By the time I was eight years of age, my father was a full-time pastor and had gained considerable recognition for himself. He was overseer of a three-state district for the Assemblies of God. His district included Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Southern West Virginia. His pastorate consisted of four churches. He visited each of these one Sunday out of each month. In his absence, the care of the church was left to a head deacon.

Although absent from the individual congregation for weeks at a time, his close relationship to the Lord kept him aware of every secret situation. Nothing passed him by.

Upon arrival at each church, a business meeting would be held prior to the service. It was then that Dad produced a little black book, whose appearance provoked curiosity to the innocent and trembling fear to the guilty, for his word of knowledge ministry was known by all members.

"Sister Miller," he would begin, "the Lord showed me that on January 9th, you told a lie on Sister Kelly to try and make her leave the church."

He never had to ask if it were true, for the revelation from the Lord was so accurate and descriptive that no protest could arise from the lips of the guilty one. Repentance was immediate and revival resulted.

And so the visits to each of his pastorates would bring swift correction along with spiritual exhortation and a deepening love for God's power. At the same time many souls were won for the kingdom of God.

The biggest event of the week for a preacher's family was, of course, going to church. Our lives had become church centered. Church provided our religious education, social activity and our entertainment. Some might think we would have grown bored with having to attend church so often, but not so in my father's circle of ministry. Something unusual and often miraculous was bound to happen.

One of the most outstanding miracles I stored in the treasure chest of my memory took place at a revival in the old "Glory Barn" in the little town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a community about twelve miles from where we lived in Norton.

The building, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, who owned the adjoining property, was once an unused barn, which had been converted into a place of worship.

This donation was a result of the prayers of the people of Big Stone Gap, who wanted to attend a full-gospel church but had to drive several miles away to a church further up the valley where my father pastored.

When their willingness to offer this building as a church was made known, my father found that he had another congregation.

Because of its construction it easily held large crowds, and evangelists, such as James Hamil (who met and married my father's piano player) and Otto Lunsford, filled it to capacity, preaching old-time gospel with signs following their ministry. I personally saw the blind see, the deaf hear, the dumb talk, large goiters disappear and short limbs grow to full length. Because of these and other miraculous happenings, it had rightfully earned for itself the name of the "Glory Barn."

People came in spite of the totally alien appearance of the church building. Each uncomfortable bench was made by laying a rough-hewn plank across two logs; it still maintained its dirt floor which had been packed smooth by the feet of the many people who frequently jammed the building for the worship services.

On this particular evening the service was about to begin. Some worshipers were already seated. Others mingled in the aisles greeting fellow Christians. Their voices, mixed together with the noise of the musicians on the platform tuning up, created a cacophony of sound.

The naked electric bulbs, hanging in their sockets by a thin wire from the rafters overhead, scattered their sparse light about, dispelling the darkness in the cavernous building. I made my way onto the platform to ask permission to sit with my friends in the rear. The crudely constructed platform, with its cracks so wide they challenged any young boy to spit through them, squeaked and creaked as I walked to where my father sat leafing through his Bible.

Having received my orders on church behavior, I had no sooner sat down with my buddies when the song leader stepped forward to open with prayer and announce the song.

Joyous singing filled the air, "There's going to be a meeting in the air in the sweet, sweet bye and bye..."

Clapping hands picked up the rhythm and here and there some feet kept a tapping pace. The songs were accentuated and punctuated with enthusiastic "amens" and "halleujahs." It wasn't long before some of the people began dancing up and down the aisles, eyes closed, arms stretched upward, oblivious to those around them. They were following the leading of King David in 2 Samuel 6:14; for David "danced before the Lord with all his might."

I looked up to see a group of people enter the building and take their seats about halfway down the aisle. Among them, I noted, was a cousin of mine. I was mildly surprised for his family was not known as church-goers.

I sat there smiling to myself, enjoying the scene which met my eyes, until suddenly what I saw filled me with indignation and caused a red flush to creep up from beneath my collar.

There sat my cousin and his group mocking the worshipers. Observance of those around them produced a mimicry that was not motivated by the Spirit. They pretended to jerk, shake, and move their mouths in jabbering words as if they were "speaking in tongues" and were "in the Spirit," then, they would turn to one another for approval. This would produce an instantaneous outbreak of giggles and smothered laughter. I realized as I sat a few rows behind them that they had not come to worship, but only to have a few laughs at the expense of God's children.

People nearby began to turn and stare, becoming agitated and upset by the disturbance, but not really knowing what to do. I noted that some of them dropped their heads in prayer concerning the disrespectful behaviour.

As the service progressed, each portion of the meeting, with its various participants, would provoke that group of irreverent men and women to further imitate the actions of what they called the "holy rollers." I wondered what my father would do when it came his turn to preach if they kept this action up. Would he denounce them from the pulpit, proclaiming them as an abomination in God's house?

But instead, when his turn came, he arose, read his text and began to fervently and mightly preach the Word. The power of the Holy Spirit became a hovering Presence, unseen, but felt by all. It seemed to envelop my father and add its weight to his words.

As my father preached with his usual zeal, his deep Virginia voice resounded throughout the building, filling it with his anointed message. I could always tell when he began to "feel the Spirit," for as his words became more rapid each phrase was finalized with a gusty "huh-uh" followed by an upward heaving of the shoulders as his head snapped back and his mouth opened wide to gulp enough fresh air to sustain the next powerful utterance.

Soon his coat was hastily removed and flung with abandon to a nearby empty folding chair, landing in a crumpled heap.

He rolled his shirt-sleeves up past his elbows to give more freedom to his articulate gesturing as he emphasized each phrase. His tie was hanging loosely about his now unbuttoned collar, perspiration streaming from his brow, reflecting the light of the bare bulb hanging just overhead. His white shirt looked like he had just come in from a rain shower.

His already soaked handkerchief, snatched from his hip pocket, mopped his forehead.

The audience was caught in the spell. Shouts of "amen" followed each positive statement.

I looked all around the building and noted the mood of the crowd, and saw that even the eyes of that unbelieving group seemed riveted upon my father, but not without sneers of contempt upon the faces of a few. I thought to myself, "It'd serve them right if God would pronounce judgment on them."

These thoughts had scarcely entered my mind when I heard gasps hiss through the audience. I looked up to see people rising to their feet and moving to the center of the aisle where a woman had collapsed on the floor.

"She's dead!" someone cried.

I sucked in my breath as the shock ran through me. The whole audience seemed to rise to their feet as one.

The woman who now lay lifeless had come with the group that had just previously been mocking the power of God. She had been sitting on the end of the pew and had just toppled over into the aisle. Those gathered around her checked her pulse, trying in every way to see if they could determine if life still existed in the still form, but it seemed of no avail.

All eyes now turned to my father, who had kept right on preaching.

"Brother Pat, she's dead!" someone yelled.

But my father kept right on preaching to the amazement of the congregation. The situation at hand did not deter him from his duty. He always believed in moving in the Spirit, not ahead of Him.

Then suddenly, while still preaching, he stepped down from the pulpit, his full weight causing a stirring of the dust on the floor. He hastily moved toward the place where the dead woman was lying. The people cluttering the aisles parted to make a path for him.

Suddenly, he stopped several feet away, and with his left hand raised to heaven, his right hand thrust forward, his forefinger pointed at the woman, and with a voice that seemed to shake the very rafters, he thundered, "I say unto you, in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk."

Excitement, mixed with disbelief, caused a murmur to ripple throughout the crowd at his bold command.

Suddenly, before our very eyes, the quickening power of God began to bring life back into the seemingly lifeless form. As movement was detected, frightened children clung to their awestricken parents. Tears streamed down the faces of both saints and sinners as sinners knelt to pray and saints began to rejoice while the woman stood to her feet.

So much dancing and rejoicing took place that I could no longer see anything else from my short height.

Needless to say, a revival broke forth that lasted for some time to come, and it spread across the countryside and won many souls to the kingdom of God.

Such was my heritage.


From: THE MIRACLE OF MURLIN HEIGHTS by Clifton E. Snodgrass, pag. 31-39, Whitaker House 1976, Springdale Pa, USA.