Louis Albert Banks.

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were some struggling lawyer or clerk.
But as a matter of fact I had had a good
deal more experience with tire other
class, and my optimism and enthusiasm



206 Soul-Winning Stories.

in regard to being able to follow up my
message for the man's help and comfort
had received a great check.

I went on with the other duties of the
day, but during the Sunday-school and
all the afternoon ever and anon my
stranger of the morning would come
back and look up at me with those
piercing but anxious eyes through which
God had let me have a look into his
conscience until I could read his soul.
Somehow I knew this man was not a
Christian. I felt as sure as I could be
that he had been greatly convicted of
sin under the sermon of the morning,
and more and more I felt that I had no
right to leave it where it was.

I had a very uncomfortable afternoon.
On one hand something said to me, " You
will spoil everything if you follow this
man up. If the Holy Spirit used your
message for his good this morning, you
should be grateful. But he would no
doubt resent anything you could say if



On the Trail of a Soul. 207

you were to go and visit him personally.'^
On the other hand something else said,
"God used you to carry his message
to this man's conscience. Just as surely
as Peter saw the poor crippled man and
his conviction, you saw this man dumb
before God's word. Perhaps no other
man will ever have so good a chance
to win this man's soul as you have now.
Perhaps, just because he is rich and
prosperous, preachers are afraid of him.
If you let him alone for a few days, he
may be harder than ever. WTiat are
you a preacher for if not to follow up
God's message when you see that it has
gone home?" On the whole, I was greatly
worried. I awoke several times in the
night, and every time I saw that stran-
ger's face and looked into those haunting
eyes.

Monday morning came, and yet I was
imcertain what I ought to do. The
hard nerve-giving of Sunday always
leaves even the strongest preacher who



208 Soul-Winning Stories.

is of a nervous temperament a little on
the ragged edge on Monday morning,'
and so the objections to going to see
this man at his house seemed multiplied
on Monday, though throughout the fore-
noon, again and again, his face came back
to me, and I felt that I should always
have a sense of defeat and failure unless
I sought personally to press God^s mes-
sage home upon his soul.

At lunch I spoke to my wife about it,'
and told her how I was haunted by the
man's face. I also told of what I had
learned of his wealth, and the style in
which he lived, and of my fear that he
would resent being followed up. I re-
marked that perhaps if I let him alone
he would come again, while if I followed
him up now I might lose him altogether.
I think if she had sided with this view
I would have settled down quite content
that it was right. But, to my surprise,
she was dead against it. She urged
that I had better go at once and see him;



On the Trail of a SouL 209

that the whole matter seemed provi-
dential, and at the worst it could do
no harm to let the man know that I was
interested in him. I was not at all
pleased to have her take this view, but
having asked her advice I was bound
to take it seriously into consideration.
The result was that a little after two
o'clock that Monday afternoon, in a
pouring rain, I hired a closed carriage,
took my wife with me, and we drove
some three miles into the country suburb
where stood the mansion of the man
who had been to hear me preach the
morning before. When we arrived at
the gate, we decided that it was best for
me to go in alone, so that I might have a
freer chance to approach him as to his
personal religion. I never did anything
so diffidently in my life. I fairly trem-
bled as I went up the walk. I rang the
bell in fear. A servant came and ushered
me into the parlor. A little later the
door opened at the farther end of the



210 Soul-Winning Stories.

room, and through it came my stranger
of yesterday. When he saw me a
startled look went over his face. He
came forward and took my hand in a
long grasp as he said, "This is a strange
thing. I have been thinking of you
ever since I heard you preach yesterday
morning. I thought of driving in again
last night, but I have not been well, and
my wife feared for me to do it. To-day I
have thought of going to see you, but the
storm kept me back. How did you happen
to come to see me through all this rain?''
Then I just opened my heart to him
and told him the whole story which I
have tried to tell you; only in this case
we were two men sitting close together
with our eyes on each other's faces and
our hearts greatly moved. He told me
that the sermon the day before had
seemed to be God's message to him, and
that he felt greatly condemned that he
had so long neglected making an open
surrender of himself to Jesus Christ.



On the Trail of a Soul. 211

After we had talked awhile, I asked him
if I might pray with him, and he said
it would be a great comfort to him and
he would like his wife to be present. He
went out and brought her in and intro-
duced her, repeated to her something
of the conversation, and then I prayed
with them. The Holy Spirit was present
in that room during that prayer. Our
hearts were strangely warmed.

When we arose from our knees I shall
never forget the face or words of my
new friend. His face was bathed in
tears; his eyes shone with a new light;
he grasped me by the hand and ex-
claimed, ^'I thank you with all my
heart. You are the first man in twenty-
five years who has ever asked me about
my soul or asked permission to pray in
my house.''

That prayer and conversation marked
the beginning of a new Christian life
in that household.



CHAPTER XVI
A WAYSIDE CAPTURE



CHAPTER XVi:



I WAS once a pastor in a part of an
Eastern city where there were a
number of large manufacturing
plants, many of them employing several
hundred and some of them as many
as a thousand young men or women,
or both. I was trying the experiment
of a special series of services to young
people for Sunday evenings, with a view
to securing conversions in the after-
service which followed each sermon. I
was very desirous of reaching these
young working people, and finally con-
cluded that the best way to do it was to
go directly to them myself with the cards
of invitation. So, with a great bag of
these cards, giving the themes and dates
of the series of sermons and a kindly-
worded invitation, I presented myself day



216 Soul-Winning Stories.

after day at the noon hour beside the gate
of one manufacturing plant after another,
and handed one of these invitations
to each person coming out or going in.
Sometimes they were thrown away, on
rare occasions they were resented ; but for
the most part they were received kindly,
and my church was crowded to standing
room by the young people who responded
to the invitations.

One day while I was making these
rounds I took my stand before a factory
employing several hundred young boys
and girls. I was a few minutes early,
and while I waited I saw one of the
vilest specimens of humanity come up
on the other side of the door from me,
bowed down with a huge load of cheap
sensational literature which he was hired
to give out to these people. He was a
wretched-looking creature. He was rag-
ged and dirty; his face was seamed and
bloated with vice, and the stuff he had
to dispense was as vile as he was. He



A Wayside Capture. 217

laid down his burden and looked up at
me with a leer and a grin as much as to
say, ''We are a pair. There are two of
us." I confess I felt shaky. I never
in my life felt so like running under fire.
At first thought there was something
so repulsive about the idea of entering into
a competition with a fellow like that
that it seemed the best thing I could do
would be to slip away home. But that
lasted only for a moment. Then I said
to myself, " This is as it should be. This
only shows the competition that is going
on everywhere for every human soul.
This man is the proper type of the devil
whose servant he is. He is here to work
for his master. He is trying to win
these souls to the devil. I am trying
to win them for Christ. I want to do
them good, to draw them upward, and
make them stronger and piu-er in every
way. I will not run. I will stand here
and compete in my Master's name, and
for his sake, for the soul of every boy and



218 Soul-Winning Stories.

girl in this shop." And so I never en-
joyed giving out cards so much as I did
that day when that sense of the com-
petition which is going on for every
human soul was so keenly felt by me.

But I was not the only one that day
who had noticed the seeming incon-
gruity of the pastor of a big city church
and a notorious drimken man standing
side by side at a factory door giving out
their literature to the workmen. Just
across the street, waiting, like a spider
for a fly, was a liquor-saloon watching
there for any wayward boy or girl who
might be drawn into its net. Lounging
around the door were a number of fel-
lows who had visited inside too often
for their own good, and who were alert
for anything that would start a laugh.
One of these noticed the giving out of
the literature over the way, and with an
oath swore that that beat anything he
ever saw, and then he pointed out the
preacher and his associate. It raised a



A Wayside Capture. 219

laugh; They went inside and called
out the bar-tender and some other
half-drunken fellows to enjoy the joke
with them. I heard the hilarity and
imagined the cause of it, but paid no
attention to it, except that after I had
gotten through with the factory people
I went across the street and, speaking
pleasantly to them, handed every one
of the loungers one of the invitations
and told them I would be very glad
indeed to welcome them the next Sunday
night at my church. Some laughed and
looked sheepish; one man swore he had
no use for churches, and others simply
looked at me dumbly and curiously and
said nothing.

Sitting there, lounging back against
the wall of the saloon that day, was a
man who had had a great deal of trouble
and misfortune. He was a big, broad-
shouldered, strong fellow, physically, and
with many good quahties. But his wife
had been ill for a long time in a sanitarium,



220 Soul-Winning Stories.

and his little children had had poor care,
and he had drifted into drink, trying as
so many thousands have done to drown
his sorrow and still the aching of his heart
over the wreckage of what had promised
to be a happy home. He sat there, listen-
ing to the rough fun, while I was giving
out my cards across the street. He was
about half drunk, and so did not pay
much attention to it until I came across
and spoke to them. I had noticed him
particularly, for there was something in
his big figure and in his large fine eyes
that told of the splendid man he might
be. And when I had said I would be
glad to welcome them at my church I
had looked straight into his eyes.

After I had gone on one of them began
to curse and abuse me behind my back.
He declared it was an insult for me to
go around shoving my religion under
people's noses and that I was only doing
it because I was paid for it. But my big
drayman was sobering up. My eyes



A Wayside Capture. 221

had appealed to his, and the warm pres-
sure of the hand I had given him and
the card of invitation I had left in his
hand were having their effect, and he
at once began to defend me. He said,
"That is not true. He is not paid for
doing this. His church would pay him
just as much as if he did not do it. Some
of them would like him better if he did
not do it. He could be at home reading
in his library just as well as noi; but he
came down here, and stood over there
beside that drimken scoundrel, and gave
out those cards while we were poking
fun at him, and then he came over here
and shook hands with us when I am sure
he knew we had been laughing at him, not
because he is paid for it, but because
he wanted to help us and do us good.
You fellows can go on drinking and doing
just as you please, but I am going to
accept the preacher's invitation, and I
am going to take this card with me, and
go up there to-morrow night and tell him



222 Soul-Winning Stories.

I have come to see what he can do for
me.''

I have given the substance of that
conversation as my drayman gave it
to me afterward. Simday night he was
on hand. I was shaking hands at the
door when he came in. I knew him the
moment I got my eyes on him, and as
I shook hands with him I said, "I am
so glad that you have come.'' He was
much pleased to think I remembered
and told me he had accepted my invita-
tion, and if the church could do him
any good he would be glad of it.

I do not remember what the sermon
was about that night, except that it was
about Jesus, and in the after-service
the big drayman stood up and asked to
be prayed for, and humbly and tearfully
gave his heart to Christ. He became a
very useful Christian. For my own
personal comfort it was one of the hap-
piest captures God has ever helped me
to make.



A Wayside Capture. 223

Everything seemed to blossom for
him after that day. His business pros-
pered. His wife, concerning whom it
had been feared that she was perma-
nently ill mentally, recovered and came
home to her family. It became a most
beautiful Christian home. I have never
gone near that city since to preach,
week-night or Sunday, but that before
the sermon began, sitting somewhere in
the audience, I have looked into the
eyes of my big drayman. God paid
me better than I knew that day. I was
competing for some of the souls inside
the shop and he gave me some of them;
but the most royal capture of all was
across the street among that crowd of
drunken loungers.



aJL





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