An Experience with Brother Effinger
When I was a young minister of about sixteen years of age, I attended the national campmeeting of the Church of God at Monark, MO; and there I met Brother Effinger. He was an elderly man from Alabama, and I was told that he had spent most of his lifetime as a minister of the First Church of God. After all his years in that place, he became persuaded that those people had compromised the truth they once had and that God was calling for a separation from everything that was not of Him. So he left his position as a salaried minister and departed from them, in obedience to the Word of God, and started all over, in spite of his advanced years, among a people who knew him not. As Abraham, he left his familiar acquaintance and kin, and was led to a place that he knew not. Only God and Brother Effinger knew how much that step cost him.
Brother Effinger had spent a long time in sectism; and although he had left the man-made religion where he had been, he retained many of the mannerisms that prevailed among a people who were not led by the Spirit of God. His speech and demeanor were suggestive of those who habitually knew and used the ways of political expediency, and those ways were repugnant to me as a young minister. Possibly others were affected the same way among the people where we both worshiped; I do not know. There were those who knew him and esteemed him, but at that point, I had not heard their sentiments expressed.
A brother in the Lord told me a little of his history, and it sounded impressive and worthy of respect, but his outward mannerisms so plainly portrayed Babylon to me, that I found it hard to really feel that he had much. It seemed that he had gotten out of sectism, but sectism had not gotten out of him. In short, it was quite difficult for me to regard him as a brother, saved and sanctified, and walking in the light of God.
There was no attempt to prop up this brother’s ministry. Among that people, at that time, brothers and sisters in the Lord trusted God with the government of the people. They believed that the Lord would either make room or not for others, and they were content for Him to do it. I was accepted among them because my spirit blended with theirs, and all others were accepted or not on the same basis. Brother Effinger was accepted on the same basis.
This trust was not in vain, for God is quite sufficient to convince us of what we need to be convinced of. He knows just how to do it. This was exactly where the saints put their trust, and it proved out again, for this story is the story of how God dealt with me about Brother Effinger. There are a multitude of these accounts among any people who trust God fully, and who know not to lean to their own understanding and practice the same. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1)
At this meeting, it was my habit (as it was with many others) to retire to a place of prayer between each service to petition the Lord to help us, to defend us from our adversary’s attempts to mar the efforts made for God and for the good of souls, and to bless the Word of God to be preached with power, authority, and anointing. There were usually greater numbers of people present on the weekends, and therefore even more responsibility, so special fervency would attend our prayers for these services. No effort was made to control the pulpit beyond looking to God—there was no schedule or program to follow, and this way of doing things was deliberate—a conscious decision and stand to trust God to help us. This responsibility was keenly felt individually. No one advised me or pushed me to pray in this way, nor was there an effort to coerce anyone into doing so. It was simply left to those who were burdened. If no one was burdened, no one would do it.
On the first Sunday afternoon service of the meeting, after a time of waiting on the Lord, before a large crowd, Brother Effinger arose and walked to the pulpit. I was horrified. He began to preach as he always did, in a rather high-pitched older man’s voice which was very formal and trained. In deportment and mannerisms, he was an excellent sample of the product of a preacher factory (seminary)—at least, that is how it seemed to be, and I found it repugnant and was immensely disheartened. Brother Effinger continued to speak in this way for about fifteen minutes. I had settled down to endure the discourse.
He was preaching about the second coming of our Lord, and he read the scripture in the book of Revelations which states, “Behold, he cometh with clouds.” (Revelation 1:7) He read this phrase, then he stopped. I do not know better how to describe it than to say that we, he—we all—seemed to come alive. I remember sitting up in my seat, my attention arrested and riveted on those words. Brother Effinger read them again. They seemed to just stand out. What this was, of course, was the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Then Brother Effinger shouted the words. He didn’t seem to make a willful or deliberate effort to shout them; it just welled up in his soul. It welled up in our souls, too. By “our,” I mean all who loved the Lord in that large congregation. It was as though we had all caught fire by spontaneous combustion, preacher and congregation alike. The message (in every possible fullness of meaning of the word) proceeded in a blaze of glory, and thus the Lord fed our souls.
That was the last of any prejudice about Brother Effinger. It was a precious and lasting lesson. God goes not by the outward appearance, but by the heart. Brother Effinger may have looked and talked like someone who had spent long years in Babylon, but he was as genuine and bona fide child of God from the heart as I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
“God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25)