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seemed to be plunged into the very
depths of despair seemed to them to
come direct from God and proved to be the
cause of a spiritual quickening to which
their hearts responded, and they entered
with renewed joy upon the Christian life.

The Boy in the Dry-goods Box. 171

None the less beautiful was its effect
upon the little boy. I think if an angel
from heaven had come down to that
tenement house and brought them help
in their time of need, it would not have
seemed to the little boy more really to
have come from God. He had been
brought up by a good true mother and
had always said his prayers and in a way
believed in God and the Bible; but now,
as the fever left him and he grew again
into health and strength, his whole heart
went out to the Lord in reverent love,
and he was one of the sweetest and most
charming of young Christians.

Not long after this the father was able
to secure permanent employment in a
suburban town some miles distant, and
I did not see them for a good while. Per-
haps a year and a half had passed when,
going to speak one afternoon at a meeting
three or four miles from the town where
they were living, at the close of the meet-
ing a young lad leaped upon the plat-

172 Soul-Winning Stories.

form, and though he seemed six inches
taller than when I had seen him last,
that beautiful face, that glorious curly
head and the fawn-like eyes could not
be forgotten, as he eagerly cried: "Mr.
Banks, do you know me? Do you know
me? ^' I was happy to tell him that I
knew him, and happier still to listen to
his happy story of the joyous home life
they were having together imder the
pleasant surroundings that had come to

Five years passed away, and I heard
nothing further of my young friend. I
had myself removed to a distant city
where, sls pastor of a large church, with
many outside engagements, I had enough
to occupy my mind; but ever and anon
I would think of my little boy in the
dry-goods box and wonder what the
future had in store for him. About this
time I had an engagement to lecture in
a Western town of several thousand
inhabitants. So far as I knew I was

The Boy in the Dry-gocds Bo.jl. 173

not personally acquainted with anyone
in the town. The arrangements for the
lecture had been made b}^ a committee,
and my only personal interest in it was
to go and deliver my message and come
away. I arrived in town late in the
evening, my train being delayed, and
hurried directly from the station to the
hall. There was a large audience, and
at its close a number of people came up
to make themselves known to me and to
shake hands. They were all strangers,
and while I was shaking hands with them
I suddenly became interested in a very
peculiar circumstance. I can^t remem-
ber just how it began, but all at once I
knew that a woman had one of my hands
in both of hers, and a man had
the other hand in both of his. The
man's eyes were full of tears, and tears
were freely raining down the woman's
face. Just then she lifted the hand she
held to her lips and kissed it reverently.
I was utterly dumbfounded, not knowing

174 Soul-Winning Stories.

what it could mean, when suddenly
lifting my eyes from them I looked into
the eyes of a young fellow over six feet
tall. His eyes were shining with tears,
too, but his younger face was all aglow
with excited joy. In a moment the
meaning of it all flashed over me. It
was my boy of the dry-goods box. That
wonderful head of curling hair, that
gloriously chiseled face, those great dark
eyes — they never could belong to but
one person whom I had ever seen. As
the meaning of it all burned into my
brain my own heart broke with happy
tenderness and I furnished my part of
the tears.

I was to stay over night at the hotel,
and after a little talk with the father and
mother I took the young fellow with
me to my room and talked with him
till past midnight. I found that the
family had gone back to their old home
surroundings and were very comfortably
situated. The boy had managed to

The Boy in the Dry-goods Box. 175

secure a very good education, and though
not yet seventeen, he was one of the
secretaries of the Young Men^s Christian
Association in an important town, and it
was his hope and purpose to prepare
himself for the Christian ministry and
give his life to the winning of souls to

The next morning, having a little
time on my hands, I took occasion to find
out how the boy was regarded in the
town,' and from all quarters I learned,
what I was ready to believe from my
intercourse with him the night before,
that he was a young man of remarkable
influence for good, and in the church
which he attended, in his Bible class,
and among the men whom he met in the
Association work, he was everywhere
regarded as a noble example of conse-
crated Christian manhood.

As the train carried me awav toward
my home my heart was full of happy
thanksgiving to God. I said to myself

176 Soul-Winning Stories.

over and over again, "No one pays like
God." For where could there have been
so small an investment that could have
yielded back so large a return? Surely
for either the minister or the layman
there is no gold mine so rich in possi-
bilities as that of soul-winning.



THAT which adds romantic interest
to the hfe of every earnest
worker for Christ is the oppor-
tunit}^ which ever and anon presents it-
self to win souls. Suddenly, without
any expectation or preparation, there
springs up from the roadside of life
one of the rarest privileges in all one's
experience. It was so in the life of
Jesus. He went walking by the seaside
and found the two young men mending
their nets. He had a little talk with
them, saw the time to win them, and
led them away after him forever. Going
down the street he sees a young tax-
gatherer at his desk. He knows that
this young men is restless and uneasy,
and that now is the time to win him to
better things. Christ steps across the

180 Soul-Winning Stories,

street, has a little talk with him, and
when it is over Matthew closes up his
business, and the next we hear of him
he is giving a dinner in honor of Jesus.
The life of Jesus was full of such ex-
periences. It was at the close of a weary
and dusty day that he was waiting out-
side of Samaria when the sinful woman
came with her water-pot, and through
the simple incident of asking for a drink
of water Christ got hold of her heart
and not only won her to himself, but also
won a great multitude in that town.
Now we are to be like our Lord. Our
lives may be romantic and abound in
these unique and beautiful victories if,
like Jesus, we are ever on the alert to
seize hold of the passing opportunity.
I remember well one morning in a certain
city where I was pastor and was in the
midst of a great revival. Every day
I was preparing a sermon for delivery
the same evening, and God was greatly
blessing the work. Many people were

"Wayside Conversions. 181

being converted. One morning while I
was in my study preparing the sermon
for that night's meeting my wife came
to the study and told me that a messen-
ger had come from a family whose name
was entirely unknown to me, asking
if I could go to the house to see a young
woman who was sick. I sent word that
I would go a little later in the morning,
and went back to my sermon. When
the sermon was completed I went to
make the visit.

Arriving at the home I found that none
of the family were members of any
church, and though some of them had
been to hear me preach I had up to this
time had no knowledge of them w^hatever.
The young woman who had sent for
me was about twenty years old and was
very ill with consumption. It was e\a-
dent that she would never leave her
room again until she left it for the grave.
She had been shut in there, sick, for five
months, and though none of the rest of

182 Soul-Winning Stories.

the family were Christians, she had in
some v/ay that I do not now remember
found the Lord.

I was met at the door by the mother
and ushered into a very pleasant room.
I sat for a while at the bedside of the
young lady and talked with her and the
mother, first about the bright day, about
the sunshine coming into the sick room,
and such commonplace matters, until,
incidentally, I turned to the mother and
asked her if she was a Christian. She
replied that she was not. I found, how-
ever, that she had been hopefully con-
verted when she was a young girl living
on a farm in Pennsylvania, but for some
reason she had not joined the church,
and as is very usual in cases where people
try to live a Christian life outside of the
church, she had failed, and now for many
years had lived an entirely worldly life.
She said she had wholly given up the idea
that she would ever be a Christian; that
she had remarked only the other day to

"Wayside Conversions. 183

a friend that she was certain if she were
to die she would be lost, and that she
sometimes thought the day of grace had
passed for her.

You may well imagine that by this
time I was thoroughly aroused. It
seemed to me an awful thing to look
upon that sick young woman who was
only waiting there for the angel of death
in the presence of a mother who could not
enter into any spiritual fellowship or
communion with her; and so, with my
heart uplifted to God, I set myself de-
liberately to win the mother to Christ
then and there. I urged what God says
in his book — that he is married to the
backslider. I tried to make her see the
providential opportunity which was here
presented for her to renew her covenant
of grace with the Lord.

She was so unresponsive at first that,
after talking with her ten or fifteen
minutes, I came to the very edge of gi^dng
up. How many times we fail that way

184 Soul-Winning Stories.

when we are on the very verge of succesi^.
I honestly beheve that more preachers
fail of being successful evangelists and
soul-winners in their pastorates because
they give way too quick, both in the
following up a public appeal and in per-
sistently pursuing a private conversa-
tion, than for any other one reason.
But as I was just about to give up, the
thought suddenly possessed me that
perhaps this was the woman^s last call
— if I could not win her there beside her
daughter's sick bed what hope was
there that any one could ever win her?
This thought gave me new energy, and I
pursued the conversation not only with
unabated but with increased resolution.
The result was that at the close of a haK-
hour her heart was broken with deep
conviction, and, sobbing and crying
out to God for mercy, she knelt
with me beside her daughter's bed,
and while I prayed for her she
gave herself unreservedly up to God,

Wayside Conversions. 185

and found forgiveness and peace in

A few moments after we had risen
from our knees the mother went and
called in her sister, who was visiting her
from her old home in Pennsylvania, and
a younger daughter, thirteen years of
age. Then as the mother went away
from the room again for a moment, the
daughter looked into my face, and with
a radiance like that which shone in the
face of Saint Stephen when his murder-
ers bore testimony that it was as "the
face of an angel," she said, "Oh, isn't
this glorious! I have been lying here
praying for this, night and day, for so
many weeks.'' Thus I had a vision, a
revelation, and I knew it was in answer
to this daughter's prayers that salvation
was come to this house.

But the story is not yet complete. I
turned around from the bedside to see
standing there the aimt, whose face
was red with weeping, and I said to her,

186 Soul-Winning Stories.

"Are you a Christian?' ' And she an-
swered, "No." And then I entered upon
a new conversation. She frankly con-
fessed that she had long desired to be
a Christian, but there were so many
things in the way — idols, she said, that
she could never give up. But, making
little of these things, I began to tell her
the story of her sister's conversion before
she had come into the room, and while
I was telling her that story, and she
was listening with great astonishment
and evident emotion, the sister herself
re-entered the room and came up and
kissed her, and they sat and cried to-

Leaving the two women together for
a moment, feeling sure the problem
v/ould work itself out best that way, I
turned my attention to the little girl, a
beautiful child of thirteen, and I saw
by her eyes that the battle was won there
before I began. Her heart opened to
the Saviour as naturally as a flower

Wayside Conversions. 187

opens to the sun on a summer^s morning.
Then we had another season of prayer,
the aunt and the young ghl praying for
themselves, and the mother and the sick
daughter and myself pleading with God
for them, until they came to trust the
Lord Jesus Christ and to rejoice in their
faith in him.

I was an hour and a quarter in that
house. I had never been in it before;
though two of them had heard me preach.
I had never even known their names or
had any personal conmaunication with
them whatever. In that hour and a
quarter, through God^s great grace and
mercy, three souls had turned away
from sin and had found peace in trusting
the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. What
a blessed wayside opportunity was that!
But to take advantage of such opportu-
nities we must live in the spirit of them.
If I had been in a cold and heavy mood,
and had gone to do my work in a spirit
of formality, I could have visited that

188 Soul-Winning Stories.

sick girl and gone away and done noth-
ing else for that house. And yet those
souls were waiting for somebody to cap-
ture them for the divine Lord. We
need to be on the alert for the wayside



SOME years ago I was pastor in a
large city which is a great rail-
road center. Tens of thousands
of railroad men have their homes
there and live either in the city or its
suburbs. This fact impressed me on
my first arrival, and as the months went
on it became more and more apparent
to my mind that the church was not
sufficiently awake to the spiritual needs
of this large and intelligent class of men.
I set myself to work to devise some way
of getting at the situation. Whatever
measure of success may have come to
me in the course of my ministry has been
largely due to the fact that I have always
tried to work as faithfully and with as
much devotion as the most successful
business man works. So I set myself

192 Soul-Winning Stories.

to work to find a plan for calling the
attention of these railroad men to Christ
and the Gospel.

After some weeks of thought and
prayer I decided to have a series of
revival meetings to which railroad men
should be specially invited and in which
sermons and prayers and everything
should bear upon railroad men. I had
printed many thousands of invitations
specially addressed to railroad men. In
these I stated in a frank and brotherly
way my desire to preach the Gospel to
railroad men and their families and the
welcome they would receive at my church.
These invitations I carried to all the
great centers of railroad employment,
and had them given out in all the great
freight depots and shops in the city.

The success of the movement in at-
tracting the attention of railroad em-
ployees far exceeded my expectations
from the very start. Railroad men
flocked to the services and some were

The Railroad Revival. 193

converted the very first evenings. But
these men told of others who would not
come with them, and wished they had
some way of getting the Gospel to them
where they worked. I caught at this
suggestion at once, and visited the rail-
road managers and superintendents and
secured the privilege of speaking for
twenty minutes of the noon hour in any
of the shops or round-houses of the city.
Then for over a month I went every
week-day at noon to some great freight
depot, or round-house, or workshop to
hold service. Some men were converted
in these meetings at noon, but the far
greater result came from getting a hold
upon men who were indifferent or preju-
diced, and who followed us back to the
service at night.

When my strength began to weaken
I secured the help of two faithful Chris-
tian women who had been successful
in working with railroad men, and they
would give Bible readings which I would

194 Soul-Winning Stories.

follow at each service with special ex-
hortation and invitation to accept Christ.
I have never known so many railroad
men to be converted in any one meeting.
Baggagemen, expressmen, telegraphers,
brakemen, freight-handlers, all had their
representatives, and their wives and
children came with them. Over two
hundred and fifty united with the church
of which I was pastor, and many found
homes in other churches.

Of course all were not railroad men
who were brought under the influence
of this revival and through God^s grace
were saved. Naturally these railroad
men had friends and neighbors, and
when they began to be interested in the
meetings they talked about them among
their friends, and they came, too, and
many of them were saved. 1 shall
never forget some interesting and strik-
ing cases developed in that meeting.
One night I found at the altar a middle-
aged man in great sorrow. He was

The Railroad Revival. 195

sobbing with grief, and the great aepths
of his soul seemed to be broken up, and
yet he found no peace. I talked with
him and finally asked him why he did not
accept Christ's promise outright and
have peace. He said, "I cannot.'^ I
asked him then why he came to the
altar at all, that the invitation was only
for those who would accept Jesus. His
reply was that he could not stay away-
His sense of sin was so keen, and the
burden of guilt upon his soul so pressed
him down, that when the invitation
was given for sinners to come he could
not stay in his seat.

I continued to press him to be frank
with me, until finally he told me all.
He said that he worked in a brewery,
and had been working in a brewery ever
since he was a boy. He had a wife and
six children depending on him for sup-
port. He felt that it was a wicked
business and that he could not be a
Christian and continue in it, and yet he

196 Soul-Winning Stories.

did not know anything else, and if he
gave it up his family would starve.
The man was very anxious; the great
beads of perspiration stood out on his
forehead. It was the awful problem
of his life. I urged that it was his
business to accept Christ as his Saviour,
to do the right thing and leave the result
to God. I assured him that God would
not let a man starve through doing right.
I specially pushed home on him that
passage where Christ says, ^'Seek ye
first the kingdom of God and his right-
eousness, and all these things shall be
added unto you.'^ He was a strong
man, a solid stanch German, and de-
cision came slowly. But when it did
come, it was all over. His face was
transformed, and everybody around him
knew that he had gained a victory over
himself and his sin, and that Jesus Christ
had made the conquest of his soul. He
left the brewery the next day. In two
weeks I found him a good position, and

The Railroad Revival. 197

before I left the city he was earning a
much larger salary than he had ever
earned before, and he and his family
were very happy in the church.

I well remember another evening^
when, as I was passing aroimd through
the rear of the congregation while the
after-meeting was going on at the altar,
I came across a young lady who seemed
the very picture of despair. She had
an intelligent keen face, but the inner
agony was written all over it. I stopped
to talk with her, and after a Uttle she
admitted that she was deeply affected
by the service and was sorely conscience-
stricken. But she said^ "I can't be a

"Why?" I asked.

"Not because I do not want to," she
said, "but because I have become so
entangled with worldly and sinful things
that there is no way out. God knows
I would give my life to be clear of them,
but I can't get out! I can't get out!"

19S Soul-Winning Stories.

These last phrases she fairly moaned
from her lips like a wail of despair.

I talked with her until I saw that no
further advantage could be gained by
conversation there, and then arranged
for her to come and see me the next day.
Then she told me her ston'. It was a
sad ston^ of misfortune and sin and
death on the part of others, which had
at last thrown the burden of an invalid
mother and little brothers and sisters
upon shoulders unable to bear so hea\y
a load, and she was working now as an
acrobat in some low entertainment hall
in the city. I urged her, as I had the
man from the brewery, that it was
God's world, and that one could do right
in it and trust him for the result. She
went away sad, but promised to come
to the evening meeting. That after-
noon I went to see a noble Christian
woman, a woman of wealth and high
social position, but who was also rich
in human s>Tnpathy and love. I told

The Railroad Revival. 199

her the story of this poor girl, and, as I
had expected, she was immediately
awake to the situation and was ready to
be her friend. That night I introduced
them, and from that hour they were
sisters. The poor girl who had lost all
hope became a happy Christian, and
through her rich blessings, both tem-
poral and spiritual, foimd their way to
all the imfortunate family.

One interesting feature of this revival
was that its advertised pmpose to reach
railroad men attracted wide attention,
and a number of traveling railroad men
ha\TDg a night in the city came to the
meetings, and several such were con-
verted. These carried the fire-brands
into different parts of the countiv', so
that in my travels during years since
I have had strangers speak to me in
regard to blessings received at that meet-
ing more frequently than concerning
any other re\'ival it has been my pri\alege
to lead



I SHALL never forget a lowering
morning, years ago, when I went
into the pulpit of a large city
church of which I was pastor, de-
pressed by the unusual gloom of the day.
One of the hardest burdens I have had
to carry in my ministry is bad weather
on Sunday. It was not really storming
on this Sunday morning, but it was cold
and raw, and the air was so heavy that
it seemed to weigh one down.

The first thing that started me out
of my depression after I had entered
the pulpit was the face of one of the most
striking looking men I have ever seen. It
was not only that it was a new face, but
that there was something about the
eyes and the whole look of the man which
aroused me. My depression was for-

204 Soul-Winning Stories.

gotten; for me there was only one man
in that congregation, and he was that
stranger. I remember well the theme
that morning. It was the cowardice
of Aaron, and his poor, weak, shifty lie
to Moses when the stronger brother de-
manded of the weaker one the story of
the golden calf. The lesson which I
drew out of it that day, and which I
crowded home on the people with all
the power that was in me, was that we
were responsible for letting things take
their own course and go wrong; that we
had no right to go on permitting our
friends and our circumstances in social
and business relations to carry us away
from God.

I say I crowded this message home on
the people, but as a matter of fact, so
far as I was personally conscious, I only
pressed it home on one man. I had
scarcely opened my theme and gotten
on fire with it before I detected his inter-
est and was sure that he winced under

On the Trail of a Soul. 205

the application of the truth to himself.
During the singing of the last hymn I
mentally determined that I would intro-
duce myself to him at the close of the
service and find out who he was. But
"man proposes and God disposes.'' I
had scarcely pronounced the benediction
before my man and his wife had slipped
down the aisle and were gone.

I immediately sought to know who
he was, and learned that he was one of
the wealthiest business men in the city,
a man of reserved temperament, who Uved
in a great mansion in one of the most
fashionable suburbs. I confess I was
greatly disappointed to hear all this. As
a matter of theory I believed that God
was as interested in rich men as in poor
ones and that Jesus Christ was as able
to save this man as he would be if he

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Online LibraryLouis Albert BanksSoul winning stories → online text (page 6 of 7)