I just wanted to relay this story from our gathering in Barnsdall last year. For someone who writes, I have never felt any desire to write about our meetings last year. Perhaps it was because just two days after returning from the Barnsdall meetings, I was plunged into a personal tragedy that resulted in one of the darkest periods of my Christian walks. Yet, the Lord was faithful through it all. He reached out to me in my darkness time and time again through His word and specifically through Psalms 57 and Psalm 142.
We met in Barnsdall in an abandoned cinema " down town." This was a gutted building full of trash. The people of brother Brian Long's church had worked tirelessly for weeks making this place habitable. It had no carpet, no sheetrock, and several leaks in the roof. It also had no power and wire had to be run in for lights and equipments. There were no seats and so some local church's donated chairs and folks brought lawn chairs. It was very cold and loud heaters had to be rented, which had to be turned off before the services started or no one would be able to hear as the noise reverberated off cold concrete floors and bare stone walls and no overhead ceiling, just the rafters.
Every morning we had prayer meetings where the Lord would bless us with His presence. After that the people went out and began to knock on doors in this relatively small community, to share the Gospel and to invite folks to the meetings in the evening. At the front of the cinema, where the platform was elevated, there had been erected an " alter,' a place for people to come forward and kneel down. This alter was a heavy beam of wood that had been the " bar," from the pub across the street. In fact one saint who had been gloriously saved previously, confessed that the last time he had seen that bar was when he was leaning against it drinking a beer. Now it had been dismantled, turned upside down and was an alter.
Previously we had arranged for certain people to give their testimonies as part of prayer and worship. On the first night a man, who had been gloriously delivered from drug addiction and had his family restored to him, was to give his testimony. When he stood up to give it, it was obvious that he was extremely nervous, as many are who have never spoken publicly before, not to mention the spiritual warfare that was undoubtedly assailing him. He struggled through his testimony and got off track quite a bit and eventually came to an end. God was good and we moved on. The following evening, brother Ford would be leading the service. As brother Brian and I walked in the old cinema, this brother from the previous evening approached us on the street. He told us that he " had," to finish what he had started the previous evening and that he had not said all that he had wanted to say. I have to be honest brothers and sisters, If I had time to think about it, I would have probably put him off, but he caught us off-guard and we agreed to his request, one that had me quite nervous.
The service began and very soon, brother Dave suddenly became silent. Now, silence is a thing that many of us would struggle with in a service. One minute of silence in most churches would be quite a challenge. Brother David stood before the mike, his head hung low and said nothing. One minute passed, five minutes passed and at about the ten minute mark, I had reached the edge of my own faith. This enormous struggle was taking place inside my mind. I was desperate for him to speak, to say anything. I could not say that the Spirit of the Lord had fallen, what I could sense was an extreme discomfort amongst most of those around me. The whole atmosphere was made all the more tense because of the concrete floors, you could here people shuffling in their seats in dis-comfort at the silence. Some got up and walked out.
At the fourteen minute mark( can you tell I was watching the time) the man who was to " finish," his testimony from the previous evening, stood up and began to walk forward. No one had beckoned him to do this, brother Dave was still standing there with his head bowed. As he walked forward, brother Dave lifted his head and nodded to the man. The man turned around and faced the gathering. What happened next made my jaw drop open. He opened his mouth and out flowed the most beautiful, the most eloquent testimony I have ever heard. Where did these words come from? I had heard this man speak, I had spoken to him privately, he did not posses this vocabulary. And yet, with the finest oratory skills, this man praised the Living God and gave glory and honor unto Jesus and testified of the power of the living God to transform men. The Holy Spirit fell down upon the gathering. All over the building God was at work in the hearts of men and woman. Heart were restored that nigh, salvations occurred and many , many people made there way to the front, to kneel down at the old beam that was once a bar and weep before and in the presence of the Living God. There was no preaching that night, God was at work. And when it was over, I glanced at the old gnarled beam, it was stained with the tears of men and woman who had encountered God. I nudged brother Brian and said " look brother, tears instead of beers." ..............brother Frank