'Say, Ann, have you seen this?' asked Joy, holding up a book she had been looking through. 'They call it a handbook, but it looks like a pretty thick volume to me. Handbook of instructions. Everything a recordist needs to know. And it's ours! It's a Gospel Recordings publication, compiled by our staff. Larry was showing it yesterday, at the seminar, to that group of young people taking the training course. I hadn't seen it before.'
Ann knew of it. She was glad that the small handbook she had written years before was being replaced by a more complete and up to date book of instructions. She glanced though it appreciatively.
'We could have done with it ourselves when we started, couldn't we?' she said with a chuckle. Then she went on more thoughtfully, 'It's been coming to me recently, how we had to feel our way, and figure out a technique for recording using an interpreter. We found it out in a very rough way. And now these techniques have been perfected and refined till we have a whole handbook of instructions, run seminars to train recordists, not only here but in Canada, India, Australia...!' The training seminars were the outcome of the international conference that had been held in June, 1975, when the challenge of the peoples still unreached had been faced anew, and it had affirmed that
Gospel Recordings is a partnership of organisations which exists to communicate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all people in their own language.
The first priority is to record the Gospel in the unrecorded languages by 1981.
The quickest way to achieve the primary object so that every tiny tribe on earth would have a chance to hear the Gospel in its own tongue was to teach the unique techniques of interpreter-recording to people on the spot. Perhaps the most strategically placed of all the seminars was the one conducted in India by Enoch Anthony, himself an Indian. The 1975 survey had revealed that there were more unreached tribes in Asia than in Africa and South America put together - and that a large proportion of them were in India. And now, for the first time, it was Indian, not western field recordists who were preparing to strike the trail for the tribes in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra. Well, at least they would have a handbook to refer to!
Joy and Ann looked at each other, and smiled. Ann had recently returned to Los Angeles for a holiday after being away for several years. Her recording trips had taken her through Europe, South Africa, the Near East, and to remote places in Central Asia about which she said very little but where she had captured languages most people had never heard of. Sitting there now in Joy's attic room where it had all started, conscious that others were carrying on what they had begun, the two friends, were in the mood for reminiscing.
'It didn't look like very much could come out of what we were doing in those early days, did it?' said Ann. There had never been a time when she had doubted, but even she had not foreseen how much would come of their efforts. 'Think of that trip to Mexico! Remember how hard it was lugging that 90lb recorder in and out of the car, using those glass-based blanks to cut the records?'
'Yes, I remember! Going with it to colleges and places here in the States, too.' Joy screwed up her forehead, trying to remember something. 'I don't know if anybody ever helped us to carry that thing?'
'I know we did it enough times ourselves to feel no-one ever did!' said Ann. 'Then remember when we went to the Philippines and had to use a generator to make the electricity?'
'I'll never forget that!' replied Joy feelingly. 'I'll never forget that hot, hot climate and cranking that generator. Blah-blah-blah then stop. Blah-blah-blah then stop. There was I right in the middle of the street with it, as far away as I could get from you so that the noise wouldn't come over on the recording. Crank, crank, crank, blah-blah-blah...! That was terrific. And then we had to get it back into the car! Whew! The heat! By the way, how did we ever think we could do anything without a car?'
'It just shows how little we knew,' laughed Ann. 'Coming across the Pacific with all those hundreds of kilos of baggage, preparing to travel widely, and no car! But the Lord knows these things ahead of time, and He has everything worked out. Think of the way that missionary lent us his car!'
'And the way Al and Herman made that little battery-run recorder, and got it to us just at the right time!' They had had many such experiences through the years since then, but the trip to the Philippines always stood out exceptionally vividly. They had been so deeply convinced that God had sent them there. Even when circumstances were the most discouraging they had stuck to it that He would not let them down, now allow their work to be in vain.
'That's why I still get excited when I read letters like this one that I read the other day,' she said. 'It's from a Filipino who was working near an area noted for criminals, and he was very reluctant to go there. 'I am not very much of a coward but I would like to live yet at this time,' he wrote. But when the gramophone and the records arrived, he decided he would try. 'I thought they might be allured to listen and just be willing to listen to God's Word. And God worked it that way. The message pierced their hearts and now even alone I can go to those places. We have already more than 100 sympathisers. I call them sympathisers because they are still very young, even though they have accepted Christ.'
'Oh, that's wonderful. I've never heard that one before.' Joy was always moved by such reports. One of the regular tasks in the G.R. offices was to collect excerpts from letters telling of results from the records, and Joy was never tired of reading them. They were tangible evidence that the seeds being sown were bearing fruit. All the patient and often hazardous work of the recordists, all the painstaking labour in the Los Angeles studios on the tapes that were received, then the steady processes through which the captured voice passed in the factory until it was eventually pressed into records, then all the careful packing and dispatching was in vain unless that captured voice was heard at last by those who could understand it. The task of distribution in the countries for which the records were intended was one that often demanded as much attention as the initial obtaining of the records. To encourage and expedite distribution had been one of Joy's main objects in the many journeys she had taken. She was only really satisfied when she knew that they had reached their destinations, and accomplished their original purpose.
'Do you remember when we were in the Philippines we thought we had gone to the very end of the globe?' Joy continued. 'You've been on so many trips to so many places since then, Ann, that I couldn't keep track of them.' A practical question came to mind, one that could be put between friends. 'How have you managed about money?'
'Oh, we carry on the same as we always have,' replied Ann. 'If the Lord tells Marlene and me to go somewhere we just look to Him to send in the needed funds, and He does it. We never have it all before we start. I don't suppose we ever shall. He sends money to us from all sorts of unexpected places and at unexpected times. But you know all about that.'
Yes, Joy knew all about that.
'You know, Ann,' she said, as a memory rose up in her mind. 'When I talked to you about going to Nigeria... After we'd done that world trip, you and Sanna and I together, and when we got back here I just knew there was so much of Africa we hadn't touched. And I talked to you about going to Nigeria. Oh, I just hated to think of you going over there alone.'
'Yes, I hated it too,' said Ann quietly. It had been one of the greatest tests of her life, to face up to going to Africa alone. She had been prepared to follow Joy to the ends of the earth, for Joy was a leader and Ann, by nature, was a follower. But to go without Joy, to take the responsibility, make the arrangements, lead the way... To be asked to go alone!
'But you went!' said Joy. 'You went! You said, "Joy, you will pray for me, won't you?" and I said, "Why, Ann, of course I'll pray for you!" and you went!'
Joy's memory was in full flight now, speeding back over the years. Whoever had come and gone in Gospel Recordings, Ann had always been there, steadily plodding on with her tape recorder, capturing languages. Always to be relied on, always ready to respond when she was convinced God's call lay behind a new challenge.
'Europe, too!' continued Joy. 'I was thinking so much about Europe. You'd been in Africa for some years, and you were back with us again, and I just felt in my heart that we must do something about Europe. I knew that there were so many areas of Europe just as badly off as any country in the world, one way or another. But I couldn't go, just like I couldn't go to Nigeria when I asked you to go there. I was going to have to ask you to go out alone.
'I hated to, Ann. I really did, because to go to Europe I knew wouldn't be easy for me and I knew it wouldn't be any easier for you. But I just felt we must. So I asked you if you would go to Europe. And you said, "But Joy, I don't know any of the languages of Europe. I don't know French. I don't know German. What would I do in Europe?"'
Ann smiled and nodded. It was easy to look back now and smile, though it had not been so easy to look forward into the unknown, to contemplate stepping out alone into the confusing jangle of sophisticated, go-ahead nations of western Europe. She remembered arriving in England after the usual correspondence, to get the advice of the Gospel Recordings Board and staff there as to the best way to do recording work in Europe.
'They don't speak much English over there,' they had said to her, rather dubiously. 'You really need to speak French and German at least, as well as English, to get around in Europe...' Then they had added, 'But there's a girl here who's just come into our work, and she speaks and writes both. Marlene Muhr - she's French, heard Joy speak when she was at Swansea Bible College, and felt called to Gospel Recordings...'
'So there you were!' said Joy triumphantly. 'That's the way God works. For twelve years you two have worked together in Europe, and other places, too. Oh, praise God for the way He does answer our prayers. When He sends us out He knows what we need and whom we need, and He supplies.'
He had supplied in the past, and He was still supplying, in ways they could not fathom. Gospel Recordings had entered a new era. No longer could it be labelled, rather sweepingly, as being a missionary organisation run by a woman. Joy was still Director, but shared her position now with a man, and one in the prime of life. John Gray had been appointed Associate Director in 1976, and was already shouldering the administrative responsibilities.
He hadn't seen how he could accept the position when he was first approached. There was no-one to take his place as Canadian Director, and he was warned that it might take a very long time to obtain permission to enter the U.S.A. and settle there. But when Edwin Tomlinson, whose years with the Sudan Interior Mission in Ethiopia had been followed by a long period in administration at home, expressed his conviction that the Lord was calling him into G.R., and when permission was obtained from the U.S. Government eleven days after application for John and Lillian Gray to live in the States for a year, he didn't see how he could refuse. The timing of events was just as significant as had been the arrival in India of Joy to say categorically that Bangalore was the place where G.R. should establish its factory, when he was wondering what to do with the land around the Ebenezer Church right there in Bangalore. He had to say 'Yes'!
So Joy was no longer bearing the burden of leadership alone, and with the reorganisation that had taken place since the 1975 Conference the future was looking brighter than for several years. She was full of enthusiasm.
'Now we've made a goal,' she said, referring to the aim of getting all known languages by 1981. 'It's laughable to most people. It's ridiculous to some. It's wrong to others. Making a goal like that when this country is closed, that country is closed, something else is closed! That's what people say.
'But Christ said the gospel was to be preached to every creature, and He wouldn't have said it if it wasn't possible! I believe that the most difficult place on earth can open at the time we need to go in. But why is He going to open a place when we don't go into the places already open? Why should He open a closed door when we haven't gone through those that are open?'
'Well, Joy, I'm right with you,' said Ann. 'I guess what we need to do is to pray "Lord, increase our faith."' She left soon after that. Her furlough was nearly over and she was preparing to return to Europe. A strenuous programme lay before her, and one never knew what unexpected opportunities might be ripening!
Joy sank back in her chair, feeling rather exhausted. She didn't know why she'd been getting so tired lately. The doctor hadn't been able to discover the cause, either. Maybe those tests she'd been having at the clinic would reveal something. There was so much to be done, all those meetings ahead that she was booked to speak at, she simply must go to them. Well, she'd been played out, prostrated many times before, and in pain, too, but the Lord had raised her up, given her strength, and everything had proved to have been for the best. It always would!
Meanwhile, it was time for her thanksgivings for the day, before going to bed. So many things to say 'Thank you' for! She liked to keep them all on record, so she switched on her little cassette.
I'm thankful that I have this lovely suite here for my rooms, and the open porch in the hot weather.
Thank you, Lord, for helping me to get those difficult letters written.
I'm so glad there's a little breeze coming up now.
Thank you, Lord, for all the good things to eat this noon. Peas, carrots and corn and I don't know what else. So delicious. All mixed together. Such a good meal. And it was so nice having that get-together in the house... and the ice cream.
Thank you for those helpers that are coming to help the work in England. It's real good! Bless them, Lord.
Thank you for the dictating that I got done today. . .
And for the Grays. Bless them tonight. Bless them in a special way. Undertake for them, be near to them, uplift them, glorify Thyself in them.
I'm so glad someone fixed Marie's toaster. It makes it so much easier for her. And for her helping me and working on my clothes. I do appreciate that.
I'm so glad I made the ice tea with some ice and some lemon in it. And so glad that I had those real beautiful lemons from our own trees.
Thank you for Ann, Lord. All that she's done all these years - such a good pal. Bless her, Lord.
For that man who's going to Bangladesh to try to open the way for those records to be sent in there. Help him Lord, help him to call upon Thee...
Lord, please show me the solution to this watch that's gone wrong.
Lord, bless the records, wherever they're being played all over the world. Oh, Lord, how wonderful, how wonderful Thou art! I praise Thee, I praise Thee, I praise Thee. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for everything...
I'll go to sleep now...