« AnteriorContinuar »
man came to my stand and asked me to sell him a Bible. I did so, and then he asked me to take it to the man who was put in jail for this crime. At first I did not want to do it, but when I remembered that Christ died that we through his death might be saved, I took new courage and sought the jail to deliver the book, but found that the jailer was out. Before I went to bed I went again and delivered the book. I felt very much better after I had turned it over to the man in jail, as I promised. . ., I am now in another town in the state. It is the custom here to hold the county court every first Monday in each month, and at that time people bring in their livestock and have livestock shows and livestock sales, and in fact everything is for sale. Sometimes they sell at the stock-yard, while very often they sell right out in the street. Some of these people travel for two and three days and some overnight to reach this place on these days. Here we are selling horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, farming implements of all kind, the men with all sorts of medicines and with packs on their back, and the colporteur with plenty of Bibles in his sack.
“We are all treated very kindly and enjoy our work. Now, to make this a great day we must plan it all out the day before and be up with the break of day, so as to be able to keep the place you have fixed the day before to stand and show your books. Of course, in such a crowd you must keep your eyes open, as pickpockets and evildisposed people are around. Here is a man with a handful of money, but wants the book given outright or a big reduction made on it. I must stop here and reason with him and tell him that when he has money he ought to be ashamed to ask people to give to him ; and if he was too poor to buy and we were convinced of this fact, we would not only reduce the book, but would be glad to donate it to him. While I am telling him this story many others stand with ears open, and walk up like men and buy our books and many times our very best ones.
“Another man will come up with a ten-dollar bill and ask for an eighty-five-cent Bible. He is half full of whiskey, so I have learned not to count his change to him until I get two others to stand near me and help me count it to him. This saves me from future trouble. He takes this money and goes off for a little while and returns and declares that his change is wrong. I must start as if I am going to get those who helped me to do the counting and he is off at once. The next time I met him he begged my pardon, and said he was off on that day. We come across many just such fellows.
“I am now in a town where the pastor of a certain church has not only thrown himself into our work of distribution, but his wife, a noble woman, together with some of her church members, go from house to house seeking out the members of their flock who are without Bibles and having them get them.
"The American Bible Society is better known to-day than ever before. I went to a certain town and they asked me to pay a license
to sell Bibles, and I had to call upon others to aid me to get in this town. Now I am back again and went in to see the same man. I am sure he did not know me, but as soon as I said, 'I am here to represent the American Bible Society among the colored people,' he said, 'Go to work and put out all the Bibles you can.' So I went into a store and asked the proprietor to let me have a stand on the corner near his place. 'You are the American Bible Society man?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Go to work and do all the good you can.' Some men came along and I showed them our two-cent Gospels. They read some of St. John and asked me the price. When I said two cents, they said, 'We must have some of these books ; they are worth twenty-five cents each.' They bought many of them to read.
“Here comes man who had seen me in some other place and heard of my being in town, so he comes and gets a book. Here is a man who has come from a distance to see my Bibles, so he says, and is very anxious to know if Christ's father was a black man. I told him I did not know and those questions I did not bother with. He said, 'You ought to know, handling Bibles.' He took up one of the Bibles and said he would prove it to me. The people crowded around to hear what he had to say on the subject. He thought he had me excited and started off to find the place. I said, 'Hear me, gentlemen. We must settle one thing at a time. You want to buy one of my Bibles ?' 'Yes,' said he. 'Well, just pay for that one and take it and find out all about Christ you can. Said he, 'I must find it out first.' I insisted that my Bibles were like all other Bibles, and if he had found that the father of Christ was a black man in any other Bible he would find it in this one.
“The crowd cried he ought to buy his Bible first and settle his question out of his own Bible. He bought one and went his way looking up that point and has not been seen since. I have learned just how to deal with the poor evil ones that I come across and also the 'wise ones,' who are often asking just such questions to get away with you. We always with his help get good out of them, for they are the ones who will bring the crowd to the stand; once there once served.
“I was standing one day at the depot waiting to board the train, when I opened my books to see who would like a portion, Testament, or Bible to read on the train. Up steps a man who said, 'Old gentleman,
I see you are selling Bibles.' I asked if he would have one. “I have some questions to ask. “Yes,' said I, “and I have some Bibles to dispose of before the train reaches here.' But he just kept urging his questions. I found that he only wanted to keep me from selling Bibles, so I stopped and asked how many questions he wished to ask, and if it would be proper for me to answer his questions, since I saw quite a number of gentlemen around here. I found I had the sympathy of the crowd. He said he wanted to ask five. I let him ask them, and you may be sure I answered them, and of course he wanted
to ask more, but I objected, and the people said, 'He told you he would answer five, and he has; so you buy some of his Scriptures.' They pressed him to buy, and in a few minutes every book I had was gone and I was ready in good shape for my train.
“I only write you this to show you what we must contend with, and how much patience we must have in doing Bible work. I met some men 'way out on a lonely road in a buggy, and they called out to me, ‘Have you whiskey in that grip?' I said, “Would you like to have some?' walking at the same time near them. I opened my suitcase and raised it up to them. Before they could move their faces I had my St. John, with that clear, large print, right at their eyes, and they said: “That is fine. So cheap for your books.' One of them bought a Testament and Psalms, while the other bought one of my best Bibles. In one of the camps I met a man who wanted to buy a Bible to put under his head at night, as it was good luck. I told him that to put it under his head at night was not by any means a bad thing, but the best thing was to keep it near his eyes, so that his heart could come in touch with it, and he would have the best of luck.
“One of the hardships we find in doing Bible distribution is to find a place to stay. I have looked all day in a town for a place to stop and at last I am settled, not by any means comfortable, as you will see, but a third of a shelter is better than no shelter at all, and if he could live in a manger I ought not to grumble because I must live in the third of a house, while carrying his blessed Word to the people. Let me describe to you my room-a small one with three windows, and these windows are without any light save an old screen in front of them. A pretty heavy snow is now on the ground, but I must tough it out, as this is court week and I cannot leave, and this is the best I can get. The judge was kind enough to let me stand under the porch and show my Bibles. I was also allowed to stand at the courthouse door.
I have put out all my books and cleaned the snow out of my room and will go to bed and rest so as to make a daylight start for the mining camps. I must walk, so I have put my trunk in the depot.
"Safe and sound I am here among the miners, but it is at a time when I am told by the freight agent that his time was out for delivering books, and I would have to pay storage. I went back the next morning and explained my mission in that section and handed him the money for storage, when he handed it back to me and let me have my books. I do not quarrel, but try to be polite and law-abiding, and have come out all right. “Here I am in a part of the country where the coal mines are nu
The people are here from every section of the country. I went to my old stopping place, one of the best places I have had since I have been this way. I went to the freight office and there were three boxes of books you sent waiting for me. This is the glorious
Fourth of July. I gave the bill to the freight agent, who said no goods were to be billed out on the Fourth save perishable goods. The people are here, and I had sent word around the country telling them that the Bible-man would spend that day on the street with his books, and that each of them might have a Bible if they so desired. Now I cannot get my books out of the depot. That would never do. I would never see some of those people again, and they must have the Book. I then took fresh courage and went and inquired if there were not some man a little higher in office than that agent. I was told here was, and that he was in another office. I went to him and told him my story, and he took me in to the freight agent and told him to let me take all the books I needed from those boxes. In a few hours I had them all out, leaving the empty boxes only. My stand was filled with all our books in the morning, and before evening they were all gone. I tell you that was a big day for the American Bible Society.
“Now I am working up the mountains and along the road. I am soon to work a new road. This new road is made up of shanties, and many of the people are a long distance from home, and very few thought of bringing their Bibles along with them. They thought, after I had talked with them, that they had left their best friend behind, and got busy in getting another Bible. Some of the faces I had met at other points, and this made it easy for me. "The Bible-man has been to my home in such and such a place and he is all right.' I have tried to do my best to win the confidence of the people by doing right by them and the Society, and when I have been in a place once I am a welcome friend next time.
“I was told by two gentlemen in the same town-and one did not know the other—that many of the people who had bought guns had actually sold them and put that money into Bibles. And again, they said the reason some of these miners buy a book each time you come is that they are sending them home to their children.
“Some day you will know that the Bible-man, under his leader, played a little part in bringing our people to see the right way and live it. God grant that each colporteur will have courage to do his work as we are sent out to do, and if so I am sure it will not be long before the people will be better for having come in touch with such a great Society."
Mr. Johnson You will see from Mr. Johnson's report that he is acquainted with the people.
“I have just spent four months and a half in the employment of the American Bible Society, during which time I have traveled over the counties of East Tennessee. My pilgrimage covered 6,910 miles, traveling over hills and through the valleys, and over the stony and rugged plains. Most of the time the sun was intensely hot, but I did not mind it, being so overcome with anxiety about the great work and
the personal, direct contact with the masses of my people to see them as they are, and to place the Bible in their hands and in their hearts.
“I entered some of their homes and offered them the Scriptures. Some would buy and tell me to stop going about in the sun-it was too hot; but I only laughed and said, 'My friends, this work must
'Whenever I passed very old houses, poorly kept up, they immediately appealed to me. “This is my field, thank God,' for the Lord preserveth the strangers. He uses the American Bible Society to reach the poor and the rich, the strangers, the fatherless, and widows. Very often I find some persons playing cards and drinking intoxicating liquor. I once sold eight Testaments and a Bible to a body of card players. One of these, I am sorry to say, was a woman, who said, “Now, let us put up these cards and read the Bible. I was glad to see this, as my heart was very heavy at the sight before me.
“While I was waiting for the train I secured the attention of a very intelligent young man, but one who did not know very much about the Bible. I urged upon him to take one, but he did not want one. I soon read to him what President Wilson said in his address about the Bible, and he became interested and bought one, and said, 'I trust you will live long and minister to many souls diseased with sin.' I have spent much time in the slums and alleys reading the message of God to the people and trying to impress upon them his love and pity for mankind. Often I find this class of people very rough, but I knew that they needed the Word of God, and it was my duty not to pass them by.
Gambling and drinking seem to occupy the uppermost seat in the minds of a large number of these people.
“I visited the prison in one of the cities and asked the jailer permission to enter. He refused to let me in, but after talking with him a few minutes he found out that I was sent out by the American Bible Society. I was a welcome visitor not only this time, but at any time I found it convenient to call. I read and sang to the prisoners and prayed as best I could for them, especially for one who was condemned to the gallows. Before leaving him he said that the Lord had forgiven him for his sin and blessed his soul and filled his heart with joy and gladness, and he was ready to go. I went away happy, feeling that God did take care of this man committed to him, and saved him."
Mr. Sanders Mr. Sanders writes: “I am indeed glad to get back in line to do my part in scattering the Scriptures I am in with my feet and heart. I am going to visit the black belt and try to interest my people in His Word. I must say that the officials have been very kind to me thus far. Only once have I been asked to put up my books and go with an officer to see the mayor about my having a stand on the street. I never work a town without first getting permission from the powers