.
Then in 1969, I surrendered my life to the Lord to go into the preaching and pastoral ministry. In January 1971, I enrolled in Bible College and attended Bible College &Seminary for the next nine years. During this time I worked several part-time jobs. After graduating from Seminary, I pastured First Baptist Church in Bratt until I had to retire because of a massive heart attack. I had the heart attack in December 1985 and retired in September of 1988. My wife and I have been living in a community called Nelsontown (named after my mom's family) for over 16 years. We live on five acres that I inherited from my great-grandfather's 1875 homestead.
Q: Are you close with your family?
A: Yes, I think we have a close family, thanks to the telephone and e-mail. Maybe I should say in a personal, electronic way.
Q: What was your first car?
A: My first car was a 1956 Ford Fairlane, which was top of the line for Ford family cars in that day. I purchased it from my brother in law to be at that time, Earl Carnley. I drove it for 6 years and traded it for a 1964 Ford pickup.
Q: Did you ever marry?
A: Yes, I married Joyce Carnley on November 12, 1959. We have been married for 47 years this past November. We must have done something right.
Q: Do you have any children or grandchildren?
A: We have three children and three grand children. Our oldest son, Gilbert, his wife Deb and their daughter (our granddaughter) Meredith, lives in Shreveport, La. Another son, Jeffrey, lives in Richmond, Va. Our daughter, Janet lives in Bratt, Fla. and has two sons, Bryant and Austin, our grandsons.
Q. Where do you attend church?
A. We attend church at Cora Baptist Church, which is my home church.
Q: What keeps you busy these days?
A: I stay busy reading, studying my Bible and praying. I have read my Bible through over 50 times. I have taught and preached my way through it several times. I still supply preach when the opportunity arises and my health is doing well enough for me to do it. I also do some writing and research on different subjects as the need arises. I love to walk and do other light exercises, as I am able to do it.
Q. Have you traveled much?
A. I've been to St. Paul, Va. where my brother in law formerly pastored an Assembly of God Church. I've been to Houston, Texas, Jackonsville, Fla. and Fort Myers, Fla.
Q. What's your favorite television show?
A. My favorite TV show is "The Waltons." This show carries me back to a family lifestyle that is much more simple and peaceful than we have today.
Q.What advice do you give people to stay healthy?
A: I recommend walking as being the best, most basic plan to have a clean, healthy heart. I recommend weight lifting in order to build up and condition the body muscles. To tie all of this together and have a complete fulfilled life you must have a relationship with God through faith &commitment to Christ Jesus who saves and keeps all who come to Him through repentance of one's sin and faith in what Jesus has done for us on the cross on Calvary.
(If you would like to recommend a senior to be spotlighted please contact Janet Little Cooper at 368-2123 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org)