LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 9

 

 

JEFFRIES-HARTLINE BAND

 

 

No preacher or band of workers ever stirred the country more than the Jeffries-Hartline Band, composed of Rev. A. G. Jeffries and Rev. Sam Hartline. These two men were bound together like Jonathan and David, and throughout Fannin, Hunt, and Lamar counties they conducted some of the most remarkable meetings that were ever held in Texas. Jeffries was a man of some culture, while Hartline had a limited education. These preachers procured a big gospel tent and began the work of evangelizing their own county, moving their tent from one community to another, carrying with them their own living tents in which they and their families lived, camping on the grounds near the gospel tent. The people brought in provisions and they prepared it in their own tents. In fact, it was a portable campmeeting.

Great revivals followed this mode of evangelizing. Hundreds and hundreds were harvested into the kingdom of God. Not only were hundreds saved and sanctified, but dozens and dozens were healed of diseases pronounced by physicians incurable. Truly, the gift of healing was bestowed on Rev. A. G. Jeffries, and he was called to the bedside of many suffering souls and they found truly that “He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17).

In 1896 Brother Jeffries was a steward in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, but was totally devoid of saving grace. In August of that year he attended a revival at McCraw’s Chapel near Honey Grove, Texas, conducted by Revs. Thomas and Lula Rogers, assisted by the famous Hudson Band, and was powerfully reclaimed. Two months later he was wholly sanctified in the city of Bonham, Texas, in a revival conducted by the godly R. L. Averill and Lonnie Rogers, assisted by the Hudson Band. Rev. Mr. Jeffries was then called to the ministry and soon met Rev. S. A. Hartline, who had been recently sanctified at Greenville, Texas, with whom he associated himself for the great work of soul-saving. Thousands on earth today, and thousands in heaven, have reason to thank God for this coalescence. Their first meeting was held under a tent near a schoolhouse known as Lone Elm. This was a wonderful revival. One hundred and twenty-five souls were saved or sanctified. The power of God was so great one night that every soul who did not run from under the tent, fell like they were shot. Sixteen souls, all grown people, lay for hours, and some until daylight the next morning, but all arose shouting. One woman with a baby in her arms started under the tent, staggered and ran back and said to another woman, “You can’t stand up under that tent.” The power of God was so great that people fell in their homes a mile away from the tent.

Their next meeting was held at Dodd City, Texas. Here one hundred souls were saved or sanctified. In those days the people assembled early. Often the tent was full by sunset. In this meeting, one evening about twilight, a man was taken with a congestive chill. His wife was frantic with fear. The man was soon seized with convulsions, whereupon Brother Jeffries cleared the crowd of curious people who had surrounded the man, called the saints to prayer. Brother Jeffries laid his hands on the man and he was instantly healed, leaped to his feet, giving God the glory.

At Hail there was a mighty revival, and ofttimes, while Rev. A. G. Jeffries was preaching, people would fall off their seats, screaming for mercy, especially one night while he was preaching on “The Unpardonable Sin.” The scene was much like that when Jonathan Edwards preached that memorable sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” when it is recorded that five hundred people were converted as the result of that one sermon. The early days of the holiness movement had many such results and similar scenes. If the power of God could unhorse Saul of Tarsus in the Damascus road, and he fall and lie trembling crying, “What wilt thou have me do?” why not some scenes like that now? Has God changed, or have we lost the divine power?

This scene mightily enraged the pastor of the Christian (Campbellite) Church, who had an organization at the schoolhouse near where the tent was pitched, as many of his members were attending the holiness meeting and some had gone to the mourners’ bench and been saved. It came his day to preach at the schoolhouse, and Rev. Mr. Jeffries offered him the tent for his services, which he refused, going into the schoolhouse and preaching a sermon against “This modern heresy of the second blessing,” in which he ridiculed the preacher and called him all sorts of ugly names. This only advertised the meeting the more, and more than 125 people were either saved or sanctified in that meeting.

At St. Joe, Texas, they had a great meeting and a few people were instantly healed. In the town there lived a woman, a Mrs. Offitt, who had suffered with rheumatism for fifty-four years and her arms and hands were so drawn that she had been unable to feed herself for years. She sent for the preachers to come and pray for her healing. They gathered around her and as they prayed and Rev. A. G. Jeffries laid his hands on her and God gave “the prayer of faith,” instantly the power of God came on her and the glory filled the house and she sprang out of her invalid chair, leaping and shouting the praises of God. This caused a mighty stir and hundreds attended the meeting to see the healed woman and to hear the testimony from her own lips. This story was published in The Texas Holiness Advocate, a paper published by Keith and McConnell at Greenville, Texas, at that time, and read by thousands of people.

At Bowie, Texas, a young girl, the daughter of a Mrs. Galloway, was totally deaf, and in answer to the prayer of Rev. Mr. Jeffries was instantly healed and lives today to testify to the healing power of God.

Other meetings followed. Onstodt’s pasture, where Rev. C. C. Cluck was sanctified; Bailey, Oakland, Lamasco, Ivanhoe, Valley Creek, Trenton, and Bonham; at all these places great revivals were held.

The Lord separated Rev. A. G. Jeffries and Rev. Sam Hartline at Trenton, Texas, and called them to work far apart. This was one of the hardest trials of their lives. Their lives were so interwoven and blended together that it was almost like death for them to separate.

Rev. Mr. Hartline went to New Mexico and labored there until 1917, when he was called higher. He died at Artesia, New Mexico, in the triumphs of a living faith.

Rev. A. G. Jeffries held a meeting in 1902 at Bowie, Texas, where 250 souls were saved or sanctified. The Pentecostal Nazarene church now has a lady missionary in India who was saved in this meeting. Several preachers came out of this meeting.

At Comanche, Okla., while Rev. A. G. Jeffries was preaching one Sunday night to a large congregation on “The Unpardonable Sin,” the people began to scream to such an extent that it was impossible for the preacher to be heard, whereupon, the preacher pointed to the altar, which was filled at once, and many found the Lord.

At Eldorado, Okla., one night Rev. Mr. Jeffries was preaching to a sea of faces, the people began falling on the altar until the altar was packed and the aisles were filled with prostrate souls, begging for mercy. There were no altar workers, it being a new place, so Brother Edgar Burkart, the song evangelist, kept the music going while Rev. Mr. Jeffries stood on the altar and cried, “Pray, pray, pray, with all your might.” Twenty-eight souls prayed through without an altar worker.

And what shall I more say of the tens of thousands who have been saved and sanctified, the hundreds who have been healed, the confessions that have been made, of the money that has been restored, the husbands and wives who have been reunited, the children who have been made obedient, and homes that have been blessed? Time would fail me.

Kingdoms fall and dynasties fail, islands rise and mountains sink, fortunes change and fame vanishes, but influence lives on forever.

Rev. A. G. Jeffries now lives at Peniel, Texas, and, though getting old, is still as actively in evangelistic work as he was twenty years ago. He has just finished a year (1918) of great revival work.