I grew up on a farm in North Carolina and I can remember walking down an old country dirt path, just a young girl at the time, with conviction in my heart for God. I can see myself now as then looking up toward heaven and praying to God to let me grow up loving Him. And praying that when I grew up, He would send me someone who would love me and God. I didn't realize at the time how much God was listening to just a "little country girl's prayer."
One night, I had such a hunger or conviction in my heart and a sister in the Lord saw my desire for God and asked me if I wanted her to pray with me. "Yes," I said very quickly. So she prayed with me. I felt better after the prayer and she told me, "You got saved." I said, "I did?" She was a young girl in the Lord, herself, and she helped me the best she knew how. Her praying with me that night helped to open the door for what lay ahead. For days I felt really happy that I "got saved," but as the weeks went by I started feeling "not so saved." Old thoughts and habits started coming back. I felt unclean but I didn't know why.
Now I was not even a teenager at the time, so I was not allowed to date or go places with other kids. My parents kept me close to them at all times, and I really didn't want to go very far from them either. But my point is that even though my life wasn't filled with sinful deeds, I still felt "unclean" and I didn't know what I had done to feel this way. I prayed and confessed that I had received Jesus and did as I was instructed to do. What was it that made me feel so bad? The thing that tormented me the most was when I didn't feel "saved" anymore, I was too ashamed to tell anyone. What would they think? How would they feel about me? I was already condemning myself. Would they think I was bad or evil, too? How could I explain this feeling to anyone, when I didn’t understand it myself? I was afraid to tell because I felt like such a failure to myself and to them, but most of all, to God. The only alternative I thought I had was to keep silent, telling no one of the guilt that was tormenting me deep inside my soul. Little did I know that as my heart was crying out on the inside for help, someone was listening from above. Over the next several years, I could still feel God pulling at my heart. I cried and repented on several occasions, claiming to have "gotten saved." At times feeling better but never receiving that cleansing power I yearned to feel. I remember asking God "isn't there something that can make my experience last? Something that can keep my mind clean and get rid of old habits and sinful ways?"
My Daddy was a tenant farmer, so we went to different farms to work. One day, he came home and told us we were moving again, but this time, to a new town, a town I had never heard of. Boy, this terrified me to think of being in a new town, at a new house, in a new community, but mostly going to a new school. So, over the Christmas holidays, we packed up all our belongings and headed for our new environment.
It was a small town where everyone knew everybody, only I didn't know anybody. Then the big day came for my first day at my new school. When that big, empty school bus drove up to my house early that morning, I climbed up and sat on the very first seat by the door and off we drove. We pulled up to the railroad tracks, which were located in the middle of town, where a young fellow was waiting to board. When the door opened, he pulled on the handle bar to enter the bus. I didn't know who he was or anything about him, all I know was that I felt something in my heart for him and the thought came to me that "this is the boy I would like to marry." Now I was only in the seventh grade and very immature at the time. My mind wasn't on dating or boys as the kids in this generation are so involved with. It was just a clean innocent thought. In the months ahead, if I saw this boy around town or school, I could still feel this warm feeling in my heart for him. I found out later he was a senior and would be graduating that year. I only saw him occasionally around town after that. I don't think I even knew his name, nor do I remember spending a lot of my time day-dreaming about him. He hardly came to mind unless I saw him in town. And I never told anyone about that experience.
Several years passed. I was in the tenth grade when a car pulled into the driveway and a young man came to the door. He was looking for my older sister, who at this time, had gone away to college, but he didn't know she wasn't at home. They had gone to school together. His name was Earl and he wanted to talk to her about his Pentecostal experience that he had received. He was very happy and excited about it and as he began to talk, my heart just leaped inside of me. He was telling me of a way I could know that I could be right with God. A way I could be cleansed from my thoughts and deeds. A way I could be happy in God and God could be happy with me. He was telling me about that "Something" I had prayed and prayed to God about. He was telling me about his receiving the holy Ghost and how he felt so clean and pure before God and how a language came from heaven and he started speaking in tongues. It was just so thrilling for me to hear this. I knew, then, that this was what I wanted and needed. He asked my mother and me if we wanted to go to a meeting, and I said "yes I do." My life would never be the same after that moment.
I had always been a shy, quiet person around other people, so going to a meeting with strangers was a very nervous experience for me, but the welcome I received was wonderful. They treated me like "one of the family" and were so thrilled that God was dealing with me. They encouraged me to seek God and pray and that He was a “rewarder to them that diligently seek Him.” I just fell in love with all of them. As the months passed, I continued to seek God and come to these Spirit-filled meetings. God was truly blessing me. I did works of repentance. Anything that God laid on my heart to do, I did. I was as obedient to God as I knew how. I wanted this "holy Ghost." I loved the fellowship with the body and I thanked God for a Pastor who knew my needs and could instruct me in the ways of the Lord. While attending a meeting one day in September of 1966, Preacher Clark laid hands on me as I cried out to God. I got this vision of Jesus in the clouds. He was wearing a long white robe, and His arms were stretched out to me. The next thing I knew, I heard someone stammering in tongues. Everyone was rejoicing in the Lord, some laughing, some crying, and some shouting. Then I heard my Pastor Preacher Clark say, "Betty, honey, that's it, you got It." Then I realized it was me speaking in tongues and not someone else. What a day!!! What an experience!!! Oh what joy I felt!!! I was clean. For the first time in my life I was clean from the inside out. I was so happy and so was everyone else.
It was dark when I came home and my Mother was waiting at the door for me, as she normally did when any of her girls were out. I walked in and just hugged her and started crying, "Mama, I got It, I got It." She cried and I knew she was happy for me too, because she was aware of my thoughts and feelings about the meetings, God, and the holy Ghost, and how I loved the people. She knew my heart's desire and she wanted me to be happy. My mother had Emphysema and her health was declining at this time, so I often prayed with her for God to give her strength and health. She passed away in 1984, but not before receiving the precious holy Ghost over ten years prior. I had never seen anyone enjoy it more.
I was seventeen now and preparing for my senior year. My prayer that summer had been to receive the holy Ghost before returning to school my senior year, and God answered that prayer. We farmed and my Daddy raised tobacco and the crop was late and we had to finish it before we could start school, putting me two weeks behind schedule. I received the holy Ghost just a few days prior. Amen. Graduation was nearing and I was really feeling blessed by God. And guess what! I was still happy in God, and God was still happy with me. I didn't battle those feelings of being "unsaved" because I realized that when a person is seeking God, that's just repenting, it's not getting saved.
I continued to go to the meetings, spending a significant amount of time with Earl. The strange thing was that we never considered ourselves dating. People around town just automatically associated us as a couple. We were just so happy in God that we didn't realize what was happening to us. I can't recall us ever going out "on a date," as you may call it. The time we spent together was used to talk about the Lord, read the Bible, or visit the saints of God. The one thing I did know was that I sure liked being around him and he liked being with me. God was uniting us in heart and in the Spirit and we hadn't even realized it at this time. One day, my Preacher Clark ask Earl if he had any thoughts about marrying. There were other girls he knew who had been filled with the holy Ghost and my Pastor wanted to know if he (Earl) had any interest in them. Earl said "I want someone who loves and understands the truth", and these girls were not attending our meetings at this time, nor did they understand this way. “The only girl I have fellowship with is Betty. So my interest would be in her.” My Pastor felt this but just wanted to know Earl's thoughts about it. Then Earl asked me to marry him and I started telling him my feelings toward him. Feelings, I guess were there for a good while, only it took this moment for me to realize it. I said, "Yes"!!!!!! He kissed me for the first time, and it was my first kiss ever. There was never any physical contact between us, at any time, up to this point, and very limited, I might add, after this point, until our marriage several weeks later, where we married at the Justice of the Peace and signed our papers.
We were just two young kids starting out in life. I was 18, and Earl was 23. We both were immature in some things, but we both loved God and the fellowship of the saints of God. It became our life and our joy. We treasured the moments we spent with them and loved to experience and hear about the moving of God in their lives. It was thrilling and faith building to us. It was food to our souls. Those old Saints would cry as they told how God delivered them through hard times, comforted them through the loss of a loved one, even the loss of their own children. Also, they were excited when telling how God blessed them and supplied their needs all along the way, and praised Him for giving them the precious holy Ghost, which made the way for them to have communion with their beloved Lord and Father. They were a thankful people, given to hospitality and charity. They rejoiced when God blessed someone and they mourned if anyone gave up their riches in God to follow some foolish notion or idea. Tender hearts, full of mercy, were these precious people, which in this day and age are hard to find. Our dear Aunt Myrtle is the only living "Old Saint" which helped pray me through to the holy Ghost. She is a gem in the Kingdom of God and I love her dearly. I feel so blessed to have been a part of their lives, for they surely paved the way for me and endured the hardships and persecutions that come with serving God. They had their minds made up and were unmovable when it came to the Truths and Communion with God, and were not torn in their faith toward God through life's ups and downs.
God has faithfully been with Earl and me over the past forty-four years and has given us a daughter, Amy, whom we love deeply. Giving birth to her was one of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced. Just to hear her newborn cry and hold her for the first time. My it was such a sweet feeling. She has grown up now, and received the holy Ghost.
God had my life planned from the beginning. I'm so thankful I didn't hesitate or fail to answer my calling when Jesus gave it to me. By going to those wonderful holy Ghost meetings and repenting....really repenting, and receiving the holy Ghost, God has given me a life in Him. An answered prayer that He put in my heart from the beginning.
Earl and I are much older and wiser. Now, we are the "Old Saints" to the group we fellowship with. I pray that we can be a blessing to them as the saints were to us when we started. While young in the Lord, I could not have imagined being sixty-two years old with white hair, and pages of experiences of how God has brought us through situations and heartaches, but it has happened. I am happier now than when I began. I'm happier in the Spirit, with my family, with my walk with God, and my life. Earl and I are a blessed people. God is revealing more truth and knowledge to us everyday. It's exciting to be a part of this time in God.
One of the greatest messages my Pastor now, John Clark, who is Preacher Clark’s son, taught me was that God is in control of my life, not the devil, and that He (GOD) decides what is best for me, even if I don't think it is what is best for me. God knows me better than I know myself and I need to trust Him no matter what. Whether I understand it or don't understand it, I must trust God. It sure does help to know who to blame and who to talk to when situations arise. It keeps you from becoming bitter in your heart towards God and people that He uses to help you grow in Him. It has carried me through this life with peace because I know who has my best interest at heart. It isn't this world and it surely isn't the devil.
I thank God so often for seeing that "little country girl" and answering her sincere cries from the heart. No one but God could take me down a road of life and show me time after time His reasonings of why this or that has happened. It's all so clear to me now. All the pieces of my life fit together like a puzzle. You see, the boy I married is the same boy that I saw at the railroad tracks, my first day going to my new school, in a new town with new faces. He is the boy who grabbed the bar on the bus, and when I saw him, a warm feeling came into my heart for him. He is the boy that came to my house to tell of his experience of receiving the holy Ghost. He is the boy that showed me the way to this wonderful life I have in God now. He is the boy God chose for me to spend the rest of my life with. And why? because God had mercy on a "little country girl" and saw her desire to live a holy life, her desire to want to know the right path to take to find Him, and who, because of His mercy, put love in my heart for the truth and for His people and sent me to a group of wonderful holy Ghost people who loved me enough to instruct me in the right ways of God, but mostly giving me an "Anointed" Pastor who hears and knows the "Voice of God," and teaches me to know that Voice also. God did all of this for me, because He loved me.
Oh, and by the way, it was several years after Earl and I were married before I remembered my experience on the school bus in the 7th grade. God let me forget it because it was His plan, not mine. That is why I can say for a surety there is a purpose, a time, and a season for everything and I thank God that He made me a part of His plan.