CHAPTER 5

 

A REAL MISSIONARY

 

            THE “Tenyo Maru” had been plowing her way through the waters for quite a week, when one day a pleasant looking man came up to Harold, and without introduction, very kindly asked him if he was a Christian.  This was the first time in all his life that such a question had been brought home to him.  But though greatly astonished, Harold was pleased to be thus directly questioned.

            “No, sir,” he replied, “I am not; but I am just now thinking I ought to be.  And what is your name, sir?”

            “My name is Anderson.”

            “Are you one of the missionaries going to China, sir?”

            “Yes; and why do you ask?”

            “Well, Captain Mann has  told me that there were missionaries aboard, and I have been wanting to see one of them and ask some questions.  You see, I have with me a Bible given me by an old gentleman at Oakland pier.  This Bible is marked.  It is marked almost the same as one my Christian mother gave me, but which I threw into the sea because I hated Christianity.  The marking therefore takes me back to my old home, to things my mother said, and I want some one to help me know how to begin a true Christian life.”

            “Is your name Wilson, my young friend,” the gentleman inquired, “Harold Wilson?”

            “Yes, sir; but how did you learn my name?”

            “It is a rather strange story, but I will tell you.  A few days before I left Oakland, I saw in a San Francisco paper the report of a certain trial, that of a young man by the name of Wilson, who had been sentenced, because of some wrongdoing, to a five-year absence from the country.  The reporter made a note of various extenuating circumstances, of a good mother’s dying prayer, and of the hope of strong, good friends, that the young man would turn and become an honor to his parents, both of whom had devotedly given him to God.  It was stated that the young man would have a position aboard the ‘Tenyo Maru,’ the vessel on which I was to make my trip to the Orient; and I determined to try meet him and help him if I could.”

His Mother’s Pastor

            Harold carefully eyed this new friend; for had not Captain Mann cautioned him against being led off into wild notions?  Yet, Mr. Anderson had a good face, a sincere expression, and apparently unselfish interest.  And, really, it seemed to Harold that it was more than a mere happening that he had been led to meet him.

            “You did not know my mother, did you?  She was a great believer in doing just what the Bible says, and was always urging me to follow it.  She lived in San Francisco.”

            “Was her first name Helen?”  Mr. Anderson inquired.

            “Yes, yes!  Did you know her?”

            “My boy, your mother was a member of my church.  As her pastor, I have more than once heard her tell of her wandering child, and of her constant prayer that he would one day become acquainted with the Lord Jesus.  She told of the Bible she had purchased, of the message she had written, of the texts she had marked, of the explanation she had placed in the margins.  She believed it would on day touch his heart.  But for long years, she heard nothing from him, and finally she gave him up as lost at sea.  When stricken down with illness, and on her deathbed, she called the old brother whom you met at the Oakland pier, and asked him to place in the distributor another Bible, marked as she had marked that one years before.  And are you her son, Harold?”

            “Indeed I am, sir; and now I believe you have been sent to show me the way to Christ.  Oh, Mr. Anderson, if there is a remedy for my follies, I want it, and I want it now!  I’m a thief, a drunkard, a gambler, a wretch without a country, a sinner without a God.  Can you help me?”

            The finding of Harold Wilson seemed so wonderfully beautiful to Mr. Anderson, so providential, so timely, that his faith laid hold upon the promise of God; and in a wise, tactful, soul-winning way, he led him to the Master’s feet.  The surrender was complete, founded on an intelligent grasp of revealed truth; and the young man was happy in God.

            When the story of Harold’s life and conversion came to be known, he was pointed out by both passengers and crew as “the man with the marked Bible.”

            Captain Mann, while a devoted Christian, was nevertheless quite limited in his knowledge of the Word, and therefore a bit narrow.  Thus it was that he now became much concerned lest Harold should be deluded by the “false teachings” of Mr. Anderson, and especially when he learned of the frequent appointments Harold was making with him; and he sought to counteract the pastor’s influence.

            “What does this mean?” thought Harold to himself, as he meditated upon Captain Mann’s opposition.  “Here are too good men, both of whom seem honest, yet each one is certain that the other is wrong.  I am sure Captain Mann had his prayers answered and saved my life, and I am sure Mr. Anderson has had his prayers answered in leading me to be a Christian.  What shall I do?  I certainly cannot follow both, for they seem to be going in opposite directions.

            “But after all, I’ll do what my mother used to urge me to do.  I’ll just have to take the Bible for myself.”

            Good sense!  Few surely will miss the way of life who elect to follow the Word itself, rather than men.

            Another thing Harold had to settle was the comparative value of sincerity with knowledge of the Scriptures.  Mr. Anderson and Captain Mann were undoubtedly equally sincere; but in acquaintance with the Word, they were as giant and pygmy, and this Harold soon recognized.  He therefore could not do other than take the counsel of him who was “mighty in the Scriptures,” for his counsel was drawn from the right source.

            But if the captain lacked in knowledge, he did not lack in an enthusiastic interest to see that Harold did not become “entangled with false ideas about the Sabbath.”  It came to pass, however, that his very earnest efforts to save the young man from delusion, only hastened forward the work of truth which God desired to have wrought.

            “Young man” (this was the captain’s favorite form of address), “let me counsel you again to be careful about this matter of the day you keep.”

            “But, Captain Mann, why do you speak this way?  No one has said anything to me about keeping Saturday.”

            “Well, you will find that Mr. Anderson will soon be telling you that if you are to live a Christian life, you must keep the day that his church keeps.  He will tell you that Sunday isn’t mentioned in the Bible, and — “

            This was the first time Harold had ever heard this about Sunday; and of course, he was at once interested.  He therefore interrupted with the question:

            “Really, captain, is Sunday not spoken of in the Bible?  I shall be glad to have you show me the matter as it is before Mr. Anderson gets to it, if you think best.”

            “All right; come in this evening, and I will show you that Mr. Anderson’s church is wrong.”

 

                                                CHAPTER 6