Monday, December 30, 2019

Living Epistles - Part 9

Joseph Herrin (09-18-09)

Hudson Taylor - At age 21
(Click on picture for larger image)

Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission. He was born in England in 1832 and live to the age of 73, dying in 1905. There exists two biographical books of his life, written by his son Dr. Howard Taylor. Both books are quite lengthy, being over 500 pages each, and they are full of spiritual riches. The books are titled Hudson Taylor - The Growth of a Soul, and Hudson Taylor - The Growth of a Work of God. Both books can be read online.

There are such riches in these two volumes that I am going to make two posts from them. At an early age he discerned the call to go to China as a missionary. Hudson Taylor in his teen years worked for his father who was a chemist and druggist. Missionary societies encouraged aspiring missionaries to receive training in the medical field for they often used medical clinics set-up in China as an opportunity to share Christ with the native population.

Hudson Taylor began looking for an opportunity to receive training, and was engaged by Dr. Hardey, a Christian man with a large practice in the city of Hull. Of this period of Hudson Taylor’s life we read the following.

Here then in what was called the Surgery Hudson Taylor found himself at home. Mrs. Hardey's supervision had not extended apparently to this branch of the establishment, but the new assistant was equal to the occasion and soon had everything in apple-pie order, after the fashion to which he had been accustomed at home. His knowledge of book-keeping also proved of value to Dr. Hardey, who had much work of that sort on hand and was glad to leave it to so competent a helper. Thus the doctor's relations with the Barnsley lad soon came to be of a cordial character. He was so bright and eager to learn, so willing and good-tempered, that to work with him was a pleasure, and before long the busy doctor found that it was a help to pray with him too. Many were the quiet times, after that, from which the older man came away refreshed and strengthened. Needless to say there was no familiarity or presuming on these relations. The young assistant respected himself and his employer far too much for that. He did his work faithfully, as in the sight of God, and Dr. Hardey showed his appreciation by giving him opportunities for study and by directing his reading as much as possible.

But there were drawbacks to the life at Charlotte Street, of which Hudson Taylor himself was largely unconscious. For one thing it was too comfortable, too easy-going in certain ways, and failed on that account to afford some elements needed in a missionary's training. Quite in another part of Hull amid very different surroundings was a little "prophet's chamber," bare in its furnishings and affording neither companionship nor luxury, where a stronger if a sterner life could be lived, apart with God. Moses at the backside of the wilderness, Joseph in Pharaoh's prison, Paul in the silence of the Arabian desert lived that sort of life, and came out to do great things for men in the power of God. That was the life Hudson Taylor needed and to which he was being led. He did not choose it for himself, at any rate not at first or consciously. The Lord chose it for him, and so ordered circumstances that he was brought to see and to embrace it, finding in self-denial and the daily cross a fellowship with his Master nothing else can yield.

So there came a day, providentially, when the young assistant could no longer be domiciled at Dr. Hardey's. His room was needed for a member of the family, and as the Surgery was not provided with sleeping accommodation he had to seek quarters elsewhere...

"After much thought and prayer, I was led to leave the comfortable home and pleasant circle in which I resided, and engage a little lodging in the suburbs, a sitting-room and bedroom in one, undertaking to board myself. I was thus enabled to tithe the whole of my income; and while one felt the change a good deal, it was attended with no small blessing. More time was given in my solitude to the study of the Word of God, to visiting the poor and to evangelistic work on Sunday evenings than would otherwise have been the case. Brought into contact in this way with many who were in distress, I soon saw the privilege of still further economizing, and found it possible to give away much more than I had at first intended."

It all reads so simply and naturally that one can hardly imagine any special sacrifice to have been involved. Let us hunt up this " sitting-room and bedroom in one," however, and find out what were in actual fact the surroundings for which he had given up his home on Kingston Square. The change could scarcely have been more complete.

Hardey Residence at top/Drainside in Lower Image

(Click on picture for larger image)

"Drainside," as the neighborhood was termed, could not under any circumstances have been considered inviting. It consisted of a double row of workmen's cottages facing each other across a narrow canal, connecting the country district of Cottingham with the docks and estuary of the Humber. The canal was nothing but a deep ditch into which Drainside people were in the habit of casting their rubbish, to be carried away in part whenever the tide rose high enough. It was separated from the town by desolate spaces of building-land, across which ran a few ill-lighted streets ending in makeshift wooden bridges. The cottages, like peas in a pod, were all the same size and shape down both sides of the long row. They followed the windings of the Drain for half a mile or more, each one having a door and two windows, one above the other. The door opened straight into the kitchen, and a steep stairway led to the room above. A very few were double cottages with a window to right and left of the door and two rooms overhead.

On the city side of the canal, one of these larger dwellings stood at a corner opposite The Founder's Arms, a countrified public-house whose lights were useful as a landmark on dark nights, shining across the mud and water of the Drain. The cottage, known as 30 Cottingham Terrace, was tenanted by the family of a seafaring man, whose visits home were few and far between. Mrs. Finch and her children occupied the kitchen and upper part of the house, and the downstairs room on the left as one entered was let at a rental of three shillings a week. It was too high a charge, seeing the whole house went for little more. But the lodger in whom we are interested did not grudge it, especially when he found how much it meant to the good woman whose remittances from her husband came none too regularly.

Mrs. Finch was a true Christian and delighted to have "the young Doctor" under her roof. She did her best no doubt to make the little chamber clean and comfortable, polishing the fireplace opposite the window and making up the bed in the corner farthest from the door. A plain deal table and a chair or two completed the appointments. The whole room was less than twelve feet square and did not need much furniture. It was on a level with the ground and opened familiarly out of the kitchen. From the window one looked across the narrowest strip of "garden" to the Drain beyond, whose mud banks afforded a playground for the children of the neighborhood.

Whatever it may have been in summer, toward the close of November, when Hudson Taylor made it his home, Drainside must have seemed dreary enough, and the cottage far from attractive. To add to the discomforts of the situation, he was "boarding himself," which meant that he lived upon next to nothing, bought his meager supplies as he returned from the Surgery, and rarely sat down, with or without a companion, to a proper meal. His walks were solitary across the waste, unlighted region on the outskirts of the town; his evenings solitary beside the little fire in his otherwise cheerless room; and his Sundays were spent alone, but for the morning meeting and long hours of work in his district or among the crowds that frequented the Humber Dock.

And more than this, he was at close quarters with poverty and suffering. Visiting in such neighborhoods he had been accustomed to for a few hours at a time, but this was very different. It belonged to him now in a new way, and outwardly at any rate he belonged to it. He had cast in his lot with those who needed him, and needed all the help and comfort he could bring. This gave new purpose to his life and taught him some of its most precious lessons.

" Having now the twofold object in view," he wrote, " of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to be able more largely to assist those amongst whom I spent a good deal of time laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I had previously thought possible. Butter, milk and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs. In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become..."

At a very young age, Hudson Taylor had turned his heart away from desiring the material comforts this world affords, and had set his affections on heavenly aspirations. He was acutely aware of his own shortcomings, and would often write to his mother or his sister to ask them to pray for him.

" I feel my need of more holiness," he wrote to his sister early in the New Year, "and conformity to Him who has loved us and washed us in His blood. Love so amazing should indeed cause us to give our bodies and spirits to Him as living sacrifices.... Oh, I wish I were ready! I long to be engaged in the work. Pray for me, that I may be made more useful here and fitted for extended usefulness hereafter." And again a few weeks later:

I almost wish I had a hundred bodies. They should all be devoted to my Savior in the missionary cause. But this is foolishness. I have almost more than I can do to manage one, it is so self-willed, earthly-minded, fleshly. Constantly I am grieving my dear Savior who shed for me His precious blood, forgetting Him who never has relaxed His watchful care and protection over me from the earliest moment of my existence. I am astonished at the littleness of my gratitude and love to Him, and confounded by His long-suffering mercy. Pray for me that I may live more and more to His praise, be more devoted to Him, incessant in labors in His cause, fitted for China, ripened for glory.

The following correspondence to his mother revealed how much Hudson Taylor was choosing to get by on a very meager diet, along with his very humble dwelling place. He could have chosen to eat much better, but it was his delight to save as much of his money as possible to share with the poor people he visited throughout the week.

"I am sorry you make yourself anxious about me," he wrote in January. I think it is because I have begun to wear a larger coat that everybody says, `How poorly and thin you look !' However, as you want to know everything, I have had a heavy cold... that lasted a week. But since then I have been as well as ever in my life. I eat like a horse, sleep like a top and have the spirits of a lark. I do not know that I have any anxiety save to be more holy and useful...

As to my health, I think I never was so well and hearty in my life. The winds here are extremely searching, but as I always wrap up well I am pretty secure... The cold weather gives me a good appetite, and it would be dear economy to stint myself. So I take as much plain, substantial food as I need, but waste nothing on luxuries...

I have found some brown biscuits which are really as cheap as bread, eighteen pence a stone, and much nicer. For breakfast I have biscuit and herring, which is cheaper than butter (three for a penny, and half a one is enough) with coffee. For dinner I have at present a prune-and-apple pie. Prunes are two or three pence a pound and apples tenpence a peck. I use no sugar, but loaf which I powder, and at fourpence halfpenny a pound I find it is cheaper than the coarser kind. Sometimes I have roast potatoes and tongue, which is as inexpensive as any other meat. For tea I have biscuit and apples. I take no supper, or occasionally a little biscuit and apple... I pickled a penny red cabbage with three halfpence worth of vinegar, which made me a large jar-full. So you see, at little expense I enjoy many comforts...

What a glimpse is here afforded into his deeper life during that winter at Drainside ! " I cannot tell, I cannot describe how I long to be a missionary, to carry the Glad Tidings to poor, perishing sinners. . . . For this I could give up everything, every idol, however dear . . . I feel as if I could not live if something is not done for China."

This was no mere emotion, no superficial interest that might give place to considerations of personal advantage.

It was not that he had taken up missionary work as a congenial branch of Christian activity, but that the need of the perishing in heathen lands, the need and longing of the heart of Christ-" them also I must bring "-had gripped him and held him fast...

Yet much as he longed to go, and go at once, there were considerations that held him back.

"To me it was a very grave matter," he wrote of that winter, "to contemplate going out to China, far from all human aid, there to depend upon the living God alone for protection, supplies, and help of every kind. I felt that one's spiritual muscles required strengthening for such an undertaking. There was no doubt that if faith did not fail, God would not fail. But what if one's faith should prove insufficient? I had not at that time learned that even 'if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself.' It was consequently a very serious question to my mind, not whether He was faithful, but whether I had strong enough faith to warrant my embarking in the enterprise set before me.

O 'When I got out to China,' I thought to myself, 'I shall have no claim on anyone for anything. My only claim will be on God. How important to learn, before leaving England, to move man through God by prayer alone."'

He knew that faith was the one power that could remove mountains, conquer every difficulty and accomplish the impossible. But had he the right kind of faith? Could he stand alone in China? Much as he longed to be a missionary, would such faith as he possessed be sufficient to carry him through all that must be faced? What had it carried him through already, here at home?

He thankfully realized that faith, the faith he longed for, was a "gift of God," and that it might "grow exceedingly." But for growth, exercise was needed, and exercise of faith was obviously impossible apart from trial. Then welcome trial, welcome anything that would increase and strengthen this precious gift, proving to his own heart at any rate that he had faith of the sort that would really stand and grow.

And here it should be remembered that in taking this attitude before the Lord, Hudson Taylor was wholly earnest and sincere. He was bringing "all the tithes into the storehouse," a most important consideration; living a life that made it possible for him to exercise faith to which God could respond in blessing. In a word, there was no hindrance in himself to the answer to his prayers; and experiences followed that have been made an encouragement to thousands the wide world over...

"To learn before leaving England to move man through God by prayer alone," this and nothing less was the object Hudson Taylor had before him now, and it was not long before he came to see a simple, natural way of practicing this lesson.

At Hull my kind employer, always busy, wished me to remind him whenever my salary became due. This I determined not to do directly, but to ask that God would bring the fact to his recollection, and thus encourage me by answering prayer.

At one time as the day drew near for the payment of a quarter's salary I was as usual much in prayer about it. The time arrived, but Dr. Hardey made no allusion to the matter. I continued praying. Days passed on and he did not remember, until at length on settling up my weekly accounts one Saturday night, I found myself possessed of only one remaining coin, a half-crown piece. Still, I had hitherto known no lack, and I continued praying.

That Sunday was a very happy one. As usual my heart was full and brimming over with blessing. After attending Divine Service in the morning, my afternoons and evenings were taken up with Gospel work in the various lodging-houses I was accustomed to visit in the lowest part of the town. At such times it almost seemed to me as if heaven were begun below, and that all that could be looked for was an enlargement of one's capacity for joy, not a truer filling than I possessed.

After concluding my last service about ten o'clock that night, a poor man asked me to go and pray with his wife, saying that she was dying. I readily agreed, and on the way to his house asked him why he had not sent for the priest, as his accent told me he was an Irishman. He had done so, he said, but the priest refused to come without a payment of eighteen pence which the man did not possess, as the family was starving. Immediately it occurred to my mind that all the money I had in the world was the solitary half-crown, and that it was in one coin; moreover, that while the basin of water-gruel I usually took for supper was awaiting me, and there was sufficient in the house for breakfast in the morning, I certainly had nothing for dinner on the coming day.

Somehow or other there was at once a stoppage in the flow of joy in my heart. But instead of reproving myself I began to reprove the poor man, telling him that it was very wrong to have allowed matters to get into such a state as he described, and that he ought to have applied to the relieving officer. His answer was that he had done so, and was told to come at eleven o'clock the next morning, but that he feared his wife might not live through the night.

"Ah," thought I, "if only I had two shillings and a sixpence instead of this half-crown, how gladly would I give these poor people a shilling! "But to part with the half-crown was far from my thoughts. I little dreamed that the truth of the matter simply was that I could trust God plus one and-sixpence, but was not prepared to trust Him only, without any money at all in my pocket.

My conductor led me into a court, down which I followed him with some degree of nervousness. I had found myself there before, and at my last visit had been roughly handled. My tracts had been torn to pieces and such a warning given me not to come again that I felt more than a little concerned. Still, it was the path of duty and I followed on. Up a miserable flight of stairs into a wretched room he led me; and oh, what a sight there presented itself! Four or five children stood about, their sunken cheeks and temples all telling unmistakably the story--of slow starvation, and lying on a wretched pallet was a poor, exhausted mother, with a tiny infant thirty-six hours old moaning rather than crying at her side, for it too seemed spent and failing.

"Ah!" thought I, "if I had two shillings and a sixpence, instead of half-a-crown, how gladly should they have one-and-sixpence of it." But still a wretched unbelief prevented me from obeying the impulse to relieve their distress at the cost of all I possessed.

It will scarcely seem strange that I was unable to say much to comfort these poor people. I needed comfort myself. I began to tell them, however, that they must not be cast down; that though their circumstances were very distressing there was a kind and loving Father in heaven. But something within me cried, "You hypocrite! telling these unconverted people about a kind and loving Father in heaven, and not prepared yourself to trust Him without a half-a-crown."

I was nearly choked. How gladly would I have compromised with conscience, if I had had a florin and a sixpence! I would have given the florin thankfully and kept the rest. But I was not yet prepared to trust in God alone, without the sixpence.

To talk was impossible under these circumstances, yet strange to say I thought I should have no difficulty in praying. Prayer was a delightful occupation in those days. Time thus spent never seemed wearisome and I knew no lack of words. I seemed to think that all I should have to do would be to kneel down and pray, and that relief would come to them and to myself together.

"You asked me to come and pray with your wife," I said to the man, "let us pray." And I knelt down.

But no sooner had I opened my lips with "Our Father who art in heaven," than conscience said within, "Dare you mock God? Dare you kneel down and call Him Father with that half-crown in your pocket?"

Such a time of conflict then came upon me as I have never experienced before or since. How I got through that form of prayer I know not, and whether the words uttered were connected or disconnected I cannot tell. But I arose from my knees in great distress of mind.

The poor father turned to me and said, "You see what a terrible state we are in, sir. If you can help us, for God's sake do!"

At that moment the word flashed into my mind, "Give to him that asketh of thee." And in the word of a King there is power.

I put my hand into my pocket and slowly drawing out the half-crown, gave it to the man, telling him that it might seem a small matter for me to relieve them, seeing that I was comparatively well off, but that in parting with that coin I was giving him my all; what I had been trying to tell them was indeed true - God really was a Father, and might be trusted. The joy all came back in full flood-tide to my heart. I could say anything and feel it then, and the hindrance to blessing was gone - gone, I trust, forever.

Not only was the poor woman's life saved; but my life, as I fully realized, had been saved too. It might have been a wreck - would have been, probably, as a Christian life - had not grace at that time conquered, and the striving of God's Spirit been obeyed.

I well remember how that night, as I went home to my lodgings, my heart was as light as my pocket. The dark, deserted streets resounded with a hymn of praise that I could not restrain. When I took my basin of gruel before retiring, I would not have exchanged it for a prince's feast. I reminded the Lord as I knelt at my bedside of His own Word, "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord"; I asked Him not to let my loan be a long one, or I should have no dinner next day. And with peace within and peace without, I spent a happy, restful night.

Next morning for breakfast my plate of porridge remained, and before it was finished the postman's knock was heard at the door, I was not in the habit of receiving letters on Monday, as my parents and most of my friends refrained from posting on Saturday, so that I was somewhat surprised when the landlady came in holding a letter or packet in her wet hand covered by her apron. I looked at the letter, but could not make out the handwriting. It was either a strange hand or a feigned one, and the postmark was blurred. Where it came from I could not tell. On opening the envelope I found nothing written within ; but inside a sheet of blank paper was folded a pair of kid gloves, from which, as I opened them in astonishment, half-a sovereign fell to the ground.

"Praise the Lord," I exclaimed. "Four hundred percent for twelve hours' investment - that is good interest! How glad the merchants of Hull would be if they could lend their money at such a rate." Then and there I determined that a bank that could not break should have my savings or earnings, as the case might be--a determination I have not yet learned to regret.

I cannot tell you how often my mind has recurred to this incident, or all the help it has been to me in circumstances of difficulty in afterlife. If we are faithful to God in little things, we shall gain experience and strength that will be helpful to us in the more serious trials of life.

But this was not the end of the story, nor was it the only answer to prayer that was to confirm his faith at this time. For the chief difficulty still remained. Dr. Hardey had not remembered; and though prayer was unremitting, other matters appeared entirely to engross his attention. It would have been so easy to remind him. But what then of the lesson upon the acquirement of which Hudson Taylor felt his future usefulness depended," to move man through God, by prayer alone."

"This remarkable and gracious deliverance,” he continued, "was a great joy to me as well as a strong confirmation of faith. But of course ten shillings however economically used will not go very far, and it was none the less necessary to continue in prayer, asking that the larger supply which was still due might be remembered and paid. All my petitions, however, appeared to remain unanswered, and before a fortnight elapsed I found myself pretty much in the same position that I had occupied on the Sunday night already made so memorable. Meanwhile I continued pleading with God more and more earnestly that He would Himself remind Dr. Hardey that my salary was due.

"Of course it was not the want of money that distressed me. That could have been had at any time for the asking. But the question uppermost in my mind was this : `Can I go to China ? or will my want of faith and power with God prove so serious an obstacle as to preclude my entering upon this much-prized service?'

"As the week drew to a close I felt exceedingly embarrassed. There was not only myself to consider. On Saturday night a payment would be due to my Christian landlady, which I knew she could not well dispense with. Ought I not, for her sake, to speak about the matter of the salary? Yet to do so would be, to myself at any rate, the admission that I was not fitted to undertake a missionary enterprise. I gave nearly the whole of Thursday and Friday, all the time not occupied in my necessary employment, to earnest wrestling with God in prayer. But still on Saturday morning I was in the same position as before. And now my earnest cry was for guidance as to whether I should still continue to wait the Father's time. As far as I could judge I received the assurance that to wait His time was best, and that God in some way or other would interpose on my behalf. So I waited, my heart being now at rest and the burden gone.

"About five o'clock that Saturday afternoon, when Dr. Hardey had finished writing his prescriptions, his last circuit for the day being taken, he threw himself back in his arm-chair, as he was wont, and began to speak of the things of God. He was a truly Christian man, and many seasons of happy fellowship we had together. I was busily watching, at the time, a pan in which a decoction was boiling that required a good deal of attention. It was indeed fortunate for me that it was so, for without any obvious connection with what had been going on, all at once he said

'By the by, Taylor, is not your salary due again?'

"My emotion may be imagined. I had to swallow two or three times before I could answer. With my eye fixed on the pan and my back to the doctor, I told him as quietly as I could that it was overdue some little time. How thankful I felt at that moment! God surely had heard my prayer and caused him in this time of my great need to remember the salary without any word or suggestion from me. He replied,

"'Oh, I am so sorry you did not remind me! You know how busy I am. I wish I had thought of it a little sooner, for only this afternoon I sent all the money I had to the bank. Otherwise I would pay you at once."

"It is impossible to describe the revulsion of feeling caused by this unexpected statement. I knew not what to do. Fortunately for me the pan boiled up and I had a good reason for rushing with it from the room. Glad indeed I was to get away and keep out of sight until after Dr. Hardey had returned to his house, and most thankful that he had not perceived my emotion.

"As soon as he was gone I had to seek my little sanctum and pour out my heart before the Lord for some time before calmness, and more than calmness, thankfulness and joy were restored. I felt that God had His own way, and was not going to fail me. I had sought to know His will early in the day, and as far as I could judge had received guidance to wait patiently. And now God was going to work for me in some other way.

"That evening was spent, as my Saturday evenings usually were, in reading the Word and preparing the subject on which I expected to speak in the various lodging-houses on the morrow. I waited perhaps a little longer than usual. At last about ten o'clock, there being. no interruption of any kind, I put on my overcoat and was preparing to leave for home, rather thankful to know that by that time I should have to let myself in with the latchkey, as my landlady retired early. There was certainly no help for that night. But perhaps God would interpose for me by Monday, and I might be able to pay my landlady early in the week the money I would have given her before had it been possible.

"Just as I was about to turn down the gas, I heard the doctor's step in the garden that lay between the dwelling-house and Surgery. He was laughing to himself very heartily, as though greatly amused. Entering the Surgery he asked for the ledger, and told me that, strange to say, one of his richest patients had just come to pay his doctor's bill. Was it not an odd thing to do?

It never struck me that it might have any bearing on my own case, or I might have felt embarrassed. But looking at it simply from the position of an uninterested spectator, I also was highly amused that a man rolling in wealth should come after ten o'clock at night to pay a bill which he could any day have met by a check with the greatest ease. It appeared that somehow or other he could not rest with this on his mind, and had been constrained to come at that unusual hour to discharge his liability.

"The account was duly receipted in the ledger, and Dr. Hardey was about to leave, when suddenly he turned and handing me some of the banknotes just received, said to my surprise and thankfulness

"'By the way, Taylor, you might as well take these notes. I have no change, but can give you the balance next week.'

"Again I was left, my feelings undiscovered, to go back to my little closet and praise the Lord with a joyful heart that after all I might go to China. To me this incident was not a trivial one; and to recall it sometimes, in circumstances of great difficulty, in China or elsewhere, has proved no small comfort and strength."

Joseph’s Comments: I find this testimony very fitting for the hour in which we live. The Spirit is indicating that an hour is at hand when life as it is now known in America and many Western nations will be changed forever. Prosperity will be replaced by poverty. Christians will be thrust upon God for their daily provision, for the only alternative will be to embrace the beast system of this fallen world.

Seeing that such things are at hand, would it not prove beneficial NOW for Christians to begin living with much less? I know of some who are even at this time being led to much simpler lives. I personally have been camping in a pop-up trailer for the past two months. For part of this time I have been eating mostly grains; grits, oatmeal, cream of wheat.

It will be difficult for many to adjust when they are suddenly taken from houses filled with creature comforts, partaking of abundant foods, and then they are suddenly dislodged and having to adjust to many hardships. I encourage you to seek the Lord now to understand what He would have you to do.

Just this past week I heard from two different families whom the Lord has suddenly directed to sell their homes and furnishings (and in one case a business of 31 years), to pare down greatly and relocate to a place God has directed them to. Such things are happening frequently as Yahweh prepares His people to walk through the days ahead.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Living Epistles - Part 8

Joseph Herrin (09-09-09)

Bill Britton

Bill and Nadine Britton

Bill Britton was one of the first modern day pioneers of the faith whose writings I was blessed to encounter. Although I never met this brother, his teachings challenged me at a time when the Spirit of Christ was opening my eyes to discoveries in the word of God that are seldom taught upon in the churches.

I remember the first encounter I ever had with one of Bill Britton’s writings. I was in a small Southern Baptist church in the 1980s when the pastor read a short writing of Bill’s from the pulpit. The writing was called The Harness of the Lord. I was very moved by the vision that was described in the writing and its interpretation. It can be read online.

After hearing this, I began to encounter other teachings by this man, and later, when the Internet was widely available, I began to search out various teachings that he had posted. There have been a couple of his teachings that I have not found agreement with, but the majority of what I came across has tremendously blessed me. They are filled with spiritual insight, and Bill Britton’s writings both challenged and inspired me, leading me to many new discoveries in my own spiritual walk.

About six years ago I found myself walking in a place that seemed very strange and unusual to most of my brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord had led me out some years earlier from my place of employment as a computer professional, and I found myself ministering through writing. Many trials and tests came my way, as I was looking to the Father to supply all the needs of my family.

During a particularly difficult season of testing a brother in Christ sent me a copy of Bill Britton’s autobiography which is titled Prophet on Wheels. I found encouragement to sustain me in the midst of my trials as I read the accounts of Bill Britton’s own experiences. Our lives were very similar in some ways. We had both received a call from God to teach the saints of God truths that they rarely considered. Our audiences were often those “outside the camp” of mainstream denominationalism. Bill too was led to quit his job selling insurance while he still had young children, and was led to look to the Father for all the needs of his family. He too struggled, yet God sustained him.

The following account from Prophet on Wheels that encouraged me mightily.

After a year with the insurance company, Daddy (Bill Britton) had been promoted to State Trainer. He trained all the new agents that were hired in Kansas. He would teach the men about insurance and then take them with him to show them how to sell. The company decided to enlarge its territory into Oklahoma. Daddy was selected as the man to travel over the state and hire new agents. So along with the manager of the new Oklahoma District, we moved to Oklahoma.

At a fellowship meeting in Wichita, Brother C.L. Moore had prophesied to Daddy that God was changing his ministry, and named the ministry in which God was going to use him. This had been spoken over him just a few months previously by two other preachers, but it was still hard for Daddy to receive. However, he respected Brother Moore as a prophet, and opened his heart for this new work to come to pass. Oklahoma was a preparation time for this new ministry to begin to develop.

Daddy’s job carried him all over the state during the week. It was a good job. He put ads in the newspapers and held interviews in the employment agency of the city he was working in that day. He was instructed to drive a nice car, stay in the best hotels, eat the finest meals in the best restaurants, leave large tips and give the company the appearance of prosperity. They would pay the bill. He had a nice salary and an expense account.

It was during this time that God began to anoint him to write. He took his typewriter along, and in the afternoons and evenings in the hotel he would write about the truths God was revealing. “THE PATTERN SON” book came from the messages written during this time. The prophecy given to him in Memphis in 1950 was coming to pass.

We didn’t like the big city, nor the public schools there. So we found a little house we could buy in Carney, a village about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. It was a small, five room house with three acres of land. There was no water in the house and no bathroom. We had an “outhouse’ in the back, and we carried water from a neighbor until we were able to have a well dug. Mother called it her “five rooms and a path...”

Mother and Daddy had decided that they wanted another baby. But there was one big problem. Daddy’s job in Oklahoma had been completed, and they had promoted him to district manager of Southeast Kansas. He was driving to Kansas every Monday morning, and we didn’t see him until Saturday. With Mother pregnant, the work and pressure at home was too much for her. God gave Daddy a choice... his radio and writing ministry, or his job. Daddy had earned the Bronze award, the Silver Award, and the Gold award for selling, and there was a good future with the company. But he resigned. We were now back to living by faith. The bills kept coming in, but there were no weekly checks to pay them. Daddy was getting a little exasperated with God, and with our situation.

It was right at this time when the bills were piling up that Daddy got a phone call from the Division office of the insurance company in Omaha. Al Davis, the Division Manager, said: “Bill, I’m going to make you a good offer, and I want you to think about it before you give me an answer. If you will come back with the company, I’ll give you the job as State Manager of either Kansas or Nebraska, whichever you want. You can pick any city you want to live in, and I’ll pay all of your moving expenses. Think about this, because this is a really good opportunity.” And it was. It was a good company, and the job was one that men worked for many years to attain, provided that they were qualified. Daddy replied: “Mr. Davis, I’ll have to pray about it, and then I’ll let you know.” Mr. Davis was a Catholic. He knew how to be a success in business, but he didn’t know about praying whether or not to accept a job offer.

Daddy finally called a family counsel. He explained to all of us how this job would make it possible for Mother to have a nice home, plenty of money to spend, and bicycles and other toys for the children. But it would take all his time, and he would have to stop his ministry of preaching, writing, and radio. “Well, what do you say?” he asked. Becky pointed a finger toward the ceiling and said, “What does He say?” Daddy stammered around in embarrassment that he hadn’t yet talked to God, that he wanted their opinion first. But it was obvious that we all knew Daddy couldn’t quit the ministry at any price. So he wrote Mr. Davis a letter, saying that he could not take the job.

However, the finances were not coming in to meet the needs. Daddy would walk around on our three acres, look up at the stars in the clear Oklahoma sky and say: “Lord, I know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know you have treasures untold. I know you have millionaires who can hear Your voice and will give as you instruct them. I have no doubt as to your ability to meet our needs. But my question is: why aren’t you? We lost our nice car, and it looks like we may lose our little home, and I want to know why...? He got no answer. One night in a meeting in the City, he was reading chapter three of Hebrews about Israel becoming embittered at God during the 40 years in the wilderness. God spoke: “Son, that is where you are. You are getting bitter against Me.” “Oh no, Lord,” Daddy protested, “I’m Your child, I wouldn’t get bitter at You.” “Oh yes, but you are” the Lord replied. “You are going through a wilderness just like Israel did. They knew I could do better than bread and water. They knew I could feed them with quail if I wanted to. They saw My power, and they knew I was able to take them into the Promised Land in a few days. But I gave them bread and water for forty years, and they became bitter. They could not understand My ways. You know that I can meet all your needs, but I am not doing it. And you are becoming bitter, just like Israel.” Right there in his seat, Daddy made an altar. “Lord, if You forgive me, I promise I’ll never complain again, regardless of my circumstances. If they take everything I own, I’ll be no worse off than when You found me. I’ll take my wife and children by the hand, and we’ll just walk down that old country road singing Your praises.”

There was forgiveness and deliverance. And from that hour the spirit of poverty was broken. God began to meet the needs. One day, with a house payment due and no food, Daddy just put the matter in God’s hands and went squirrel hunting with the boys. When he got home Mother handed him a letter that had arrived that morning. It was from Stanley H. Frodsham, and it had a check in it for $150.00, a fortune at the time. The letter started off with the Scripture: “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour!” (Judges 6:12) What’s this? He must have sent the check to the wrong man! There was Daddy’s name on the check. And from Stanley Frodsham. Talk about a mighty man of God! It was a sign from God. As with Gideon, things began to happen.

Some time later, after God had led Bill Britton and his family to Springfield, Missouri, they had the following experience.

One of the ways God confirmed His presence was in providing for our needs by miracle after miracle. The Plymouth was a fascinating example. God had been providing furniture for the big house, but our old car would hardly run. It was an Oldsmobile, a large family car, but it had a bad motor. Many times it would not start, and sometimes Daddy would go to the post office and not be able to get it started to return home. He was in a travail of prayer, but was sure God would somehow meet the need. One night a visiting preacher talked Daddy into going to a used car lot to see a car. It was a 1956 Plymouth, and good enough to get around town to run errands. Without even looking at our old car, the dealer gave Daddy a price for a trade-in. Daddy agreed to buy it, and shook hands on the deal. So they came home to get the Oldsmobile and finalize the deal. But when they went back to the car dealer, he announced that he would have to have another $25.00 more. As much as we needed another car, $25 did not look like an obstacle at all. But Daddy heard God speaking to him: “This deal is not from Me. You shook hands on the sale, so I am giving you a way out. Since he has changed the deal, you are not obligated. Do not buy the car.” So he came home without the Plymouth. He could not understand why God had said “No.”

The next morning, just before lunch, Daddy had a phone call from California. It was Brother Bert Reed in Costa Mesa. He said, “Brother Bill, God told me sometime back that there was a car for you in Springfield. My brother-in-law has just arrived from Chicago with his wife. He is going to work for me, and I am trying to get him out of debt. He had two cars, and he left one of them in Springfield with his father. I have paid off what he owes on it, and I am sending the title to you. It’s your car, so go out to the house and get it. His father is expecting you.” We went to get the car... and guess what... it was a 1956 Plymouth, and better than the one he had almost bought the night before. Daddy advertised the Oldsmobile for sale, and a man came to see it. It was just what he was looking for to give his wife. Daddy warned him that it had a bad motor. “Oh, that’s okay,” he said “I am a mechanic, and it won’t cost me much to fix it up. It’s just what I want.” So we had a good car, plus $150 from the sale of the Olds, instead of being in debt $700 for the Plymouth. God is gracious, and it is always good to listen to His still, small voice. His way is best.

There are many more accounts of trials and triumphs recorded in the book on Bill Britton’s life.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, December 23, 2019

Living Epistles - Part 7

Joseph Herrin (08-30-09)

The following testimonies are taken from the book The Heavenly Man, which is the story of the life of Brother Yun, a Chinese Christian and minister. The book relates many ways in which the Chinese Christians have suffered under the Communist government since 1949. It also contains accounts of tremendous miracles.

Brother Yun was born in the late 1950s. He became a Christian at the age of 16 when his father was miraculously healed of cancer. During that time it was forbidden for any Chinese to read anything other than Mao’s Little Red Book. There were severe penalties for having a Bible, yet at this young age Yun began to hunger greatly to read a Bible.

His mother, observing this great desire in her son, took him one day to visit an old man in another village who was formerly a pastor. She believed he might still have a Bible. Upon arriving there the man was afraid to show them his Bible for he had already spent more then twenty years in prison because of his faith. He told Yun that the Bible was a heavenly book, so he must pray that the God of heaven would give him one.

When Yun returned home he placed a large stone next to his bed. He used it to kneel upon while praying. Every night for 30 days he prayed and asked God to let him see a Bible. At the end of this time he had still not seen a Bible, so he returned alone to the old man’s house. He told him he had been praying as he instructed him, but he still did not have a Bible. He begged the man again to please let him see his Bible.

The old man could see he was very serious about wanting a Bible, so he told him that if he truly desired one that he should fast and pray and that God would hear him. For the next 100 days Brother Yun ate nothing in the morning or at noon, and took only a small bowl of rice for supper. He prayed every night that he might see a Bible. His parents began worrying about him because of his constant fasting and prayers. They thought he might be losing his mind.

After 100 days of fasting and prayer, Brother Yun had a vision. He describes it this way.

In the vision I was walking up a steep hill, trying to push a heavy cart in front of me. I was heading toward a village where I intended to beg for food for my family. I was struggling greatly, because in my vision I was hungry and weakened by constant fasting. The old cart was about to roll back and fall on me.

I then saw three men walking down the hill in the opposite direction. A kind old man, who had a very long beard, was pulling a large cart full of fresh bread. Two other men were walking on each side of the cart. When the old man saw me he felt great pity and showed me compassion. He asked, “Are you hungry?” I replied, “Yes, I have nothing to eat. I’m on my way to get food for my family.”

I wept because my family was extremely poor. Because of my father’s sickness we’d sold everything valuable to buy medicine. We had little to eat, and for years we had been forced to beg for food from friends and neighbors. When the old man asked me if I was hungry, I couldn’t help but cry. I’d never felt such genuine love and compassion from anyone before.

In the vision the old man took a red bag of bread from his trolley and asked his two servants to give it to me. He said, “You must eat it immediately.”

I opened the wrapping and saw there was a bun of fresh bread inside. When I put the bun in my mouth, it instantly turned into a Bible! Immediately, in my vision, I knelt down with my Bible and cried out to the Lord in thanksgiving, “Lord, your name is worthy to be praised! You didn’t despise my prayer. You allowed me to receive this Bible. I want to serve you the rest of my life.”

I woke up and started searching the house for the Bible. The rest of my family was asleep. The vision had been so real to me that when I realized it had only been a dream I was deeply anguished and I wept loudly. My parents rushed to my room to see what had happened. They thought I had gone crazy because of all my fasting and praying. I told them about my vision, but the more I shared, the crazier they thought I was! Mother said, “The day hasn’t dawned yet and no one has come to our house. The door is firmly locked.”

My father held me tightly. With tears in his eyes he cried to God, “Dear Lord, have mercy on my son. Please don’t let him lose his mind. Please give my son a Bible!”

My mother, father and I knelt down and wept together, arm in arm.

Suddenly I heard a faint knock at the door. A very gentle voice called my name. I rushed over and asked through the locked door, “Are you bringing the bread to me?” The gentle voice replied, “Yes, we have a feast of bread to give you.” I immediately recognized the voice as the same one I had heard in the vision.

I quickly opened the door and there standing before me were the same two servants I had seen in the vision. One man held a red bag in his hand. My heart raced as I opened the bag and held in my hands my very own Bible!

The two men quickly departed into the still darkness.

I clutched my new Bible to my heart and fell down on my knees outside the door. I thanked God again and again! I promised Jesus from that moment on I would devour the Word like a hungry child.

The old man in the dream represented God. He saw in this young Chinese Christian an intense hunger for some spiritual food to eat. He was therefore pleased to give him what he desperately longed for.

Brother Yun goes on to share how he found out the identity of the two men some time later. An evangelist in a town far away had a vision three months earlier in which he saw Yun, his house and village. In the vision the evangelist knew he was to give Yun a Bible he kept buried in a can in the ground. Although he had seen the vision clearly, he did not act on it until three months later when he spoke to the two men, told them of the vision, and asked them to deliver the Bible.

This account is remarkable for a number of reasons. As one contrasts the desire of this young Chinese boy to read a Bible, the apathy of “Christians” in Western nations who have ready access to the Scriptures is very apparent. Many Western believers have Bibles throughout their homes, but they will easily go a hundred days without ever picking one up and reading it. There is no hunger to read the divine message Yahweh has sent to His people. The Scriptures are treated as something common, and the attention shown to them reveals that the words of God are not treasured as they ought to be. The people of God are sated as they gorge themselves on things that appeal to the soul and the flesh. They spend their time before the television, listening to music, reading novels, and all manner of other foods that do not help them spiritually. All the while they lack a true hunger for the Word of God.

The attitude manifested by Brother Yun at this tender age should be the normal response of all who come to Christ and then discover that God has caused a book of tremendous spiritual wisdom and revelation to be written for the instruction of His people. It should be normal to find Christians of all ages pouring over the Scriptures to glean some insight into the Kingdom of God.

Brother Yun would later marry a Chinese woman who also came to Christ in her teen years. Deling relates how she would walk long distances, often in the dark and through dangerous areas, alone as a teenage girl in order to attend meetings of believers. Her hunger for fellowship and spiritual teaching was similar in this aspect to that of the man who would one day be her husband. She relates the following experience in her own words.

At the age of 18 I committed my life to Jesus Christ.

The very first night as a believer I was taken to my first house church meeting. The Public Security Bureau came and we all had to escape on foot through the darkness. This was my very first introduction to what it would be like following the Lord!...

Two other young women came to the Lord at the same time as me. We attended meetings together. These were in different parts of the district so we often had to walk more than an hour to get there. After the meetings I often had to walk home by myself. This was quite dangerous because it was so dark and there were evil men and wild dogs out late at night.

God worked a great miracle to protect and help me in those early days. Many nights as I walked home I could see a light about ten meters ahead of me on the path, as if someone was carrying a lamp, showing me the way I needed to take. In the pitch dark I often lost my way, but then I’d see the light, like a small star, showing me the way to get back on the right path. The light wasn’t constant; it just appeared whenever I was heading in the wrong direction.

Because of many experiences like this, my faith grew quickly.

Even as Communist China has their Public Security Bureau, America now has their Department of Homeland Security agency. The names of these government groups sound benevolent, but they are not. Detention camps were one of the first things to be established by the 111th Congress. These Federal Emergency Management Agency camps, which fall under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, will one day soon be revealed to be used to inter all those who are viewed as enemies of the state.

It did not take long for the Chinese government to declare that Christians were enemies of the state once the Communists came to power and the Public Security Bureau was formed. Likewise, it will not be long before Christians in Western nations are declared to be enemies of the state for resisting the policies and beliefs of an increasingly authoritarian and anti-Christ regime. The Scriptures foretell of a day at the end of this age when men and women will not even be able to buy or sell without embracing the Beast system.

I am persuaded that it will not be long before those who are true disciples of Christ will need to rely upon God to guide and protect them even as the Chinese believers have done for many years. They will find that those agencies that bear names promising Security and Protection will actually prove to be the ones which seek to take from Christians these very things.

There are many remarkable manifestations of the power of God, and of the cost of following Christ, in the book The Heavenly Man. I want to share one more experience of Brother Yun, as I believe it has great application for those believers in America and Western nations in approaching days.

Many who read this blog are aware that the Lord directed me this past Spring to spend a couple months traveling across America, meeting with small groups of believers. Before leaving, the Spirit of Christ had used a sister in the Lord to prophesy that I would be sent out with the message of Acts 14:22, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Today, as I was reading this book on the life of Brother Yun, I encountered this Scripture again. I believe the Spirit is testifying that the same types of experiences that Brother Yun and the Chinese Christians experienced are coming to America.

Brother Yun, while still a young man, was led of the Lord to travel to a province to the West of where he lived. Before leaving to go to this province the local believers had a time of worship and prayer as they prepared to send them forth. Brother Yun shares the following:

Before we left for Shaanxi that evening we asked God to prepare the hearts of the people to receive His word. While praying, I suddenly saw a terrible vision that shook my soul. The others told me I startled them when I shouted out, “Hallelujah, Jesus’ blood has overcome you!”

Everyone stopped praying and asked me what the matter was. With sweat on my brow I told them, “I saw a terrible evil vision. A black, heinous creature came after me. It had a horrible twisted face. It pressed me down on the ground and sat on my stomach so I couldn’t get up. With one of its hands it grabbed my throat and started choking me. With its other hand it grabbed some steel pliers and tried to shut my mouth with them. I could hardly breathe. Then I saw a great strong angel fly towards me. With all my strength I poked my fingers into the eyes of the evil creature. It fell to the ground, and I was carried away to safety by the angel. I shouted, “Hallelujah! Jesus’ blood has overcome you!”

After telling what I’d seen, we prayed and shared the Lord’s Supper together. We committed ourselves to the care of the Lord...

Brother Yun then tells how he and two sisters in Christ traveled to this Western province to share the word of the Lord with the churches there. Brother Yun was empowered to speak the first day about the history of the cross throughout church history. On the second day, about one in the afternoon, he lost his voice. He then asked one of the sisters to speak while he went to a room to rest. He continues:

When I lay down I meditated on the message I had shared that morning.

Suddenly, I heard a loud noise. Several PSB officers kicked down the door to my room. They grabbed me and held me down on the bed. One officer lay on me, pinning me down with his weight. With one hand he held me by the throat. With his other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out his ID card. He shouted, “I come from the Public Security Bureau. Where do you come from?”

Immediately I remembered the vision I had seen of the dark monster.

Two other PSB officers took a rope and tightly bound my arms behind my back, as well as binding the rope around my chest, back, and waist. One of the officers noticed a red wooden cross attached to the wall...

They tore the cross from the wall and tied it to my back with the ropes. Then they started to kick me furiously. Blows rained down upon my arms, legs, chest and ribs...

For the first time I literally had the honor of literally bearing the cross of Christ on my body. They triumphantly marched me off, bloodied and bruised, to Shangnan township...

When the townspeople saw me bound with rope and that I was carrying a big red cross, a story began to circulate that “Jesus from Henan” had come. Many people crowded around to witness this remarkable sight.

As I was paraded through the streets, a police car drove slowly in front. Through a loudspeaker they proclaimed, “This man came from Henan to preach Jesus. He has seriously disrupted the peace. He has confused the people. Today the Public Security Bureau has captured him. We will punish him severely.”

I was made to kneel down in the dirt while the officers punched me in the chest and face and repeatedly kicked me from behind with their heavy boots. My face was covered with blood. The pain was unbearable and I nearly lost consciousness as I lay on the ground.

They lifted me up and made me stagger down another street. They were determined to make an example of me to as many people as possible.

I lifted my head up and caught glimpses of people in the crowd. Some pitied me and wept. When I saw this it really strengthened my faith. When I had the chance, I softly told one woman, “Please don’t feel sorry for me. You should weep for the lost souls of our nation.”

When the onlookers heard my voice they cried even more loudly. I was paraded through the streets for half a day. When night fell they took me into a big courtyard inside the police station.

They didn’t loosen my ropes, but they did take the wooden cross off my back. They locked me inside a large interrogation room. I noticed the door was made of iron and the windows had iron bars on them.

Some evil-faced officers came in. They questioned me with great gravity in their voices...

I felt that God wanted me to pretend I was crazy, like David had done in the Bible. I lay down on the ground and acted insane. I rolled my eyes back in their sockets and spat like a madman. I didn’t say a word. The PSB were frightened and were convinced I was crazy.

Many spectators had crowded outside the window and looked in.

One officer went to another room and made a telephone call to Henan, to try and find out who I was from the authorities there. The other interrogators went with him to hear what was said. They left me alone in the room and shut the door. I was still tightly bound by rope so they saw there was no chance I could escape. The onlookers also gave their attention to the telephone call, and crowded outside the window of that room to listen.

At that moment, with everyone’s eyes off me, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “The God of Peter is your God.” I remembered how the angels had opened the prison gates for Peter to escape. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 11:4.

The rope that bound my back suddenly snapped by itself! I didn’t tear the ropes off, but kept them loosely in place. I decided to try to escape, and if caught I would claim I was trying to go to the toilet. With my arms still positioned behind my back, I used my mouth to turn the door handle and I walked out of the room!

At that moment God gave me faith and courage. I reminded myself that the blood of Jesus Christ protected me. I walked through the middle of the onlookers in the courtyard. Nobody stopped me or said anything to me! It was as though God had blinded their eyes and they didn’t recognize who I was.

I walked through the courtyard to the toilet block in the northern part of the compound, about 30 feet away from the interrogation room. As quickly as I could, I pulled off the rope from around my body. My hands, arms and shoulders were still numb from being bound by rope for so long.

Because the front gates had been locked, the only way out of the compound was over an eight-foot-high cement wall. The wall had sharp glass embedded in the top. I stood there for a moment, stared at the wall and prayed, asking the Lord to heal my hands and my body.

I decided to try to leap over the wall. I saw no other choice. I was trapped and at any moment the officers would come and grab me. What happened next is impossible from a human perspective, yet God is my witness that what I am about to tell is the truth.

First, I pulled myself up onto the wall as high as I could manage. I looked over the top and saw the other side was a ten-feet-wide open septic tank.

As I hung grimly on the side of the wall, all of a sudden I felt as if somebody hoisted me up and threw me over! I jumped so far that I even cleared the septic tank! A Scripture came to mind, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” II Samuel 22:30.

The God of Peter wonderfully helped me leap over the wall and escape. I believe the angel I had seen in my vision helped to lift me up.

Brother Yun then ran for hours until he arrived back at the place where he had been arrested earlier that day. The believers were still meeting, and they were in prayer for him. He wrote:

When they saw me they could scarcely believe their eyes! They were amazed that the Lord had rescued me from the hands of evil men. They changed my wet clothes, bathed my scars, and lovingly wiped the blood from my face and hands.

I encouraged the Shaanxi believers. I prayed for them and placed them in the merciful hands of God. I taught them, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22.

This is a remarkable experience. It is so rich with symbolism. When the PSB officers tied the cross to Brother Yun’s back the Father was signifying that here was one who was truly bearing in his body the cross of Christ. Truly the people in Shangnan township did see on their streets that day the “Jesus from Henan.” The church in the West has known very little of such sufferings in recent generations, but these things are coming swiftly. Many more will be given the great honor of suffering for the name of Christ.

Yahweh fulfilled the vision of Brother Yun. The beast that sought to silence him was the government agency, and in coming days there will be observed a similar beast seeking to silence saints in the West. Even at this very hour, America has a President who is being used of Satan to set in place all things necessary to bring about a great persecution of the saints of God.

America has a President who rides in an armored limousine that the Secret Service has nicknamed The Beast. The day the election results came out announcing that Barack Obama had been chosen by Americans to be their next President, the winning numbers in the Illinois Pick Three Lottery came up 6-6-6. (Illinois is Obama’s home state.)

Is God speaking to His people through these things? I am convinced that He is. There is a beast system rapidly being set in place that will lead to the persecution of Christians. This persecution is not far off. It is even now at the door. Yet in the midst of this persecution the people of God who walk faithfully with Him will be given a little help, even as Brother Yun was helped.

Daniel 11:32-34
And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder, for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help...

The disciples of Christ are the people of the covenant, a covenant sealed in the blood of Christ. Satan is using men of smooth words to turn to godlessness those who act wickedly. Many will suffer in coming days, but let all who do so rejoice. Great is the reward of all who suffer for the name of Christ, and precious in the sight of God is the death of His holy ones.

The Spirit is testifying to God’s people that through many tribulations they must enter the kingdom of God. I encourage all God’s people to make haste to get themselves ready. Seek the Lord now while He may be found. Begin to place your trust in Him now, and follow Him with a whole heart.

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Living Epistles - Part 6

Joseph Herrin (08-29-09)

George Muller

The name George Muller is familiar to many Christians who have heard of his work in providing for thousands of orphans in England during the 1800s. His was a remarkable life. He was born in Prussia in 1805, what would now be called Germany. The Prussian people were known for certain characteristics that some have attributed to the region’s success and influence.

Many people believe that some specific "Prussian virtues" were part of the reasons for the rise of their country, for instance: perfect organization, discipline, sacrifice, rule of law, obedience to authority, reliability, tolerance, honesty, frugality, punctuality, modesty, and diligence.

These traits describe George Muller’s life and ministry throughout his adult life, but they were far from him as a youth. He was not raised in a Christian home, though his father chose for him to pursue a career as a clergyman. This had nothing to do with any religious belief, or devotion. It was merely a career decision to provide a good living and security for his father in his old age.

Before he was ten years old George Muller was stealing money from his father. As he entered his teen years he was drinking regularly, reading novels, and living an immoral life. His dishonesty led to his being jailed at the age of 16 for a brief period, having run up bills at expensive hotels that he could not pay. His father paid off his bills and beat him severely upon his return home. He was then sent off to study for the university and to prepare for a job among the clergy.

As a student of divinity, George Muller continued a profligate lifestyle. He stole money from friends, and lied constantly to cover his tracks and to keep his father satisfied. In 1825 he attended a Bible Study with a friend from the university, and it was there that God began a work of grace in his heart. In his autobiography, George Muller describes this time.

Now my life became very different, though not so that all sins were given up at once. My wicked companions were given up; the going to taverns was entirely discontinued; the habitual practice of telling falsehoods was no longer indulged in; but still a few times after this I spoke an untruth. I read the Scriptures, prayed often, loved the brethren, went to church with the right motives, and stood on the side of Christ, though laughed at by my fellow students... About Easter, 1826, I saw a devoted young brother, named Hermann Ball, a learned man, and of wealthy parents, who, constrained by the love of Christ, preferred laboring in Poland among the Jews as a missionary to having a comfortable living near his relations. His example made a deep impression on me. The Lord smiled on me, and I was, for the first time in my life, able fully and unreservedly to give up myself to Him.

At this time, George Muller understood that his life was to be lived for the glory of God, and that he could not give himself to the pursuit of worldly position, material security and social success. He considered that God might have him also walk away from the familial ties to his well-to-do family and labor in some foreign land as a missionary. He was fully willing to give himself to such a course, and he felt he must declare this to his father. He writes:

My father was greatly displeased, and particularly reproached me, saying that he had expended so much money on my education, in hope that he might comfortably spend his last days with me in a parsonage, and that now he saw these prospects come to nothing. He was angry, and told me he would no longer consider me as his son. But the Lord gave me grace to remain steadfast. He then entreated me, and wept before me; yet even this by far harder trial the Lord enabled me to bear. After I had left my father, though I (needed) more money that at any previous period of my life, as I had to remain two more years at the university, I determined never to take any more from him; for it seemed to me wrong, so far as I remember, to suffer myself to be supported by him, when he had no prospect that I should become what he would wish me to be, namely, a clergyman with a good living. This resolution I was enabled to keep.

There comes a time in the life of all those who would be true disciples of Christ, when they must face the cost of following Him wherever He might lead them. The plans of the Lord are quite often not the plans that our parents, brothers and sisters, wife, or children would choose for us. For this reason, Christ exhorted all who would truly be His disciples to consider carefully the cost.

Luke 14:25-27
Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life (psuche - soul), he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

I have found that most Christians make but small progress in a life of faith and in conformity to Christ until after they are brought to count the cost of surrendering all to Christ and accepting it. It is at this point that the Spirit begins to lead a person down paths that they would not have chosen for themselves, but which result in much spiritual growth. As one continues down in this life of surrender it will eventually lead to much fruitfulness.

There is very little fruit among Christians today, very little evidence of conformity to Christ, because there is such an absence of surrender. Christians today largely believe that being a disciple does not require the same radical commitment observed among the early saints of Scripture.

This surrender of our will to God very often results in hardship and trials and sorrow to those who take God’s will to be their own. Yet the very things we consider hardships and distresses are the experiences Yahweh uses to lead us forth into a life of faith and obedience that will one day bear much fruit. So it was with George Muller. His willingness to surrender the direction of his life to God brought immediate rejection from his earthly father. His previous means of support was cut-off, but this was exactly what was needed in order to begin to teach this son of God to begin looking to his heavenly Father for all things.

The Lord directed George Muller to look to him for his support while he was at the university. As he was cast over onto the provision of his heavenly Father for the first time, he writes:

Shortly after this had occurred, several American gentlemen, three of whom were professors in American colleges, came to Halle for literary purposes, and as they did not understand German, I was recommended by Dr. Tholuck to teach them. These gentlemen, some of whom were believers, paid so handsomely for the instruction I gave them, and for the lectures of certain professors which I wrote out for them, that I had enough and to spare. Thus did the Lord richly make up to me the little which I had relinquished for His sake. “O fear the Lord, ye His saints; for there is no (lack) to those who fear Him.”

From this small beginning of faith, George Muller was to grow in faith and reliance upon God until he was trusting Him for the provision of more than 2,000 orphans at a time, supporting over a hundred missionaries in part or in whole, and printing and distributing hundreds of thousands of Bibles and millions of tracts annually.

All of this was done without making any public pleas for funds. Mr. Muller had no television or radio program where he would make pleas for support. He had no advertising campaigns. He had no campaigns for capital projects. He did not work through worldly solicitations to have the needs of all of these heavy burdens met. Rather, he learned to take all his needs to God the Father. Having maintained a good conscience in only taking on those labors that he was assured the Spirit of Christ was directing him to, he was able to look to Christ to meet every need.

The year 1835 found Mr. Muller residing in England. He was ministering much through preaching at local churches. He had a few years earlier begun The Scriptural Knowledge Institute, which was a work aimed at the printing and distribution of Bibles and tracts, and the instruction of young people in a large number of Sunday schools which he supported. It was in this same year that he began to consider the work that was to bring him renown, even as it encouraged millions of Christians to place a much greater trust in God while encouraging them to come before Him confidently in prayer. This work was to be among the orphans of England. Mr. Muller described the reason for entering into this work in the following way.

I therefore judged myself bound to be the servant of the church of Christ on the particular point on which I had obtained mercy; namely, in being able to take God by His word, and to rely upon it.

For the previous ten years Mr. Muller had been looking to the Lord for all of his provision, and those of a growing ministry, and he had Found Yahweh faithful. Now he desired to stir up the body of Christ to walk in the same grace that he had received. He continues:

All of these exercises of my soul, which resulted from the fact that so many believers with whom I became acquainted were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences on account of not trusting in the Lord, were used by God to awaken in my heart the desire of setting before the church at large, and before the world, a proof that He has not changed in the least; and this seemed best done by the establishing of an orphan house. It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the naked eye. Now, if I, a poor man, simply by prayer and by faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the unconverted of the reality of the things of God. This then was the primary reason for establishing the orphan house. I certainly did from my heart desire to be used of God to benefit the bodies of poor children bereaved of both parents, and seek in other respects, with the help of God, to do them good for this life. I also particularly longed to be used of God in getting the dear orphans trained up in the fear of God; but still, the first and primary object of the work was, and still is, that God might be magnified by the fact that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith, without any one being asked by me or my fellow-laborers, whereby it may be seen that God is FAITHFUL STILL, and HEARS PRAYER STILL.

I think it is very needful to declare here that this is not some work that George Muller arrived at through the counsel of his own soul. As stated in his own words, he believed that God had led him to consider this work by placing before him so many souls who were walking in guilt due to their failure to trust in God. Nor did George Muller enter into this work hastily. His memoirs reveal that he patiently waited before the Father in every decision made concerning his labors. I have been much impressed with his testimony in this regard, and have shared it with a number of people over the years. In 1880 he preached a sermon where he shared the following:

Had it been left to us to make promises concerning prayer, I do not know that you or I could have done any more than say, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Yet, while the promise is so full, so deep, so broad, so precious in every way, we have here, as becomes us with other parts of the word of God, to compare Scripture with Scripture, because in other parts additions are made, or conditions are given, which, if we neglect, will hinder our getting the full benefit of prayer.

George Muller went on to detail a number of conditions that were attached to the simple “Ask, and ye shall receive.” First, our petitions must be according to the will of God as is revealed in I John 5:14.

I John 5:14
And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Mr. Muller shared in his autobiographical work that he would discipline his soul until it entered into a state of rest whenever he was considering some work of God, or the expansion of some work. He said he would not trust himself to discern the voice and will of God until he was assured in his soul that he would be equally as content to hear God say “No” to a matter as he would be to hear God say “Yes.” At the very beginning of this work, on November 28, 1835, he wrote the following in his daily journal.

I have been, every day this week, very much in prayer concerning the orphan house, chiefly entreating the Lord to take away every thought concerning it out of my mind if the matter be not of Him; and have also repeatedly examined my heart concerning my motives in the matter. But I have been more and more confirmed that it is of God.

George Muller did begin the orphan house soon afterwards, and God kept the work small for the first ten years. During the period from 1835 until 1845 he had never built an orphan house. The houses needed to keep the children were rented quarters. As many as 100 orphans and their care-givers resided together in a few houses that were all close in proximity in Bristol, England.

The record of these ten years is most enlightening for those who desire to understand the ways of God. During this period of time there were daily struggles for provision. It seemed that God rarely ever gave Mr. Muller and his fellow laborers anything beyond that day’s provision. This led to great trials, and constant seasons of intense prayer that God might not fail them.

I have read these accounts a number of times, and the monotony of the struggle day after day is very evident in the journal entries of Mr. Muller. Yet, he was not dismayed. Indeed, he considered the daily struggle to be a very normal experience for all who would follow the Lord in obedience and faith. The countless trials also led to countless acts of divine deliverance. The timing of the Lord’s provision was always such that never once in all those years did the orphans ever miss a meal. Yet day after day the laborers faith was tried. Summing up the year 1838, Mr. Muller wrote:

Should it be supposed... by anyone in reading the details of our trials of faith during the year... that we have been disappointed in our expectations, or discouraged in the work, my answer is... such days were expected from the commencement... Our desire is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord graciously be pleased to support us in the trial.

As I have considered these matters, and being acquainted with the testimonies of many other saints both contemporary and from previous times, and having walked with the Lord down very similar paths, I have observed that it is very common for Yahweh to lead His people to trust Him for their daily bread.

When Yahweh led the Israelites through the wilderness, He said He would provide manna from heaven each day. He instructed the Israelites to only gather what they would eat that day, trusting that He would be faithful to provide for them again the next day. Those who were fearful and did not trust gathered more than one day’s supply, but it became rancid and bred worms.

When Christ taught His disciples how to pray, He uttered the words, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” All those who will follow God by faith will be led to experience this daily dependence upon God. I can testify that it can be a very uncomfortable place for a man to walk, especially when he has others looking to him for their provision. Yet, God is faithful, and He would have us to rest in the confidence of that fact. There is a place of peace that all may enter into concerning Yahweh’s faithfulness. He will keep us daily facing need, He will try us repeatedly over a prolonged period of time, until we learn the lesson of trust and resting in Him.

Once a year George Muller would publish an account of God’s faithfulness. He would include testimonies of the daily struggles they faced, the prayers that were uttered, and the specific answers that were received. In this way he was able to strengthen and encourage the faith of millions of Christians worldwide.

Beginning in 1845 Mr. Muller was led of the Spirit to build orphan houses, as the number being admitted was increasing and it was causing some discontent among the neighbors where they were living. Forty years after the start of the orphan ministry the Lord had provided the means for a number of large homes to be built that would eventually hold as many as 2,000 orphans. The needs continually increased as the work expanded, and God continued to meet every need.

Note: Click on pictures to see them in higher resolution.

Number 3 Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol England.

The boys who were old enough were given exercise by working in the gardens during the growing seasons.

A group of girls from the girl’s orphan house.

One of the reasons I am posting this series at this hour is to encourage the saints of God to trust in the faithfulness of Yahweh in coming days. I believe that great poverty will come upon many lands. Grocery stores will be emptied. Famine will cover many lands that have only known prosperity for generations. There will be many who will be displaced from their homes, and the Spirit even testifies that many saints will be led to flee.

People can only carry a meager amount of provisions with them, even as that nation of Israelites who fled from Egypt could only carry a few days worth of food. The time will come when all will need to begin looking to Yahweh for their daily bread.

Many of the years that George Muller was caring for orphans were difficult years economically in England. Despite this, God never let the orphans go hungry, or lack warmth in the winter, or fail to have a roof over their heads. If He provided for thousands of orphans because one man was inspired to trust in Him, what will Yahweh do for His people in days ahead? The Spirit bears witness that the coming days will be filled with tales of miraculous provision and deliverance. God’s people will do exploits, and those who have faith in Him will be recompensed for their belief.

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