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Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Seven – Summer of 1928

In Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on July 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

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

“Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
The meek will he guide in judgment : and the meek will he teach his way.
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
(Psalm 25: 8-10).

Now turning to another summer, 1928. An interesting experience introduced the summer following the second year at Princeton Seminary. High blood pressure and sleeplessness was still a problem, so I deferred from an opportunity to return to Nova Scotia on the doctor’s advice to back to manual labor. Again in my parents’ home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, I sought and gained employment promise to the former cement sidewalk construction work. It was to start the followiing Monday. But before that, an interesting experience developed. Following the Sunday morning service in the Wheaton College Campus Church, I met again David Otis Fuller, a Wheaton-Princeton Seminary classmate. He later was to have a long and splendid ministry for 50 years as pastor of the the Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids. “Duke” — we called him that as fellow students for had a “bearing” — said he was going out to Montana to a place called Square Butte for a summer student ministry. He asked me what I was going to do. I told him, but said I was wondering whether it would have been best, too, to go out for another summer. Now I did not know this, but later, either by telegraph or by some other means, he must have been in touch with Dr. MacLain, Synodical overseer in Montana. For he asked “Duke” if he could recommend another man from Princeton.

Now the remainder of that first week at home, I had trouble sleeping nights awaiting the Monday return to work. One night, late in the week when awake for hours, I prayed and said to God that if He would show me a place to go without my seeking, I would take it as a sign to go out preaching after all. Then, going to sleep at dawn, then at nine when mail came, I was awakened by the ringing of the postman’s call. It was the doorbell. The thought at once came to me that this was the answer to my prayer. And it was. A telegram was delivered which read: “Are you available for a summer pastorate? There is need for a man at Fairview, Montana.” I am sure Montana was far from my mind as a possibility before it. But feeling this was the Lord’s call, I wired back. “Available immediately, wire particulars.” The answer came back explaining in detail. “Ninety dollars per month and one way fare.” And I was soon entrained for Montana after getting release from the sidewalk work commitment.

Those four or five months at the eastern edge of the state, on the lower Yellowstone River were a real eye opener for a city neophyte in the West. Yet so many people were kindly, even with their western frankness. There was an elder, once a cowboy, Roy Collins, beet farmer and later also Post Master. He was dependable, frank and open. There was Will Morrill, the other elder and his mother, Mrs. A.D. Morrill, widow of an early-day rancher and elder. The Dr. A.M. Treats took me under their wing almost so regularly it was embarrassing, but they were true to their name, for they treated me oft to meals. He was a fine physician. And with the doctor was Lew Thompson, the banker. Both acted as Trustees of the church. And the Blanchards, fine godly people with a fine family of children. Mr. Blanchard in time was to be builder in charge of construction of a new church for the people which was begun the following summer. And there was Mr. Collins’ son-in-law, Kenneth Gardner, handsome young giant from the rugged Redwater River area in the wide open country well west of Fairview. Kenneth was straight, honest and a Christian. God prospered him. The summer went fast. Before it ended I decided to go the 43 miles east into North Dakota to the small city of Watford City. For there was a Presbyterian church there and mine was a loneliness for another one (man) of my kind. But on arrival in the town, I found the church had no pastor. Mrs. Clyde Staley, to whom I was first directed, suggested I go to see Elder John Bruins in the country. I did so with the outcome they invited me to preach and conduct services Sunday evenings for the remainder of the summer. It was 43 miles by a state road. However, the first 20 miles east of Fairview, it was a quite narrow dirt graded road. The rest, after Alexander, North Dakota was reached, in time became a new direct gravel highway to Watford City but I believe that summer was routed through intervening villages and was still dirt most of the way. I purchased a 1922 Model T. Ford. It was open but with a canvas top which could be raised and was attached in front was it not to fenders or radiator. It cost $100.00 and at the end of the summer’s driving sold for $80.00. People would just fill that Watford City church and attendance, I believe, was larger than that of Fairview. Fairview was a town of less than a thousand but with probably a dozen churches. So the division brought less opportunity for attendance than did Watson City where there were but three Protestant churches an a city of perhaps 1,600. However, it was a situation in Fairview not unlike that in Economy, Nova Scotia, the previous summer. The M.E. (Methodist) church and the Presbyterians had had joint services in the Methodist church under the Methodist pastor. The Methodists did not like their minister and got rid of him. The Presbyterians like him and, angry over his firing, decided to go it alone and that is where I entered the picture.

By the way, I began to feel quite in the West after hearing the sound of horses’ hoofs and shooting into the air and shouts often on a Saturday night passing the Presbyterian manse just as I was endeavoring to do last-minute preparations for the Sunday’s sermon to come the next day. It was a bit unnerving for a tenderfoot like myself. I often wondered if it was some “joy juice” in enervated cowboys from back country, or just local young gentry thinking they would give the young pastor some western-style practical initiations. I imagined there were some places where liquor might be had in town. Will try to give the picture later in another chapter telling of the “Feds” from Miles City who made an unannounced raid and caught a bootlegger who had been long plying his trade. I do not mean to demean the town. There were some fine people in the city and will try to ‘tell it as it is.’

At the end of the summer I returned to Princeton for the last year in the Seminary. But did not then know that my first four years in the ordained ministry were to be in this same dual field. And thereafter, the first 20 years, the prime time of my life were to be in the northern Plains, with some of the most lurid experiences of my life to come in the next four years.

Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Six – Princeton Seminary

In Preaching on the Plains, Princeton Theological Seminary, Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on July 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

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Continuing our transcription of the autobiography of the Rev. David K. Myers, we come now to chapter six, the first of five chapters that cover his time at Princeton Theological Seminary.

 

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

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord . . .” (II Corinthians 6:17)
“. . .separated unto the gospel of God”. (Romans 1:1)

Upon graduation from Wheaton I secured summer work in the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton area as a worker to dig trenches for the area gas company. They were usually searching ‘service lines’ to homes from street mains for leakage. But my first job was that of picking a trench in the hard macadam street near the college. Every stroke of the pick seemed about to pull my arms off my shoulders. But I did manage to get down to dirt. Later that summer, I found sidewalk cement work with another employer in the making of sidewalks for new subdivisions in the Glen Ellyn area. Pushing a wheelbarrow full of cement was quite heavy work for my slight build. At the time I do not recall being very concerned as to deciding about my future, or whether further education would be mine.

But something happened. A chum of my elder brother Edwin, Eugene Pilgrim, a godly old fashioned Methodist, had just graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. It was the oldest and largest Seminary in the ‘northern’ Presbyterian Church, my denomination when a child in Chicago. Eugene Pilgrim came all of twenty miles from Austin, Chicago to see me. He endeavored to encourage me to go to the Seminary and told me of its conservative, fundamentalist “stand”, its outstanding scholarship, the culture of the East. I knew some of my fellow graduates of Wheaton were going there. I said to myself, “Well, it would not hurt me to get more education even if I never were to become a minister.” So I decided to go to Princeton that Fall and found myself entrained for the East and then also matriculated or entered as a student at the Seminary in Princeton. What an impressive ivy clad old school! That Fall found me in my room in plain but ivy-covered ‘Brown Hall’, where most ‘Juniors’ or first year men were. Near me was J. Wesley (“Wes”) Ingles, a Scottish-born lad from Inverness, a Wheaton grad, who had loaned me his new tennis racket when I played Hogan of Loyola.

How great it was to study under Drs. Armstrong, Vos, Hodge, Machen, Wilson and others. Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, a tremendous defender of the Faith, taught advanced Hebrew. I learned that when one became one of the select 17 or 18 out of the class of 80 in beginning Hebrew and could prove by the test given to all that they could make faster progress, these would be put into the “Aleph” section and study the remainder of the year under Dr. Wilson. These too would have the possibility of getting a grade of “1” in the first year of Hebrew. This would give them a better opportunity of making the “1” average of all studies in the three years at Seminary and entitled one the third year to write a thesis assigned in any of the scholarships or “Fellowships” as they were called. It entitled the student in the George S. Green Fellowship in Old Testament Literature, for example, to $600.00 for study abroad, if the “1” average was maintained and the thesis presented was acceptable.

Well, I decided I would try. I worked at that Hebrew through to small hours of the morning each night. Having a large appetite, my previous physical work found me a heavy eater. We at “Seminary Club” had the best cook on the campus. But with all the studies I took no time for exercise. I did make the “1” class, but at the toll of suffering insomia because of high blood pressure. An examining doctor told me it was terribly high for a man of my age, and recommended my eating less beef and the taking of daily sweat producing exercise. The “1” average was managed, but I was exhausted physically when I answered the call for summer students to Nova Scotia described in Chapter One.

Oh how wonderful Princeton was in those days! It has slipped terribly from its doctrinal and fundamentalist integrity since. In fact, the governing body of Directors was changed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA), now the United Presbyterian Church (UPC), in 1929, the very month I graduated in May. The denomination, my church then, was to continue to pay lip service for some years claiming “Princeton would continue its historic basis” (the words of the President who engineered the change) and indeed, the denomination would point to the Westminster Confession of Faith as a figurehead. (The New Confession of 1967, however, has since shown the true direction of the denomination — now the “United Presbyterian Church” since its union with the old UPC). This lip service leaders of that body had claimed but in the missionary stand of the church and its boards, steps were taken contrary to the “historic” Christian doctrines of the church. Yet Princeton Seminary, prior to 1929 was “sound”. What famous Professors! They had rigid scholarship. I knew I had to produce and studied harder than I had ever so worked. And a determination came to me that I would stand by the Word of God by God’s help forever. Students who came from liberal colleges were converted to the truth of the old gospel when I was there. No one had a chance of being elected by the student body as President of its council but those students who were known to be “sound in the faith”. They were days of spiritual revival in an old and hallowed place of learning where the Warfield’s the Hodge’s and others had labored. But as I say, in May, 1929 the Seminary was changed by forces foreign and outside of itself.

It was the decade of the modernist-fundamentalist controversy. And at its end the Liberals won ‘the battle of Princeton’. Drs. Machen, Wilson, Van Til and others formed the independent “Westminster Theological Seminary” in Philadelphia in order to continue to propagate the doctrines Princeton stood for.

This separation of Seminaries pointed to the time when ultimately “the separated movement” in the form of separated denominations became necessary to consistent Bible believers. The philosophy of ‘Naturalism’ had dominated many secular colleges, and even denominational and Christian ones too. Princeton’s fall was a sign of the trend everywhere. These views (humanism or naturalism) had dominated many secular colleges and universities. It extended or ascended in time to professorships of many theological seminaries, in fact, it was becoming quite universal by the late Twenties or my student days. They would oft leave a professor or two in a denominational school, perhaps an old man, who could be pointed to, to quiet perturbed people such as conservative laymen or more fundamental clergy. “See so and so, he is teaching there. It must be quite all right.” Meanwhile the liberal taking over proceeded more completely in the once hallowed halls of Bible believing teachers. The supernatural in the Bible and the Christian Faith everywhere was being denied. It extended to the five points at issue in the “Auburn Affirmation of 1924“. Over a thousand ministers in our denomination (PCUSA) of the total ministers, of 10,000, signed the document. The doctrines of the supernatural, such as the Miracles of Scripture, the Virgin Birth of Christ, His Bodily Resurrection, the Substitutionary Atonement by the Cross, and the Verbal Inspiration of Holy Scripture, were affirmed as necessary to believe for ministers of the church by its General Assembly of 1923. (According to Dr. Morris MacDonald, General Secretary of the Independent Board for Home Missions, our Church was the first church body in America officially to affirm what was essentially to become “The First Five Fundamentals” doing so in its 1910 General Assembly.) The Auburn Affirmation was a rebellion against that action. These doctrines were denied or minimized by the Affirmation named after Auburn, New York, where a small Seminary of the Church was located. It produced eventually the division of 1936 in the Church. Other ministers who did not actually sign the Affirmation yet would say they agreed with it. There were modernists who denied or minimized the importance of the doctrines. There were the fundamentalists who declared them. And, alas, there were the ‘middle of the roaders’ who may have declared they believed in them personally, but in the interests of ‘peace in the Church’ would not stand firm in their voting at church assemblies which did follow. The result was that eventually the modernists took over the denomination having first taken its Boards and agencies. The act of changing Princeton Seminary, the last Seminary to maintain its conservative position of eight seminaries in the Church, was the final take-over. When Princeton fell, Westminster was raised in its place. And for a Bible stand on Foreign Missions, the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions was organized in 1933 for Bible-believing Presbyterians.

But now, just a retrogression in time to show where I was personally on the wide map. In 1927, as I recounted in the first chapter, I was in Economy, Nova Scotia, following the first year in Seminary. There I perceived in a first student pastorate where the separated movement was to lead one. In that village before the Canadian “ecumenical movement” for a United Church of Canada, there was but one church in Economy, the Presbyterian. But after it, there were two. The United Church was added locally. Being then blind to all the implications of the situation, and some perversity in reasoning, for a weak time I was sorry I had come. There were now two churches in a small village and in sparsely populated country. Perhaps if I had not come the harmony might not have been disturbed, for many people of the ‘continuing’ Presbyterian churches had ministers who wanted the union. And more churches were those who stood for their heritage. I am afraid that I became for a time a budding ecumenical and a compromiser with the theological “liberalism”.

Now I had been told that the Elder, R.P. Soley, a storekeeper, was a good man to visit if he could be induced to talk. He seemed a very quiet man. He would stalk from the church services when they had ended, neither looking to the right hand nor to the left, nor speaking a word to any one, walking rapidly to his home. (I learned years later when reading the autobiography of John G. Paton, Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides, that this was an old Scot custom. His father would do so. The occasion was too sacred for mundane (worldly) conversation after a worship service. His father would return after a service at once to their home, and then spend an hour or so in early afternoon repeating the sermon to the family and expounding its points).

I was told by the Morrisons that it was seldom one could get Mr. Soley to talk but that when he did, I should listen! Well, that time came. I went to Mr. Soley at his store and told him about my qualms. He became very stern. He told me of the issues and then he boiled over. He said, “They tried to force it” (the union) “through Parliament”. I gathered that the threatened loss of religious freedom and (I learned later) the same spirit which continued through martyrdoms in the Scottish Kirk when they tried to force the Presbyterian Scots into the Episcopalian Church of England in ‘the killing time’, when English soldiery persecuted some even to death when they tried to hold their ‘conventicles’ and Presbyteries even in desolate glades — all this was involved. Knowing, too, that Dr. Mackey, leader of the Maritime Presbyterians, adhered to the fundamentalist position, and he had made the appeal for young men from Princeton to aid the pastor-less churches . . . Well, I succumbed to the truth and righteous spirit of this godly layman, R.P. Soley, in short order! A few short words from him were sufficient.

Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Five – Wheaton College

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

Great news : Preaching on the Plains has now been published!
Details and order information can be found at http://preachingontheplains.wordpress.com/
Preaching on the Plains is available as a paperback or an E-book.

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.

Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Four – Through High School

In Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on June 28, 2010 at 8:25 am

Great news : Preaching on the Plains has now been published!
Details and order information can be found at http://preachingontheplains.wordpress.com/
Preaching on the Plains is available as a paperback or an E-book.

We continue with the posting of chapters from the Rev. David K. Myers’ autobiography, Preaching on the Plains.  His son, the Rev. David T. Myers was good to preserve the only surviving copy of this manuscript by donating it to the PCA Historical Center.  It is our great pleasure to post selected chapters from this testimony.  Some of the more interesting chapters will post in coming weeks.

Preaching on the Plains
Chapter IV
by the Rev. David K. Myers, D.D.

“. . . it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, . . .” (Galatians 1:15)

Training for a life work for any Christian involves a multitude of life’s experiences. We are all a good deal the products of our past. As a lad, in addition to my usual education in the public schools, there came to me an opportunity for employment. It was that of a delivery boy using my bicycle bringing meats to home purchasers from a butcher shop on Chicago Avenue. This experience and the later like deliveries by auto when in college had the same value. Early in life when seeing women at work in their homes and all their situation to the extent of times of coming into houses to deliver products, I early made up an assessment of the worth of a wife and mother. It was worded when I said to myself, “Theirs is the biggest, biggest job”.

Later on in High School, mine was the same place of employment where my brothers worked when they were in High School. It was with the Hope Publishing Company on Lake Street. What excellent Christian people! The elderly Mr. Shorney was from England. His younger partner, Mr. Kingsbury, was likewise a wonderful employer, always kind and considerate to us all. It was an echo, I believe, of the great Moody-Sankey revivals in England. Of Mr. Shorney I meant to add, ‘It was a treat to meet him’. His son Gordon was often in the packaging room with us learning more of the business. We school workers were there ‘after school’ and Saturdays. Years later when a young pastor in drought country, I wrote for hymn books to Gordon Shorney, then President, for one of my churches in the west. I asked for “seconds” but he replied they no longer had them, but would send first line books at a discount, and it was considerable. He stated that they did not want to make any money from a former Hope employee. What a kind letter it was!

I graduated from Austin High School in 1921 but not before mine was the experience of attending the meetings at the huge ‘Lake-front’ tabernacle of “Billy” or Dr. William A. Sunday, “ex big league ball player” and evangelist. How mighty those meetings were. They were well prepared in advance. All over the city of Chicago, preceding the meetings themselves for perhaps several months, prayer meetings were held weekly in neighborhood homes, often one home to each city block of homes. It was a revelation to watch Dr. Sunday in his meetings. With the zest of a famous ball player, he threw it all into his preaching. He’d tear at his tie and collar when he’d begin to get warm, cast them behind him. He would dash from one end of the long platform to the other. I think I heard he has divested himself of coat and shirt, though I doubt the latter. He would lean way out over the high platform to emphasize a point. I suppose he would not be above teetering on a pulpit if necessary, but this I also doubt. He had good taste, I thought, in spite of it all. He had been a baseball player of note as a champion sprinter. He did win a staged race around the bases against a college champion sprinter according to Connie Mack. But however he did it, Billy Sunday was a ball player turned evangelist and he was himself, as he got his points across in language all could understand. When he gave the ‘invitation’ the sawdust aisles were filled with people surging forward to accept the Saviour. There were those who looked the most derelict type of “winos” to respectable people of society. Sunday himself had been converted at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, a partly drunk ball player. In one of his meetings I saw one who looked the part of a man we call a “wino”, but he stood in the aisle in tears, his head thoughtfully on one side, considering what he had heard. Billy Sunday was able to preach in the man’s language. He had been where he was.

So heightened was the revival in Chicago that one traveling on the street cars would find Christian people walking up and down the aisles who would earnestly ask occupants at every seat if they were saved. My own brother, the banker, in Chicago visiting from Las Vegas, New Mexico, was so accosted, and also was a man who was seated beside him. His companion answered in the affirmative, but somehow the way the man replied made my brother ask him after the inquirer passed, “But are you saved?” The man replied, “Well, no I am not, son”.

On the big green street car on which I once came from the meetings, I recall people of the nearby Swedish Baptist church were singing gospel songs. I remember one: “Whosoever Meaneth Me” — “Surely Meaneth Me”. How good it was. The gospel appeared for the time to have taken over a great deal of Chicago those old days. Its spirit invaded the High Schools. Homer Rodeheaver, the great son leader and trombonist, was speaker and player of his instrument in my High School at a special assembly. How impressive it was.

By the way, I recall one good effect of that Swedish Baptist church at the corner of Central Avenue and Iowa Street. An old derelict we always called “drunken Fritz” would get drunk at a “blind pig”, a house where liquor was sold in a dry area near us. Regular as each Saturday night he would totter north on Parkside Avenue, as a rule attended by a retinue of taunting jeering youngsters. Frothing, he would turn back on his tormentors in helpless rage. If anyone I would have thought was a person who was “beyond redemption point” when I was a boy, it was this man. But after I grew up I learned that Fritz became saved! And also that it was the Swedish Baptist Church’s evangelistic ministry which was used to bring Fritz at last to the Lord and free from jesting taunters and his alcohol after all.

In my High School “Freshman” class study room, I was also put in with others, indeed others who were all girls! All but me, girls! And me who had no sisters. I was terrified. They were amused at my hapless situation and confusion. Somehow there may have been a reason. Later, say nine years, I would have been a poor pastor in the west if I had wanted to run away from all presence of the women of my parish. Sometimes I have been tempted to think my mother was behind it all, and knowing we were all boys, asked school authorities to arrange it so. However, this seems far fetched. And somehow in the four years this situation remained. I gradually lost the fear of the forty and was thinking of but one of them. I worshiped her from afar the four years and at the near close of the last year, asked her for a date, having put my courage to the test to go and see the Cubs play the Cincinnati “Reds”, the great Grover Cleveland Alexander being the Chicago pitcher. She turned me down and that was that! Puppy love is ineffective, nonplussed and but temporary.

My generation in High School days was not yet an auto traveled or auto-bussed company of school goers. I walked about a mile and a half, just one way from our home, then on North Mason Avenue, north of Division, to the High School on Central Avenue, south of Lake Street. It may have been a 3-4 miles each day and was taken in stride by school children of my time. I must hasten to add that I take note, too, of jogging habits of many present day energetic young people. While I admit this, I still wonder if they’d be willing to walk prosaically with the expenditure of time and on such a regular basis throughout the years of school. School buses abound today with consequent costs, and consequent burden on the economy.

Before finishing with my mother’s ministry or training, I should list one other thing she did for me. She prayed for me, and that, before I was born. Some years later when in my second summer of student ministry and at Fairview, Montana, on my 25th birthday I received a letter from her. I was then beginning to wonder if after all I was truly called to be ultimately a pastor. It was slow getting under way on the field which recently had had no pastor. Indeed, was it even right for me to be in the work as a student there? Arrangments were slow in being made to have my pay come, and what little money I had left after train fare to pay weekly board and room was running out. But mother’s letter came on that 25th birthday, June 10, and told me something she had told no one else. It was that before I was born she had prayed for a fourth son (she had no daughters), and that that son would be prepared for the gospel ministry. She went on to say that she had prayed for the older boys that they would be good boys. But that in my case, she had prayed for a son to enter the gospel ministry; and that she had told no one, even my father, for she had feared she might be deemed presumptuous to wish for a particular calling rather than another for a child. She wrote that it had been ‘the prayer of her life’.

What ‘got’ to me in this was that Mother had never strong-armed me in the slightest in this, or tried to influence me. She said she just made it her prayer and left it with God. She did let me read the books of early famous missionaries, such as Mackay of Formosa (Taiwan). I had become a ‘bookworm’ as a child. I read of Dr. Mackay, how he went to Formosa where mountain people were cannibals. He was used when God converted a native woman and then Dr. Mackay made her his wife. I thought, ‘Ah, that is wonderful. When I grow up I am going to become a foreign missionary and convert a native cannibal island lady and marry’. Little did I know that I would turn out to be in time a home missionary in the northern Plains in America, and instead of marrying someone like a native Formosan, would one day travel to Edinburgh and marry a daughter descended from the fierce clansmen of the Scottish Highlands. It is one of my stale jokes to say this and add that the fierceness of the Scottish clansmen was seen in one of their battles with the English. To it they carried scythes, hacamores or whatever, gained the victory in the battle by cutting off the feet of the English soldiery, and then did return from their sanguinary carnage to the native homes ‘with great glee’ after it. We would well insert here that the great Christian Faith and Courage of John Knox years later, who prayed, ‘Give me Scotland or I die!’ was used of God in his life work to see in the 16th century the Great Protestant Revival and Reformation in that same land. Anthropologists have said too, I believe, that the ancestors of the Scots were cannibals. (However, I am afraid, too, the same anthropologists have said darkly that the ancestry of the rest of us have been cannibals also).

However, returning to the truly solid and biblical truths of Mother and her prayers, when I received her letter and since that time in all my life and ministry, I have never doubted my calling, except for part of my first year after ordination. At this time I faced a long and desperate period of darkness and need of surrender and getting right with God, of which I expect to write more later in this narrative.

Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Three – Early Training

In Preaching on the Plains, Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on June 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

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Preaching on the Plains
Chapter III.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)

Suffer an old man of 77 now to think of a few things about the training of a child toward his life work as a Christian. In fact, the training of his life before he becomes a Christian. I have spoken herein of my mother being a Baptist. She was this, even though she spent her married life as the wife of a Presbyterian elder. The important thing was that she was truly a Christian. From my earliest memory the things she did were to the end of instilling in her children Christian and moral values. I can recall just a scrap of a lullaby she sang to me. It was the story of a lad who wandered to the railroad tracks. I listened always enthralled. The bottom line ended, “He never came back from the railroad track. And that was the end of _____”. The name I do not remember but it rhymed with “track”. It made me dead earnest at that point, I would never go near a railroad track, lest the dire result would come to me also.

One of my earliest memories associated with a church was of one week night when, after being put to sleep, I awoke. I found the house deserted. But I was sure where my parents were! They were not at home so they were at church! So in my white night-gown I sallied forth and faithful old black Joe, the family dog, attended me. And we went the city block or two to the church. We walked in the front door and my memory is the doog and I were greeted with a shout of laughter by the worshippers at the mid week prayer meeting or Sunday night Service whichever it was. As I remember my mother’s face was a deep red as she hurried back, gathered boy of three and the dog and hurried home with us. As recently as last Yuletide a letter came from a long family friend. A very fine Christian whose maiden name was Lazetta Mottashed wrote from Texas and corrected my impression in an earlier greeting to her saying I came that night in a dirty night gown and a dog. But she replied, “No, you had a very clean white gown and a dirty dog!” She spoke of the amusement of all at the scene in an earlier letter.

Now the important part of this was its relationship to moral teaching and the gospel church. It was before me at an early age. My mother never did flippant things in her training us. She was too busy raising four boys for that. And though she was Baptist by conviction, this is one thing of force to me as a Presbyterian. I believe in Infant Baptism; not that it is a saving ordinance in itself. It is not. As Titus 3: 5,6 as quoted on a previous page shows. But because the Lord said in the Great Commission:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

The word here in the above quotation for “teach” is from the less familiar in the Greek original of that word. it is “mathetuo” – “make disciple of”. The lexicons appear to indicate that it stresses the outward matters of truths to be taught. In other words, just as we endeavor to train our children even in outward duties to show them right from wrong, and the kind of life that is moral, right, and Christian. This we do from the very first with our children and before they reach the age of discretion and can choose salvation through faith. We pray at meal times, saying “grace” . . . I have seen babes as it were in child’s high chairs bowing their heads because they see their parents doing so. “Make disciples”. These the Great Commission tells us to baptize. Now it is plain to me that an adult who is not saved is not a disciple. But a child who has the promise by godly parents that they will bring him up being disciplined and on this basis I believe should receive baptism. And the promise is strong: “and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). There is every hope the child, when it is older, will become a believer.

These things we have seen in our children. Two, the sons, are ministers of the Gospel. The two others are girls, and are truly saved and believe the gospel. I felt it was necessary to obey the standard our Lord set before the apostles. “Disciple” or teach all nations, baptizing them (who are being taught).

Later in life when Mother was in her eighties, I happened on a visit at home to speak of my views in the matter. When ended my mother said, honestly, “I can’t see it”. I felt glad that while we differed, this was the first time the subject ever arose between us.

Mother was a faithful disciplinarian. When we were young if we misbehaved we could expect consequences. If she felt one of us deserved it, she would punish us duly. Her favorite method was to make us go out and cut a switch from a lilac bush outside the house with which she was to chastise us. And it would never do to pick a small slender one which bent or broke easily. She would make us go out at once and pick another one. I recall that on some occasions if she felt more than one needed chastising, we would get it together. An older brother of mine had a habit of falling down on all fours, feigning at once he was greatly hurt before a blow would be struck, crying out. I would fall with him and I’m afraid I tried a regular trick on him for a while. I would be, too, on my fours, but would creep close to him, thinking his body would be higher and it would protect me from the blows. One time, though, he became aware of this, and thrust me off saying, “Get away there!”

But Mother, if stern and just, was never cruel. The force of her rule in her house was realized by us years later when we were all home together on vacations. The four of us were in quite an argument which waxed rather warm. We did not mind. We were used to it, in fact, I think, liked it. But Mother, hearing us, came into the room and feeling we were out of order, commanded us to desist at once! My eldest brother, I think, was then in his 60s, my two elder below him were in their 50s. I may have been in my late 40s. The eldest was trained in agriculture but had been employed otherwise. The second eldest was a banker, and the third, a teacher. When Mother left the room we laughed to one another, not in ridicule, but because the force of our mother’s discipline had been such that even in such late years, at her command we just stopped automatically. It was custom to us!

Mother lived to 95. She was a happy, contented lady. One of her remarks was, “The Devil does not have any happy old people”. She always carefully picked the churches she would attend, insisting that only those who preached the old time Gospel of Christ, His Redeeming Atonement, and His Resurrection, and His Power to save all who came to Him, would have her support! She was the first one in her father’s family to be converted, but lived to see all her family saved. Her mother was of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) “Dunker” (Baptist) background but married a husband who became an alcoholic. He came to Christ at her leading on his death bed. The training our mother gave us when we were children found all four boys confessed to become Christians. Ernest, the eldest, most conscientious and kind, died last May (1980). He declared he knew the time to the moment when he was saved as a lad. Andrew, a banker in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Edwin, the teacher — we would all rise up and call our mother blessed, I am sure, together. I say this for I think many would disagree with the methods of discipline who read these memoirs. May I make a gentle assent, however to the diligent discipline of a conscientious mother.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)