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Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Five – Wheaton College

In Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on July 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

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Chapter V

Preaching on the Plains
Autobiography of the Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. (1983)

“. . . in Jerusalem in the college . . . (II Kings 22:14)

Now we ought to come to college days and for these I shall be more brief. In the summer of 1921 my parents moved to Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It was a frame house on perhaps a dozen city lots at the southeast part of the city. A creek ran behind the house and from a point near the orchard at a distance. It was a little kingdom surrounded by dense trees. They purchased it for $1200.00. Mother spied a cow when negotiations were on, and said she would buy it only if the cow was thrown in on the contract and it was. Perhaps thirty years later it was worth several times that price. Now I would not be surprised that Mother arranged the move from Chicago because she wanted me to attend Wheaton College, a Christian school. Wheaton was nearby. She later related that she had heard its President, Dr. Charles A. Blanchard, a godly man, speak in her hearing when she was a young married woman and was then greatly impressed. Indeed, he was a great Christian educator. When we students would hear him tell in chapel how he was converted as a boy, as he often told it, one could hear a pin drop, it was so still.

When summer went on in 1921, Mother asked me if I would care to go over to see the college and decide then whether to enter. I was not at all interested at first. My three elder brothers had all attended great universities. I wanted to be like them and go to a ‘big’ school, not a small college of several hundred. Nevertheless, at her asking I went over and found myself approaching the central limestone building with its impressive old tower. Its approach was a narrow macadam walk curving up hill along an ‘avenue of elms’. A strong impression then came over me, ‘This is where you belong. . .’, though I had not yet seen anyone. So I compromised with myself saying, ‘I will go one year here and then transfer to a university’. However, in the last of that first year, the Spring semester found me somehow becoming a member of the college tennis team, winning two or three intercollegiate matches, and from then on it is doubtful wild horses could have taken me away.

Though but a commuter to school, the impression of a great many Christian students and the effect of their witness was telling. Part of my income was secured by employment as a grocer clerk in Glen Ellyn part-time. My employer was Harry Hanson, Swedish, a fine man and a Christian. Later, I became a delivery boy with the side-flapping Model T. Ford Truck. But Spring seasons, somehow there was time for my beloved tennis. In the No. 2 or 3 singles slot most of the time, I had easier opponents and managed, I judge, something like 75-80 percent victories in five years. I took five Springs to finish college. In my fourth year, between my grocery work and tennis, my studies suffered. I decided to ‘drop’ some studies the Spring of the fourth year. It always appears more ‘genteel’ to drop them rather than hang on and flunk the courses. And the decision then was mine to not return that Fall, but the following Spring semester. This gave me five seasons of tennis but the fifth only against non-conference opponents. The last match was one I do not forget. Henry Coray, our best man, injured his hand. So I played against the number one man of Loyola U. of Chicago. I had in fact played against this man, Hogan, in Chicago, and while the first set was won, yet I lost the last two. The return match in Wheaton set us also as opponents. He won the first set 7-5 after endless returns. Always a retriever as I had learned tennis playing older brothers, the hot weather aided me. I always could stand heat and that Memorial Day, May 30th, 1926 was the hottest ‘Decoration Day’ I have ever seen. Beginning the second set, Professor ‘Greek Smith’, as he was affectionately known, sat behind me, and after a bad serve said, “David, you are not getting your first serve in. You’ve got to get it in.” So, lining up and looking carefully at the top of the net, I just blazed away, repeating the procedure the rest of the match. Set Two was mine 6-4 and the final 6-1 and the match. Wheaton did win over Loyola 6-0 that day. I have always been grateful to Professor Smith for his timely suggestion at a critical point that day. I know he was a man of God and prayer. Perhaps he knew my timid personality and felt that victory then, the last match in college, might produce encouragement for life’s battles to come. Have sometimes thought that deliveries of groceries winters and summers and the long walks to and from High School could produce stamina to help in later life. At the time the future was unknown to me that in time to come I was to be a pastor in the northern Plains. A strenuous ministry in that country can use physical preparation. God says that physical or bodily exercise profits for a little time and yet it does not avail for all things as does godliness, I Timothy 4:8. I needed much more of the latter.

Wheaton did much more for me. In my commuting to college every day I would arrive just at the time for the morning student prayer meeting in the “Lower Chapel”. Now I had a great reluctance to go into it. I had the idea that if I did that I might be expected to give a ‘testimony’. I had heard that students did so. I wondered what I would say, and indeed, if I did, if it would be sincere. So I cowered out in the hall and did not enter, though I felt judged in not doing so for as a Christian, did not one belong there? In my last year I recall standing at the time for testimonies in the students’ large Wednesday night weekly prayer meeting, where many attended. Telling how I had felt, I said that by the help of God I hoped to do better, and did testify to my Saviour. That same year a young eminent pastor from Brooklyn, New York came to be the speaker for the Spring Evangelistic Meetings. He was Dr. James Oliver Buswell, Jr. At that series of meetings he gave an invitation to students in such a way as that, even if students were not sure they were so called to spend their lives, yet if they would be willing to dedicate their lives to full-time Christian service, if God were to call them. Many students answered the invitation that night and I was among them. From that time I began to suspect that I might become so “called”.

© PCA Historical Center, 2010. All rights reserved.

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