|L to R Me, Mom, Grandma Jones, Grandma Pearce (Grandma Jones' Mother)|
My Story: Pentecostal
“ 1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Yes, I was born in and grew up in a Pentecostal Family. My maternal grandmother was the pastor of the local Pentecostal Church in the little saw-mill town of Lacoochee, Florida. Hearing people speak in tongues and seeing them dance ecstatically in the spirit was as common for me as drinking water from a glass. Praying for the sick that resulted in Divine Healing and miracles was not at all strange or different. I grew up thinking that was the way “church” was supposed to be. I have seen people “slain in the Spirit” in the church as far back as I can remember. Let me give you some background to my faith.
Dad had left home at 15 and had become a hobo on the freight trains, where he learned to smoke and drink and swear with his buddies. It was 1934-1937. When he and his friends would come back home after a long trip they would entertain in the dance hall and work awhile in the Cummers Saw Mill, where orange crates were made. He was making the fantastic sum of $9.00 per week for a full week’s work. It wasn’t long until he cut off the first joint of his index finger on the saw. He refused to go to a doctor but just stuck the joint of his finger on, wrapped it in a wrag, poured on the rubbing alchohol and let it heal back naturally. “Natural” in this case turned out to be a crooked “pointing finger”. While playing his guitar in the dance hall in the evenings, slipping a sip of whiskey from the bottle and getting himself generally drunk - the little Pentecostal church across the railroad tracks could be heard with characteristic singing, praying and shouting (in the old time way) for, you see, it was summer and the windows were left open for ventilation in the small wood-framed structure so typical of country churches of that day. As Daddy explained it to us, “While playing at the dance when we’d hear a shout break out we would run over to the church and peep in the windows to watch the show!” While peeping in the window, Dad saw the “most beautiful girl in the world” and was captivated by her beauty. He made up his mind that he wanted to get better acquainted and soon learned that this 16 year old young lady was the Pastor’s daughter.
Sister Jones was a very charismatic leader. She was charismatic before most of us ever knew what that word meant. She found out that Louis could play the guitar and invited him to play with the church band. I do not believe that was normal for Pentecostal churches in those days for they were also “Holiness” churches but this may give some insight into the wisdom of Pastor Jones. [“Holiness”, That will be a subject for a later blog] She eventually won the young man to a deep experience with Christ. During a Revival, while the house was full of fervent worshippers, Dad had “slipped a sip or two” before the meeting started. At one high point of leading the service, Sister Jones playing the fiddle, called out to the crowd, “Saints! I feel the Spirit in this place tonight!” Dad, by now feeling the effects of his “slippin’ and sippin’” shouted back, “ME TOOOOOO!” Grandma then called to the congregation, “Praise God, Church! The Spirit’s move is so powerful here that even these old sinners are feeling it!” I’m not positive that it was the same night – but during that or a similar service, the house was so crowded that there was no room to sit in the back of the church. So – after playing his guitar for the preliminaries – young Louis Brannen sat on the only available seat – the front row! After the sermon was finished he was invited to the altar to pray. He says, “The Devil said to me, ‘Just smack Sister Rosier in the face and tell her NO!’” Instead of obeying the Devil, he obeyed the Lord, “took two steps and fell into the altar” where he was gloriously converted.
Events moved swiftly. Louis was “Sanctified and Filled with the Holy Ghost” with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as mentioned in Acts 2:4. This Glossalalia phenomenon was for the common man. Louis became a changed man. He immediately stopped drinking. No more cursing. No more smoking. Just like that. It was permanent. I was 60 years of age when he died and I can honestly tell you that I never ever observed my Dad say or do anything that would make me doubt his experience with the Lord. Soon he became the clerk of the church and asked for the hand of Bonnie Jones in marriage. He was just 20 years old. Bonnie was 16 when they married. True to her oft repeated words, “I’ll NEVER marry a preacher, she married this saw-mill worker. However, it was only a few short weeks after they were married that Daddy announced to the congregation that he now felt “called” to preach. This was the beginning of 62 years together in full-time ministry before Dad passed from this life into the presence of his Savior.
|Grandma Jones, Mom, Dad|