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Chapter 7






In the ministry of Jesus He sent out His disciples two and two, also He sent out the seventy the same way, two and two. In the Acts of the Apostles we also find the same method of gospel work, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas. At another time it was Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, and Silas and they soon divided into two bands. Much the same conditions prevailed in the early days of the holiness movement. Bands of workers were formed, sometimes two, sometimes many more. These bands usually bought a gospel tent, and often sufficient camp tents for the whole company to live in, and traveled from one neighborhood to another. There would usually be one strong preacher, and a number of young preachers, singers, and workers in general. They would go to a community and erect their gospel tent and stay until something would happen. No ten days’ meeting for them: they always went in for victory, if it took six weeks. They went to plant holiness, and they would stay until their job was completed.

They went to places where they could not find a home, and nobody wanted them, and stayed until the community thought that they could not get along without them. Strange stories followed them, and even went ahead of them, told by the “sons of Belial,” often by tobacco-soaked holiness fighting preachers, who preached a sinning religion, to be repeated by worldly church members. Prominent among these bands of workers, in the early days in Texas, were the Hudson Band, the Roberts Boys, the Brown Boys, the Jeffries-Hartline Band, the Irick Boys, the DeJernett-Jernigan Band, and the Katy Gospel Crew.

Sometimes these bands would double up at great centers, such as campmeetings and in hard places, then such praying and preaching you seldom hear.

Among the very first bands to organize was the Hudson Band, composed of Mother Hudson, Bob and Bluford, her sons, and Oscar Hudson, and his wife, Nettle, (not related to the other Hudsons). This was one of the strongest holiness bands of these early days. These did not always work together, sometimes only the Hudson Band; at others they would be joined by Lonnie Rogers, Luny Ward, John Friar (called Stammering John), or Beecher Airhart. They conducted meetings at Leonard, Bonham, Henrietta, Sunset, Crafton, Chico, Alvord, Paradise, Honey Grove, Paris, Charleston, and many other places; where they had great revivals, sometimes staying as long as eight weeks in one place.

The first campmeeting that they ever attended was at Bates Camp, in Denton County, conducted by Rev. H. L. Averill. This was a treat to them to be in a real, old-time campmeeting. This so fired their hearts that they were determined to preach holiness or die.

In the fall of 1897 they opened a campaign in northwestern Texas that ran on through the winter, spring, and the next summer. Their first meeting was at Paradise, then at Henrietta, and from there they joined Rev. R. L. Averill at Sunset. Here every church door in the town was closed against them, and the preachers opposed them with all their might, but they found a vacant building, and on December 6th they opened the meeting, Rev. R. L. Averill doing the preaching for the first ten days, and then had to go to another meeting, but the Hudson Band continued the meeting, assisted by Rev. L. L. Isaacs. This proved to be the greatest and most lasting meeting of their ministry.

In this meeting more than 150 people were converted or sanctified, among them was Rev. John Stanfield, a Cumberland Presbyterian pastor, who afterward became the first holiness circuit rider in that country; also C. A. McConnell, who was at that time editor of the Sunset Signal, a secular paper printed in Sunset, who afterward became editor of the Texas Holiness Advocate, and later office editor of the Herald of Holiness, and at this writing is Dean of Theology at Peniel College. Also Dr. Harvey, a physician in the town, who became editor of The Texas Holiness Banner, published at Sunset, and the organ of the Northwest Texas Holiness Association. Also Miss Nettle Bellows, who is now the wife of Rev. Oscar Hudson.

During the testimony service, which usually preceded the sermon, while many prominent members of the different churches were telling how they at first opposed the holiness meeting, but now were convinced of the truth, and best of all were now enjoying the fullness of the blessing, shouts of victory rang all through the great warehouse where the meeting was being held. The pastor of the Methodist church, who had refused to allow the holiness meeting in his church, was in attendance that night for the first time. When he saw his most prominent members testifying among the rest, he, like the Pharisees of old, thought, “Perceive ye how we prevail nothing? Behold, the world has gone after them.” He arose and asked permission to speak. He told the people that he also believed in holiness, and that it was a Methodist doctrine, and that he himself was sanctified, but “like a certain bishop in our church, I obtained the experience when I was converted. No matter how we get it. You remember that I preached a sermon on holiness not long ago in my church. Now this old warehouse is no place for a revival, and we are going to move the meeting to the church where it ought to be.”

At this moment the man groaned and swayed backward and fell in a heap on the floor. Pandemonium prevailed for awhile, his wife became frantic, and a young doctor in the congregation was at once called and a hasty examination made, after which he said, “His heart’s action and respiration are normal: I should call it a case of hypnotic catalepsy.”

The preachers understood the matter, as it was nothing but the power of God that had laid him out as it had others in the same meeting. He was stretched out on the floor and the meeting proceeded. After awhile he came to himself and was taken home, and the next day left town until the meeting closed.

Their next meeting was at Park Springs, where a Baptist preacher, whose members had gotten sanctified in the Sunset meeting, stirred up the community by circulating some very damaging reports on the holiness preachers, telling the people how they would hypnotize the people, and preach free-loveism, and that they had broken up families. This made the people of Park Springs afraid of them and they had great difficulty in getting a place to erect their tent. At the close of the first meeting that night the people with one accord left the tent and workers all alone, with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. After awhile an old lady came back to the tent, and said that she could take Mother Hudson home with her. A little later a man came driving back to the tent and said that he could take two of the men with him. When the preachers got into the wagon, the owner of the wagon jumped out and walked home for fear of being hypnotized. This left Oscar and Bluford to sleep in the straw under the tent. And no breakfast until 3 p. m. the next day. This sort of consecration to the work of the Lord brought great results, and that meeting ran four weeks, and resulted in more than one hundred professions.

The great Sunset holiness campmeeting was established as a result of these meetings, and the Northwest Texas Holiness Association, which was merged into the Holiness Association of Texas, then into the Holiness Church of Christ, and later a Pentecostal Nazarene church.

At this writing Rev. Oscar Hudson is pastor of the Pentecostal Nazarene church at Peniel, Texas. Thousands will shout around the throne as a result of these meetings, for which these pioneer preachers suffered and endured hardness. It pays a thousand times, it pays. Oh, for a band in this day who will go out under the stars and plant a vine that will never die.

This band held a meeting at Monkstown with Rev. R. L. Averill, where the preaching provoked such opposition that a mob with shot-guns undertook to break up the meeting and run the preacher out of the country. This resulted in a bodyguard for Rev. R. L. Averill, as no one would allow him to stay at his home without a guard, and a real pitched battle ensued where about seventy-five shots were fired, and one horse was killed, but no one hurt. But in spite of all this God gave them a great revival and many of the opposers were converted, and made confession.

At Lamasco there was another mighty revival, at which Revs. Allie and Solomon Irick were sanctified and called into the ministry. Allie was one of the number who went around the world with Dr. Godbey and the Roberts Boys. Thousands of people were sanctified under their ministry, and scores of people called into the ministry.