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NORTHWESTERN AGENCY The Northwestern Agency was established in 1906. The field covered
includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. The circulation for the year ending December 31, 1913, was 231,103 copies, making a total circulation of 916,504. Thirty colporteurs and eighty-three correspondents assisted in this work of Bible distribution. The Agency Secretary is the Rev. S. H. Kirkbride, D.D., McCormick Building, 332 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
HE record of the year in this Agency has
been one of decided advancement. Dr. Kirk. bride has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of his field and applied himself with diligence to its problems and increased
his outreach into the remoter sections of his great territory. Colportage is costly and yet it is the life of the work of the Bible Society. As usual, our workers have met with both welcome and antagonism. Bigotry dies hard. The report which follows will be read with deep interest.
At the beginning of the year 1918 we felt that the dominant need of the Agency was expansion. It was our purpose to extend the activities of our colporteurs so that there might be no considerable area of the Agency unvisited by them. It was also felt that the volume of circulation was not commensurate with the size and character and needs of the field, and that there should be an advance in this particular. The close of the year brings satisfaction that some of our plans have been successfully worked and a few of our hopes realized. The outstanding characteristic of the year bas been enlargement.
While every department and phase of our work shows improvement, the development in some is cause for gratification. The work of the Agency was carried on by thirty colporteurs and eighty-three correspondents. Of the latter, some did considerable and others little work. Correspondents do not report on such matters as miles traveled, visits made, etc., as fully as our regular force, so that the totals for these items represent practically only the activities of our colporteurs. Our representatives made 115,487 visits, traveled 19,942 miles, visited 197 cities and towns, besides rural communities, and found 15,370 homes without Bibles. A great many of these were supplied by sale or gift.
The circulation for the first time approached the quarter million line, aggregating 231,103, an increase of 94,217, or seventy per cent, over the preceding year.
We received for sales $25,519,61, as against $19,648.38, a gain of $5,871.23. The classes of Scriptures sold were as follows: Bibles, 54,496, as against 32,208, a gain of 22,288; Testaments, 81,392, an increase of 23,425; portions, 95,215, an advance of 50,223.
This great increase in a single year is abnormal, and cannot be maintained without a large advance in our appropriation. An advance of ten or fifteen per cent each year would be more natural. The advance of 1913 is to be accounted for in part by the fact that the circulation of the previous years was less than it should have been. It is our judgment that the figures this year represent the minimum distribution that should be made in this Agency, and that we should expect to make a slight advance from these low-tide figures each year. To reach this gratifying total it was necessary to reduce all other expenses to the minimum and to raise the colportage force considerably. But with even this enlarged force of Bible missionaries we have barely touched vast populations in our field, and great centers like East St. Louis, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Indianapolis have been unserved.
The Secretary visited two sections of the Agency during the year for the first time. One trip was across Iowa into South Dakota, thence to North Dakota as far as Bismarck, and from there across the state to Minneapolis and St. Paul and then home. The Bible needs of this section do not present any unusually striking features, but are the same as most frontier sections.
The other trip was to the Lake region, beginning at Duluth, passing through Superior, Calumet, and all the lake towns, and ending at Sault Ste. Marie. The trip covered most of what is known
Range,” where the great iron and copper mines are located which are the chief source of the industrial wealth and activities of the northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Most of the labor of this region is performed by foreigners from all the European and some of the Asiatic countries. The situation with respect to Bible work was deplorable and challenging. It was deplorable because, with the exception of Calumet, no representative of the Bible Society had visited these towns, neither had any Bible work ever been done by any other agency.
The need and hunger of the people for the Word and the unparalleled opportunities were a challenge. Certain it is that these alien people will not be evangelized by the messages of the pulpits, because they never darken the doors of the Protestant churches, and of their own faith the churches are pitiably few and widely scattered. The chief hope of the evangelization and Christianization of these multitudes is by means of the printed Word, which can be furnished each in his own tongue. As the immediate result of this visitation colporteurs were placed at Duluth and Virginia, Minn., Hancock, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and some Bible work begun in other places.
As an illustration of how missionary Bible work may be begun and the foundations of the Kingdom of God laid in these sterile places, attention is called to the reference in this report to the work of the Rev. Wm. J. Bell and Mr. G. Lizzi in Virginia, Minn., and other places. In this instance there has been almost ideal co-operation between the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church and the American Bible Society.
Several pastors have discovered this year that blessed results come from a wide use of the Holy Scriptures in their pastoral work. Two of these that I have in mind secured large numbers of the twocent Gospels to distribute in preparation for special revival meetings that were to be held. Pharaphrasing the words of the Psalmist, they declared, “Oh, taste and see that the Word is good,” and thus created a hunger for those words that are sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb,” and the people liked the sample” so well that they called for the whole Book, and they were able to place many Bibles among their people. We are convinced that the ministry of many more would be vastly more fruitful if they would put more Scripture into circulation among their people.
That our Society has not failed in its attempts to supply the poor with the Scriptures, is proven by the practically unanimous reports of our workers that the great majority of the Bibles found among the poor have the imprint of the American Bible Society upon them.
Colporteurs In thought I often try to follow the more than five millions of Scripture the Society put into circulation last year from the time they left its presses until they were put into the hands of individuals. The difference between selling Bibles and other books is freshly illustrated by this proverb by a young layman which just came under my eye, Bound to sell Books. Bound to do good
Bibles." Some of our volumes I know are handled over the counters of business houses as common merchandise, but I like to believe that most of them reach individuals through loving hands that scatter the seed, which is the Word of God, in hope of only spiritual harvests.
Thus our colporteurs and Bible missionaries are the living links between the Word of God and the famished souls of men. As I follow them in thought from house to house and from man to man, I am impressed by the many qualities and abilities they must possess to make them successful Bible distributors. They must have zeal, tact, patience, persistence, and quick wit. They must sow beside all waters, and be instant in season and out of season. G. A. Perkins sold an engineer a Testament while his train stopped a moment at a crossing. Neil Kilpatrick saw some Mexican section hands with their stuff on a hand-car ready to start away. He gave them a few Mexican Gospels. Later he found them in their new home three stations away, and they bought seven Testaments and a Bible of him. They must be forbearing under insult.
Speedy Retribution does not always follow, as it did with Colporteur Weston in Wisconsin. It was
Win my Chum” week in a certain town. He called at one house and the woman shut the door in his face. Speaking in one of the churches that night, he saw this woman there taking a prominent part as First Vice-President of the Epworth League. The recognition was mutual, and the woman had grace enough publicly to acknowledge her fault.
Missionaries They are both home and foreign missionaries and serve as pastors at large.” At one home visited by our colporteur, where he offered prayer, the mother told him that that was the first prayer her little children had ever heard offered.
They must be acquainted with the Scriptures, so that they may rightly divide the Word of Truth and know just what portion to prescribe for the case with which they are dealing. They must be good “mixers”-gentlemen who can meet people in cultured homes with grace, and Christians who can carry the convicting, converting Word of God to lost souls in brothels, saloons, and abodes of wickedness, and come out of these fires of hell without even the smell of smoke on their garments.
Excuses In reading the reports that the men send in I have been struck by the excuses given for not buying Bibles. I give a few samples : No money.
Bibles are only for Christians. A Socialist said, No church, no Bible for me. One woman would not buy one because she swore too much.
One colored person said, It is the white man's book." I don't believe in the Protestant Bible.” “The Bible makes me feel my sins too much.
“I will put my money into a good time instead of a Bible.” My priest would take it away, as he did my other one, and excommunicate me.' My priest says your book is a bad book."
A Good Reason for Buying In contrast to these it was refreshing to read of one poor man who bought a book saying, “I have absolutely nothing in this world, and the Bible promises a new heaven and a new earth.”
“I Was in Prison" Our workers sometimes find distressing cases of Bible destitution. One such was in the Bridewell ” at Chicago. In this prison there were over 2,400 inmates, 165 of whom were women. In the whole institution there were only 50 Bibles and Testaments, of such small type as to be almost unreadable. Surely here is a fine opportunity for some Christian to visit the Lord with His Word in this prison.
In order that we might know the amount of work our represen
tatives were doing among the alien peoples in the Northwestern Agency, and also that we might find out the proportion of the work done in great cities as compared with the activities of our agents in towns and rural communities, a recent survey was made to discover the exact facts in these two particulars.
The results of this survey are herewith presented.
The total immigration into the United States in the year 1912 was 888,172. The total immigration into the Northwestern Agency in the same year was 152,116, or a trifle over eighteen per cent of the total. This immigration was scattered quite generally over the whole Agency, but a very large number of foreigners settled in Chicago and surrounding cities. All the European and Asiatic peoples were represented.
Sixteen salaried colporteurs and many of our correspondents have devoted themselves exclusively to work among these aliens. Thirteen worked in cities of over 10,000 population, six worked in towns, and three in rural communities. A large number of our colporteurs, while they do not work exclusively among the aliens, yet do most of their work among these peoples. This class of colporteurs and correspondents speak, or can do colportage work in, from two to ten languages each. They have sold Scriptures in from two to twenty-three lan
They are, between them, serving practically all the classes of foreigners that come to the United States. Our distributors have sold the Word of God in 36 languages. The distribution of foreign Scriptures for the year 1912 was as follows: Bibles, 9,622; Testaments, 9,220; portions, 12,662. Total, 31,504.
Attention is called to the large list of institutions and individuals with whom we co-operate with grants of Scriptures for their missionary and rescue work. Many of these, while they do not work exclusively among aliens, yet do most of their work among them.
'City Work There are located within the Northwestern Agency 132 cities having a population of 10,000 or over. Of our 30 regular colporteurs, 26 are working exclusively in cities of 10,000 population or over; 24 of them are working in towns. Every one of our regular salaried staff is working either in a large city or a town. Of our 83 correspondents, 21 are working in cities of 10,000 population or over, 27 are working in large towns, and 20 of them are working both in cities of 10,000 and nearby towns.
This Agency is co-operating with 50 institutions or religious agencies doing mission work in the city of Chicago and with 49 like organizations outside of the city of Chicago. It is co-operating with 19 individuals in Chicago and with 24 in places outside of that city, who make large use of the Scriptures in their remedial and rescue work. This makes a grand total of 142 institutions and individuals with whom we are co-operating in supplying the poor with the Word of God, largely by free grants.