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You are here: Greater Things > Ridenhour > Ministry Moments > Meet My Friend, Brother Jesse

Ministry Moments:

Meet My Friend, Brother Jesse

by Lynn Ridenhour

Brother Jesse is the holiest man I’ve ever known.

I lived just up the street from Brother Jesse. And called him the "holy cowboy."  Brother Jesse was an old-time rodeo rider turned preacher. Years ago the Lord saved him in an old-fashion tent revival—sawdust trail & all. The day the Lord saved Brother Jesse, he took off his shoes, wrote out a check, stuck it in his shoes, laid his shoes on the altar, & walked away with God.  He had just given his ranch, his soul, & everything he owned to the Lord. Barefooted, he now had God in his heart. And the world on his shoulders. He became one of the most powerful preachers I’ve ever heard. God followed this man’s sermons around.

Brother Jesse used those old country clichés when he preached. I can still see him, walking back & forth from side to side, animated & intense, his brown suit accenting his bowlegs as he moved out from behind the pulpit.  "Some people have such big cars, you have to put hinges on ‘em to go over a hill."  Brother Jesse is the only preacher I know who ever used the phrase "ten axle greases down the road."

Brother Jesse was an ornery old cuss, or used to be. Before he knew the Lord he would ride his horse in on a Christian tent revival, pull the tent down on God’s people, rope the preacher from behind the pulpit, and drag him out down the middle aisle with dirt flying in all directions, causing all kinds of ruckus. Brother Jesse despised Christians. Then it happened, he met the God he despised. And never looked back.

I never knew the rodeo Jesse, the scoundrel.  The man I knew was the humblest man I ever met.  I remember, the men of our church loved him so much they built him & his family a brand new home and gave it to him. Brother Jesse was deeply touched & deeply loved by everyone—always doing small favors for families in the community. Saving old suits and passing them out to the needy, visiting the sick that nobody cared to visit. Going from house to house to see what he could do for families.

Brother Jesse was so overwhelmed by the men’s kindness, he wouldn’t move in. "The Lord doesn’t want me to live in a house like that," he kept saying.  His wife & children moved in while Brother Jesse continued living down the road in a little shack in the woods. Finally, Brother Jimmy, our pastor, knocked on Brother Jesse’s door.

"Brother, you have to move in with your family," said our pastor. "If you don’t you’re going to hurt these men’s feelings."

Brother Jesse moved out of his shack and into his new home. I’ve been a guest in his home. It’s nice; nothing fancy.  A place where you can feel God’s love.

I loved being around this man. The stories he told!  And the prayers he prayed.  It was as though he and God were on speaking terms, old friends who didn't have to say much but who knew what the other was thinking.  Brother Jesse would pray about anything anywhere anytime. One time he was pulled over by a policeman for speeding. The policeman approached his car, Brother Jesse rolled down his window.

"Sir, were you aware you were speeding?"

"O, no. I’ve sinned," said Brother Jesse as he opened his door to kneel down beside the road with the cop standing nearby & oncoming cars whisking by.  Oblivious to his situation around him while getting right with God, he felt a tap on his shoulder, "that’s alright, sir," said the policeman as he folded up his ticket book and drove away in his squad car, leaving the man of God alongside the roadway on his knees praying aloud doing business with his God.

One Sunday evening Brother Jesse was preaching when he made the announcement, "I want all of you to pack your supper in a brown bag when you come to prayer meeting Wednesday night. We’re going to have a funeral. One of you is going to die."

And sure enough, they buried one of their members that Wednesday evening.

I remember him telling the story of going to this one church. The Lord had revealed that evening’s song service to Brother Jesse. "Here, these are the songs you’ve picked out to sing tonight," he said as he handed the pastor the small sheet of paper. The Lord had revealed even the page numbers. "God does that sometimes when he wants to show a sinner He’s Lord."

He told the story of seeing God. Brother Jesse was an evangelist. In one of his meetings he walks in the church with a rolled up blanket under his arms. "I’m not leaving this building until I see God," he announced to the congregation. Brother Jesse never left the church for thirty-two days & nights, sleeping & praying at the altar. He wanted to see God. While lying prostate on his face one night about three in the morning, he heard the church door open; then footsteps slowly approaching. Brother Jesse sat up, turned with his eyes closed and put up his hands, "go back," he was waving, "go back!"  He got scared.

God poured out His Spirit in that community and a spirit of revival stayed with those people for two and a half years.

Brother Jesse went where no other man would go. He mainly ministered in the Deep South. He tells of going to preach in this community way back in the hills of the Carolinas.  So far back he had to park his car and walk for miles to get there. When he arrives the first thing he does is pay the light bill to get the lights turned on in the church house. Then he walks up & down side walks inviting people to come hear him preach. We’re talking roughnecks. Lumber Jacks & mountain people. Nobody has time for religion in a town like that. Brother Jesse was having trouble drawing a crowd, getting anyone to show up for that matter.

One morning while walking down the sidewalk, doing his usual inviting, he noticed a funeral taking place down the street. He could see the casket from where he was standing. The Lord spoke, "if you go pray for that man I’ll raise him up."  Brother Jesse walked down the street, walked up to the casket, laid his hands on the dead man, and began to pray. Folks were standing all around. Soon the lifeless body sat up.

And Brother Jesse had a crowd to preach to that night.

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Page posted on June 7, 2001

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