Louis Albert Banks.

Soul winning stories online

. (page 2 of 7)
Online LibraryLouis Albert BanksSoul winning stories → online text (page 2 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


at night there was a sermon. Of course,
after every one of these sermons there
was an after service. The sermons were



36 Soul-Winning Stories.

often informal and '^ scattering/' but
they were all earnest and Scriptural and
all devoted to the one great purpose of
winning men to Christ then and there.
Every sermon closed with a direct appeal
for the sinner then present to cease his
rebellion against God and surrender to
his Lord.

The exhorter came next. Those were
the days of exhorters. Whenever as
many as two preachers were together
at any evangelistic meeting during my
younger ministry, it was understood
that one would preach and the other
exhort. Multitudes of men in our great
pulpits whose ministry is not being
blessed by the conversion of souls would
become great soul-winners if they could
only have a year's training as exhorters.
At this great camp-meeting which I have
been describing the exhorters followed
every sermon all day long. It is quite
an art to get up after a man has ceased
preaching, catch the spirit of the meeting



Cajase and Saddle-bags. 37

where he has left it, and carry it right
on with well chosen words or striking
illustrations, intensifying it as you go,
until the time for action has come. The
invitations given were for immediate
decision for Christ. The front benches
were cleared, and the people who would
make a public confession of their purpose
to surrender to the Lord were invited to
come and kneel there. Then preachers
and laymen sought out their friends and
acquaintances through the audience
and with tears and entreaties persuaded
them to come to Christ.

I have seen many great revivals under
a great variety of circumstances; but I
have never seen any place where the
presence of Almighty God was more
apparent, where the conviction of sin
seemed to be a more real and terrible
thing, where the members of the church
were more passionately in earnest for
the salvation of men; nor have I ever
seen more marvelous surrenders of the



38 Soul-Winning Stories.

human will to God, or clearer and bri^ter
instances of happy and joyous conver-
sions that issued into the steadfast and
holy life, than I witnessed on the old
Brownsville camp-ground in Oregon.



CHAPTER III

THE CAPTURE OF THE
STREET-CAR MAN



CHAPTER III,



IT was in the days when the horse-
car was in all its glory, shortly
before the electric trolley came
on the scene and sent the horses
back to the farms. It was my first
pastorate in an Eastern city, and
I had the care of a small church that was
situated in a populous suburb. The
general location was excellent, but one
thing greatly annoyed my congregation;
this was the existence of a great horse-
car stable just across the street from us,
where the cars were coming in and going
out constantly to make the changes of
horses and men. Whenever anything
nice was said about the church by one
of our people to another, or by any out-
sider to them, there was always that



42 Soul- Winning Stories.

reservation, ''If only that old street-car
barn were out of the way/' As Mordecai
to Haman when he wouldn't bow to him,
so that old barn took the edge off all our
joys.

This old street-car barn was annoying
in many ways. In the first place, it did
not smell good; in the second place, it
was very noisy; and finally, and the
most important, there was always a
large group of from twenty to fifty horse-
car conductors and drivers off duty, who
were hanging aroimd the doors of this
barn. They were an unusually wicked,
blasphemous lot of men, and they natu-
rally attracted other men of the same
ilk, and it became notorious as a place
that was noisy and vulgar, where women
were stared at and remarked upon.
Every decent woman took the other side
of the street and hurried past when she
had to go around that corner.

After I had been pastor of the little
church for a few months^ it was borne in



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 43

upon me that something must be done
to change the condition at that car-
barn corner. After thinking it over and
praying about it a good deal, I called
my official board together one Sunday
morning, after the sermon, and told them
that I believed our church had a duty
in relation to that horse-car bam. I
said to them, '^You have tried to get
away from the place and you have tried
to get them to move away for a long
time, and nothing has ever come of it.
Now my judgment is that it is all provi-
dential. God has put us here to save
that crowd. This is the duty that is at
our door. I want you to back me up
in a series of revival meetings. We will
not tell people so, but the great object
of all will be the saving of the conductors
and drivers who have their headquarters
at that horse-car barn."

They were greatly astonished. Most
of them thought I was optimistic beyond
reason, and that we would never get any



44 Soul-Winning Stories.

of them to come to the meetings^ Two
or three, however, took fire at the ear-
nestness of my own heart, and after
talking it all over they all agreed that it
was worth trying, and we set to work.
For six weeks we held meetings day and
night. We had preaching every evening,
but I soon found that the best hour for
the horse-car men was about nine o^clock
in the morning when the morning rush
was over. More men were at leisure
between that and eleven than at any
other time. So I added another meeting,
especially for them at that hour.

Well, the Lord blessed our labors.
We parceled them out. I hunted the
church through to find out who in the
church had personal acquaintance or
influence with individual drivers and
conductors, and I set everybody praying
for their own acquaintances among these
men, and urged each one to try to answer
his own prayers by seeking them out and
bringing them to the meetings. It was



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 45

not long before this work began to tell,
and, one after another, they were being
converted.

From the very first I found that the
greatest obstacle to a successful work of
grace among the men at the barn was in
the person of the car-starter. He was a
man past middle age, and a man of great
force of character. He was sharp and
witty, and his keen tongue could always
raise a laugh or bring the blood, if, as
often, he chose to use it as a lash. With
ail this, he was a big-hearted man in
many ways, and very popular among
the drivers and conductors. But he
hated God, he hated the church, he hated
Christians, and above everything else
he hated Christian ministers. There was
nothing his sharp tongue could say that
was bitter enough and mean enough if it
could raise the laugh against a preacher
and show his contempt for him. I very
soon discovered that many of the men
were holding back for fear of running



46 Soul-Winning Stories.

the gauntlet of his tongue. When I
found this out, I went straight to him
and told him so, thinking I might sober
him with a sense of responsibility in the
matter; but he contemptuously cursed
me and told me to mind my own business.
I quietly told him that I should pray
God to open his eyes to his wickedness,
and went away.

I told some of the people in the church
about it, and we covenanted together
to pray daily for the starter's salvation.
Every day, now, I was about the barn,
inviting men to the meetings, encouraging
some who had already started, specially
working with others, and, incidentally,
coming in contact with the starter.
Every day there was some bitter, vulgar
sneer or wicked oath hurled at me, and
when assured that I was praying for
him he would almost grind his teeth in
rage. This matter went on for some
three weeks, when one night, just as I
was sitting down at the table for my



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 47

supper, the door-bell rang, and, on
opening it, there stood the car-starter's
wife. She was greatly excited. ''Oh,''
said she, "I wish you would come to
our house right away. My husband is
in a terrible condition."

"Why, what is the matter?" I inquired.
I supposed there had been some accident
about the barn.

"Oh!" she replied, "he is in an awful
condition. I left him walking the floor,
and wringing his hands in a perfect agony.
He thinks he is going to be lost. He
says he has committed the unpardon-
able sin and there is no hope for
hun."

I shall never forget the thrill of joy
that ran through me as the woman told
me that story. Involuntarily I ex-
claimed, with great fervor, " Thank God ! "

She looked at me almost dazed, and
inquired, "What do you mean?"

"I mean," was my reply, ''that this is
the beginning of better times for your



48 Soul-Winning Stories.

husband. If he is feeUng hke that,' I
am sure I can do him good/^

"Well," she said, "if you can do him
good, he surely needs it, and that very
soon."

I forgot all about my supper, and
throwing on my hat and overcoat hurried
with her to her home. When we went
in, I found she had not overstated the
case as to the starter^s feelings. He was
in the deepest anguish. Despair was
written on every line of his face. The
Holy Spirit had opened up before his
gaze the awful hell that was in his heart.
He seemed utterly without hope. As
soon as he saw me he cried, "There is
no hope for me! How wicked I have
been! And I knew better, too. But I
have hated God and I have hated you.
I have said every mean thing about you
that I could lay my tongue to. And I
have abused the members of the church;
I have picked flaws in them. I have
made fun of every man that has started



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 49

to be a Christian. I have done all I
could to keep them back, and I fear
some of them will be lost because of
what I have said to them/'

As soon as I could get a word in I
said to him, ^^ Remember, it is not your
sin, it is not your wickedness, that is in
the way of your salvation."

He looked at me astonished. ^'What
is in the way, then?''

I replied, '^The only thing that is in
the way is your unwillingness to ask
Christ to forgive you, and to accept his
forgiveness."

That was a new idea to him. Then I
told him the old story of the thief on
the cross, and the other story of that
poor, demon-possessed man at Gadara.
I could see that the last one took hold of
him. He seemed to feel that the man
who had a whole legion of devils in him,
all of whom were cast out by the power
of Jesus, was a case that gave hope for
him. After we had talked perhaps ten



50 Soul-Winning Stories.

minutes, we kneeled down to pray. I
never heard a man pray with such aban-
don for himself. I thought all the neigh-
bors on the street would hear. He cried
out to God. He did not mince matters
in telling the Lord about his sins. Final-
ly his heart broke. The tears came, and
in that flood of tears his faith caught
sight of the Christ who died for him.
His heavy burden rolled off like the load
from the shoulders of Bunyan's pilgrim
at the cross. He rose up from his knees
with a new look in his face and a new
joy in his heart.

He said he must go at once to his work
at the barn, as he was due there in a few
minutes; but I was so anxious to thorough-
ly intrench him in his new life that I
took him across with me to the church,
where I knew a little prayer-meeting
was going on, and he went in with me,
and there gave his first testimony for
the Lord.

The car-starter^s conversion created



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 51

great excitement in the community.
People flocked to the meetings, and the
revival received a new impetus. Over
two hundred were hopefully converted,
and over a hundred and fifty were added
to my church. But that which pleased
me especially was that fifty of my new
church members were made up of twenty-
five street-car men and their wives.

From that day till this, now a good
many years, the car-starter has lived
a Christian life. His influence every-
where has been for Christ. He has led
many to the Lord through the purity of
his life, the sweetness of his spirit, and
the holy boldness with which he bears
his testimony to the power of Christ to
forgive sins.

One of the sweetest compensations
for the self-sacrifice which is often de-
manded of a Christian minister is found
in the love and devotion of the men and
women who are won to Christ through
his efforts. Some years after the car-



52 Soul-Winning Stories.

starter's conversion, lecturing one night
in a far-distant State, I found him in my
audience. Nothing would do but that
I must go home with him for the night.
I had to take a train at half -past two in
the morning, but he assured me that he
could wake at any hour, and there would
be no danger of my getting left. When
he aroused me in the morning, and I
went down to find a cup of hot coffee
waiting for me, something in the car-
starter's face convinced me that he had
not slept.

'^Look here,'' said I, ''you have been
sitting up all night. I can see by your
eyes that you have not been asleep.
You are too old a man to do a thing like
that."

I shall never forget the answer. His
lip quivered, his eyes filled with tears,
and as the great drops rolled over his
cheeks, he said, ''Ah, you do not know
what a joy it is for me to do something
for you. If I were to sit up all night,'



The Capture of the Street-car Man. 53

once a week, as long as I live, it would
be nothing compared to what you have
done for me."

I have seldom had anything touch
me more deeply than those words. I
thought of what Paul said to the Gala-
tians whom he had won to Christ, in
recognizing their love for him: ''I bear
you record, that, if it had been possible,
ye would have plucked out your own
eyes, and have given them to me."
Many times since that night, when I
have been tempted to discouragement,
and wondered if the hard work was
worth while, I have recalled the car-
starter's tears, and his words of gratitude
and love, and, thrusting aside my de-
pression, I have thanked God and taken
courage.



CHAPTER IV

HOW THE YOUNG
BARTENDER WAS SAVED



CHAPTER IV:



SOME years ago, in Boston, a
young man and his sister came to
see me one evening in great
trouble concerning their brother. The
story they told me was one of those heart-
breaking stories that come so often to
the ear of the minister of a large city
church.

These yoimg people were from Nova
Scotia. The father had died some years
before, and the mother had been left with
a large family with only one of them old
enough to be of any help. This boy was
the young man who had come to see me.
He told how his mother had dreaded to
have him leave home, but there had to
be help from the outside or the family
would be broken up and scattered, and



58 Soul- Winning Stories.

SO with a breaking heart she let him go
away to Boston to work. Tears ran
down his manly face as he told of the
last night at home, of the Bible his mother
gave him, and of her earnest pleading
with him to lead a Christian life in the
strange city.

Well, he came to Boston, found
work, joined the church, and had got
along well. He sent back all his wages
that he could spare to help the mother
and the children at home. After a while
the next one to him, a girl, became old
enough to come to Boston and enter
into domestic service, and now, for three
or four years, the two had been working
to make the burdens lighter for the old
mother in the far-off Canada home.
They were both earnest Christians and
honest, self-respecting young people.
And now they came to the burden of
their story, which had brought them to
me. They were not members of my
church, but as I had been very closely



How the Young Bartender Was Saved. 59

identified with temperance work, they
had hoped I might be of value to them
in their great emergency.

This was their trouble: Two years
before, George, a younger brother, and
the very idol of his mother^s heart, had
also come to the city. He had had the
same careful training by his devout
Christian mother, but he had gotten
employment where he had been thrown
into evil associations and had been led
into the habit of drink. This had lost
him his place, and, in spite of all they
could do, he had taken a place as a bar-
tender some six months before their
coming to me. After this his downfall
had been rapid. He had drunk and
drunk until he was bloated, and
his beautiful features were becoming
coarse and revolting. They had come
to me hoping that I might be able to
advise them. They had not written
their mother about his condition, for
they feared it would kill her if she knew;



60 Soul- Winning Stories.

and I have seldom in my life seen anybody
in sorer trouble than were that brother
and sister.

I must confess that it seemed like a
very hopeless case. We prayed together
about it, and I urged them to keep on
praying for him, and to use every influ-
ence they had to get him out of the busi-
ness, and, in the meantime, if any oppor-
tunity offered, to bring him to me, so
that I might talk with him.

About two weeks passed, when the
young woman came to see me alone,
saying that her brother had lost his
place as bartender because of his drunk-
enness, and she was hoping that now
there might be a chance to do something.
It so happened that, the day before her
visit, the proprietor of a newly estab-
lished sanitarium for the cure of drunk-
enness had met me on the street and
told me that if I would send them some-
one in whom I was particularly interested
they would treat the case free. I told



How the Young Bartender Was Saved. 61

the young girl about this, and begged her
to bring her brother to me, and see if
we could not persuade him to go to this
sanitarium. She immediately caught at
this, for he had been sick for a few days
and was now thoroughly sober and
seemed to be more repentant and to have
more feeling concerning his condition
than he had shown for a long time.

The next morning she brought the
young man to my study. In spite of
the awful traces of dissipation he was a
handsome young fellow and bore in his
features and especially in his eyes the
unmistakable traces of real manhood.
Poor fellow, he had been caught in the
deviPs net by his genial heart, and his
feet had been tripped from under him,
as have the feet of ten thousands of
others, almost before he knew it. I saw
that he was now thoroughly ashamed
of himself, and that, while willing to do
anything, he was almost entirely hope-
less of any good coming of it.



62 Soul-Winning Stories.

I had a long talk with him about it,
told him of several cases that had come
imder my own observation of men who
had been greatly helped by medical
treatment in overcoming the drink habit,
and after I had gotten him thoroughly
interested and somewhat encouraged I
quietly urged upon him the greater cure
for all sinfulness that was to be found
in the Great Physician. I suggested to
him that all his troubles had come to
him because he had been tempted out
of the path in which he had been brought
up. That after coming to Boston none
of its wickedness would have affected
him if he had retained his habit of Bible
reading and prayer and church-going
which his mother had taught him —
putting himself in the care of the Saviour.
At the mention of his mother he was
deeply moved, and as I talked gently
and tenderly about her his pride seemed
to break down completely and he cried
like a child.



How the Young Bartender Was Saved. 63

''Oh! I know it! I know it!'' he said.
"She is praying for me! I have tried to
forget it for a year, but I know she is still
praying! It would kill her if she could



see me now.''



Then I assured him that his mother's
God was also his God, and that if he
prayed to him, even now, in his sin and
sorrow, God would hear him and forgive
him. When I asked if he would like
to have me pray with him, he exclaimed
most eagerly, ^'Oh, yes J do!"

It was borne in upon me by the Holy
Spirit that it was the crisis hour of the
man's soul. We kneeled down together,
I on one side and his sister on the other.
I poured out my soul in prayer, and she
followed in supplication. I do not think
I ever heard such a prayer for another
as that sister poured out to God. I
doubt if she had ever heard her own
voice in prayer before. She was a timid
little body and I do not imagine that
she had ever prayed aloud in meeting



64 Soul-Winning Stories.

in her life. But, oh, how she prayed
that morning! She told the whole story
over again to God. It was a new parable
of the Prodigal Son, except that it was
a mother waiting at home, and the poor
prodigal, with the smell of the swine
still on him, was just now coming to
himself.

When the sister had finished her
prayer, I urged him to pray for himself,
and he did so, in broken incoherent sen-
tences at first, but soon in a perfect flood-
tide of repentance. And then, suddenly
a great thing happened. I never could
tell just how it came; it reminded me at
the time of the words of Jesus to Nico-
demus, '^The wind bloweth where it
listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it
Cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every-
one that is born of the Spirit.'' So it
was in this case. Suddenly the agonizing
man ceased to agonize. He stopped
praying right in the middle of a sentence,



How the Young Bartender Was Saved. 65

and though his tears still flowed, and
great sobs shook his frame, both the
sister and myself felt that a great change
had come.

I turned to look at his face and found
him turning to look at me. His face was
wet with tears, but there was infinitely
joyous wonder shining in his eyes, and
I said: '^George, are you forgiven?''

And he said, and with the very first
words his joy increased: '^My burden
is gone! Yes! He forgives me!'' And
then we all sprang to our feet, and the
sister hugged him and kissed him, and
we all cried again, but this time they
were tears of joy.

Soon I began to speak about the
arrangements for his going out to the
sanitarium. Then he turned to me and
said, ''I do not believe I will go."

''Why?'' I inquired, astonished.

''Well," he said, "I came intending
to go, because there seemed nothing
else to do. It was my only hope, and I



66 Soul-Winning Stories.

had not much faith in that. But now
it seems different. God has forgiven me.
I have Christ, my Saviour, to help me, and
I am going to trust him."

Of course I was greatly surprised, and
not entirely easy as to the outcome.
But there was something about it all so
strongly indicating the presence and
power of the Holy Spirit that I did not
try to change his purpose. After grate-
fully thanking me, they went away. I
kept track of them for many months,
and during all that time George lived a
strong and courageous Christian life, hav-
ing gained constant victory over all
temptation fro^ the old appetite which
had so degraded and despoiled him.

There were several factors in the young
bartender's salvation. First of all, on
the human side, was that faithful mother
whose prayers and Christian fidelity he
could never forget. Second, there was
the loving faithfulness of that Christian
brother and sister; and; finally, there



How the Young Bartender Was Saved. 67

came my opportunity, and the leading
of the Holy Spirit to impress me to seize
the critical moment when he could be
won to surrender himself to God. It
was one of the clearest cases of instan-
taneous conversion, which thoroughly
transformed the man, that I have ever
witnessed.



CHAPTER V

THE WINNING OF THE YOUNG
MERCHANT AND HIS BRIDE



CHAPTER V.

IT was my last Sunday in a far
Western town. My pastorate was
closing with the day, and the
niorrow was to see me on my jour-
ney, two hundred miles by team and
three hundred more by rail, to my next
pastorate. Just after the sermon began
in the morning I noticed a young couple
come in and take a seat near the church
door. I did not take note of them
specially again, and did not note them
at the time, except that I made a mental
memorandum that they were strangers;
but having retired to the parsonage after
the morning service, on answering a.
knock at the door, I found the same
couple on my door-step, and taking them
in at a glance said to myself, 'They
have come to get manied/'



72 Soul-Winning Stories.

The young man said they would like
to have a little private conversation with
me, if it were convenient. This deepened
my first impression, and I led them into
my study and closed the door. I offered
them seats, and the young lady sat down,


2 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryLouis Albert BanksSoul winning stories → online text (page 2 of 7)