The Hardships of Preaching
The following is an excerpt from the story of my grandfather, J. D. Tant, written by Yeater Tant. I was rereading this portion this morning, and thought of the hardships he endured, and how comfortable so many of us are. Would we have such faith? And would we be willing to tackle obstinant brethren he did. Read, enjoy, reflect. -- David Tant [By the way, the book is still in print.]
From J. D. Tant, Texas Preacher by Yeater Tant, pp. 52, 53
The agreement between my brethren and me was that I must spend all my time in those seven counties, making my own appointments. I was to ride to those appointments when anyone would lend me a horse, otherwise I must walk. Not only was I expected to be a good walker, but a good swimmer as well. I have had to swim as often as seven times to reach my appointment. Several times when on a borrowed horse I have ridden forty miles in the night, laid down on the saddle blanket to sleep two or three hours, and then gone on the next day.
On one occasion I got off the train in the morning at Navasota, Texas, to commence a protracted meeting 42 miles east that night. It would cost me $3 to go round by Houston and up to Willis, within four miles of my meeting. I had the $3, but felt like if I could save it by walking to my appointment, I would be doing the right thing. The train ran my way 28 miles to Montgomery, but as they had no connection to make, and made one trip a day on their own time, I could not wait for them. Taking my grip in my hand, I left the train and walked down the track to Montgomery, 28 miles; made it by 4 p.m., borrowed a horse and went on 12 miles, and got there on time to fill my appointment. The train came into Montgomery at 9 o’clock that night, and when the editor of the local paper wrote them up for letting passengers get off and walk and beat them in by five hours the people seemed to enjoy the incident.
Next morning I borrowed another horse and rode back twelve miles to carry my first borrowed horse home… After this big meeting near Willis, I pulled up to Grimes County to resurrect a dead church. I found this church had been composed of kinfolks, who are the meanest people on earth to settle church troubles among. The church had been meeting for worship until the past Christmas, at which time many of the members had got drunk, including one elder. I would rather try to make a whistle out of a pig’s tail than try to rule some churches by some so-called elders.
I went to this community, and told a brother of my mission. He informed me that some of the members were still bitter enemies. It would never in life do to bring them together, as some would be killed. But I set the next day to discuss the matter. Only two brethren met with me. I argued with them that the church was bound to go to hell in their present condition. I thought the best thing to do was to bring all together and settle all trouble. If they wanted to fight, I thought the best thing to was to pull it off, and let two or three members kill each other and to go the devil. Such would bring about a state of sorrow and humiliation among the rest of the members and perhaps convert them to the Lord, and they could be saved.
This suggestion was accepted, and the very next day the whole community came out, as they usually do over a church fuss. I brought the matter out from every angle. Each had to tell how good he was, and how all the meanness was in the other fellow. During the trial I had to get up three times and set one of the elders down, who got up to use the direct operation of the Devil’s spirit on another member. But finally I struck the right key. They all tuned in and all confessed their wrongs to each other and came back to Christ.