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But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. Mark 4:29
Let's sing number 347.
How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful unchangeable Friend;
His love is as great as His power
And knows neither measure nor end.
The young missionary with an Irish accent spoke up, and promptly all the group of the mission staff turned through the blue-backed Keswick Hymnal and, as Mrs. Rose accompanied us at the tiny portable organ, we sang together.
' Tis Jesus the first and the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We'll praise Him for all that is past,
We'll trust Him for all that's to come.
It was Sunday evening, December 11, 1955, and another Vespers had come to a close - the sixth we could recall in this more than a month of Sundays - each one so similar, so homey, though each had represented a mission station staff hundreds of miles removed from the last week's gathering.
Tonight we were with the two couples and two single workers of an English mission on the escarpment thirty miles south of Blantyre in Nyasaland. All day our veranda studio had been busy with the making of sermons for what one missionary had referred to as that "vast world of darkness" to the east. From the porch of Miss Knight's sturdy little red-brick house we could scan the horizon due east and see, at times, the sheer 4,000-foot precipice wall of Mount Mlanje, which rises 10,000 feet from the plain. On a clear day in the wet season it is possible to see the water, like rivers, pouring off its escarpment which is a hundred miles long, and a sheer bluff rising straight up from the valley to a plateau 4,000 feet above. A part of this mountain lies in Mozambique. Today's recording effort had been for the people of a large tribe, most of which belonged to the country east of that mountain wall. Six solid hours had given us only three precious record sides in only one of the three dialects planned for our four-day stop-over here. Nevertheless, the men who had worked so hard all day were still keen to get as much as possible, no matter how hard earned! They were Christian teachers at the Nyasaland mission, and men whose own relatives lived in those hot plains beyond the border, referred to in these parts as P.E.A. - Portuguese East Africa. Rumors come from that pre-reformation land - fascinating stories about how the light is spreading - here and there a village has hungrily received a word of the Gospel. Then years of silence have passed until some coincidence overturns the evidence that random seeds have lived and borne their fruit in believing hearts.
Hours here at this mission, where everyone on the staff had previously been "strangers" to us, were gladdened by the unity of purpose and immediate sense of kinship with brothers and sisters of one family circle in Christ - not only those of fair skin, but also the African members of this brotherhood. For: "All of us who have any experience of Christian fellowship with other races know the thrilling and heart-warming sense of unity which we thus experience; a unity which would not be possible except through a shared realization of God through Christ." (Phillips: "Making Men Whole")
Last Sunday evening we had been one with the family circle at Chididi mission, a South Africa General Mission station at the southern edge of Nyasaland. It was another "light set on a hill," overlooking the tropical plains where dense populations of Sena-speaking people were settled all along the banks of the river. "We could never hope to reach them!" Ken had said to us. "That is why we are counting on the records." Our brief five days there had passed too quickly, and we were loathe to leave another family group, people with whom we had felt instantly "at home" - Canadians, English, South Africans - yet, in Christ, of our own local lingo!
The Sunday before Chididi - or was it a Wednesday evening prayer meeting? - we had been with another assembly of like-minded kindred at Mkhoma, a Dutch Reformed Church Mission of South Africa - a group of folk who spoke Afrikaans more naturally than English; who had known and loved the late Andrew Murray; and whose concern for the spiritual needs of the people around them was the center from which all other activities were derived. And when we talked together of the Lord, we found that we all spoke the same language. One of their number told us of the uncounted villages of Yao-speaking people to the east and as far north as southern Tanganyika - most of them Moslems, with not a candleflame of light in their vast inky-dark area. "I had often wondered," he had said to us, "how all these people could be reached before our Lord returns. Now I see how such a thing can be accomplished by these records."
Previous to Mkhoma, our Sunday evening hymn-singing had taken place in yet another "heart-of-the-family" situation, this time at the Church of Scotland Mission at Loudon. In contrast to Mkhoma, the Loudon circle was small - just Mr. And Mrs. Stone (German-born citizens of the United Kingdom) and Miss Brown, whose broad Scottish tongue was a delight to our ears - only the six of us. I remember that we had read Isaiah 11 along with a commentary which paraphrased the words, "He shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord," with the enlightening phrase, "He drew His breath in the fear of the Lord." This light upon the life of Christ had set us all to thinking about the need we have to live in instant awareness of the presence of God.
The very first of this month of Sundays had been spent at another Scottish mission station, but about 200 miles north, at Mwenzo in Northern Rhodesia. And here again we had found ourselves quickly at home with "kith and kin." At this place our "evensong" featured a beautiful baritone emphasizing the lovely Scottish hymn melodies and deeply inspiring words. Hymnbooks were so arranged - all music at top half of sheet and words at bottom- that, cut in two, we could couple any choice of words with any melody! No wonder then, with such chance for variety our singing together continued for two or three hours! It was wonderful! And there, with the 200 per cent co-operation of the Rev. Fergus MacPherson, our work in the Kinamwanga language had been completed in two days; so that by Monday, November 21, we were on "Willy's" wheels treading southward - with all this neighborhood of Nyasaland "homes" awaiting our way with lights trimmed, and a welcome.
It is no wonder then, that the long, earth-red highways ribboning the green land of fertile valleys, rolling hills, and steep escarpments, came to appear to us like one stretched-out avenue in one great neighborhood of homes, where, though the name above the gate should be different, the welcome, and even the shibboleths were the same. All at once to us the whole world seemed spoked with streets leading to other homes such as these. Space between them faded from memory, and we could see only the house in its immediate environs.
There was a fortnight's nest in the heart of New Guinea, above the slate-gray melancholy Lake Kutubu. Our wee guest houses, palm thatched on stilts, were set in the festooned tropical bush where an occasional scream of a bird-of-paradise would often startle our recording routine and induce our eyes to search the green foliage for that glorious flash of feathered color which gives the bird its rightful name. New Zealand missionaries, Cliff and Willa Robb and baby David don't seem too far away.
Nor does the great verandaed frame house on the hill at Kwato overlooking Milne Bay and the opposite port of Samarai. We can still feel the hospitality and cheer of its English and Papuan staff.
And we could easily find our way to Chancery Lane in Singapore where in the lovely neighborhood of oriental stucco houses in pastel shades, cool in the abundance of tropical trees, the porch-encircled hostel of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship became our happy dwelling for two months. Since that late summer of 1953, 15,000 records have been distributed by the Singapore committee set up at the time of our sojourn there.
Nor could we ever forget a certain brick dwelling with wide rooms and arched corridors opening onto an outdoor court. This home, in Insein, Burma, is in the land of brass gongs, melodious bells, screaming geese, and of doll-perfect people. Their dainty women wear silk sarongs and bolero blouses, fastened Burmese fashion with fancy buttons of silver, ivory, or mother-of-pearl. Their sleek black hair is sometimes styled with a low coil at the back of the neck and is usually ornamented with filigreed combs or gay flowers. Schoolgirls wear long plaits and ribbons. All the people speak in soft staccatos terminating with a wistful glide, almost a sigh. We were often introduced to gentlemen known as Mr. U ar U, U Win, or U La La, and sometimes to a petite bright-eyed miss called Ma Keh, or a matron by the name of Do Mya May; or maybe it would be that we would meet Ma Sai, daughter of U Pye and Daw Waing.
It would not take us long either to get to 13 Wellington Square, in Calcutta, from the docks on the Hooghley River. The warm hospitality of Lee Memorial Mission had provided a home base for our nine months in India. There the large guest rooms had the luxury of ceiling fans which brought relief during the suffocating summer heat. Below our windows the noise of multitudes, the cry of India, competed with the raucous crows, untiring, persistent, but now screened from snatching a visitor's spectacles or an unwary sleeper's false teeth.
So many homes - yet somehow they all seemed close and vivid- since means of transport by plane, ship, train, bus, taxi, rickshaw, horse-drawn tonga, oxcart, by canoe, or on foot - all these means were a transitory incident to the permanent experience of friends and fellow workers around a common hearth.
There was the Swiss couple who made us at home at Bandipur, in the sun- and haze-filled valleys of Kashmir below snowy Haramukh and the gleaming Pir Panjal aloft the autumn mist, like mountains in the sky. And before us, far behind the valley, rose the jagged Brahma peaks through which we had entered Kashmir, on a rattling Indian bus over the Banihal Pass.
Along the borders of the Himalayas we had come into the cozy fireside circles of many mission stations - in the Kangra Valley, below the Simla Hills; in Landour, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, to say nothing of northern Assam where stand the southern walls of Bhutan and Tibetan China.
At last these homes of 1952, '53, '54 have begin to communicate with us again because the recordings originally created on their own porches or shaded lawns are returning in cartons of phonograph records.
An airform postmarked Serango, India, written in November of 1955 reached us only a few days ago. It is an exciting reminder of one of the last stations which we were able to visit in India in the summer of 1954. To reach Serango in the hills of Orissa State, we had turned off the tree-lined smooth road through the rice paddies and climbed precariously over a creek bed (it scarcely could be named a road!), finally pulling through the last heap of stones to drive into the grounds of this hilltop station.
"Lemtum," shouted the Saora people as they swarmed to greet us - women in their short wrap-around skirts, and shoulder scarves, rings in their noses, and coils of them framing their ears; the men, in neat loincloth aprons and beads around their necks. At the end bungalow along the main lane of the station, we met the welcome of Miss Anne Munro. "Two years I have prayed for this!" she said. "And now you have come to make records for our Saora people!" And here we were - actually living in the last gasps of our expiring visitors' visas! Time was breathlessly short! We had started work immediately on the little cottage porch. Christians, clothed and glad to help with all their strength, sat nobly through the long recording hours. The going was very slow at first. But Saora records were completed just within the "nip and tuck" time limits - the remarkable series of circumstances which had brought us to this fulfillment of a missionary's prayers had been rewarded. A letter from Miss Munro reads:
We are so happy to have the Saora and Oriya records, and they are doing a very active service for the Master - in the hospital, here on the veranda where you made the tape recordings, and in the villages. This morning they have gone to a village quite a distance out in the mountains where a betrothal is taking place. Because of the Austraphone [Australia's gramophone] and records, many there will hear. Last week our evangelists took it, with Hindi, Oriya, and Saora records to a new market place.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Allaby went on tour to a Saora center where the Christians have been getting much persecution. The chief had said, "Tell your missionary to come here and we will shoot him full of arrows." Mr. A. went equipped only with the weapons of the Spirit; carrying the Austraphone, he walked into the center of the village, sat down, and put on a record. The whole village gathered; the chief sat close and listened - everyone quiet and amazed. Mr. A. played half the set. Then he said he would go.
"No, no! We will hear them all! These words are good. Play them all!" demanded the chief.
Instead of arrows, the missionary had received a friendly serious hearing.
We ourselves, traveling continually as we are into ever new tribes, missions, and countries, have seen very few of the letters and notices that pour into the Los Angeles office as orders for each week accumulate for the shipping day every Thursday.
However, another which found its way to us in Africa was a letter from H. Vum Khawthang, now studying in the university at Delhi. His letter recalls a bright, intelligent Christian lad in the hills of Manipur State. And we think of four busy twenty-hour days spent in the Dak Bungalow at Imphal. It was a record-making visit in parts now deprived of missionaries.
From many different hills-tribes, the English-speaking students had come, bringing their translated scripts. It was all we could do to keep abreast of the tide - studios, and "warm-up" parties held sway over the entire (fortunately, guestless) little Government Inn, to the astonishment of our bearer, a little old man with a rag around his head, shaky with malaria, who found he must serve us our meals in shifts! The place, lighted from end to end, filled with the sound of Christian hymns in languages more akin to China than to India, had certainly fulfilled Mr. Khawthang's prediction when he had said to us, "You will have much company tomorrow!" Early and late they had come in waves. "Has one friend of mine, a Vaipei, arrived yet?" What dear boys - so eager, too, to receive all the help and encouragement we could give them. And this airform from Delhi recalls this, perhaps our very happiest, era in India.
I hope you have already learned in my previous letter how the records in Tiddim-Chin and the machines were appreciated by the people. The evangelists and pastors were much benefited by them. The demand for the machines and the records was so great that the Australia branch and headquarters found it difficult to supply them... Records in Hmar and Lushai were out, while I was at Churachampur. And records in Vaipei, Paite, et cetera, may also be out by this time. The Lord will not allow His work to be hindered."
We could think of hundreds and hundreds of places, by now, where records were made and today are being heard - from Alaska to Nicaragua, from the South Seas to the Mediterranean East, as well as in the little known top-of-the-world lands of Afghanistan, Turkistan, Sikkim, Tibet, and Bhutan. "The playing of a record," wrote a friend in South India, "will draw the most reluctant out of the dark corners of their mud huts." At a place called Rawalpindi in Pakistan, the languages of faraway Gilgit and Hunza were recorded by students from those remote Himalayan valleys, who had come to the first-class Christian college there to study. It was a thrill to see how hearts moved by divine constraint were willing, though Moslem, to make Christian records for the untamed tribes of Waziristan, Baluchistan, and the great wild northwest frontier of Pakistan; of the Sindh Desert; the lush green Punjab, and the hills-tribes all along the borders of "the home of the snows," the Himalayan Range. Recently a letter from Simla, where northward the Himalayas draw close, brings a call that only prayer can answer - nothing but an indigenous witness can bear the light beyond these forbidden boundaries.
"We who are foreigners," the letter reads, "are not now permitted as far north, and it is doubtful if even Indians from other districts would be allowed to minister in this politically strategic border area." But there was one Christian, Moti, and his family, who after spending the winter in Simla have had "the courage of the love of God" to return to their own faraway village of Poo only 17 miles south of the border of Western Tibet. There they will be the only Christian family in an area stretching to the south 150 miles, to the west, 200 miles, and interminable distances on the north and east. They will be the one lone shining light in that stark heathenism and extensive night - "no church, no Sunday, no preaching of the Gospel, no Christian fellowship... and then, just one ray of light and help. This last consignment of Tibetan records and a gramophone arrived just in time for Moti to take them along with him. Under these circumstances, what would your request be to churches more privileged? Would it not be: 'Brethren, pray daily for this lone family, that they may be kept in every circumstance, and that the Lord will use the gramophone and records, first to strengthen their own hearts, and then to reach others'?"
A touching expression of gratitude to staff working behind the scenes in Los Angeles and Sydney came at the conclusion of another bit of correspondence from India. "I was very conscious this morning," wrote a friend of the Ramabai Mukti Mission, "that I was surrounded by a ministry of artists, technicians, craftsmen, scriptwriters, stenographers, and office workers! May fruit a thousandfold adorn your ministry!" This was a lovely and sincere tribute, yet our staff would be the first to explain that no skill of busy hands could bear fruit without the faithfulness of that invisible multitude who pray - their faith waiting daily at the gates of His bounty.
Miss Carter wrote from the pilot's desk in Los Angeles:
It has been such a delight to me to meditate upon the words: "Come to us and bless us, make thy face to shine upon us," but why do we say, "Bless us"? It has always puzzled me what people have really meant by "bless this and that," "bless so and so." ...David answers: "That thy ways may be known upon earth, and thy saving health among all nations." Then, why do we ask to be blessed? It is that "Thy ways may be known upon earth"!
We marvel day by day at the abundance of that blessing, of His giving, of His daily loads of benefits, and of how a tithe of love, a tithe of labor, a tithe of faith and prayer, can, in all its smallness and weakness, prevail upon the "windows of heaven" and bring downpours of blessing. "Freely ye have received," He speaks to us; and why? we ask. That you may "freely give."
If it is necessary to receive, it is far more blessed to give. Shipping day in Los Angeles is the most exciting day of any week. Wednesday, the day of prayer is the most important, the most sacred, the sweetest. Then Thursday follows, to demonstrate the enduringness of that Source of all gifts which make possible the tremendous outgo of record parcels to all the world. Someone one day decided to tabulate the countries involved in one week's export of records, and she wrote:
Arabia, Jordan, Spain, Philippines, France, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Congo Belge, Sierra Leone, Indo-China, Turkey, Malaya, Hawaii, Germany, Eritrea, Liberia, Guam, Syria, Peru, Haiti, Japan, India, Kenya, Cuba, Nigeria, Formosa, Rhodesia, Thailand, Sarawak, Bolivia, Surinam, Hongkong, Transvaal, Australia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Paraguay, Argentina, French Cameroon, British Guiana, French West Africa.
From the great heaps of reports which return to us telling of the fruits of the records - many more than a million have been sent out in more than 1,000 languages (processed recordings, these, for more than 1,300 have been recorded) - we can choose only a very few, yet these will suffice to picture the world-wide sowing (for faith cometh by hearing) and the ancient process bringing forth the harvest, with its sheaves of light and gladness. It is first the plowed earth, the ear willing to hear; and then the blade, the stalk, and the full grain in the stalk - the individual; and also the group, the many, even the multitude. For, the one "who goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
First, the listening ear.
There are many such springtime fields where not even the first tender shoots have appeared above the brown earth.
In Nigeria: "Africans come swarming to see the box that talked."
In a hidden mountain tribe: "Records stay and preach and teach though the missionary must go on."
In Guatemala: "Open opposition, shouting, insults... then records, great crowd, full respect."
In Africa: "At a funeral, a great noise of crying for the dead... The records played, suddenly all were quiet, attentive."
Among Moslem people: "Our people think that the words they hear from the box are much more authentic than anything we might say!"
In Thailand: "Yao tribesmen listen to 'a whirling black slice of Yao noise in their heart language.'"
Indo-China: "Word came that records got a 'heavy work-out' when the missionary was evacuated."
Laos: "The records were a big help in evangelizing 25 villages. Nearly every one in town came to hear them."
Africa: "A Moslem convert visits the homes of all his old friends, with the gramophone. So, in places where we would never be given the opportunity to speak, the Gospel goes out fearlessly, for regardless of the audience, the recording does not compromise its message."
Congo: "The shipment of 1,550 records has rapidly disappeared. Truly the Lord is using them in a remarkable way."
And so they are hearing. Over the length and breadth of the earth, at any moment of the day or night, someone somewhere is hearing in his own "heart language" a little disc that tells him clearly, simply, lovingly, the way to Heaven.
Today they are hearing in the teakwood forests of central India - "Smiles of joy and wonder, eagerness to get every word, nods of assent, and then, on departing, the emphatic comment. 'Today we have heard much wisdom.'"
And they are hearing in the hill country of Tripura State - "With these records," judged an elderly Lushai, "we hear only a voice. So it comes to us as the voice of God, and there is no intermediary person to spoil the effects of God's Word."
Among Stone Age tribes of inland Dutch New Guinea, many are hearing for the first time - "This morning we went out on the lake where every day the women gather in groups and fish for shrimp. We took along our little record player. I have never seen such attentive audiences. They put down their nets, and drew closer in their boats, listening as long as we played. They heard the new records on 'How To Be Saved'; 'Christ the Door'; 'Only One True God'..."
And in Thailand, they daily hear in a market town near Lahu villages - "Yesterday afternoon it was several Yunnanese (Chinese) soldiers who heard the records. Last night it was a group of Thai soldiers who came and listened with attention to the Northern Thai records. And today a dozen heathen Lahu with long knives in scabbards on their belts stopped in for an hour to listen to Lahu records."
Another word-picture was sent to us from the tribes of the south woods in Mindanao, Philippines. Mr. Aragon wrote us: "I was at a certain market one day to buy our rice when a man came running toward me, shouting, 'I am afraid! I am afraid!'"
"Why?" I said.
"'Wonderful! Wonderful! There is a phonograph over there. He can sing and speak our dialect. Wonderful! My hair is standing! I am afraid God will come down already!'"
Among the 25,000 Indians scattered on a hundred islands off Central America in the San Blas group, people throng to a dugout canoe which brings them visitors with a phonograph talking their own Cuna Carriba tongue. (These, and a dozen other languages for the Indians of Guatemala were captured by Mildred and Lloyd Olson of Los Angeles staff on their recording trip in Central America.) Forgetting to sell their strings of shell, they sit in rapt attention to those words that are their own, but filled with a new and glorious message.
In season, out of season, the records take advantage of any listening ear, and the seed is sown. Among Indian seamen when their ships dock in a Japanese port, for instance, we learn that sailors' rooms fill up with eager listeners to records in Hindi and Urdu. "Have you no more?" they ask, after the playing of ten messages. Then hearing of four more records, "Put all on." This meant their quiet attention to eighteen Gospel messages in word and song!
From Thailand came the report that records there had proved to be excellent "ice-breakers." And from hundreds of places we learn of how they have opened the way and smoothed the rough places for the evangelist. One valiant, who feels the fires of persecution in a difficult spot, wrote:
This morning my heart overflows with thanksgiving to God for His blessings in the village. We are camping out under the tamarind trees. Nearby is a prosperous village of merchants, traders, and educated Brahmans. Each day the missionary and two Bible women who remain in camp, conduct a children's service in this local village. The adverse attitude of certain people had reduced our class from forty to four children. This morning I waited long before the Lord. He met me and sent me forth confident in Him.
One fine young Indian nurse carried one of your phonographs and two records... We met a group of people on this side of the river. They were in a great rush, but soon lost the "rush" when the phonograph appeared. Bullocks rested, children climbed about over oxcarts; a calloused woman high up on a cartload of goods continued eating. Complete silence reigned while the voice in the box pointed to Jesus Christ. Hearts were gripped and ready to listen to the words we spoke. Afterward, in the village, not four nor 40, but 50 children pressed near to hear the phonograph, and about 15 adults stood nearby. The Word entered hearts and softened them for the lesson to follow.
And around the world the children listen - in Palestine, Korea, North Africa, the Gold Coast, Philippines, Alaska - they listen in the far north, sometimes all day long; and from many places comes the report: "Our children, after hearing these records only once or twice, can recite huge portions."
Another letter says: "Ordinarily there is very little singing in our tribe... but what joy it is to often hear the little children singing with the Gospel records and reciting verses of Scripture as the records play."
But what about forbidden lands - Tibet, for example? How can they hear? In answer, let us quote verbatim the news sent to us in March, 1952. From the Himalayan Mission of W. E. C.* in Kalimpong, Lorraine and Dudley Barker wrote:
Let me give you some idea of the way in which God is working to reach the people of Tibet.
A couple of traders from Eastern Tibet had made the long journey across country to the capital city, Lhasa. That journey, which formerly took two months by horse, can now be accomplished in a matter of days since the Chinese authorities completed the new highways linking Peking with Lhasa. The new highways have taken three and one-half years to build. Their combined length (2,722 miles) is almost twice as long as China's ancient Great Wall, and more than three times as long as the Burma Road. One of the highways runs across 14 mountain ranges and 100 rivers. The most staggering fact about the achievement, though, is that an estimated 50,000 out of the 500,000 road-workers died from injuries, exhaustion and freezing! Having arrived in Lhasa, the traders mentioned above heard the Gospel proclaimed by gramophone records produced by Gospel Recordings Incorporated. Their interest was awakened, and journeying south to India on business they arrived in the city of Calcutta. There they sought high and low for duplicates of the records they had heard being played in Lhasa. Shop after shop was entered, but to no avail. No records of the kind they had heard were to be found. Then they wended their way northward and homeward. Arriving in a border town they heard that a missionary residing there could possibly supply them with the records they sought. Seeking him out, it was their joy to receive from him duplicates of the Gospel messengers they had heard in Lhasa, and with a complete set of seven records in the familiar dialect in their possession they returned home
Another group of traders from the same area arrived in the same border town. They met a missionary, who took them to his home and preached the Gospel to them. To these were also introduced the Gospel records, and after hearing the message, these traders also asked for some of the records to take back to Tibet with them. It was possible to give them a set too.
Every month we receive a supply of Gospel records in the languages used in this Kalimpong region. As soon as they arrive, we are able to distribute them. A Nepali evangelist in the town recently took two sets in the Nepali language back with him. They were to be used on a cinchona plantation some miles from here, and one set was to be left with a nominal Christian group who could profit from the message of the records. These records are reaching towns and countries where there is no witness either missionary or national, and it is a thrill to see this going forth to souls for whom Christ died.
News that quickens zeal in studio, factories, and offices at home, as well as in recording abroad is the note of urgency, so symptomatic of our listening world - something with contents like this recent word:
We are not allowed to preach, but we are allowed to play the records. With police protection at our station, we do not need to explain that the time is short. When we have to move off, these messengers will continue.
Yet despite the winnowing gusts, the much chaff blown by sharp adverse winds in today's world, weathering for storm, there is the quiet heaping up of the golden grain into the garners of His eternal kingdom. What unspeakable joy to hear of this - even of the single grains, as well as the Sheaves of Light!
"In a previous letter I mentioned the conversion of a Kongkomba lady through hearing some of the records. A month or so ago she was taken to the hospital and died. I understand that right to the last she was full of the joy of the Lord. Her life as a Christian was not long, but her witness had led others to the Lord - three boys, and one other woman. Her husband, who was not a Christian, asked that a service be held to her memory in his compound." -- Gold Coast
"The evangelist was called away suddenly. No one was prepared to take his place. They played the phonograph and his stock of records in Bulu and Spanish. There were four professions of faith in Jesus Christ after the service." - Spanish Guinea
"A woman was thinking of committing suicide. She received a record; listened; and the Lord came into her heart." - Japan
"An Otomi woman had been opposing the Gospel in the village and talking against the Christians. One night as she listened to a Gospel record, she began to cry. She wondered if God could forgive her. Assured that He would, she was wonderfully converted." - Mexico
"A young Moslem, on a begging pilgrimage with a group of Galla-speaking Mohammedans, heard a phonograph played in our village through which they were passing. Later he appeared at the door of the mission house and said, 'I have heard the records, and I want to believe.' Today this young man is one of our faithful Christians." - Ethiopia
"In December we baptized a shopkeeper, son of a Moslem Syrian. He says he definitely decided after listening to the Spanish record, 'My Son, Give Me Thine Heart.' This he had heard over a loud-speaker." - Paraguay.
"We were met by folk anxious first of all to hear the gramophone only. But soon we noticed two men among the listeners - men of distinctly different appearance, one quite alone. As the records went on with the sung and spoken Gospel, this man began to grow restless. For the final record, I played, 'When the Roll Is Called up Yonder.' It calls the roll. In the middle of the roll call this lone man stood up and edged forward. And when the record ceased, he began to call on the Lord Jesus to save him.
"This man was the chief witch doctor of that part! After the service, he asked us to go to his home (miles away) with him to burn his 'properties.' Crowds came with us, and at his home two boxes were brought out, full of 'tricks.' The old woman of the house kept snatching back first this thing and that, saying, 'I'll keep this one.' But the witch doctor said so simply, 'No, no, Jesus has come to live in this house and Satan and his things must go out.' We burned every last one of them! And the whole area was filled that night with songs of praise and victory.
"Next day, the second man brought his witchcraft things and burned them all. Again, the glory songs and a little taste of Heaven." - Central Africa.
"In all the world for a witness," these words are going forth. And we have the precious knowledge of the people coming - from the North and the South, from the East and the West to sit down in the kingdom of God. They come in ones and twos, in little gatherings, and more and more, until in multitudes we see them coming; because a voice spoke, a light shone, the citadel of their souls capitulated, and they follow now in the train of His triumph.
News of the harvest tells not only of the single grains, but of the gathered sheaves. The seedtime, in many places, is mellowing into harvests of light; some thirtyfold; some a hundredfold; some a thousandfold.
...from Philippines: "I started playing the records; their hearts were open; many wanted to accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. There were 30 who did."
...from Australia: "Fifty aborigines took their stand for Christ through hearing of Him through the records."
...from Congo: "Several said their decision for Christ followed the hearing of the records."
In like manner sheaves are being brought in with rejoicing, and they come from harvest fields among Indians of Mexico where in "each new place the records are played, a new congregation is raised up."
From the ridged mountains of Palawan, from inaccessible hutments the people are coming to Brooke's Point to testify of their faith in Jesus Christ, made known to them through the Palawano records. And in harvests ripening in Spanish Venezuela, a missionary states that she seldom plays the records without results in the salvation of souls.
In the barren soil of the Sudan, the sheaves are found. "When the gramophone began to play, the people fled from it, but soon came back. He played it for hours far into the night. People all around were weeping openly and saying that they wanted to believe in their hearts."
And sheaves from the rich earth of Congo come. "Sometimes after the playing of the records, we have seen the people get to their feet and confess their sins and ask to be prayed for, without our giving any invitation."
And from the newly cleared ground in Indonesia, the first sheaves are gathered. "We are seeing souls saved, even though we have been here only a short time and have not mastered the language. Our plan has been to teach one of the young men in each kampong how to operate the machine, and we allow them to keep the phonograph in the village for a few days, then return it."
And from Portugal comes the word of "more than 50 people who received Christ as Saviour by listening to your records. It was the first time that the Gospel had been preached there."
Another thirtyfold and more, for reapers in the hidden valleys of eastern Papua is a story which is an epic, a true harvest song.
In the jungles of Papua beyond the mountains which wall in Milne Bay, a group of Papuan Christian young people set forth to the village of Borowai, armed with a phonograph and Papuan records (supplied them by Kwato mission). The result of this ministry in the village brought twenty-seven people to a confession of Christ as Saviour.
Some years before, the rain-maker of this area had been put to confusion by the consequence of floods for which he was blamed; and in bitterness and rage he had left his wife and village, and had gone into the jungle to live as a recluse, terrorizing any who came near him. However, some of these Papuan Christians decided to take the phonograph to the hut of this disgruntled sorcerer. Disregarding his threatened spear, they dared to approach his hut. Within a cautious distance from his house, they called to him to come and see a wonder. Ever curious, the witch doctor appeared, and watched with astonishment as the round metal instrument was wound, a black disc placed upon it, and then, turning, words came forth in a language he knew! He was thoroughly intrigued. Teaching him to run the machine, the young people left it and two records with the lonely old rain-maker, and they returned to the village. At dawn the next morning, the Christians of Borowai were awakened by the presence of this sorcerer. So convicted that he could not sleep, he was contrite and wounded under the force of those words which had gone on and on, over and over again in his head, and into his heart. Making a humble confession, the old worker of witchcraft received the Lord Jesus as His Saviour.
His wife whom he had left 18 years ago was now living in another valley; and at about the same time, she also was saved through hearing the records. She immediately set out to go to her husband's jungle hut and try to win him to the Lord. But upon arriving in Borowai, to her utter joy, she found her husband already a transformed man, one who had already come to know and love the Lord.
Three weeks later, the converted sorcerer and his wife accompanied a group of Christians to the Sinalili area. Again records were used, and 32 people were converted, including three sorcerers.
Again and again we hear of sheaves - and this is all to the glory of the Lord of the Harvest, who uses weak and foolish things, of things despised, of things that are not - we hear of hundredfold, and thousandfold sheaves for eternity's harvest festival and autumn anthem of the great Thanksgiving Day.
"Within six months," writes an Ao Naga evangelist of the Assam hills, "two hundred souls were reported to have accepted Christ through this unique presentation of the Gospel." And a modern estimate of the reaping from Dyak long houses in Borneo states that "400 souls, because of repeated phonograph messages, have been transformed - liberated from darkness into the light."
More sheaves are brought, hundredfolds reaped within one year in Ethiopia; 300 from an isolated tribe in the Philippines; 500 among the Chol Indians in Mexico; and then, the thousandfold as well, when the song of reapers' rejoicing reaches its Hallelujah Chorus! We heard that among the Mexican migrants in Texas, 1,500 decisions for Christ has been made within the last four months, "as the records preached the sermons, and I simply gave the invitation," Mr. Haynie wrote.
Many thousands of Mandarin-speaking communist soldiers in Korea prison camps became staunch Christians directly through the means of Chinese records to which they listened tirelessly and with great enjoyment.
Yet when we think of the millions, the great task is scarcely begun, and two or three thousand languages are yet to be recorded in addition to the one thousand tongues for which the records have, to date, been prepared.
The cry of the world is as the voice of a great multitude - muffled in the unexplored jungles of Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and other parts of Amazonia; all but silenced in the adamant reaches of the Russian steppes, and the closed lands of Afghanistan, China, and the countries of Soviet dominion; to say nothing of the voices we can hear plainly through open, or partially open doors. "Here in these lands," a missionary in India opens her heart, "the teeming millions are still without the knowledge of Him. And the laborers are two few to proclaim Him."
Yet, what multitudes will hear for the very first time in their lives because the records have gone forth to them!
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"'Send the light,' they cry, and the light shines from these prayer-powered records."