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Archive for the ‘Old-Time Pentecost’ Category

The Sound Man Was Blind!

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The Sound Man Was Blind!

It was Youth Rally Night in the little Tennessee country church. I sat in the audience, only two or three of the people even knew me. The small building was very full. The weather very bad. The guests had all braved the storm. They opened the service with prayer. They prayed for the storm to pass on by. “We beta hope de Ward heas our pwayer!” That was what the tongue-tied service leader said, trying to encourage faith in the congregation.

Something was terribly wrong with the microphone. They tapped it, they shook it, and then examined the cord. Nothing worked. All heads turned toward the small sound booth. The sound man was not looking down; he was looking up while he adjusted the board. What? Then it became apparent. He was blind. The sound man was blind and he was the one adjusting the board! Someone had changed the microphone settings and he was trying to restore them by feel. He got it back pretty close to normal too. Unbelievable.

He also ran the computer music software for the overhead projector. The slides on the screen did not always match the words being sung. But, no one seemed to care.

The organ player was taking pictures of the congregation with one hand while playing with the other. She extended her arm full length toward the audience as she took the photos.

They sang! They worshiped! They Shouted. The visiting ministers were all asked to testify. The teenage guest preacher for the Youth Rally was really nervous and it showed. He had never “preached out” before. He preached with anointing and then conviction fell. Young people moved to the altar area to pray. While she played for the altar call song, the organ player took flash photos with her left hand, of the folks coming down the aisle.

No, it wasn’t “perfect church”, like some of the big churches might have, but the congregation went home rejoicing and happy knowing they had been in the presence of the Lord.

This is Home Missions

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

June 10, 2018 at 12:45 am

“Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

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The Apostolic Tabernacle, located 905 S. Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana, was celebrating its anniversary. Bro. Carl Ballestero had just finished teaching the afternoon Bible Study. The service ended in prayer, and then the crowd was dismissed. Bro. Cavaness promised to feed his guests a BBQ feast and the crowd showed their excitement to go eat. Well, all except one teenager.

The dark-haired young man looked for a side room or a place to hide until the church emptied. He hoped that no one would miss him or come looking for him. He didn’t want to be seen by anyone right now. He couldn’t find a classroom.

Without anyone noticing, he slipped through a door that led him to the baptismal tank area. There, he bent over so as to remain unseen and moved to the side of the tank and laid down on the bare floor, flat on his back. He closed his eyes and waited. It seemed like forever before the sounds of conversations to died out and then he heard the front door close. He listened for any sounds of footsteps, but all was quiet. That’s when it started.

The boy began to cry, when I say cry, I don’t mean that there was a tear or two. I mean he began to sob. He wanted the same experience with God that his parents had. He felt shallow, empty, and unfulfilled. He wanted more of God. The sobs turned into groans and heartfelt travail. Time wasn’t important, food wasn’t important, getting something from God at that moment was all that mattered now.

Most of the afternoon the young prayed. His eyes were almost swollen shut. Some hours later, as folks gathered in for the evening service, he slipped out of the baptistery and into the Men’s room to comb his hair and wash his face. No one seemed to notice his earlier absence. His parents never mentioned it.

The young man became a pastor and many years later he invited Bro. Roger Evens to preach for him. One day, Bro. Evens said, “Do you remember the day at Shelbyville that you prayed behind the baptistery and didn’t go eat with everyone else?

The young pastor’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know about that?” he asked.

“I was there,” Bro. Evens said. “I came back into the church with your dad looking for you and making sure you had a way to go eat. That’s when we heard you crying out to God. I told you dad to go pray with you because I couldn’t go eat knowing you were crying like that.”

“Your dad said, ‘No, I can’t go pray for him.”

“Why not?” I said.

“Like a baby chick getting out of its shell, it has to do that by its self! If he doesn’t get this for himself he will never amount to a hill of beans.”

“With tears in your dad’s eyes and in mine, we walked out of the church that day.”

 

 

Fifty-five years later, all I can say now is, “Thanks, Dad! I got it for myself!”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

March 19, 2018 at 1:55 pm

The Heartache Church

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The Heartache Church

Pastor Miller hung the phone up and slumped into the chair. This was unbelievable! It was sickening. He sensed the pending devastation.

The voice mail on his cell phone announced that the 3rd couple in two months wanted to move their membership across town to the big church.

Only a handful of families were left here now. Would the nightmare ever stop? It was like a hemorrhage that was unending. The families that had left weren’t content to just go, they pulled on the remaining ones with reports of how wonderful things were at the new church. Their family and friends wavered in their loyalties. Who knew where it would stop. His church wasn’t growing. It was shrinking and he couldn’t stop the process.

No letter of transfer was ever asked for, and the other pastor had never called when someone moved in. He didn’t want to accuse the pastor across town of trying to proselyte, but the members there didn’t hesitate to do it for him.

The big church had quite a few people with money. They could afford to hire a full-time music director. They had also imported a youth pastor that was given full reign and a handsome expense account to attract and entertain young people. He did his job well, evidently. He personally encouraged all the young people in town to be a part of his youth group.

The bigger church had concerts, dramas, guitar-driven worship, newer songs, fog machines, strobe lights, multimedia presentations, Power-Points and many well-known guest speakers. A Starbucks type coffee shop was just down the hall from the entrance. The aroma always drew a crowd. Their church always had something going on there.

It was impossible for pastor Miller’s small church to compete with the big boys. He had neither the resources nor the staff. He worked a secular job just to keep the wolf away from the door.

He had nearly broken his health trying to dig a church out of nothing. He had been ethical to a fault. He had never taken anyone from another church.

He personally had won most of the people in his church. He had taught almost everyone there a Home Bible Study. He had prayed them through. He had baptized them. So, this is the thanks he gets? How does he stop the migration? He didn’t want to feel jealous or harbor bad thoughts, but it still didn’t feel good. His wife was devastated. Now, there was little chance the church would be self-supporting anytime soon.

He knew the Pentecostals in town considered him “old school”.  He still had testimony service. His church even sang out of the songbook. They sang many choruses that were sung by previous generations.

A piano and a box guitar provided the music. They used to have a drummer, but he had moved across town to the big church.

Bro. Miller had never been invited to preach a special meeting in his life. He knew he never would be asked.

Two special needs adults in his church always caused distractions to visitors. One often spoke out loud at the wrong time and had to be treated like a child.

The $41.43 in the Sunday night offering last week didn’t pay much on the utilities or church payment. His people were poor. He had to help most of them survive. He had paid utilities for many of his people, helped a few times with their house payments. He’d even co-signed for a car, once or twice.

The girls in the big church called the young girls in his church ‘grandmas’. Their modest apparel was scorned as unnecessary. At the big church, not much was said about standards evidently. (That was an unkind thought he knew, but he was not impressed by what he’d seen of them in the mall.)

There was no one for pastor Miller to complain to, confide in, or cry with. He privately wished that the Prophet Nathan would go across town and preach the story of the ‘one ewe lamb’ again. It seemed fitting.

When he heard reports about ‘revival’ and church growth across town, he knew where some of the growth had come from.

Life didn’t seem fair. He made up his mind that he would paste a smile on his face, keep doing his best to have good church, preach like there was a house full, not talk about those who left and encourage the rest. His job, he knew, was to pray blessings on the big church and their pastor.

Pastor Miller knew that not all big churches were like the one across town from him. God would sort it all out somehow and Heaven’s Bookkeepers never made any mistakes. He was trying to help build God’s Kingdom, not his own. For him, this had been a long heartache. But, he would not allow there to be a war in God’s Kingdom.

This Too Is Home Missions!

A re-post from

The Home Missions Chronicles Blog
by Martyn Ballestero

Written by Martyn Ballestero

January 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm

“That’s ‘possum gumbo, brother.”

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Almost fifty people sat in the little wooden church house in Lunita, Louisiana. They had come to a Youth Revival to hear nineteen-year-old Marty Ballestero from South Bend, Indiana. Pastor Kirkland had announced revival services for the next nine nights.

There was only one musical instrument in the church, a piano. The pastor’s sixteen-year-old daughter played the best she could. She was backslidden, but they needed some music, and that’s all they had. No one else could play the piano.

The year was 1963, the month was November, and I was out in the sticks. There was not a traffic light or a stop sign to be found for miles. There was not much to be seen here, but piney woods. While praying in those woods I got 59 chigger bites in one hour. I spent the rest of my prayer meetings indoors. It is easier to scratch indoors.

The song service was started with the ‘choir’ coming up on the platform to sing. The ‘choir’ consisted of whoever wanted to come up. Only a few remained seated in the audience. No one shouted during the revival, nor seemed to be overly blessed by the singing or the preaching. But everyone was friendly and said nice things to their guest.

The crowd was made up of hard-working but poor, salt-of-the-earth kind of folks. During prayer requests, names like, ‘Sis. Turtle’, and ‘One-Legged Willie’ got mentioned. No one seemed to be amused by the unusual nicknames.

The offering pan was passed every night and the change clanging on the bottom was very noticeable.

I stayed in the side wing on the left side of the church, right next to the auditorium. My room had a bed and nothing more. An outhouse was not far from my side of the church. A white building now stands in its place. The wing has been more than doubled in size and everything is enlarged and bricked now.

The woods came right up beside the church house back then. The trees came so close it was almost possible to squirrel hunt sitting on the platform.

Bro. Kirkland, the pastor, lived in a mobile home with his wife, his daughter, and son. The trailer was parked to the right of the church. It sat in the tree line as well. He drove a casket delivery truck for Batesville Casket Company. I rode with him a few times during the day for fellowship.

At night after church, I would be invited to eat at their house.

I had never had much of an opportunity to eat Cajun cooking before. I had spent too many years out west and up north. One night, Sister Kirkland said, “I hope you like gumbo, brother,” as I entered her house.

“Oh yes ma’am,” I said. I didn’t know if I did or didn’t, but when you are only eating one meal a day, you don’t get too picky, because it’s 24 hours until they invite you over again.

I watched how my hosts ate their gumbo. It was served with a whole egg in it on one side and a generous helping of warm potato salad over on the other side. The rue was dark. I was hungry and ate mine up. The taste was a little different, but then I’d never had gumbo before, so I didn’t know what to expect.

“That’s ‘possum gumbo, brother.” The pastor’s fourteen-year-old son said. Did you like it?”

I didn’t want to say I liked it because the inward shock of being told I’d just eaten ‘possum was one thing, but to knowingly lie was another.

“It tasted pretty good whatever it was.”  (I don’t think I would have knowingly wished to eat ‘possum, but I did.)

I had been gone from home a little over a month and had been preaching a few nights here and there. This was my first revival since going full-time.

Since the sixteen-year-old piano player was backslidden, I chose not to have any music for altar service the entire revival. I had to give altar calls without music. I wanted her to pray through and knew she couldn’t play and pray at the same time. She did pray through on the last weekend.

I didn’t know, till after service one night, that President Kennedy had been assassinated two days before. There was no radio in my room or newspaper in Lunita to keep me informed.

Sixteen young people prayed through during those nine nights. Many of them were backsliders.

The last night, Bro. Kirkland announced that an offering had been taken every night for the last nine nights and that a total of $4.65 had come in for the evangelist. He said that he would like to have the church vote to give him permission to take $.35 out of the Ladies Auxiliary Fund to raise the total up to $5.00.

All those that were in favor of the evangelistic offering being increased stood to their feet. It was the first election I had ever won.

After church, I said my goodbyes and went down the road a few miles to Deweyville, Texas, on the Texas/Louisiana state line that night. I spent $3.50 in a phone booth for a 3-minute call to my dad, telling him about my first offering. I then bought 5 gallons of gas at the Billups service station for $1.00, for my ’55 Ford and drove across the street to Nick’s Restaurant. There I ordered a $.35 Cheeseburger and spent my last $.15 on a large Dr. Pepper.

 

I left Deweyville broke and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 28, 2017 at 9:18 am

The Get Run Over Church

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The Get Run Over Church

 

“Worship is everybody’s business,” my father said with fervor into the microphone! The song service had been going for twenty minutes or so and the church was getting close to breaking through into another level in the Spirit.

The same old six and seven who always worshipped with all of their hearts, still were. The rest just seemed content tonight to let them do the worshipping for them. This was not their lucky night. Dad wasn’t going to let them off that easy.

Don Zhiss

Big Don Zhiss was enjoying his liberty and began walking around with joy and praising God with great animation. He rolled on the floor. He ran the aisles. He kept running even though no one was following. His gray hair didn’t slow him down.

The song leader was doing a great job, but sometimes, the best of churches can get in a rut. Even good people need to break out of them once in a while.

There was a good spirit of worship in the house that night. The service was not dead. But like a cook tasting the food on the stove and saying, “I think it needs a little more salt.” That’s what my Dad was doing.

He said, “Alright, I want all of you men to get out in the aisles and worship. Men should be the leaders in worship in the church. Come on men. Get out of your comfort zones. Lift your hands in the air. You may not do what I do, but everybody ought to do something for Jesus!”

Like the good obedient people they were, the men gathered self-consciously into the aisles. Even the timid and quiet ones came too. The music was still playing and hands were still clapping.

Several pairs of eyes watched as Bro. Ted moved into the aisles. He had never ventured there in recent memory. He wasn’t a tall or big man. His timid and quiet nature made him seem smaller. He loved to pray, sing and clap his hands, but no one had ever seen him get demonstrative in praise before. They couldn’t wait to see what he would do.

It was quite an accomplishment for him. He stood by the 3rd row in the center aisle facing the pulpit. He raised his hands, closed his eyes and worshipped freely for several minutes. This was something! Bro. Ted was getting close to a breakthrough.

The saints were making real progress. Many were shouting and enjoying the presence of the Lord. People were speaking in tongues all over the house.

Big Don Zhiss began to feel what he called the ‘anointment.’ He felt that the Lord was impressing him to run the aisles, but in a new dimension. He just knew the Lord was telling him to run the aisles with his eyes closed.

Not being slow to respond, Bro. Don charged down the center aisle, full steam ahead. His nearly 300 pounds of mass caused smaller men to step aside, but not Bro. Ted.

Bro. Ted was clueless. His back was to Bro. Don and besides that, his eyes were closed too. All of the worshippers who believed in the ‘watch and pray’ concept, could sense impending doom.

Don hit Ted’s small frame like he was a leaf in the wind. Don barely stumbled. Ted was totally flattened out, face down.

Ted never opened his eyes. He slowly stood back up as concerned saints held their breath. Finally, he stood erect again. By this time, Don had made another lap and came charging down the aisle again.

Once more he waylaid Bro. Ted, and reduced him to a rag doll on the rug. Don didn’t seem to notice the damage he’d done.

Still, Ted tried to continue on without opening his eyes. He was so close to getting something from the Lord. He was finally able to rise up in a kneeling position with his hands still raised when Don came around the 3rd time.

Bro. Don made the corner and laid him out once more. By this time, Bro. Ted had all the worship he could enjoy. He crawled on his hands and knees back down his row and seemed to be content to praise the Lord in the safety of his own seat.

Bro. Zhiss kept running!

 

(Bro. Ted was never seen in the aisles again.)

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 4, 2017 at 1:30 am

The Head Polishing Church

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The Head Polishing Church

Don Zhiss rocked his 290 lb. frame back and forth between the church’s theatre seats. He occasionally would stop and pat his right foot on the hardwood floor impatiently waiting to be called on. In his own words, he was ‘cited’ about getting to testify.  He might be in his late 60’s, but them old ladies were just taking way too much time testifying and there was no fire in what they were saying. He couldn’t wait. Come on already!

Don was Jewish. He was a 100% literal son of Abraham. At Studebaker’s plant one day, a fellow employee named Lee Silvers had told him that the Jews had killed Jesus. Don was so upset. He wanted to talk about that some more. Lee brought him to a basement church named Christ Temple on the corner of Elwood Avenue and Elmer Street in South Bend, Indiana.

The preacher preached Don to the altar that night. He repented and received the Holy Ghost. Don also received the revelation of Jesus name baptism and was promptly baptized. When he understood that the Jesus in the New Testament was the Jehovah of the Old wrapped up in flesh, he became unstoppable.  He never stopped shouting when someone talked about the Mighty God in Christ.

Into his senior years, Don would lead victory marches around the church and run the aisles. He rolled on the floor sometimes while he testified. If the service was tight, Don had a way of knocking the kinks out of it. He was a worshipper that would have made King David stop and take notice.

He was also highly uncoordinated and unpredictable. When running behind him, the men all knew that at anytime Don might stop and turn around and run the other direction, bringing much confusion and injury to the runners.

This night, Don was fired up. He wanted to testify about Jesus Name. A first time visitor, named Casey, sat in front of Don.

Finally, he got called on. He raised his voice and flailed his arms pacing back and forth. He shook the row of seats in front of him with both hands. The people clapped and shouted amen to encourage to him.

The half a teaspoon or so of saliva, that Don was known to carry in his mouth, began to spray has he exuberantly raved about Jesus name and the Holy Ghost.

Bald headed Casey sat unmoving and frozen while this giant of a man ranted behind him. When Don noticed he had just sprayed saliva all over the visitor’s head, he never missed a beat. While waving one arm high in the air and without so much as looking at what he was doing, Don pulled a used handkerchief out of his pocket with the other hand and began to rub the visitor’s head.

He wiped the spit off of Casey’s head while his eyes stayed glued on the mortified pastor. He didn’t stop with a simple wipe but kept on unconsciously polishing the now shiny dome while waving the other hand and bragging on Jesus.

Oh, by the way, Casey got the Holy Ghost that night.

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 2, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Visiting A Pentecostal Cracker Barrel

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Visiting A Pentecostal Cracker Barrel

 

I constantly travel, and stopping at a Cracker Barrel is always a good choice for me. I know the menu by heart and can count on getting good food without taking any chances on some unknown greasy spoon.

That being said, I always seem to find myself looking at the artifacts on the walls, and those suspended from the ceiling. They are now, just old relics. They’re just yesterday’s memories on display. As a senior citizen, I find myself looking at what used to be a common everyday commodity or possession for most of my generation and my parents too. Now, they are unneeded, unwanted and only found in museum-type settings as something we now smile about in amusement. We have moved on from those days would be repulsed to go back to that era. Even though we dreamily brag about the good old days, we have no desire to go back in time.

Cracker Barrel isn’t the only place where yesterday is a memory. Some Pentecostal Churches might fit that description as well. Quite often our guests can pick up on the fact that there is even a church inside of a church. Inserted in the midst of a progressive and more liberal-minded membership, is often a smaller group of the old saints who refuse to change.

The old ones, don’t wear the skinny jeans or the short tight skirts. Their hairstyle hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years. But they sure know how to live for God and have church. Those old fogeys might not do well on computers or a smart phone. Texting may also be something they’ve never done.

 

But, What They Have Done, Is:

  • Attend all night prayer meetings.
  • Stayed in prayer beside a sickbed until something miraculous happened.
  • Been carried home from church, too drunk in the Holy Ghost to walk.
  • Never owned a TV.

 

  • Never cut her long hair or worn anything in public that looked like man’s apparel.
  • Sang out of the old songbook, and still shouted.
  • Came early for pre-service prayer.
  • Stayed late after church, and fellowshipped.

 

  • Never questioned or crossed their man of God.
  • Said “Amen” during the preaching.
  • Faithfully paid their tithes.
  • Did everything they could think of to bless their pastor and his family.

 

  • Loved holiness and never questioned standards.
  • Never posted their favorite movies or TV shows on social media.
  • Had no desire to look like, dress like or act like the world.
  • Their old Bible was heavily marked from daily reading.

 

  • They were used in travail and intercessory prayer for others.
  • Their testimonies had that “New Jerusalem” ring to it.
  • There was a tenderness in their praise and worship.
  • There was strong faith in their hearts that God could do anything.

 

  • They had no hospital insurance.
  • They had no food stamps nor received unemployment.
  • They actually prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
  • They didn’t try to fit-in to the worldly crowd.
  • Their godly style of dress made them stand out from the world.

 

And, those are just a few identifying things about them!

 

The new generation has church their way. The older saints watch them sing songs that don’t touch the soul, produce joy or bring comfort. The only way to even know all the words to the song is to look up on the screen. The 24 repeats of the seven-word chorus often make them wince.

Their eyes see the younger people rejoice or lift their hands and cry. Some older folks think about the words of the song and somehow don’t always feel the same response or heart reaction. They might even ask themselves, “How come I don’t feel what they’re feeling?” All older saints know that the Scriptures commanded us to sing a new song. Yet it never commanded anyone to quit singing the old ones.

 

Ezra 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 

Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

Ezra 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

 

Everyone rejoiced that there was a Temple! The young men rejoiced loudly, but the old men cried loudly because they remembered what the first temple was like. They realized this wasn’t exactly like it used to be and that day seemed forever gone. If the truth were known, it is.

When holiness is scoffed at and called names. When godly dressed young ladies are still called grandma by church folk. When virginity is mocked, and modesty disrespected by the fashion-conscious crowd. It would seem that some churches have become a Pentecostal Cracker Barrel.

 

Many Of Our Churches Now Have A Heritage Sunday:

 

  • Why?
  • What’s that for?
  • Do they truly want to go back to the old-fashioned Pentecostal ways?
  • Are they all serious about changing about renouncing their make-up, jewelry and immodest clothing?

 

  • Are they actually seeking out the old paths?
  • Is that when the old preachers get invited to preach in his old-school style so they can all look at how it used to be preached?
  • Are we interested in maintaining this Apostolic Message like was handed to us?

 

So, when old visiting saints come into our sanctuaries, do they feel like they are in some sort of religious Cracker Barrel where the food tastes good but the service only reminds them what Pentecost used to be?

 

 

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

October 10, 2017 at 8:53 pm