Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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We have some old recordings of prayer meetings (from the late 1960s through the early 1980s) that were held at Grandma’s farmhouse in Nash County, NC. Her farm was far from any city of size, and there were not a lot of people involved. Sometimes, no more than a dozen people showed up (but they showed up happy). When young Earl Pittman became involved with them and received the baptism of the holy Ghost, he loved those simple gatherings so much that he purchased some equipment to record them. What a treasure those recordings are to us now!
I was young when Brother Earl did this and did not take part in the fellowship he was enjoying, so these meetings are new to me as well as to others. Some of the sermons, testimonies, and singing of those saints are absolutely thrilling to us; they challenge us to be finished with the world, to love and honor Jesus, live a holy life, and be pure in the sight of God.
One of the most stunning of those old testimonies came from 65-year-old “Uncle Joe”, a big man with an even bigger heart. Here is his testimony in that prayer meeting held in the farmhouse in which he was brought up, and six years after his mother, “Grandma Edna” had died:
Uncle Joe’s Testimony — December 1980
You know, I’ve been thinking. Instead of saying, “You’re going to reap what you sow,” just say, “You are going to reap what you strew along the way.” You know, you can’t do anything without being rewarded for it. My mother rewarded me, I was thinking this week, about the time we moved down to Flood’s Chapel. We had no mule, had no wagon, had nothing, and the woman [on whose farm] we lived . . . . we were using her team to farm with. Mama bought a hundred pound sack of sugar, and she wanted me to bring it from the store to the house, and she said if I would do it, she would give me a quarter. And when I put that hundred pounds of sugar on my back and took it to the house, she gave me the quarter. A quarter might not seem like much now, but back then, a quarter was five Pepsi Colas or five games of pool. She rewarded me for doing that, praise God, and God is going to reward us.
I believe we can know how long we are going to live. I got in touch with God last week, and He told me how long I could live — with an option I could call for more if I wanted it. [After a little silence from everyone] I know what I am talking about! God told me I could have fourteen more years. I would just be as old as Brother Clark is, 79. With an option to ask for more if I wanted it. And ya’ll just need to make up your minds that you’re gonna have to put up with me a little while; ‘cause I’m going to be around. I’m not doubting God one bit. Glory to God. Whether I want to or not, I am here for a purpose. I didn’t choose God. God chose me. He hasn’t called somebody He didn’t want. He called everyone He wanted and needed. Glory to God! And it’s for a purpose that He called. Glory to God! We’re here to answer that calling. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that. Where in the world would we be if we hadn’t obeyed God’s call to be here, Earl? Praise God! It’s because someone sowed some seed along the way. Somebody yielded something. Gave something. Left an example that we should follow their footsteps. Same example as the Lord left. Praise God! “Who did no sin, neither was any guile found in his mouth.” No bitterness. That’s why they say a dove is like the holy Spirit; there is no bitterness. He can’t eat the things that other birds can eat because he doesn’t have any gall to devour it, to digest it with. I heard that said the other day. Praise God. I think it’s wonderful.
I don’t have anywhere else to go. Praise God! I’ve already been. Glory to God! I’ve been to all these false churches. Given a hundred dollars to this man and a hundred dollars to that man. What in the world did we gain from it? A lot of times, we even felt bad about it. I did. I’ve almost come nearer backsliding over that than anything I’ve ever done. A man came there in the middle of the winter and had a heater in his tent, I went out there, didn’t have anything, wound up giving him, I think, about 97 dollars during his campaign. After I left there, I nearly starved to death for lack of food. I didn’t nearly starve to death, but I was missing what I gave to him and regret giving it to him. It was sin for me to even do it, I believe. I do believe I was mistreating myself by doing it, and they get up there and beg and plead, and get on and plow on our sympathy and on the good nature that God has given you, to get money out of people, and I just go ahead and give. Glory to God! I’m not giving anything now I don’t regret. I don’t have much to give, but what I give now I don’t regret a penny of it. And if I didn’t think I was supporting the truth, I would want that back. Every penny of it! Glory to God! Hallelujah!
As I listened to this old recording for the first time, not long ago, I started counting up the years Uncle Joe lived after this testimony, and I realized that at the end of his promised fourteen years, God did give him, through a doctor, the option of more years if Uncle Joe would agree to undergo an operation to remove a small spot on his lung, but as Uncle Joe said to me at the time, “I’ve been cut on enough already. I think I’ll just let it go.” By being cut on already, Uncle Joe was referring, in part, to the major surgery he went through in 1959, when doctors at Veteran’s Hospital in Durham, NC, found him so full of cancer that they gave him a mere sixty to ninety days to live. But, of course, those doctors could not take into account a visit from God’s angel when they made their prognosis. That sweet visit from the heavenly messenger extended Uncle Joe’s life and filled it with health — for another thirty-seven years!
I dare say that the folk in Grandma’s living room that day could hardly believe that God had actually revealed to Uncle Joe how much longer he would live and that if Uncle Joe wanted it, he would be given more years than that. I do not recall that the subject was ever mentioned again, either by Uncle Joe or anyone else. But the word of God is true, and that is why we can trust our souls to it, and boldly testify of it, as did Uncle Joe.