Of Such is the Kingdom

After I was saved, in addition to giving out tracts and evangelizing publicly, I also began organizing a number of children’s meetings. One of the first things Gladys and I did after moving into our apartment in South St. Paul was to fix up the porch as a meeting place. About ten or fifteen children from our neighborhood would come weekly. Several confessed Christ as Saviour at those meetings.

Thirty years later, at home in Louisiana, a man called from a New Orleans hotel and wanted to meet with us for lunch. He was in town for a convention, and had seen our name in the phone book. He related to us that he was saved at a children’s meeting on our porch. Though we had not seen him for thirty years, he had never forgotten the gospel messages, nor the teaching he had received. He had always wanted to find us and thank us. He related that he had continued on for the Lord, and was active in Christian work. Praise God for the privilege of bringing the gospel to those boys and girls. Soon we had five children’s meetings a week, in addition to the regular meetings at the chapel.

We were also out on the street corners preaching the Word. I’ll never forget my first street meeting when my brother, sister, and I were all in our mid-teens. My brother and I brought our violins, which we hoped would draw an audience. We found a good corner in downtown Minneapolis, with quite a number of people milling around. As we started tuning up our instruments, some curious people slowly gathered. I was shaking with nervousness as we tuned up the violins…and tuned them…and tuned them—stalling for time until we mustered up enough courage to start.

Finally, when we couldn’t tune our violins anymore, we started playing a piece we had been practicing. We looked at each other, then at the crowd. My sister snickered, and soon we were laughing—the crowd and all. Someone in the crowd called out, “Just what is it you intend to do?” That did it! We completely lost control and went into a fit of laughter. Any bit of courage we might have had totally disappeared, and there was no way we could testify, so we packed up our instruments and went home.

We were convicted of our cowardice that night, and as I confessed to the Lord, I felt so badly that I determined with the Lord’s help I would overcome my fears. The next night after supper, when all the neighbors were sitting on their porches, I took my Bible, stood on the corner, and yelled out the gospel at the top of my voice. I don’t suppose anyone paid attention to me, but it helped me gather enough courage to go on the street again—at the very site of our failure the week before. This time we were able to control ourselves, and actually played and preached the Word to a small crowd of people.

Since then I’ve held untold numbers of street meetings.

Gladys and I set up a printing press in a rented garage where we printed millions of tracts. We also printed two little papers called “Salvation Journal” and “Articles of Interest.” We enjoyed many wonderful experiences through these endeavors, and even saw some souls saved.

The Lord gave us experience in various fields early in life which prepared us for later service. We were able to get a small assembly started in our hometown of South St. Paul. Brother Bailey, an evangelist from California, came and held tent meetings. A few trusted Christ in these meetings and along with some others that I had led to the Lord, we had a nucleus for a new work. After a few years we had about thirty-five in fellowship. This evidently caught the attention of Satan, who has a mania to be worshiped and does not want anything that honors the Lord to prosper.

Some of us attended a conference at the Longfellow assembly, where we were introduced to one of the speakers. He carried a letter of commendation signed by several men from an assembly in Michigan. We were delighted when he offered to come and help our assembly in South St. Paul. Everything on the surface looked okay, so we gave him a room in our home.

We advertised the meetings in the paper, and passed out flyers. The first meeting was well attended and his message was good. The next night it wasn’t so good, but we were young and reluctant to even discuss it among ourselves. The attendance was down noticeably by the end of the week.

Our speaker evidently noticed the shrinking attendance, and suggested that he hold some home Bible studies. Being very busy with work and with other activities in serving the Lord, I thought that would be a good idea, taking a load off me. He went out and canvassed the community, announcing to us that he had started two afternoon home study classes. The following week, he announced a third. I had to work during the day, so I could not attend any of the classes.

I was very naive, not even suspecting that anything was wrong. After all, he had the proper credentials; he was a conference speaker. But everything came to a sudden halt when I got a call from our local sheriff, whom I knew quite well.

He called to tell me that he had our evangelist in jail.

The evangelist had been with us about six weeks. A husband of one of the ladies had found him with his wife when he was supposed to be leading a Bible class, and held him at knife point for the police. The sheriff realized our position and offered to release him if I would get him out of town. Of course this was the desire of both the sheriff and me.

When I got him out of jail, he told me that he was a servant of God, and that I had no right to put him out. I told him that if he wasn’t on a train that morning, the sheriff would see that he stayed a very long time. He left. When I checked on his credentials, I found that they were forged. There was no such assembly in Michigan. The brethren in Minneapolis were stunned that he could have fooled us all so completely.

We thought the situation was handled quietly so as not to affect our testimony in the community, but the news spread. This was not the only ‘Bible class’ there had been with this so-called evangelist. However, this was a lesson to us that we could never forget in building assemblies in coming years.

During the war we had a German spy visit our assembly in Milwaukee, posing as a missionary. Like most visiting preachers, he stayed at our home. We were not deceived long, thanks to the aforementioned experience. The FBI was after this man. There are still such fakes who learn elders names and gain entry to, and prey on, small assemblies.

One day a man, posing as a missionary, called me in New Orleans from Houston saying he had been speaking at that assembly. He told me that an elder there had suggested that he call me to arrange for him to speak at some meetings in our chapel. As we knew and respected the elder whom he had mentioned, we invited him to come down.

At the meeting that night, the so-called missionary showed slides of his missionary work in India. My suspicion was aroused when I remembered seeing some of the same scenes in a magazine, and I got the feeling he might be lying. My suspicions were confirmed when, at the end of the meeting, he announced that he had put a box at the back of the room and wanted the Christians to be liberal for his work in India. I stopped him, confronting him with the fact that the pictures he had been showing us were in fact taken from magazines.

He became very angry, so I asked a couple of men to help get him in our car so we could drive him to the train station. He was supposed to stay with us that night. When he complained, I told him that he was fortunate we weren’t driving him to the police station. Upon investigation, we learned that he was an impostor. He had never been to the Houston assembly and so we were able to protect other assemblies.

At our Servicemen’s Center in downtown New Orleans, we encountered a man posing as a retired missionary. He turned out to be a notorious drug smuggler, running drugs from Mexico to Texas. He had a place in a Texas border town which he called a church. The FBI caught up with him and he went to jail. Again, we were alerted to his deception through caution learned from the South St. Paul escapade, though not soon enough. He kept us fooled for quite a while.