I wish I knew the name of the place and the exact time of which I now write. I was a little girl. I do not remember how old but old enough so I remember the storm. I think we lived at Farrenville. We had gone to campmeeting. It was many years ago, probably 53 years ago.
There was no tabernacle whatever. There was a rude platform of rough boards, a roof over this. It was enclosed at the back and part of each end. The front was open—a long seat at the back and a rough board in front as a pulpit. The congregation sat on rough plank seats with no cover over head except the leafy trees. Around this were the campers’ tents in a circle. They were mostly.made of cotton, a fly over the top making them quite rain proof. It was not unusual for the ends of these tents to be simply white sheets pinned in.
The camp was lighted in the most primitive fashion. Green poles were out and set firmly in the ground, a platform of green poles on top about 6 ft. from the ground. On this was covered thick with earth_ Now, toward evening you would see men bringing pitch pine knots and chunks of wood to have in readiness for the darkness. There would be a number of such fire stands inside the circle of tents. A bucket of water would be placed near each and a large long handled dipper. Over the preacher’s stand would be a cool oil torch. This was simply a tin can with a wick in it. A very few of these torches were scattered about on trees near and over the seats, but how delighted we children would be and the brothers would come and light the five stands. The bucket of water and the dipper was to be able to put out the fire should any part of the fire stand ignite.
The campmeeting was running well, yet not well enough. There was not enough burden on the part of some, not enough conviction on others, then some were stouting it out against God.
People came from miles around. Came in wagons drawn by horses, came in open buggys, came by train, came on foot. One day a little after dinner, dark clouds began to gather. There were flashes of lightening and rumbleing thunder. Many were there just for the day and had no tent of their own. Soon every one’s tent was filled to its capa: ty as the rain commenced to come down. How it did rain! Soon there was simply one rapid flash of lightning after another. The claps of thunder were deafening. The earth fairly trembled. The wind commenced to blow. One could hear trees falling.
Now listen, for you could have heard it in the storm, Mother’s clear sweet voice breaks forth, “Rock of ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee.” But ere the song is ended the wind commences to blow indeed. Hark, what’s that terrible crash? Some mighty oak or elm has gone smashing to the ground.
Here with me—will you men and women calling on God for mercy. God save us—God help us. Oh, God, save me.
Now there’s a lull in the storm and again does Mother sing, “Jesus, lover of my soul.” Now hear a woman commence to pray. I was a small child and I am so frightened at the terrible storm that Father takes me in his arms and holds me close as he prays and sings and exhorts.
Now the woman who has been pleading for mercy stops and takes off her bonnet. She is very proud and worldly, but God has spoken loudly and she has decided to take the way. She speaks to her husband and he takes out his jack knife at her directions he snips off the artificial flowers and throws them on the ground in the straw,, I remember wishing I might have the pretty trinkets to play with, but an old brother stands by and as first one thing, then another is thrown down, he stamps upon it and shouts “Amen”! “Glory!” Now the lady, pressing on to victory, her face shines with heavenly light even there amid-the storm, and Father jumps and praises God.
The storm passes and Father puts on a big rain coat and still I cling to him. Some little rain is yet falling, simply the, fury of the storm had passed. He keeps me inside his great coat, only my head out. Now we view the destruction of the storm. Outside the circle of tents are trees fallen in every direction. Some are slivered by lightning, but Father calls my attention to the fact that not even a limb has come inside the circle of tents. Every tent is standing. Not a person was hurt. The woods was likely a half mile from the road and Father takes the wood trail out toward the road. On every side is destruction.
We meet a man. He is a neighbor, in fact I think he was the unsaved man who owned the woods. He said “My God, Elder, is every one dead but you and Delia?” “No, oh no,” said Father. “All glory be to God. All is well. All is well, and yes, some score of souls sought and found God during the storm.”
Well there is a storm coming when it will be too late to find God. Oh, children, make haste to rescue the perishing while you may.