The first South African Convention of the International Bible Students Association has now gone down into history, leaving with those who were privileged to attend a glorious memory that will serve as a stimulus and an inspiration until we get to the greatest of all Conventions, beyond the veil.
On Friday, April 10, the brethren gathered from all parts of the sub-Continent (one dear sister traveling nearly a thousand miles) to enjoy four whole days of blessed fellowship with the Lord and with one another. We were a very "little flock," indeed. Our largest attendance was 34; but whether in His providence He will ultimately bestow upon us the Kingdom or not, the Lord did certainly on this occasion give us abundant manifestation of the sweetness of His presence and the fulness of His Love. For four days, from the "Welcome" to the "Farewell," we were on the mountain top with the Lord, and we enjoyed the experience so much that we, too, would fain have built tabernacles to dwell there!
Amid such a plethora of blessings it is difficult to single out any for special mention, but the baptismal service on Friday afternoon was especially helpful. Although we were a small company, I think we made a record on this occasion; for we immersed almost half of the entire Convention. Eight sisters and eight brothers symbolized their consecration in the Lord's appointed manner. The hearts of all present went out to them, and our prayers ascended for them, that He who has begun the good work in them, will enable them to finish their course.
In the evening this service was followed by the Memorial, when 32 symbolically appropriated the merit of the Lord's broken body, and, thoroughly furnished thereby, symbolically drank with Him the cup which the Father had poured. Our hearts grew solemn as we realized that possibly this might be our last Memorial on this side the veil. We called to mind our Lord's words on a similar occasion: "With desire I have desired to eat THIS Passover with you." We remembered that the special sufferings followed hard upon "this" Passover, and sought grace to endure a similar experience, if it be His will.
Next morning we had a helpful Question meeting, when many interesting queries were satisfactorily answered. Saturday afternoon a Praise and Testimony meeting furnished a general opportunity for witness-bearing to the Lord's goodness, of which the brethren were not slow to avail themselves. The day closed with an excellent address on "The Triumph of Love" by dear Brother Stubbs, of Durban.
Sunday morning we had a modern Berean Study in Volume I., Chapter 5, when the value of this method of Scripture study was amply demonstrated. The lesson was much enjoyed by all. In the afternoon seven Brothers participated in a symposium on "The Graces of the Spirit." This stimulated us all, and we feel the need for greater diligence in seeking to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, making no provision for the flesh." Sunday evening was given over to the public, but owing to a heavy rainstorm, only about fifty turned out to hear a lecture on "The Resurrection of the Dead, its Nature and Purpose," although at previous lectures the audiences numbered as many as five hundred.
Monday morning we talked about the Harvest Work, and considered how best it might be advanced in South Africa. This was followed in the afternoon by a splendid exposition of "The Benefits of Christian Fellowship," by dear Brother Howat, of Johannesburg. In the evening was the Farewell meeting of the Convention. On this occasion, following St. Paul's argument in Ephesians 6:10-19, we were exhorted to put on the whole armor of God and to fight the good fight of faith, that we might lay hold upon eternal life. Our hearts and our eyes both were full as we filed past brethren representing various Classes, to the strains of that old, familiar hymn of hallowed memory, "God be with you till we meet again," bidding each other farewell, and hoping to meet again in the Kingdom, if not before.
What shall we render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward us? By His assisting grace we shall grasp more firmly the cup of salvation and, calling upon the name of the Lord, drink it to the dregs.
All the brethren at the Convention were filled with a deep sense of gratitude to God for you, dear Brother, and in this I know that we represented the sentiment of all the brethren in [R5525 : page 255] Africa. They desired me to convey to you their hearty appreciation of your faithful ministry, and your noble example of fortitude and devotion to the Lord's Cause. They wished me to assure you of their loving sympathy with you in the many besetments that necessarily fall to your lot in your exalted position in the Harvest-field, and of their constant prayers that He who has brought you thus far will sustain you to the very end of the way and secure for you an abundant entrance into the Kingdom. Our loving message finds happy expression in the following Scriptures, which I was instructed to forward to you: Philemon 7; Hebrews 6:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12.
I am a stranger to you in one sense; but I came to a knowledge of Present Truth through your writings just twenty-two months ago. For some time I have been anxious to write and tell you of my special appreciation of the Truth, but circumstances did not permit until now.
You will be interested in knowing that I am a Korean. When the first missionaries landed here (in 1885) Korea was a hermit kingdom. Since then some Koreans became identified with Christianity to avoid severe punishment by officials who came under the influence of missionaries who were accustomed to using the rod.
In time some of our people began to read books from abroad that spoke of liberty, civilization, revolution, etc. The missionaries taught that in order to secure civilization and liberty the Koreans would have to become their friends and call themselves Christians.
Many did this; but during the past few years great changes have been taking place. The people have been learning that they cannot be punished unless guilty of wrong, and the sticks of the missionaries lost their power correspondingly.
For about eight years I drifted through the dangerous currents of what I now see was SpiritismSatanic teaching. Now I thank God that He sent our beloved Brother R. R. Hollister here with the Glad Tidings and saved me out of these currents which were leading me to an unknown place. My senses were almost lost; it took about six months to have the eyes and ears of my understanding opened. Since then I have consecrated myself to the Lord and continue to praise Him.
I felt quite at home up to March of this yearwhile Brother and Sister W. J. Hollister were with us; but now I am very lonesome, as there are but two of us, one assistant and myself. The snarling "wolves" are about and show their teeth, so to speak. Thank God that He accepts such weak ones as His workers in the Harvest field! I pray you will be so good as to remember us at the Throne of Heavenly Grace!
I want to express to you my continued love, and to assure you how much I myself and our Class appreciate the PHOTO-DRAMA. We are very thankful to the dear Lord for this added privilege of service. There were over 40,000 free admissions here. The DRAMA is certainly wonderful, especially the record Lectures; and the book form of Scenario does seem about the next best and most direct way imaginable of opening blind eyes. Praise the Lord!
For about a year it has seemed to me very strange that some of the friends are so inclined to question the accuracy of the chronology if certain events do not transpire by or about October of this year. It has seemed to me that the chronology should not be too closely associated with events; that the present Savior did not startle the world with the bright-shining of His presence suddenly in 1874, though He came at that date; that even the Jew was not aware of His favor in 1878, but it BEGAN; that Babylon did not feel its rejection, nor topple over in 1881, but was "spewed out" and is no longer recognized, just the same, while even yet, after 33 years, the world is not startled by the evidence, nor does Babylon believe it. Hence I feel that should the present order of things roll on for some time yet, we should not then doubt October, 1914, any more than we doubt 1874, 1878 or 1881. But we should be watchful, prayerful, and "keep our garments," awake to the fact that the chronology may be accurate, while our ideas of how the Lord will order events may be wrong. The Lord may permit SEEMING inaccuracies to test whether our consecration is to Chronology or to Him, and He may be as apt to wind up matters very suddenly as to seem to prolong them. Therefore let us have faith, but await His enlightenment as to events.
I have just returned from the post-office, one mile distant, and am deeply grieved at finding this year's Volunteer literature scattered in the street, gutters, on the trolley track, run over by every kind of vehicle and soiled and torn. It was evidently thrown from an automobile without being properly folded.
(1) I had previously covered the town with the same literature myself. (2) The local by-law against scattering literature on the street was broken. (3) The Truth was cheapened and its cause apparently injured.
I suppose the distributer thought he was serving the Lord and the Truth; but it seems to me that one should have a higher respect for the Truth than to allow it to be trampled in the dust through his carelessness. I gathered the literature up as I came home, feeling very much grieved. What would people think of us, and what would the Lord think of us, if we should throw Bibles in the streets in order to instruct the people in righteousness? Our literature represents God's Word. Let us honor it!
Would it not be well for brethren using automobiles and distributing literature to properly fold the tracts and throw them well into the yard, as near to the house as possible? It would also be well to ascertain whether the towns they visit have not been already volunteered and thus avoid duplicating the work and wasting the literature which was made possible by the sacrifice of others.
Recently I resolved to be more diligent in searching for those who might be hungry for the Truth. Accordingly I carried in my produce wagon a supply of BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY, No. 61, displayed more conspicuously than usual, so as to attract attention.
One thanked me very kindly for a copy. I had known him to be somewhat friendly to the Truth. Another came to the wagon with Bible in hand, and when asked whether a Baptist or a Methodist replied Presbyterian, but had lately begun to read Pastor Russell's SCRIPTURE STUDIES and was greatly interested in them; adding, "I have gone to my Pastor with some Bible questions that he has so far failed to answer." Another asked my purpose of displaying the papers, and said he had two little books which were very interesting that he wanted me to read. They were TABERNACLE SHADOWS and the HELL booklet. He asked me to bring him Vol. I on the next trip.