LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 8

 

 

CLUCK-FARMER BAND

 

 

Among the most efficient workers of the early days of the holiness movement in Texas was a band composed of Rev. C. C. Cluck, Rev. I. D. Farmer, and Cass and Flora Walker. Cass Walker and wife were not preachers, but humble laymen who sold out their earthly possessions and purchased a big gospel tent and secured Cluck and Farmer, two young men, and Mrs. Mary Cluck, as organist, and began a campaign in eastern Texas.

At a meeting near Lamasco, Texas, in 1899, held by Rev. A. G. Jeffries, C. C. Cluck was gloriously sanctified, and the next year began preaching in these tent meetings with Brother and Sister Walker. In 1900 they opened a meeting in New Boston, which was a great success. At this meeting I. D. Farmer was sanctified and called to preach. He was a splendid singer and altar worker, and at once joined the band, afterward known as the Cluck-Farmer Band, and for six months these all worked together, and God gave them four hundred souls converted or sanctified. About this time Cluck and Farmer bought them a gospel tent, and Brother and Sister Walker returned west with their tent. This left the band composed of Rev. C. C. Cluck and wife (Mrs. Mary Cluck), and Rev. I. D. Farmer, and whatever help they could secure as other workers were sanctified and called.

None of these was a licensed preacher, as they got the blessing when nearly all the old-line churches were fighting the second blessing with all their might, and would not have granted them license if they had applied. But the call of God was on them, as will be seen. Neither of these had a common school education. Brother Cluck could not read his lesson in good English, but God had His hand on him and he preached like a bishop, and “spake as one having authority.” He wept and cried over lost men until the long altar bench was filled each night with hungry-hearted seekers who wept their way to Calvary, and came through shouting the praises of God. Ofttimes they would fill the altar twice in one night’s service. No preachers in eastern Texas ever had greater results than the Cluck-Farmer Band.

After securing the new tent they held meetings winter and summer. There was an abundance of wood, with which the people freely supplied them, and two big heating stoves were secured and pipes ran out at the sides of the tent, while the curtains were well staked down. This made it quite comfortable under the tent, even when there was snow on the ground.

In the two years’ work in eastern Texas there were 1,800 professions of conversion, reclamation, or sanctification. A veritable Pentecost swept through the country as they went from one neighborhood to another, while the new converts from one meeting would follow them to the next, rendering great service with their testimonies to holiness, and their victorious singing and prayers.

Great crowds would attend these meetings. People would work hard all day and go to meeting at night to hear them sing and shout. Great power was upon the people, and ofttimes while the preacher was preaching people would take the jerks, or fall off their seats into the straw, screaming for mercy, and when the altar call was made they would run to the altar, weeping as they went, and such praying around the altar you seldom hear.

Out of these meetings fifteen preachers were called into the ministry, many of whom are pastors in the Pentecostal Nazarene church today. This kind of work stirred the Devil as it did at Pentecost, and all hell, combined with backslidden preachers in all denominations, was arrayed against these young preachers and their work, and a wild persecution broke out against them, many strange stories being told on them. Some said, “They use hypnotism,” others they have compounded a strange oil that knocks the life out of people. But the more they persecuted them “the more they multiplied and grew.”

 

A PREACHER PRAYED TO DEATH

 

The above was the big headline in the Paris Daily Advocate when the death of a certain Campbellite preacher was announced, who suddenly died after publicly denouncing these “second blessing fanatics.” This preacher was a Greek scholar and a college graduate, and was the pastor of a strong church near where one of these mighty meetings was held. Many of his members were gloriously converted and sanctified. This enraged the pastor and he would attend these meetings and publicly call down these young preachers while they were preaching. He would take advantage of the free testimony services and quote Scripture, and ridicule these ignorant boys for preaching this second blessing heresy. He would tell the people that he was a college graduate, and that he had read the Bible through thirty-six times, and that he had never seen the second blessing even hinted at.

One Sunday afternoon, at one of these testimony services, he was especially enraged, and upbraided these ignorant boys for deluding the people with hypnotism and the black art, and while on his feet announced that on the next Sunday at 11 o’clock he would preach a sermon on Bible holiness at his church, and show from the Scriptures that these boys were heretics and fanatics, and that the second blessing was all a delusion of the Devil.

Sister Walker called the people to prayer, and a spirit of prayer fell on the saints of God, who groaned out their hearts for God to spare them from the hands of this boasting Goliath, and to save the cause of holiness that was so blessing the country. A prayer some what like that in Acts 4:29: “Now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that they may with all boldness speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done in the name of thy holy child Jesus.”

And while they prayed the power of God fell on them, and the preacher arose and left the tent in a rage, charging them with blasphemy. On his way home he was taken very sick and grew worse until Friday night he died, and on Sunday at 11 a. m., the very hour that he was to have preached his sermon on scriptural holiness, his funeral was conducted in his church. A great concourse of people attended his funeral with sad countenances and bowed heads. Among them was Rev. F. W. Johnson, now District Superintendent of the Tennessee District.

“Great fear fell on all the people,” and not a dog moved his tongue against the holiness movement for many days. When crowds would congregate around the towns in that section, and any one even seemed to mock holiness, some sinner would at once remonstrate, “Better look out, remember that Campbellite preacher.” All Red River and Bowie counties were mightily stirred by these great revivals, and thousands of people attended these meetings. Meetings were held at Dalby Springs, Hubbards Chapel, Coleman Springs, Dekalb, New Boston, Cuthand, Box Elder, Clarksville, and many other places during these two years.

 

PEOPLE FELL LIKE DEAD MEN

 

Great power was on the people all these two years and many fell, prostrated under the power of God, and lay unconscious for hours, to come through shouting the praises of God, much like the early days of Methodism in Kentucky, and the great Cumberland Presbyterian revival reported in William McDonald’s history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

At one of these meetings a young married woman came to the altar under deep conviction for holiness. Her people were Baptists and much opposed to this new “heresy,” as they called it, but her heart was so hungry, in spite of all their persuasion, that she sprang to her feet and ran to the altar. No sooner than she went her young husband ran to her mother who promptly took her by the hand and literally dragged her away from the altar. The next night she was at the altar again, praying with all her might that she might be sanctified. This time her husband went to the altar and took her by the hand, and tried to pull her away, but the power of God struck her and she fell lifeless at his feet, unable to move a finger. This so frightened him that he broke down and wept, yet all the time trying to pull her away from the altar, and telling her not to play the fool here in public. In a moment more he was struck by the same power and fell as lifeless as she by her side in the sawdust, there to lie for more than an hour, completely unconscious. Hundreds of people looked on the scene, and a doctor was hurriedly sent in to examine the couple, but he went away shaking his head. The people were amazed and filled with wonder. Soon the young woman came through shouting at the top of her voice, and her husband was soon able to pray and beg God for mercy, which was given him in such abundance that he became an ardent worker in these meetings and led many into the experience of holiness.

 

“HYPNOTISM,” “SANCTIFICATION-OIL,” WAS THE CRY

 

The cry was raised everywhere that these young preachers were hypnotizing the people. Others said, “Not so, but they have compounded a secret chemical,” which they chose to call “sanctification oil,” and it was said that one drop of this falling on your head would knock you senseless, or even the scent of it would cause people to fall under its power. Wild stories filled the air in the neighborhood of these meetings, and people drove for miles to attend them and see the strange phenomenon. The songs caught them, while the sermons drove the truth home, and the testimonies of their friends sealed conviction on hundreds of them who swept into the kingdom of God.

This, of course, enraged the Devil and all his backslidden church allies, and strange stories of “sanctification oil” filled the air. One night lust before service the young preachers were filling their gasoline torches for the night service, and the tent curtains were all down, as it was a damp evening. A family drove up at this juncture, and while the husband tied the team the wife and mother with seven children proceeded to lift the curtain and go into the big gospel tent, which was filled with the fumes of gasoline. The excited mother, smelling the gasoline for the first time, made sure that she had caught the preachers compounding that strange oil. She jerked off her big sunbonnet and fanned the air vigorously, while the screamed at the top of her voice, “Run, children, for your life, run—sanctification Oil! (Sniff, sniff.) Don’t you smell it?” Like scared partridges, she and the children beat a hasty retreat under the canvas, and out into the open air, where they bounded into the wagon, calling on the husband to drive for his life! Many people were afraid to shake hands with these strange preachers, lest they be struck down, but God used all these strange stories to bring people to these meetings for miles in all directions, who heard the Word and got the blessing.

At the Noonday camp in eastern Texas in the year 1898, while Rev. Bud Robinson was in charge of the camp, a young man fell into a trance on Monday and lay in this condition for forty-eight hours. He was seen by hundreds of people, and examined by many physicians, while in this unconscious state. He stuttered until he could be scarcely understood before this, but when he came out of the trance, he preached to the great crowds that thronged him for more than an hour without stuttering one time. He told of his visit to both heaven and hell while in this condition, and of the angel that guided him through. He told of meeting many people who had long ago died in that neighborhood, some he met in heaven, others in hell. He told of a noted holiness fighting preacher, who had recently died in that country, whom he knew well. How he was in the most awful flames in hell, begging for help. He pleaded with this young man to warn his friends not to fight holiness.

The above story was published in full detail in the Texas Holiness Advocate and vouched for by Bud Robinson. This is but a few of the scenes that were witnessed in those pioneer days, when preachers put their whole soul into the work of holiness, regardless of what people would say or do. It reads like the days of the Acts of the Apostles, and if people would go whole-souled into the work of the Lord today as then they would see the same results. Oh, for a modern Pentecost!

Rev. C. C. Cluck is now known in many states as an evangelist, and carries with him the same old-time power and victory, while Rev. I. D. Farmer has served as District Superintendent of the Mississippi District, and is at this writing a pastor in that state.