The Campaign in Northern Kentucky, 1910
Weston Bruner, General Evangelist
WE have robbed ourselves of some of our greatest blessings by our prejudices. Fasting and prayer is no new thing -- but it is today a rare thing. When it was suggested during our meeting at Covington and nearby Kentucky cities that we spend Thursday of the second week in fasting and prayer, some said:
"Well, at least the evangelists and pastors will be there."
So they were. But they were not alone. During the first hour the audience had become larger than at any of the day services and by noon the house was filled with devout, earnest yearning souIs, seeking to get closer to God and to find the way to more efficient effort.
At times a flood of tears came, as pleas were made in behalf of some lost loved one or friend. Many said they had never before seen it after that fashion. It was indeed good to be there. From our mount of holy communion we went down to the sinning, sobbing, sorrowing ones, with a tenderness and compassion that we never before knew; and the going was not in vain.
Such confessions and fellowships and visions are still inspiring us to holler living and happier service. Was Jesus manifestly present on that day? If he was not there, then I do not know what it means, to have fellowship with him. And because he was there -- really there -- hundreds of lives will never be the same again. Is it any wonder that that great throng arose and said in unison: "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. "
That the masses in the cities are drifting away from the churches is attested by the empty pews in so many of our churches on Sunday night. All sorts of devices have been resorted to by some pastors, with varying success. Others have gone so far as to advocate the abandonment altogether of the Sunday night service, as superfluous. So I am sure, any evidence that the masses can be reached by the old time gospel will be welcome news.
Our great street meetings in Covington, at which probably 1,500 people gathered and in an orderly, even reverential manner and stood for more than an hour listening to the gospel in song and sermon, was a veritable revelation to the Baptists of that section. In the center, of this vast crowd stood the stalwart and splendidly uniformed chief of police. He seemed to be profoundly interested in every part of the service. When the General Evangelist visited his office to secure permission for the meetings, he gave his assurance that we should not be molested, and there he stood to make good his promise.
I do not know whether he is a Christian, but from the cordial greeting and warm hand-grasp, as we were getting on and off a street car, a few days later, I was assured of his appreciation of our efforts to reach the great masses with the gospel.
A pastor who had come to take the place of one of our men, declared with streaming tears that he had never seen anything to compare with these meetings.
Yes, our great cities are full of people -- the broken-hearted, the woe-begone and wretched -- the sin-stained and besotted -- crying, crying bitterly, for the bread of life!
If they will not come to church, we should take the church to them.
“The church is surely sleeping,
For while she points above;
Men grope beneath her shadow
And starve for light and love.”
These great street meetings did more than all else to let the city know that we were there on business for our King.
To see more than two hundred and fifty new members – largely grown people – seated in the central body of pews in a great church, surrounded by a throng of glad church members and rejoicing pastors, was a sight long to be remembered. Such was witnessed Sunday afternoon, December 11, at 3 o’clock in the First Baptist Church, Covington, Kentucky. Some of the churches had chartered a car. Madison Avenue church, with her forty new members, came marching down nearly two hundred strong.
The General Evangelist directed the welcome service. He spoke appreciatively of the united, cordial, happy and efficient co-operation in this campaign, of both the pastors and their people. Without such efficient co-operation the campaign would have been impossible.
Evangelist H. A. Hunt spoke on the duties of the new members of their Lord and their church. Mrs. Collord, of the First Baptist church, Dayton, sang one of her sweetest solos. Then the General Evangelist had given to each new member a souvenir [sic] track [tract] on “The New Life and How to Live it.” He also spoke briefly on the duty of the churches to their new babes in Christ.
Then the great audience, which filled every nook and corner of the church, arose and sang, “Bless be the Tie That Bids.” As They came to the very last verse, every handkerchief in the audience was waving in the chautauqua-salute fashion as their formal evidence of welcome to the new members.
[From Victor I Masters, editor, The Home Field Magazine, January, 1911, pp. 23-24; via Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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