|An Eyewitness Account Of The 1948 Camp Meeting At Sharon Schools|
Recently, through one of the older Brethren, I obtained an eyewitness report written many years ago by a brother (now deceased) who attended the very first Camp Meeting at SHARON ORPHANAGE and BIBLE COLLEGE in North Battleford in 1948. He writes from his own personal perspective, of course, but the events recorded are in accord with other published accounts. Please note that CAMP MEETING 2007 will be the sixtieth (60) camp meeting at Sharon. For a few moments, please come and journey back with me to that special moment in time at the very first camp meeting in 1948...
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THAT FIRST CAMP MEETING IN 1948 BY ONE WHO WAS ACTUALLY THERE: ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
In those days, students and teachers were in the Mount of God and received the pattern which we were to follow.
Word soon trickled out that God was moving in northern Canada, and hundreds prepared themselves to journey north to see and hear what was going on. Some journeyed north to scoff, others in curiosity, and still others with a prayer and a strong hope that this would be the answer to their heart's cry.
I do believe that we were among that latter group. Oh, that God would again visit His people! Oh, that this generation might see and touch the supernatural!
In order that we might see and understand clearly, I am going to try to put on paper a true record of those days at the first camp meeting. As we proceed with the record of this camp meeting as we saw it, we will touch upon all of these salient points. This is our first attempt to do this, and we are praying that God will quicken it for His glory.
Upon arriving in the early afternoon of the first day of camp in July, 1948, we found that the afternoon meeting was already in progress. There was little or no activity outside; nearly everyone had entered the meeting hall. This we hastened to do also.
The atmosphere was one of expectancy. All eyes were on the speaker. Only one man was upon the small platform which was about 8' x 12', and approximately one foot high. This rather singular thing attracted our attention; only one man on the platform and he was standing behind the simple pulpit.
In the past, at conventions and camp meetings, we had always been used to seeing a large platform just crowded with preachers. Here was a camp meeting from which was to flow a message and a blessing that would rock the religious world; yet what simplicity! No showmanship or outstanding song leader, no orchestra or choir, and one man at a time on the platform. The only exception to this being when someone from the audience stepped up to the platform to say something; then in most cases the one already at the position of the speaker stepped aside, yet he remained on the platform to resume his charge. This simplicity from the platform was the first thing that attracted our attention, and we honestly liked it.
The next thing that impressed us was the anointed and authoritative word of prophecy. They prophesied as ones having authority. We ourselves a year before, in a trance received a revelation of the Gifts of the Spirit; and at that time uttered our first prophecies. Therefore, we were greatly interested in the prophetic utterances.
We tried to be in the spirit and impartial in judging them, and we found a true witness with the utterances. The prophecies of the first camp meeting were not extravagant or unscriptural. They were powerfully uttered, yet stayed well within the scriptures which state that prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort.
Except during the time when hands were being laid upon ones for the Gifts of the Spirit, we saw no evidence of the office of a prophet in operation. The prophecies were simply the Gift of Prophecy in operation.
The first strong conviction that I wish to state is that God was mightily present at this camp meeting. You sense His Presence everywhere. This was apparent in the meetings, in the conversations of the people, and in their actions.
Walking around the grounds, between the meetings, one would meet little groups talking. Joining them, one finds a consistent topic of conversation. The farmers are having a bad year, but that is not their conversation; neither is it cars, tractors, houses or money. Rather, all are consumed with one subject, "The wonder of Jesus and what Jesus is doing." Hallelujah!
One morning quite early (6 A.M.) I had occasion to cross through the men's dormitory for some water. The dorm was a lot of hay on the floor of a building. Laying all over the hay were men with their Bibles out, all expounding the wonders of what Jesus was doing. The general topic of nearly all at this camp was "Jesus".
Oh, there were one or two spying out the land for its flaws, and of course they found some and did their best to magnify them. However, I do not believe they as much as stirred a ripple upon the waters. The worst thing they accomplished was the blinding of their own eyes to the sight of Jesus moving among men.
The same atmosphere was prevalent in the dining room. People overlooked the shortcomings of the meal arrangements because they were so occupied with Jesus. Had it not been for such a spiritual presence, very few would have eaten in the dining room without complaint.
I remarked to one of the leaders one night that one evidence I noticed of the grace of God among the people was the happy way the people took to the poor arrangements for handling food. As far as I know there were no complaints, yet plenty of room for them. To me that was wonderful. I thought that such grace had just about departed from the church of Christ.
At the first camp meeting the life of prayer was much in evidence. Like most revivals and movements of God, this phase of ministry was carried out by the students and the visitors. We are, however, thankful to God that there were very intense times of prayer.
The life of prayer was manifest before the meetings commenced as well as after the meetings were officially dismissed. Early in the morning the sound of people praying could be heard coming from the tabernacle. Upon entering the tabernacle, you were impressed by the spirit of people searching after God. There was little or no talking going on, and what was being done was in whispers.
In different parts of the tabernacle, people could be seen on their knees with hands stretched up to pray, giving God thanks and praise. Others were on their faces, even on the ground, having their hearts searched before the Almighty. There were also many waiting upon the Lord with the open Bible before them, letting the anointing open the scriptures to them.
When those who were responsible for the conducting of the service came in, the people would rise from prayer and usually the chorus, "Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus" would start up and the meeting had commenced.
At the close of the morning meeting many would refrain from eating; again, they would place themselves before the Lord. These would remain so before God until again they heard the words of "Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus". Some felt people pushing past them to the seats in such numbers, that by this they knew the meeting was to commence again.
This same process was again repeated after the afternoon service was over, and on to the evening service. One will readily see that the meetings thus bathed in prayer and praise would have the Presence of the Lord so apparent, that it is little wonder one felt God in each meeting.
After the evening service was over, there was always a general call to prayer and for those seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost. These night meetings were night prayer meetings indeed. It was extremely rare for the writer to retire before 1 or 2 A.M. There was such a calling upon God, and so many staying to pray and to seek for the wonderful infilling of the Spirit.
This attitude of prayer did not once let up during the whole of the camp period. Day after day, morning, afternoon and evening, this prayer continued. On the last Sunday night of the camp it was five o'clock in the morning before we left that sanctuary of prayer, and had the joy of seeing the last one seeking the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, wonderfully filled. Praise the Lord.
END OF REPORT. -------------------------------------------------------------------------
ADDENDUM: Because of the world-wide impact of this Move of the Spirit, some church historians are currently engaged in ongoing research on the events of 1948. I talk with some of them from time to time, as I am interested in the research they are doing, and some of the documents and eyewitness accounts they are recording. One of them has written...
"SHARON CAMP MEETING, JULY 1948: On July 7-18, 1948, thousands of people throughout the continent who had heard of awakening at North Battleford flocked to the Sharon Camp Meeting held there at that time. It had been preceded by a week of fasting and prayer from June 17 until July 4, which was also widely attended.
A historian of Pentecostalism, Noel McNeill, described as follows: In the last few years of the '40s it seemed as if the wind of God's Spirit was blowing with greater force. It began through the work of the Sharon Bible College at North Battleford, Saskatchewan. There was such an effusion of Divine power in healings, miracles and utterance gifts that wide attention was attracted. Thousands flocked from every part of the continent and the world."
PRAYER WAS AND STILL SEEMS TO BE THE KEY THAT OPENS WIDE THE DOOR.
I'd also highly recommend the 40-page booklet, THE REVIVAL AND OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN 1948, by Br. Ewald H. Wanagas, another eyewitness account, this time by one who was actually a student in the classroom when it all began, and is still one of the apostolic ministries today. It's available upon request from the office in North Battleford or your local elders.
-Submitted by Br. Terry Miller A servant of the Church, which is His Body Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: Aug, 2011
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