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A Missionary Meeting in Far-away Owsley County (KY) - a Rugged Ride
By Rev. H. L. M'Murry,
The Baptist Argus, 1898
      Several days ago I packed my large saddle-pockets with Sunday-school cards, a roll of "Kind Words," a deposit of "Little Gems," a wad of "Foreign Mission Journals" marked "W. H. M.," two rolls of the Argus, some doctrinal pamphlets, etc, etc., rolled up my large map of the world, which I keep hanging over my pulpit at home, kissed my missionary wife, mounted my missionary horse and started in a snow storm for the missionary meeting of the Executive Board of the Irvine Association of Missionary Baptists to be held with the church at New Hope, Owsley county, Kentucky.

      The snow soon ceased, the clouds cleared away and the sun shone bright and warm. But the wind was terrible, whether valley, on hillside or mountain-top. The only exception being, when the road chanced to follow the creek-bed where the clear sparkling water, though not so disagreeable, was an equal impediment, to progress.

      I passed through McKee, the county seat of Jackson county. This is a beautiful little burg, situated in a deep narrow valley, with neither railroad, telegraph, telephone nor printing press. An old wooden court-house with stone chimneys is the central figure. The only church house of the place stands half finished.

      I rode through great forests of chestnut, oak and pine, and took the wrong road at several forks and had some trouble finding my way, as no two persons gave the same directions. I was heading for "Preacher Bill Anderson's," as he is called. Shortly after dark I inquired of a woman who directed me, "up that creek, take the path to the left up the hill, go through the fence to the right and follow the fence." I did so and soon got a glimpse of a bright pine-knot fire. Bro. Anderson received me kindly (we not having met before). I was cold and numb and enjoyed the great wood fire. Some old-fashioned corn pone and hot strong coffee and other things were soon ready, and as I had been "ready" since the middle of the afternoon, I enjoyed supper. If some of our dear ones who take barrels of patent medicine to help their appetites will take a trip or two with me, I will insure a cure. Brother Anderson and I talked missions, doctrine, etc. I don't believe even once turned from the interest of our Master's kingdom. What great hearts these mountain preachers have! What great sacrifices they make to preach the Gospel, and oft-time the patient wife bears an equal burden! In many cases their library consist of but one book - the Book of books, and in most cases they know that book right well.

      I "packed up and started," and rode until three o'clock that afternoon and ceased not to urge my poor horse through the mud. At night we gathered at New Hope (a combination of a school house, church house and Masonic lodge, all in one). Brother L. P. Johnson preached a good sermon. At night I stayed with Elder J. B. Rowlett, who has for forty years done good service. Next morning I read a paper on "What Baptists Owe the World." Elder L. P. Johnson and others discussed "The Spirit of Missions." I gave a talk on the "History of Missions" from the map, and at night preached a missionary sermon to a crowded house. The second morning the powers and functions of an association were discussed by Elder Jacob Cormack and Elder G. W. Johnson on "Is Eastern Kentucky a Mission field?" Brother Johnson stated that there are whole neighborhoods without preaching, and families with children all but grown never heard a Gospel sermon. He stated that there were Baptist churches and Baptist preachers enough in the mountains to supply all the needs, but the trouble is that the preachers not go without money. This he condemned, arguing that the responsibility rested on the preacher whom God called, and not on the church. Our next topic was "Bible Qualification for the Ministry," and then Elder A. G. Coker on "What is a Scriptural Church?" which caused a lively interest. At night we had sermons by Brethren Cormack and Coker, and the next day, Sunday, a missionary sermon by Elder L. P. Johnson, after which I took a collection in cash and pledges amounting to $20, the largest ever taken in that association at one time; the entire mission collection last year being $26. I also took some thirteen subscriptions to the "Foreign Mission Journal" and distributed the contents of my saddle-pockets. That afternoon I rode part way home, staying over night with Preacher Davis, an earnest Baptist preacher with a family of fourteen children. He is said to be an excellent preacher, but has suffered from hard work and much exposure. All day Monday I faced a blinding snow storm, reaching home about dark, thankful for a constitution able to endure and for the privilege of doing some little things for Him who has endured so much for me.
     Berea, KY


[From The Baptist Argus, February 24, 1898, p. 9. Original title: "The Top of The Mountain." Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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