“Old Time Religion”

Last week Greg, Callie and I attended two nights of the 34th Annual Robert Sheffey Camp Meeting. This event takes place in July, in Trigg, VA, just a few minutes down a winding road from our home. Once you turn off of that road, you pass a church, a cemetery, a prayer chapel and the birthplace (transplanted from its original location) of Robert Sheffey.

Mr. Sheffey was a Methodist evangelist and circuit-riding preacher from about 1854 to his death in 1902. He was known for his eccentric nature and power of prayer.He had an unyielding faith in God and believed that God would take care of you if you simply asked and had faith. He proved this many times over along his travels. He eventually ministered, along with “singing and shouting”, to more than fourteen mountain counties spanning Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.

I hadn’t attended the camp meeting in many years and I suppose until this time, I never really took much interest in the history that surrounds it. One evening while Callie was attending the youth event before the service, Greg and I wandered around the cemetery and found our way into the Sheffey Prayer Chapel, a tiny log building consisting of three pews and an altar. I sat down alone for a minute and just took it in, saying a prayer.

We made our way toward the grounds and stopped to visit the small log home that was the birthplace of Mr. Sheffey. It was as small as my living room, one room with a fireplace. It was hard to imagine a family living in such a small space.

Once you travel the remainder of the dirt road, you come to an opening in the trees. It’s a step back in time as the camp meeting takes place there under a roof with no walls and a wood chip floor. Although not entirely primitive (there is electricity for a sound system and bathrooms) there is still something inspiring about being a part of something that started long ago by someone who had an amazing relationship with God.

One particular evening, I walked to the car for my jacket and all I heard was the sound of the choir singing and the birds in the trees chiming in. What better place to spend time praising Him. After the choir sang, and the minister brought his word, there was an altar call. No matter who it is, whether I know them or not, there is something amazing about watching someone commit their life to someone so much greater than themselves.

I left there both nights, with a joy and peace in my heart. Being in the stillness of God’s beauty and in the company of others praising Him and giving Him glory did my heart good. There was a presence that only someone who knows God can feel. It was beautiful.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature – Mark 16:15


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