The next night the crowd began to form on the hilltop more than an hour early. There was even some jostling for the prime seats down front. Two cowboys got in a fight over a chair that was the last one on the back row. Miss Evelyn was dressed and mingling with the crowd a half hour before the show was to start.
“Oh, yes, you will be amazed at what God can do with your life once you surrender to Him through Jesus, the Christ. It is such a powerful moment and it lasts for the rest of eternity,” Miss Evelyn told one painted young gal on the front row.
“I hope he’s done before my boss misses me at the Cowboy Corral. I’m one of his biggest attractions and he won’t treat me nice if I ain’t there when the boys hit town, it being Friday and all.”
“I know whereof you speak, gal. I was in your shoes not 24 hours ago. Now I belong to Jesus and no man is gonna make me do anything I don’t wanna do no more.”
“Oh, that sounds so sweet. Tell me more at the end. You can walk me back, can’t you?”
“Maybe. It depends on the response.”
“Response to what.”
“The Word of God. That boy delivers it like no one I ever heard before.”
In the caravan, the boy is being shoved into his clean, second best shirt. “You just go out there and tell them another Bible story like you did last night. How about the ten lepers? Remember? Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to say, ‘thanks.’ The rest went on their merry way without ever givin’ a hoot who it was that healed them.”
“But Dad, I ain’t never been to no Bible school like you. I ain’t a preacher.”
“That crowd last night said differently, Daniel. They ate it up. The offering was one of the biggest we’ve ever had. It’s all about the money, boy, all about the money. You get out there and wow them with another story. You can do it. Bout time I retired anyhow. Too many towns know me.”
“I’ll do’er one more time. Then that’s it,” Daniel looked him in the eye, “I hope.”
“Give them heaven and they’ll fill the bucket.”
“I’m a phony, Dad. I don’t believe any of this stuff. It’s all hooey or so you been telling me.”
“They believe it and they’ll fill the bucket.”
“One more time,” Daniel said as he left the caravan for the rock platform.
The crowd saw him coming just as he saw the crowd. Every seat was filled with a person whose eyes were on him. The crowd went totally silent.
Miss Evelyn looked up to see why and then moved to her position on the rock. She looked at him and smiled. After all, he had shown her the way to a new life. She began to sing a new song she had never sung for anyone before. She had heard it as a child in New Hampshire when her folks would drag her, practically kicking and screaming, to the Congregational Church just outside of town. She sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” She didn’t plan it, it just came. The words flowed through her mind and out her mouth, verse after verse, until she was finished.
Daniel stood on the platform in awe of the beauty he had just heard. The crowd sat or stood in silence, most with their mouths wide open as if to catch all the music. One cowboy sitting on his horse way off to one side, took off his hat and hung it on the horn of his saddle and started clapping. The crowd slowly and reverently join in as they stood.
Miss Evelyn yelled, “It’s all true. You can have a friend in Jesus.”
The clapping got louder.
The cowboy ground reined his horse and walked slowly to the front of the rock platform and sat down in the dirt. Daniel raised his hands as he had seen his Dad do to get the crowd’s attention. They just kept clapping for Miss Evelyn.
She bowed and raised her hands. The crowd went silent. “Thank you. That was a song I learned a long time ago against my will, but today I sang it from my heart in His will. Please listen to what Daniel has to say to you.” The crowd shifted their eyes to look at the twelve year old boy in a boiled shirt and scuffed shoes.
He stepped closer to the edge of the stone platform.
An hour later he finished with, “Most of you want to be able to see, but few of you will come to Jesus for healing. He, and He alone can open your eyes to the sin in your lives that requires you to repent in order to truly know Jesus as a Savior. Then there will be even fewer that will come to the front and truly repent in faith before the throne of God that this rock symbolizes. Come won’t you?” He looked down, “Cowboy, you’re gonna have to move.”
The cowboy moved. He crawled to the rock, put one hand on his face and the other on the rock, before he yelled, “Jesus, heal me.”
Miss Evelyn scurried to the back of the rock, down the ladder, and around to the cowboy. She kneeled beside him, “Cry out to God and tell him how sorry you are that your sins required Jesus to go to the cross and be the blood sacrifice for your sins.”
The cowboy cried. He cried so loud his friend came up to see what was going on. By the time they arrived, the area between the chairs and the rock was filled with people in tears and on their knees before this God that Daniel had presented to them. Miss Evelyn went from person to person talking, comforting, and testifying of the Grace of God in her life. She even yelled at one point, “Yesterday I was in darkness, but since I met Jesus last night, I can in the light. I am free. I am free.”
The young saloon girl she had talked to before the service caught her, “Tell me how I can hide from my boss and live with Jesus.”
Daniel carried the bucket to the back of the area where most of the folks had entered. As he walked folks tossed bills and change into the bucket. The bucket got heavier as he approached the spot he had decided it belonged. Arriving, he sat the bucket on a rock that stood about two feet tall and placed a small sign on a stick in it that read, “Donations accepted,” and walked toward the caravan.
Person after person grabbed him and asked him to pray. He prayed. He didn’t believe it would do an ounce of good, but he prayed. He must have prayed a dozen times before he broke through the crowd and was able to reach the caravan. The clutching hands of the crowd fell away as he shrugged his way through the last ones and into the clear behind the rock platform.
“Dad,” he said as he entered the caravan, “You just aren’t gonna believe what I saw tonight.”
His father wasn’t there. He was in a local saloon, fondling a dancehall gal and drinking all the unguarded booze left behind the bar.
The gal didn’t mind. He had money and was free with it.
Miss Evelyn reached the last person face down on the dirt to find the cowboy. He was crying and shouting his sins as he begged for forgiveness. Miss Evelyn said, “Cowboy, that Bible says that if we repent and ask God for forgiveness, He will forgive. That’s a promise He keeps on a daily basis in your life.”
“Miss Evelyn, I needed tonight. I knew I was living wrong and now I’m dealing with it thanks to you and that boy, that preacher. Jesus is my friend just like you sang at the beginning. Where’s the boy?”
“He left.” She knew the kid didn’t believe what he told these folks, but she knew that God would forgive him one day when he did repent and follow the Word he was teaching.
Three years later Daniel stood on the platform in the largest venue in Denver and looked out over several thousand people of all ages, creeds, and colors. The message was one of a thief that was dying from the nails in his hands and feet that held him. The thief was hanging on a cross next to the dying Jesus. The thief admitted he was guilty of his deeds and deserved to die, and told the world from his cross that Jesus had done nothing wrong. He was hanging there for no reason other than the jealousy of the priesthood of the church of his day. He was hanging there in reality because that’s where His Father wanted him. He was hanging there to pay the penalty before God for all the sins of a lost world.
As he taught that last sentence something happened in the heart of a 15 year old young sinner standing on a platform in front of thousands of people. Somehow he was convinced that all he had been teaching for three years was really true and that this same Jesus died for him. He knew that the bucket was sitting at the back of the room with its small sign. He knew it was overflowing with the donations of all these people. He knew that it wasn’t all about the money.
IT WAS ALL ABOUT JESUS.
HE BELIEVED IT ALL!
He fell to his knees and cried, “Father, forgive me, a sinner,” and fainted in tears.
The next morning just before noon the Denver Tribune put out a special edition with black headlines reading, “BOY PREACHER FALLS FOR OWN MESSAGE” in three lines above the fold. The article read:
Last night at the Miner’s Hall, 15 year old Daniel Fount came to the fount of Jesus in the middle of his own sermon. The young preacher, son of the infamous Right Reverend Lawrence P. Fount, was approximately half way through his usual sermon time when he swooned on stage.
Miss Evelyn, the singer with the preacher, says he has been working excessive hours with new believers in Jesus and was totally exhausted. His father, the Right Reverend, stated that he didn’t know what happened until this morning. Rumor had it that the father was in the notorious Bucket of Blood Saloon with one, Big Bottom Kate, on his lap for most of the evening throwing money around like it was confetti thrown at a political parade.
Dr. Elmont Goode, a physician, is reported to have said that he could find no reason for the young preacher’s nose dive to the stage. The good Doctor Goode repaired the man’s broken nose and received a $10 bill for his services.
Young Preacher Daniel Fount stated to this reporter that the Revival will continue tonight a 7 PM at the Minor’s Hall where he will explain everything. A hearty crowd is expected.
Miss Evelyn will sing.
At 5 minutes to 7 PM that evening, back stage in the Minor’s Hall Daniel looked at Evelyn, “Evelyn, I need you to sing like you have only sung once before and that was the night in Las Vegas when you sang ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus.’ I want you to sing it just like you did that night.” He turned, “Dad, I want you well out of here. It could get dangerous. There were three notes delivered this afternoon concerning the phoniness of our ministry and the use of the funds donated by the audience. I may get hurt, but there is no sense anyone else getting hurt. Evelyn, you leave by the back door as soon as I begin to speak.”
“I won’t do that, Dan. I will be in the wings praying.”
“There is no reason for God to protect us tonight. I have sinned greatly and you have allowed it to happen even after you became a believer. So, go.”
He gave up, “Thank you. I’ll need all the prayer I can get. But, if it starts getting violent, you run.”
“Lady don’t run too well dressed like this. I’ll be there praying.” She pointed to the left wing.
The stage hand that was still working with them came by and said, “Ten minutes, Preacher Fount. Miss Evelyn, the piano player asked if you would begin with a couple of songs starting now. The crowd is sounding rowdy and angry.”
“On my way. Pray for me, Dan.”
The stagehand said, “She’s gonna need it. I saw lots of rotten vegetables and fruit out there as I watched the front door. There was also a basket of eggs. Not a single person has dropped a penny in the bucket.” He paused as if he were looking for the right words to say. “I know how you feel, but remember – the Truth shall set you free, and Jesus is the Truth. I’ll be praying with Miss Evelyn.”
“Thank you. Stay away from me if it gets bad.”
“Don’t worry. I got a wife and three kids to think of. I’ll drop the curtain if you say so.”
The sweet sounds of Miss Evelyn’s singing drifted through the curtains and reached Daniel’s ears bringing him peace as he prayed which brought him total comfort in the midst of this turmoil. He checked the backstage clock. Six minutes until he would walk out there and put everything on the line for the cause of Jesus, this time, the first time in truth.
He walked to the edge of the down left curtain and peeked into the footlights illuminating Miss Evelyn at the down right stage corner as she sang, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ with her clear, carrying voice. The audience stirred like an ant bed a horse had just stomped on.
He walked on stage to center front, three feet behind the center footlight.