Pentecostal Pioneers: L. T. Strong

Pentecostal Pioneers: L. T. Strong

by L.T. Strong

I grew up near Jackson in the hills of Tennessee. At eighteen, I was living a life of wasted years in sin. I had stooped so low in sin that God alone knew what I had done. Thank God for His love and tender mercy to me.

One night I walked under an old-fashioned brush arbor where Albert D. Gurley and Newt Graves were preaching this glorious gospel according to Acts 2:38 and Joel 2:27-28. God knocked at my heart’s door, but what a sad mistake I made! I listened to the devil and went on in sin as thousands of young people do until it is too late. Praise the Lord, I had a Holy Ghost-filled mother, sisters, and saints praying for me. Brother Guy Webb of Bemis pastored a little church near us.

One night I went to the altar. Miserable and carrying that heavy yoke of sin’s bondage, I knelt and repented of my sins. Brother Webb baptized me in the wonderful name of Jesus on the first Sunday in March in 1929. God gloriously filled me with the precious Holy Ghost. Five months later He called me to preach this precious truth.

At the time I started preaching, I was twenty years old. I traveled by foot with just a few clothes in my suitcase and my Bible in my hand. Sometimes I had blisters on my feet and no money in my pocket, but I had Jesus by my side. Often I stopped along the road, went into the woods, and prayed with a broken heart for a lost world, not knowing where I would lay my head that night.

Jesus said to me, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Even though I am nearing the end of my way, I am not road weary nor discouraged. I am still hungry to tell someone about the wonderful name of Jesus.

In those days I would stop along the highways to witness in honky-tonks, whiskey stores, and beer joints. When I got to a town, I would visit the jails and state prisons, witnessing to prisoners, from as few as one to as many as a hundred. I told them how Jesus suffered for them and that He loved them. (See Isaiah 53 and Acts 2:38-39.)

Time after time I left men shedding tears and asking me to return. I have preached this truth when men would lie in wait by the road and try to beat me to death, where they burned brush arbors and churches, broke up revivals, and brought ropes to hang me. The law officers sometimes would even uphold these men in their evil deeds. Little did they realize I was on the Lord’s side. Captain Jesus and His host were with us and were much greater than they.

At the age of twenty-five I married a fine Pentecostal girl, Belva Willis, who labored with me in the gospel until the Lord called her from her field of labor on December 23, 1972. God gave us three fine children, two boys and one daughter. Many years ago we went to Florida. Where God gave us a harvest of many souls for our labors.

We established a fine church in Arbundale, Florida, where we pastored for several years. The Lord blessed us in a wonderful way. Johnny Lipham is the present pastor; he is one of the fine young men God brought into the truth under my ministry, along with Billy Cupples, who lost his life on the mission field in Africa.

A number of young men whom God called to preach this truth came in during my revivals. Several of them have gone on to their reward. I am so glad that God has let me stay in His harvest field to help gather in the golden grain. I feel like Caleb did when he asked Joshua to give him his inheritance in the mountain among the giants. In the name of Jesus with prayer and faith continually night and day, I can make it.

I have found God’s grace is sufficient and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. Jesus prepared me a table in the presence of my enemies. (See Psalm 23:5.) While they were starving to death, my soul was like a stall fed calf. The apostle Paul wrote, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). I am not worrying about the reward that I will receive at the end of life’s journey; my greatest concern is finishing the work that Jesus has given me to do before He catches the church away.

Five years ago this May, I was stricken with cancer. After two surgeries and forty-five cobalt treatments, I was very sick because I did not respond to the treatment. While I was in the hospital for the third operation, the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International convened in Kansas City. A prayer request was called in for me and the churches in the surrounding area were praying for me. God healed me completely; there is no sign of cancer in my body anymore.

I want to be faithful until I reach the end of my journey. In Hebrews 11, all the elders had a good report. Through faith they made it, even though they did not have what we have. I am persuaded that we can make it too.

If I never meet you on this earth, please do not sell your birthright. Just one step on that street of gold will be worth it all!