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Incidents of My Ministerial Life PDF Print E-mail
Written by S.N. Redford   

The Banner of Love--February 1947

    I distinctly remember some incidents that occurred with me the first little preaching tour I made not long after I was ordained. I have served churches ever since I was ordained, but every now and then I would have strong impressions to visit other sections, so much so, that I have visited among the saints in seventeen states in the Union. I have tried to preach the gospel from coast to coast. I would not say the Lord was in all my going, but will say this: My going among them was worth much to me and I never meddled with strife that did not belong to me. In all my preaching and writing, I have never been call out in question about my doctrinal sentiment set forth. But back to my first tour: I had an impression to visit South Texas, but I felt too poor and little to ask for  appointments. The Friendship Association met at Paige, Bastrop County and the brethren of Providence Association generally attended and I told my wife to put me in a change of clothes and if they invited me over there, I would go. I begged the Lord, if it was right for me to go to open up the way and when I arrived on the ground they began to insist that I go home with them, of course I readily agreed. They were all strangers to me but the first day at the meeting there was an afflicted sister there and they drove the hack up near the stand where she saw me. She told her husband that is the man I saw in my dream, and when they told me about it I could not help but weep. God had given me a little evidence. She has long since passed on, but I have never forgotten that happy day. Another thing old Brother Aran Jeffrey called me off and gave me two dollars and said you can't go and preach at your own expense and it is our duty to help you. I did not want to take it but he insisted. This was the first penny I received and I felt humiliated. I felt my preaching was so poor it was hardly fit to give away much less to charge for it. And most of my ministerial life, I have felt that way.

    Elder Culpepper and I made our way to the Little Flock Association. These people were all strangers to me. There were quite a few preachers there and it seemed when they looked at me they could look through me. They put me up to preach one night and I was scared and wished I was at home, the truth was I could not preach. Oh, how humiliated I was. I only had one consolation, they would not put me up again. Elder William Guess met me the next morning and said, "Good morning, Buddy, what are you doing over here trying to preach."  I was already nearly dead and that finished me.  But, to my surprise, they me up again. Now what must I do? I rambled off down the river to a lonely spot and poured out my petition to God. I did not want to be a big Preacher then. I just wanted enough liberty to convince them that I had a gift. The Lord was good to me. I felt when I commenced talking, a Holy Boldness. Some of them began shouting. Old Brother A. V. Atkins took me in his arms, thus ended my first preaching tour. A gift will make room for itself and bring us before great men. So, dear young preacher, don't take it to heart too much if you are shut up in darkness. It is good for us sometimes. It drives us to our knees in prayer.

    In my youthful days, I visited again in South Texas during Elder J. M. Baker's lifetime and visited his church. I preached the best I could the first day. It seemed so easy to preach after I got through, He told the people they had all heard of me, but he said I knew He could not preach the gospel unless the Lord was with him, and I got down on my knees in my barn before I left home and begged the Lord to bless Him. This was great joy to  me that God would put it in the heart of His servant to pray for poor me and so many times as the years have gone by, I would have given anything to just know some of God's children were praying for me. Elder Baker told me he wanted me to go home with him and I went. He talked all the evening. He told me of a circumstance that happened when he was young. There was a three days meeting to be held some distance from him and that part of Texas was thinly settled. He said but he thought he had to be there or they could not have a good meeting. So he started out horse back, finally night overtook him and he realized he was lost. He rode all night and early next morning he rode up to a house to inquire his way and a woman came to the door and behold it was his wife. He did not know his own home and he said, "ever since that I have realized the Old Baptists can have a good meeting whether I get there or not." Now this was intended for me and I knew it, but he told it in such a fatherly way, I did not get hurt at him. It was for my good. He has long ago gone to his rest, but I never forgot it.

    Young preachers can't go wrong in sitting at the feet of an old servant and let him instruct him. He has gone down the road farther than the young one. Yes, I know the Old Baptists can get along without me. They got along without me before I was born and they will get along without me when I am dead and gone.

    But every now and then a young Saul arises among the Old Baptists that is head and shoulders above any in Israel. He knows more than all the old servants of God. No matter with him how much the sheep bleat or how much the old oxen low and groan. How sad will be his end. Like Saul of old he will sooner or later fall on his own sword.

    On this same tour I met Old Elder DuBose and he offered to take me in big buggy to my appointments. I did not know it at the time, but he wanted to talk to me. As we traveled along, he trained to me and said very abruptly "How do you make your living." I told him that I was a two by four farmer. He said, "I thought maybe you expected the Baptists to keep you up." I told him I did  not have that much confidence in them. I was 1ooking to the Lord for support. That seemed to satisfy him.
    He is the only Old Baptist preacher I ever knew that the burden of preaching was removed. He said he asked the Lord to remove it, and He did. Thus, ended the tour.

Not long after I was ordained, I was called upon to assist in the organization of a church at Brady, Texas. Brother J. J. Edwards was called as pastor, but in a few years the church went down. There used to be a church at Katemcy, Mason County, one at Lone Grove and Field Creek, Llano County, one at Cherokee, San Saba County, and other places where God's people met together and worshipped Him. But alas! They meet no more. There is a cause for the decline of churches. I have said that if God's people would do their duty, their churches would not die. I know He told one church "Behold I have set before you an open door which no man can shut.""

But back to my tour among Elder Edwards' churches. I had an appointment at one of his churches in the week time, and I was sitting in the stand selecting some scripture to read, when a brother a brother slipped into the stand and whispered to Brother Edwards, "I want you to preach today," and I overheard him. I closed my Bible and thought if he had no more respect for a visiting preacher than that, I would let his pastor preach but after a few moments I thought, "This is my appointment, and if the brother does not want to hear me preach, he can go home." I went ahead and did the best I could, and at the close he came up and gave me his hand and gave me a pressing invitation to come back. I never did tell Brother Edwards about it, and reflecting over the matter, I excused the brother. Perhaps he had come from a distance and wanted to hear some preaching, and from the prospects he did not think he would hear any. And so I began to learn that a preacher must not wear his feelings on his sleeve. The church there soon went down, and Brother Edwards passed on, too.

I visited a church in my young days where there was no interest. In other words, it was dead. And the old brother who was pastor said to me, "Brother Sam, I just don't know what to do with them. I have whipped them until I am ashamed of it." I said to him, "Did you ever try feeding them to get them strong enough to bear the whipping?" I have often, in looking back through the years, been ashamed of what I said to the old servant. While I feel sure it was right that the servant of God should not strive but be gentle to all men. The church has long since become extinct and the old servant passed on to his reward. And so ended another tour.

Not very long after I was ordained, the church at Austin called me to serve them. They were few in number and had been in trouble for some time and their pastor had resigned, if I remember correctly, they had only 13 or 14 members. I was a very poor man at that time and had to go on the train to serve them; but the main thing in my way was that they were in trouble. I wrote them that the distance was too great, and I could not serve them. This did not satisfy them and they sent two brethren to see me, but I out-talked them. We went to church at Valley Springs next day. After Conference was over, one of them got up and asked the church to pray for them, that they had called me and I had declined to serve them That touched me. I told them that I would not promise to serve them, but would try to be there with them the next meeting.

I went, and the thirteen members were there and not one outsider; but to my surprise, I enjoyed liberty, which of course increased their desire that I serve them. I went back the next meeting and it was easy for me to preach to them, so I finally accepted the care of the church. I preached there for a whole year without one addition, I could see the little children of God on the outside, but they would not join. I got very much discouraged. If there is anything a preacher needs, it is courage and patience. But soon they commenced joining, and I baptized about twenty that year. The church built up to about fifty members. Those were happy days; all was peace and love. But alas, trouble came, and the church was divided in sentiment. There was a young preacher that came up under my ministry, and he opposed me. I loved him as David loved Jonathon, and I love him yet; but I hated so bad to oppose him that I decided to resign, hoping that if I got out of the way, maybe they would not divide. Thus for once I acted the coward, I saw the wolf coming, and like the hireling, fled. They might have divided anyway, but had I acted faithful, I would have had a clear conscience. So my advice to our dear young preachers is to be faithful no matter what the odds may be. I learned a lesson that I think will last me as long as I live. How delightful it is to see a church in peace, and how distressing to see them divided and at one another's throats.

While I was serving the church at Austin, a brother and sister by the name of Hill moved there from Missouri and she had lung trouble. One day she said to me, "I want you to preach my funeral when I die." I told her I might die before she did, but she said no; so I promised her. She lived at Buda. One day I received the message to come, as she had died. I actually did not have the money to go on, but since I had promised, I borrowed money and went and preached her funeral with not an Old Baptist present, I noticed a man in the audience and somehow he attracted my attention, but I never spoke to him. Next morning when I got on the train, he did too; and when we got to where we changed trains, he got off, too.

I asked him how to find the post office, and he said he would show me. I walked in supposing he had gone on, but when I came out, he was there. He handed me a five-dollar bill, and said "I heard you yesterday, and have felt ever since that I wanted to help you." I finally baptized him. I thought I would never doubt again, but have often been in doubt since.

Early in my ministry I was called to the care of the church at Georgetown, Texas, and served it for many years. It was indeed a pleasure to serve them. They lived in peace and fellowship. They had one of the best deacons I ever knew. He was a great stay to me and to the church.

Also, I remember that once we received a member for baptism, and for some reason or other his baptism was deferred until next meeting. In the meantime, we learned that he had not put his wife away for a scriptural reason. Of course we did not baptize him; yet we had a reference on our books to be disposed of. Two leading members began to argue the case. One thought he should be excluded, and one thought he had not yet become a member. Finally, they appealed to me, and I took the position that he was not yet a member, but it did no good. But the old deacon, who had not said a word until then, spoke up and said, "I move that the Church sever whatever relation the Church sustains to the brother," and it carried unanimously. This was diplomacy.

Another incident. A little sister united with the church. Dr. E. M. Thomas, who was a member of the church, scared me when he told me she had heart trouble and any excitement might tear her out of the world. So as we went into the water, I told her not to dread it, I would take care of her. She said she had never felt better in her life; and when I baptized her, she came out of the water shouting.

Another incident: A brother and his wife separated, but both claimed they could fellowship one another in the church, though I never could see how this could be. We were at our row's end. Finally, she complained that he would not support her, and the Church appointed a committee to labor with the brother. He claimed that he was not able to support her. We told him that as her husband it was his duty to support her, and that besides she wanted to live with him. He replied that he would suffer both ears cut smooth to his head before he would live with her; that he would have no peace with her. He said for the Church to go ahead and exclude him, and they did. I have never known whether we did right or not. Indeed great problems come up before the church.

I moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1925 for a three-year period and the church called another pastor, and when I moved back the church had gone on the rocks. There are a few Old Baptists there, yet, but not church. They once had a good house and it paid for, but now no one to preach for them. How sad to see the place where God's people once met together and worshipped.

In the early part of my ministry, a church called me as their pastor. It was very weak in number, about fifteen or sixteen in number, and it had divided about half and half. One side stood with one faction of Baptists and the other side with another. As usual I did not want to serve them, as it looked like a hopeless weight in the community. But they prevailed upon me to serve them and I advised them both to use the house and not molest each other. A brother preached for the other side for a few months and quit it, and I do not think they ever had another pastor. And I labored on with seven or eight. It was easy for me to preach to them. I served them until 1925, and we had but cry little trouble. The church built up to about fifty or sixty members.

When I moved to the Rio Grande Valley, I turned them over to another preacher. He had trouble with his brethren, and when I moved back in 1929, they prevailed upon me to take the care of the church again, but I did so against my better judgment, for they were in a deplorable condition. I finally recommended that the church silence the brother who had been serving them until he straightened up, but the church was divided in sentiment and said it would divide the church to do so. It went to nothing. They have a good house there, but no one to preach for them. How sad these things are. I had as much evidence of my call there as I ever had anywhere. As long as the church obeyed God, He blessed them, and then removed the candlestick when they disobeyed.

A circumstance occurred in conference that I will relate. I do not know to this say whether I was right in my position or not, but it settled the trouble. Two leading brethren had a difference, and claimed they could not settle it. One got two brethren to go with him to the brother, and then rushed it into conference. In other words, they only carried out the letter, so I asked the brethren who were called to go with them if they went in the letter or the spirit. They said it was in the letter, for their advice had not been sought.  So I told them that as their moderator, I ruled it out of order until further labor had been bestowed. The brother called on me for verse and chapter for my stand. You know I was against the wall. I finally said, "The Bible says, Let patience have her perfect work", and that I did not think it had. I recommended that the two brethren who were of a difference to each select a member, let the two select a member and then agree to abide by the decision. This was done, and the trouble was settled. So, whether I was right or wrong, it worked anyway. The brethren who had the difference have now passed on to their reward.

Early in my ministry, I made a tour in Northern Texas and Oklahoma at the earnest solicitation of Elder J. G. Webb, who was a father to young preachers, and others. This was my first time to get out of the state. My first appointment was at Tioga, Texas. I will never forget how poor and little I felt as I approached the place, for I knew they have an able ministry. The deacon met me at the train and gave me a good dinner. As we sat on the porch afterwards, he said, "I guess this church is as well indoctrinated as any you will find in the state, for we have had able preachers to preach for us --J. G. Webb, Dr, J. A. Paine, R. A. Biggs, and Jim Duncan, as well as other men of inalienable reputation, such as Elder T. S. Dalton. Every visiting preacher from other states either starts at Tioga or winds up there." The same as to say, "Young man, if you think you can teach us anything, you are mistaken."

Well, I knew this, but I did not enjoy having it rubbed in on me. But as I have said, it brought me to my knees in prayer. I got up to preach shaking like a leaf, but that soon left me and I felt as bold as a lion. After I closed, the deacon gave me his hand and said, "Brother Redford, you gave me light on your text that no man ever gave me." I could not help but thank the Lord that He had enabled me to show the brother that he did not know it all.

That part of Oklahoma was known as the Indian Territory. On this tour I preached the first and only time at a colored church, a new experience. I will relate a circumstance. After I has consumed an hour, I insisted that the pastor talk a little. He seemed very timid, but finally got up and talked about fifteen minutes on the subject of the transfiguration of Jesus. I had some thoughts, when he quoted it, about like this: "Old boy, you had better lay off of that. I have been over the ground time and again and never got anything out of it." Now listen, the Lord knows how to lift up his little servants, and He knows how to take the swelling out of their heads too. That Negro showed me that when Moses and Elias vanished, Jesus was alone. He was alone in the atonement, regeneration, preservation and the resurrection. Well, I had some more thoughts that I had better go home and stay there until I learned something.

I baptized about fifteen on that tour. Those were happy days. I can see how the good Lord took care of me and led me along in the ministry as a father would lead a son.

I remember making a tour into West Texas and New Mexico at the specific request of old Brother and Sister Keith, who had moved from Texas to a little place called Quay. They were the only Old Baptists in that part of the country. I was serving four churches and could not go until I could make arrangements. So several months later I wrote Brother Keith to make an appointment. He answered at once, stating they had the worst drought ever known there, and lots of families had closed their doors and gone to Texas to work for bread; that he co id not ask me to come so far and not be able to help me financially. This was a dark picture for me, for I was poor myself and my family needed all I had.

For several days I debated in my mind what to do. It occurred to me that if the Lord had impressed Brother Keith to send for me, and if He had impressed me to go, that I ought to trust Him, since God owned all the silver and gold in the world. So I wrote Brother Keith to make the appointment for me; there would be a way. But I left home with a heavy heart. If the poor old preacher did not have faith, he would faint by the way.

I filled every appointment on the way and enjoyed myself preaching. There was a little church at Dalhart, Texas at that time. I received the greatest evidence the Lord was in my going at this place, since I had left home. I lay down to sleep and while I slept, a brother and his family drove up in a wagon to hear some preaching. When I awoke and we were introduced, I asked him where his membership was. He began to weep, stating he had a letter but there was no church near where he lived and that he was starving for preaching. I tried to preach Jesus to them, and I have never seen anyone enjoy the gospel more. And I rejoiced that God had enabled me to feed his hungry children.

But on the Quay -- It was like Brother Keith stated. The people in his section were destitute. The first service, a man came up and said something to me, but they were singing and I did not understand him. Next morning he asked me to take a walk with him. As we started off, he said "I told you yesterday that I wanted to be baptized, but I am satisfied you did not understand." I told him, "No, I did not:" He said he received a hope when he was a boy in North Carolina. His wife had contracted TB and the doctor had told them to go west, and she recovered. He had not had an opportunity to discharge his duty. I told him I was sure it was all right, but I wanted to contact Brother Keith. Brother Keith said, "If he has an experience of grace, take him to the creek." Next day he and his wife were baptized that evening. To make a long story short, they have a church now at Quay. Now one more story I will relate in connection with this tour. Sunday evening after our good meeting was over, a man rode up to Brother Keith's house and called him out where they talked a few minutes. He came back and threw a $10 bill in my lap. I asked him what that meant, and he said it was mine. I told him I would not take it for I knew his condition. He said, "That man has owed me for five years, and God sent him to pay me for you." I thought I would never doubt again, but I am often in Doubting Castle.

A number of years ago, I had an appointment to visit the Baptists in California. The Baptists were divided there and I suppose are today. I had been urgently requested by both sides to come. I had met Elder Bretz in Texas and visited his churches in Indiana. I never like to go where there is trouble, but I could not get rid of the impression, so I finally ventured out, not knowing whether I would go all the way or not.

I had appointments through West Texas and at Clovis, Roswell, and Mountainair, New Mexico. The last-named places the churches have become extinct. I also had an appointment at Phoenix, Arizona. I met Elder J. A. Monsees of Macon, Georgia, as he was going home from California. I interrogated him in regard to the state of affairs there. After hearing what he had to tell I become weak kneed and went home, thinking I had better not go at all.

But next year I could think of nothing except going to California. The depression was on and getting worse all the time. Money was hard to get, but I wanted to go so badly that I asked through the paper for any brother who might be going to California by car to contact me and I would help bear the expenses. But I got no response. Time drew near for the West Providence Association to meet. I told my wife to pack my grip with some extra clothing, that if the way opened up, I was going to California. Yet I did not have the slightest idea there would be a way.

When I got to the Association, they began to ask me if I was going to California, and I would tell them that I did not know. Brother Billie Jones asked me why? I told him I did not have the money. He said he did and would let me have it. I had been praying that if it were right for me to go, the way would open up. And here was a way, but my faith failed me again. I told him, after studying it over, that since he might need his money before I could pay him back, I had better not take it. He answered, " I have just had my car overhauled. Get someone to drive you and go on." I told him I would do that. We stayed that night in Big Spring. The next morning, he went down and bought a new car. When it rolled out, he said, "I want you to come back. Take it and go."

And here I will relate a circumstance this reminded me of. Some time before that Elder W. S. Broom was with me at Mullin, Texas in my regular appointment. It was very cold weather, and I tried to get Brother Broom to stay over and come on to my house by bus the next day, but I could do nothing with him. I was aggravated with him. We started out and dark overtook us traveling through ranches. I said, "Brother Broom, this old Ford stops sometimes. If it should stop now, you could not walk to my home, and you would freeze before I could get help." And he said, "Don't worry. God can fix cars." "Well, I did not know that He did that", I said. And he said, "Why not? He owns all of them." So when Brother Jones furnished the new car, I thought, "Brother Broom was right." Yes, I believe that God can provide a way for His poor servants to go when they go as He directs.

I met a warm reception when I got to California, and greatly enjoyed myself. I visited all the churches that were there at that time. I visited one church that had a young gift who invited me to go home with him and I did. He said, "I understood you to say you did not believe God saved sinners before the foundation of the world." I said, "Yes, I believe what I said." He said, "Well I believe He did save sinners before the foundation of the world." "I guess you believe in eternal children," I said. Then I asked him if he preached it that way. He said, "Why not?" and I told him it would cause trouble. The brethren had been talking about ordaining him and I advised them not to. He was excluded soon after Elder M. W. West moved out there.

I made another trip to California later on and enjoyed it greatly also.

Early in my ministry I made another tour in Oklahoma, filling appointments through North Texas and on into Oklahoma. Not long after I started, I dreamed I saw what looked like a mound. Turning aside to investigate, I found it to be an old well, which looked to be ten or twelve feet deep. At the bottom were lots of snakes, and one big snake, and they were mad. When I saw them, the thought came to me, "There is danger here." I awoke and behold it was a dream. The dream lingered in my mind, so much so that I felt sure there was danger up the road somewhere.

Finally I went to a church where they had trouble, but I knew nothing about it. I knew no one there. When I arrived on the ground a bunch of brethren were standing on the outside, I walked up and told them who I was. We passed a few words and one of the brethren said to me, "Let's take a walk." We started off and the rest group came along, too. One of them, a preacher, had a book under his arm. When we got a little distance, one of them said, "Brother Redford, we just want to show you how we have been butchered." It dawned on me that here was my dream. They had all been excluded, and the preacher was the big snake. I told them they were doing wrong, that I was a stranger, and if that was all the business they had with me, I was going back to the house, for I had been warned of this trouble in a dream. We went on through the meeting and two or three months later they forgave one another and came together. I was young then, and if I had not been warned I might have gotten tangled up in the trouble. I think I have seen visiting brethren meddle with strife that did not belong to them to their own hurt and to the hurt of the Cause, too.

I will relate another incident that occurred on this tour. I had appointments at a church that had no pastor, and I suppose they were hungry. At any rate, they seemed greatly to enjoy my preaching; so much so that one brother offered to deed me 160 acres of land and build me a house on it. I was poor. I lived in a very poor farming country and had rented land for seven years. It looked like the opportunity had come for me to get ahead. It was one of the greatest temptations I ever had. I had no impression to move there or to serve the church, only the offer of 160 acres of land. The brother was with me for a week, and asked every day if I had made up my mind. One night, I became reconciled to turn it down. I told him I would not move there if he deeded me a section of land, that I would not be worth anything to them unless the Lord was in it, that if I had a little field down in Texas, I had better stay there if I had to be poor all my life.

Oh, how good the Lord has been to me. Had He not led me along and given me grace, I would have made the mistake of my life.

Some thirty or forty years ago I made a tour in Tennessee. Elder C. H. Cayce made the appointments for me, beginning at Milan and continuing on up to Nashville. I greatly enjoyed this tour. The brethren were all so good to me. I formed the acquaintance of quite a few preachers and I would remark that my association with preachers had been very helpful to me. Most Primitive Baptist ministers I have met have been the genuine articles, but I have met some that were frauds; they were out for the money. They have helped me, too; helped me to discover how deceitful they can be and also to discover how easily the Old Baptists can be fooled.

I will relate an incident that occurred on this tour. Elder Cayce had arranged for me to be present at a debate he was having with a Campbellite. Just before this he had published a man as a fraud, giving a full description of him and the different names he had gone by in other states he had traveled in. The man would pr preach at a place and tell the members he did not need their money as he had plenty, but if they had anything to give, to give it to their poor old pastor. But before he left for his next appointment, he would say to someone, "I have neglected to go to the bank to get a check cashed until it is too late. If you will please cash a for me I will appreciate it." Of course, the brother would cash it. Maybe be would do several that way before the checks came back marked "No Funds." The preacher would stay in the state as long as he could without being caught; then he would hop over into another state and fleece the Baptists again.

So Elder Cayce came to me and asked me if I knew an Old Baptist preacher by a certain name that lived in Texas. I told him I did not, and that I was personally acquainted with every one in Texas. This man was at the debate. I told Brother that I would talk to him. I asked him where he lived and he said Sherman, Texas. I asked if he knew certain preachers in West Texas and he said he did not. He said he had recently moved from Kansas to Texas, but when he got back to Texas he was going to look them up.

So Elder Cayce would debate in the daytime, and at night a Campbellite and a Primitive Baptist would be put up for thirty minutes each on any subject they chose. Well, they put up "the stranger from Texas", and if ever anyone got a skinning, that Campbellite did. The brethren were elated over it.

When I got ready to leave, the man came to me and said he would like to go with me on my appointments for a few days. We were going to Nashville, and just before we got to the station, the man excused himself and went into the next coach. The train pulled into the station and I got off, but the stranger did not show up. The brethren were looking for him, and it dawned on me that this was the man who had been published. I wrote, or phoned, Brother Cayce that I did not have a doubt that this was the man they were looking for. I was told they got on the wire and caught him at Nashville. He was a lawyer and an ex-convict.

I felt assured that a man who had never been called to preach could theorize until he could preach the truth in letter. And I have, in my judgment, seen a few of that stripe. So ended another tour, and I was benefited whether anyone else was or not.

I think it was in 1922, I made another tour in Oklahoma, filling appointments at several churches. I remember preaching at Duncan and Ardmore, and finally at Elder B. E. Green's home church. I was received very kindly everywhere I went.

I remember before I left North Texas, I preached at a place, and when services closed they gave an opportunity for members, and a young woman offered herself for membership. After she had told her experience, she stated that she had seen me in a dream, and as soon as she walked into the church house she knew me. She wanted me to baptize her, so we all went down to the Red River and I baptized her. This was a great encouragement to me.

But notwithstanding this and all the kindness shown me, I became despondent, and if someone had asked what was wrong, I could not have told him. My brother preachers will know about these low places we get into. The land of Canaan was a land of valleys and mountains, and it was typical of the church.

We had met at the church, and I was depressed in spirit. I to took a walk and tried to pray. I returned to the house and a brother handed me a letter from my wife. She began by saying that Will-Etta, my daughter had joined the church and wanted me to baptize her. She was the first of my children to join. I was on the mountain top. I felt I was richly rewarded for all the weary miles I had traveled, for all the losses and crosses I had borne, for all the lonely hours I had spent away from home. Just to think God was so good as to give me my own flesh and blood to live in the church with me. God knows how to encourage His poor downcast servants and He does do that. Glory to His name!

 "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." Job 1.16.

This text teaches that Satan enters the sacred services of the Lord sometimes. Not that he worships God, but comes with those who worship Him. And as I look back over the distant past, I think I have seen his presence with the dear children of God. Three times in my life I have seen the police take over the church to preserve the peace. Once when the church had divided and one side had locked the door against the other side, the police had to unlock the door. Satan was there.

Another time a church had such a confused conference, they got so mad that a brother laid aside his coat to fight it out. The police broke it up. Satan was there.

Another time I was at a church and a brother objected to an item of reference being brought up, and abused his pastor shamefully. I was a stranger there, but I just could not stand it. The sisters had all run out of the house. I got up and told the brother to sit down and behave himself, that there was no order in the way he was conducting himself. To my surprise, he sat down and the church excluded him. Satan came to meeting again.

I visited a place once while I as on a tour in Arkansas, where the church had divided and had a lawsuit over the property. Two preachers were in the church, and the party that carried it to court, gained the suit in every court up to the Supreme Court; however, the Baptists generally did not recognize that party and they soon came to naught. Satan was very much in evidence. The leader was a very able preacher, but he died outside the church. How pitiful to see such cases. And how true the Bible is in saying, "if ye live after the flesh ye shall die."

Who of us has not seen brethren go into the stand angry and cut and slash? And, Brethren have we not at times ourselves realized that Satan was prompting us in what we were doing? O, that we could do as our Saviour did once, say, "Get thee behind me, Satan." But after all, when Satan is absent and Jesus is in the midst of His church, it is a most heavenly place

A number of years ago I made a tour in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. I went at the earnest solicitation of Elder J. M. Thompson. I did not have any better sense than to go in the wintertime. My first appointment was at Carmi, Illinois. Elder W. C. Arnold lived there at that time. They were so good to me. Sister Arnold put a hot iron to my feet at night, and brought me a pair of over-shoes to wear in daytime, and believe me I needed them in that cold climate.

After filling my appointments in Illinois, I boarded the train at Evansville for my appointments in Indiana. And when the conduct or called for my ticket, he said, "We do not stop at that station." I told him the agent sold me a ticket to that place. He said he could not help it, he had orders not to stop there. I told him to slow down and I would jump off, as they were to meet me there, and I was a stranger. He said he couldn't do that because I might get crippled; that he could let me off at the station this side of where I wanted to go, or take me to the one on the other side, and I could ride the interurban. I told him to put me off this side. Next morning I rode the car, not knowing a soul at the place and a thousand miles from home. I got off the car and asked the agent if he knew any Primitive Baptists in that town. He showed me a house and said there was a widow living there who was a Primitive Baptist. I went there and behold Elder Thompson was there waiting for me. He had met the train the night before. So kind Providence provides.

I thought I was at a place where no one had ever seen me before.
I went to another place and while I was preaching, I noticed a lady laughing, I supposed she was laughing at me. I have been laughed at lots of times. When the services were over, she came up and I told her I was from. She said, Whereabouts are from in Texas?" Valley Springs. She said, "I once knew a Sammie Redford that lived there." I said, Lady, I am that men, but who in the world are you." And she told me. So I gave up, I could not get away,

I was in the homes of Elders John R. Dailey, John and Robert Thompson, J. H. Oliphant and preached in all their churches. These were dear men and I was greatly benefited by their company, as well as a number of others I met on this tour. Those preachers were as sound in their doctrine as any I ever heard. They have all passed on.

After filling my appointments in Indiana, I came on down into Kentucky and filled some appointments there. I found noble Old Baptists in all these states. They are all so good and kind to me, and I love to look back and think of the happy hours I spent with them. I will perhaps never see these Baptists again in this world, but I love the memory of them. After my appointments were filled in Kentucky, I came home to my loved ones, and so another tour in my pilgrimage was finished. I had filled every appointment.

A number of years ago I was called to the care of a little church near Buna, Texas, about a hundred miles east of Houston.

They had only thirteen members, and had not held a conference in two years. I was serving four churches at the time. I wrote them that I could not serve them because my time was all taken up, and besides the distance was too great. They wrote me to come each Fifth Sunday. All thirteen members signed the letter and sent me the money to come on. I told my wife I was going once anyway, and that night I had a dream. I know we have a more sure way of prophesy than dreams and visions, and ordinarily there is nothing to my dreams. But I dreamed I was out hunting sheep, and I found them. They were poor; their wool was shaggy, and they were scared. I worked easy with them and finally we came out of the timber and into an open glade where the sun was shining brightly. Somehow I realized all the sheep were not there, but I was afraid to leave them. And so I was distressed about the sheep.

I found a pitiful situation when I got to Buna. They had cut the weeds around the church house and appeared to be so hungry for the gospel. I went ahead and tried to preach. Saturday they did not have conference, but wanted preaching that night. We had thirteen out that night and a few visitors. After preaching I said, "Brethren, if you are in peace, I think you should give an opportunity for members." We did, and a young man joined, and I baptized him Sunday. Of course, this placed them on the mountaintop and I just could not refuse to preach to them on fifth Sundays. And the next few months I baptized quite a few. But the other sheep, where were they? All at once they began to come from the Absoluters and join by relation. These were the other sheep.

I will relate an incident that I know was irregular, but there was no harm came of it. We were going to commune, and a sister who belonged to the Absoluters took her seat among the other sisters.

The deacon came to me and wanted to know what we must do. I told him not to disturb her, I would fix it. So I invited all of our faith and order and we communed. We gave an opportunity for members and she joined.

I love to go back over those happy days. The church built up and the finally got Elder Eugene Brown to move down there. When he moved to Louisiana, they got Elder Armo Paine to move there. Later they got into trouble and the church went down. They have no church there now. While I am a poor sinner and have made many mistakes, I am happy to say I never had a church to die while I was serving it.


"I therefore the prisoner of the Lord --" Ephesians 4:1

A prisoner is one who is not his own, but is controlled by another, and such is every servant of God. I remember several years ago I had been requested to visit Georgia and Florida, and I really wanted to go, especially to Florida. I was not in southern Georgia long before I began to have chills, but I kept filling appointments. I just had to go to Florida, or so I thought. I remember one day going home with a brother who had a monument shop. He said, "We will go by the shop and you can select your tombstone. You won't live long." I replied, "If the life I have lived and the doctrine I have preached is not a monument to me, I do not want any of your marble or granite."

My chills and fever were getting worse all the time, and I would sometimes say to the brethren that it looked like I would have to go home unless I got better. They said they would take me to a doctor and they did. I just had to go to that Association, as I thought. I was then within forty miles of the place. That evening I had the hardest chill I ever had in my life, and when it left, I told the brethren to take me to the train. It was not the Lord's will for me to go on. They argued with me that I would get down on the road home, but I turned homeward. I believe the Lord would have killed me if nothing else had done it. I will perhaps never know why it was not the Lord's will for me to go on. "I therefore the prisoner of the Lord--"


In my last article I gave a history of my trip to Florida; how I was stopped on the way and turned homeward. I thought then that I would never go there again, but all that year I wanted to go back. I tried to beg the Lord if it was not His will for me to go to remove the impression from me. But if anything, the impression seemed to increase. So I ventured. A few nights before I was to start, I dreamed I saw a man in the congregation whose face was so it, pressed on my mind that I would have known him anywhere. When I walked into the place where the Association was being held, whom should I see but the man of my dream? He was a preacher. As soon as they dismissed, I went to him and told him my name, and said to him, "This is the second time I have met you."

He said, "No, I have never met you before"

I said, "I met you in a dream before I left home, and I want to hear you preach."

He did not seem very sociable, and I felt sure there was something wrong with him. When I was filling appointments, I found out from the brethren that he was a troublemaker. I kept inquiring after him, and when Elder Harvey Daily came to Texas, he told me the man had moved to Georgia, and was excluded. So I felt like the good Lord had warned me against this man. I think there were twenty-five churches in the Association, and a lovelier band of Baptists I never saw. All was peace and love. I told the brethren Satan was not going to let them go on, as they were if he could help it, and sure enough, in a short time trouble came up over a preacher, and the Association divided.

Before I made this trip a Brother Fountain moved from Florida to San Antonio, and wrote me to give him the address of the church at Austin. I invited him up and asked him how the Baptists of Texas compared with the Baptists of Florida. He replied, "They are the same people, only they do not seem to love one another like they do in Florida. I have seen the brethren hug and kiss each other there."

I thought he had an exalted opinion of his brethren, and said, "Well, if you want to kiss any of the brethren, I suppose they will stand and take it." Now, I did wrong to say that, for when I got there, I found it just like he said. So when I got home, I apologized to him.

I greatly enjoyed this trip. I will perhaps never know why I was not permitted to go the first time, but that is not the only incident I have not understood in my pilgrimage as a minister

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 October 2006 )
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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.