Fortunately, God had other plans for Lester Sumrall. At the age of seventeen, he lie dying of tuberculosis without hope of recovery -- at least according to his doctors. It was at this time that God gave him a choice of either preaching the gospel or dying an untimely death. He chose to serve God. Leaving his home in Panama City, Florida, he became a "brush arbor" preacher in the backwoods of Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

"The first eighteen months away from home as a young preacher-boy were my introduction to the school of evangelism. I didn't look much like a preacher in my ninety-two pounds of city-boy finery, but I did manage to convince farmers along the way to open up their schoolhouses and let us hold revival services.

"At times I was brash, abrupt, and negative. Often the people simply laughed at me, which irritated me to no end. One night I was so dejected that I didn't even try to take up an offering, and I didn't ask anyone if they wanted to be saved either. The next morning the host-farmer said, 'Young man, if you don't work, you don't eat. If you plan to stay here any longer, you can feed the hogs.' Then he shoved two big pails of slop into my hands.

"'Feed the Hogs?!' As I carried those heavy buckets, the foul-smelling slop washed over onto my clothes and into my shoes. After that I was really able to identify with the story of the Prodigal Son. I lay down in the middle of the corn field not caring if my clothes were getting dirty and cried out, 'Oh, Lord, maybe I should go home and die!' But the Lord calmed me saying, 'If you will be faithful to Me, Lester, in these little things, I will give you much greater things.'"

Lester stayed with the "country folk" long enough to see them come around and respond to the move of the Holy Spirit. It was also during this time that God showed him, through a vision, the next step he was to take. The vision revealed multitudes, men and women of various nationalities, going to Hell and their blood was on the young preacher's hands. This vision, in much the same way as the first, took Lester's life in an entirely new direction.