Teenager Overcomes Persecution
This article was first published in the March 1986 edition of our magazine.
God’s love won my heart when I was a school girl of twelve years old. I was brought up in a humble home in Louisville, Kentucky, and was faithfully sent to Sunday school and church. The fear of God was planted in my heart at an early age, but the Christian life was not exemplified at home. There was quarreling, and the Name of Jesus taken in vain. Eventually our family went through the divorce court. Many times I wished I had never been born.
In the spring of 1906, we moved out West to Portland, Oregon. My grandfather, a Civil War veteran living in Portland, wrote and invited us to come. At the time, I wondered why we had to sell everything and move so far away. Later, when I saw God’s hand in this wise decision, I stopped questioning.
One Sunday morning I went to our little neighborhood Sunday school. Some of the children in our class told of a camp meeting being held in the Montavilla district, a suburb of Portland. I had no idea where the location was, or the name of those who were holding the camp meeting, but God put a desire in my heart to find out where these services were being held.
It was a hot afternoon in July, 1909, when we started out to find the camp meeting. There were few paved walks in those days—mostly dusty, dirt roads. We grew tired of walking and sat on the porch of a grocery store to rest. Across the street stood a woman with a Bible in her hand, waiting for a streetcar. I ran to ask if she knew of a camp meeting being held in that district. She replied, “Just up this street about a block.” When we found it, a meeting was in progress in a large canvas tent. The minute we entered I felt a calm come over me, and I knew I had found what I was looking for.
I don’t remember anything the minister said, but the Spirit of the Lord was dealing with my heart. He showed me I was a sinner, and I needed to repent. An invitation was given to come forward and kneel at the altar of prayer. I didn’t know how to pray from my heart or what to say to the Lord, but one of the Christian women who was kneeling by me said, “Ask God to be merciful to you a sinner.” I repeated the prayer after her, word for word.
As I prayed, the tears started flowing from my eyes. I saw myself as a lost soul who needed God’s mercy. It did not take long for the Lord to answer, and I could feel that load lift from my heart. Unrest and grief disappeared, and in their place came joy, peace, and happiness. I had tried to adjust myself to going through life with a broken heart, but that day the sunlight of Heaven broke in upon my soul. Jesus washed my sins away, and I knew I belonged to Him.
After I became a Christian, I was severely persecuted by my family. In anger and blasphemy, I was beaten many times without cause. I longed for the fellowship of God’s people but was kept away from the Apostolic Faith meetings for months. I was taken before the Juvenile Court with no other charge than the fact that I wanted to go to church and serve God. In a miraculous way the Lord undertook for me, and I was granted permission to go to the church twice a month, which brought great joy and encouragement to my soul.
I was not of age and did not want to disobey my mother, because I knew God’s Word said to obey your parents. I was confident He would never forsake one whose trust was in Him. Many times when going through great trial and testing, I read Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Thank God for the Arm that is stronger than mine because it kept me under those conditions.
Because I was not allowed to go anywhere with friends, I stayed close to home and read God’s Word and prayed often. Promises from the Bible brought me courage and strength. Repeatedly I came home from school very tired after having walked several miles, only to be met at the door and told I was not wanted at home. I was called abusive names that cut deeply into my heart, but there was no other place for me to go.
I wanted whatever the Lord had for me and sought for sanctification. He did not disappoint me but sanctified me wholly. Then I still hungered for more of the Lord. The Apostolic Faith people told me of the mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. I sought it incessantly, and within a few days the Lord poured out this blessed experience upon my sanctified soul.
My birthday was on Christmas Day, and eagerly I looked forward to when I would be of age. That very day I was again asked to leave home. I packed my few belongings in an old suitcase and left. Before long, the founder of the Apostolic Faith Church asked me to live in her home. My joy was almost more than I could contain, but that is just like the love of Jesus toward one who will follow in His footsteps.
Arrangements were made for me to attend a business college, and then I worked for Honeyman’s Hardware Company, where I typed letters and did bookkeeping and other clerical tasks. Before long, I was asked to work in the Apostolic Faith Church office. From that day to this, I have had the privilege of giving God my life and my strength.
After years of praying, I was reconciled with my family and saw some of them pray through to salvation. My father lived a sweet Christian life during his last years, and my mother was saved too before she died.
God also performed mighty miracles of healing in my body, and for members of my family. An auto accident left me with internal injuries, and I suffered much for eight years. Then, one day after walking over two miles, something I had not been able to do for years, I suddenly realized that God had healed me.
My older brother was dying of a ruptured appendix, but through prayer, he was healed. My nephew had leukemia and there was no earthly hope or help for him. A request was put in for prayer, and God reached down His mighty Arm, raised him up, and added years to his life.
It certainly pays a thousandfold to live for Jesus. He has given me many years to work for Him. What a glorious privilege has been mine! And after our work on earth is done, there is that hope of seeing His blessed face. What a day that will be!