Good morning, y’all.The heat is here and there’s no denying it. We still have the promise of flash storms or popup showers hitting our area at a moment’s notice. They bring a quick relief temperature wise, but then setup the steam room like conditions that are so deadly for old folks with BMI’s just South of Death Valley’s average temperature. I appreciate the moisture for the flora and fauna, but will continue to whine about my own personal comfort.
Speaking of whining brings us back to the retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. Long before there were rock stars demanding MM’s in their dressing room with all of the brown ones removed, or large flower arrangements of colored flowers with no chrysanthemums, lilies, carnations, or daisies, there were traveling preachers who demanded that their every request be made perfect before they would take the stage. Apparently the conditions had to be just perfect for Jesus to do his work, or at least work through his servant, and the traveling ministers made long lists of their demands. The more famous Evangelists even had entourages that had to be catered to as closely as the “star”.
The accommodations for their stay had to be perfect, even if the minister had to be housed in the closest town that afforded that level of luxury. Menus had to be strictly adhered to lest the minister come down with some local malady and be put out of commission for part of the revival season. Many of the revival preachers had flocks of their own, and used their vacation time as an opportunity to pick up some extra cash. Being treated like royalty by the local communities while doing “what came natural” was a Godsend for ministers who usually had to get by with what their following could afford.
Developing a name for yourself on the revival circuit could result in securing full time employment on the circuit. Being on the circuit full time could be far more rewarding than the renumeration of a full time preacher, even one with a large congregation. The demands on the Evangelist were far smaller than on their hosting counterparts.
First, the Evangelist needed at best, six sermons, and that was if he was a keynote speaker at the revival. It was true that they needed to be six really powerful sermons, but, at the end of the revival, the Evangelist would move on to a new congregation that had not heard his repertoire. The preacher with his own church had to come up with something new every Sunday, for as long he held court.
Next, the Revival minister was promised a larger portion of a much larger gate than the local preachers were ever exposed to. The traveling Revivalists could make as much in one week as the local minister made in a year, and the Revivalists had none of the responsibilities to the flock. At the end of the week, the Revivalist was off to the next town and the next set of sinners needing salvation. If a “healing” the Revivalist had done had worn off, or never materialized, it would be left to the local minister to explain that the, “Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”. There were no refunds in the Revival business.
If an Evangelist reached the super star status of a Billy Graham or Oral Roberts, he wouldn’t have to wait for the Hereafter to walk on the “streets paved of gold” or pass through “pearly gates”. He could just have pearly gates made for his compound, and have the streets paved with actual gold. Being in the upper echelon of the Evangelist game has that kind of wealth. Evangelist Benny Hinn has an estimated net worth of 42 million, and is less well known than Elmer Gantry. Doing well on the circuit was something that held great rewards for the preachers that could get their names on the top of list.
This was the competitive market that the congregation of the Little Church in the Valley found themselves in at Summer Revival 2010. There were six revivalists scheduled for the week, one headliner and five hopefuls. Two of the hopefuls were fresh out of the seminary, while the other three were currently employed by other churches. Each of the hopefuls would open for the headliner, the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson. After the fifth hopeful preached on Friday night, the pastor selection team would vote to determine who would be asked to preach again on the sixth and final night. If the chosen hopeful filled the selection committee with the same enthusiasm in his second sermon as he did in his first offering, the selection committee was charged to make an offer.
The committee knew the offer had to be sweet enough to lure the visitor to settle in the small mountain community. The selection committee was prepared to offer an unusual set of perks. First, was the finely outfitted parsonage, three bedrooms, two and a half baths, with all of the furniture and kitchen appliances provided. Next, was a late model four wheel drive vehicle suitable for use in ministering to the flock in the most remote of locations. Gasoline for the vehicle would be provided by the Hoakum General Store, along with a generous grocery stipend. Utilities were included and the only thing the new minister would be out of pocket for would be clothing and any personal items he didn’t want to run by the cashier at the Hoakum General Store.
To make way for the new minister, Reverend Daniel and Bubba had began moving their belongings to their new home. Daniel’s nephew, Zeke, had offered a small cabin at the backside of his property which abutted the cemetery. It was the original dwelling on the property, and Zeke had reclaimed it as a machine shop. Complete with in door plumbing, the cabin would be re-purposed for the two bachelors until they made better accommodations. The cabin was within easy walking distance of the church, and would provide a comfortable nest for the Reverend and his son until the next mission was revealed.
Lights were strung and the concessionaires made their last minute preparations. The first sermon was to begin at 7PM, with the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson scheduled for the main tent for all six nights. Cars began arriving at 4PM. It was going to be a memorable revival, in more ways than one.