LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 25

 

 

CAMPAIGNING IN ARIZONA

 

 

In the fall of 1916 the writer and Rev. D. M. Coulson went to Arizona. My health had failed, I was completely broken down with catarrhal troubles and supposed that the dry atmosphere would benefit me, which it did. Our trip was overland in a Ford car, stopping en route at Hassell, N. M., for a meeting. There we fell in with Rev. L. P. Fretwell and wife, who also went with us in another Ford car. We stopped at Deming, N. M., for another meeting while en route.

The trip was one of the real ups and downs, in more ways than one, the cars gave us constant trouble, and the expense was enormous, sometimes broken down on the desert, thirty miles from any town, and nothing but what we could carry in our cars; crossing bridges with nothing but the framework of the bridge up and a trough for the wheels of the car to run in and no floor at all; sleeping in the sand, dreading the deadly Gila monster, which is said to be one of the most poisonous of all reptiles. At one place we broke down and had to be towed into Tucson, a distance of thirty-five miles.

We arrived at Phoenix on the 16th day of December, went to the post office, found a letter from home, one from the District Superintendent of the Southern California District of which Arizona is a part, and a letter from a man whom we had never seen nor heard of, which contained a $20 bill.

Surely God had moved on him to send it, for we were out of funds, having a little more than a dollar in the entire party. The cost of repairs and upkeep of second-hand Fords was such that our funds were exhausted, and we would pray around the campfires along the way for divine guidance. One night, as we were considering the matter, some one suggested that the Devil had sent us on this trip. Rev. D. M. Coulson promptly responded, “Well, if he did we will make it so hot for him that he will never send us on another.”

We rented rooms and went out to find an opening for a meeting, out of which we hoped to plant a Pentecostal Nazarene church, but we soon found that a Pentecostal Nazarene church was not wanted among the holiness people who lived there. We found holiness people in fourteen different crowds, and none of them strong enough to do much. Every door seemed shut to us. We wrote the District Superintendent that if he could furnish us some home mission money to pay house rent, we would rent a hall and begin something, but he had none.

While in prayer over the condition one day, a knock was heard at the door and Rev. G. F. Saffle, a Pentecostal Nazarene preacher, entered. He was spending his winter in Phoenix for his health. He told us that the Apostolic Holiness Church (the Revivalist people of Cincinnati) had a mission, and a good little school with four teachers, and that they had planned a Christmas convention, and that we were invited to join them in the revival, which we did, preaching several times and God especially honoring each service with souls. The convention was to close on Sunday night, and we were to take the morning service that day. As we entered the church we were met by two leading members and the pastor, telling us that they had written and telegraphed for an evangelist to hold them a meeting but none could be secured, and that they thought the time had come for a revival, and they had prayed that if God wanted us to conduct it to give us at least one soul at that service. We agreed, and at the altar call eleven came to the altar, and nine of them prayed through. The revival swept on and in the two weeks following there were more than sixty souls.

The people began to talk Pentecostal Nazarene Church. Up to this time we had not talked church, only prayed over the matter. At the home of Brother Hess, one of the leading members of the Apostolic Holiness Church, while taking dinner the subject of a Pentecostal Nazarene Church was opened, and it was agreed to put their people to a test at the midweek prayermeeting that week, and when the vote was taken, out of the thirty-two members, thirty-one voted for the Pentecostal Nazarene Church.

The following Sunday a sermon on the “Glorious Church” was preached and at the close an invitation was given for membership in the Pentecostal Nazarene Church. A church was organized with sixty-seven charter members. They soon found that the First Christian Church was for sale, and after a conference they bought the building for $13,000. They were given ninety days in which to raise $6,000, and a mortgage was retained on the church for $7,000, payable in five years. At the end of the ninety days they moved into the church building, which had a Sunday school room built on to the church, 50 x 50 feet, cut up into classrooms, and this was just what was needed for the holiness school that was in progress there.

Rev. Orval Nease was elected pastor. He was their pastor before the organization, and has ably handled the church until now they have over one hundred members. The school was a success and continues with increasing interest.

Other Pentecostal Nazarene churches have since been organized in Arizona; one at Summerton, another at Chandler. Here we found Brother Joe Holly, who was one of the officers of the first annual council of the Church of Christ in Texas, and learned that Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle had already opened the work there some years ago, and effected an organization, but it did not last long. Up to this time there was not a Pentecostal Nazarene church in the state.