Golden Lampstands of Iowa - Applington

The beautiful summer of 1924 was waning in the quiet town of Aplington, Iowa, which was named after its original landowner, Zenas Aplington. It was a town primarily made up of responsible people who believed in the inspiration of the Bible, and held it in high esteem and reverence. It was in the month of August that the Lord sent two evangelists, men of God, to warn of the impending judgment of man's Sin. This message was savored with the wonderful news of God's willingness and desire to save men by His Grace and to give them the Lull and solid assurance of a home in Heaven.
One of the men who came to Aplington was O.G. Smith of Waterloo, Iowa. The Lord had reached and saved him on January 31, 1913 about 8:00 a.m. The other was a fellow laborer, O.E. (Pat) Magee, who the Lord had reached at Dunkerton, Iowa through meetings held by John Blair. (John Blair was the uncle of the late John Orr, and the great uncle of our present evangelist, Robert Orr.) At the time of those meetings, Mr. Magee was keeping company with Alice Dunkerton. One evening when Pat came courting, Alice told him that they had a preacher at their house who would be holding a gospel meeting that night. She invited him to come in, which was the last thing he wanted to do. He described himself as a blaspheming, godless young man, with never a thought about God or eternity. He did, however, go into the meeting, heard the gospel clearly preached by Mr. Blair, and was deeply moved. He went back to the meetings as long as they continued. Lucille, his daughter, states, "One evening Mr. Blair preached on John 3:7, 'Ye must be born again'. This affected Dad all the years of his life, and as long as he preached, this was one of his favorite gospel messages." Pat was under deep conviction of sin. For six terrible weeks he could think of nothing else while he worked in the fields and did chores. Finally, he was born again. What a change! He was delivered, from his blasphemy, gave up smoking his pipe and had new desires. Truly he was a new creature in Christ Jesus. Some thought he had just professed to be saved to get Alice, which was only their thoughts, not his, for he was truly converted. Later, in August of 1913, he and Alice were married and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mr. Magee now joined Mr. Smith in a series of Gospel meetings held in the city park in Aplington. The two men had just tried meetings in Dike, Iowa, which was a new place, but found no great interest developing there. So, this spot in the city park was their second tent effort that summer. It was a lovely spot with lots of shade trees. There were sidewalks coming from the northeast and northwest corners, leading to the center of the park, where there was a large oval with sidewalk around it. It was in this center area that the Gospel tent was pitched on August 11th. Mr. Peter Kneppe helped O.G. Smith and O.E. Magee raise the tent, and the meetings began on the Lord's Day evening, August 13th.
On the south side of the tent, these brethren also pitched a small 10' by 12' tent in which they ate and slept. Mr. Smith's home was Waterloo, Iowa, and Mr. Magee's was Minneapolis, Minnesota, so both men were away from home during the week. On weekends, they often went to Waterloo, coming back Sunday afternoons for the evening meeting.
There was a lovely interest, with some coming from Stout and Parkersburg. Mr. Smith had preached the gospel in Stout in 1922, and in Parkersburg in 1923. At Stout the gospel was warmly received, and many were reached by God's grace. There had been a nice interest at Parkersburg, too, so many from these communities came along to Aplington and joined with those from the local area, as well as the Wellsburg area. With so many towns represented, the crowds were very encouraging.
When I was thirteen years old, my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter DeBuhr, and I lived on the hill just one block west and two blocks south of the park. As we sat on the front porch one summer evening, we could hear the lovely strains of singing and the very forceful voices of the able speakers, the evening air carrying these sounds so beautifully into our presence. Mother and Father said to each other that evening, "Let's go down tomorrow night and hear what these men have to say. We will sit near the back, and if they start any foolish things we will leave and not go back." The three of us went the next night, and it was a real eye opener. Everything was done very decently and very scripturally. The Word of God was faithfully and very sincerely preached. The tent was impressive, too. This large oval tent had the manufacturer's name, C.J. Baker, printed on the roof top. I later discovered that he, too, was a Christian who had a manufacturing business in Kansas City. On the side walls of this tent hung quite large portions from God's Word. One, J very especially recall, hung off to the southeast part of the tent and read, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." fjohn 3:3) This verse spoke to my young heart, as well as John 3:16 and others. Also, just behind the speakers, was the often referred to "Two Roads and Two Destinies of Man" chart. As we walked home those blocks, my father and mother spoke together saying, "Those men are preaching the truth." My parents wanted to hear more of it, so the next night we were back, not on the back seat, but in the second seat from the front on the north side.

My father had been saved at the age of twenty-one while he still lived at home with his parents near Florence Station, Illinois. He told me how he had gone to a series of religious meetings in a schoolhouse there. The preacher had given an invitation for those desiring salvation to come forward. My father, however, had been brought up to know that there was more to being saved than to just "go forward." So, as others went he remained in his seat, thinking to himself, "I know this isn't right. I'll just get saved by myself when I want to." Some six months later, while under deep conviction of sin, my father discovered that he couldn't just get saved when he wanted to, as he had thought. Here, on the house yard, he stood forlorn and helpless, and he said, "I smote my breast as the man in Luke 18 and cried to God, 'Be merciful to me, the sinner.' "God reached and saved him, as the work of Christ on Calvary became precious to him. My father, being saved, was able to recognize that these men were preaching the truth, and that Mr. Smith and Mr. Magee were sent of God.

After a few weeks of nightly meetings, my dear mother was deeply broken. Upon seeing her in such deep misery, I asked, "Mother, what's the matter?" She answered, "Leonard, if I die as I am, I'll be lost forever." On the night of her conversion, (Sept. 4th) I sat beside her at the supper table. While my father gave thanks for the food, my dear mother was saved, as thoughts of that lovely hymn, "Jesus paid it all", filled her soul. Once and for all her aching heart was satisfied. I immediately could see a real change. There was peace instead of unrest, and joy instead of sorrow. My mother began to sing again. I said in my young heart, "What Mother has, I want. This is real. There is no sham here.' Sad to say, I sought my salvation half-heartedly, until 14 years later when it became a matter of utmost importance. It seemed as if it was "now or never" Then, I too, found perfect peace and rest in what the Savior had done for me at Calvary. I said that day, "Jesus is Lord! He bought me with his blood!"
After Mother was saved, my parents had a heart for the preachers' welfare, and they were invited to stay with us. Mr. Smith used to say, "When Mrs. DeBuhr was saved, we moved from our little tent, up the hill." They each had a room in our home and ate at our table.
During this series of tent meetings, one other women, Mrs. Robert Uhlenhopp, was also reached and saved. This season came to a close on remember that Mr. Smith had a little printing on this Ford car. On its visor, he had printed, "Gospel Ford."
Mr. Blair made the comment, "You can hardly call it the Gospel Ford, you could better call it the Gospel Car." Mr. Blair was no doubt suggesting that the Gospel Ford could relate to a man instead of telling that the car was used in the spreading of the gospel, and truly the gospel was spread by its use. Mr. Smith has said "I would drive the wheels off my car to see a soul saved." This was truly the character of his life, he lived it for others.
Now he had a new car to drive and it already had on its visor the words "Gospel Car". Soon he painted the old Ford touring car and sold it. For a number of years he came back to the Aplington Hudson-Essex dealer, Dave Harken, and traded for a new Essex.
Times were surely different then. Mr. Smith writes in his diary "Monday, December 16, 1929 - Traded cars, got a new Essex. Paid $195.00. Had 14,800 miles on old one." Later, Mr. Smith became a user of "Pontiacs," which he purchased from the Shanes, who had been saved at Iowa Falls.
Years later, in 1936, another series of meetings was held in Aplington. This time, the tent was located in the east part of town, and meetings went on for near seven weeks. A few were reached by the sweet strains of the gospel, and among them were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bakker. Henry worked as a railroad maintenance man on the section gang. He became disturbed in the meetings, as the canvas seat, with a text painted on the back side of its backrest had arrested his attention. On it was written, "Prepare to meet thy God." (Amos 4:12). Some days later, as he worked along the railroad track, his pick axe hit a metal object. He raised it, and as he cleared off the dirt he read, "Prepare to meet thy God." This of course, further disturbed him. The next thing that spoke to him was, upon rising from sleep one morning, he turned on the radio while breakfast was being prepared. The first words he heard were, "Prepare to meet thy God." The deep concern wrought by these three warnings soon led Henry to the Saviour, Who had prepared so fully the way for him to meet God.
Mrs. Elliott, the mother of our evangelist, Paul Elliott, was deeply concerned in these meetings. As she was riding with others down the highway they came past a cemetery where stood a statue of a cross with an image of Christ on it. This spoke to her heart, she said, "He died for me", and there it was settled. Once again it shows us God can use whatever He likes to influence and save a poor soul. Mrs. Elliott lived many years after this and often cheered the writer with her warm-hearted affection for the Savior in the midst of her physical trials. September 28, 1924.
The following year, brother O.E. (Pat) Magee came back with an exercise to have tent meetings with brother Smith. Pat had been at Waterloo for the annual Conference on July 3rd and 4th at the Western Avenue Gospel Hall. Then, on July 7th he had been in Stout for the evening meeting. The next day a telegram arrived for Pat, with news that a tornado had ripped through Minneapolis, shearing the roof of his house off at the ceiling of the first story. His daughter, Lucille, remarked, "This was a very difficult time for my parents, and at this time my father went back to secular employment with the Oliver Farm Equipment Company. Yet he still did a great deal of speaking as well." So Mr. Magee was unable to stay in Aplington for meetings that year.
The Lord provided a fellow laborer for this series of meetings by sending our brother, John Blair, who was a very godly man and a solemn Gospel preacher. Again, the same tent site in the park was used, and we were able to show hospitality to both men in our home.
That summer, the Spirit of God again moved, and the seed that was sown in 1924 was again watered, and the fruit appeared. Among those that were saved, were our brother, George Frey and his wife, Johanna. George and Jo had been to one meeting in 1922, when Mr. Smith was having meetings in Stout. George said that they were impressed immensely with the way brother Smith presented the Gospel. Then, the next fall (1923), Mr. Charles Hoehler and Mr. Smith had a series of meetings in Parkersburg. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Frey heard the Gospel preached once more. Also, the following year brought them to Aplington, where Pat Magee and Oliver Smith spoke nightly. This summer of 1925 became the "red letter" year, as George says that both he and his wife trusted Christ. Later, George took on the responsibility as the Hitesville assembly correspondent, which service for his Lord he faithfully performed for over 35 years. This year also became the year of salvation for George Uhlenhopp and some 14 others.
I remember one of those summer afternoons, just west of the tent in the city park, a man drove up with a nearly new "Essex" car. It was a 1925 two-door black sedan. On its black surface there were many scripture verses printed in white, and on the front visor were the word's "Gospel Car". A man by the name of Tom Olson stepped out of it. He was a Gospel tract writer and also did evangelistic work. I recall him conversing with brother Smith and handing him a few keys, saying, "This is your car. You can use it for God better than I." This car then took the place of the Ford touring car that Mr. Smith had owned.