3.5 miles North of Weleetka on Hw 75
Pastor: Donnie LeForce
The History of our churches and preachers
3.5 miles North of Weleetka on Hw 75
Pastor: Donnie LeForce
HW 75 (3232) on E1385 Road
Located one mile East of HW 75 South.
Non Free Will Baptist Church celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2008.
Located one block east of HW 75 on Celia Berryhill Road.
Osage Free Will Baptist Church
West Of Pryor,OK. Turn on to N427 road off of HW 20. Go 1 mile.
Cole Free Will Baptist Church is located NE of Pryor,Ok on Cole Strang Road.
“Yet He Still Speaketh”
(A look at the life of Reverend Jake Gage) By : Sam Ketcher
It was a Sunday evening at Valley Heights Free Will Baptist church. We were all gathered there and some how the conversation turned to a Free Will Baptist minister by the name of Jake Gage.
I was amazed at how they spoke of him that night. Even though he had been gone for years , his prayers and labor had not been forgotten. As I listened to the stories that night I can tell you that this man was a true “Man of God”. I heard stories of how he would walk for miles to go and preach the Gospel. How he would walk the hills at night praying for God’s people. They said that night, that when he prayed, you knew that he was a man that truly talked to God.
Bro. Jake was a son of a circuit riding preacher, and he himself after his conversion was called to preach. He began his ministry during “The Great Depression”, in a time when there was a famine in the land. Not just a famine of bread but of hearing the Word of the Lord.
But God began to lay the foundation for revivals that would come to Oklahoma and Arkansas many years before in the heart of Jake’s father (Jerry Gage), and it would not end with Jake. For Jake’s son (Howard) would also be called upon to take up the mantle of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But for Howard, it would not just be for Oklahoma and the surrounding states. It would be as a missionary as well.
Bro. Jake also made the history books. In a book called “Highlights of Mayes County” there is a section devoted entirely to Mr.Gage. Written by his granddaughter (Sue Wilcox) in 1977. Here is a small part of what she shared about her grandfather:
“In 1932, something happened that was to change the entire course of Jake’s life. He was visiting at the farm of George Washington Benton on Saline Creek. Uncle Wash,as he was affectionately called, was an old time preacher. He did not wait for a church situation, but led Jake to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour while they were talking in the horse lot.
“Jake never planned to preach, but he did witness without hesitation to the change Christ had made in his life. When he heard that one of his friends, Bob McClendon, was dying of T.B., he was concerned that Bob did not know Christ. He went to the McClendon home and continued working with Bob until he became a Christian. When Mr. McClendon died, his children came to Jake and said their dad had requested that he preach the funeral. At first, he refused but then agreed to do his best, so the first message Jake preached was a funeral message in 1935.”
“Jake’s first revival was at the Paris School House by Spavinaw Creek. He says that he really didn’t know anything about the Bible and that the people who heard him didn’t either. But that they all prayed together and the Lord blessed and there were 33 conversions.”
“In 1936, Jake left his son, Howard,(who was also a FWB preacher & missionary) to help care for the farm, Callie, and the younger children, and he walked to Arkansas for a series of revivals. At Kingston, there were 105 conversions; and as a result, a pool hall, a whiskey store, and a beer joint were closed. Five-hundred people attended the baptizing that followed and Jake stood barefoot in a riverbed while he baptised sixty-five of these converts. He remembers having blisters on the bottoms of his feet the size of quarters.”
“He also had revivals in the court houses of Berryville, and Eureka Springs. At Berryville, he remembers that the sheriff and judge were saved. When Jake came home after eight weeks of revival, he had walked 300 miles and was carrying his offerings ($18.00) tied in a handkerchief.” (Sue Wilcox)
I also received a copy of a 1948 article from the Daily Time’s about Jake and his ministry courtesy of his son Gene Gage and his granddaughter, Connie Poorboy. It was reported that in a time when many were leaving the rural churches for churches in the cities, the rural church that Jake was pastoring (Cole FWB) was growing.
This was done according to the reporter, Ramon Martin, without “any fancy membership campaign, there haven’t been any prizes offered for Sunday School attendance, and there have been no contests. There has been no fanfare. They haven’t
imported a youth director and they haven’t brought evangelists into the neighborhood to build up religious interest. Preacher Jake is his own evangelist, and his own youth director.”
There were two reasons given as to why the church was growing. It was said that ” He lives his religion, and he talks the farmers’ language.” But of course we know that there were three reasons.
The first being by the mercy of God that He poured out His Holy Spirit upon this preacher, and from there it overflowed into the church!
“Every Free Will Baptist Preacher in Oklahoma probably has a Jake Gage story.” Said Bill Gage who is the grandson of Bro. Gage. I happen to believe that he is right. It was some time ago while sitting in the living room of my grandmother, Wilma Wells. I shared with her that I had been called upon to do the funeral of a little baby. When my grandmother told me of a day many years ago when she went to a funeral of a small child and Jake Gage was the one giving the message. She said that Bro. Gage had told the story of how sometime’s a shepherd when trying to get the sheep to cross over the stream, would take a little lamb and would place it on the other side. So that the sheep would see the lamb, and follow . He said that sometimes God will take a small child and place them on the other side so that we may cross over as well. After all those years my grandmother never forgot those words. So, as I stood before a mourning family at the grave side of their little lamb, I echoed the same words that Bro. Jake Gage spoke so many years before.
I doubt that Bro. Jake ever knew that his life spent following Christ would inspire fellow believers and preachers for years to come. But I am sure he does now. For many more jewels are being added to his crown. For the scripture’s tell us in Hebrews 11:4, though Able had gone on to be with the Lord ” yet he still speaketh.” The same can be said of Jake Gage.
Bro. Jake Gage’s ministry lives on today. In the lives of his family, the churches he ministered in, and in the lives of the people his testimony continues to touch.
It is said of the Old Testament Prophet Samuel, that ” The Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.” I believe the same can be said of the Reverend Jake Gage.
To God be the glory, forever!
Howard Gage (1914-2005)
(Article written by Sue Wilcox about, her father FWB missionary and pastor, Howard Gage in 1999.)
Father’s Day is coming soon and with all of the commercials and ads in the papers, my thoughts have turned even more than usual to my own daddy. How blessed I am to have been born a child of Howard Gage!
I have such clear and wonderful memories of early childhood on the farm in the Welch community east of Pryor. I loved shadowing daddy whether he was in the garden, the fields, the chicken house, or wherever his days took him. Most of the time, I was in my make-believe world yet I was always reassured by the sound of Daddy’s songs and hymns whistled in perfection. I loved the church and the people at Greenbrier that he pastored and prayed for and cared for and loved.
When I was about to begin the 7th grade, Daddy left my brother W.H. on the farm and moved with our mother, my sister Ruth and me to Checotah to pastor a church there. It was then that daddy picked up a hammer and began working part time to help support his family. Mother began working outside the home also; Ruth was busy with high school activities, so I got to be daddy’s helper. Many times when he made home or hospital visit’s to the members of his congregation, I went with him I also became even more active in his ministries because I either played the piano, or organ, or I sang and helped with the music in the revival services he would preach. I learned so many things just by getting to travel with daddy or by listening to his sermons. I loved his heart of compassion and his heart of love. I love to refer to the bible that I carried at the time because it has many of his texts marked and as I read them, it is as if some of those sermons are video taped in my memory.
When I went away to college in Nashville, Tennessee, it was a real adjustment for both daddy and me. It was while I was there that daddy and mother left the states for West Africa to serve as missionaries. Daddy as a builder, mother as a medical aide. How thankful I was that God’s love knows no distance. I knew that I was daily wrapped in their prayers. Daddy built a hospital in the bush, built homes for other missionaries, and a dormitory at the christain boarding school for the missionaries’ children. His heart overflowed in that whistle that had given me reassurance as a child. His songs were a joy to the ears of all who heard them in Africa as well.
Daddy and mother have been back on our farm since they retired several years ago. How blessed I still am to be able to touch base with them daily! How thankful I am that my children and grandchildren have had the joy of knowing them and sharing in this part of their lives.
Now in 1999, when I look back on my life, how very blessed I have been just to be the daughter of Howard Gage. As a peacher’s kid, I learned to share daddy with others at an early age, but I never once doubted my own importance nor the importance of mother, W.H., nor Ruth to him. When I think of his life both home and public, both on the farm and across the United States and the World, I cannot ever remember at a time I wasn’t proud of my daddy. What a heritage he has given us!
By Sue Wilcox (1999)
Jake William Gage was born on February 5, 1891, to Jerry and Margaret Gage in Madison County, Arkansas. He was the third child of eight and was only able to attend school through the third grade.
In 1911, Jake married Viola Packard. Shortly after their first son, Lee, was born, they moved from Arkansas to a place on Grand River in Mayes County, Oklahoma. Two more sons, Howard and Riley, were born to this marriage. Viola passed away in 191 8.
In 1919, Jake married Viola’s sister, Callie Collins. Callie had one son Charley, by her former marriage; and she and Jake had five children: Ralph, Grace, Lucille, Mary Alice, and Gene. Mary Alice lived one day.
In 1932, something happened that was to change the entire course of Jake’s life. He was visiting at the farm of George Washington Benton on Saline Creek. Uncle Wash, as he was affectionately called, was an old time preacher. He did not wait for a church situation, but led Jake to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour while they were talking in the horse lot.
Jake never planned to preach, but he did witness without hesitation to the change Christ had made in his life. When he heard that one of his friends, Bob McClendon, was dying of T.B., he was concerned that Bob did not know Christ. He went to the McClendon home and continued working with Bob until he became a Christian. When Mr. McClendon died, his children came to Jake and said their dad had requested that he preach the funeral. At first, he refused but then agreed to do his best, so the first message Jake preached was a funeral message in 1935.
Jake’s first revival was”‘ at the Paris School House by Spavinaw Creek. He says that he really didn’t know anything about the Bible and that the people who heard him didn’t either, but that they all prayed together and the Lord blessed and there were 33 conversions.
In 1936, Jake left his son, Howard, to help care for the farm, Callie, and the younger children, and he walked to Arkansas for a series of revivals. At Kingston, there were 105 conversions; and as a result, a pool hall, a whiskey store, and a beer joint were closed. Five-hundred people attended the baptising that followed and Jake stood barefooted in a riverbed while he baptised sixty-five of these converts. He remembers having blisters on the bottoms of his feet the size of quarters. He also had revivals in the court houses of Berryville, and Eureka Springs. At Berryville, he remembers that the sheriff and judge were saved. When Jake came home after eight weeks of revival, he had walked 300 miles and was carrying his offerings ($1 8.00) tied in a handkerchief.
In 1940, Callie died. In 1942, Jake married Ethyl Sampsel. Ethyl had two children, Pat and Ethelene, by her former marriage. Ethyl worked by Jake’s side as he built and then postered the Cole Free Will Baptist Church for eight years. Cole was the first Free Will Baptist Church in it’s association to own it’s own building and support a full time pastor. When Jake resigned Cole, he postered the Low-ery Church and built a church there. He and Ethyl moved to Pryor in 1946 and commuted to Lowery for eight years. When he resigned the Lowery Church, Jake began postering the First Free Will Baptist Church in Pryor. After six years, he resigned to go into full time evangelistic work. Jake has preached in revivals in 125 different churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, California, New Mexico, and Idaho.
Ethyl died in January, 1 976 after thirty-four years of marriage and ministry with Jake. Jake is 86 years old and lives in Chouteau at the Meadowbrook Nursing Home which is owned by his stepson, Pat Sampsel. He has twenty-eight grandchildren and thirty-three great grandchildren. He still preaches every opportunity he has. As recently as March, 1977, he and his friend, Rev. Dee Watkins, were in revival at West Side Free Will Baptist Church in Pryor,Ok.
Written By: Sue Wilcox (Grandaughter of Jake Gage)
For the book: Highlights of Mayes County (Which can be found at the Pryor Public Library) Page 91-98