In August 1936, the East Oklahoma Pentecostal camp meetings were being held in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Oral was to be licensed as a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness church at one of the last meetings. When he arrived, though, his mind was set on far more than that ordination. He was determined he would not leave those campgrounds without personally experiencing the fire of Pentecost. Oral began to seek God with all his heart for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Roberts Liardon tells us that southern church camp meetings were full of excitement and expectancy. They were begun as early as the 1770s by Methodists, Presbyterians, and those of other denominations who wanted to dedicate time to God in prayer, praise, and teaching. The camp meetings were festive affairs celebrated annually by many church groups. There, friends and family could meet to fellowship and worship God. The Southern farmers, in particular, would take time in late summer to dedicate a week or so to the Lord.
In the earliest days, groups arrived in wagons and pitched tents in small groups around a central location. The largest tent would be the meeting place for all who attended. In later years, camp meeting sites were established with small, family cabins built around a meeting hall, where the congregation would meet during the days and evenings. Today, these gatherings are commonly referred to as conventions or conferences. Whether in tents or cabins, there were praise, prayer, and teaching services all throughout the seven to ten days of each camp meeting, with the power of God falling upon the people in a great anointing. There was also a time of sweet fellowship as fathers, mothers, children, neighbors, and friends enjoyed eating, sleeping, playing, praying, and worshipping God together.