HOLLIS—This community of just more than 2,000 people in far southwest Oklahoma anchored to the intersection of highways 30 and 62 is the birthplace of legendary University of Texas head coach Darrell Royal and major league baseball players Wilcy Moore and Von and Lindy McDaniel.
So close to the Texas border in two directions that you could almost launch a rock into the Lone Star State with a powerful slingshot, the Hollis Tigers added to the town’s sports legacy last Dec. 19 when they defeated defending Class A champion Ringling, 29-12, to cap a perfect 14-0 season and win the school’s first state football title.
The lone stop light at the highway intersection shone a lot brighter that evening when the victorious Tigers and their delirious fans drove back home from Cache that night.
While the high school’s team title was cause for celebration—and rightfully so—as the year drew to a close, a much more eternally-significant event took place in Hollis a couple of months prior to the Tigers’ gridiron accomplishment.
In late October—Oct. 27-30 to be exact—members of Hollis, First witnessed a movement of the Holy Spirit that changed the eternal destiny of more than 100 persons residing in the area in and around this county seat of Harmon County.
John Cox, pastor of worship and education, came to the church in February, 2013. He and a former pastor worked with the congregation to plan a revival meeting in late October with evangelist Ken Freeman from San Antonio, Texas. Cox provided the music for the meetings.
Cox has more than 16 years of ministry experience, serving as a youth and music minister in Oklahoma and New Mexico. He is a former band director and teaches private trumpet lessons.
As the month of October approached, the church’s pastor suddenly departed. His final Sunday in the pulpit was Sept. 15.
Cox said he believes faithful, prayerful preparation and getting the word out in the community were the reasons God blessed the revival.
“As a result, there were more than 100 decisions for the Lord,” he exclaimed, “Including 84 salvations and 14 rededications. We baptized 41 within those four days, and we have been baptizing up to five at a time since then.”
Getting the word out was crucial, he said.
“We had flyers out. I personally passed out flyers around town, and one of my deacons helped me pass out flyers, too. We also promoted it in the schools. We put up a flyer in the (Southwest) Association office, and at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at Western Oklahoma State College in Altus.
“We had 10 students from the BCM and the director come to the services.”
Freeman preached at Hollis, First in advance of the revival on Oct. 6.
“He came down and supplied our pulpit for us. We had 13 people get saved that day,” Cox said. “Everybody was real excited about that, and it helped set the stage for the revival a few weeks later.”
With no set theme for the revival, Freeman just aimed to plant the Gospel into the hearts of those who needed it, Cox said.
“He just preached the word, man, and the Spirit of God just dropped like a sack of hammers in this place,” he commented.
“Since then, we have had a really good spirit, and our numbers have been up. We started new believers’ classes and discipleship classes for those who made decisions.
“We’re just trying to carry on and be the church and grow the best we can. We helped out in our community with Christmas baskets as we always do and helped out with utility bills. And we’re continuing our nursing home ministry once a month.”
While the church hasn’t yet started any new ongoing Sunday School classes, they have seen existing ones grow.
“My main goal is to see our Sunday School ministry be more consistent,” Cox said. “We have all sorts of things going on during the week; we have a lot of farmers and ranchers, and so a lot of people are gone (on Sunday) because of taking care of cattle and cotton and wheat, and they’re not always able to come, but they’re really faithful, most of them. We’re running about 150 in worship and 130 in Sunday School.
“It’s really awesome, because we don’t have a youth minister, either, and so I’m the worship and education minister and whatever else happens! Watching the Lord bless is really awesome.”
Deacon Carter Stewart said “the revival was phenomenal for our church. Everyone thought the Lord was in it, and loved the results.
“Ken Freeman is about 60 years old, and I would call him a modern-day John the Baptist. We started out the first Sunday morning with about 150 people, and by Wednesday night, we had 400.
“We were just elated, in fact we’re going to have him back soon to hold parenting and youth seminars.”
So, while Hollis, First continues to search for the man God has chosen to lead it as pastor, the congregation continues to shoulder the load together, minister to the community and share the Gospel.
“God has been blessing us as we look for a pastor,” Stewart said. “The church members have just been pitching in and doing ministry together. We’re going to be just fine in the interim.”