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One night when I arose to preach in the Chicago Avenue Church I saw sitting just to my left in the front seat underneath the gallery one of my deacons and side by side with him a flashily-dressed and hard-looking man. I at once concluded that he was a sporting man and I said to myself, “Deacon Young has been fishing to-day.” It is a good thing to have deacons that go fishing on Sunday—fishing for souls.
Every little while as I was preaching, I would turn around and look at that man. His eyes were riveted upon me. He was paying the closest attention. Evidently the whole scene was strange to him and some power, mysterious to him, had taken hold of him. When we went to the inquiry room below, Deacon Young brought him along.
I was late talking to inquirers that night, and about eleven o’clock Deacon Young came over to me as I finished with one inquirer and said, “Come over here and talk to a man that I have.” I went over. It was this big sporting man. He was shaking and groaning with emotion.
“Oh,” he groaned,” I don’t know what is the matter with me. I never felt like this before in all my life. I never was in a place like this before,” he continued. “My mother keeps a gambling house in Omaha, and we are Roman Catholics, but this afternoon as I was going down the street over here, I saw some of your men holding an open air meeting. As I passed, one of them rose to speak. I had known him before when he was leading a wild life, and out of curiosity I stopped to listen. I listened until he was done speaking and then continued on my way, intending to go down on Cottage Grove Avenue to meet some men to pass the afternoon gambling. But I had not gone two blocks before some strange power took hold of me and brought me back to the meeting. When the meeting broke up, this man (pointing to Deacon Young) brought me to your church to the Yoke Fellow’s Supper, and then to the meeting afterwards, then took me up-stairs to hear you preach. Then he brought me down here. Oh,” he groaned again, “I don’t know what is the matter with me. I feel awful. I never felt this way before in all my life.”
“I will tell you what is the matter with you,” I said. “You are under conviction of sin. The Spirit of God is dealing with you. Will you take Christ as your Saviour?”
The huge man fell on his knees on the floor and commenced to cry to God for mercy. Jesus Christ met him there. His sobs ceased, a look of peace came into his face and he left the building rejoicing in Christ.