Reverend Joshua was keeping a close eye on the rumbling clouds gathering in the afternoon sky. The deacons were putting up the tent for the revival and it was going up fast. They had done this many times and each person knew their task. They all kept an eye on the approaching storm. They knew the tent was sturdy and had ridden out many storms. Even a storm would not stop the revival, not even the darkest night.
Daddy and the Reverend were putting the finishing touches on the altar, tabernacle, and pulpit area. They had finished a large stage for the gospel group called the Soul Stirrers. They were rehearsing early having just added a singer they introduced as Sam Cooke. I was deep into his singing when Daddy said that people were starting to arrive. They were parking just past the creek bridge and already the cars were lined up several miles down the road. It looked like a sea of moving people as far as you could see.
Everyone was carrying covered dishes for the food tent, a smorgasbord of southern delight. The people were dressed in their Sunday best. The sound of the band was welcoming, and the tent was filling fast. Families were rushing to get inside as the wind was whipping the canvas and rain was pounding on the tent. Many were saying that this was the darkest night they had ever seen. The sky was like ink, no stars, no moon, with only the sound of thunder and lightning illuminating the darkness.
Reverend Joshua stepped behind the altar, quietly looking down at the scriptures then at the people, “Listen to the thunder,” he said. He closed the Bible and started preaching about John The Baptist, the storm bringer, the forerunner, and he preached with a fury calling all to the altar. The preacher raged on, the storm raged on, and the congregation stood and sang to the heavens. The Reverend lifted his hands high beckoning them to come to him and one by one they came. The storm became silent, and Sam Cooke stood up, arms lifted high, and sang Jesus Gave Me Water.
That was a night that I would never forget. I saw and felt things that I could not explain at five years old. I was wondering how the adventures of this night could ever be surpassed; yet somehow, I knew tomorrow would be beyond anything I could imagine.
Links to Chapters One and Two: