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Rural Work Fourteen of our 30 regular colporteurs and 25 of our correspondents work in rural districts. Canvassers who sell on subscription or deal in higb-priced Bibles exclusively seldom go into the sparsely settled communities, because they work on commission and they must have heavy sales to make living expenses.
For that reason almost no Bible work is done in these places excepting such as is done by the representative of our Society. We do not place a large number of men in country districts because of the disproportion between salary and expenses and receipts from sales. Our appropriation permits only a limited contribution to this form of home missionary work.
An increasingly large number of pastors who are serving country churches are becoming interested in distributing the Bible in rural sections and are co-operating with us in our work, though not to such a degree as would justify us in classifying them as correspondents. These rural communities will never be satisfactorily canvassed in the interests of Bible work, nor supplied with the Holy Scriptures, except by the aid and work of rural pastors.
Colporteurs Afield The Rev. Edmund Thickstun represented us at Hastings, Neb., and for three months at Rapid City, S. D. In both these places he found many different nationalities. He had met with the usual difficulties and had enjoyed many gracious opportunities to give Scriptures to the poor, the blind, and the needy.
Beer Bottles for Bibles One interesting case was that of a little girl who wanted a Bible, but had no money to purchase one. When asked if she could not find some way of earning money she said, “Yes, I'll sell mamma's beer bottles; there's a barrel of them in the coal-house."
H. A. Callis This bright, earnest, young colored student in a Methodist Episcopal school in the South, gave us splendid service in Chicago for three months during his summer vacation. Mr. Callis reports that no home among the thrifty was found without a Bible, but the greatest lack was among the shiftless and the wicked. There is food for reflection in these facts.
Stealing Money to Buy a Bible Here is a rather unique case:
A rather elderly colored woman wanted a Bible with large print. I had made appointments with her, and called several times, but she had never managed to save enough out of her meager earnings to get the Book. On the last visit, just before my sale, she said, “I'll have the money next time you come if I have to steal it.""
Mr. Callis thus closes one of his reports: “ The fact that here
and there it has been possible to set an individual to thinking upon his or her life, that in some instances it has been possible to leave Bibles in homes where in the beginning the colporteur was greeted with jeers and the Bible with curses, makes it appear that the work has not been entirely in vain.”
Mrs. G. W. Longenecker has done considerable work during the year at Viola, Wis., and vicinity. She writes: “ I never could bear to sell anything before, but I really enjoy this work. Everyone is so interested in our Bibles and think they are so cheap, they make you feel like a public benefactor for bringing them around. I found many people without Bibles because they had never had an opportunity before to buy them. The other day I found a girl who had been in bed several months with a broken hip. I showed her a Great Primer Book of Psalms, and she was so pleased with it she acted like a child. It was so light to hold and the print so large she could read it while
I went down to Belle Center Saturday, and have not got over it yet. This is the only town in Kickapoo Valley that has a saloon, and it is a dreadful little place. I never saw so many dirty children, so many tables full of unwashed dishes, so many untidy, hopeless-looking women, in one day. The station was full of young men from up the line who had come down to quench their thirst. I approached two of them, who did not seem to know what to do to kill time until train time, and handed them each a Testament, that they might have something to read. It seemed to strike them just right, and they each bought a Testament. Then two other young men came up, and they told them they would have to buy one also. One did, but the other said that he did not have a cent left, so the other three gathered up eight pennies between them and bought
Most of the people said they had Bibles, but I think they must have been in the condition one man said his was, as good as new.'
I found a bright woman the other day who had been brought up a Catholic, but who had never been to any church since she was grown, and who had never read a Bible and had very little idea of what was in it. She said that she had often hinted to her Protestant friends that she would like a Bible, but they never seemed to think she was in earnest. It seemed strange to have to explain to & grown woman what was in the Bible and where she would find the story of Jesus and the other beautiful stories of the book.' I have wondered how it would seem to read those stories for the first time when one was grown.
Miss Mary Milk, of the Des Plaines Street Mission of Chicago, relates these interesting stories: Several times in the afternoon a little German boy of eight came to the mission. After a time I discovered that he could repeat a considerable number of passages
of Scriptures, and found that he had memorized the Scripture texts upon the wall.
A Jewish Newsboy One evening a Jewish newsboy of twelve came to the mission and was given a copy of the Gospel of John. He took it home, and when his parents saw it, he was beaten, tied in the cellar, and the Gospel torn to pieces. He came back to us and begged for a Bible, which was given to him. He soon gave his heart to God and attends the mission as often as he can, and wears constantly a bright, smiling face."
A. Orloff This brother has been with us in Milwaukee for something over a year, working chiefly among the Russians. The first year he distributed 2,121 volumes of Scripture in thirteen languages. lates some interesting experiences :
A small class of Russians were in the habit of meeting for study in private houses, but these were hard to find. Then they were offered a room in the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. A few months ago I gave a Testament to a Russian Jew. I visited him, and last Saturday he came to our Russian Bible class. special attention that day to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.' This we compared with John 1:45, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph '; and also John 1:17, ‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.' man was pleased with the meeting and promised to be there next Sunday.
One afternoon I found a house of four flats which was used as a boarding house. There were about 120 people living there, mostly Croatians and Hungarians. I waited until the men home at night and then began to speak to them, but because they were mostly Catholics they did not want to listen to me. I showed them Bibles, but they said that they did not want anything to do with Protestant books. I opened the Gospel of John and read a few verses and then gave it to an old man. As the old man was reading, he understood it was the Word of God, and the others began to listen and wondered at what they heard, because they did pot know what the Bible was. One young man bought a Bible and asked me to come again and explain the Scriptures.
One Saturday night I was working in a dark alley in the rear of a saloon. I stopped in front of a house where some men were playing cards, whistling, and dancing. I stood close by the door, but did not know what to do because it was so late.
But they saw me, and called me in. There were thirteen men there, all boarders. After an hour's good visit I sold two Russian Bibles, and the next
Sunday there were five men from this house in our Russian Bible class.
Pastoral Co-operation The experience of the past year in northern Minnesota has demonstrated the possibility of combining home missionary and Bible work with mutual profit. For the past year ideal co-operation has existed between the Presbytery of Duluth and the American Bible Society among the mining towns on the Range.
The Rev. William J. Bell was sent out by the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in answer to the call of the Duluth Presbytery. Mr. Bell made his headquarters at Virginia, Minn., and from that center covered a large territory north of Duluth. Later we were able to secure the Rev. G. A. Lizzi to co-operate with Mr. Bell in ministering to the Italians, of whom there are many thousands, and for three months we paid part of the salary of Mr. L. Gualtieri to work among the Italians in Hibbing and other places. At first Mr. Bell put out only the cheap Testaments and portions, but later found that these had created a demand for the whole Bible and for more expensive books. Among all classes of foreigners there is distrust of the small books, the thought being that they are not the whole Bible. They also ask for bigga book," evidently of the opinion that the larger the book the more Gospel they get. I quote a few lines from one of Mr. Bell's letters:
"One Croatian, when asked about his God, taking a quarter out of his pocket, said, 'That's my God.' An Italian, opening the oven door and pointing to a cooking roast of meat, said, 'This is my only book.' These people are breaking with their state churches. Socialistic workers are constantly among them, preaching the abuses of the church and the grossest materialism. Someone must go to them with the open Bible and the real teachings of Jesus.”
Mr. Bell has found that the best introduction to these aliens is a portion of Scripture in their mother tongue. The offer of a Bible opens up argument and conversation on religious matters and prepares the way for missionary work as scarcely any other agency does. There are many scores of home missionaries in our frontiers that could imitate Mr. Bell's methods with added success to their own work and blessing to the people among whom they labor.
G. A. Perkins This brother entered upon his work for us in the early spring in 1913, making his headquarters in Omaha, and going thence to Lincoln and other cities in Nebraska, as well as Council Bluffs, Ia. Judged by the methods of distribution, the zeal with which he has labored, and the number of books he has circulated, I believe that Mr. Perkins has done as good colportage work as has been done in the Agency the past year. Mr. Perkins had just begun his work when the disastrous cyclone of Easter Sunday, 1913, brought death and
disaster to a vast section of Omaha. He immediately visited the strickened section. He held the first prayer service among the victims of the storm, everyone present, himself excepted, having lost relations or property or both. While they stood in the snow with bared heads, one of their number opened a Bible and read, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. A colored man stepped into the circle as the meeting was about to break up, and said : Say, white man, I suppose you couldn't give me one of those Bibles, could you ? I had one, but it went with all my other goods. I haven't a thing in the world, but if you'll give me one of those, I'll have something to start with.” He distributed many Bibles among the stricken people. Later the Secretary was in Omaha and met the ministers of the city and the officials of the relief committee. Through these Bibles were given to every church that was destroyed and to every Christian home that was wrecked. Most appreciative responses have been received from the churches and homes thus assisted.
One of the interesting sights of this metropolis is to see Mr. Perkins on one of the most prominent corners of the city, behind his wheelbarrow and box of Scriptures, offering the Bread of Life to the passing multitude. He also literally carried out the word and spirit of his commission, which is, to diligently seek out families and individuals destitute of the Scriptures and supply them by sale or donation.” I think he is the only “blue ribbon” colporteur of the Society. He attended seven state fairs in five states, and at two of them was given the coveted prize for his display. He has found this a fruitful method of distributing the Word. I let him tell his own story of experiences :
While visiting some people that live in squatter cabins on the river bank, I was warned not to see a man who lived under the bridge, because he was a follower of Bob Ingersoll and had threatened to do bodily harm to anyone who would offer him a Bible. I waded through weeds shoulder high to get to his cabin. I failed to sell him a Bible, but I came away without a scratch from the man, though not from his dog.
My work in June has been mostly in the poor districts of Council Bluffs. One woman said that she had been married twentyone years and was rearing seven children and had always wanted a Bible, but had never obtained one. Another woman said that she had been married eighteen years and was rearing eight children and had no Bible. These two families were living on the same street with the pastor of a church, and the church was only a stone's
This is a significant extract from one of his letters: “I have probably sold more Bibles in saloons than in any other business house.
One day in the slums of Omaha I stopped at a house where the woman said, 'Come in; I want to see one of those good Bibles.' Taking a cigarette out of her mouth, she said, “That one looks like