LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 10

 

 

DEJERNETT-JERNIGAN BAND

 

 

Among the bands of workers formed for the preaching of holiness was that of Rev. E. C. DeJernett, who was for eight years a member in full connection with the North Texas conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and most of that time he was secretary of the conference, and C. B. Jernigan, then a lay preacher, and his wife, Mrs. Johnny Jernigan, they having just begun the work of the ministry, but neither of them licensed to preach, as they were Methodists, and the Methodists did not license women to preach; and as the fight was on in real earnest against the second blessing, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, would not at that time license any one to preach who espoused that doctrine.

These three traveled together for two years, until Rev. E. C. DeJernett was called home to found the Texas Holiness University. Rev. B. A. Cordell traveled with them for a short time and added much to the success of the band as an altar worker. Cordell was then a young lay preacher.

This band began work in 1897, at Cooper, Texas, where they had a most wonderful meeting in which about one hundred souls were saved. One remarkable occurrence in the meeting was the sanctification of a splendid company of young people in the choir of the Methodist Protestant Church where the meeting was held. The organist had been to a holiness campmeeting and was sanctified; and one night got happy and began to shout; all of the choir left the platform in a hurry, and never came back until one by one they all were sanctified; then they came back to sing and shout in a way that put conviction on the whole house.

One man got under awful conviction, and was at the altar for several nights, saying that he wanted to be sanctified. He was a very prominent member of one of the leading churches. Every time he tried to pray he could hear some Texas yearlings bawling, and looking at him. He could not sleep. One night after he had prayed very earnestly in the altar he went home, but sleep had left him. He awakened his wife and told her that he had to go to the penitentiary for two years; and that there was no way out of it, as he had violated the law of the state, and the lowest term would be two years, even if he pleaded guilty; and he said, “I must do it or be damned.”

So, early the next morning, he went to his brother and told him what he intended to do, saying, “You will remember when I had that trouble, and bribed the grand jury to keep them from finding a true bill against me.” He had given the foreman of the grand jury three Texas yearling calves to keep him from finding the bill against him. He kissed his wife and children good-by; not expecting to see them again until he came back from the penitentiary.

He told his brother to look after his family until his return, two years later; and mounted his horse and rode off to the county seat to surrender to the officers of the law. He walked into the county attorney’s office and told him the story, saying, “I am here to surrender and take the consequences, but please, for the sake of my wife and children, make the sentence as short as possible.” The prosecuting attorney asked him how long since the crime had been committed. The penitent man said seven years last spring, whereupon the attorney replied, “The statute of limitation makes you free.” The law of Texas was that such crimes were out of date after five years, and no prosecution could follow after that time had expired.

The penitent man said, “But I want to meet the demands of the law. What shall I do?”

The lawyer said, “Go home and keep out of trouble. You are a free man.”

Well, he went down the steps from lawyer’s office two steps at a time, shouting at the top of his voice the praises of God. He galloped away home singing a new song. His wife saw him coming in a gallop, and, fearing the worst, ran out to meet him, weeping as she ran. But when he told the story, they had a jubilee all their own at home, and were soon on their way to the revival, reaching there just as the testimony service started that morning. He took that meeting in; the preacher had to stand aside while he told what God had done for him. Today he is a very prominent business man, and a leader in the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.

This band held meetings at all of the towns in Hunt County, where they lived, except one, believing that they ought to begin at Jerusalem first. Then they went to eastern Texas and held meetings in Mount Pleasant. One Sunday afternoon Mrs. Johnny Jernigan was preaching to women only, when a very wealthy lady arose and told her that if she did really believe that fallen women could be saved, she knew of one of the worst characters in the country, and said, “Now go and try your hand on her.”

The reply was, “Come on, and we will go now.”

She answered, “No, I am a respectable woman and never go to such places.”

A band of workers went and the poor, lost girl was saved, joined the Salvation Army, married, and is now a Pentecostal Nazarene preacher, leading hundreds to Christ.

They held meetings at Hughes Springs, Jefferson, Linden, Atlanta, and Daingerfield, and had about four hundred professions in these meetings. When they arrived at Linden, they went to the courthouse yard for a street meeting, as was their custom. On arriving there they found a large sign tacked on the corner of the courthouse which read as follows: “YELLOW FEVER IS IN LOUISIANA. HOLINESS IS COMING TO LINDEN. GOVERN YOURSELVES ACCORDINGLY.”

That night they held the first service under an arbor built of pine brush, and there were twelve people under the arbor, and they sat on the very back seats. There were twelve or more who stood behind a great oak tree about one hundred yards away. About the same number stood in a cow-pen across the street and looked on. They were really afraid of catching holiness. This meeting ran three full weeks and there were 125 people either saved or sanctified.

The next meeting was at Atlanta, Texas. Here God gave a great meeting and over one hundred souls were blessed. Here they met their Waterloo (?); the whole band had their characters arrested and were charged with “contumacious conduct” because they would not stop the meeting at the call of the pastor and three other preachers who formed a committee and demanded that the meetings close. The full story of their expulsion from the church will be found in the chapter, “Expulsion From the Church.”

Another noteworthy incident occurred in this meeting. A Mrs. Couch, who was a good Christian lady, who lived at Bivins, ten miles south of Atlanta, came to the meetings to get sanctified. Her husband, a drunken log-hauler who worked at a sawmill, came along to see the fun that was incident to a holiness meeting. The first service found Mrs. Couch at the altar, crying to God to be sanctified; soon the “fire fell,” and she arose shouting with all her might. She had on a pair of new kid gloves; when she quit shouting she only had a bit of kid around each wrist; she had clapped her hands until the gloves were split all to pieces.

While she shouted, her husband came to the altar weeping for mercy; he did not pray long until God saved him. A few nights later he was gloriously sanctified. The whiskey was never wanted again, nor the tobacco. He went home, and the hired men that he had employed marveled that he did not swear, drink whiskey, nor chew tobacco. They could not understand all of this. He announced a prayermeeting at his home for Thursday night, when he got up and, through his tears, told what God had done for him. There were three churches in town and not one of them had a pastor. There was not even a prayermeeting in town until this one was started. One of his hired men got saved the first night, then it was decided to have another the next night, and two more men got saved. Then it was decided to send to Atlanta and get a wagon load of holiness people and run on over Sunday, as there were no other services in town. This prayermeeting ran on for three weeks every night; and not a preacher in the crowd. There were ninety persons saved in this prayermeeting. Out of this meeting grew the great Bivins campmeeting. They have had sixteen campmeetings since. They bought an old planing mill shed for a tabernacle, and today there is a good Pentecostal Nazarene church there.

While the meeting in Atlanta was in progress, the band of workers were visited by Grandmother McReynolds, an old lady who from her youth had been a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church with all of her family. Her children had all been sanctified in a previous meeting and had been expelled from the church on that account; but this dear old soul had not yet entered the promised land, and was not excluded from the church with her children, but was still a member in good standing. This terribly affected her, and she sought the band of workers to tell her troubles. She wept with a broken heart as she told how they had all been turned out of the church for getting sanctified; then she wailed out, “And to think I was not good enough to be turned out with them!” She afterward got the blessing and they let her go, too.

In February, 1898, they had a most wonderful meeting in the Baptist church at Blossom, Texas, where Rev. E. C. DeJernett had formerly been pastor. The Methodist church could not be secured for their former pastor, but the Baptist people were more liberal, and the meeting was conducted in their house. This meeting ran five weeks and resulted in two hundred professions. There was much restitution made in this meeting. Some carried home hat ornaments, others tons of hay, others hogs, while others paid their outlawed debts.

Rev. E. C. DeJernett gave up the evangelistic work, and for years was the dean of the faculty of the Texas Holiness University; and is at present superintendent of the Peniel Orphanage, and editor of The Loveletter, published at Peniel; while Rev. C. B. Jernigan continued the evangelistic work for some years, and organized the first Independent Holiness Church, out of which grew the union of the Holiness Church of Christ with the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. He was appointed District Superintendent of Oklahoma and Kansas District, that covered both states.