An amusing incident happened at Grape Creek in Coleman County at the day service. One morning a small green snake fell down from the branches above in the arbor. Women scrambled for their babies until a man struck it with a stick and killed it. . . . That was the only time we experienced a snake scare in our services. We did have trouble with dogs. They often came into our services. They discovered their masters were going someplace every night. They investigated and would find the way there. Try as the minister might to drive them away, it just couldn't be done.
One night a middle-aged man came seeking God for forgiveness. He wept, prayed, then arose to ask Husband to go with him two and one half blocks away to see a man whom he was having trouble with. As they came near, it was a task but he wanted peace. He called to the man to come outside not for trouble but that he wanted forgiveness. He said, "I have a preacher with me." The man reluctantly came out. He put his hand out saying, "Forgive me. I did you wrong." It touched his heart. He said, "I did you wrong, too. Forgive me. I want a better way of life." With the two, Husband knelt in the yard and prayed. The three rejoiced together and went away in peace with God and man.
When they were done saving souls for the day they liked to lie down in the grass together and make one. It was a romantic, wild, daring life. Riding horses. Preaching in prisons. Taking alms (once from the KKK, my aunt Faye recalled, saying, "It was money, it was in the name of the Lord, so he took it."). Cutting hair. Cutting stone. Preaching in oil fields where just before, my grandmother wrote, "an evangelist, not a Nazarene, had his tent and all equipment burned by some disgruntled person or persons. At times it seemed like our fate might be the same." They built and integrated a church, then saw it burned down as a result (KKK again). They lay down to bed in the open air.
. . . Star . . .
. . . Aquilla . . .
. . . Waco . . .
. . . Erath . . .
. . . Grape Creek . . .
. . . Gouldbusk . . .
. . . Hardin . . .
. . . Rule . . .
. . . Bangs . . .
. . .Wichita Falls . . .
. . . Stephenville . . .
. . . Pryor . . .
. . . Knox City . . .
. . .Wellington . . .
. . . Grassland . . .
. . . O'Donnell . . .
. . . Post City . . .
. . . Tahoka . . .
. . . Olton . . .
. . . Eula . . .
. . . Clovis . . .
. . . Higgins . . .
. . .Waurika . . .
. . . Burkburnette . . .
. . . Dalheart . . .
. . . Tokio . . .
. . . Takoho . . .
. . . Sulpher . . .
When they arrived in a new town my grandfather would pitch the
tent, borrow a piano, and start preaching. Eventually he'd muster up a
congregation, find a suitable plot of land, somehow get it bought or donated,
build the church, requisition a full-time minister, and move on. Grandmother
wrote: "Always it seemed that each revival was better than the one before. We
could have stayed on longer than we did, but my husband felt others could take
this work and we would move on . . . with no home, no church, and no salary we
went. The children used to changing schools would settle down."
Itinerancy was God's will. So Mom's family went along like this for years, all over West Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, first on horseback, then in a horse-drawn carriage, finally in a car. Aunt Faye remembers my grandfather ordering one of her brothers to "take a butcher knife and cut down the high center of the road so we could pass." Grandmother wrote, "Occasionally we stopped and unloaded so my husband could safely go down the hill and up again. Sometimes we had to push with all our might to get through a sand bed." They lived like this till my grandfather's kidneys started to fail, and the family decided to settle in Waurika, Oklahoma, which, of all the towns they'd passed through, had always been Charlie Clay's favorite. My grandmother took over the preaching, but she didn't quite have his spirit. When my grandfather died in 1941, the center went out of the family.
From Oh The Glory Of It All by Sean Wilsey. Copyright 2005 Sean Wilsey. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Penguin Press.
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