|God has given me the hunger and thirst for souls;
will He leave me unsatisfied? No verily.|James Gilmour, Mongolia.
|That one soul has been brought to Christ in the
midst of such hostile influences is so entirely
and marvellously the Holy Spirit's work, that I am
sometimes overjoyed to have been in any degree
instrumental in effecting the emancipation of
Robert Noble, India.
TWO of our boys are safe. They left us very suddenly. We can hardly realise they are gone. The younger one was our special boy, the first of the boys to come, a very dear lad. I think of him as I saw him the last evening we all spent together, standing out on a wave-washed rock, the wind in his hair and his face wet with spray, rejoicing in it all. Not another boy dare go and stand in the midst of that seething foam, but the spice of danger drew him. He was such a thorough boy!
The call to leave his home for Christ came to him in an open-air meeting held in his village two years ago. Then there was bitterest shame to endure. His father and mother, aghast and distressed, did all they could to prevent the disgrace incurred by his open confession of Christ. He was an only son, heir to considerable property, so the matter was most serious. The father loved him dearly; but he nerved himself to flog the boy, and twice he was tied up and flogged. But they say he never wavered; only his mother's tears he found hardest to withstand.
Weeks passed of steadfast confession, and then it came to the place of choice between Christ and home. He chose Christ, and early one morning left all to follow Him. Do you think it was easy? He was a loving boy. Could it have been easy to stab his mother's heart?
When the household woke that morning he was on his way to us. The father gathered his clansmen, and they came in a crowd to the bungalow.
They sat on the floor in a circle, with the boy in their midst, and they pleaded. I remember the throb of that moment now. A single pulse seemed to beat in the room, so tense was the tension, until he spoke out bravely. |I will not go back,| he said.
They promised everything -- a house, lands, his inheritance to be given at once, a wife |with a rich dowry of jewels| -- all a Tamil boy most desires they offered him. And they promised him freedom to worship God; |only come back and save your Caste, and do not break your mother's heart and disgrace your family.|
Day after day they came, sometimes singly, sometimes in groups, but the mother never came. They described her in heart-moving language. She neither ate nor slept, they said, but sat with her hair undone, and wept and wailed the death-wail for her son.
At last they gave up coming, and we were relieved, for the long-continued strain was severe; and though he never wavered, we knew the boy felt it. We used to hear him praying for his people, pouring out his heart when he thought no one was near, sobbing sometimes as he named their names. The entreaty in the tone would make our eyes wet. If only he could have lived at home and been a Christian there! But we knew what had happened to others, and we dare not send him back.
Then a year or so afterward we all went to the water together, and he and three others were baptised. The first to go down into the water was the elder boy, Shining of Victory. Shining of Life was second. A few weeks of bright life -- those happy days by the sea -- and then in the same order, and called by the same messenger -- the swift Indian messenger, cholera -- they both went down into the other water, and crossed over to the other side.
Shining of Life was well in the morning, dead in the evening. When first the pain seized him he was startled. Then, understanding, he lay down in peace. The heathen crowded in. They could not be kept out. They taunted him as he lay. |This is your reward for breaking your Caste!| they said. The agony of cholera was on him. He could not say much, but he pointed up, |Do not trouble me; this is the way by which I am going to Jesus,| and he tried to sing a line from one of our choruses, |My Strength and my Redeemer, my Refuge -- Jesus!|
His parents had been sent for as soon as it was known that he was ill. They hurried over, the poor despairing mother crying aloud imploringly to the gods who did not hear. He pointed up again; he was almost past speech then, but he tried to say |Jesus| and |Come.|
Then, while the heathen stood and mocked, and the mother beat her breast and wailed, and the father, silent in his grief, just stood and looked at his son, the boy passed quietly away. They hardly believed him dead.
Oh, we miss him so much! And our hearts ache for his people, for they mourn as those who have no hope. But God knows why He took him; we know it is all right.
Every memory of him is good. When the first sharp strain was over we found what a thorough boy he was, and in that week by the sea all the life and fun in him came out, and he revelled in the bathing and boating, and threw his whole heart into the holiday. We had many hopes for him; he was so full of promise and the energy of life.
And now it is all over for both. Was it worth the pain it cost? Such a short time to witness, was it worth while?
It is true it was very short. Most of the little space between their coming and their going was filled with preparation for a future of service here. And yet in that little time each of the two found one other boy who, perhaps, would never have been found if the cost had been counted too great. And I think, if you could ask them now, they would tell you Jesus' welcome made it far more than worth while.