Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Outside the Door

Mrs. Stella Smyth met the three men out at the gate.  The unaffected children had been placed in the care of her sister's family due to the unsettling commotion that her husband and sons relentlessly made throughout the nights.

As they drew nearer the root cellar in which they had been led, Murdock said, "The reek in the air is of death, not of mere possession."  John looked to Westbrook with grim expression upon his face.  They confided nothing else while in Tom Campbell's presence.  They had the countenance of professionals who had dealt with such matters on a regular basis.

Tom Campbell quickly dismounted and neared the root cellar door to unlatch it.  John politely but firmly instructed Mr. Campbell to not do so.  "We must have permission to enter this property Mr. Campbell.  We do not have authority here until we have been given that permission.

 Mr. Campbell replied, "Ms. Stella sent for you, I know that it is alright with her."

"It is perilous to assume such things.  We must be assured of our authority to operate here."  Tom shook his head and looked to his friend's wife.  "Ms. Stella, I think you better talk to these two men personally.  I am at a loss as to what they are saying - what these gentlemen are asking."  It was not the Scottish brogue of John and Murdock's dialect, but the rather the meaning of what they were saying.

Stella then looked toward the two strangers standing before her.  "What is it of me that you need to help my family?" Whatever you need, I will give you gentlemen gladly.  My husband and I have little saved, but I will give you what little money I have; food, animals, whatever we have that you require of us."

John smiled as he approached Mrs. Smyth.  He took off his hat and spoke softly. "I do not come asking for anything from you other than to be welcome in this place and to release you of this burden..."

"That I freely give you sir."

"...but know madam, that this is not going to be easy for you.  If you allow my brother and myself the authority here, this day will be a dreadful day for you.  If you allow the presence of God here, no matter the pain and loss you suffer this day, you and your children will be free of this curse.  You must do this of your own free will, not of mine or of any other."

"I do not understand Reverend, but I give you whatever permission you ask."

John kept his eyes fixed on Stella during their conversation.  His eyes remained on her as a brief silence followed.  He was thinking - he knew - this woman - like so many people before her, in like occasions before, that she had not an inkling as to the situation, the cost of what would need to transpire.

"Very well, thank you Mrs. Smyth.

Mr Campbell asked, "Is there anything I can do?"

Murdock asked Tom, "Are you saved?"

Tom, "Saved?"

"Sir, if you wish to help, you must be saved.  If you don't want harm to come to you, you must be born again," Murdock replied.  "If you don't comprehend what I am asking of you ~ you must not tarry here."

"I don't understand anything you are saying.  I know you two are here to do good and convinced you can help, but I do not understand.  Can you just go in there and help them?"

Murdock understood that he and his brother were peculiar in the eyes of many people.  They had long been accustomed to it.  He frequently prayed that he could speak not just boldly, but clearly and with appropriate compassion. He was at a loss on how to relay to this man the danger at hand.

"A doctor has knowledge as to what is going on beneath the skin of the illness festering within his patient. It would be difficult to explain to a loved one what would appear a cruel invasion a surgery upon the body.  Often to save the body, one must lose an appendage.  It is like this with God.  His concern for us isn't just the external and temporary, but more importantly, the inner part of our being that is unseen and eternal."  Murdock pointed to the door, "We did not come here to wrestle with flesh and blood, but principalities and darkness."

Tom looked down at the ground and then back toward the cellar door. "If you can't use my help, just say it."

Murdock continued, "If we spill out the demonic spirits in this place, they will find the next available vessel to inhabit...and it that vessel might be you!"

"Please help me, just help us,"
pleaded Mrs. Smyth.

John affirmed, "Mrs. Smyth, we have come to help save your family, your children and children's children from a curse.  We have also come to help to save you too Mr. Campbell."  Tom maintained a look of bewilderment.

John and Murdock walked their horses a short distance to a watering troth.  They stood in the the shade and shadow of an ancient oak tree - seemingly to confer with one another.  Mrs. Smyth and Mr. Campbell stood near the root cellar quietly waiting for the two men to do something.  Both men stood at a distance for a while, Stella nor Campbell could not tell which silhouette belonged to who.  They could tell that one of the men was laying hands onto the shoulder of the other.  The other silhouette had a hand raised up toward heaven with what seemed to be a book in it. Tom and Stella strained their eyes on the peculiar scene transpiring beneath the tree.  After thirty minutes or so the two men walked back to the troth to retrieve their horses.  They then led the horses back to where they had been standing and tied the beasts to a low hanging branch of the oak where  it was cool and plenty of shade.

John tucked his Bible back into his saddle bag and retrieved his sawed-off shotgun.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Graham Smyth Family

Tom Campbell, a good neighbor of the Graham Symth family, made the forty mile journey on a mule back to call on John Westbrook.  Mr. Campbell was a miner who took a great chance by leaving his claim behind unattended to seek help from the Reverend Westbrook.  The Smyth family had shown great kindness to the lone Campbell, providing him food among other kind considerations during difficult times.

Mr. Campbell had reported to the Westbrook brothers of a strange illness within the Symth household that had caused a peculiar delirium.  Campbell was asked by Graham's wife Stella to please ride to the Parkertown area to find the Methodist preacher who she'd heard could help in healing people that doctor's were not able to help.

Murdock inquired of Mr Campbell about the signs of the illness.  Campbell could not be specific, only that several members of the family had been taken ill, including the father.  He could not explain much, other than they were not themselves, and no longer of sound mind.  He also stated that Ms. Stella said that a doctor did come by for a visit.  She was told that the illness could not be cured with medicine and was extremely contagious.  Ms. Stella said that the doctor seemed very fearful during his visit and recommended getting word to the horseback preacher that he heard was in Parkertown.

Before leaving the Symth cabin, Tom Campbell had to tie up his friend Graham and his youngest sons in the root cellar.   Campbell said that they recognized who he was and spoke to him, but they were not in their right minds.  It was evident that they were not just afflicted in the head but could cause terrible harm to the rest of the family ~ perhaps the community.  Ms. Stella and the other children in the household were not safe to be left alone with the affected members of the family who had been left wandering around on the premises.  Ms. Stella had locked the sick members out of the cabin in order to protect the rest of the family.

Tom Campbell with the help of other neighbors arrived to assist catching Graham and his two sons, tie them up, and lock them in the root cellar.  A farmer promised that he and one of his black men would watch over the household as Campbell made the trip.  Tom Campbell vowed to Ms. Stella Graham that he'd do his best to bring the healing preacher back.

Both John and Murdock Westbrook left promptly with Tom Campbell.

From the publication: Old Demons in Early America (1920)
-to be continued

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Letter to Franklin Young

Reverend John Amos Westbrook
Dear Franklin,

Forgive my late response to your letter due to my many health issues.  There are days that I find it possible to grasp at a writing implement for any period of time.  I hope you find my poor penmanship legible.  I am amused at each shaky letter and line I produce.  I seem to ache all the time. My hands grow less steady with each passing year.  I am however still and forever steadfast in the Lord.

Murdock now lives with his daughter's family, any letter received from him will have been transcribed by Louise because of his failed eyesight.  I could no longer care for him properly because now I can barely care for myself.  Murdock lives just only a few miles from here.  I only see him on Sundays at the chapel.  We share the family pew and still have lots to tell each other even after all the years we've spent together.

I have not read nor heard of the book you mentioned in your letter.  I never heard of anyone using a cross to ward off or defeat the
nosferatu.  It isn't the crucifix that saves, but rather the product of the crucifix, the blood of Christ in us where we all find salvation.  A cross to a man who is not reborn is as useless as a twig against a bear attack.  Learn to separate what is scripturally sound from that which is conjured writings from the imaginative folly of man.

Your grandfather Murdock and I were not hunters of familiar spirits, but rather fishers of men.  We spent most of our service building up the body over the heart breaking task of burning corpses.  We faithfully executed each task at hand no matter how delightful or distasteful the chore.  Our mission was the sharing of God's perfect love and his cleansing salvation, always encouraging holiness unto the Lord!

It is unfortunate that our lives have been misrepresented.  The story lends itself to fables being interjected into what actually happened.  Our works have been misunderstood, but what is most important is that we heard the call and went forth.  Your grandfather and I did what we did and are not accountable to those who read from a distance.  Our pursuit was always The Kingdom.  Each soul is of eternal being, the body only temporal.  To consider us "ministers obsessed only with the possessed" simply isn't writing the truth.  The author of that article you shared is not an authority on the subject.

I am a little hesitant sharing our experience because so much has been sensationalized about Murdock's and my long journey together.  It is good to seek knowledge about such things, but not healthy to dwell on them.  We must know our enemies yet not give them more credit than necessary.  Lucifer isn't the almighty God's equal.  The darkness in this world does not equal the brilliance of who God is.  Darkness in this world, the darkness present in man is merely a void where there is no light.  Walk in the light dear young Franklin.

John Wesley once wrote, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

God bless and keep you,

 Letter dated 22/04/1886

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the circuit rider and his brother

John A. Westbrook
John Amos Westbrook (1811-1888) was known as a saddle back preacher, a Methodist circuit rider, Born in Scotland's Isle of Sky, migrated to the United States along with his brother Murdock Malcolm Westbrook (1808 - 1866).  John and Murdoch rode together even though Murdock wasn't in the ministry.  Murdock was a devout Christian, a hunter and tent maker by trade, spent the majority of his life journeying and ministering with his brother.

There was a long period of time when John Westbrook was sworn in as marshal. The job offered pay to help fund his ministry.  He covered large territories in his circuit and he had good relationship with the people of all the communities of which he served.  Murdock never served in any official capacity other than being with and supporting his brother John's ministry and work.

It was said that Murdock was a quiet man, but when he spoke, he was said to have been more eloquent than his younger brother.  "His prayers were charged with great faith of being answered and were."  John's sermons were simple and usually involved merely reading from scriptures.  People were more drawn to John because he possessed a genuine compassion and empathy for all of mankind, finding great favor among the communities of his charge. 
If a visit to an area became prolonged stay,  Murdock would usually venture away from the population, explore the solitude of the forests and mountains to hunt and commune with God.

Both men had fine singing voices, wrote hymns, and often shared in ministry together.  There were seasons throughout their lives that they were apart, and whenever Murdock returned, their work together would continue on as before.  The book Holy Fire on the Frontier (pub.1811) touches on key events of John and Murdock Westbrook's lives.

A controversial and seldom mentioned aspect about their ministry is their involvement with the purge of nosferatu. 
John's wife, Llewelyn wrote of the brother's encounters with the nosferatu in the United States in her Diary of Rev. John Westbrook.  "John and Murdock experienced the tragedy of losing both parents and six siblings to what they referred to as the vampir sort.  John and Murdock discovered their personal salvation and deliverance when they gave their young lives to God."
-Holy Fire on the Frontier 

"The vampir sort feed primarily upon the blood of their own clan.  I witnessed this as a child, and saw many that I loved dearly fall prey to the demonic presence that found entrance into the home by a passed member of the family.  Once within the home, the entire bloodline would quickly destroyed in the area.  Salvation is the only salvation for those still living.  An awakening among the family is the only way to lessen the spread.  What I have discovered and found true is that the vampir sort thirst for the blood of their own kin.  Any one related or distantly related are prey to this form of evil.  The unnatural course of the vampir sort is to eventually kill a family tree by sapping the life from each living root.  When a man is saved, the blood is a new blood.  The demonic nosferatu detest the presence of Christ in the temple that courses through the veins of a reborn man.  This does not mean that a Christian can not be killed by the vampir sort, just as a Christian can succumb to the fatal wounds inflicted by that of a wild animal.  It does mean that the vampir does not thirst for that which will finish him.  The blood of Christ is a poison to many forms of these familiars."
-Rev JW

Murdock M. Westbrook

"It is not enough to hunt down and destroy the vampir sort, the family remaining must be saved to be saved from the unholy thirsts of these familiar spirits.  The kin remaining must individually become new creatures, baptized of water and share in Holy Communion, experience entire sanctification.  A transformed man is no longer under the curse of the world no matter how dark the principality."
-Murdock M Westbrook

John and Murdock Westbrook went about their lives taking opposition and troubles in stride.  Nosterafu cleansing was dealt with as the two encountered it.  They were called to help from communities within and sometimes outside of John's circuit.  Like any preacher of their time, John tended to all needs of the body, not just that of deliverance and cleansing of the vampir sort.  There were those in that day and since who wrongfully refer to them as vampire hunters.  There is nothing written that qualifies the ministry of John and Murdock as such.  Their lives were spent not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  The Westbrooks saw their primary mission living out the love of Christ, commonly seen ministering to the sick, the widowed and the orphaned.  They fearlessly served God with their lives.