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The Circuit Rider

This is a series that one of our Drifter evangelist, Brother Bill Hamilton has been writing for the Brownsboro Statesman Newspaper.

PA, THE TRAVELING PREACHER May 2010

GOING TO FARNER

BILL HAMILTON

THE CIRCUIT RIDER

THE YEAR WAS 1946; THE YEAR AFTER THE BIG WAR. THE MEN WERE COMING HOME, THE WOMEN WERE RETURNING TO THEIR DOMESTIC ACTIVITIES AND THE ECONOMY WAS STARTING TO COME ALIVE. WE HEARD ABOUT ALL OF THESE THINGS ON THE RADIO, BUT AT OUR LITTLE PLACE ON SHOAL CREEK, A COUPLE MILES FROM LIBERTY, NC, IT HADN’T AFFECTED US. IT WAS A FACT THAT MY BROTHER WAS OVER THERE SOMEWHERE, BUT WE DIDN’T KNOW WHERE. MY DAD WAS STILL CUTTING TIMBER OFF OUR PLACE, AND PULLING IT TO THE LANDING WITH A BIG GRAY MARE. MY MOTHER WAS STILL WASHING CLOTHES ON A RUB BOARD DOWN AT THE CREEK, IRONING WITH A SMOOTHING IRON, COOKING ON A WOOD STOVE AND MENDING CLOTHES WITH A NEEDLE AND THREAD. BEING THE OLDEST SON, I STILL SLOPPED HOGS, FED CHICKENS, WORKED IN THE FIELDS, CARRIED WATER FROM THE SPRING AND ENJOYED THE LIFE OF A MOUNTAIN BOY. LIFE WAS GOOD!

MY GRANDFATHER, “PA” AND MY GRANDMOTHER, “MA” LIVED JUST A LITTLE WAYS UP THE HOLLOW FROM US. PA FARMED, AND SOLD MILK TO THE COOP, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, HE WAS A TRAVELING PREACHER; THE HORSEBACK KIND. PA WAS A RAW BONED MOUNTAIN MAN WITH A BIG HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE, A VOICE LIKE A CANON AND A HANDSHAKE LIKE A WOOD CUTTER. MA WAS A LITTLE WOMAN, PART CHEROKEE WITH LONG BLACK HAIR AND A SMILE THAT CAME EASILY. MA WAS, IN MY OPINION, THE BEST COOK AROUND. SHE COULD MAKE CORNBREAD THAT WAS SO GREASY; IT WOULD MAKE A COUNTRY BOY DROOL AND A CARDIOLOGIST CRY. I WOULD PUSH BACK A T-BONE TO GET SOME OF HER POKE SALAD WITH POT LIQUOR, RUTABAGAS, MASHED POTATOES, PICKLED BEETS AND SMOKED HAM. (I’M GETTING HUNGRY RIGHT NOW JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!)

IT WAS ONE LATE AFTERNOON, IN THE SPRING I THINK. PA AND I WERE SPLITTING WOOD FOR THE COOK STOVES. WE HAD GOTTEN INTO SOME GOOD RED OAK, AND IT WAS SPLITTING GOOD. PA WAS SPLITTING WITH A GO-DEVIL AND SOME WEDGES, BOTH STEEL AND HICKORY. (A GO-DEVIL IS A MALL CUT OUT OF HICKORY OR ASH, ABOUT THREE FEET LONG. THREE FOURTHS OF IT WAS HAND TURNED FOR A HANDLE AND THE REST WAS THE MAUL.) PA WAS SEVENTY FIVE YEARS OLD, BUT HE COULD SWING A MAUL LIKE A YOUNG MAN. HE WAS SPLITTING AND I WAS STACKING; WHEN I SAW A MAN COMING UP OUR LITTLE ROAD, ALONG THE CREEK. I SAID, “PA.” HE SAID, “I SEE ‘IM. JES KEEP WORKIN.” I COULD TELL, FROM THE LOOKS OF THE MAN, AND THE HORSE HE WAS RIDING, HE HAD BEEN TRAVELING FOR A WHILE. HE RODE ALMOST TO WHERE WE WERE WORKING, AND STOPPED. PA QUIT HIS SPLITTING AND LOOKED UP AT THE MAN, “HOW YE DOIN?” “TOLERABLE.” HE ANSWERED. I’M HOT, TARD AND THIRSTY.” “WELL, GIT DOWN AND RESTCHE SELF.” AS THE MAN SLOWLY CLIMBED FROM THE SADDLE, PA LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, “SON, GIT IM SOME WATER.” THE SPRING WAS CLOSE BY WITH WATER AS COLD AS ICE FLOWING YEAR AROUND. I BROUGHT THE MAN A BUCKET OF WATER WITH A GOURD FOR A DIPPER, AND OFFERED TO WATER HIS HORSE. HE ACCEPTED AND PA INVITED HIM TO SIT UNDER THE WILLOW TREES.

I LOOKED CLOSELY AND SAW HE DIDN’T CARRY A PISTOL, AND THERE WAS NO RIFLE ON THE SADDLE. HE DID HAVE A PRETTY GOOD KNIFE ON HIS BELT, BUT IT WASN’T THE FIGHTING KIND. AFTER DRINKING WHAT, SEEMED TO ME, HALF OF THAT BUCKET OF WATER, THE MAN FINALLY SPOKE AGAIN, “I’M LES CROWDER. I LIVE OVER TUTHER SIDE ’O FARNER, TENNESSEE.” PA REACHED OUT HIS HAND AND SAID, “I’M BUD HAMILTON, PLEASE TA MEETCHE.” LES CROWDER LOOKED DOWN, WIPED THE SWEAT FROM HIS HAT BAND AND SAID, “I’LL TELLYE WHYIM HERE. WEUNS HEERED ABOUCHE FROM FOLKS OVERTA TELLICO PLAINS. WE HEERED YOUENS WAS A FAIR PREACHER O THA WORD, AND WE NEED US A REVIVAL. PA LOOKED DOWN AND PICKED UP A PIECE OF A STICK, PULLED OUT HIS OLD CASE POCKET KNIFE AND STARTED TO WHITTLE A LITTLE BIT. NEITHER MAN SPOKE FOR SEVERAL MINUETS. I LOOKED AT ONE THEN THE OTHER. FINALLY LES SPOKE, “WEUNS UD BE WILLING TO PAYE WHAT WEUNS COULD.” PA LOOKED UP QUICKLY THEN. THE MAN HAD HIS ATTENTION. HE LOOKED AT THE STRANGER, HIS LIPS TREMBLED AND I KNEW HE WAS UPSET. HE SPOKE, “MISTER, I AIN’T NEVER PREACHED FER NO MONEY, AND I AIN’T BOUT TA START.” OLE BOSS, PA’S DOG WAS SLEEPING NEARBY, AND WHEN PA RAISED HIS VOICE, BOSS SAT UP TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON. LES MOVED BACK AND SAID, “I DIDN MEAN TO RILE YE NONE. I JES WANTED YE TA KNOW WEUNS DON’T WANTCHEE TO COME FER NUTHIN.” PA SAID, “I AIN‘T RILED, BUT WHEN ME AN THA ALMIDY COME TO AGREE ABOUT ME PREACHIN, HE SAID HE’D TAKE KERE O ME, AND HE ALL WAYS HAS.” HOW LONG DO YE WANT ME FER?” WELL, WEUNS NEED PREACHIN TO RAT BAD. HIT MIGHT TAKE A WEEK ER TWO.” PA SAID, “YE GOTTA PLACE WHERE I’CN STAY AND A STABLE AND FOOD FER MY MARE?” “YESSIR, YESSIR, WEUNS CN TAKE KERE O YE PURTY GOOD!”

PA REACHED OUT AND SHOOK LES’ES HAND, AND SAID, “WHENYE NEED ME?” WAL, I TOLE EM I’D TRY TO BRANG YE BACK IFN I CUD.” PA SAID, “IF YEILL HALP ME FINISH SPLITTEN MA WOOD, WE’LL LEAVE INA MORNING.” LES PULLED OFF HIS JUMPER, AND GRABBED THE GO-DEVIL. “THEY’LL SHORE BE PROUDTA SEE YE PREACHER!” PA LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, “SON, GO TELL MA TA COOK US SOME VICTUALS, AND TA GIT MY PREACHIN CLOTHES READY. I’M AGOIN TO FARNER.” “HOW LONG YE GOIN BE GONE, PA?” “AS LONG AS THA LORD WILLS, SON. FINE GE DEDDY, AND TELL IM I’LL BE GONE FER A SPELL.” HE LOOKED AT LES WHO WAS BUSY SPLITTING WOOD, AND SAID, “MA BOY’LL TAKE CARE OF MA PLACE WHILE I’M GONE.” (HIS “BOY” WAS MY DAD WHO WAS 47 YEARS OLD AND HAD SIX CHILDREN. WE LIVED ABOUT TWO HUNDRED YARDS DOWN THE ROAD IN A HOUSE MY DAD HAD BUILT. )

I WENT IN AND TOLD MA WHAT PA HAD TOLD ME. SHE NEVER SPOKE A WORD, JUST GOT UP AND STARTED. SHE KNEW THERE WAS NO STOPPING PA. THEN I WENT INTO THE WOODS TO FIND MY DAD.

(LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY DAD. HE WAS TALL AND SKINNY, “RAW BONED” DARK SKINNED; FROM THE SUN AND HIS CHEROKEE HERITAGE AND, AT THAT MOMENT, SOAKING WET WITH SWEAT. DAD ALWAYS WORE A FELT HAT, SUMMER AND WINTER, AND A LONG SLEEVED SHIRT, BUTTONED TO HIS WRIST AND UP TO HIS NECK. HE HAD ON SIXTEEN INCH LACE UP BOOTS, AND WAS HOLDING A DOUBLE BITTED AX. HE MIGHT NOT LOOK LIKE MUCH TO SOME PEOPLE, BUT THIS MAN AND THE ONE I HAD JUST LEFT WERE MY HEROES. I HEARD PEOPLE TALK ABOUT GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, GENERAL DWIGHT EISENHOWER, PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND ALL THOSE FELLOWS, BUT THE MAN I WAS LOOKING AT AND THE ONE I HAD JUST LEFT, WERE MY HEROES, AND STILL ARE.”)

MY DAD HAD MINED COAL IN KENTUCKY WHEN HE WAS YOUNG AND HAD “BLACK LUNG”, AND SOMETIMES HAD SHORTNESS OF BREATH, BUT HE WORKED HARD EVERY DAY. WHEN DAD GOT HIS BREATH, HE SAID, “ WHAT AYE DOIN SON?” “DADDY, PA IS FIXIN TA GO TO SOME PLACE CALLED FOREIGNER TO PREACH.” “THAT’S FARNER SON. IT’S OVER IN TENNESSEE, ACROSS THA MOUNTAIN.” “WELL, HE TOLE ME TA COME AND TELLYE.”

NOW, PA ONLY HAD TWO SONS, AND THE OTHER ONE WAS AN ENGINEER ON THE L AND N RAILROAD. THAT MEANT WHILE PA WAS GONE, WE WOULD HAVE TO FEED OUR STOCK AND PA’S, MILK ALL THE COWS AND WHATEVER ELSE NEEDED TO BE DONE. DAD WOULD HAVE NEVER COMPLAINED. HE JUST TOOK OUT HIS OLD BANDANA, PULLED OFF HIS HAT AND WIPED HIS FOREHEAD. “DEDDY, YE ’ONT ME TA STAY AND HALP YE?” “NO SON, I GOT TEM ALL LIMBED. TOMMARA, I GOTTA BRANG OLE GRAY UP AN SNAKE EM OUT.” (NOW, OLE GRAY WAS OUR HUGE LOGGING HORSE. DAD HAD GIVEN FIFTY DOLLARS FOR HER.

 

WE WALKED TOGETHER DOWN TO PA’S HOUSE, WHERE MY DAD WAS INTRODUCED AS “MABOY”, AND THEN PA SAID, “SON, I’M AGOIN TO FARNER FER A MEETIN. I NEEGEE TO LOOK AFTER THANGS AND WATCH OUT FER MA” “WHENAYE LEAVIN?” ASKED MY DAD. “FIRS THANG IN THA MORNIN.” “PA,” MY DAD SAID, “ITLL TAKE MORNA DAY TO RIDE TA FARNER. WHERE YE GOIN STAY?” “I KNOW ALOTA PEOPLE TWEEN HERE’ N’ ARE”

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING, PA AND LES SADDLED UP, (I CAN STILL HEAR THE LEATHER SQUEAKING). PA HAD ON HIS SUNDAY SUIT, BOOTS AND BLACK HAT. HE HAD HIS BELONGINGS IN A PAIR OF SADDLE BAGS AND A FLOUR SACK, AND I KNEW SOMEWHERE IN THERE WAS AN OLD LEATHER BIBLE, GIVEN TO HIM BY HAW KNOB BAPTIST CHURCH. MA HAD FIXED THEM SOME BISCUITS AND SMOKED HAM. THEY WOULD DRINK SPRING WATER OR STOP AT SOME ONE’S HOUSE FOR A CUP OF COFFEE. WHEN IT GOT DARK, THEY WOULD STAY WITH SOMEONE, WHO WOULD FEED THEM AND THE HORSES, BECAUSE PA WAS “THA PREACHER” PEOPLE HE KNEW AND DIDN’T KNOW HAD A LOT OF RESPECT FOR HIM, BECAUSE OF HIS “CALLIN” AND HIS REPUTATION.

(NOW, IF YOU ARE WONDERING WHY HE WOULD WEAR HIS SUNDAY BEST FOR THE LONG RIDE, LET ME TELL YOU. HE TRAVELED IN STYLE. AFTER ALL, HE WAS THE PREACHER.)

PA GAVE MA A KISS ON THE CHEEK, LED OLE DOLLY UP TO THE PORCH SO IT WAS EASIER TO GET IN THE SADDLE, (HE WASN’T AS YOUNG AND SPRY AS HE USED TO BE AND “RHEUMATIZ“HAD SET IN) PICKED UP THE REINS, LOOKED BACK AT MA AND SAID, ““I’LL BE BACK WHEN I KEN.”, THEN HE SPOKE TO LES, WHO TIPPED HIS HAT AT MA, AND SAID, “AIR YOUNS REDDY?” LES NODDED, CLUCKED TO HIS HORSE AND THEY RODE OFF. IT WASN’T A GALLOP, IT WASN’T A CANTER IT WASN’T EVEN A TROT. THEY KNEW THEY HAD A LONG TRIP ACROSS THE MOUNTAIN, AND THEY NEEDED TO SAVE THEIR HORSES.

MA WIPED HER HANDS ON HER APRON AND WENT INTO THE HOUSE. SHE HAD BEEN THROUGH THIS MANY TIMES. SHE WAS A TRAVELING PREACHER’S WIFE AND WAS USED TO HIS BEING GONE.

I FOLLOWED ALONG BEHIND THEM DOWN TO OUR BARN WHERE THEY SPOKE TO MY DAD, WHO WAS HARNESSING UP OLE GRAY. DAD SAID, “SON, WE GOTTA SNAKE EM LOGS OUT TODAY.” “YESSIR.” “DEDDY, HOW DOES PA KNOW LES IS A GOOD MAN AND WON’T TRY TO HURT ‘IM?” DAD ANSWERED, “SON, PA KNOWS MEN, AND BESIDES, HE AIN’T EASY TO HURT.” AS I WATCHED THEM RIDE OUT OF SIGHT, I SAID,”DEDDY, I WANNA BE A TRAVELIN PREACHER, LIKE PA.” “SON, THAS NOT SUMPIN YE CHOOSE TADO, THAS SUMPIN GOD CALLS YE TADO.” I PRAYED GOD WOULD CALL ME. I WOULD HAVE A BLACK SUIT AND BOOTS, A BIG BLACK HAT, A BIG BLACK BIBLE AND A DAPPLE GRAY MARE, JUST LIKE OL DOLLY.

NOTE: GOD DID CALL ME TO PREACH. I HAVE THE BLACK SUIT, BLACK HAT, BLACK BOOTS AND BIG BLACK BIBLE. I NEVER TRAVELED ON A DAPPLE GRAY MARE, BUT I HAVE TRAVELED MANY MILES ON A STEEL HORSE. I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE PREACHER MY GRANDFATHER WAS AND I’VE NEVER HAD THE REPUTATION HE HAD, BUT I TRIED HARD TO ANSWER THE CALLING. TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, IT’S HARD TO FIND MEN

 

The Circuit Rider 3/26/09

The old saddle bag preachers were a hardy breed. They fought the elements, critters, reprobate men and the devil. My grandfather (Pa) told me of times when the night was so dark, the fog so thick and the trail so narrow, only his horse could find the way. He told me about times when his hands were so cold, he would dismount and put them under the saddle for a while. In a way, I can relate to that. There have been times when my hands were so cold, I would lay them on the engine of my Harley to warm them. I must admit, there were places I could have stopped. He had none.

Even the strongest and bravest have weaknesses. I struggle with mine daily. Even the most faithful, need encouragement. Those who fight the hardest, sometimes lose the battle. If we never stumble, if we never doubt, if we never sin, we would never need grace. I praise God for His amazing grace!

I'm sure Pa had some spiritual weaknesses. I know he had physical ones. He suffered for years with his stomach, and died of stomach cancer at age seventy six. He also had a problem that many of our ancestors were plagued with: bad teeth. Many times, the only pain relief they could get was from whisky or herbs. Since Pa hated whisky, his only hope was herbs. One of their favorites was Red Oak bark. In a tea, it would bring an abscess to a head, and as a poultice, it would bring out a boil or a "rison." I remember once, my dad had a carbuncle, and they put coal tar salve on it. (I guess that was store bought.)

When I was a boy, we didn't go to the store much; the store came to us. There was a truck that came down the gravel road once a week. We called it "the rolling store." He sold stuff we couldn't raise or hunt. There was coal oil (kerosene), sugar, salt, coffee, shotgun shells and rifle cartridges, turpentine, and alcohol to name a few. We would harness a horse to the sled and meet him at the road.

My dad's favorite medicine was turpentine. He would put it on cuts, bites, stings, blisters and even bruises. My grandmother (Ma) would even put a drop of turpentine on a spoonful of sugar to get rid of pin worms. I've had that concoction, and I can testify that it works!

Once, I got cut pretty bad by a crosscut saw. Dad put pine rosin on it and wrapped it with a rag. Every night he would soak the rag off with hot water and put turpentine on the cut. I still have the scar as evidence.

My mother made a tea from four kinds of bark. Every morning she would heat it and give each of us kids a cup full. The taste was terrible! One morning, I asked, "Mother, why do we have to drink this stuff?" Her reply was, "It keeps you from having chills." I said, "Mother, we've never had chills!" Her answer was, "That's because you drink that tea!" Another favorite of mountain people was castor oil. When I was a boy, I would pray, "Dear Lord, please don't ever let them give me another dose of castor oil." I still think it should be outlawed!

As I said, my grandfather suffered with bad teeth. Once it got so bad, he rode several miles to a dentist. The dentist was away, but his wife told him she knew what the dentist would do, and gave him a piece of bluestone. She advised him not to use it until he got home, then to put the bluestone on the tooth and bite down. Pa said he could hardly wait to get home. As soon as he had stabled his horse, he did what she had told him. Pa said, the minute he bit down, he thought the world came to an end in his head. He said the pain was unbearable. He wallowed on the ground, beat his head against a tree and jumped in the creek and tried to drown himself. He said he screamed, pawed the ground and cried like a baby. After just a few seconds, the pain stopped and the tooth never hurt again. Years later, a real dentist told him the bluestone had killed the nerve in the tooth.

This writer has been asked to be a "Drifter" for Circuit Rider Motorcycle ministry. A Drifter is a biker who goes where he is called to preach and minister. Please pray for us as we travel. Remember, watch out for bikers!

God bless you! Bill Hamilton The Circuit Rider

 

THE CIRCUIT RIDER 1/29/09

THE CHURCH

It was just a small clearing in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, not far from Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The church house was a small, weather beaten building, which had never seen a coat of paint. The pews were built from rough-cut lumber and would only seat twentyfive or thirty adults. If the pews were full, the children would sit on the floor. It was a very simple place of worship, but to the congregation, it was their church.

THE SEASON

It was early Spring, a time when churches schedule revival. The people were ready, not only to worship, but to visit with friends they had not seen in weeks. They would arrive at the church early so there would be time for the children to play together, the women to compare "frocks," and the men smoke their pipes while talking about planting, the weather and such.

THE PREACHER

He was riding a dapple gray mare, his saddle was western and his arrival was expected. He had left home two days ago, and had spent the night with a family over on Candy Mountain. His booming voice announced his arrival, with the words of that old standard, "Bringing In The Sheaves." "Whoa, Dolly." The mare came to a halt and the preacher stepped down. What a sight he was. His suit was solid black, with a touch of dust, his hat was the same and his boots were black calfskin. His eyebrows were bushy, his mustache a handle-bar and his curly black hair was definitely too long for a preacher. One feller said, "Hit purt near kivered his coller."

He stuck out a big rough hand and announced, "Howye doin, I'm tha preacher!" One by one the men took his hand. He then walked over to where the women were gathered, "Howdy, sisters, how youenses doin? I'm tha preacher." The women nodded their heads, but none spoke. He acknowledged the children, but they only stared.

The preacher returned to his horse, removed a big black Bible from the saddle bag, loosened the girth on the saddle, led the mare over to a patch of green grass and dropped the reins. One of the men asked, "Preacher, ye goin tie ye horse?" "Naugh, she'll be here when I'm ready tago," he answered.

THE SERVICE

The Deacon came to the door, introduced himself to the preacher, and announced, "Time ta start." The men called to their wives, the wives rounded up the children and they all moved inside. One of the ladies went to the wellworn piano and sat down. The Deacon called out the name of the hymn, and the pianist started to play. There were not enough song books for everyone, so they shared.

Outside, the traveling preacher knelt on the ground to pray. He thanked God for his safe travel, for the opportunity to preach and asked for His strength and power in the service, and then he went inside. He strode down the aisle and sat on the front pew. As he looked around, he noticed a fire had been started in the wood heater, and kerosene lamps around the walls. He was glad to see a bucket of water, with a dipper. This church was like most of the churches he had preached in. He was not invited to the big churches in places like Murphy and Andrews. You see, he was a traveling preacher, a Circuit Rider.

Having surveyed the inside of the church house, the preacher turned to his Bible. It was the only book he ever read, and he had learned to read it after he was called of God to preach. He had never been to school, never had any formal education and probably didn't know what a seminary was. He couldn't sign his own name, but he could preach the Word of The Living God! As he looked at his Bible, he knew what he would preach that night, because his saddle time was also his praying time. God had filled his spirit with the Word for the evening.

THE VISITOR

The song service was over, the Deacon said, "Now here's tha preacher, and the people grew quiet. Every eye was focused on the speaker as he opened his Bible. "I'm the Reverend J.R.V. Hamilton from over `round Liberty. Most folks call me Brother Bud. Ize asked to come over here and preach fer a few days, and after much prayer and meditation, tha's what I come tado. Now open ye Bibles ta John's Gospel and if ye ken read, foller along." He read slowly and haltingly; sometimes stopping to sound out a word. Some of the children snickered. They could read much better than this preacher. Their parents shut them up with a look, and the preacher continued, reciting many of the words from memory. When he had finished reading the passage, he laid the Bible down and said, "Les pray." He knelt down on the old rough floor and prayed long and hard. As he prayed, his voice became stronger and louder. He awoke some of the babies and in the quiet of the evening, his voice rang throughout the clearing.

The praying was over and the preaching started. "Lisen, neighbor, I'm here ta tell ye, hell is hot and eternitys long, an less' ye borned agin, ye going ta hell! The only way ta escape is Jesus Christ! Ye must be borned agin! The Word-o-God sez ..." The preacher was cut off in mid sentence. The door burst open and standing there was a young man holding a pistol. The women gasped, the children screamed and the men arose to their feet. "Sedown!" he yelled. "Shaddup `em air youngans!" Mothers tried to comfort their children and one of the men said, "Whatdayeont?" "Iont `at preacher!" the gunman shouted.

The preacher stepped down from the platform, walked the small aisle and approached the angry intruder. "Whadayeont, son?" he asked. "Imma gonna keelye, preacher man!" "Why doyeontta keel me, son?" "Cause I'm sickntard oyou spouting off bout hell!" Bud could smell alcohol on the young man's breath. "You preacher! You thank you know everythang `bout hell! Well, ya donno nothin! I been follerin you from one church ta anuthern and yeaint preached nothin but hell. I don wanna hear no more hell. Only way ta shucheyeup is ta killye, and thas what Imma gonna tado."

The preacher said, "Son, letese people go outside. Theyaint got nothin tado with this." "No! Aint nobody goin nowhere! They goin see me keel you!" Bud tried another approach. "Son, put tha gun down and les talk." "You shaddup! Iaint yore son and yeaint my deddy!" The preacher was getting a little fed up with this boy. He knew he was drunk enough and mad enough to shoot him and maybe hit other people. He also knew he might be able to get the gun, but others might get hurt. Now, Bud was no limp wristed preacher. He had worked in some of the worst logging camps along the Tellico River, and had seen his share of scrapes. I suppose, with one blow he could have laid out this boy, but he realized there were others in danger.

"Ok boy, if ye gonna keelme, lemme pray. Then wegan go outside, and yeggan keel me." "No! Imonna keel ye ratchere!" "Ok lemme pray." Without waiting for an answer he knelt to pray. "Almighty and all wise God, our Heavenly Father ..." he started his prayer. "Lord forgive me fer any sin lodged aginst ma soul and please forgive this young man fer the sin he's `bout tado." "Thasanough! Gitup preacher!" The preacher stood as the boy raised the gun, and recognized it was an old single action Colt. He could see the bullets in the cylinder, and realized it was fully loaded. He saw the thumb on the hammer and heard the three clicks as it came to full cock. The people only heard a whisper as Bud prayed, "Father, it's in yore hans." He saw the finger squeeze the trigger and heard the hammer fall, but there was no report from the gun. The trigger released the hammer, the hammer fell, the firing pin hit the primer, but the primer didn't explode, the powder didn't burn and the bullet stayed in the chamber. The young shooter stared at the gun in his hand. It was a Colt revolver! It had never failed to fire! Colt was the most reliable gun made! The ammunition was fresh! It was good ammunition! He raised the gun again, pointed it directly at the preacher and, once again, he cocked the gun, once again he pulled the trigger, once again the trigger released the hammer, the hammer struck the primer, but once again the primer didn't explode, the powder didn't burn and the bullet stayed in the chamber.

The preacher realized he had just seen the intervention of Almighty God. He whispered, "Thank ye Jesus!" as he thought about his wife and children across the mountain. He thought about how much he loved them and how he missed them right now.

The would-be killer stared in dismay. The dismay turned into fear, the fear into conviction and conviction into tears which streamed down his cheeks. His body started to tremble, his knees grew limp and he sank to the floor. Bud knelt beside him, wrapped his arms around him and held him. The Colt was on the floor and one of the men picked it up. Tears flowed freely. "My mama raised me right, preacher. She tole me to stay away from alkyhall, but Pa `ould give it ta us boys. We'd git drunk with Pa an stay gone fer days. When we'd come home, Mama `ud always pray fer us."

"Preacher, you messed up everthang." "How dido `at, son?" "You come las year `n preached at Shoal Creek. Pa got religion an `e went home and toreup our steel. Mama `uz happy, but Pa did'n go wius nomore. He madeus lisen while Mama `ud read tha Bible. I run away `en been runnin ever since. Thas why I wan ta keel ye preacher, but I can't keelye! Magun won't shoot! I don know wha happen. I'm sorry, preacher!" The preacher lifted him to his feet, "Son, God kept ye from keeling me here tanight. I'm God's servant, and he's got work fer me tado. Whos yore pa?" "Clayton Stiles. We gotta farm overon Shoal Creek." "Yea, I know `ye deddy, son. Heesa good man. Now son, these people comere tanight tahear me preach. You seddown rachere, en lisen. Let God take `at bitterness outta ye heart."

The boy got saved that night, left his gun with the preacher, and went home. The next day, Bud fired the Colt five times, and it never failed. From that time on, it was in his saddle bag, where he kept it to remind him of the power and grace of Almighty God.

You better believe they had revival! Our God is more than awesome! He is almighty, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, compassionate and full of grace! He is indeed, an awesome God! We sometimes need to be reminded! Even those of us who preach His Word, tend to forget!

God bless you, and watch out for bikers!

Bill Hamilton, The Circuit Rider

 

THE CIRCUIT RIDER     11/29/2007

On Saturday morning, September 5th, six bikers met at Kidd Jones in Chandler to begin a week-long trip to Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. After praying together and kissing our families goodbye, we pulled out. Our tanks were full of gas, our bellies were full of food and our spirits were full of excitement and anticipation.

The weather was beautiful, the bikes were running good and all was right with the world. About every 130 miles, we had to stop for gas, so late in the afternoon we arrived at our first layover, Meridian, Mississippi. The Motel 6 said they were full, although there were only a few cars in the parking lot. We got the impression they don't like bikers (that is the only one we had a problem with), so we went next door to their competitor, where we were welcomed with open arms.

On Sunday morning, one of the bikes wouldn't start. All but one of us (I'll let you guess which one) pushed it around the parking lot until we decided it wasn't going to start. We needed jumper cables. The Lord provided and there they lay in the back of a "Red Neck pick-up." (We only borrowed them for a minute.) The bike started and we were on our way. After a breakfast at the Waffle House, we hit I-59 and headed for Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Just out of Tuscaloosa, our leader, Ray Moore, left the Interstate in hopes of finding a church. I was thinking, "There can't be a church down this road." Suddenly, there was a big church. We had arrived at "Evergreen Baptist Church." The ushers met us in the parking lot and invited us to take a tour of their new facilities. It was beautiful and the pastor and people gave us a "down home" welcome. After the service, they followed us into the parking lot and said, "Y'all come back."

Late that afternoon, we rolled into "The Choo Choo," (Chattanooga, Tenn.) This time, we stayed at Motel 6. The next morning, after a trip up Lookout Mountain, we headed for our destination, Tellico Plains, Tennessee. We spent that night in a cabin at the KOA Campground, and I almost froze. It was cold! The next morning, I walked out on the porch in full leathers and saw Robert McCurdy sitting there wrapped up in a blanket looking like Kawliga. That's the first time I ever saw Robert wrapped in anything! He very seldom wears a jacket.

After a good ole mountain breakfast in Tellico, we hit the Cherohala Parkway and headed for Robbinsville, North Carolina. Just out of Robbinsville, we pulled off into a graveled lot and I dropped my bike. Now I have been riding motorcycles for 45 years, and have dropped a few bikes, but this was the first time I dropped one on me.

A Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, fully loaded, weighs in excess of 800 pounds. I was calling for help, and I got it. The bike was lifted off my foot and I stood up. I was able to walk, but just barely. I could ride and did, to the closest motel.

While I lay nursing my foot, the other riders, Ray Moore, Steve Goodrich, Robert McCurdy, Calvin Morris and Don West rode the infamous "Tail of the Dragon." It's a stretch of U.S. Highway 129 that crosses from North Carolina into Tennessee. It has 318 curves in 11 miles of North Carolina into Tennessee. I'm told, Don West scraped his floorboards in every curve; I don't know. I was nursing my foot in Robbinsville.

I found that just because you can't walk much doesn't mean you can't ride. I threatened my friends with loss of life if they called Brownsboro and told anyone about my foot. I knew I would have to tell my wife, Charlie, when I got home, but right then, what she didn't know wouldn't worry her. We all agreed, "What happens in North Carolina, stays in North Carolina. " (At least until we get home.)

That trip was the ride of a lifetime, and I was with five of the best men I know. I'll tell you more, later. `Til then, watch for bikers, and look for us on the road. May God bless you.

Bill Hamilton
 

The Circuit Rider  09/06/2007

Several years ago I was the pastor of a church in Rock Hill, South Carolina. A friend had invited me to York, South Carolina to hold a revival. "Brother Joe" was several years my senior, but had entered the ministry in his late forties, and had never received much education. He had started a small church in an old storefront that he renovated with his own money. To the more educated pastors, he was labeled as "The man who slaughters the King's English," but there was nothing pretentious about this man. For years, his little girl had gone to the altar every Sunday morning to pray for God to save her mother and daddy. When she was a teenager, her parents finally came to Christ.

Soon after that, this maintenance man in a cotton mill surrendered to preach the gospel. Most pastors wouldn't let him preach because he was "ignorant"; so Joe started his own church. Several people had joined, and he was just happy to be a part of it. That's when our paths crossed. I was a young pastor in an old, well established church and was invited to preach in a youth rally. Brother Joe heard me preach and asked if I would come to his church and hold a week-long revival.

As we drove through York one day, Brother Joe said, "Bill, how can we get the message to people who won't come to church?" I said, "We'll get some of the youth and praise singers from my church and have a street meeting."

"What do you mean?" he asked. "Our young people will sing praise songs and I will preach on this courthouse square!" "Why, they'll lock us up! You'll go to jail and your church'll run you off!" He continued, "Bill, they arrested a street preacher a few days ago in Laurens County and charged him with unlawful conduct." I said, "Brother Joe, I was born in Laurens County. That bunch of hoogies over there are crazy! That won't happen here in York County." "Don't bet on it. Bill, I don't want to do that." I agreed to just preach in the church.

That was a long time ago, and I never did preach on the streets of York, but I have preached on the streets in Mexico, and the jails and prisons of this country. I've preached to murderers, rapists, thieves, house burners and hoodlums. The hardest people I have ever preached to are preachers. But the "saddle bag" preachers preached on the roads, in barns, honky tonks and wherever else people gathered. Even today, I would rather hit the road with a young preacher who has a love for the gospel and a fire in his belly, than all the so-called reverends who ever trotted out of a seminary!

Where are all the "fire and brimstone" preachers who traveled the country, and fearlessly preached the gospel? The eletists, the intellectuals or the reprobates didn't intimidate them. They knew they had the message of salvation, and they would do whatever it took to preach it to everyone.

A story was told about an old preacher who was preaching in a little church in the mountains of North Carolina. One night the service was interrupted by an inebriated young man with a Colt 44. As he came in the door, he said, "Preacher man, put `at book down and shet up!" The preacher, who had fought the devil before, faced the man with the gun and said, "Son, yore standin' afore Great God Amighty. Holster ye gun an join us afore He strikes ye down."

Anger, fueled by alcohol, boiled up in the gunman, as he stuck the Colt into the preacher's chest and cocked the hammer. The three clicks could be heard all over the church. Women sobbed, children buried their faces in their mother's breast and grown men stopped breathing. They knew by the look on the gunman's face he would not hesitate to shoot, and they knew the preacher would not back down.

The preacher said, "Son, if ye keel me, ye might gota hell, but I'm shore I'll gota Heaven, so do whache gotta do." The trigger was pulled, the hammer fell, but the gun didn't fire. The young shooter, thinking the hammer had found an empty chamber, once again cocked the gun and once again, pulled the trigger.

(Now, Colonel Colt built very reliable guns and this gun had never misfired before.) The preacher and the gunman still faced each other. "Whas wrong, son?" said the preacher.

The young man's face had gone pale, his heart raced and fear ran through his veins. He looked at his gun in disbelief, then fell on his knees and started to sob. The preacher took the gun and the sobbing young man cried out, "Don't keel me, Preacher. Please don't keel me! I don wanta gota hell!"

Wrapping his arms around the young stranger, the man of God held him and said, "Son, I ain't gonna kill ye. I'm gonna tell ye `bout Jesus." The people started to breathe again as the preacher led the repentant young man to the altar and began to pray with him.

Later, the preacher examined the gun and found there were five live rounds in the cylinder. (Experienced gunmen who carried single action revolvers kept the hammer on an empty chamber.) The hammer had dented two cartridges, but they didn't fire. Friends, don't every underestimate the power of God!

Watch for our Circuit Riders on the road! We're riding for Jesus, and we'll tell you about Him. God bless you!

Bill Hamilton
 

 

The Circuit Rider: 08/30/2007
`Grandfather rode a horse to preach, I ride a motorcycle'

A few years ago, I was in conversation with another pastor, when he happened to mention that he was riding a new Harley. I didn't have a bike at the time, and felt I couldn't afford to buy one. I asked how he could buy a new Harley, and he informed me that God had given it to him. Well, I was a little jealous and couldn't understand why God would play favorites. After all, wasn't I a pastor, wasn't I serving God and didn't I deserve a new Harley? I wanted to know; did God deliver it to his house? Did God call Milwaukee, Wisconsin and order it direct, did he go to the dealership? How could I get God to give me a Harley?

The pastor went on to tell me he had gone into Longview Harley Davidson, saw the bike he wanted and said, "Lord, if you want me to have this bike, I will ride it out of here." "So," he said, "I rode it out. It will take me five years to pay for it, but I rode it out, and I know God is going to help me pay for it."

Well, I thought, what a plan! A few days later, I walked into the Yamaha dealership in Tyler, and said the same words, "Lord, if you want me to have this bike, I'll ride it out." I didn't want to bother God for a Harley. They were too expensive. I walked out without the bike. I did call my wife and told her, "Baby, I bought a new Yamaha." "No, you didn't!" I put the phone to my other ear (that one had suddenly gone deaf), and said, "Yes, I did." "Well, how are you going to pay for it?" Then she questioned my intelligence, "Are you crazy?" I realized this was going nowhere fast, so I quickly told her, I bought the bike, but they wouldn't let me have it without paying for it. They didn't know anything about God giving it to me.

A few years later, while reporting to the "Circuit Rider" officers meeting in Louisiana, I related this story. One of the old bikers in the back of the room spoke out, "You were in the wrong place; God rides a Harley!" God never gave me that new Harley, but He did make it possible for me to get a good used Honda and after that, two Harleys. I have been asked many times, "What is the best motorcycle?" My answer to that is, "The one you enjoy riding, and the one you can afford."

I have, since I was twentyfour years old, loved riding motorcycles. For a long time, I didn't think of using them in a ministry, but for the last few years, that is exactly what we have done. I still love riding, I still love being a part of the ministry, I still enjoy the smiles on children's faces and believe it or not, I still enjoy the frowns I get from "good Christian people" who think motorcycles are `tools of the devil.'

My grandfather rode a horse to preach and I ride a motorcycle, but I still preach from the same Bible he did. Please pray for us, watch for us on the road and remember, we are "riding for Jesus."

Bill Hamilton
 

 

The Circuit Rider:  08/15/2007
A calling to preach

As a small boy, I sat and listened to the experiences of my grandfather, who was a traveling preacher. I was mesmerized by those accounts, and dreamed that one day I would do the same. Needless to say, Pa was my hero. I would try to preach like he did, even though I was just a boy. My grandmother would encourage me, and told me I was going to be a preacher. I followed Pa around, trying to learn all I could. Mostly what I learned was hard work. I learned it takes a lot of wood to keep a cookstove going, a lot of water to wash clothes and a lot of hay to feed livestock.

We didn't have running water, but we did have a good spring that produced plenty of cold water. We didn't have power tools, tractors and hay balers, but we did have good horses, to pull mowing machines and rakes. We didn't have a washing machine, but we did have a rub board and homemade soap. We also had a clothes line.

As I grew older, I realized, traveling from church to church was not an easy life, and fewer and fewer people wanted to hear "old fashioned preaching." I know God called me to preach when I was a teenager, but by that time, Pa was gone and I had other interests. I would see nine years of military service, a wife and three children, before I answered that call. Only then did I realize the struggles my grandfather had experienced.

Pa didn't have much "book learning," but I knew times had changed and education was a must. I was thirty-three years old when I began studying for the ministry. I went to school, pastored small churches and worked to support my family. Times were hard and money was scarce, but my children never complained. Every time I grew discouraged, God would give me reason to go on. That all began thirty-seven years ago. I must say this, I have not always been faithful to God, or to His calling, but I can honestly say, He has never failed me. I do have a very deep respect for those old traveling preachers. It is amazing how God used them to win the lost and build churches without Bible colleges and seminaries.

However, when young men tell me they think God wants them to preach, and ask what they should do, I tell them, "Run"! Of course I know, if God wants them, he can outrun them. Then I tell them, "Get as much education as you can, but remember, it's not about education. It's about the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. It's about the anointing of the Holy Spirit!"

On Saturday, August fourth, our "Circuit Riders" were honored to have the privilege of praying over (blessing) the new Brownsboro Police Department cruisers, and the officers who use them. We thank God for the men and women who lay their lives on the line to enforce the law. They make it much safer for us! Sometimes, when we ride back into Brownsboro, late at night, we see them patrolling the streets. We respect them, and appreciate their service to this community.

On Sunday morning, August 5, some of our members rode to New Beginnings Baptist Church, Ferris, Texas, to take part in their "Run for the Son" service. Following the activities there, they rode hard, back to Union Hill, to help with VBS. They were hot and tired, but they were blessed!

Last Friday evening, some of our members rode to Kaufman to honor a fallen biker, and on Saturday, we had the pleasure of hosting our brothers and sisters from the Emory and Corsicana chapters of "Circuit Riders." It was a wonderful time of food and fellowship. There were thirty-three bikes and their riders present.

Remember, share the road, and God bless you!

Bill Hamilton
 

 

The Circuit Rider  08/09/2007
Were those better times?

When I think about the old circuit riders, I sometimes envy them. They lived and preached in a time when life was not so hectic. Most of them traveled by horseback and most of the traffic they met were traveling the same way. They had time to speak, and maybe stop to talk. News from one settlement to another was carried this way. Many times, the preacher was asked to "come on to the house, and stay a spell." One of the "youngans" would run down to the creek and fetch a cold crock of buttermilk and a tub of fresh churned butter. This would be served with fresh cornbread or maybe biscuit bread. The preacher would probably read the scripture and pray for the family, and their livestock and their crops.

My grandfather would sometimes hold "revival meetings" that would last for a week or two. He would stay with a family of the church who would feed him and provide a place to sleep. In turn, he would help with the crops, and the livestock. (He was good at "horse shoeing"), he might even repair the shingle roof or move the "outhouse." Pa wasn't afraid of manual labor. No matter what else he did, every night, he would preach the Word of God, either in a church or a brush arbor.

These circuit riders served in an era when people had time to go to church. I'm not saying everybody went to church. I am saying the "church people" went to church. They didn't have so many things to distract them. There were no such things as TV, computers, video games, ball games, four wheelers and all the rest.

Were those better times? I believe families were stronger. Parents cared for their children and part of that caring was discipline. There were fewer jails and prisons, and the ones they had were less populated. Some of them had no beds. The prisoners slept on a pallet on the floor. In the morning, after breakfast they went to the fields or the woods to work. It was not considered child abuse to make a young person work in the house and the fields, and it was not considered abuse to punish a child when they refused.

I do think of some things that I consider child abuse: playing ball in 95-degree temperatures, allowing them to run the streets unchecked, taking them to the mall and leaving them, allowing "little girls" to dress like floosies and date grown men, allowing them to dictate to parents what they will and won't do. I believe these are forms of child abuse practiced by lazy and unwilling parents.

I don't pretend to be an expert on city life, even though I have been in every major city in the United states, but I'm talking about the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee where my grandfather lived, preached, died and lies buried.

Now, someone is saying, "If it were left up to him, we would still be riding horses." I still do ride one! The difference is, it's faster and has more stamina.

See ya on the road, and remember, watch out for bikers! They have families too.

--Bill Hamilton

 

The Circuit Rider  07/19/2007
`Riding for Jesus'
By Bill Hamilton

Someone recently asked me why some people disliked and sometimes hated the Circuit Riders. The truth is, many times, the Gospel would change things people didn't want changed. The makers of moonshine might lose much of their business if there was a revival in the area. At one time, there was a revival in Scotland that closed all of the pubs.

Our church secretary, Glenda Wallace told me about her grandfather pulling shotgun guard so the church could meet. You see, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has always had enemies. Actually, there is only one enemy. That is Satan, but he has a lot of help.

Our Circuit Rider colors read, "Riding for Jesus." I have been asked, "What does that mean, riding for Jesus?" I try to explain, "We don't just ride, we preach, we witness, we go to nursing homes, we go to prisons, we go to secular biker rallies, and we do all of this to tell people about Jesus." Then comes the question, "Why motorcycles?" There are a lot of people on motorcycles, and since we know motorcycles, and we enjoy riding them, that gives us an open door to others who enjoy the same things.

Then, someone will ask, "Why wear the biker gear?" One, it attracts attention to our ministry, and two, it helps us relate to secular bikers. Many people ride motorcycles, but not many are riding for Jesus.

My grandfather rode a horse. When he rode up to a place where men were gathering, he would often say, "That's a fine horse; how you trade?" Sometimes he did trade. I have a big watch that he traded a horse for. Sometime later, he traded the watch for another horse, and eventually traded for the watch again. He gave it to my dad, and my dad passed it on to me. I treasure that watch. Most of the time, Pa didn't trade, but it gave him an opportunity to talk to someone about salvation.

In our ministry, we ride steel horses and look for an opportunity to talk about Jesus. Please pray that we will be effective. Watch for us on the road, and may God continue to bless us all!
 

 

The Circuit Rider  07/05/2007
by Bill Hamilton

The circuit riding preachers were totally dedicated and committed to their calling. It wasn't for praise of men (most of them were never known outside their circuit), it wasn't for money, (many times they were never paid), and it wasn't for praise from this world. It was because they, like Jeremiah, had a burning desire to spread the Word of God.

One circuit rider I heard about, couldn't afford a horse, so he set out on foot. He would walk as far as he could, spend the night on his bedroll or at someone's house, and start again the next day. God only knows how many are in the Kingdom because of his commitment.

Circuit riders had to contend with harsh conditions and sometimes, hard people. Many didn't want to hear the life changing message of God. You see, the Word of God and the salvation He brings is free for the asking, but living a life for Christ costs something. It cost some circuit riders their lives.

I am aware that all the traveling preachers were not Methodist, or Baptist. The Presbyterians traveled a little heavier but they, among others, were there. Someone has said, the Presbyterians brought their libraries with them. Maybe they were a little better educated.

I am very thankful for my heritage. I grew up in a Christian home, where I was taught the Bible, and for a short time, I got to hear my grandfather preach. As I sit here in my study, surrounded by my books, typing on a word processor, doing research on the Internet, and with modern technology all around me, I am reminded that all my grandfather had was a Bible, a good strong voice and most of all, the Spirit of the Living God.

When young men tell me they think God wants them to preach, and ask me how to know if it is God, many times I tell them to run as long as they can run. When they come to the place where they can't sleep, can't eat, can't breathe without preaching, then it's God calling. The next advice I give them is to get a good solid Biblical education. However the calling of God is more important than all the education in the world!

This past week, I had the exceedingly wonderful privilege of introducing my grandson, who is a recent graduate of BHS, to the dean of the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville. He sincerely believes God has called him into the ministry. This is an answer to many prayers! I know from experience, the ministry is not easy, but the joys far outweigh the heartaches! I am so blessed to have a son and now, a grandson in the ministry! Praise God!

Please pray for our circuit riders as we ride and witness for Jesus. See you on the road, and remember, watch for bikers!

 

 

The Circuit Rider  06/21/2007
by Bill Hamilton

When Rev. J.R.V. "Bud" Hamilton surrendered to preach the gospel, he already had several children. That was one of the reasons he fought "the call" of God. Finally, after another sleepless night, he promised God he would preach his Word, and shortly thereafter, he packed his bed roll, saddled up and set out.

One night, as he was preaching in a small mountain church, a band of young ruffians circled the church on horseback, and threatened to burn the building with Pa and the people inside. They kept calling to him, "Come on out, Preacher. Saddle up and go back where you came from, or we'll burn the church." Now, Pa was already preaching in the aisle, so with Bible in hand, he started to walk and sing as loud as he could. The congregation joined him, and soon the young men rode away.

On another occasion, while the "altar call" was being given a man stood in the back of the church and mocked my grandfather and the message. Pa called out to the man and asked him to come to the Lord Jesus. The man continued to mock, told Pa where he could go with his Bible (it wasn't Heaven), and walked out of the church. Within the hour, the family sent a rider for "the preacher," and asked him to come to the house. The man's horse had spooked in the dark and had thrown him off. He was badly injured, and when Pa arrived, the family asked for prayer for him. Pa said, as he started to pray, the man suddenly sat up in bed and cried out, "Whoa!" and fell over dead. My grandfather always believed that man rode into hell that night.

People sometimes ask me, "Why don't we see that kind of conviction today?" Well, frankly, most of the politically correct preaching we hear today wouldn't convict a gnat! Instead of standing in trembling and fear before God, many preachers tremble and fear a congregation of people.

As I write these words, our Circuit Riders are planning to attend a Father's Day celebration at Atria Assisted Living on New Copeland Road in Tyler on Friday, and a Cossacks and Scimitars Motorcycle Clubs' cookout in Kilgore on Saturday. Please pray for us as we "ride for Jesus."

See you on the road and remember, watch out for motorcycles!

 

The Circuit Rider  06/14/2007
by Bill Hamilton

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Tellico River Valley was a very rough place. (In an earlier article, I said Tellico Plains is in North Carolina; actually it's in Tennessee, but very close to the state line.) The Babcock Lumber Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, had acquired all of the timber in that area and was conducting logging operations. My grandfather and my dad both worked for Babcock. My dad was not much more than a boy and as skinny as a rail, but he was expected to pull a two-man crosscut saw like any other man.

Now, speaking from experience, I can tell you, a crosscut saw will wear you out, and that real soon. My dad was working with a much bigger and somewhat older young man. When you use a two-man saw, both men must work together. The other man, being much stronger than my dad, was "snatching" the saw, and of course, this was making it very difficult for Dad.

My grandfather, "Pa" was the foreman and my dad complained to him. Pa moved Dad out of the way, took his end of the saw, and said to the other man, "Now snatch it!" Then he almost jerked him over the log.

The young man's father saw what was happening, and attacked Pa. Being a much bigger man, he was putting a pretty severe whipping on Pa. Now, a good pocket knife was Pa's constant companion. He was able to get it out, open it with one hand, and start cutting.

After a little while, the man let up. He was bleeding very badly and the loggers kept throwing cold water on him to keep him conscious. The man survived, but Pa went on the run. He left the area, took his mother's maiden name and hid out.

After several months, he turned himself in to stand trial, and was acquitted. The verdict was "self defense," because Pa knew the man would kill him.

Some years after this, Pa surrendered to the ministry. He went to the man whom he had cut, asked forgiveness and led him to the Lord. They became good friends and remained so until one of them died. I remember, as a boy, listening to Pa tell this story, and tell me he had spent the night at this friend's house. I told him, "I would be afraid that man would get up in the night and kill me." Pa said, "Son, the Lord changed both our lives. Now we're brothers."

 

The Circuit Rider  05/17/2007
by Bill Hamilton

"Wheels of Mercy" is the name of our local chapter of "Circuit Rider Motorcycle Ministry." We organized this chapter in agreement with the International and State Presidents of that organization. Our ministry is to people from all walks of life and especially bikers. We visit nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, motorcycle rallies and any place where people congregate Our slogan, "Riding for Jesus" says it all. Our message is simple. "Jesus is Savior and Lord"! Without Him it's hell; with Him it's Heaven. We love each other, we love motorcycles, we love to ride, but most of all we love Jesus!

Three men from our chapter, along with the Texas State Evangelist, just returned from Laughlin, NV where they ministered at the annual rally of the "Hell's Angels" and "Mongrels" motorcycle clubs. The only bikers allowed to wear colors at that rally were those in Christian ministries. Our men wore theirs with grace and dignity. They preached to, prayed with and passed out literature to a lot of people. The men from our chapter were Calvin Morris, vice president, Ray Moore, senior road captain and Robert McCurdy, road captain. We have heard some exciting reports and look forward to hearing more!

"Wheels of Mercy" members meet at 3:30 pm the second Saturday of every month. The meetings are held at the Edom Community Center. If you are a born again Christian, involved in a church, and interested in ministry, come and join us. Our requirements are strict. We are not a club, but a ministry. A motorcycle is not a requirement, but a heart for ministry is. We expect a lot from our members, but the blessings are worth it all.

See you on the road!

Bill Hamilton, The Circuit Rider

 

The Circuit Rider  05/10/2007
by Bill Hamilton

Just after the turn of the century, (the Twentieth Century) my grandfather, Rev. Bud Hamilton, was holding revivals in churches along the North Carolina - Tennessee state line. While preaching in one of those churches, he was informed there was a "Moonshiner " nearby who was threatening his life. (Pa was putting a dent in his business). My grandfather (Pa) asked for directions to the man's place and rode out to visit him. People had warned him that his life was in danger, but he had a Higher Calling.

When Pa rode up into the man's yard, he and his two sons were on the porch. Pa spoke to them and started to step down from his horse. The moonshiner spoke, "Don't git down, Preacher. You jes turn rat aroun and go back wherever you come from." Well, Pa was a stubborn old mountain man, who only feared God, so he prepared to dismount. "I done tole you, Preacher," the man hollered. "If you git off `at horse, I'll shoot che," and he reached for a double barreled, "mule-eared" shotgun.

Pa said, "Mister, I rode out here to pray for you and I ain't leaving `till I do." The warning came again. "I done tole you, when your feet tech the groun, you gonna be a dead man." Pa was on a mission and he would complete it or die trying. As he swung his leg over, the moonshiner pulled back both hammers on the shotgun. Just then, the older of his sons spoke up, "Daddy, please don't shoot `im! Jess let `im pray and he gonna leave!" The father looked at his son and said, "OK, Preacher, git it over with!"

Pa stepped down, knelt down beside his horse, and started to pray. Now Pa knew how to talk to God. He knew God is patient, so he prayed long. He also knew God is not nervous, so he prayed loud. He had a passion for sinners, so he prayed with passion. While he was praying, he heard the man starting to sob and when he had finished praying, the man was on his knees begging God to forgive him. My grandfather led a moonshiner and his sons to the Lord that day.

Pa was invited to supper and after supper, all of them, along with the man's wife who was already a Christian, went to the church for the evening service. While riding to church, Pa started singing, "Bringing in the Sheaves." The people gathered at the church saw them coming and all of them started to sing. That revival may have never changed the world, but it sure changed one little mountain community.

My prayer is that God will give our motorcycle ministry the burden, the courage and the passion for souls my grandfather had! We ride horses of iron, but we carry the same message, and we serve the same God! See ya on the road!
 

 

The Circuit Rider 04/19/2007
 

One of the most important methods for the spread of Christianity in North America was the work of "The Circuit Rider." The Methodist Church developed "circuits" for many of their itinerant preachers. The preacher ministered in a different church every week until he had completed his rounds, then he would start again. It sometimes meant weeks from home and family.

Most of the circuit riders rode horses, but many of them made their rounds on foot. During these rounds, their beds might be in the home of a frontier family, the church building or even the woods. They were, as you might expect, a hardy sort. It wasn't money or fame that kept them going, but a burning desire to preach the Word and see people come to the Lord. They pursued that desire with a passion.

Peter Cartwright, one of the circuit riders, was once thrown out of a saloon where he had gone to preach. He went to his horse, withdrew from his saddlebag two pistols, "loaded and primed" and re-entered the saloon. They allowed him to preach.

My grandfather, the Reverend J.R.V. "Bud" Hamilton, was not a circuit rider in the truest sense, because he was Baptist, but he traveled many miles on horseback to preach the gospel. He did not preach from an educated mind, but from a burning heart. He had stabbed a man almost to death as a young man, and had experienced first hand the grace of God. He preached Jesus to some of the roughest men in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. There is a monument dedicated to him not far from Tellico Plains, TN.

The monument reads, "Haw Knob Creek Baptist Church where Rev. Bud Hamilton preached a revival and many souls were saved." I am blessed to have the Bible that was presented to him at that time. On more than one occasion, his life was threatened. Men swore they would burn the church down with him in it. You see, my grandfather was taking away the market for moonshine. When men got right with God, they quit the "lightning." They also quit making liquor, stealing horses and burning the houses and fields of their neighbors.

Almost one hundred years later, I discovered a ministry known as "The Circuit Riders Christian Fellowship" which is a motorcycle ministry. Instead of horses, we ride motorcycles. Now, I have ridden motorcycles for more than forty-five years, but most of that time, I never thought of it as a tool for ministry. However, I have discovered it can be, and we are using it as such.

For the next few weeks, I would like to share with you some of our experiences, and some of the experiences of my grandfather, as well as other preachers of his time.

I thank God and this paper for giving me this opportunity. Hope to see you on the road!

Bill Hamilton, the Circuit Rider

 



 

 

 

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Rev Red Beard
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Revised: 11/23/12 07:42:58 -0600. redbeard@circuitriderscfm.org