Samuel F. Sparks

February 28, 2017 // Story

SAMUEL F. SPARKS

Last Sunday afternoon I climbed the mountain that stands like a silent guard over the valley

in which I spent most of my childhood.

The little Walnut tree is still standing on the summit where God first definitely spoke to my

heart. Tears coursed down my face as wife and I joined hands and fell on our knees before the
Lord who, on this spot, had called me to preach when I was a lad nine years of age.

As we arose from our knees and viewed the valley at our feet, I relived that beautiful July

afternoon of many years ago.

I was a barefoot boy in overalls going across the mountains to bring home the cows. In my

pocket I carried a copy of “God’s Revivalist,” the only religious paper in our home for three
decades.

The little saddle mare I was riding was tired from the long climb, and welcomed a rest

upon arrival at the mountain top.

It was then that I viewed green fields of growing crops, winding streams, short horn cattle

and a white flock of sheep in the fields and on the hills around me. My childish heart was filled
with ancestral pride and secretly (and I think I said it out loud) I hoped I would some day be a
lawyer like my Daddy and have farms like his.

It was a peaceful afternoon. The birds fluttered in the near-by woods. The air was stirring

in a cool, refreshing breeze. Old Topsy (the little black saddle mare) lazily ate the tender grass,
and the world seemed at peace. Lazy clouds were here and there in the blue sky. East Fork and
Williams Creek joined a little way from me toward the west and both looked like silvery ribbons
entwined to make a giant bow for a verdant corsage.

 

Topsy was still panting, so I took the “Revivalist” and began to read and look at the

pictures. I had seen Mother read it and cry. I had watched her save dimes to fill coin cards for the
Bible School’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. I had seen her disregard other pieces of mail and
hungrily feast upon the contents of the priceless little paper.

Daddy and the work hands on the farm usually referred to the “Revivalist” as “Mother’s

paper,” (Would to God Daddy and the work hands, too, had heeded the truth “Mother’s paper”
contained.)

I became curious. I would see Mother cry. Then she would laugh and cry at the same time. I

never knew what she was going to do, for while I secretly watched her rejoice, I would say “I
don’t understand Mother sometimes,” but I know she knows the answer to my question. Then I
would hear her say, “Well, bless the Lord!” and it had a ring to it that made my heart beat until it
seemed it was coming up into my throat.

Daddy, a backslidden evangelist of more than twenty years, opposed any religious progress

in our home. He criticized, and freely said slurring things about holiness and holiness people, but,
”Mother’s little paper” had holiness all over it and it made her so happy, and its messages helped
to lighten her heavy load. So as soon as I was old enough to detect the attitude of Daddy and the
spirituality of my Mother, I came to the conclusion that holiness couldn’t be too bad; after all,
Daddy fussed and Mother shouted. Daddy raved and Mother prayed. Daddy worried and Mother
trusted.

So, anybody with an ounce of judgment and reason, and sense enough to come in out of the

rain could see one had religion and the other didn’t.

Now, I was too young and immature to understand why Daddy felt so about religion. I

couldn’t even have told you what a backslider is. But I wanted to have a good look at Mother’s
Little Paper myself. I wondered if I’d cry like Mother when I read it. I was sure I wouldn’t take
Daddy’s attitude, so I stuffed it into my hip pocket to read when I got away from everybody. So if I
cried and shouted and had a spell like Mother did on wash-day (The Revivalist came on Monday,
usually) then no one would hear me. (That even sounds like a lot of grown-ups).

I sat there looking at the pictures and reading the children’s page and finally came to the

Missionary Section. There was a great crowd of children and native workers pictured together and
there were crude buildings in the background. I thought they had terribly funny clothes, and then I
figured that was the way they were used to dressing.

I began reading. Somehow, I forgot the farm, forgot the sheep, the cattle and silvery trees. I

forgot the whole world except Africa. Before I knew hardly what was happening tears began to
flow for it was dawning upon my mind and soul that there were millions upon millions of people
who had little or no clothing, no home, no food and most tragic of all — No Jesus! A little child
was pictured with outstretched hands saying, “Won’t you help us?” I thought — and spoke out loud,
”Millions who have never heard the name of Jesus!” My heart was aching! I cried harder than ever,
and there on that mountain top in eastern Kentucky, that afternoon God broke my heart for a lost
and dying world.

 

The Power of God seized me. I staggered and fell to my knees with one arm around that

little Walnut tree and the other raised toward the sky I promised God if He would let me live I
would tell the world of Jesus!

I rode down the hill, preaching as I went. Startled cattle looked at me and started up the

trail home. I imagined I was preaching to thousands. I prayed and sang until I was so weak I could
hardly stay upon my horse. By the time I reached home, tears and dust had made my face and hands
a mess, but within my heart I had a secret that was more precious to me than all the wealth of Boyd
County, Kentucky.

I sang as I did the chores. I lay awake at night thinking about my strange and unusual

experience over in the cow-pasture. For several days I rejoiced as I rode over that mountain for
the cattle at milking time. It became a hallowed spot and I spent many a happy hour getting
acquainted with the Lord as we talked together about the work I would do when I grew up to be a
man.

For five long years I shared my secret with no one. It would have been easier for me had I

confided in Mother — but somehow I didn’t want Daddy to know about it.

One day, after many things had happened to alter the courses of the lives of our entire

family, and after our home had burned and Daddy’s health was gone and our financial status
reduced to zero, I heard of a revival meeting being conducted in Ashland, Kentucky. Our
neighbors, Brother and Sister Easton, asked me if I would like to attend, and offered me
transportation in their family car.

For a few days I thought very little about the invitation. Then Mother borrowed a book

from them entitled, “My Trip to the Holy Land,” by Rev. A. L. Baldridge. I saw Mother shout when
she read it. Then she cried. Well, I began to remember what had happened five years before when
I had seen her read “her paper” and what had happened to me when I read it.

But curiosity finally conquered me and I set out for the hills with the borrowed book. When

I was out of sight I opened it and began to read. That book pierced my tender heart. I began to cry.
(I have always been a “cry-baby” — but I will never pray for God to take away my tears). I would
read and then walk. Then I would sit down again. My heart was so hungry. I was yearning for
peace within. I knew I must find God if I were ever to find rest.

I finished the few chores that evening and while Mother was in the kitchen cooking supper I

walked in and asked if I might go to Church at the revival, and gave her the details. She looked at
me and I shall never forget that sweet look that she gave me and told me I could go. A moment later
her hands were above her head and she was praising God and saying, “Glory to God! at last my
family is getting concerned about spiritual things.” Her shouting didn’t ease a bit of my load. I
believe it made it heavier. Oh! I was miserable. I ate very little. I had my mind made up as I
walked down that old country road to the neighbor’s house, I knew that that night the quest of my
soul would be fulfilled. I prayed as I walked, “Oh, God, if there is the least bit of rebellion in my
heart when the invitation is given tonight, crush it down. I must be saved or I will die.” Thank God

 

for such Holy Ghost conviction! No begging and pulling is necessary when the Holy Ghost deals in
this manner!

If I remember correctly this was the second revival service I had ever attended. I wasn’t

sure what they would do, but when Brother Elbert Marshall had preached he stepped out and
stretched his hands toward me. I spoke to a neighbor boy and said, “Elmer, let’s go.” He shook his
head. I pushed into the aisle saying as I went, “Then, let me out, I must get to God.”

I fell at the altar weeping and praying. In a few minutes the load of sin was gone and I felt

light and free! I cried for joy. The saints shouted. We sang and testified. I was new in this kind of a
crowd — but I felt perfectly at home, and I have never felt strangely or cramped with God’s people
from that day until now. In spite of failures, short-comings and inconsistencies I still believe the
Church people to be the best class on earth. No friendship or fellowship is so sweet as that which
is experienced among those who have been redeemed from sin and are walking in the light. I John
1:7.

The worldly crowd did not seek my eternal good, but I have found friends in the Christian

circle that have held me up in prayer and boosted me onward to richer realms of grace and Love
Divine. Thank God for the “tie that binds our hearts in Christian love” and [for] the “fellowship of
kindred minds [that] is like to that above.” Thank God for my friends. I treasure them all.

The fall and winter of 1937-38 I attended church with the Eastons at the Christian Baptist

Church in Westwood. This is the church where I was converted. There were many times I was
discouraged, but always someone of those dear people said something to help me hold on. I shall
never forget one Sunday morning when my spirits were low and the old devil was fighting me
fiercely, the pastor, Brother Sam Creech, walked up to me and slipped his big, old, fatherly arm
around me and said, “Sammy, I’m claiming you for a preacher. I’m counting on you to make it
through and be a soul-winner.” He will never know what those words meant to me. I went home
that day and found a secret place of prayer in the hills and told God folks were counting on me to
be a preacher, and if He still wanted me to preach to lift my load and defeat the enemy of my soul.

No sooner had I asked Him than the load was gone. Blessed peace and joy flooded my soul

and a major battle was won within my heart.

The next day after I was saved I walked into my father’s law office in Ashland, Kentucky. I

closed the door behind me and sat down facing Daddy. I opened the conversation by saying,
”Daddy, I have something to tell you.”

“What is it son,” he asked.

“Daddy, God saved me last night,” I said quickly.

“What’s that?” he asked again, leaning across the desk toward me. Again, looking right up

into his eyes I testified that on the night before the Lord had come into my heart.

 

He listened. Then looking up, quickly spoke again, “That’s fine, son. We surely do need

Christian lawyers, and you know you are going to be Daddy’s law partner some day.”

My head dropped. My father’s strong personality and persistence of desire temporarily

held me back from telling of my call to preach. But suddenly, I felt the fire of God burning in my
soul. I remembered that afternoon when I was nine years old. I remembered my promise to God. I
remembered the picture of the heathen in the Revivalist. It seemed I could hear the cries of lost
souls perishing with few who care.

I lifted my head. I breathed a prayer, and with my shoulders back I faced one of the hardest

tests of my Christian experience. Daddy was marking on a paper. When I lifted my head our eyes
met. I spoke. God flooded my soul and tears streamed down my face as I said, “Daddy, I can’t be a
lawyer. God has called me to preach.”

For a moment Father was still. Then his eyes and mouth narrowed and his countenance was

determined. Then with a touch of anger he said, “Son, you have been listening to your Mother and
Aunt ‘Lizzie.’ They have been influenced with that Holiness crowd, and furthermore, I can’t let you
be a Holiness preacher.”

“Daddy,” I said, “when I was nine years old God called me to preach, and you are the first

person I have ever told.”

He tried to talk me out of it. But blessed be the name of the Lord! When God tells you

something, not even the dearest one on earth can make you doubt it. Glory to God! I have never
doubted it! I will never doubt it! He is even blessing me now as I re-live that hour of testing when
with God I stood firmly against the temptations of the devil and desires of my Father. It pays to
serve Jesus! It pays all the way! The hour of trial had come and passed and God had given full
assurance that He would help me, and He kept His blessed promise!

When it came to the choice of Daddy or Jesus, God gave me grace to say, “Take the whole

world, but give me Jesus.”

Eight months later Daddy was on his death-bed. He told the preacher who visited him that

God had forgiven him and he was ready to meet God. He showed evidences of genuine repentance
and would have made many things right with God and his family had he lived a little longer. But
God took him around 3:00 A. M., May 17, 1938.

The news shocked me. My young heart was heavy. My Daddy was gone from me at an age

when a boy so badly needs a Father’s help. But God knows best.

We laid him to rest in the little cemetery in Grayson, Kentucky, on May 19, 1938. Daddy

had made considerable money in his law practice, but lost it all in the depression. His real estate
was under heavy mortgage. Many people who owed father money took advantage of his death and
his collectable notes and securities were misplaced. Soon the little house that my sister built in her
second year as a school teacher of a country school, was the only home we knew. God bless my
sacrificial sister who assumed the heavy responsibility of supporting the family.

 

The farm was about two-thirds paid for, but the original owner foreclosed and we were

homeless and penniless. Not one penny did we ever get back for the thousands of dollars paid into
it. It seemed so unjust, and terribly unChristian, but Mother held onto the promise, “I have never
seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”

Mother instilled in us all the spirit of forgiveness toward all men.

We hold no ill-feelings, no grudges, nothing to be made right on death-beds. Nothing is

there to hinder our prayers! Glory to God that’s worth more than a million dollars! The judgment is
coming and I’m prepared to meet my God!

Two more years passed by and Satan fought more bitterly for my soul. Mother fasted and

prayed. At last, in answer to prayer the way was made by my Aunt Elizabeth, my Mother’s only
sister, who gave me money to pay half my tuition for one semester at a Holiness School.

I entered school with surplus cash amounting to 5 cents above my registration fee.

My soul cried out to God for Christian fellowship. I yearned for a knowledge of His Word.

This new environment was what I needed. My work in the school was to scrub pots and pans and
the floors of the kitchen. It was a humble task, but it was helping crucify the carnal pride that had
long been one of my chief enemies.

By the time the first semester was over I was in charge of fifty-some students who were

working under my supervision in the kitchen and dining room.

I started every day with prayer and song, and many are the victories that were won among

the students who came to the kitchen to work and whose hearts were hungry for God.

But, I had not been sanctified. I don’t remember hearing a clear-cut message on second

blessing holiness prior to the time I mention — 1940-41.

Camp meeting time came. I knew I was saved. I had had a struggle — doubts, fears,

uncertainty, explosions of temper, pride and all the wilderness woes of the regenerated soul. I had
been up and down. I wondered if I would ever become established. My soul was hungry for
something. The first night of camp meeting came; Bona Fleming arose and preached. That man
pictured my need. He knocked me down and rolled me over. I was in agony. I prayed for him to
stop preaching. I wanted to go to that altar. He finished and there was a surging forward of
convicted humanity. Such weeping! Such conviction! Such praying! I was among them, dying out to
self and sin. I had heard the glorious news that God could meet my need! I didn’t have to be
encouraged to pray. Brother, I meant business!

At about ten minutes past ten o’clock, when despair was deep and hope was black, I made

a final struggle toward Calvary and fell prostrate at the blessed feet of Jesus! Heaven opened! The
Holy Ghost came! God’s love flooded my soul with the light of the world chasing all darkness
from every corner of my soul. I felt the cleansing wave!

 

Like an electric current the power of the Holy Ghost swept through every fiber of my

being!

The work was done! I wouldn’t have given an angel a nickel to come from Glory and tell

me I was sanctified! I knew it and I believe three worlds witnessed it. I felt so clean. I was
washed in the Blood!

No more uncertainty! Blessed assurance! No more backsliding. I am now anchored in Love

Divine, for the Comforter abides with me!

Today as I sit here aboard the Queen Elizabeth, the world’s largest ocean liner, and we are

plowing the waters of the middle Atlantic, I thank God the experience I received that night is not
dimmed, but has grown brighter all the way.

The Comforter is more precious now than He has ever been before.

Fade, fade each earthly joy, Jesus is mine. He satisfies every longing of my soul and the

peace that is mine is akin to Heaven. Well, Glory be to God and His Son, unto whom be praise and
honor, world without end!

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Source: “I Met Jesus” by Samuel F. (Sammy) Sparks

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THE END

 

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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN
(A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts)
Compiled by Duane V. Maxey

Vol. I — Named Accounts

 

Interchurch Holiness Convention

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