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"Hold on to God" (Interview)
(THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW OF SISTER MYRTLE MURRAY
WAS DONE ON JULY 3, 1998 BY TOM TRAUGHBER.)
(Tom) I was wondering about where you were born and raised,
and about your parents.
(Sister Myrtle) I was born in New Mexico. My parents moved to
Tennessee when I was 4 years old and we lived there a while;
dont remember just how long, then we moved to Lawrence
County TN. There I spent more years of my life. I received the
Holy Ghost about 1936. After we lived there a while, I had the
chance to go to Louisville with Brother Delbert and his sister. I
stayed there until the war.
(Tom) What was it that caused you to start seeking the Holy
(Sister Myrtle) I was in the Presbyterian; my daddy invited me
to the alter at 8 years old, but I was never happy or satisfied.
I felt like something was missing. That began to bother me very
deeply. I would just work a while in the field alone and just
work a while and look up and say "Oh God, isnt there
more to it than this." I would work a little more and say
"Oh God, isnt there something more than this". I
would just carry on like that. I was deeply concerned. So
concerned I began to feel something was wrong. I kept asking if
there was more than this. I was a little older then. I just did
not know what to think. I just knew there was something missing
but I did not know how to ask questions. Did not know what it was
all about. When I was about 13-14, I began to question it real
strong. At the time I was going through this, I think they were
praying in Louisville, they knew they were going to come to
Tennessee. I think they were praying about what would happen when
(Tom) Anyone in particular? Was that Brother Delbert Maupin
and Sister Mae Adams?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes, it was Brother Delbert, Sister Mae and
one of her sisters, Elizabeth. I was satisfied that the holy
Ghost was what I wanted when they came, but I just did not know
how to give up and start. I just let it pass on that time.
Several months later, they came back again and brought more
people with them: Sister Mabel Grady and their sister in law,
Frances. This time, I went up to Sister Mae, she laid hands on
me, and I did not feel anything then. She prayed, "Lord,
help her to believe!" When she said help me to believe, I
started crying and went backwards. I got the Holy Ghost that
night, but I did not speak in tongues anymore; there would be
times I would doubt whether I had it or not. Brother Frank came
down and had some meetings. He held some in our home too.
(Tom) Where was your daddy during this?
(Sister Myrtle) My daddy and mother were all in the home too.
(Tom) Did your parents mind this?
(Sister Myrtle) They did not let me know that they did not
like it at the time. My daddy would let us pray at night before
we went to bed, maybe once a week, just to have a prayer before
bed. That was all right as long as we got down on our knees and
asked the Lord to help us through the night and thank Him for
what he had done for us, and little things like that. He was
pleased with just a formal prayer. But then I wanted to get
closer to the Lord and felt like I needed to get outside. I
thought if I could just call out real loud to God that I could
get somewhere. At that time, I did not realize the neighbors were
going to hear me in the garden. The neighbors began to grumble to
my daddy. After they grumbled to him, he said I had to stop the
praying. I did not get back at him at all. I said to myself, it
may stop now, but I am going to pray somewhere, sometime. Yes, I
am going to pray somewhere, sometime. I started then just
kneeling down at my bedside each night and in the morning. I got
by like that for a while. Then we moved on the other side of the
county in the country. We started having prayer meetings once in
a while in our home. After that, Delbert, Mae, and her sister
came down and had a meeting at "Possum Trot". After the
meeting, they ask papa and mama about me going home with them and
he was willing for me to go. I went to Louisville then. After I
had been there a while, Papa and the rest of them from home had
moved up from Tennessee. Mama had died in 1940. I went with them
in the home. I decided the mission was closing in Louisville,
because Delbert was going in the Army. Another mission I knew of
was closing so I decided to go to North Carolina.
(Tom) Who did you go with?
(Sister Myrtle) I went alone on the bus. I promised the Lord
that if He got me a job, I would go. I got the job working in a
war plant. I worked two weeks, got my check -- I went to the
grocery store-- clothing store-- and spent every penny of it. It
dawned on me that I promised the Lord that I would go to North
Carolina when I got the money. It seemed like it came to me that
I could keep working and get another check. When I got that
check, I started out. Then I came to North Carolina. My daddy was
always writing for me to come home and stay. My baby sister told
me that she didnt know whether or not it was God wanting me
to stay; but she did not want to say anything about it. She said
she knew I thought it was God. She had that much confidence in me.
(Tom) Did you know Brother Clark at that time?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes. He had been down to Tennessee with
Brother Frank. He came one time.
(Tom) Was that the first time you handled a snake, down in
(Sister Myrtle) No, that was in Kentucky. Oh, about the snake
handlers. I was working on Sutcliff Avenue in Louisville and I
had just been to spend the night with Cleo. I was getting ready
to get back on the bus to go to Sutcliff Avenue where I lived.
Cleo was talking to her son and he seemed interested in what she
was saying. I asked her what he was talking about and she said
that Brother Green was coming back with the snakes.
(Tom) Where was Brother Green from?
(Sister Myrtle) The mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. I was
always really afraid of snakes. I think my mother got scared when
she was carrying me and I always felt that is what made me so
afraid of them. I thought I would either have to get closer to
God or else I couldnt make it. I felt if I did not handle
one, I would be lost. I dont guess it would have been like
that. I did not pray to handle the snake, I just prayed to obey
God. Every morning and night I would ask the Lord to help me
obey. I thought maybe I could get by without handling a snake. I
was praying, "Lord I just want to obey". I would pray
that morning and night. One morning I woke up with a strange
feeling in my hand. I felt a little weeping. I felt kind of
humble. I felt something in my hand and God said, " this is
to handle snakes." I began to say, Oh Lord, what is this all
about. I was crying and I did not know why and said this is to
handle snakes. I thought well, this is it. I went on all day and
forgot all about that and came to the meeting. There they were,
handling snakes. I let them all go by the first time. They put
them back in the box. I began to feel so cramped. I said, Lord
just dont let them be able to sing or do anything for very
long so they will open that box again. It worked, just like I had
prayed. They could not find anything to sing and the one they
planned to sing did not last long. So they got the box and
somebody brought them over to me. I just held my hands open and
they laid the snake in my hands. I stood there and praised the
Lord. The love I felt was just like loving a baby. You know how
it feels when you are holding a baby, how innocent it is. I felt
that same kind of love before I could handle the snake. It was
the love of God. People talk about never handling one but they
just dont know the love that comes over them. A love can
cast out fear; when you feel that love and not the fear, then you
can handle them. I would not advise anyone to do it who did not
have some experience with it. I would not advise them to try it.
If the fear is not cast out, it is not doing anything.
(Tom) What do you think is the reason they handled snakes? Why
did they do it? We do not see that around here anymore.
(Sister Myrtle) It (the Bible) said they shall take up
serpents. Some people try to spiritualize it in meaning it to
handle other things that were evil, but why would it be. It
worked in my case. I would not advise anyone to handle them if
they did not have some experience and felt like they should do
(Tom) Did you do it after that as well; any other time? Did
Brother Delbert put a stop to it?
(Sister Myrtle) No. They went away. After they went away, they
called or had written back and wanted to come back with the
snakes, but Delbert said no. He said we let them come and we
accepted what they had. In other words, we picked up snakes, and
we told them about the new birth and they did not accept what we
had. We accepted what they had, but they did not accept ours. He
said that would be us following the signs instead of signs
following us if we continued for them to come and we kept
handling the snakes. We would be following the signs instead of
letting the signs follow us. He said no, that he did not want
them to come back under those circumstances. That was reasonable.
(Tom) Sounds like wisdom to me. Let me ask you just a couple
more questions. How did you meet Brother Murray?
(Sister Myrtle) His mother lived in the country a few miles
from Henderson, NC and they had some meetings down there. He was
in the military, but home when I saw him coming up the hill with
his mother. I dont remember if he went to the meeting at
that time and I dont remember having any conversation with
him. I went back to Henderson and he got back on the train to go
back somewhere. I dont think I saw him anymore until the
war was over. When the war was over, he went to see his brother
in Texas, at Fort Worth or somewhere in Dallas. I believe it was
Fort Worth. He went to see him and then he stayed on the farm for
a little bit but he did not like farming. He got his brother to
farm a little for him. He came to Henderson and stayed around
Brother Clark. He was nervous after he had been in the service.
He got to working with the tracks. After he stayed so long a time
around Brother Clark, he got to where his nerves had calmed down
a lot. Then he got a job and went to work. Afterwards he began to
feel happier and he began to be more talkative.
(Tom) You were working at a lunch counter?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes, I was working at a lunch counter and he
was working for the school, in maintenance. We decided to get
married. We were married 44 years and 4 months.
(Tom) Let me ask you one more question. I was sitting here
trying to do my math. You said you received the Holy Ghost in
1936. Thats about 62 years ago. Is that right?
(Sister Myrtle) I guess so.
(Tom) I guess what I would like to ask you is this. Of all the
experiences you have had with the Lord in those 62 years, and
think about all the young people now, at the meetings here, at
the Gospel Tract News and Brother Johns meeting, what
advice would you like to give us? After all these years, what
sticks out in your mind that you would like to pass on to us.
(Sister Myrtle) I would tell them to seek God while they are
young and to be slow to do anything. Seek God about anything they
want to do, especially if it is life time decision. To seek God
before they make their decisions. Of course, I would tell them to
seek the Holy Ghost so they could have the Lord to help them with
(Tom) Is there anything else you would like to add before we
close out. Anything else, an experience or anything that comes to
mind that you would like to talk about?
(Sister Myrtle) I would say not to give up when you are
persecuted. (I call it persecution.) As young as I was at the
time, my parents were persecuting me for praying out loud. Of
course, you dont have to pray out loud to hold on to God as
far as that goes. I was a child. I have heard someone say, "
How do people hold onto God in the cities where they cant
get out and pray loud." I would just say regardless of what
the struggle is, dont give up. God will make a way.
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