|CHAPTER IV. -- Ten Great District Meetings.|
Ten women's district associations in as many years were held in West Tennessee. Stanton, Woodlawn, Memphis, Trenton, Paris, Martin, Humboldt, Stanton, Durhamville and Woodlawn were the places where the meetings were held. The first meeting held at Stanton has been referred to. The second annual meeting was held at Woodlawn, a country church, seven miles distant from the nearest railroad station. A wagon train, however, was waiting for the arrival of our delegation which carried the women to the place of meeting free of charge. This kindness was the result of the efforts of the good pastor, Rev. H. Smith, who was a member of that notable school board who had given Virginia her first commission. The interest in our work had grown in that part of the district. Marked development was apparent in the women of our local Bible Bands. A goodly number of ministers and laymen had been converted to this work. Conspicuous among these new friends were men whom God
The Trenton District Association will never be forgotten by those privileged to attend it from the special Providence that interposed for the entertainment of the delegation. After the meeting had been in session one day, the delegation being so much larger than was expected, provisions gave out. Virginia stated conditions of affairs to the sisters of the association and asked them to pray that God would provide food for the delegates if they wished the meeting to continue through the time appointed.
Praise God! The windows of Heaven were opened and God poured out such a blessing upon us we were scarcely able to contain it. God touched the hearts
Beautiful sight was this! Women all agreeing and harmoniously laboring together so that both men and women alike of both races, were convinced that our work was truly heaven ordained, and we should be substantially encouraged to carry it forward. Many friends joined our organization and liberal contributions were donated to the work. Virginia and Miss E. B. King were both sent as delegates to the N.B. Convention. God used Virginia to sway that noble band of Christian women as with a magic wand.
The Paris meeting was rendered glorious by the activity of our mothers in Israel, who hitherto had been suppressed and discouraged in every effort they had made to exercise their spiritual gifts. Dear sister Kitty N., of blessed memory, actually led in a song as she walked the floor and praised God for the liberty of speech she then enjoyed. All believers rejoiced as she told the story of Jesus love. Several persons in Paris who had refused to entertain delegates before they came were so thoroughly changed during the exercises of the meetings that they came and begged to have some share in providing for the comfort of the delegation.
The Martin meeting was noted for the unusual encouragement given the work by ministers of the gospel. One of them preached a sermon for us from this text,
"Let Her Alone!"
This message was very opportune in that early day of our women's work, for the large majority of men really believed the work unlawful and forbidden by the Scriptures, as they had been taught to believe a special message of the Apostle Paul on this subject. In this same town at one time Virginia had been so frowned upon and criticized by a certain churchman that God came to her rescue by rebuking the man and showing him if he would sweep around his own door he would have no time to interfere with those who were doing his bidding. That accuser went to Rev. Hurt, who was then pasturing in Trenton, confessed his fault and sent Virginia a word of cheer. Her oppressions and discouragement weighed heavily upon her and she longed to go home and rest from her labors. As ever, the dear Lord comforted his servant by giving her this sweet message from His Word, "I must work the work of Him that sent me while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work." That message was all sufficient. Virginia saw she need not worry about the carelessness of others, she was only required to do the work assigned her and leave the results with God. Ever since she has striven to heed that message as clear guidance has been given her. Another incident connection with the Martin meeting should be mentioned. Virginia discovered a certain embarrassment was likely to come to the
The Humboldt meeting evidenced great growth in the workers. Several of the sisters from the rural districts had attended the Missionary Training School in Memphis and were giving valuable services toward building up and extending the work. Sisters Julia S., Mary B., Mattie B., Mattie P., Amy S., Nancy T., Sarah B., Bell C., Nealy R., Lizzie S., Hannah J., and Maggie C. were very helpful in their respective neighborhoods. Several of these sisters were able to conduct services in the other churches of Humboldt on the Sunday our association was in session there. With the increase of work and workers, jealously, rivalry and other evils began to be manifest in the ranks of the Bible women. Miss Fanny K. was for several years recording secretary of the Woman's West Tennessee District Association. Being an ambitious young woman the sisters all seemed pleased to encourage her.
The second Stanton meeting was well attended and blessed of the Lord. The spirit of position and power was manifestly growing, hence the same sweet peace
The Durhamville meeting was attended with more powerful spiritual manifestations than any previous annual meeting. Virginia's sister, Mrs. Selena J. G., was used mightily of God to encourage women to live pure, virtuous lives and train up a consecrated, intelligent ministry from the youth of the race to lead the race forward as God directed in His Word. This dear woman, somehow, missed her trunk, but so determined was she to attend this meeting she gathered a few necessary garments together, dropped them in a pillow case, and came on in time to join the wagon train that conveyed the women from the railroad station to the place of meeting. Several sisters came with revelations, visions and prophecies that made indelible impressions upon the large gatherings assembled day after day. Sister Hart had a song of her own composition about "The Bible Band." Sister Broadnax was conspicuous for her deep spiritual testimonies. Sisters B. Crowder and Lizzie S. Taught Bible lessons with telling effect. Such a cruel warfare followed this meeting it is fitting to say that contrary to any previous custom we were red badges that year, significant of the fight that followed, of which we knew nothing when the color was selected. Satan was intensely
As God hath declared in Is. 54: 17, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." We found it true; glory be to God! Virginia was tried to the uttermost, and persecuted with cruel hatred for no other cause than her contention for holiness of heart and uprightness of daily deportment. A general awakening in the study of the Bible followed these great meetings. Bible texts were repeated around the firesides and at the dining-room tables as well as in Sunday school and other religious meetings. A general reform was evidently going on toward the development of the women and the betterment of the home and church life of the people. Women were giving up the vile habits of beer drinking and snuff-dipping, and using their little mites thus saved in getting our Christian literature and contributing to our missionary and educational work. Besides, "Hope," Miss J. P. Moore's paper that was generally used by our women for Bible study, Virginia published at different times "The Women's Messenger" and "The Missionary Helper" to assist in the development of our women's work.
The last Woodlawn district association meeting was greatly hindered because of the opposition that was then raging, hence comparatively few attended, but a sufficient number to justify Virginia in her contention for Bible righteousness and encourage her to continue contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. This opposition that came so heavily upon us only gave wings to our speed. In the course of time the work grew more rapidly and more surely after it passed victoriously through the fiery trials of affliction.
Today women's Christian organizations belt the globe, and the Negro woman is doing a noble part to forward every righteous movement that makes for the peace and uplift of humanity and the glory of God.