Doyle remembers his grandfather well. He was about 5’8” and with much physical strength—an honest, no-nonsense kind of person but he had tolerance and compassion for those who were weak and he had a heart for the poor.
Luther had his own business as a dirt mover, building roads, straightening creeks, building dams and no job was too difficult. He owned fifty head of draft horses and was an excellent horseman. Raised a Northern Methodist, he was born again about 1924, at the age of fifty, along with his entire household. His daughter Neva went to a meeting and was born again and she shared her experience with her family. Luther and his entire house were saved and a change came to the Davidsons—they met the Lord. At that time he was doing road construction on a section of U.S.-66 in the area of Rolla, Missouri and he employed his sons and others and after he was born again, he said to his family and the crew, “After we’re finished with this section, we’re going home.” Doyle understands that Luther didn’t believe he could continue to do business the way they had been. “I assume the bidding process for government contracts required things that he didn’t feel he could be a part of any longer.”
It was over a hundred miles from Rolla to Sarcoxie and that had to be a sight to see coming across the Missouri prairie, fifty draft horses pulling wagons and equipment. Luther continued in the business, working locally building dams and levees and roads. There was never a lack of work and he kept all his sons busy and they went on to be successful in their own business endeavors.
Soon after Luther was born again, he and his sons and others built Redwood Church. Doyle’s cousin Wayne Davidson was there and shared how they went to the timber, cut the logs, hauled them to the saw mill and built the church and the church is still there today. Doyle grew up attending the church there with his family and he remembers they would sometimes have crowds of two hundred-plus people until after the war started:
“There was no air conditioning and in the summertime they would open the windows and people would sit outside on the fenders of their cars and listen, some of them never came inside the church. During the depression, it was especially so. Granddad was not a pastor or preacher but he was a quiet influence at Redwood Church. He was a sober, level headed person, and he didn’t care for displays of emotion, though he was tolerant of others, especially those who he considered weaker. He always sat on a pew on the south side of the platform and people would at times give testimonials about what God had done in their lives. Sometimes they would get emotional and I saw more than once, Granddad would get up and walk back and forth on that platform and sing: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” and after a few minutes, everyone one would calm down and the place would become steady again. I know now Granddad used his faith to rule in that place.”
The church would at times have guest ministers come in and Doyle remembers two who seemed different than other preachers. One was Levi Burkhart and another was Elliot Hodge. Levi had a very methodical delivery with a lot of scriptures and he spoke at length about the creation and the stars in heaven and the heavenlies and he ministered that to Doyle. He opened every sermon with, “I need the prayers of all God’s people.” The preacher at Redwood said Burkhart spent time at his house and he always had his bible with him, usually opened on his lap when he was there which made an impression on Doyle.
Doyle heard Elliot Hodge speak two or three times. Hodge has a tremendous testimony about his life, A Short Sketch of My Life, by Elliot Hodge and in it he tells of a time he was in the hospital and not expected to live, people were called in to pray and about fifteen people, including Doyle’s Aunt Neva (Davidson) Dodson, were allowed to come in and lay hands on him and pray. Hodge began to get better, though the doctors wanted to give him a blood transfusion.
Luther Davidson and his son Floyd came a few days later and one of the two gave blood for Hodge’s transfusion. Hodge said during the transfusion, “Brother Davidson, this makes us blood relation.”
Doyle has mentioned his grandfather’s faith often and the following is a testimony of Luther’s faith and the faith that he ministered to his family, even his grandchildren:
“When I was five years old, my mother became sick and they thought she was going to die. No one knew what was wrong with her, but she couldn’t get her breath. (Now I know it was demons.) She was sick for weeks. At that time, Granddad could delegate his work to his sons and others; he didn’t have to be on the job every day. He came to the house every day for two weeks and prayed when Mother was sick. One day when he came, he called me and my sisters together and sat us down to talk to us. He told us, ‘You know there was a lady who lived down south from here who was sick and they thought she was going to die and this woman had three kids. One day those kids got together by her bed and prayed, and they told God, ‘God if you don’t do something for our mother, we’re going to have to take her to the cemetery.’ God healed those kids’ mother.’
Only God knows how hard my heart was. I would give you anything I had to help you, but I didn’t want to talk about God. As I listened to Granddad, I didn’t know what to think. My heart was so hard and I didn’t want anyone to know I prayed, but this was my mother. After I heard the testimony that Granddad shared with us, I thought maybe it was time to pray. Dorothy, Betty and I, along with my Granddad all kneeled down beside her bed and prayed. I don’t recall my prayer, I probably reminded God about those three kids Granddad had told us about. Mother began to get better, immediately. I know now, my Granddad and we three kids joined our faith and God honored that prayer.”
Luther died in 1946:
“He had just finished supper and walked outside, sat down in his chair on the porch and went to heaven.”
Kenneth Jackson had recently purchased Englage’s Mortuary at the time of Luther’s death and Kenneth asked Roland Englage and his mother to help him with Luther’s funeral and they did. They held it at Redwood Church, the church he built and it was estimated about 400 people attended. “The building was full, the yard was full; people came for miles to pay their respects to my Granddad.” Simple, honest and hardworking, he too had earned the respect of those who knew him.
Sources: A Short Sketch of My Life, by Elliot Hodge; Doyle Davidson-Water of Life Ministries.