At the close of the campmeeting I went home and quit working on the ranch. I hired out to a man to dig stumps for fifty cents a day. I ate yellow cornbread and sorghum and drank warm tank water. About three months after my conversion I attended my first Sunday school. A young lady came around and asked me to join her class and I told her I desired to do so but could not. She wanted to know the reason why and I told her that I could not read. She said that made no difference as she would do the reading. So I joined and was enrolled in her Sunday school class. She read, I think, from John’s Gospel and talked to us. She asked me if I had been converted and I said, yes. She looked me in the face and said, “When were you converted?” I undertook to tell her about the campmeeting but just about that time God opened heaven and poured out such a flood of glory on my soul that I was shouting. A heavenly gale struck my soul and we shouted until we broke up the Sunday school. That was my first introduction to a Sunday school. Beloved, I wish I could be in one more Sunday school where they would break it up by shouting.
When the Sunday school was over, the young lady gave me a little testament. It was one of the first books I ever owned. I took it home and began to spell out the first chapter of Matthew. I found it hard spelling but said, “I am going to make a man out of Bud Robinson or die in the attempt.” It wasn’t long until I secured a pencil and said, “I will learn to write.” The first copy book that I had was a barn door. I wrote on both sides of the barn door as high as I could reach. I tried to make the letters as I found them in the New Testament, so the reader can see at a glance that the copy book was not so bad. Then I found some large cardboards. I used my little testament as my copy book until I wrote on both sides of the boards. I was two or three days learning how to find Bud Robinson and writing it out on the cardboard. It was a long drawn out process but I said I was going to make a man out of Bud Robinson or die. I was making a start.
Then I began to attend church and tried to pray every time they called on me. About that time the call to preach came up before me and my, my, what burdens I had over my call to preach. I had no education, no money, and it looked like I had no friends. I was a bad stutterer and at that time fearfully afflicted. Of course the devil got busy and told me that I could never preach and I would agree with him. Then the devil would feel good and I would feel bad. I felt so miserable that I went to see an old Methodist steward. I tried to tell him that God had called me to preach and he said, “No, God never called a man to preach that had as little sense as you.” He said that if I tried to preach I would disgrace the cause and bring reproach on the ministry, that it was all a mistaken idea of mine, and, said he, “Don’t you ever try to preach.” My telling him that I would not seemed to relieve him somewhat but my burdens became so heavy that it looked like I was going to die.
I started back home and tried to tell the Lord that if He would find somebody else to preach I would help him all I could, but that I couldn’t do it. By that time I was getting into darkness and it seemed like all the salvation in the world wouldn’t get me to heaven if I did not preach. I finally went to see a man about it and as he talked worse to me than the other one, I left broken-hearted.
About that time a new preacher came on our circuit. I went to hear him preach one Sunday morning and went home with him for dinner. After dinner, I took him down on the hillside below the little parsonage to tell him about my calling to the ministry, but I broke down and began to cry.
He said to me so kindly, “Brother Bud, I know what your trouble is. God has called you to preach and you don’t think you can do it. Isn’t that your trouble?” All I could do was to nod my head and he said, “I know what it means. I refused to preach until God had to nearly kill me and my family in order to get me into the ministry.”
He said, “Brother Bud, God knows whom He wants to preach and if God wants you to preach, He will help you to do it. This afternoon I will put your name before the church and we will recommend you to the quarterly conference for license to exhort.”
Well, glory to Jesus! That afternoon as he preached, I think I made more noise than he did. Once more my burdens were gone and the light of heaven was flooding my soul. I was getting back into God’s purpose and plan for my life.
I want to say right here that a poor, ignorant boy has a hard time getting into the ministry because many of the best people seem to know that God did not call him to preach. If the poor fellow does not suit the folks, they do not think God called him. But the Lord sometimes calls people to preach that no one but the Lord would have called.
About two weeks from that time the presiding elder came around and I appeared before the quarterly conference. Never before was an examination conducted just like mine. That is, I have never heard of one like it. The good old elder asked me so kindly about history and of course I had never read one. He asked me about the English grammar and I had never seen one. He asked me about the discipline, and to his surprise, I didn’t know that we had one. They talked a little bit and then sent me out. I must have been out for nearly an hour when they called me back and the presiding elder told me that they had granted me license to exhort. Later on I was told they kept me out so long on account of one young man making a speech against granting me license. He told them that I had no sense and if I was licensed to preach, I would never use it. Furthermore, my brothers were the worst men in the country, therefore he was convinced in his own mind that God had not called a man like me to preach.
After taking a vote they turned me down. But before they could proceed very far with the business, the Lord spoke to an old gentleman on the board who made a speech in which he said, “Brethren, we have done wrong in turning down this little boy. If God has called him to preach and we stand in his way, he may backslide and God may require his blood at our hands at the judgment. I move that we reconsider and grant this little boy license to exhort.”
After reconsidering, they granted me the license which the elder wrote out. They were signed by the Rev. E. L. Armstrong, presiding elder of the Corsicana District of the Northwest Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. I rolled up my license and put it in my breeches pocket and started for home, one of the happiest boys in the land. Ten years later the young man who voted and made a speech against me, came before my quarterly conference for license to exhort and I recommended him and shouted while the elder licensed him to exhort. You know the old country folks used to say that chickens come home to roost and surely it looked like it. He has long since gone to heaven for he was God’s man.
About this time I went to work on a little farm for fifty cents a day, accumulated a small sum of money and rode about sixteen miles to the little town to buy my preacher’s clothes. I bought three yards of checked cotton cloth that cost 12½c a yard to make a coat and three yards of the same kind of goods to make a pair of pants. So the reader will see that my coat and pants cost 75c. I bought three yards of speckled calico to make a Sunday shirt. Mother made my coat, pants and shirt which cost altogether 90c. I bought a 25c straw hat and paid $1.50 for a pair of brogan shoes, so coat, pants, shirt, hat and shoes cost the enormous sum of $2.65.
Up to that time I had received no calls to preach but I purchased a pony, tied on the old saddle with rawhide strings and put on cotton rope stirrups. I then had the little testament the little Sunday school teacher gave me and a little song book. In those days we did not wait for someone to call us. Therefore, one morning with Testament and song book in my pocket, I rode down to the settlement and galloped from ranch to ranch calling the people out and telling them that I was going to preach at the schoolhouse. I wanted them to come but stuttered so bad at times that I couldn’t tell them what I wanted. They would laugh when I would stutter and tell them what I was going to do. They laughed long and loud, saying, “I’ll be there.”
Sure enough they came that night but what a struggle I had. I could sing two songs, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” and “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” I stood up behind the little table with a little, old-fashioned brass kerosene oil lamp upon it. I sang one hymn and the big rough cattlemen with their spurs on looked at me as though I was crazy. After singing, I knelt down and tried to pray. I stuttered so I couldn’t say a thing. The men all over the little schoolhouse were stamping on the floor and laughing. They were having a picnic at my expense but I finally choked it out and said Amen. I arose to my feet, and sang the other song. Nobody helped me and when the song was over, I began to preach. Opening my testament I read a few verses, or tried to, at least. I think it must have been from the Sermon on the Mount, yet I am not sure for I was excited.
After I had read the verses I laid down my testament and undertook to say something. I began to stutter until I could not say a thing. Those rough cattlemen began to laugh until it was pitiful. Finally, when it looked like it would choke me down, God came to my rescue. Instead of trying to preach, I broke down and began to weep. The men quit laughing and began to look serious. After crying awhile, God changed the program. I quit crying and began to shout. The glory came over me until it looked like I was in heaven. I shouted as loud as I could whoop and ran around the little table clapping my hands. By that time the men began to look serious and after I had shouted a while God changed the program on me and I began to exhort. God took possession of me until I was neither afraid of men nor devils. I walked up and down the aisle of the little schoolhouse and exhorted those men to flee from the wrath to come and get ready to meet God. I told them that if they didn’t repent of their sins and get ready to meet God every man there would be damned. That there was no power in the known world that could keep them out of hell but the mercy of God. That they must repent of their sins; confess and forsake their sins; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and then God would help them to take back everything they had ever stolen and help them to make restitution and make their peace with God. They seemed to believe God had come on the scene.
Then I began calling mourners. We did not have any mourner’s bench but I had them kneel around the little table. Quite a number came and got down on their knees. I did not know how to conduct an altar service but I got down on my knees and began to scream as loud as I could and beat them on the back with my fists as hard as I could lay it on. Those rough cattlemen bawled like a yearling with a branding iron on him. Soon one of the men that I was beating on the back arose and told the folks that God had saved him. I went to another and began to beat him on the back and scream. Very soon he popped up and began to shout and yell and I crawled over to the next one and began to beat him and scream and soon he stood up. I don’t know why I didn’t say a word to the rest of the men who were on their knees. The three men and I had a tremendous time.
Finally I announced services for the next day at 11:00 o’clock and for the next night and then dismissed my congregation. The first man that was saved came and asked me to go home with him. We rode about six miles, arriving there about midnight. He asked me if I had been to supper. I said no, and no dinner either. He awoke his wife and told her he had religion and had brought the preacher home with him. He also told her to get me something to eat for I had had neither supper nor dinner. The good lady, who seemed to be in no hurry but rather embarrassed, finally brought out a pan of milk and a big breadpan full of cold biscuits. My, my! Cold sweet milk and cold biscuits at midnight! After I had galloped my pony all day, getting the people out, preached and shouted until midnight, I was hungry as a wolf and have never tasted anything better in my life. The good brother and I talked religion until one o’clock and attempted to get a little sleep. Next day he hitched the mules to his wagon and took his wife, children, and myself to the meeting.
The next day I did not try to preach much but I did have a great time crying, shouting and exhorting. I made an altar call and had several at the altar. The first to get saved was this man’s wife. We had three saved during the morning service. By night the little schoolhouse was full and running over. Three were saved that night. During the first three services of my ministry, God gave me nine souls. The people wanted me to continue the meeting and no doubt I should have done so but I promised mother that I would come back on Monday, therefore I went home.
When the elder gave me the license to exhort, he said that we would have another quarterly conference in about three months, therefore wanted me to record every sermon I preached, the number of people saved and the number of homes in which I had preached and prayed. I would go out to preach and come home and tell my beautiful old Presbyterian mother what I had done. She would write it down for me. Up to the first quarterly conference, I had preached ninety times, exactly ninety people saved, and I had prayed in over two hundred homes. The report was almost as long as my arm, but as I could not read it correctly, the elder read it. He kindly said, “Brethren, this little boy has brought the best report I have ever known a licensed exhorter to bring in for one quarter. From the day we licensed him to exhort until this day, he has led one soul each day to Christ and is making a habit of preaching once each day.” As a rule for the next six years, I preached every Saturday night and on Sundays. During the summer season I preached in three to four meetings.