KENTUCKY ROGUES AND RASCALS: PART TWO



If you read last week’s post, you recall that amazing things happened around 1800 when settlers in outlaw-infested Logan County, Kentucky prayed. God moved in mysterious ways as a circuit-riding preacher named James McGready urged people to fast and pray to the God of heaven. Rawboned, drunken rogues repented and were changed into law-abiding citizens as the settlers assembled for camp meetings in the woods.


The Reverend Barton Stone attended those meetings, and returned to his parish in Bourbon County, Kentucky determined to see the same results. Surrounded by wild living, he felt the need for law and order and a return to Biblical morality.


Stone’s congregation at Cane Ridge began making plans for the next summer. Men cleared a large area of the woods and erected seven platforms at the edges of the clearing, where ministers could preach to the crowd. At the appointed time, curiosity seekers arrived. Lonely settlers came for fellowship. Rowdy, drunken scoffers came, intent on having some fun as they broke up the meetings.


Who could have guessed that 25,000 people would show up!


Stone’s congregation prepared the way by fasting and praying to the God of heaven. Although not surprised at the results, they were amazed. As the meetings progressed, hardened criminals fell down, crying to God for mercy. Those delivered from sin began shouting with joy. Those attending that day later reported that a thousand persons at a time shouted with praise to God. The noise could be heard for miles.


What of the scoffers? Many bragged that they wouldn’t believe any of the emotional outbreaks. Some of the most blasphemous were struck with the awful realization they had offended the God of heaven, even as the words came out of their mouths. Some fell down as though struck by lightning. Many were converted on the spot.


So what was the result? As settlers returned to their farms, a decided change took place in the frontier culture. Within three years, the Baptist church rolls increased by ten thousand members. Methodist churches saw about the same, and the Presbyterian membership swelled also.


Neighbors now cooperated in barn-raisings and field clearings. Drunken brawls were replaced by kindness, cooperation, and a much higher level of morality.


Could God do it again? Of course. Perhaps He is waiting for our obedience.


Taken from the book From Sea to Shining Sea by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, c.1986 by Fleming H. Revell. I highly recommend this book. The authors resourced an impressive list of bibliographies.