From Earliest Times there Have Been Such Men and Women
Most of these stories I have taken from my own memories. There are stories taken from the memories of the ancients and our ancestors that bear remembering.
Goodness and badness, success and failure, victory and defeat have been featured in the cultures of all people through all of time. Sin and righteousness have been practiced through the ages of man. "Adam met Eve and they were the pair on the ground, not the fruit on the tree" that have caused our biggest problems. (This insight comes from our friend, Bill Sunnison, in a song he wrote.) Sin in the human heart is the problem and righteousness through Jesus Christ is the solution. Ancient history and the Bible gives us a lot of insight. More modern times continue to remind us of our sad and loveless societies.
Often it seems that worlds of men have forgotten or disregarded God as our Creator and hence the Biblical account of a world wide flood. Noah, a man God declared to be righteous, built The Arc for the saving of the human race. Job and Abraham were known as righteous men. Abraham and God had a conversation about Sodom and Gomorrah and those cities were the losers.
Through time prophets, priest and kings have been good or bad. Sometimes they started out to be good and became bad, sometimes the other way around.. But the call of The Almighty God of Ever- lasting love has continued to reach the hearts and minds of righteous seeking men and women. He has called to people through all the ages, but not many have given heed. There were the apostles who followed Jesus and many followed who weren't apostles.
The Church of the last 2,000 years has many names of remembered and forgotten believers who walked with God through good times and bad. Satan has been the ancient foe of the centuries. As in the case of Job, God has permitted the righteous ones to be tested, sometimes even to death. All the Apostles, except John died a martyrs death and the Romans tried to kill him but he outlived the trials and finally died of old age. In the generations following that first century AD. there were a plethora of evangelists crossing continents, mountains and seas to bring the Gospel to the masses. Christians in the Roman Army brought the Message to Great Brittan and from there we have the great story of Saint Patrick of Irland.
The early Waldensian movement, in 1170 AD, under the leadership of a Frenchman named, Peter Waldo, was one based on voluntary poverty as Jesus and his disciples did during Jesus' ministry. (The early Waldensian community did not call themselves Waldensians, but "The Poor of Lyons" or "The Poor of Christ" or just "The Poor".) Waldo, a successful and wealthy merchant in Lyons, France, sold all of his possessions and gave the proceeds away to the poor and advocated that his followers do the same. Waldo and his followers relied on donations and handouts collected while they were preaching.
So then laymen of the Church were being encouraged to evangelize their neighbors. They became known as the Waldensians. The Pope excommunicated them, but they continued to thrive in their way of life. In time they were forced to flee from their homes and seek shelter in hidden caves and cannons of the Alp Mountains. The Papal militia and the Italian army massacred them by the thousands over a period of at least 700 years. Finally in 1859 an English Captain took up their case with the King of Italy. The King gave them citizenship and built them a Church in the northwestern Italian City of Torino. They still live freely in their several villages. I have been pleased to visit their Church in the City and walk through one of their villages.
The Wesley brothers, John and Charles, are credited with bringing revival to Great Brittan in the 1700's that saved the nation from a revolution such as hit France. That revival spread to the Colonies in the preaching of Whitfield and Edwards. Later came such well known names as Finney, Moody, Sunday and Graham.
In the late 1800's and lapping into the early 1900's men and women of God, some remembered, many forgotten were praying, preaching and reaching out for a mighty spirit of revival. Our grandparents were children and youth during that era. There was a kind of "hot spot of holy hunger" in large parts of Texas. In west central Louisiana a farmer craved a revival of Christian religion to come upon his family and neighborhood. He sold his only milk cow for $20 and called an evangelist to come. He cut polls from the woods on his farm and built what was known as a brush arbor. Under it's protection from the weather he constructed benches for the people to occupy during the singing and preaching of the meeting. After two weeks of faithful singing, preaching and praying only one eight year old boy from the place had come forward to dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.
The farmers family were without milk for a long time and a new cow was almost a bank vault away. The neighborhood laughingstock marked the farmer as a fool. The eight year old boy held faithful to his devotion, he finished what ever schooling was available to him, then entered the young new Texas Holiness University where he grew in the graces of Christian manhood. His name was R. T. Having saved a little money, he looked for a way to invest it. His acquaintance, Will Easley, knew of a quarter section of land for sale near the north bank of Red River in western Oklahoma, newly become a state. R. T. Williams bought the property. A year or two later, one of Will Easley's younger brothers was looking to buy. In 1912, our grandparents, Kate and Frank Easley were the happy owners. There through the next half century or so, they raised their four children. We grand kids all grew up playing on the hills, hoeing cotton, combining wheat, shocking bundles, hauling hay bails, tying sheep's fleeces and stomping them into the eight foot bags for market, digging sweet potatoes, gathering other garden produce and helping plow or hoe Granny's yard.
R. T. Williams became in his early 30's a General Superintendent of the Global Church of the Nazarene and was an influential man of God throughout the remainder of his life. The old song says, "Little Is Much When God Is in It."
As a young woman before she and Papa were married, Granny was an accomplished organist. She was often called upon to pump the organ and play the music for Camp Meetings and Revival Meetings of their area, west and a little south of Dallas-Fort Worth, in such towns, cities, or rural settings as Dublin, Stephenville, De Leon, Comanche, Proctor, Rising Star, and many I don't recall at the moment.
Under the preaching of Evangelist like Bud Robinson, (J. E.) Threadgill, Jernigan, Abe Tucker and other Pastors and Evangelists the Holy Fires of Revival were rising up through out the State of Texas and spreading elsewhere. A famous Camp Meeting called the prominent Rev. Dr. H. C. Morrison, president of Asbury College in Wilmore, KY and publisher / editor of a Christian Magazine known through all the circles of that day, to Preach the Camp Meeting. It was largely attended and supported by Methodist Congregations and their pastors. The Bishop of the Conference sent spies to report on pastors and people who attended the Meetings. Since H. C. Morrison was known nationally, he left unscathed. But all the local pastors of Methodist Churches who had attended were removed from their pastorates and their licenses were taken away. Uncle Abe Tucker, Granny's brother-in-law, was among those.
But as always, the holy war could not put out the Holy Fire. Phineas Breeze began preaching as a young pastor for the Methodist in New York State. He soon was moving west. He pastored at Chariton, Iowa a year or two, and churches and chapels in Des Moines, Creston, Clarinda, Counsel Bluffs, in various orders. He arrived at Red Oak in late summer about 1873. About the first of October he announced a ten day revival which he preached, himself. Not much happened, so he continues on to make it two weeks. A few Sunday School children came to the altar for salvation. That spurred the meetings forward and some prominent folks of the community began to be saved. They then started praying in earnest for their families and their employs to be saved. By the beginning of March 1874 he brought the nightly preaching to a close. There had been not less than 300 people who were saved in the meetings. Large numbers of those joined in membership with the local Church and others joined other Churches of the community. Their numbers hugely outgrew the seating capacity of their building. They built a large new Church.
Eventually Bresee was pastoring Methodist Churches in Los Angelos. There came a riff because he was reaching out to the poor of the neighborhood. By 1895 he left Methodism to found the Church of the Nazarene, seeking to reach out to the poor families of the area. Rapidly this movement spread up the west coast and east ward to Chicago, New England and down the mid-Atlantic states. In 1907, East and West met in Chicago to form what was known for a few years as the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. The next year, 1908 the northern body met with Texas proponents of heart holiness to formerly establish the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene at Pilot Point, Texas, (a town that no longer exists). Bresee died in 1915. I believe the name, Pentecostal, was dropped at the General Assembly of 1919.
A large contingent of godly men and women throughout the State of Texas had formed together from the late 1800's into various groups and eventually came as the Holiness Church of Christ to join with the northern body, the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene in 1908.
In 1888 there came to a place a few miles from Tabor, Iowa a medical doctor / preacher named George Weavers and L. B. Worcester. They establish a Church known as Mt. Zion and referred to it as the mother church. By 1893 they had bought 40 acres near the southwest edge of Tabor. There they established a school, an orphanage, an orchard and gardens. The name of the organization was Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association. Many families went out from there to other settlements west of Tabor and into Nebraska and Kansas to set up farms and establish homes. But their enduring goal was to bring the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to whom ever they could. Where they went they built Churches and collected funds to send out missionaries from the school back in Tabor. The name Hephzibah is referenced in the Bible: 2 Kings 21:1 and Is. 62:4. It means "My Delight Is in Her." The Church and Mission sent out dozens of missionaries for 40 or 50 years to Japan, China, India and Africa. As their home Churches in America were unable to support all of them, they gradually merged with more established organizations on the field. After 1944 the workers in China united with the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In 1950 the Institutions in Tabor joined the Church of the Nazarene. I think that is the direction Missionaries Irvin and Fannie Dayhoff took, as well as their son, Rev. Paul Dayhoff and his family. Those were good folks we knew during our pastorate at Red Oak, Iowa, some 30 miles from Tabor. Also, Rev. Paul Worcester, who had retired from pastor of the Tabor Church, wrote a little volume on the history of the HFMA. Paul's wife was still running the Nursing Home, in place of the Orphanage. His son, Leonard and family lived there. Rev. Paul Mitchell was pastor of the Church and his wife was a school teacher in Glenwood.
The Church of the Nazarene in the State of Iowa is all one district. The district is divided into Zones. We at Red Oak were in the Tabor Zone. There were six Churches in that Zone. O my! What great fellowship. Every month for all those five years at Red Oak the Pastors and Wives of the six Churches met in each others homes for a meal together. The Pastors and Wives of the Churches in Red Oak did the same thing every other month. Those were the best years for close fellowship with the Men and Women of the Ministry during our 15 years in the State of Iowa. Not that we didn't have great fellowship every where we have lived. But there was just something about Tabor and Red Oak that stands out through all these years.
Now that I've come to the end, I think that I have not told it the way I had hoped. Let's remember what we can of the men and women, youth and even the children who have hungered and thirsted for the deep things of God. Some have been vilified, criticised, mistreated, some even killed and still have more often than not held tight to the loving and gentle hands of the Almighty God. Let us remember.