ORVAL J. NEASE (A Nazarene General Superintendent)
Orval J. Nease served as a pastor, evangelist, college professor, college president, writer,
and as general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
My father, William O. Nease, was converted when a young man at the altars of a revival in
an Evangelical church and was called from between plow handles to preach the gospel. In the early days of his ministry, he fought with an inward foe that often brought him to the verge of despair. Privileged providentially to attend one service of a small camp meeting in western Michigan, he heard a Wesleyan Methodist evangelist by the name of E. T. Jenning preach a message on “A Pure Heart.” Father’s request of the speaker for a book he could take with him that would give him added light resulted in his purchase of The Better Way, by Beverly Carradine.
Sitting by the kitchen stove a few mornings later, he suddenly closed his recently purchased
book and said, “Mother, I knew there must be a better heart experience than I have known, and I am determined not only to seek until I obtain, but I propose to begin now.”
There beside the kitchen range, Father emptied out the uncleanness of his heart. In telling
this experience, I have often heard him say that as the Holy Spirit revealed to him his heart, he confessed the impure tendencies of his nature to God as truly as he had confessed the wrong acts of his life when he came to Christ for pardon.
A kindly neighbor lady, a member of Father’s church, was called in to join in the prayer.
When she witnessed the deep struggle of Father’s soul and the accompanying earnestness of physical expression, she became alarmed and said to my mother, “Mrs. Nease, there is something terribly the matter with Brother Nease. I think you should call a doctor.” Mother replied more wisely than she knew, “No, I shall not call a doctor. I really do not understand all this, but God got him into it and God will have to bring him out.”
And God did bring him out! When he had made a complete abandonment of himself to God,
the Holy Spirit took possession of his all, and calm assurance reigned within his being.
Father then was deeply concerned that Mother receive this same sanctifying grace that was
so abundantly his. Together they attended God’s Revivalist Camp Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Rev. C. E. Cornell was one of the workers. At the conclusion of an afternoon message preached by Rev. Cornell, Mother knelt at the humble altar with Miss Mary Storey, a returned missionary, the evangelist and Father kneeling with her to encourage with their prayers and guidance.
Mother had not sought long until she lost sight of all about her, so absorbed was she in her
heart transaction with the Holy Spirit. It seemed to her that God placed a casket of consecration before her; and as the affairs of life, over which she had control, marched by in solemn review, she placed them one by one in utter commitment into the hands of God. Children, husband, home, family name, future — her all in the hands of Deity. This she did by an act of will as real to her as though by physical act she had relinquished her grasp upon things earthly in death.
She tells of a sense of rest that came to her. Mary Storey, wise altar worker that she was,
began to quote scripture to aid Mother’s faith. Putting an Old Testament portion with a New Testament selection, she quoted, “Whatsoever toucheth the altar is holy … the altar that sanctifieth the gift.” It was the avenue of assurance Mother needed, and with firm confidence she said, “That being true, on the authority of God’s Word, I am sanctified.”
Rev. Cornell, quick to sense God’s dealing, said, “Mrs. Nease, will you tell everyone you
meet between now and the evening service what you have just said to us?” Her reply was, “I will!”
When Mother and Father walked down the aisle to find a seat at the time of the evening
service, Rev. Cornell saw them and got to his feet, quieted the audience, and said, “Mrs. Nease, how is it now with your soul?” Mother raised a hand toward heaven and with a clear voice exclaimed, “On the authority of God’s Word, I am sanctified.” And Heaven broke in upon her soul. The Holy Spirit had come to abide.
With such rich heritage of experience and testimony, it is not difficult to understand how
my brother Floyd and I came early in our Christian experience to face a similar crisis in consecration. Lads of high school age, we had been graciously converted and gave frequent testimony to the forgiveness of sins; yet within our hearts was waged a warfare between opposing forces, from which conflict we had often sought deliverance. Again and again at private and public altars we sought for the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. Either our faith faltered or our commitment was incomplete, for we failed to receive Him for whom our hearts craved. Brother and I were the janitors at the little holiness church of which our family were members. It was on Saturday as we were cleaning the church for Sunday that I reminded him that on the next day a revival began. He replied, “Yes, I was just thinking about that.” I then suggested to him that the good man who was coming as evangelist would preach holiness and that we were not in a position to feel in harmony with such an emphasis.
I shall never forget his answer. “Well, Orval, I have thought of that too, and I have made up
my mind to seek the experience at every opportunity until I obtain it or die in the attempt.” The gleam of earnestness in his eyes found a response in my heart, and I exclaimed, “Floyd, I will join you with all there is of me.”
The evangelist came, and Brother and I were seekers at the first service but did not meet
victory. We sought at the evening service and at every succeeding service for ten days. Not that there was virtue or necessity in our repeated coming, except that it gave expression to the determination of our hearts to know the “fulness of the blessing.”
It was on Thursday night of the second week we knelt side by side praying that the Holy
Spirit might possess our lives, when I sensed a deepening earnestness and faith in my brother’s intercession. I ceased my own praying to listen to him, for I was almost as interested in his receiving the Spirit as I was in obtaining it myself. It was not that he prayed loudly, but that he prayed “deeply.”
All at once his praying ceased, his great blue eyes opened, a smile of satisfaction lighted
up his face. I knew before he spoke that the Holy Spirit had met his need. Slapping me on the shoulder he shouted, “Pray on, Orval. You can have the Holy Spirit, for He has come to me.”
The next morning after the breakfast hour, my father asked me to hurry to the village store
for nails that he might do some needed repair work. He instructed me to hurry lest we be late for the morning service, for the revival in full swing was being conducted with two services a day.
Father felt I consumed more time in the errand than I should and came to meet me, intending
to reprimand me for my tardiness. One look at my face and he knew something disturbed me. “Son, what is wrong? Are you ill?” I replied, “No, Father, but I want the Holy Spirit more than I want anything or anybody else in all the world. It seems I will die if the Holy Spirit does not get to me very soon.”
We sought God that morning rather than driving nails. That night again at the altar, my
faithful brother at my side praying for me, I reached the place of total abandonment. Faith became operative, and the faithful Holy Spirit did His office work in my heart. Not much of demonstration, but the quiet assurance that I had gotten to the end of self filled me. The Holy Spirit had taken control.
That initial experience took place more than thirty-five years ago. The way has not always
been smooth. I have made many mistakes. The enemy of man’s soul has harassed; but may I testify to the glory of God before three worlds that my heart has never wavered from the commitment of that night and that the Holy Spirit abides in my heart today.
Source: “Living Flames of Fire” by Bernie Smith
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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN (A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts) Compiled by Duane V. Maxey
Vol. I — Named Accounts