Rite of Passage: Prayer, pie and whipped cream
I grew up in the old-time Baptist church. In those days, when you saw a sign announcing “Revival Meeting,” you assumed it meant services every night for two weeks. Right before the revival, we always had a week of cottage prayer meetings. At first, I thought these meetings had something to do with cheese. Later, I came to understand that the term meant we held the meetings in homes.
I can’t begin to tell you how many of these prayer meetings I have attended, nor the hours our church members spent in prayer. Some people got on their knees and put their head on a chair to pray, some stood, some sat and some walked around, but everyone was focused on one thing: those who didn’t know Jesus. These dear saints prayed for lost neighbors, lost co-workers, the evangelist and that God would help them to bring the lost to these meetings.
In those days, hosting a visiting evangelist was like having a celebrity visit your town. These men traveled the country preaching God’s Word (some of them had at least been to another state or two). People fought over who would give the evangelist a place to stay. Some of them even called their spare bedroom the “Prophet Room” in hopes that this would give them an advantage over the rest of the church members, who only had ordinary spare bedrooms.
If you didn’t get chosen to have the evangelist stay at your house, the next best thing was to host him for a meal. The flesh was never more prominent than during one of these feasts. Every lady in the church tried to outdo the others in providing the evangelist with the best food in the county. The grand prize depended upon which lady’s food he mentioned from the pulpit. And of course, the winner claimed bragging rights until the next revival.
When I was in elementary school, the evangelist, Fred Doerge, came to eat at our house. This larger-than-life preacher had a way with the younger generation. I wanted to sit beside him at the dining room table, and my parents granted my wish. Later, I learned that few people wanted to sit next to him. If you did, so the story went, the Holy Spirit might splash on you and cause immediate confession of sin. I was young, so any sins I might have confessed wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow anyway.
That day, my mom put on a feast bigger and better than any Christmas or Thanksgiving meal. And there I sat, right beside the big man himself. When the time came for dessert, my mom produced something new: whipped cream in a can. Before then, we had only used plain whipping cream. But this day, in honor of our special guest, it came in a can.
Mom served up her best homemade chocolate pie. Wanting to be a good host, I decided to put some whipped cream on the big piece she cut for Brother Fred. I read the fine print on the can: “Shake Well.” I’m an overachiever, so I wanted to make sure every last drop of cream got shaken. Pumping my arm up and down as hard as I could, I accidentally hit the button on top of the can. Instantly, a spray of whipped cream shot forth. In my shock, I forgot to let go of the button. I looked over at Brother Fred. There he sat in what used to be his best black suit, now covered with whipped cream.
At that point, I knew I was headed for Hell. In fact, I was pretty sure I had come close to discovering the unpardonable sin. Brother Fred, always a gracious man, only laughed, removed his suit coat and finished his meal. I waited through the rest of the revival for a sermon on the Seven Deadly Sins, sure that shooting an evangelist with whipped cream would be among them.
This generation will never get to experience what I did, and that makes me sad. They will never sit alongside a roomful of adults weeping for the lost and then see the same people they prayed for come forward, broken over their sins. This generation will not have a chance to sit for 14 nights under the teaching of some of the most gifted preachers and teachers of our time. (By the way, my parents once took me to a tent meeting to hear R.G. Lee preach his famous sermon, “Payday Someday!”) And they will never have the experience of shooting the visiting evangelist with a mountain of whipped cream.
Come to think of it, this generation may not need to experience. . . everything. But can someone please pass the whipped cream?
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)