Hang A Lantern
On Black Friday, 1929, the stock market crashed and America was plunged into the Great Depression. During that same time, a drought turned the western portion of Oklahoma into what became known as the Dust Bowl.
Conditions were bleak for many, so families packed up in cars and trucks and traveled west on Route 66 in hopes of finding work in California. Thousands of men hopped freight trains bound for the west coast, where promises of jobs and mild climates lured many "okies" westward.
In Oklahoma City, the need was great. Jobs were scarce, and there were no government programs to assist the poor. Hospitals and soup kitchens were stretched to capacity. Many who had lost their jobs were forced into foreclosure on houses, farms and businesses. Against this backdrop, my paternal grandmother, Bessie Keith quietly began her ministry among the poor people who camped along the North Canadian River.
Many had lost jobs, many lost farms and homes..But worse of all, many lost hope! Shanty towns sprang up along the river bank as families searched for shelter and came to the big city for survival.
Bessie had lost 3 children, but the four living children were taught of God's love at the knee of their mother. They had an appreciation for music, prayer and for the power of God, which would serve them their whole lives. Grandma Keith taught Geneva, Valentine, June and my dad John to sing in four part harmony, play guitar, accordion and piano.
On summer mornings, the family would make their way to the shanty towns with a few meager provisions and a desire to minster the love of God to the hurting. Grandma quickly developed a reputation as a woman of faith, and many times she was called upon for prayer in homes and hovels. Doctors and hospitals were expensive for those with no money or health care, and their trust was directed to the God they heard Grandmother preach about.
In the evenings, the little family band would begin to play music and sing the old time Gospel songs of Heaven and Salvation. A crowd would soon gather, and someone would hang a lantern in the middle of the area where they were assembled.
Bessie would preach the Gospel and the whole family, including Grandpa Frank, would pray for the sick and lead many to salvation. Only Heaven will reveal what was accomplished in those days in OKC. How many were called into the ministry, and served in foreign lands as missionaries? How many went on to find hope, found a company and employ people using Christian principles...How many were healed? How many marriages were put back together...all because a family was faithful to share God's love. But someone had to hang a lantern! What about you? Will you hang a lantern so that others might see Jesus? Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 5- "You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men, that they see your GOOD WORKS and glorify your Father in Heaven!"
Be encouraged today to Hang a Lantern so others can see Jesus!