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Experience and Call to the Ministry PDF Print E-mail
Written by S.N.Redford   

I was born the 20th day of November 1872 in Washington County, Texas. There were only three of us children, two boys and one girl; the little boy older than myself died in infancy. My parents were very poor in this world's goods, and my dear Mother was sickly from my earliest recollections. In my early childhood I remember having very serious thoughts and somehow I felt that God was to be greatly feared. My father was a Primitive Baptist preacher, my mother was a member, too, and I often heard them speak of God as one to be greatly honored and praised. My dear mother often talked to me of Jesus. I remember once she talked to me about the resurrection of Jesus. She told me how wicked men took Him, crucified Him and put Him in the grave; how they rolled a stone at the doer and how, on the third day, He rose from the dead. And she remarked theft the stone was no more in His way than a feather.

This made a great impression on my mind, for I believed all my mother told me. While I could not rejoice in this blessed truth then, I do feel, dear children of God, that the time came when I did rejoice in this truth that Jesus rose a conqueror over death and the grave. My mother has long since been called from this world of sorrow, but she preached to me the truth and I hope I will be enabled to contend for it while I live. I asked her at the time why they killed Him. She told me that He laid down His life; that we were all sinners, and if He had not died and risen again not one could ever reach Heaven. Of course I did not understand this, but I believed it with a natural belief because Mother said so. I never forgot her teachings. She told me the truth, and it will be the truth when all worlds are ablaze.

I remember again she called me to her bedside one day and said to me, "Sammie, if you ever get in trouble, pray to the Lord and He will deliver you out of your trouble." O, my soul, how true this has been with me: He has delivered me out of every trouble I have ever had, but space forbids my telling more of her godly admonitions. At the age of seven, I came home from school one day and ran into the house to tell her how I had succeeded at school that day, and found my dear and precious mother lying dead on the floor, she having died of heart trouble. Although only a child, it seemed my poor heart would burst at the thought that I would speak to her and she did not answer me with her kind and gentle voice. In a few moments I went unto the field where my father was plowing and told him, my little sister having gone to my uncle's a short distance away.

It seemed that it was so intended that I would see her first. It indeed made a deep impression on my mind about my future. I thought I knew what I had lost, but I did not. Now I had to make my way through the heat and cold without Mother. I read somewhere how sorrowful it is to leave mother to take a journey, but that is not like bidding her goodbye forever. But blessed be God, He spared my father to watch over and take care of me, God bless him. He has been a father indeed to me. The next spring, I asked Father to get me a Testament to read. Now I cannot tell you why I wanted to read the Bible any more than you can, unless it was the work of God, for it was a sealed book to me; but the things I read then I have never forgotten.

When I was eleven years of age, my father moved to Llano County, Texas, and as I grew older I began to drift with the world, taking delight in vain and foolish things. The dancing hall was a place of great delight to me until the summer of 1893. I was out one morning alone in the woods when all at once I saw Jesus hanging on the cross flashed into my mind. I had often seen Him pictured on the cross, and it hadn't affected me, but this sight seemed to make me tremble. I did not know what was the matter; I felt like someone was watching me, and just the breaking of a twig alarmed me. I tried to shake off the feeling. I tried the dancing hall; and I am ashamed to say, I tried more wickedness. I tried swearing, but my burden went with me wherever I went.

Sometimes I could not sleep; sometimes I could not keep from shedding tears. Oh, it seemed at times my sins, when they would loom up before me, were enough to damn a whole world. I never had tried to pray to God in earnest in my life. I felt like I ought to pray; I felt I needed something. I remembered my mother has said if I got in trouble to pray. But oh, how proud I was! I did not want to get down on my knees and pray, but Pharisee-like I wanted to humble myself as little as possible; and to my surprise, my cold formal prayers brought no relief. I began in earnest then to try to get religion, as I felt my case was a desperate one.

Time rolled on; I grew more and more distressed. Oh, my soul, if there was a time that I felt to be without hope and God in the world, it was while I was under conviction. Yes, I had got to the place where I could get down on my knees and beg; yes I could prostrate myself in the very dust and beg for mercy, although I felt that I deserved to be damned for my sins. You need not preach to me that the poor, weak sinner can resist the work of the Holy Spirit. I don't believe it. I did everything I knew to do, and, like the poor woman after I had spent all I had on these Arminian physicians, I was no better.

But in the month of July 1894, I was cutting fodder, and it seemed all day that I could not live. Oh, what gloom settled all around me. I was not tit to live, a thousand times less fit to die. In spite of all I could do, I would beg for mercy. I could have asked anyone on earth to pray for me. The very shadow of death seemed to be gathering around everything. Somehow I felt that it was my last day on earth. About sundown that evening, I cut fodder out to the end of the row and stood looking at the setting sun. I felt perhaps it was for the last time in life. In my deep trouble I thought I would try one more time to pray. I fell to the ground saying, "God have mercy on my poor soul." 

At that moment, children of God, the sweetest peace I have ever felt filled my poor soul, instead of a burden. Oh, how happy I felt! It seemed that all the fountains of the deep of God's everlasting love broke loose in my soul. Oh, how I loved Jesus, how precious He was to me! How I loved His people: For the first time in my life, my mind was directed to others. I had been interested in myself alone, but now my mind and love ran out after others. Oh, that poor sinners could know what a dear Saviour I had found! I can never describe what my poor soul felt, how glorious everything appeared, but indeed it was a heavenly place. Yes, I was satisfied with Jesus, and while many sad things have occurred since then and my cross has seemed heavy; dark clouds of doubt and fears have gathered over my head, I can say with the poet,

I never shall forget the day

When Jesus washed my sins away.

S. N. Redford

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.