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mary mcaffee

Mary McAffee Story: A Totally Committed Life

Big blessings come from a quiet, faithful life

Henry Clay Morrison was a Methodist preacher before he became president of Asbury College and founded Asbury Theological Seminary in 1923. This is his story of a remarkable women in his first parish in Stanford, Ky. around 1887.

“When I got to Stanford, Ky. as the new pastor, I stayed at a boarding house with a most delightful family. The Baptist pastor, Rev. John Bruce, a single man, was also boarding with the same family.

When I inquired about the spiritual state of the community, Rev. Bruce said, “Well, it’s none too good. We need a revival. But there is a wonderful woman down at the toll gate on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town. Her name is Mary McAfee. She is a most remarkable Christian; a little peculiar in her views, but wonderfully filled with the Spirit. If we had more like her, the churches would be in much better condition. By the way, she is a member of your church.”

Rev. Mallory pastored the Presbyterian Church. He called to see me a few days after my arrival, a most delightful gentleman. He talked earnestly about the need of a revival in our town. By and by, he said, “Have you met Mary McAfee? She is a member of your church. She keeps the toll gate down on the Crab Orchard Pike, about a half a mile out of town. She has some queer notions, but she lives very close to her Lord.”

Well, you may be sure I was becoming deeply interested in Sister McAfee, so I went down to see her. I found a very modest, little maiden woman who must have been past forty years of age. She told me a remarkable story of how she had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit in sanctifying power. How that after being bedridden for seven years she was miraculously healed, and that the Lord was graciously using her in the salvation of souls.

I had never met anyone to whom Jesus seemed a more real, gracious and present Savior. Tears trickled down my cheeks while she talked. I asked for an interest in her prayers and went away profoundly impressed.

We had a skeptic in the town; you always find one in a County Seat. I went up to his office and had a talk with him. He was a bit sour; he criticized the religious life of some of the men in the churches and was disposed to find fault. I was a bit embarrassed. But then he said, “There is a little woman, though, by the name of McAfee, who keeps the toll gate down on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town. If I could get the kind of religion she has, I would like to have it.”

I remembered that my Master had likened a consecrated, holy life to a “city set on a hill that could not be hid.” When ministers visited me, I would take them down to the toll gate and ask Sister McAfee to tell her experience. Each one was deeply moved. She was never excited, never afraid. She was resting in the calm of full redemption and perfect love. Her education was limited, but her comprehension of scriptural truth was most remarkable and her thinking wonderfully clear. She prayed earnestly that I might be wholly consecrated, entirely saved from sin, and filled with the Holy Spirit. She was a power in our revivals. Everybody believed in her. Her testimonies were quiet and convincing. She walked with God. She breathed the spirit of prayer, forgiveness and love. People who came in contact with her longed to know more about Jesus.

A newspaper reporter went down, had a talk with her and published her testimony in the Lousiville Courier Journal. Rev. W. W. Hooper, down in Mississippi, read her testimony and traveled 600 miles(!) to Stanford to ask her about her experience and ask for her prayers. While there, he received the baptism with the Holy Spirit in sanctifying power. He returned to Mississippi to preach a full salvation in Christ received by faith.

It would take a case full of books to tell how the fire spread. Sinners were converted, preachers were sanctified, missionaries went out across the seas. Years passed. Little Mary’s health failed and she faded gradually. Then her saintly spirit, on wings of love and faith, rose to meet and dwell with her blessed Savior forevermore.

The good people of Stanford sent for me to say some words at her funeral. As I stood by the plain coffin and looked at her quiet saintly face that seemed to tell of a soul that had entered into eternal rest, I hadn’t a doubt but directly and indirectly 100,000 souls had been touched for good through the holy life and the testimony of a little maiden woman who kept the tollgate on the Crab Orchard Pike about a half mile out of town near Stanford, Ky.”

This article from The Pentecostal Herald, Nov/Dec 1988