As District Superintendent, I have the privilege of living on the wonderful plot of land we call the “campground.” So often, I receive the comment from visitors about how peaceful they felt when they simply drove onto the campground, and I fully concur with that sentiment; this place truly is peaceful. This special site has housed many youth camps and camp meetings over the years, and it has seen thousands upon thousands of attendees at those meetings. Our former District Superintendent, T. F. Tenney, publicly shared his understanding that more people have received the Holy Ghost on this campground than any other place in the United States.
The fact that we have a wonderful district campground is not merely happenstance. The heroes of the faith who came before us sacrificed, and the God of those heroes had a plan.
Recently, I had the opportunity to reread part of The Flame Still Burns, a book written by T. F. Tenney, and I came across a story I have heard him tell numerous times about this piece of land in Tioga BEFORE it had been purchased by the Louisiana District UPCI. Even though you may have heard or read this story in the past, it merits your attention once again.
From The Flame Still Burns, Chapter Nine: “Miracles and Wonders”
Early Pentecostal pioneers trusted God and learned to live by faith. This produced an age of miracles. An account told of Brothers Wiley and Hiram Holland and W. T. Hemphill in the 1930s exemplifies this trust and rewarded faith. The men had caravanned together to Tioga for a few days while waiting on the Lord for direction to begin another revival. Their “motor home” was a little house built on the back of a flatbed truck with a sleeping bed across the front and a #7 wood stove. The 6’ by 12’ travel trailer was made of wood siding, waterproofed with canvas. For five days, bread and water was all they had to eat. As they knelt to pray the sixth morning, Brother Hemphill suggested they ask the Lord for a steak. They prayed, and noting they had done their best in working for the Lord, they asked for beef steak. The story, told him first-hand by his uncles, and related by Jimmie Holland states:
When they got off their knees from praying, which had been some lengthy time, they saw a big German Shepherd dog coming across the lonely hill through the pine trees. He had a wrapped package in his mouth and dropped it right at the front door of the little house trailer. The believers walked over to examine the package and found it did not have any teeth marks through the paper. When they opened it, there were some fresh-cut steaks from a meat market. They could not believe their eyes but lifted their hands in thanksgiving and praise to God for answering their prayer.1
- Holland, Jimmie, Transcribed Testimony, Louisiana District Archives.
There is no way to know, but this possibly could have been the first miracle involving human beings to happen right here. And we know positively it was not the last miracle; since that time, innumerable miracles have occurred in the lives of people on this hallowed ground. We are a blessed people!
Thank the Lord there are still people among us today who sacrifice and seek the face of God here. In fact, many do so prior to their arrival at events here on the campground, in anticipation of what God will do when we gather together. I encourage all of us to do so.
Who knows, the next great miracle to occur here just may be in your own life.