LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 14

 

 

SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES BY THE AUTHOR

 

 

GOING OUT UNDER THE STARS

 

I was reared on the frontier of Texas, and have always been a pioneer to the manner born, and loved the thought of “going out under the stars” to do things. Martial music has always stirred me, and I love the front of the battle. I was converted in an old-fashioned Methodist campmeeting, in the early days of Texas; was the first man sanctified on Hunt County soil in Texas, and helped clear away the brush, and put up the tent for the first holiness campmeeting at Greenville.

I was called to preach when I was sanctified, and like the Apostle Paul, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” nor did I confer with flesh and blood, but immediately began to preach the gospel of holiness.

Soon every door was shut against me, and there was no other place to preach save “out under the stars.” We were glad indeed for a place to preach, whether it be in a church, a schoolhouse, a cloth tent, a brush arbor, or under the shade of some friendly oak. “They went everywhere preaching the word.” In those days the preachers had to “turn the world upside down or quit. No one wanted us with our “second blessing” experience, and fire; so it was “blast our way through” or go home. Some blasted their way through and went on preaching, in spite of deriding men and devils, while others compromised, and have never been heard of since.

I well remember a holiness meeting at Blossom, Texas, where Billy White was gloriously sanctified, and in the act got his old sorrel horse, brown mule, and hack on the altar for service, and hauled preachers around, finding schoolhouses and other places for them to preach in. God will reward him. Billy had some kinsmen at Deport, an inland town some twenty miles from Blossom, and he wanted them to hear holiness preached, so he planned to get Dr. Jones, a druggist from Deport, to attend the Blossom meeting. There he became much enthused, and wanted a holiness meeting at Deport, and Billy agreed to bring the preacher over in his hack if Dr. Jones would arrange for a place to hold the meeting, and he, being a steward in the Methodist Church, assured us that he could get the pastor’s consent to hold the meeting in their church. The date set for the meeting was the last of December. But when Brother Jones asked for the church he was refused, and was told that they did not need a “second blessing” meeting in their town. This cooled the ardor of Brother Jones, and he forgot to notify us that there was no place for the meeting. But on the appointed date we went to Blossom, and were driven by Billy White out to Deport through the deep Texas black mud, while a drizzling rain was falling.

On reaching the town we were told that the church had been refused, and that the meeting was all off. This did not satisfy us, as we had prayed through, and had the assurance that God wanted a meeting in Deport. So we at once called on the Methodist pastor and pleaded for the use of his church for the meeting. But he was firm, and told us that he would not allow a “second blessing” meeting in his church. We then hunted up the ruling elders in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and applied for their building, but were promptly refused. We then turned to the deacons of the Baptist Church for their house, and were as flatly turned down. There was only one chance left, and that was to apply for the public schoolhouse. It was Christmas time, and no school going on, but the trustees had entered into the trust, and they in turn did not want a “second blessing” meeting in town.

On our return to our company, Billy White was looking blue, and said, “Three churches and a schoolhouse in town, and turned down flat.” Then he asked what I wanted to do. I told him that I was spoiling to preach, and that it was raining too hard for a street meeting, but if he would ask the merchant who owned the Blue Front store, for the use of his sidewalk under the awning, that I would preach at least one sermon before we left town. He went to see the merchant, who had learned that we had been refused the churches and schoolhouse for our meeting. He said, “I am not a Christian, but you tell that preacher to come on and stand on the counter in my store and preach if he wants to.” We were soon in the midst of a rousing street meeting, and business was practically suspended for the time. Stores were closed, and mills and blacksmith shops deserted, while the crowds gathered to hear this man preach whom the churches did not want. They stood in the rain and listened attentively, and said, “We have never seen it on this fashion.”

While we preached, and God gave the power, a man who lived five miles away came to Billy White and told him that he had never heard anything like this, and he had just killed hogs and had plenty to eat, and two beds in his home that were empty, and that he wanted a holiness meeting there, and that he would take care of the preachers. Just as the meeting was about to close, a Baptist preacher, who had sat on his horse in the rain to hear the sermon, asked to make an announcement. He said that there would be preaching at the Baptist Church that night and over Sunday, and these preachers would be in charge. He would become personally responsible for the use of the church. We thanked him, and that night, while a December rain poured down, a good crowd gathered in the church, and we had a good service. The next day (Sunday) we had three services, with a crowded house, and a real revival broke out. Monday, Brother Cooley and his wife, and my wife, came down from Blossom to assist us. We went to the only hotel in the town and secured board for the four, as there was not a home in town where we could stay. We frankly told the hotel keeper that we had no money, but that if the people did not give us money enough to pay our board, that we would remain over after the meeting and cut wood until the bill was paid. He agreed.

The meeting ran through the first week with great victory, and many were blessed. While holding another street meeting, the next Saturday, we were accosted by a deacon in the church, who had not been consulted about the meeting, and were informed that we must close the meeting the next night (Sunday). We went to our room, and called the workers together, and agreed to tell no man, but prayed that God would open the way for the meeting to continue. The next morning we were informed by the board of elders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, that we were welcome to the use of their church as long as we wanted it.

That day many were sanctified, and among them was the clerk of the Baptist Church, and his wife, and two of his daughters. At the close of the afternoon meeting this church clerk arose and asked permission to speak. He explained that he was clerk of the church, and that Baptists did things by majority vote, and that he wanted the meeting to go on. He then asked how many Baptists there were present, and forty-eight stood up. Then he took the vote for the meeting to continue, and forty-seven stood this time. Then he turned to me and said, “The house is yours as long as you want it.”

The meeting continued all the next week, and more than one hundred persons were either converted or sanctified. Out of that meeting Miss Gertrude Smith went as a missionary to Cuba, under the auspices of the Nashville Pentecostal Mission work, and three men were called to preach, who are preaching today. A Pentecostal Nazarene Church has been organized. When the meeting was over, we were given $100 by the people of the town. We offered to settle with the hotel keeper, but he refused to take a penny for board, and handed my wife $5 for her personal use.

Oh, brother, let us return to pioneer days and ways, and go to places where they do not want us, and stay until they think they can not get along without us, and plant things for God. There is plenty of room “out under the stars.” Do not wait for a call; God gave you that. If we had the men who have the real baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, we could burn our way through anywhere, and plant Pentecostal Nazarene Churches all over this country. All that we need is a man full of the Holy Ghost and faith.

 

REVIVAL AT PINHOOK SCHOOLHOUSE

 

In the year of 1897 a pioneer preacher held many meetings in northern Texas, in Lamar and other counties. These meetings were mostly in schoolhouses and under brush arbors, going from one neighborhood to another, and staying till victory came. As a result scores of people swept into the experience of entire sanctification. During this period a meeting was held at Pinhook schoolhouse near Woodland in the northern part of Lamar County.

Woodland was an inland town, away from any railroad, and was composed of four stores, a cotton gin and corn mill, a blacksmith shop, a drug store, and a doctor’s office. The meeting at Pinhook had not been well advertised, so the evangelist decided to go over to Woodland on Saturday and hold a street meeting. The farmer in whose home the preacher stayed drove him over to Woodland in the afternoon, and the wagon was stopped in the street with two stores on each side. The preacher threw off his hat and began a lively holiness song. This was something new for the backwoods town, for never had there been a street meeting held there. The cotton gin was shut down, and people left the blacksmith shop and ran to the singing with curiosity high.

As they gathered they began to guess what all this meant. One said, “Yes, I know him; he is a soap peddler. I saw him in Paris on the street selling soap.” After a few lively songs and the crowd had all gathered, the preacher replied, “Yes, you have guessed it right, I have often been on the streets of Paris in the same business that called me here. You have guessed it right. I am representing the most wonderful soap that was ever made. You have often heard of the soap that would clean anything but a man’s conscience? Well, I’ll go you one better. I represent a soap that will actually cleanse the last spot from a man’s conscience.” Then he pulled his Bible out of his grip and read, “He is like refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2), and from that text preached to them the first holiness sermon that they had ever heard. They listened attentively, and that night the schoolhouse was packed with people, and a real revival broke out and dozens of people were converted and many sanctified. The power of God swept through the community and often people fell at the altar like dead, until the cry of hypnotism was heard long and loud. Many folks were actually afraid to so much as shake hands with the preacher lest they be hypnotized.

The meeting ran at high tide for three full weeks, and the coming Sunday was the regular day for the Baptist pastor to preach at 11 o’clock at this schoolhouse. He had a church organized there, and many of his members were getting sanctified, so he was on hand ready to save his people from this new heresy that was sweeping the country. He was introduced to the holiness preacher on his arrival, who said, “I suppose this is your day to preach.” He replied, “Yes, I came here to preach.” The holiness preacher said, “Take charge, and call on us for anything that you want, to preach, sing, or pray.”

There was a folding organ on the platform that had been used in the meetings, and the Baptist preacher looked at it, and then at the evangelist, and said, “May I shut this thing up? I don’t want Aaron’s calf bawling around me.” Permission was given, and the organ was promptly closed. Then he turned to the evangelist and said, “You said you would do anything that I asked; will you please sing ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound’?”

This same man was pastor of another Baptist church at Red Oak schoolhouse, about twelve miles away, where the same evangelist had recently held a meeting and many of his best members were gloriously sanctified. Just following this meeting, at his regular appointment at Red Oak, he called for a hymn book at the opening of his service, and a copy of “Tears and Triumphs, No. 2,” was handed him. A deacon pulled his coat and told him that it was a second blessing song book. He promptly returned it to the owner, saying, “I have no use for this jig music. Will some brother please raise the tune to ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound’?”

Of course, all this had been told the evangelist, and when the call came for the same song, it came quickly into memory. The evangelist replied, “Sure we will. Thank God for that grand old hymn.” Whereupon he arose and turned his back to the Baptist preacher and called out hymn number four, which was “Amazing Grace” to a new tune with a grand hallelujah chorus. The people had been singing it for three weeks during the revival, and all arose and such singing one seldom hears. It was truly God-inspired for the occasion. The chorus was often repeated, and the shouts of praise rang out often while the song was sung. The preacher stood with bowed head until the last strain had died away. Then he called to prayer and prayed a prayer so dry that one could almost knock dust out of it with a board. At the close of the prayer he took his seat, staring vacantly about the house. The evangelist asked, “Shall we sing another song?” He quickly replied, “No, that will do.” Then he arose and announced his text, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

For exactly eighteen minutes he cleared his throat and repeated his text, pulled his hair and tried to find something to say. But God had confounded him in the presence of his enemies and he could not preach. Finally he said that his throat hurt him and he would have to close. So he sat down. A Brother Ferguson, in whose home the evangelist stayed, arose and asked his permission to take an offering for the evangelist, which was granted, and as he began to make his speech a man with a gruff voice away out in the congregation arose and said, “I drove ten miles this morning to hear a sermon on holiness. I never heard one in all my life. I can shake a bush and get a Baptist preacher any day, but I have brought my family to hear a sermon on holiness. I have some money to give, but not till I hear the sermon.” One after another, like requests were made, whereupon the Baptist preacher said, “Well, preach if you want to.”

No sooner was this said than the evangelist was on his feet and announced that the text could be found in 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you.” God gave the message red-hot for forty-five minutes, and the usual altar call was made. Sixteen kneeled at the bench and such praying you have never heard, unless you have attended one of the old-fashioned holiness revivals. The Baptist preacher slipped out while they were praying, and never came to preach there again.

Oh, brother, be true to God and He will bring you out more than conqueror. He has said that when your enemies come against you one way that He will put them to confusion and scatter them seven ways. “One man of you shall chase a thousand.” “Thanks be unto God that always causeth us to triumph.”

 

BEAT RELIGION INTO HIM

 

While in a revival in Collin County, Texas, staying in the home of Bud Gleaves, one of the pioneers of holiness, we were informed that a crowd of wicked boys, whose parents were much opposed to holiness, had conspired to annoy the preachers that night by one at a time coming up and giving their hands for prayer during the altar call, but none of them were to kneel at the altar.

Bud told the preacher that they would beat them at their own game, and if he would catch the first boy by the hand and hold him and get him on his knees, that he would fall on his knees behind him and begin to pray with all his might, and beat the boy in the back until he would not want to annoy another preacher. It was agreed; and sure enough at the first call here came a tall fellow with cowboy spurs on his boots, and a big white cowboy hat in his hands. The other boys began to laugh as he walked down the aisle with his spur bells jingling. Bud Gleaves saw him coming and he walked over to where he was, and stood on one side of him; while Sister Jernigan stood on the other side. The preacher took him by the hand, telling him that they had been praying for him, and that they expected him to come that night, and “Thank God you are here.” At the same time pulling him down on his knees, with Gleaves on one side and Sister Jernigan on the other, all pulling him down. He reluctantly knelt, the people looked on in amazement to see that fellow at the altar. As he kneeled, Bud Gleaves fell in behind him praying at the top of his voice, for God to save this man, all the while beating him in the back with all his might with both fists. This was too much for the young man, the preacher holding him, while the saints all gathered round and all praying, not knowing what had been planned. He soon pulled loose from the preacher and made his way through the throng, out into the darkness, while his companions followed him laughing. The rebuff of his sinful companions stung his very nature, and that night he did not sleep, but came the next night to the altar and was really saved.

 

A PAINFUL SILENCE

 

At a campmeeting held at Dalby Springs, by Rev. C. C. Cluck, Rev. C. B. Jernigan, and Rev. I. D. Farmer, some things occurred out of the ordinary, that are worthy of recording. This was in the region where Cluck and Farmer had held some most wonderful revivals. The power of God came in a marvelous way on a Sunday night service that will never be forgotten by those present. It had been a day of special prayer and fasting. At the grove meetings there was great victory, and several saved, both at the men’s service and at the service held for the women. Without taking time for supper, they all with one accord came just before sundown to the gospel tent for night service. Such shouting and singing as filled the air was refreshing. The testimony service ran a long time with great power and glory. When time for preaching had arrived, the tent was overflowing, and hundreds of people had to stand outside the tent. The preacher of the evening read a Scripture lesson on “The Great Day of Judgment,” and called to prayer, and such a prayer as fell from the lips of Sister Jernigan was surely God-breathed. You could hear sobs all over the congregation. When prayer ended Cornelius Spell (the song leader) was standing on the long altar bench singing, “When the books are opened by the Savior’s hand.” Such silence as prevailed was awful. At the close of the song the preacher announced his text, “The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Then he stood looking into the congregation in absolute silence for several minutes. Words were gone. He could think of nothing to say. You could have heard a pin drop during that time, the silence became painful, but still no one moved. That great congregation of two thousand people stood and sat in perfect silence, and not a hand moved, nor a sound was heard. When all of a sudden a woman who had been professing holiness shrieked and fell from her chair into the straw, declaring that she was not ready for the judgment, and in less time than it takes to write this, people fell into the altar without a song, sermon, or a call, until there was no more room at the altar, and scores kneeled at their seats praying at the very top of their voices. The scene beggars all description. The writer has never witnessed anything like it in all his ministry. Praying and shouting continued till far into the morning and there were fifty-seven who testified to being saved in that one service.

While this camp was in progress there was much rain, and the gospel tent had to be moved to higher ground. While they were taking down and resetting the tent, they were invited to hold services in the Methodist church nearby. Rev. Sam Hartline was the preacher of the hour. He was a small man, and very enthusiastic. His collections that summer had been small, and his clothes, especially his trousers, were about four numbers too large for him, and while he preached and the fire was burning, he leaped for joy, and, lo, his suspenders broke, and his trousers began to slip down. He saw his predicament, he backed up to Brother Cluck, who was sitting in the pulpit behind him, holding his trousers up and said, “Fix my breeches, I haven’t got time.” The suspenders were fixed and the service proceeded.