In the Southern Field
"As a shepherd seeketh out his flock; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered." Ezekiel 34:12.
Needs in the Southern Field
The Lord expects far more of us than we have given Him in unselfish service for people of all classes in the Southern States of America. This field lies at our very doors, and in it there is a great work to be done for the Master. This work must be done now, while the angels continue to hold the four winds. There is no time to lose.
The Lord has long been waiting for human instrumentalities through whom to work. How much longer will He be obliged to wait for men and women to respond to the call: "Go work today in My vineyard"? Messengers of mercy are needed, not merely in a few places in the South, but throughout the whole field. Rich and poor are calling for the light.
Men and women should now be offering themselves to carry the truth into the highways and byways of this field. There are thousands who might give themselves to God for service. He would accept them and work through them, making them messengers of peace and hope.
The workers will meet with many who will harden their hearts against the conviction of God's Spirit; but they will meet also with many who are hungering for the bread of life, and who, receiving the message, will go forth to sow the seeds of truth.
When the Lord laid upon Moses the work of leading the children of Israel from Egypt, He gave him the assurance: "Certainly I will be with thee." "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Exodus 3:12; 33:14. The same assurance is given to those who go forth to work for the Lord in the Southern field.
My brethren and sisters, commune with God, that you may be imbued with His Spirit, and then go forth to bestow on others the grace you have received. The example of the Saviour should inspire us to put forth earnest, self-sacrificing effort for the good of others. He came to this world as the unwearied servant of man's necessity. Love for the lost race was manifested in all that He said and did. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might stand among human beings as one of them, a sharer of their poverty and their griefs. What a busy life He led! Day by day He might be seen entering the humble abodes of want and sorrow, speaking hope to the downcast and peace to the distressed. This is the work that He asks His people to do today. Humble, gracious, tenderhearted, pitiful, He went about doing good, lifting up the bowed-down and comforting the sorrowful. None who came to Him went away unhelped. To all He brought hope and gladness. Wherever He went he carried blessing.
We need to humble ourselves before God because so few of the members of His church are putting forth efforts that in any wise compare with the efforts that the Lord desires them to put forth. The opportunities that He has given us, the promises that He has made, the privileges that He has bestowed, should inspire us with far greater zeal and devotion. Every addition to the church should be one more agency for the carrying out of the plan of redemption. Every power of God's people should be devoted to bringing many sons and daughters to Him. In our service there is to be no indifference, no selfishness. Any departure from self-denial, any relaxation of earnest effort, means so much power given to the enemy.
An Appeal for the Colored Race
The proclamation that freed the slaves in the Southern States opened doors through which Christian workers should have entered to tell the story of the love of God. In this field there were precious jewels that the Lord's workers should have searched for as for hidden treasure. But though the colored people have been freed from political slavery, many of them are still in the slavery of ignorance and sin. Many of them are terribly degraded. Is no message of warning to reach them? Had those to whom God has given great light and many opportunities done the work that He desires them to do, there would today be memorials all through the Southern field--churches, sanitariums, and schools. Men and women of all classes would have been called to the gospel feast.
The Lord is grieved by the woe in the Southern field. Christ has wept at the sight of this woe. Angels have hushed the music of their harps as they have looked upon a people unable, because of their past slavery, to help themselves. And yet those in whose hands God has placed the torch of truth, kindled from the divine altar, have not realized that to them is given the work of carrying the light to this sin-darkened field. There are those who have turned away from the work of rescuing the downtrodden and degraded, refusing to help the helpless. Let the servants of Christ begin at once to redeem their neglect, that the dark stain on their record may be wiped out.
The present condition of the Southern field is dishonoring to the Redeemer. But shall it lead us to believe that the commission which Christ gave to His disciples when He told them to preach the gospel to all nations, cannot be fulfilled? No, No! Christ has power for the fulfillment of His commission. He is fully able to do the work laid upon Him. In the wilderness, armed with the weapon, "It is written," He met and overcame the strongest temptations that the enemy could bring against Him. He proved the power of the word. It is God's people who have failed. That His word has not the power on hearts that it ought to have is shown by the present condition of the world. But it is because men have chosen to disobey, not because the word has less power.
A Call from the Colored Race
The Lord has looked with sadness upon that most pitiful of all sights, the colored race in slavery. He desires us, in our work for them, to remember their providential deliverance from slavery, their common relationship to us by creation and by redemption, and their right to the blessings of freedom.
Some time ago I seemed to be, during the night season, in a meeting in which the work in the Southern field was being discussed. The questions were asked by a company of intelligent colored people: "Has God no message for the colored people of the South? Have they no souls to save? Does not the new covenant include them? If the Lord is soon to come, is it not time that something was done for the Southern field?
"We do not," it was said, "question the need of missions in foreign lands. But we do question the right of those who claim to have present truth to pass by millions of human beings in their own country, many of whom are as ignorant as the heathen. Why is it that so little is done for the colored people of the South, many of whom are ignorant and destitute, and need to be taught that Christ is their Creator and Redeemer? How can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? How can they hear without a preacher? And how can one preach except he be sent?
"We lay this matter before those who profess to believe the truth for this time. What are you doing for the unenlightened colored race? Why have you not a deeper sense of the necessities of the Southern field? Does there not rest upon ministers of the gospel the responsibility of setting in operation plans whereby this people can be educated? Does not the commission of the Saviour teach this? Is it right for professing Christians to hold themselves aloof from this work, allowing a few to carry the burden? In all your plans for medical missionary work and foreign missionary work, has God given you no message for us?"
Then He who has authority arose, and called upon all to give heed to the instruction that the Lord has given in regard to the work in the South. He said: "Much more evangelistic work should be done in the South. There should be a hundred workers where now there is but one.
"Let the people of God awake. Think you that the Lord will bless those who have felt no burden for this work, and who permit the way of its advancement to be hedged up?"
As these words were spoken, deep feeling was manifested. Some offered themselves as missionaries, while others sat in silence, apparently taking no interest in the subject.
Then the words were spoken: "The South is a most unpromising field; but how changed would it be from what it is now if, after the colored people had been released from slavery, men and women had worked for them as Christians ought to work, teaching them how to care for themselves!"
The condition of the colored people in the South is no more disheartening than was the condition of the world when Christ left heaven to come to its aid. He saw humanity sunken in wretchedness and sinfulness. He knew that men and women were depraved and degraded, and that they cherished the most loathsome vices. Angels marveled that Christ should undertake what seemed to them a hopeless task. They marveled that God could tolerate a race so sinful. They could see no room for love. But "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Christ came to this earth with a message of mercy and forgiveness. He laid the foundation for a religion by which Jew and Gentile, black and white, free and bond, are linked together in one common brotherhood, recognized as equal in the sight of God. The Saviour has a boundless love for every human being. In each one He sees capacity for improvement. With divine energy and hope He greets those for whom He has given His life. In His strength they can live a life rich in good works, filled with the power of the Spirit.
A Gospel for the Poor
The poverty of the people to whom we are sent is not to prevent us from working for them. Christ came to this earth to walk and work among the poor and suffering. They received the greatest share of His attention. And today, in the person of His children, He visits the poor and needy, relieving woe and alleviating suffering.
Take away suffering and need, and we should have no way of understanding the mercy and love of God, no way of knowing the compassionate, sympathetic heavenly Father. Never does the gospel put on an aspect of greater loveliness than when it is brought to the most needy and destitute regions. Then it is that its light shines forth with the clearest radiance and the greatest power. Truth from the word of God enters the hovel of the peasant; rays from the Sun of Righteousness light up the rude cottage of the poor, bringing gladness to the sick and suffering. Angels of God are there, and the simple faith shown makes the crust of bread and the cup of water a banquet. The sin-pardoning Saviour welcomes the poor and ignorant, and gives them to eat of the bread that comes down from heaven. They drink of the water of life. Those who have been loathed and abandoned are through faith and pardon raised to the dignity of sons and daughters of God. Lifted above the world, they sit in heavenly places in Christ. They may have no earthly treasure, but they have found the pearl of great price.
What can be Done
How best to accomplish the work in this difficult field is the problem before us. Long years of neglect have made it far more difficult than it would otherwise have been. Obstructions have been accumulating.
Great progress might have been made in medical missionary work. Sanitariums might have been established. The principles of health reform might have been proclaimed. This work is now to be taken up. And into it not a vestige of selfishness is to be brought. It is to be done with an earnestness, perseverance, and devotion that will open doors through which the truth can enter, and that to stay.
In the South there is much that could be done by lay members of the church, persons of limited education. There are men, women, and children who need to be taught to read. These poor souls are starving for a knowledge of God.
Our people in the South are not to wait for eloquent preachers, talented men; they are to take up the work which the Lord places before them, and do their best. He will accept and work through humble, earnest men and women, even though they may not be eloquent or highly educated. My brethren and sisters, devise wise plans for labor, and go forward, trusting in the Lord. Do not indulge the feeling that you are capable and keen-sighted. Begin and continue in humility. Be a living exposition of the truth. Make the word of God the man of your counsel. Then the truth will go with power, and souls will be converted.
Let Sabbathkeeping families move to the South and live out the truth before those who know it not. These families can be a help to one another, but let them be careful to do nothing that will hedge up their way. Let them do Christian help work, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. This will have a far stronger influence for good than the preaching of sermons. Deeds, as well as words, of sympathy are needed. Christ prefaced the giving of His message by deeds of love and benevolence. Let these workers go from house to house, helping where help is needed, and, as opportunity offers, telling the story of the cross. Christ is to be their text. They need not dwell upon doctrinal subjects; let them speak of the work and sacrifice of Christ. Let them hold up His righteousness, in their lives revealing His purity.
The true missionary must be armed with the mind of Christ. His heart must be filled with Christlike love; and he must be true and steadfast to principle.
In many places schools should be established, and those who are tender and sympathetic, who, like the Saviour, are touched by the sight of woe and suffering, should teach old and young. Let the word of God be taught in a way that will enable all to understand it. Let the pupils be encouraged to study the lessons of Christ. This will do more to enlarge the mind and strengthen the intellect than any other study. Nothing gives such vigor to the faculties as contact with the word of God.
The cotton field is not to be the only means whereby the colored people can gain a livelihood. They are to be taught how to till the soil, how to cultivate various crops, and how to plant and care for orchards. Painstaking effort is to be put forth to develop their capabilities. Thus will be awakened in them the thought that they are of value with God, because they are His property.
Among the colored people some will be found whose intellect has been too long darkened for them to be speedily fitted for usefulness. But they may be taught to know God. The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness may shine into the darkened chambers of their minds. It is their privilege to have the life that measures with the life of God. Plant in their minds uplifting, ennobling thoughts. Live before them lives that will make plain the difference between vice and purity, darkness and light. Let them read in your lives what it means to be a Christian. The chain that has been let down from the throne of God is long enough to reach to the lowest depths. Christ is able to lift the most sinful out of the pit of degradation, and to place them where they will be acknowledged as children of God, heirs with Christ to an immortal inheritance.
Many are utterly discouraged. Because they have been despised and forsaken they have become stoical. They are looked upon as unable to comprehend or to receive the gospel of Christ. Yet by the miracle of divine grace they may be changed. Under the ministration of the Holy Spirit the stupidity that makes their uplifting appear so hopeless will pass away. The dull, clouded mind will awake. The slave of sin will be set free. Spiritual life will revive and strengthen. Vice will disappear, and ignorance will be overcome. Through the faith that works by love the heart will be purified and the mind enlightened.
There are others among the colored people who have quick perceptions and bright minds. Many of the colored race are rich in faith and trust. God sees among them precious jewels that will one day shine out brightly. The colored people deserve more from the hands of the white people than they have received. There are thousands who have minds capable of cultivation and uplifting. With proper labor, many who have been looked upon as hopeless will become educators of their race. Through the grace of God the race that the enemy has for generations oppressed may rise to the dignity of God-given manhood and womanhood.
The Lord desires the desert places of the South, where the outlook appears so forbidding, to become as the garden of God. Let our people arouse and redeem the past. The obligation to work for the colored people rests heavily upon us. Shall we not try to repair, as far as lies in our power, the injury that in the past has been done to these people? Shall not the number of missionaries to the South be multiplied? Shall we not hear of many volunteers who are ready to enter this field to bring souls out of darkness and ignorance into the marvelous light in which we rejoice? God will pour out His Spirit upon those who respond to His call. In the strength of Christ they may do a work that will fill heaven with rejoicing.
"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. . . . So will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. . . . I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. . . . And I will make with them a covenant of peace. . . . And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. . . . Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them. . . . And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God."
Centers of Influence
A good beginning has been made in the Southern field. In the forward march of events the Lord has wrought most wonderfully for the advancement of His work. Battles have been fought, victories won. Favorable impressions have been made; much prejudice has been removed.
In the night season I was taken by my Guide from place to place, from city to city, in the South. I saw the great work to be done--that which ought to have been done years ago. We seemed to be looking at many places. Our first interest was for the places where the work has already been established and for those where the way has opened for a beginning to be made. I saw where there are institutions for the advancement of the Lord's work. One of these places was Graysville, and another, Huntsville, where we have industrial schools. These schools are to receive encouragement and help, for the Lord led in their establishment. Each has advantages of its own.
From the light given me I know that the work at Hildebran, if properly managed, will be a great blessing to the surrounding country. I have been instructed that we must establish schools in just such districts, away from the cities and their temptations.
Eternity alone will reveal the work accomplished for the colored people by the small schools at Vicksburg, Yazoo City, and other points in the South. In this field we need many more such schools.
We must provide greater facilities for the education and training of the youth, both white and colored, in the South. Schools are to be established away from the cities, where the youth can learn to cultivate the soil and thus help to make themselves and the school self-supporting. In connection with these schools all the different lines of work, whether agricultural or mechanical, that the situation of the place will warrant are to be developed. Let means be gathered for the establishment of such schools. In them students may gain an education that, with God's blessing, will prepare them to win souls to Christ. If they unite with the Saviour they will grow in spirituality and will become valuable workers in His vineyard.
With our larger schools should be connected small sanitariums, that the students may have opportunity to gain a knowledge of medical missionary work. This line of work is to be brought into our schools as part of the regular instruction. Small sanitariums should be established in connection with the schools at Graysville and Huntsville.
Nashville as a Center
As a people we should take a special interest in the work at Nashville. At the present time this city is a point of great importance in the Southern field. Our brethren selected Nashville as a center for work in the South because the Lord in His wisdom directed them there. It is a favorable place in which to make a beginning. Our workers will find it easier to labor in this city for the colored race than in many other cities of the South. In this city much interest is taken in the colored people by those not of our faith. In and near the city are large educational institutions for the colored people. The influence of these institutions has prepared the way for us to make this city a center for our work.
Into the institutions of learning at Nashville the truth is to find entrance. There are those in these institutions who are to be reached by the third angel's message. Everything that can be done to interest these teachers and students in the message of present truth should now be done, and it should be done in a wise and understanding manner. From the experienced teachers may be learned precious lessons regarding the best ways of helping the colored people.
The truth is also to be brought before those who have given of their means and influence for the benefit of the colored race. They have taken a noble stand for the uplifting of this people. They are to see a representation of our work that will be to them an object lesson. We are to do all we can to remove the prejudice that exists in their minds against our work. If the efforts we put forth are in accordance with God's will, many among them will be convicted and converted. The Lord causes light to shine on the pathway of those who are seeking for light.
Nashville is within easy access of Graysville and Huntsville. By the work in Nashville, the work at Graysville and Huntsville is to be confirmed and settled. Graysville and Huntsville are near enough to Nashville to strengthen the work there and to be strengthened by it.
It was in accordance with God's purpose that the publishing work was started at Nashville. In the Southern field there is need of a printing office for the publication of the truth for this time, and especially for printing reading matter suitable for the different classes of people in this field. And there is no city in the South better suited than Nashville for the carrying forward of publishing work. The establishing of such an institution is an advance movement. If rightly managed, this institution will give character to the work in the South and to many souls will be the means of imparting a knowledge of the truth. The Nashville publishing house will still need to be assisted for a time by gifts and offerings.
Sanitarium work also has been begun in Nashville. This must be wisely managed and given support. Medical missionary work is indeed the helping hand of the gospel ministry. It opens the way for the entrance of truth.
I am instructed to caution my brethren in the Southern field not to move hastily in establishing large enterprises and new centers just now, in a way that will divide their workers and their means, thus weakening their forces at this critical time in their work. Let them wait until some of the interests that have been started approach more nearly to perfection. Let them not rush into new enterprises before the institutions at Graysville and Huntsville are more firmly established and the interests centering in Nashville are strengthened.
As yet there are comparatively few places in the South that have been worked. There are many, many cities in which nothing has been done. Centers of influence may be established in many places by the opening up of health food stores, hygienic restaurants, and treatment rooms. Not all that needs to be done can be specified before a beginning is made. Let those in charge of the Southern work pray over the matter, and remember that God is guiding. Let no narrowness or selfishness be manifested. Plan to carry forward the work simply, sensibly, economically.
Instruction to Workers
Slowly but surely the wheel of Providence is turning. We know not how soon our Lord will say: "It is done." His coming is drawing nigh. Soon our opportunities for work will be forever past. Only a little while longer shall we be permitted to labor. My brethren, will you not strive with earnest effort to establish memorials for God throughout the Southern States? Churches should be raised up; houses of worship should be built; small schools and sanitariums should be established; and the publishing interests should be strengthened.
The lines of work to be established in different places in the South will need men and women of wisdom and prayer, men and women who will carry the work forward from stage to stage soundly, intelligently--toiling, praying, working economically, as laborers of God's appointment. The situation calls for personal, untiring, united effort.
Patient continuance in well-doing--this is to be our motto. We are to put forth persevering effort, advancing step by step until the race is run, the victory gained.
When the publishing work at Nashville was started, it was the avowed purpose of the workers to keep out of debt; but in their desperate effort to make brick without straw, our brethren were led to depart from this purpose, and, as the result, the work has become involved in difficulty. But God's workmen at Nashville are not, because of this, to become discouraged. The work must not cease. Let all now seek most earnestly to avoid the mistakes of the past. Let them guard themselves as with a fence of barbed wire against the inclination to go into debt. Let them say firmly: "Henceforth we will advance no faster than the Lord shall indicate and the means in hand shall allow, even though the good work has to wait for a while. In beginning in new places, we will labor in narrow quarters, rather than involve the Lord's cause in debt."
Let not those become disheartened who have labored so earnestly to bring the work in the Southern field to its present state of advancement. Let all do their best to place the work at Nashville on a solid basis. The Lord has in charge those who have striven valiantly to do that which so greatly needed to be done. In His pity and kindness and love, the Lord has mercy on them. He still accepts them as His co-workers. He knows all about every one of them. They have had to pass through the fire of affliction, as they have done the breaking-up pioneer work. God will be glorified in those who have been laborers together with Him in breaking up the ground in fields that have never before been worked.
Brethren, we have a great work before us in the Southern field, a work that as yet we have only begun. We must not continue to stand as we have stood for years, dreading this work. There are those who have done stern, hard labor, and the Lord recognizes and commends their self-sacrificing efforts. He has blessed them. They have received their reward by seeing those they helped placing their feet on the Rock of Ages and in turn helping others.
My brethren in the Southern field, I ask you, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, to quit you like men. The Lord is at the helm. He will give His servants grace and wisdom. It is God's purpose that men entrusted with responsibility should counsel and pray together in Christian unity. In unity there is a life, a power, that can be obtained in no other way. There will be a vast power in the church when the energies of the members are united under the control of the Spirit. Then will God be able to work mightily through His people for the conversion of sinners.
God lives and reigns. He will open the way for the neglected Southern field to be cultivated for Him. Let the workers there come up to the help of the Lord and with joy proclaim His truth. The Lord is soon coming. Talk it, pray it, believe it. Make it a part of the life. You will have to meet a doubting, objecting spirit, but this will give way before firm, consistent trust in God. When perplexities or hindrances present themselves, lift the soul to God in songs of thanksgiving. Gird on the Christian armor, and be sure that your feet are "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Preach the truth with boldness and fervor. Remember that the Lord looks in compassion upon this field and that He knows its poverty and its need. The efforts you are making will not prove a failure.
Our churches in the South are to have a spiritual resurrection. A great and solemn work is before the members of every church. They are to come close to Christ in self-denial and self-sacrifice, their one aim being to give God's message of mercy to their fellow men. Let them labor guardedly and with humility, each having respect for the work of the others. Some can labor in one way and some in another, as the Lord may call and lead them. But let none mourn that they cannot glorify God in the use of talents that He has not entrusted to their keeping. God holds us responsible only for the work that He has placed in our hands. One thing all can do: They can avoid making the work of others unnecessarily hard by criticizing their efforts, putting stones in front of the car their brethren are trying to push uphill. If any are unwilling to put their shoulder to the wheel, let them at least refrain from hindering those who are working. God calls for laborers who will refuse to discourage their fellow laborers.
As God's people labor earnestly, humbly, self-sacrificingly, they will gain the rich reward of which Job speaks: "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; . . . the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. . . . I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out." Job 29:11-16.
The blessing of good works will follow into the eternal world those who deny self for the sake of their Saviour. When the redeemed stand around the throne of God, those who have been saved from sin and degradation will come to those who labored for them, with the words of greeting: "I was without God and without hope in the world. I was perishing in corruption and sin. I was starving for physical and for spiritual food. You came to me in love and pity, and fed and clothed me. You pointed me to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."
My brethren in the South, be strong, yea, be strong. The hand of oppression and robbery shall not afflict you if you will exalt the holy principles of God's law. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard for you against him. You are engaged in an important work, and you are to take heed, to watch and pray, to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Work with an eye single to the glory of God, with a sense of your individual responsibility. Remember that the Lord alone can make your efforts successful.
The workers in the South must reach the highest spiritual attainments, in order that their work in this field may be a success. Private prayer, family prayer, prayer in public gatherings for the worship of God-- all are essential. And we are to live our prayers. We are to co-operate with Christ in His work.
Union with Christ and with one another is our only safety. Let us not make it possible for Satan to point to our churches, saying: "Behold how these people, standing under the banner of Christ, hate one another. We have nothing to fear from them while they spend more strength in fighting among themselves than in warfare with my forces."
We are to learn from past experience how to avoid failure. We pray to our heavenly Father, "Lead us not into temptation," and then, too often, we fail to guard our feet against leading us into temptation. We are to keep away from the temptations by which we are easily overcome. Our success is wrought out by ourselves through the grace of Christ. We are to roll out of the way the stone of stumbling that has caused us and others so much sadness.
In establishing the work in new places, economize in every possible way. Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost. The work of soul saving must be carried on in the way that Christ has marked out. He declares: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24. Only by obeying this word can we be His disciples. We are nearing the end of this earth's history, and the different lines of God's work are to be carried forward with much more self-sacrifice than has yet been manifested.
We are in this world to help one another. In Christ's work there were no territorial lines, and those who attempt to make such lines in His work today might better pray: "Lord, give me a new heart." When they have the mind of Christ they will see the many parts of the Lord's vineyard that are still unworked. Never will they say: "Our means are needed to carry forward the interests we have in hand. It is of no use to call for means from us."
Day by day human beings are deciding a question of life or death, deciding whether they will have eternal life or eternal destruction. And yet many of those professing to serve the Lord are content to occupy their time and attention with matters of little importance. They are content to be at variance with one another. If they were consecrated to the service of the Master, they would not be contending like a family of unruly children. Everyone would be standing at his post of duty, working with heart and soul as a missionary of the cross of Christ. The Holy Spirit would abide in the hearts of the laborers, and works of righteousness would be wrought. The workers would carry with them into their service the prayers and sympathies of an awakened church. They would receive their orders from Christ, and would have no time for contention. Messages would come from lips touched by a live coal from the divine altar. Earnest, purified words would be spoken. Humble, heartbroken prayers of faith would ascend to heaven. While with one hand the workers would take hold of Christ, with the other they would grasp sinners and draw them to the Saviour.
"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
"Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." Luke 15:4-10.
Be of Good Courage
To those who are laboring in the South I would say: Be not discouraged by the present feebleness of the work. You have had to struggle against difficulties that have at times threatened to overcome you. But by God's help you have been enabled to move forward. If all in our ranks knew how difficult it was in years past to establish the work in places that have since become important centers, they would realize that it takes courage to face an unpromising situation and to declare, with hands uplifted to heaven: "We will not fail nor become discouraged." Those who have not broken the ground in new and difficult fields do not realize the difficulties of pioneer work. If they could understand God's working they would not only rejoice because of what has been done, but they would see cause for rejoicing in the future of the work.
My brethren, there is no reason for discouragement. The good seed is being sown. God will watch over it, causing it to spring up and bring forth an abundant harvest. Remember that many of the enterprises for soul saving have, at the beginning, been carried forward amidst great difficulty.
I am instructed to say to you: Move guardedly, doing always that which the Lord commands. Move forward courageously, assured that the Lord will be with those who love and serve Him. He will work in behalf of His covenant-keeping people. He will not suffer them to become a reproach. He will purify all who yield themselves to Him, and will make them a praise in the earth. Nothing else in this world is so dear to God as His church. He will work with mighty power through humble, faithful men. Christ is saying to you today: "I am with you, co-operating with your faithful, trusting efforts, and giving you precious victories. I will strengthen you as you sanctify yourselves to My service. I will give you success in your efforts to arouse souls dead in trespasses and sins."
Unswerving faith and unselfish love will overcome the difficulties that arise in the path of duty to hinder aggressive warfare. As those inspired by this faith go forward in the work of saving souls, they will run and not be weary, will walk and not faint.
I assure you that if you work in right lines, God will make your enemies to be at peace with you. He will uphold and strengthen you. Make a covenant with God that you will guard well your words. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." James 3:2. Remember that a revengeful speech never makes one feel that he has gained a victory. Let Christ speak through you. Do not lose the blessing that comes from thinking no evil.
Remember that prayer is the source of your strength. A worker cannot gain success while he hurries through his prayers and rushes away to look after something that he fears may be neglected or forgotten. He gives only a few hurried thoughts to God; he does not take time to think, to pray, to wait upon the Lord for a renewal of physical and spiritual strength. He soon becomes weary. He does not feel the uplifting, inspiring influence of God's Spirit. He is not quickened by fresh life. His jaded frame and tired brain are not soothed by personal contact with Christ.
"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." Psalm 27:14; Lamentations 3:26. There are those who work all day and far into the night to do what seems to them must be done. The Lord looks pityingly upon these weary, heavy-laden burden bearers and says to them: "Come unto Me, . . . and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
God's workers will meet with turmoil, discomfort, and weariness. At times, uncertain and distracted, they are almost in despair. When this restless nervousness comes, let them remember Christ's invitation: "Come ye yourselves apart, . . . and rest awhile." The Saviour "giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength." Isaiah 40:29.
Difficulties will arise that will try your faith and patience. Face them bravely. Look on the bright side. If the work is hindered, be sure that it is not your fault, and then go forward, rejoicing in the Lord. Heaven is full of joy. It resounds with the praises of Him who made so wonderful a sacrifice for the redemption of the human race. Should not the church on earth be full of praise? Should not Christians publish throughout the world the joy of serving Christ? Those who in heaven join with the angelic choir in their anthem of praise must learn on earth the song of heaven, the keynote of which is thanksgiving.
Never let your courage fail. Never talk unbelief because appearances are against you. As you work for the Master you will feel pressure for want of means, but the Lord will hear and answer your petitions for help. Let your language be: "The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." Isaiah 50:7.
If you make a mistake, turn your defeat into victory. The lessons that God sends will always, if well learned, bring help in due time. Put your trust in God. Pray much, and believe. Trusting, hoping, believing, holding fast the hand of Infinite Power, you will be more than conquerors.
True workers walk and work by faith. Sometimes they grow weary with watching the slow advance of the work when the battle wages strong between the powers of good and evil. But if they refuse to fail or be discouraged they will see the clouds breaking away and the promise of deliverance fulfilling. Through the mist with which Satan has surrounded them, they will see the shining of the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
Work in faith, and leave results with God. Pray in faith, and the mystery of His providence will bring its answer. At times it may seem that you cannot succeed. But work and believe, putting into your efforts faith, hope, and courage. After doing what you can, wait for the Lord, declaring His faithfulness, and He will bring His word to pass. Wait, not in fretful anxiety, but in undaunted faith and unshaken trust.
"If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."