Louis Albert Banks.

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Author of ^^ Religious Life of
Famous Americans'^






n 1924 L





Just a Word with the Reader.

Personally I have found life to be the most
interesting thing in the world. Nothing has ever
helped me so much as a source of fresh impulse
and encouragement to increased endeavor as the
story of success on the part of some one else.
And surely that was the Master's way of encour-
aging his disciples for all time to come. The
stories which Jesus told, and the stories which
are related concerning the people whom he
healed and who were converted under his
ministry, are a constant source of power and
inspiration to Christian people to-day. We get
faith and courage to cast out devils from men
now because of the picture we have of that
redeemed man of Gadara whom Christ trans-
formed and sent forth to tell to his friends the
good news of salvation.

The stories in this book are my own. They
are culled here and there from a great storehouse
of such incidents with which God has blessed me
in the course of my ministry. It has been a joy
to write them, because the happiest memories I
have are connected with incidents such as are
narrated on these pages. I have written them,
and now give them to the printer, sincerely
hoping and praying that they may give impulse
to many another to know the joy of winning souls,

Louis Albert Banks.

New York City,



Preface 5

1. Preliminary Skirmishes 7

II. Cayuse and Saddle-bags 25

III. The Capture of the Street-car Man 39

IV. How the Young Bartender Was Saved . . 55
V. The Winning of the Young Merchant

ANT) His Bride 69

VI. A Grocer's Clerk W^ho Became a Mighty

Archer for the Lord 81

VII. How AN Oregon Town Was Captured 93

VIII. A Servant Girl's Quartet 109

IX. An International Incident 123

X. Won Through Friendship 137

XI. An Old Saint's Surprise 149

XII. The Boy in the Dry-goods Box 165

XIII. Wayside Conversions 177

XIV. The Railroad Revival 189

XV. On the Trail of a Soul 201

XVI. A Wayside Capture 213



IT was my providential fortune to
be born and brought up on the
extreme frontier in Oregon and
Washington. My father's log cabin stood
within hearing distance of the roar of the
breakers that beat against the Pacific
Coast line. It was there in a little coun-
try college that I received my education,
having been prepared by my mother, so
that I entered the classes with full-grown
men when but eleven years of age. At
sixteen I went with my family to Eastern
Washington, with all a college boy's
dreams and hopes; but deep down under-
neath was a conscious undercurrent of
conviction that my life work was to be
found as a preacher of the Gospel and a
winner of souls.

10 Soul-Winning Stories.

I had not reached my seventeenth
year when the church of which I was
then a member, the United Brethren,
licensed me to preach, and at a camp-
meeting on the httle Touchet River?
where the session of the annual Confer-
ence was being held, they set me to preach
my first sermon. It was a Monday after-
noon. The camp ground was in a beau-
tiful grove, and a large platform, roofed
over, with a board across the front, about
waist high to the preacher, served as a
pulpit. There was a large congregation,
and I was extraordinarily nervous. I
had written many essays and orations
in school, but had made no written
preparation for this sermon. Among
the circle of preachers with whom I was
acquainted in my boyhood written ser-
mons were the one unpardonable sin in
a minister. The result was that, though
I had carefully thought out my sermon,
I made a poor estimate of the length of
time it would take me to deliver it. My

Preliminary Skirmishes. 11

text was, ^Tor the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord/^ I went at it
with all the force I had, and delivered
my introduction, my firstly, secondly,
and thirdly, and then, as I once heard
Spurgeon say, I gave my ''moving ex-
hortations'' and finished up. It was
done in exactly eight minutes. I then
quit, having said everything that I had
prepared to say on the subject. In later
years I have often congratulated myself
on the fact that I stopped when I got

One amusing experience of that first
sermon I can never forget. There was
an old brother, with white beard and a
bald head, sitting right in front, almost
under the pulpit. He seemed greatly
pleased at seeing so youthful a specimen
in the pulpit. At that time I weighed
but eighty-five pounds and was only five
feet and a half high. My boyish appear-
ance stirred the old man's soul, and on

12 Soul-Winning Stories.

the slightest provocation he burst forth
in hallelujahs and amens. He gave
them out with such an explosive force
that, nervously strung up as I was, he
made me start every time. But, poor
old fellow, he got his ^'come-up-ance,''
as they used to say out there. There
was a big brass candlestick, with a good
chunk of candle left in it, standing on
the board in front of me. It had been
left over from the night before. Just as
I got well going in my sermon, one of
my gestures took that candlesti^^k in its
sweep and over it went, striking the man
in the middle of an amen, and also in
the middle of his bald head. It was a
great dampener on the brother, and
the sermon was so short that he did not
recover himself in time to make any
further encouraging remarks.

Very soon after receiving my license
to preach I went off on an autumn
preaching tour with an old man who had
a license to exhort. We must have

Preliminary Skirmishes. 13

made an interesting couple to lookers-on^
He was as old as I was young. He had
a long white beard that reached below
his belt. He was not an educated man,
except as education may be had with
dealing with the hard experiences of
life; but he was a good man. He loved
God and he loved the souls of men. He
had a tremendous voice and could be
heard a long way, and his gift in prayer
was something phenomenal. He is one
of the few people I have known whose
prayers seemed to be inspired of the Holy
Ghost. We were together some three
months, traveling nearly all the time on
horseback, preaching almost every night,
and on Sundays two or three times. The
combination was one well calculated to
draw large audiences. My extreme youth
was a great attraction among the people,
the little country newspaper spoke kindly
about me, and the news spread every-
where, so that we usually spoke to large
numbers of people for a country region.

14 Soul-Winning Stories.

The rapid tour, however, gave httle
opportunity for serious evangehstic work,
upon which my heart was set, and on
our return home in the early winter I
was willing to disband, as the old man
had wearied, and begin work by myself.

The region being sparsely settled and
preachers scarce, their circuits covering
hundreds of miles, the demand for any
one who could preach the Gospel in sim-
pHcity and from a loving heart was very

After a week or two at home I decided
to go to a community about a half day^s
ride from where my father lived and hold
my first series of evangelistic meetings.
I rode into the community by noon, went
to the school-house, which was the only
place of meeting in the neighborhood,
saw the school-teacher, and announced
that I would preach there that night at
''early candle lighting.^' Then I rode
on around the outlying sections of the
community, visiting houses that would

Preliminary Skirmishes. 15

not be likely to hear the word from the
school-house, telling them about the
meeting and inviting them to attend
that evening. This was the universal
custom, as there were no churches and
but few Christian people. The preacher
was literally a seeker after souls, a shep-
herd gathering up a scattered flock, most
of whom were as wild as the wolves. At
noon I had stopped and made friends
with a family who gladly gave me my
dinner, and in the evening had taken
my supper at the last house where I
called before dark. The people were
hospitable, the country was new, preach-
ers were not often seen, and the humblest
of them were always made welcome,
except at the most churlish firesides.

I went early to the school-house that
night and watched the people come in.
Only one man was earlier than I, and he
was building a wood fire in the stove.
He had brought with him one candle,
which he put in the neck of a bottle and

16 Soul-Winning Stories.

stood it on the school-teacher ^s desk,"'
which served for a pulpit. But soon the
people began to come, in wagons and
on horseback, and as nearly every family
brought a candle, they were soon throw-
ing out their light on the bare walls of
the school-house and on the live and
interesting faces of men, women and
children who filled the little room to

The school-teacher led the singing,
and we sang the old hymns which every-
body knew (and knows), for I do not
suppose there were more than two copies
of any one hymn-book in that whole
neighborhood. I read the Scriptures and
prayed and preached — all in less than half
an hour. It was many months after
that before I ever preached longer than
fifteen minutes. But I preached on
great themes: Death, Hell, Heaven,
the Judgment, the Atonement, Pardon,'
Repentance, Salvation through Faith —
these were the themes, sharply defined,'

Preliminary Skirmishes. 17

presented without doubt and a boyish
love and enthusiasm, which, blessed by
the grace of God, often seemed to
bear everything before them. I never
preached in those days without inviting
immediate confession of Christ. But
though on that first evening the people
had heard the Word with attention, and
some even with emotion, there was no
response, and I was correspondingly

I went home with one of the families
present, and remained over night, having
announced a meeting for the next night.
The next day I spent riding still farther
afield, spreading the news of the meeting
and coming back to preach at night. A
still larger crowd was present. Indeed,
every foot of standing room was taken,
and great interest and a deep spirit of
conviction seemed to pervade the au-
dience; but not a move of any kind could
I secure.

I was at my wits' end, and almost

18 Soul-Winning Stories.

ready to believe that my call to the
ministry had been revoked. That night,
however, I went home with a new family,
where the woman of the house was a
Christian. We were scarcely seated in
the house before she said, ^'Now, my boy,
you must not feel that it is your fault
that the meetings are not going better,
for I know exactly where the trouble
lies.^' I was awake in a minute when
she said that. Then she told me that the
two wealthiest men in the community,
the men having the largest and best
stocked ranches and the most influence,
had been in a feud for a long time and
would not speak to one another. To
make it worse, one of these men was the
son-in-law of the other, and the family
quarrel had been very intense and bitter.
And what was still more serious, from my
standpoint, both families were professed
Christians. This bitter feud had been a
scandal and a shame to Christianity in
the neighborhood and lay like a giant

Preliminary Skirmishes. 19

boulder across my path in trying to win
the people to Christ. If Christians were
going to act in that way, the rest of the
neighborhood did not want to be Chris-

This was an eye-opener. But, hard as
was the problem presented, it greatly
relieved my mind. The next morning,
after prayerful consideration, and pledg-
ing this good woman to pray for me, I
set out to heal that feud.

I have never seen a person more as-
tonished than was this old man when I
went to him and laid my plea before him.
I told him that he was standing in the
way of the Holy Spirit's winning souls
in that community; that, as he was the
older man, he could afford to be generous.
But he was proud and hard and would
not yield.

Then I went to the younger man and
put it to him that men and women were
living there without hope of heaven, and
he was making Christ seem ugly to them,

20 Soul-Winning Stories.

and that, being the younger man, it was
the right thing for him, out of considera-
tion for his father-in-law's age, to go more
than half way toward a reconciliation.

The houses were only three-quarters of
a mile apart, and I kept the road hot all
day. Early in the day I found that the
mother and the daughter were very
tender toward each other, and that their
hearts were with me in my attempt to
make peace. I had supper with the
elder family, and, finally, as I was going
away to the evening service, the old man
agreed to announce a morning service at
eleven o'clock the next day at his house,
saying that if his son-in-law would come
to the service, he would forgive him and
make peace.

Of course this was a great start toward
victory, and I went before the crowd
in the school-house in triumphant spirit;
but there was still no response to my
passionately earnest appeal to them to
become Christians. But at the close of

Preliminary Skirmishes. 21

the service, when I announced the morn-
ing service at the home of the old man,
there was great excitement. People
turned to each other with looks of great-
est interest. Everybody seemed to feel
that something was going to happen. So
great was this feeling that the next day,
though the service was at such an early
hour, work was dropped, and the big
living-room and dining-room and the
adjoining bedroom of the old-fashioned
farmhouse were crowded with people.
I had a hard time that morning, getting
the young man to give in sufficiently to
come ; but his wife helped me, and at last
he yielded. When he arrived, with his
family, just before the meeting began,
the excitement among the neighbors
present was up to fever heat. I have
preached to many an audience since,
sometimes when there were many thou-
sands of people listening, but I have
never more keenly felt the atmosphere
of an audience than I did that day.

22 Soul-Winning Stories.

I preached a short, tender sermon,
about twelve minutes long, and then
announced that we would have a brief
testimony meeting, and that if there
were any present who would like to say
a few words about their own religious
experience, or express a purpose to serve
Christ more faithfully in the future, I
would be glad to hear from them. All
was silent for two or three minutes. It
seemed like ten minutes to me. The
old man and the young man were waiting
against each other; but, finally, the old
man rose to his feet. He was a fine
looking man, of venerable appearance.
As he stood and looked around on his
neighbors his lips trembled and his eyes
filled with tears. At last he said broken-
ly, '^Neighbors, I have not been doing
my duty to God. I have not lived in
my family as I ought to have lived, and
I fear my influence in the neighborhood
has been to make people doubt Christ.
My anger hid it from me until — '' and he

Preliminary Skirmishes. 23

turned to me — ''God sent this young
man to show me my sin. But my anger

is all gone now, and if will forgive

me, we will have peace and do our duty/'
As the old man finished he turned toward
his son-in-law and stretched out his arms.
Everybody was crying. The young
man^s heart was melted, and a moment
later he was in the old man's embrace.
The mother and daughter found each
other soon, and a spirit of reconciliation
and love filled the air.

You may well believe that that scene
cleared the atmosphere, and that night,
in the little school-house, seven people
responded to my invitation and tear-
fully sought and found hope in Jesus
Christ. In the days that followed the
revival influence swept through the entire
community, and in a large number of
famines father and mother and all the
children were converted to Christ.
Under God, it was the healing of the feud
that did it.



THE minister who has never ridden
a Far Western circuit has lost
an interesting chapter from the
possibiUties of his experience. My
first regular circuit riding was done as
an assistant pastor, or, rather, ^'assistant
preacher-in-charge,'^ for that was the
term used, to my uncle, who was
^' preacher-in-chief/ ^ I was with him
the six winter months, for in the Willa-
mette Valley there are only two seasons,
the summer and the winter. The sum-
mer is comparatively dry and the winter
is nearly always very wet. Our circuit
reached from the city of Portland east-
ward as far as settlements had gone into
the Cascade Mountains, and from the
Columbia River on one side across two

28 Soul-Winning Stories.

counties to the south. The country was
heavily timbered, for the most part flat,
and the roads muddy, and the lot of a
circuit-rider such as to try his soul and
develop in him many Christian graces-
I had no horse, and a benevolent
brother on the circuit offered to let me
have one for his keep. I think his
benevolence was mixed with a desire to
be rid of the horse for awhile and to get
him broken. He was a wild, vicious
beast, with no sense, and led me a terrible
life. I remember one forenoon I had
a long ride to make to reach a log school-
house where I was to preach at eleven
o'clock. Rain had been pouring for
many days and nights, and the streams
were overflowing their banks every-
where. Ordinary brooks had become
small rivers. And to make it worse
the road was new to me, and I could
only plunge ahead and take things as I
found them. I came upon a stream
which usually was a little affair, but the

Cayuse and Saddle-bags. 29

bridge had been washed away and the
water had spread out for a long distance
on either side. The water was dirty,
and there was no telling how deep it was
until you tried it. At the first lunge
of my horse his head went out of sight
and the water washed through my
saddle. Up he came, gave a terrific
snort, and, leaping as far as he could,
went down again to the bottom. This
time the water struck imder my armpits.
Up again came the horse, snorting
wildly, and with another fearful lunge
he went onward and then down, again
hugging the bottom. This time the
water gurgled around my shirt collar, and
I held my chin up to keep it out of my
mouth. Luckily, we had reached the
lowest point, and two or three lunges
more brought us into wading depth.
The horse had no idea of swimming. If
the stream had been wide enough he
would have drowned himself. As it was,
he had given me a very uncomfortable

30 Soul-Winning Stories.

preparation for a morning's discourse.
I could not stop; I had eight miles yet
to ride; and went on as fast as the horse
could gallop. When I reached the little
school-house in the big woods I found
that, notwithstanding the rain, it wa^
filled with people, some of them having
come on foot several miles over trails
in order not to miss the one chance they
had once a month of hearing the Gospel.
I went in and stood by the stove a
moment, and then with my wet clothes
steaming I conducted the services and
preached as best I could. I had some
dinner in a humble home near by and
rode eighteen miles farther that after-
noon to preach again that night.

As the winter deepened we began to
hold evangelistic meetings at the leading
points on the circuit. We were usually
alone in these meetings, the circuit being
so large that we followed each other
alternately around. We often began
a meeting on Saturday night and would

Cajruse and Saddle-bags. 31

continue over until about Wednesday
of the next week. On more than one
occasion that winter a whole neighbor-
hood was tremendously shaken by these
simple straight-forward services. It was
m those country places that I learned
the secret which has been one of my
greatest sources of power ever since, and
that is, if you want to get at a man's
real heart and break down his defences
in your effort to win him to Christ, you
must get him alone by himself. It is a
great waste of time to talk to a man
personally about his own salvation in the
presence of other people, unless he has
already decided and needs your help,
and even then it is better to get him
alone. That winter I also learned that
if a man showed deep interest in the
meeting, and was almost persuaded to
be a Christian, it was not well to let the
next day go by without having a personal
conversation with him. If I could man-
age it I got an invitation to be at his

32 Soul- Winning Stories.

home, and that night, in front of the big
fireplace, when all the rest of the house
were asleep, or the next morning out
among the stock or in the field or the
pasture, I found the opportunity to open
the gate straight into his heart, and many
a man was converted in those heart-
searching conversations and the tender
prayer that followed later.

At the close of the six months in this
field where I had been an assistant a
brother died who had been in charge
of a large circuit a hundred miles or
more south of us, and the presiding elder
put me in charge for the rest of the year.
I arrived on the scene in the early spring,
when the mud was deep and heavy, as it
is in a country full of swales about the
time it begins to dry up. I had received
only a hundred dollars of salary for
the last half yearns work and was still
without a horse. A good brother came
to the front with a little pony. It was a
very gentle, nice pony, but its legs were

Cayuse and Saddle-bags. 33

SO short that when we got into a very
bad mud hole it would stick, and I would
have to get off and walk. The months
on that circuit, however, were months
of great enjoyment. It was an old and
famous circuit, with a great many strong
Christians among both the men and
the women, who had rare spiritual graces,
and my association with them will never
be forgotten. The time of year for
evangelistic services had passed before
my coming to this circuit, as the farmers
were plowing and sowing, and it was
almost impossible to get them out to
service on a week evening.

Everything was looking forward
toward the camp-meeting. I heard
wonderful stories of the great times they
had known on the old camp-ground, and
the camp-meeting that year was no
exception. The people came from a
circuit of forty to fifty miles around.
There were no cottages or buildings
made of timber of any kind, but the

34 Soul-Winning Stories.

people brought their canvas tents, and
by the middle of the week it looked like
a white city. Scores and scores of tents
went up in long rows on every side.
The whole grove and all the people in it
were given up to spiritual things. No-
body thought about entertainments or
amusements. They had come there to
worship God, and all day and part of
the night was given up to it. The first
thing that would be heard in the morning
would be the voice of some one singing
hymns, and then, as the people gathered
for morning prayers, the sound of singing
and prayer would rise from a hundred
tents. I have never seen anything else
like it on earth; but it was as beautiful
and glorious as it was unique.

A portion of ground immediately in
front of the '^preacher's stand,'' suffi-
cient to seat about one hundred and
fifty people, and fenced in by poles
nailed on to the sides of trees, was called
the altar. This, as well as the region

Cayuse and Saddle-bags. 35

beyond it, was seated with rude benches
without backs. The ground was covered
with fresh straw to keep it from becoming
too dusty. At eight o^clock there was
a prayer and song and praise service.
At nine o'clock there was a sermon.
At eleven o'clock there was another
sermon. At about two-thirty there was
another sermon, and at four o'clock
there were what they called ^' brush
prayer meetings," where leading men
among the laymen w^ould invite their
brethren and any that were seeking
Christ, and any others who were still
holding out against the Lord, to go with
them into the woods for a quiet prayer
meeting. The women held a meeting
of their own for women only, with the
same purpose in view. I have known
these meetings to be a most powerful
agency in the winning of souls. Again

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