If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?
On January 21, 1968, Estus W. Pirkle preached at Camp Zion in Myrtle, Mississippi. In this sermon, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? , Pirkle referenced a portion of the Bible where Jeremiah asks God why others who do not serve God are often more fortunate than he. God tells Jeremiah that he has not been challenged enough. "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5) Pirkle then asks the congregation, "If you can't serve God now, what will you do when the communists take over? I want to ask you how you are going to face that? [sic] God is not interested in us coming to Him with our complaints. I believe He wants to ask everyone one of us, What are you going to do later, if you are tired out now?'" (7)
Communism, patriotism, and Christianity figure prominently in his sermon. The first half of the sermon focuses on remaining strong for your children, marriage, and church. Pirkle emphasizes how schools, television, fashion designers, and others are bad influences for children and spouses. His constant reminder to the congregation is to strive against these temptations.
The second half of the sermon focuses on how communists are taking over the world and how Christians need to persevere in order to fight communism. The first portion of the address occasionally mentioned the fight against communism. These references were in preparation for Pirkle's stern warning to the congregation about the topic. He discusses how Christians need to fight communism while providing examples of torture techniques employed by communists and the many ways that communists were attempting to destroy Christianity.
Pirkle's message in this sermon was so well-received that he converted it to film in collaboration with Ron Ormond, a former exploitation film producer/director. After surviving a plane crash, Ormond focused his filmmaking on producing Christian films including the ones that he worked on with Pirkle. Their first film together was an adaptation of If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? This film was heavily circulated in churches and church camps in the 1970s with the film still being shown today especially in Latin America.
Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives owns several of Pirkle's publications including the transcript (McCain BX6333 .P5752 1968) and film (McCain BX6333 .P5752 2003) for If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?
If you are interested in viewing these materials, visit Special Collections in McCain Library Room 305. The library is open Monday-Friday from 9:00-4:00. For more information, contact Jennifer Brannock at Jennifer.Brannock@usm.edu or 601.266.4347.
Text by Jennifer Brannock, Curator of Rare Books & Mississippiana