A Man of Extraordinary Faith
Bishop Daughtry was known not only for his prophetic stand against authorities, a progressive merger of religion and secular concerns, and pedagogical emphasis, but he was well known for his faith, particularly in the area of healing. Many people testified of their miraculous healing.
The Mysterious Illness of a Son
His faith was never more demonstrated than when his baby son, Herbert was ill. For some strange reason at the age of 4 or 5, he became sick with an unknown health problem. He had emaciated down to skin and bones. He had no appetite and seemingly was slowly dying. His mother, deeply worried, wanted to take him to the hospital. The Bishop rejected the idea of hospitals and doctors and insisted on praying. He said to Mrs. Daughtry, “God is going to heal my boy, leave him alone.”
Sometime afterward Herbert saw one of his brothers eating cornbread. He summoned enough strength to motion that he wanted a piece of the bread. Hastily, they made their way to his side and put the bread in his mouth. As he took a couple of swallows he began to cough and cough and cough and he coughed up a peanut hull that was stuck in his throat, windpipe, or somewhere in that area. When the coughing ceased, he continued to eat the cornbread. It was believed that the peanut hull was the problem and as it turned out it was the problem.
You can well imagine the rejoicing and expression of gratitude that emanated from the Daughtry family and the church members. Mrs. Daughtry relates that she kept the peanut hull for many years and how broken-hearted she was when it was misplaced. She said that she kept it as a reminder of God’s healing and her husband’s faith.
It is significant to note that we are discussing events in the early 30s. It wasn’t until 20 years later that Oral Roberts made healing a major part of his ministry. He had a nationwide television program and would conduct healing services while on the air. Again, we see another trailblazing activity by Bishop Daughtry. There were not many who believed in divine healing in his days.
Let us remember that it was in 1906 that God poured out his Spirit at 312 Azusa Street in California under the leadership of the Reverend William Seymour, a black preacher, miraculous things were happening, including healing. From those days, they went forth and carried the message near and far. Someone said, “Bible days were here again”.
Venture to Augusta
It was not only in the area of healing that the extraordinary faith of Bishop Daughtry was demonstrated, but also, he ventured into the unknown. Bishop Grace sent Bishop Daughtry to Augusta, Georgia. It was a radical change for the Daughtry family. In Savannah, Georgia the Daughtry’s enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle. Bishop Daughtry’s father, as stated above, was wealthy and prestigious. But when they moved to Augusta all the niceties of the middle class disappeared. The first born, Alonzo Austin Jr., described the living situation in Augusta, GA.
He said in Savannah, they had running water and in Augusta, they had to pump the water out of the ground. In Savannah, they had showers and bathtubs in every neighborhood, but in Augusta, they took their baths in tubs. In Savannah, they had bathrooms in the house. In Augusta, they had out-houses. In Augusta, they barely had sufficient food most of the time. In Savannah, they had plenty of food. The pantries of food were always full and a refrigerator that kept food supplied but in Augusta times were hard. They owned a spacious house in Savannah. In Augusta, the house was small without the amenities. In fact, it was less than well-structured, plus keep in mind it was the Great Depression that added to the hard times.
But Bishop Daughtry kept the faith without complaining, without stress. But in confidence, he went about the ministry to which God had called him. As we think of the faith of the Bishop we must give credit to Mrs. Daughtry, she accepted the difficulties, and the dramatic change of life between Savannah and Augusta. The only time it seemed that she was worried and there was some tension was when her son was sick and his condition was unknown.
Failures and Mistakes
No Health Concerns
He didn’t take care of his family
Clearly, the spirit of Bishop Daughtry was to meet the needs of the people, consistent with God’s priority as recorded in the Scriptures. And that Spirit continued to work through Mother Inez Conry and is still in the church working through his son, Herbert, daughter-in-law, Karen, and granddaughter, Leah. They made the priceless contribution of putting it on paper even as Bishop Daughtry put the original Constitution and Bylaws in a booklet. They continued in the spirit of Bishop Daughtry, teaching, preaching, and living so that the people might know and do the will of God.
However as much as we disliked mentioning it, Bishop Daughtry, like all humans, made mistakes and had failures. The Bible shows us how to deal with our heroes and our families when they make mistakes. From the beginning, Adam and Eve, and then Abraham, and David and all of them made mistakes. This is why the Bible says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 and “O Lord if you should mark iniquity, who could stand, but there is forgiveness with you, that you might be feared” Psalms 130:3-4. And when we come to think about it, it really makes the Bible more believable. After all, if all the people of God were perfect then they would be beyond the reach of the rest of us humans and at the same time, we would wonder if in fact, the Bible was covering up their shortcomings for whatever reason. There were two failures the Bishop made:
The failure to take care of himself: He died at 56. He was a huge man well over 300 pounds. He had become overweight as the years progressed. He was not so at the beginning of his ministry. Why he allowed himself to become so huge one can only guess. Could it be that the burdens of the churches weighed heavily on him and/or could it be the disintegration of his marriage? Who knows. Years later when the Rev. Herbert Daughtry became the National Presiding Minister, health became a major part of his ministry and the church's concern. He became a trailblazer, in the spirit of his father, as it relates to issues of health.
Marriage breakup: Surely it must have been a terrible blow for the Bishop to see his family separated. How deep was the cut, only God knows? But it doesn’t take much imagination to visualize and feel, that there was a man who had left the comfort and luxury of his family in Savannah. And bravely endured the complete opposite of what he had known in Savannah. Here was a man who gained wide respect and admiration. Yet his family was falling apart. His wife and children were in Savannah. And he, maybe with one or two of the boys, was in Augusta.
The Reverend Herbert Daughtry recalls his things being shipped back and forth between Savannah and Augusta. And when the family moved northward he was shifted from Brooklyn to Jersey City. While in Savannah, he can recall his father coming to Savannah to see his mother. He can recall his grandmother (on his mother’s side) loudly addressing his father. Who knows the role that grandma Cheatham played in the marriage.
What is a fact, is that the Bishop could not keep his family intact. This is not to say he was to blame or that he did something wrong. The reason is not known now. Those who might know have long gone and the impact that the marriage breakup had on the children, likewise is not known. But surely there must have been a significant influence over the lives of the offspring.
To be continued…