Trail Of Fire in Seneca, SC
This year, I hear the Lord saying, “Rebuild The Altars!” I firmly believe this is what we are endeavoring to do on the trail of fire. This year is about reconnecting with the ancient altars, redigging the ancient wells and sharing the stories of what God has done and is doing across our nation. This is why I feel this story is so important and a great initiation for the year. Personally, this one means a lot to both Jenna and I. We grew up here, met here and were married here. Needless to say, I am very familiar with the area.
Over the years I heard stories about an old rock altar in the woods. I was told men would journey to this secluded place and tarry around this pile of rocks long into the night as they sought the Lord for a move of God. When the response to their prayers came, it brought waves of revival into the community. Unfortunately that old altar was lost over the decades. Lost until now.
Here is the story of this old pile of rock, that laid the foundation for a revival in the upstate of South Carolina.
It was December 7, 1941 and Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. Our nation lost 2,403 Americans in a devastating blow to our Pacific fleet. The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation calling the assault “a day which will live in infamy.” The attack thrust America into a global conflict that would last four long years and cost our nation over 400,000 lives. America was at war
Draft notices began arriving in mail boxes of homes across America. I can only imagine that gut-sinking feeling a mother must have felt when she found such a notice amongst her mail addressed to her son.
“Notice to report immediately for induction”
Yes they knew the cause to be just and believed that something must be done. But this was her boy. No matter how honorable the fight, it could not remove that crushing anxiety that precedes a request for such a sacrifice.
This was the reality families were facing here in Seneca, South Carolina on what was known as the Mill Hill. The hill was a tight-knit community that found it’s commonality around the cotton mill they worked and the church they attended. Together these families were sending their boys off to war. These mothers and fathers turned to the only place they could – to God.
They wanted a place of solitude where they could come and bear their souls out before the Lord. They needed a place where they could cover their boys in prayer as they were away. They found that place outside the village, past a cemetery, and down in a ravine next to a creek. There they would erect a rock altar to the Lord where anyone could come and pray.
It was a daily occurrence for these god-fearing men to rise early in the morning, carrying a burden for their far-away son. After work, they would head off to the woods. Along the way they would pick up a rock that seemed as if it was the size of their burden. They would pick it up and carry it to the pile and pray for hours into the night. These men choose to war in prayer as their sons warred on a foreign field.
There is no denying the power of prayer. In the four years of America’s involvement, no lives were lost on the mill hill. The war ended in 1945, but the tradition of the rock altar continued. They would come praying daily for healing, for break through. Sometimes the burden these men carried was so great that the rock itself was too large for one man to lift. Others would have to come and assist. They would carry the burdens of one another.
I am told that the most prominent prayer, prayed here was for the souls of friends and family. They came here to pray for revival. In the 1950s, God answered a decades worth of prayer around the altar. Sending wave after wave of revival through their church on east main street.
This church began to see explosive growth. There was a fervency to see neighbors and loved ones saved. Men and women were coming to the church and finding freedom from addictions. During this move of God, it was common for those working on the different shifts in the mill, to witness to their co-workers. They would share the Gospel with them, then carry them straight to the altar as soon as work was over. This spirit of revival spread throughout county touching, igniting something fresh within every spirit filled church.
An evangelist by the name of AS Worley, partnered with the Pastor Whitlow from the East Main Street Church of God to start a Revival Center in the neighboring town of Walhalla. They rented an old barn in the center of the town that was once used to dry out tobacco. They cleaned up the space and set it up for services. There would be three services on Sunday, and one every night of the week.
Soon the ceiling of the old tobacco barn became adorned with “trophies of grace.” These where the abandoned crutches, canes, slings wheel chairs and stretchers that were no longer needed. The signs, wonders and miracles drew crowds from across the upstate.
A remarkable testimony came one evening when a gentlemen was brought to the revival by ambulance and carried in on a stretcher. The man was suffering from an aggressive cancer and told he had days to live. The doctors had given him up for dead. That night Pastor Whitlow was ministering in the meeting. He seemed unphased as the gentlemen was brought in. Being a small town, there were many that night who knew the man and the seriousness of his condition. They wondered if tonight would be the night that their friend received a much-needed miracle.
As brother Whitlow brought the service to a close, he walked straight the man and said, “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have, I give to thee. In the Name of Jesus Christ, of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” At that word, the man was instantly healed. He sprung up from the stretcher and began rejoicing before the Lord. That man lived a long healthy life afterwards.
This amazing revival, as well as the explosion of the spirit field churches in and around seneca can all be traced back to the prayers that were offered up at that old rock altar. In many ways those stones became the foundation for the revival that shook this community.
My friend, if you desire revival, you do not have to look far. Revival can always be found at an altar. In fact, it’s the only place it can be found. The altar is a meeting place for God and man. It is sacred a place where we come to lay down our lives as a living sacrifice before the Lord and let Him fill us with Power from on high. That altar doesn’t have to be a pile of rocks in the woods. It could be the front of your church, beside your bed, or the place you’re standing in right now.
I wonder, might there be an old forgotten altar near you? Is it possible that somewhere close by is a place where the saints of old experienced wonderful, powerful encounters with God? Perhaps there is an altar that needs to be revisited and rebuilt. My friend I encourage you to pick up a stone and lay it up on the altar. The Lord is waiting!
This entry was posted in Trail Of Fire