Thirty Years Walking With God
By: Chief Bishop Grady R. Kent, ST. John II
“ And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
(II Timothy 3:15)
I was inspired from a child; yet, at the age of my conversion I was old enough to realize that everyman was born into the world a sinner. Even then I felt that I was affected by an inspiration that made me to believe that the Lord followed me. I was aware of the fact that men were not born from the womb in the dispensation of Grace to be Prophets but it was necessary to have the new birth to be born again of the Spirit. And there he was to be for the purpose that God decided for him to be in whatever office that God might set him.
At my conversion I had several scriptures to support this. One of the outstanding ones was the 87th Psalm. Even then I knew that when men were born again it was there their names were written in the Lambs Book of Life.
Now back to my childhood. Even though my father accepted Christ, was sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost in my early ministry; before this time he was a drunkard. My father would hardly let a weekend pass but what he would come staggering in in the wee hours of the morning. If it wasn’t past midnight on these weekends I would be sitting up waiting for him to come. He was a great reader. Even though he would be so drunk he could hardly talk or see I would compel him to read me a chapter in the book of Revelation. As I could remember he never would refuse me. This was when I was about the age of ten or twelve.
The greatest thing that affected me in this book was the peculiar expression of John using such peculiar examples to describe what he was writing; such as, the seven stars, seven candlesticks, a lamb with seven eyes and seven horns, seven thunders and trumpets, lightings and thunders, rivers and trees, leaves, streets and many others. I thought it was the most peculiar expressions but that spirit that followed me in my childhood made me to feel that in these illustrations the book of Revelation contained something that was tied with me.
At one time in my childhood being so deeply impressed with the things of the book of Revelation, I had a dream. I dreamed that all these horses in the book of Revelation had come to my house to see me. In my dream I was impressed that the world was coming to an end. I became greatly excited after awakening out of my sleep. That incident never departed from me but made the book of Revelation more impressive to me, for never did I feel with any other book of the Bible as I did with Revelation. For this reason I would always persuade my father to read to me.
In my search of understanding for this peculiar feeling I wanted to find the real meaning of it. At the age of ten I felt the Lord wanted me to join a church. So, I joined the Methodist church. To get further into this fellowship and partnership of this unction I offered myself as janitor of the church. For many months I swept the church, dusted the benches, built the fires in the heaters and rang the church bells at church hours. For this they paid me $3.50 per month. All this did me a little good but soon I realized that was not the destiny of my feelings.
At the age of about thirteen, I became troubled over some of these mysterious things in the Bible. I took the Bible to my grandfather who was very old and toddly and asked, “Grandpa, how can I understand these things?” Although he was not a Christian he did not turn me away without an answer but replied, “You sit down and read the Bible, verse by verse and study it for the understanding.” I tried this but it still did not give me what I was looking for. Then I began to take this wonderful unction and glorious feeling and place it out in front of me as a future. At the age of sixteen this revived in me to the extent that it was put into action. I wanted and felt inspired to be a preacher.
I began to make another search to master that feeling that worked within me and that inspired me along even before I was ever a Christian. I, at this point made several major steps into what we call the future.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Romans 7:19- For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:20- Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Romans 7:21- I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Romans 7:22- For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Romans 7:23- But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Romans 7:24- O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Romans 7:25- I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:18-25)
At this time I had become a textile worker in a cotton mill in a town named Porterdale, Georgia. A group of young men, members of the Methodist Church, decided that they were called to preach (or in some kind of Christian work) and organized a band for this type of training. I, being revived in Christian work, immediately joined the group in the great search for an answer to my unction. I enjoyed this for several months because of the hope that I had; but, I soon found that a decision alone would not answer for the place of salvation and for what it took to be a minister. However, I did put forth a strong effort. It was not that anyone did not want to help me but it seems that no one knew. I found myself, again looking and wondering for the answer.
With so many attempts and efforts it seemed that I reached the end of the road and that perhaps it was just a continuing feeling with no climax. At this time, for a short period of my life, I turned over completely to Satan for I could find no help; I became a drunkard and gambler; my life became weary and miserable. My thought was with the Apostle Paul, “Where could I go?” At the age of seventeen I married Miss Eunice Moate. After a period of time I was invited to a holiness meeting. Because my friend insisted that I go, I decided I would. However, I felt that they would not have the answer, or anything I needed, for I had been taught to brand them as holy rollers and they were nothing good to follow. But finally, after reaching the place that I did not care, I made it a point to go to church; perhaps in hope of seeing some of them roll or put on some of the mysterious acts which had been falsely told on holiness people. It was a small church with approximately one hundred people in the congregation. The preacher’s name was James Cox. He lived in Griffin, Ga. And at this time I was living in Thompson, Ga with my wife and two children. I did not take her to church with me for she had been taught stronger against holiness than I.
When the preacher began to preach I was sitting in about the middle of the congregation. Using his Bible he proved that salvation was a reality and could be felt and was the answer to living free from sin. He proved that the change had to be in the heart rather than in the decision of the mind. As he expounded the Bible I said to myself, “There is my answer.” Still Satan put it into my mind that they were holy rollers. At times I found myself standing up in the middle of his sermon with the thoughts “That is my answer.” Even with all the persecutions that I had heard against them, I was still over-powered by the thoughts of “This is what I have long looked for. “ I often found myself standing with the thought “Why don’t he hurry and quit preaching and let me go up and get it?” Then, I would realize I was standing, a gazing stock to all the people, and I would sit back down. I wanted him to quit and let me go to the altar. It was this memorial Saturday night that I came in possession of something that began to satisfy my soul. It brought a complete change in my life and now I had come to the answer for the future that I had long awaited for. I listened as he taught, in the same message that night that a person could be born of the spirit and is in need of Sanctification, of a second definite work of grace with the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4 to complete a sinner’s experience in becoming a child of God. However, I did not get these two experiences immediately for there were other things I was to do.
One of the most trying things in my life was to master my rough and rowdy living. Just prior to being born again I had stolen some cakes out of a store. I was a tobacco, cigarette, and snuff worm. I was a daily drinker. All of this I had to give up and go and make things right where I had done wrong. I went to the stores where I had stolen the cakes when I had carried out groceries, and confessed it, and paid for them. Satan had told me that to straighten out a life of this kind would wind me up in jail. However, everyone that I confessed to seemed more than happy to forgive me and offer me their help in Christian life. This was no easy task as one might think it would be; to face your sins to the extent that you had to make an adjustment on earth; but, I did and my joy and experience in the Lord became greater and more powerful. I soon received this experience of sanctification, the second work of grace, after I had sanctified myself. Then in a revival conducted by a woman Prophetess, Sister Maude Loggin, I received the baptism with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. It was such a joy! I did not roll but I did toss to and fro on the floor rejoicing in the glorious experience. Now my life in Christ was real, I had accepted it and it was in me, the Spirit of the living God.
Now a new battle had presented itself in my new field of being called to preach. Even though I received my calling a few months before I was baptized with the Holy Ghost. I hesitated to use this calling until I had received my baptism of the Spirit for I feared to start preaching before I was complete in the plan of salvation. I was afraid it would hinder me from receiving this farther glorious experience that is needed in a Christian’s life especially before preaching.
The call was not merely a decision brought about by an unction, my call came in a vision of a trance. Yet I did have the unction with it. It happened in this manner.
At the time of all of these other experiences, within a period of 5 months, my job was working in Silvertown, Ga. which is a textile suburb of Thompson. I worked from four in the afternoon until twelve midnight. I made it a practice to study my Bible every night before going to bed. At this later hour of the night I spread a quilt in the doorway receiving the light from the kitchen to read, as the family was in bed. When I picked up the Bible and opened it something seized me and I went into a trance. In this trance I found myself up town at the courthouse of Thompson which was the County seat. The courthouse had four doors. The doors appeared to be East, West, North and South. In my trance I also found myself with a large book moving around the courthouse to each door to reveal what was in the book. At each step that I stepped up on, I saw people with outstretched hands far away into the West, seemingly as far as the horizon would let me see. They appeared to be crying with their faces looking towards me for information that I had in the closed book. This was so real there, it appeared that it was happening at that time. I remember in a feeling of excitement I came out of the trance. Knowing that I laid down with my Bible open reading it. I did not know what had become of it in this few minutes trance, for at my awaking it was gone. The exciting thing in my awakening was that I found my Bible lying over to the right still open to the chapter that I had been reading. Some mysterious happenings in this trance did the transferring of the Bible in the order of which it was lying on the floor to the extreme right. Without a shadow of a doubt I realized I was called to preach and the entire world was waiting for me to reveal the mystery of this book.
The battle started when I began to express my desire to go to the field of labor. My wife, being taught harder against holiness, did not think it was necessary for me to do so just because I was a Christian. Even though she knew I had made a change in my life she felt that it could be done by joining some formal church which I had already tried in my previous life. The persecutions in those days against holiness made her to feel that I should have chosen some other kind of religion. I had found my answer in what was called the Holiness Church.
In attending church in developing my ministry my wife felt that I should be home at nine o’clock. Some times because of very spiritual services I would always shave a battle and trail in that I had to explain my services lasted longer than nine. Most of the time my explaining was rejected.
Impediment of Speech
Even though many people knew Grady Kent had made a change in life and that it was known far and wide because of the riotous living that I had done in the past. I stuttered somewhat when I talked. They were willing to go along with me from a sinner to a Christian and acknowledge that I had a real Christian experience but they were somewhat shocked to learn that I was called to preach and having an impediment of speech from being tongue tied. For I had not revealed this calling until after I had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I started my preaching on the courthouse steps of the place that I had previously seen in the trance. I felt this to be pleasing to the Lord. Several businessmen who know my life before made it a practice to meet me at the courthouse on Saturday afternoons for they knew a miracle had taken place in my life.
In searching the scriptures at this time, I learned that in the early days there was a church and that it had a central government that operated from Jerusalem. The church was somewhat different from the Kingdom. I saw the church to be a house; the kingdom to be a Kingdom and that this church was to be called by the name “THE CHURCH OF GOD” without any substitution. The scriptures that so definitely pointed this out to me is found in the book of Ephesians and especially the 5th chapter. The means of identifying this church in the last days would have to be by finding a prophet who had the means of bringing about a last days church. Its beginning would have to be in a mountain, in a place that would bear the title FIELDS OF THE WOOD. With so many Bible references to go by, I knew that The Church of God was definitely tied with a Prophet, a mountain, and a place called FIELDS OF THE WOOD. One of my main thoughts on this concerned two men portrayed in the 87th Psalm and title “THIS AND THAT MAN.” In my search for this church I did not know there were so many holiness organizations. The first one that I found was called “CHURCH OF GOD” and had its headquarters on Montgomery Ave., Cleveland Tennessee; this one I joined. Because of an impediment of speech they constantly shifted me around; however, they did let me preach in prayer meetings and one of my most outstanding texts was “FAITH THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN.”
In a few months I found that there was a dozen or more churches called THE CHURCH OF GOD. Here I was compelled to use scriptures to identify and determine which one was the real church. I learned of a group that was called the “TOMLINSON CHURCH OF GOD.” I made an investigation and in so doing I learned that A. J. Tomlinson was the man that found the church in the mountains of Cherokee County, North Carolina. The place was now known as “FIELDS OF THE WOOD.” But I knew that the scriptures called it “THE FIELDS OF THE WOOD.” Here I realized that I belonged to an organization called THE CHURCH OF GOD and yet the Prophet was separated from it. I knew this could not be, so, in comparing this with the scriptures I learned of the church disruption of 1922. I knew that the church, to be in line with the Bible would have to continue with the Prophet. It was at this time that I changed churches. It was known as THE CHURCH OF GOD OVERWHICH A. J. TOMLINSON IS GENERAL OVERSEER.
Due to being tongue tied I soon found that I had another battle. I had to convince another group of people that I was called to preach; yet, I knew I was. To pacify me they gave me a Sunday school class to teach. Later, they made me the leader of the young people’s auxiliary. The following statements are a few of those that came to me from very prominent ones of the organization. When they heard me stuttering in my preaching they said, “If he is a preacher, the woods are full of them” “If the Church of God has to depend on that for preaching, they said, it is sunk.” I knew much of the Bible but I stuttered in trying to explain it. So, another miracle took place in my life one day as I was preaching. Since I was under the anointing I did not know exactly when it happened, but I realized during the sermon I had ceased to stutter. In this miracle God delivered me from this impediment of speech and my tongue was loosed. Being called to preach I was ready to go regardless of the cost. At this point in my life the greatest decision of all had come. My wife, not liking my former religion, made it very hard for me to carry out this decision; however, I am very sure she was sincere in her decision.
Before naming just what the battle was in this decision, I would like to mention a little of my conflict in getting around to various places where they would let me preach. At this time I had with me a Christian brother by the name of C.O. Humphrey. He was also a minister. He and I decided to get a place to preach outside of the city. The place we chose was a Pentecostal church about 25 miles away. Brother Humphrey helped me to buy a bicycle at the cost of about nine or eleven dollars. He already had one. On many Sundays He and I would ride our bicycles the 25 miles out and 25 miles back. Some Sundays he would preach and others I would preach. My bicycle, being an old one, failed me at times and I was compelled to ride with him on his wheel. Speaking of Christian zeal, to ride another pal on the same wheel and pull it by peddling 50 miles, one would have to say that we were determined to carry out our calling.
At the home of one of the leaders of the Pentecostal church a Brother Killingsworth, one of the members of the family had been bedfast for many months. We prayed and anointed her with oil and God raised her up and healed her. This added great fuel to our fire. When I say fire I mean Godly zeal which caused us opposition of the Devil to the extent that brought about a disturbance and my changing church organizations in order to find the Prophet and the Church in the Fields of the Wood, in the mountains of Cherokee County that I have referred to before in this writing.
Former Chief Bishop
The Church of God
Grady R. Kent
(St. John II)