LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies   Links

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

A FEW REAL PIONEERS

 

 

Among the leading spirits who dared preach holiness in the early days in the South, when it meant to be ostracized by your church, and lose many of your church friends, and often to be excommunicated from your church, and your name to be cast out as evil, was Dr. Lovic Pierce, whose preaching of this “despositum of Methodism” reached from a period before the Civil War until his death. He wrote that memorable sermon, “Entire Sanctification,” which was read at his conference after he was too feeble to attend. In this sermon he bewails the sad condition of Methodism by saying that when the war broke out 90 per cent of southern Methodism was either in the experience or favorable to it. But at the time of that writing he said that now 75 per cent are either openly opposed or utterly indifferent to this great doctrine.

God has never left himself without a witness, but raised up Dr. Dodge, of Atlanta, Ga., Dr. W. B. Godbey, of Kentucky, Dr. H. C. Morrison, of Louisville, Ky., Hardin Wallace and Rev. W. B. Colt, of Illinois, to bring this great truth to the Southland, and then following them there were literally hundreds of people who obtained the blessing among the ministry of the different churches, and hundreds of laymen on whom the call fell, who immediately left their plow, workshop, or office and swept out into the unexplored forests of humanity and blazed the way, while thousands of others followed, seeking and finding this great boon to their hungry hearts, and with this Pentecostal fire “they went everywhere preaching the word,” until this Dixieland of ours became honeycombed with the teaching of the second blessing people, while under brush arbors, cloth tents, great board-covered tabernacles, and in rented halls, these holiness preachers gathered the hungry-hearted people, and great revivals broke out that far surpassed anything in modern times.

Among these men and women who were the pioneers from the various churches are a few names that are worthy to go on record on these pages, while they with many others whom I never knew will be recorded in the book of life. In Tennessee, Rev. B. F. Haynes, who was for years the editor of the Tennessee Methodist, a paper that stood for old-time Methodism; Rev. Lewis Powell, Rev. J. O. McClurkan, the founder of the Pentecostal Mission, and editor of the Living Water; Rev. Felix Johnson, Rev. R. L. Harris, Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, and others. In Mississippi, Rev. J. N. Whitehead, Rev. W. B. Pinson, Mrs. Mary McGee Snell, and Rev. H. M. Guy. In Arkansas, Rev. J. N. Speakes, Rev. W. F. Dallas, Rev. Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, Rev. Amanda Coulson, and Rev. W. J. Walthall. In Louisiana, Rev. J. S. Sanders, Rev. W. T. Curry. In Texas, Rev. L. L. Pickett, Rev. E. C. DeJernett, Rev. Bud Robinson, Rev. George, Rev. R. A. Thompson, Rev. J. B. McBride, Rev. J. W. Lively, Rev. Mr. Manning, Rev. Ben Hines, Rev. Julian Woodson, Rev. Will Adams, Rev. Dennis Rogers, Rev. Toni Rogers, Rev. A. G. Jeffries, Rev. Sam Hartline, Hudson Band, Cluck-Farmer Band, the Roberts Boys, the Brown Boys, Rev. W. E. Fisher, Rev. W. F. Rutherford, Rev. B. F. Neeley, Rev. James B. Chapman, Rev. C. M. Keith, Rev. C. B. Jernigan, Rev. John Friar, Rev. R. L. Averill, Rev. D. M. Coulson, Rev. Beecher Airhart, Rev. John Stanfield, and Rev. Lonnie Rogers. In the Indian Territory, Rev. W. A. Rodgers, Miss Mattie Mallory, Rev. L. F. Cassler, Rev. J. D. Scott, Rev. and Mrs. U. D. T. Murray, while among the women preachers were Mrs. Mary Hogan, Mrs. E. J. Rutherford, Mrs. Peppers, Miss Lily Snow, Mrs. Annie Fisher, Mrs. Dora Rice, Mrs. Lula Rogers, and many others whose names I can not recall just now, but their names are recorded in the book of life.

These are the men and women of blood and fire, with the real call of God on their hearts, and an experience that burned in their bones till it was “preach holiness or burn.” They had the martyr spirit; they did not ask, “How many are the enemy?” but “Where are they?” They did not question the financial ability of the people, but “Do they need holiness?” They had the Pentecostal experience with Pentecostal results following. They were missionaries, both home and foreign. They formed bands of workers, and if something did not turn up, they went out and turned something up. They went to places where they were not wanted, and stayed until the people thought they could not get along without them. In the summer months they preached under green trees, brush arbors, cloth tents, and schoolhouses. When winter came they rented halls in large towns and did city mission work, visiting in the afternoons, while they stayed in and studied in the mornings. They preached on the streets, in the jails, and wherever they could get a hearing.

These people carried with them the spirit of Elijah in the court of Ahab, and John the Baptist in the palace of Herod. No place was too hard, and no people could terrify them. They preached “holiness or hell,” and God honored such ministry, and great revivals broke out. If the services were not free, they would fast and pray until the “fire fell.” They would sometimes fast for days at a time, but somehow they always had victory. Scarcely a meeting in those days when there were less than one hundred people converted or sanctified, and many times two or three hundred. People often ran screaming to the altar, or sometimes fell like dead men into the straw, and lay for hours, to come through shouting. Like Paul before the Jewish mobs, or Martin Luther before the diet at Worms, or John Wesley beside his father’s tomb, they would proclaim, “The world is my perish.” Nothing short of this will bring results and the preacher who has not reached this place had as well surrender his credentials, and go back to his plow.

Most of these men were born and reared during the hardships of the Civil War and the days of reconstruction that immediately followed. This gave them a prenatal influence, and a rugged training that prepared them for a place as pioneer workers in this great religious reformation that swept the land.

These people were persecuted, misrepresented, and maligned as much as the apostles in their day. They were stoned, pelted with rotten eggs, had their harness cut all to pieces while they preached; their horses’ tails were shaved, and dogs that had “high life” poured on them were turned loose in the church houses while the preacher was preaching. This made the dogs yelp with pain and roll and tumble on the floor, while the boys cried, “Mad dog!”

Sometimes the tent ropes were cut while the service was going on, and on a few occasions the tents were burned after night. It was told on them that they taught “free love” and broke up homes, sometimes running off with other men’s wives; that they were wanted in other counties for theft, until people were afraid to invite them into their homes. It was told on them that they would hypnotize people, when the power of God would fall in the old-time way, until in some parts people were afraid to shake hands with them.

They had to sleep in the straw, under their tents, and live on canned goods when they would go to new places; but none of these things moved them, nor did they hunt down the offenders who started such stories, but went off to their own people and prayed for power to preach the Word in the name of Jesus. Such joy filled their souls, as they sang, and shouted, and prayed, that it attracted people by the hundreds to their meetings, and God gave them the hearts of the people, and great revivals.

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Oh, for a fire baptized ministry who know no fear; whose consecration is not broken, but like the old prophet stand with uplifted hand saying, “Here am I; send me.” Then will we see the results of the early days.

Among other things that were necessary to hold the holiness movement together there must be a means of communication. This need was strongly felt, and the burden fell on Rev. C. M. Keith, who was eminently fitted for the work. In January, 1898, the first issue of the Texas Holiness Advocate was published at Bonham, Texas, with Rev. C. M. Keith, editor, and S. J. Hampton, publisher. In May, the same year, Rev. C. M. Keith took over the sole ownership of the paper and with a mighty fight on financial lines, in which he sacrificed much, he carried on the publication of the paper with the financial assistance of Rev. Beecher Airhart, and Rev. Lonnie Rogers. But for their noble sacrifice he would have been compelled to give up the fight. In November of the same year he moved the place of publication to Greenville, Texas. The struggle was tremendous, but the paper must go, so he struggled on until 1900, when Charles A. McConnell, of Sunset, Texas, consented to give up his secular paper that he was printing there and form a partnership with Brother Keith. This put two strong men at the helm, and the paper ran on with marked success, filling its mission, until in the spring of 1905 a joint stock company was formed, and Rev. B. W. Huckabee became editor. The paper at this time became the official organ of the Holiness Association of Texas.

The name was afterward changed to The Pentecostal Advocate, and continued until the General Assembly at Nashville, 1911, when it and the Holiness Evangel, the official organ of the Holiness Church of Christ, and the Nazarene Messenger, of the Church of the Nazarene, published at Los Angeles, Cal., were merged into the present Herald of Holiness, with Dr. B. F. Haynes, editor, and C. A. McConnell, office editor.