LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 5

 

 

EARLY MOVEMENT IN LOUISIANA

 

 

On Friday before the fourth Sunday in August, 1885, J. S. Sanders, then a young man and member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was in a spirit of prayer for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon himself, as he felt his deep need of such a baptism. He had been converted and joined the church, but now felt his need of a deeper work being wrought in his heart as a power for service for the Master, when suddenly the heavens opened and a mighty baptism with the Holy Ghost fell on him and surging billows of Pentecostal glory swept through his soul until he felt that he would die if the Lord did not stay His hand. This mighty baptism with the Spirit came in direct answer to his prayer, which so completely changed him that he has not been the same man since that day. With this baptism came a definite call to preach, and he, like Paul, “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.”

Up to this time he had never seen a person that claimed to be sanctified, nor heard the doctrine of holiness preached, nor did he know that there was a holiness movement, but he was in it good and plenty now, and began to preach this glorious gospel of full salvation. December 2d of the same year he was licensed to preach by his quarterly conference, and on the 14th day of the same month was assigned the Mooringsport circuit, Shreveport district, Louisiana conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, where he was an itinerant preacher for many years, never missing a roll call at his conference.

His preaching was so different from the Methodist preachers who had preceded him that his people were astonished at his doctrine and the marvelous power that God gave him in the pulpit, while tidal waves of salvation swept over his entire charge, and scores of people were swept into the kingdom. He never tired of preaching repentance to sinners, and urging church members to pray for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit, and yet he had not seen a holiness person until he met Rev. L. L. Pickett, that mighty exponent of the doctrine of entire sanctification, early in the year 1887. There he for the first time heard a sermon on holiness, and you can imagine how his very soul leaped for joy while this mighty man of God poured out the gospel truth, which so bountifully fed his soul. At this meeting Rev. E. B. Galloway, who was then a pastor, got the blessing of holiness and began to preach it, and held a great campmeeting at Downsville, La., where scores of people were saved and many were sanctified. While this campmeeting was in progress, Rev. E. L. Pike, of Columbia, S. C., came by and preached one sermon on holiness, the altar was filled with seekers for holiness, many prayed through, and the whole camp was a blaze of glory.

This same year Rev. L. L. Pickett held a meeting at Farmersville, La., where there were great numbers saved and some sanctified. This was the beginning of the great wave of holiness that swept Louisiana from the Arkansas line to the Gulf of Mexico, out of which came many holiness preachers, and the great campmeetings in Louisiana at Lake Arthur, Ebenezer (Montgomery), the Martha camp, and the holiness school at Hudson, La.

The year of 1888 was a year of mighty victory and power all over Mooringsport circuit, where Rev. J. S. Sanders was pastor. He engaged Rev. J. F. Browning to assist him in some meetings and God gave them a great revival at Mount Zion Church, about twenty miles from Scottsville, Texas, where many were saved and sanctified. In August of the same year they held some meetings in northern Louisiana near the Arkansas line, and a mighty tidal wave of holiness swept over that part of the state.

In October, 1888, Rev. J. F. Browning and Rev. E. G. Musser, of Georgia, assisted Pastor Sanders in some meetings on his charge, and hundreds of souls swept into the kingdom and many were sanctified wholly. Great power attended these meetings, and many people fell under the power of God and lay unconscious for hours, to come through shouting the praises of God, and go out after others. These were days of mighty power and victory, and a wave of holiness like a cyclone swept through the state, and hundreds of people were saved and sanctified, and many preachers got the blessing and began to preach it, and the holy fire spread in their churches. This raised a stubborn opposition among unsanctified preachers and a hot fight broke out; presiding elders and bishops combined to stamp holiness out, but “the more they oppressed them the more they grew and multiplied,” until the whole state was a scene of battle for holiness.

In 1890, Rev. J. S. Sanders was sent to North Bossier circuit, and again God was with him and poured out His Spirit on him and his work, until the entire circuit was a flame of revival fire. He was assisted this time by Rev. W. W. Tucker, of Scottsville, Texas. Mrs. J. S. Sanders, the wife of the pastor, and Rev. W. W. Tucker held a great meeting that year at Farmersville and established holiness there. In 1901, and in 1902 they had another great meeting with Rev. C. W. Staples, the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at Jonesboro on the Mississippi River. Such a revival was seldom seen in that country, and people still talk of the revival of 1902. The same year Rev. J. S. Sanders conducted another great holiness meeting at Delhi, which was also in the swamps of the Mississippi, that surpassed anything that had been in former years, and the results of it remain to this day.

In 1894, Rev. J. L. Morrill, an evangelist from Cartersville, Ga., came to Louisiana at the invitation of the people, and held meetings which swept the country for holiness. In these meetings Rev. W. T. Curry, a pastor in the Methodist Church, was sanctified, also Rev. R. P. Howell, another Methodist pastor, and Rev. W. C. Mann. The same year Rev. R. P. Howell called Rev. J. L. Morrill for a meeting and they established the Lake Arthur campmeeting, which is still holding annual campmeetings, where thousands of souls have been blessed.

In 1895 the Ebenezer (Montgomery) camp was established by Rev. W. T. Curry, pastor, Rev. J. L. Morrill, and Dr. W. B. Godbey. These great camps became the centers of attraction for miles in every direction as holiness centers; even in other states they were heard of as such, and hundreds of people were saved and sanctified in these great camps, where the greatest preachers in the movement have led the hosts to victory.

In the Ebenezer camp Mrs. M. Z. Walker was sanctified and invited Rev. J. L. Morrill to hold a meeting in the courthouse in Homer, La., her home town. This was a hard fought battle, but God gave the victory and many found God. The Spring Lake camp was established in 1895 as a result of the Homer meeting; and their first campmeeting was conducted by Rev. J. S. Sanders, Mrs. E. J. Rutherford (now Mrs. E. J. Malone), Dr. Godbey, and Rev. J. L. Morrill. From these great camps holiness meetings sprang up in every direction and many preachers were sanctified and others called to the ministry of full salvation.

In 1894 Rev. J. S. Sanders was sent to the Opelousa country, populated with French, who have been there since the country was settled by the French before it became a part of the United States. He was sent there by his conference to cool his ardor as a holiness preacher. This was the way they had of starving holiness preachers out, or effecting a compromise. But this would not work on Rev. J. S. Sanders, although he preached a whole year before he saw his first soul saved, but he was rewarded by a veritable landslide of salvation before the four years that he stayed was out, and hundreds were converted and many sanctified. People who could not speak one word of English, nor understand a sentence that the holiness preacher said, would run to the altar and pray through in French, and then get up and testify in the same language while their own people would break down and rush to the altar. They would clap their hands and shout just like all the rest, and the work abides there today.

In 1895 Rev. J. S. Sanders held the first holiness meeting in Crowley, La., where God broke through in a different way from what the people there were used to, for they had never heard any one shout, and when they did pray through and shout the victory, the town people were terribly excited and supposed that they had lost their minds.

These were indeed great days of victory and power, and we would see the same now if the people would pay the price in fasting and prayer, as they did then, and were not afraid of just a little persecution.

While Rev. J. S. Sanders was pastor at Many, La., he engaged Rev. J. L. Merrill and a singer for a meeting, and the indignation among holiness fighters ran so high that the sheriff went home with the preachers to keep them from being mobbed. They were threatened in many ways, and much talk of mobs and stale eggs was heard, but our God broke in at last, and the fire fell, and many of those composing the mobs were convicted and confessed out, and begged pardon, and ran to the altar and got saved. Greater work was never known than was then in progress in Louisiana.

This work began in Many, the parish seat, and spread out all over the entire parish, until hundreds were saved and sanctified.

Out of this work came Rev. Roy T. Williams, who afterward became the president of the Texas Holiness University at Peniel, Texas, now one of the General Superintendents of the Pentecostal Nazarene church, and his sister, Miss Florence Williams, who for years has been a holiness missionary to India.

In 1896 the Marthaville camp was established, the first meetings being held by Rev. R. L. Averill, Rev. Ben Hines, and Rev. Mr. McKnight.

For many years the holiness movement in Louisiana was Independent, and scattered in several of the churches, but many of the people found homes in the Methodist Protestant Church, where most of the preachers in the Louisiana conference were sanctified men.

Early in 1911 some preachers of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene were holding meetings among the Methodist Protestant people in Louisiana, and overtures were made for a union of all of the Methodist Protestant churches in that conference with the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, and a commission was appointed by the Methodist Protestant people consisting of Rev. J. W. Leckle, Rev. Mr. Gaar, and another whose name I do not recall.

The Pentecostal Nazarene church appointed Rev. W. F. Dallas, Rev. C. B. Jernigan, C. A. McConnell, and Rev. Roy T. Williams as a like commission to meet at the General Assembly of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene at Nashville, Tenn. Here they met and discussed matters for several days but no agreement was entered into as to the union of the Methodist Protestant conference in a body, but they came in as individuals in many instances, until there are now ten Pentecostal Nazarene churches in the Louisiana District.