Sunday, July 01, 2007

1934 Theologue: The story of John A. Davis Part 1: "In the Beginning"

I am beginning a new series. This will be a 10 part series from the 1934 Theologue. I started typing this up a while ago, and now I have finished typing up the 10 part series. I have been told by Pastor Wheeler and Ruth Kummerer that Dr. Wagner arranged this in a very short time after the death of Dr. Davis on Saturday, March 17, 1934. Ira Weyhe was one of the heads from the class for the Theologue though I am not sure who did the research for the well crafted series. Some of it looks like it was taken from A God Enthused Man, but that book only went to 1907 or so. I will do a post about that in the future. The following is the Foreword from the 1934 Theologue followed by PART 1: "In the Beginning" of a 10 part series entitled: John A. Davis--Ambassador for Christ. Enjoy the series.

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Foreword

The seventeenth of March, 1934, witnessed one of the most important events to happen in the history of the Practical Bible Training School. Upon this date Dr. John A. Davis, President and Founder of the institution passed away.

Since Dr. Davis’ death a feeling of inquiry as to the facts of his life has developed. In view of this fact, and in appreciation of this historic event the Senior Year Book, “The Theologue” has this year devoted a huge section of its space to an authenticated and informative life story of this great and beloved Christian educator.

We prayerfully hope that it may prove to be a blessing and an inspiration to all who read it. We trust that they may, through a perusal of the same, catch a glimpse of the indomitable will, tireless energy, and splendid courage of this noble Christian leader.

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I.

“IN THE BEGINNING”

Gen. 1:1

On Melandy Hill, between Afton and North Sanford, New York, there is a farm. The water on the east of which flows into the Delaware River on the northwest into the Susquehanna River. Here in a small farmhouse there lived a fine Godly couple, Charles A. Davis and his loyal wife. They were highly respected through the entire region and had a large circle of friends. They always were recognized as fine neighbors and ready helpers. Mr. Davis had two outstanding principals in life, the one born of his love for God—Christianity; and the other born of his service as a faithful soldier in the Civil War—patriotism.

It was in this Melandy Hill farmhouse, John A. Davis was born on August 7, 1871. Few people knew of that birth, but many thousands, the world over were made to feel the influence of his life’s work. He, and his younger and only brother, Alonzo F. Davis, while yet very small had many responsibilities of the farm and home to carry.

From his earliest life, he had a great inclination toward things of a religious nature; and he was of strong determination. The incident is told of a time when he had been visiting friends, whose custom it was to ask the blessing before partaking of a meal. In his own home, this had been permitted to fall into disuse. The first meal after his entry again into the family circle, the others started eating as usual without returning thanks. John asked, “Papa, why don’t you say something?” At first the father tried to pass it off and endeavored to get John to eat his dinner. But the little fellow stubbornly refused to eat until his wish had been complied with and the blessing asked.

For some time the people of North Sanford and vicinity united in church worship alternating between the Methodist and Union Community Church. The Sunday School session was held in the same place that the worship of the day was carried on. The Davis family was very faithful in church attendance, but on some occasions the parents were not able to be present. At the very early age John was placed upon the back of a horse by the parents and thus rode to Sunday School. After the service was over some one would again put him on the horse for the home journey of three moles. When circumstances would not permit him to attend Sunday School he would get his mother’s button bag, remove the buttons, put them on the chairs about the room for his congregation and begin preaching to them. For two years, between the ages of eight and ten, he had a perfect attendance at Sunday School.

The fundamentals of his education were secured in a district school, which he attended until about the age of twelve years. Part of this time he was under the instruction of Miss Russell, a woman of excellent Christian character, who instilled many truths in the hearts of the children under her care. The impressions made upon John at this time followed him through life.

The man who was the fist to take him to school has said, “He was a nervous little fellow.” The boy full of life was ready for sports and he gave evidence of tact and leadership in spite of his being small in stature and physically weak. There were more than overbalanced by his ability to master problems and lead others. Often he was seen with a group of playmates whom he had formed into regiments of soldiers with toy guns or sticks over their shoulders. These childhood characteristics followed him through life.

He showed executive ability and had a great faculty for setting others to work and securing benefits from them. The following anecdote proves this trait in life. “In John’s play with others they would often build stone houses. Much time, so John thought, was lost in digging the cellars for thee play houses. Among his pets was a dog. He early discovered that the dog was a good ‘ratter’ and John would take a stick, scratch it on the ground and call ‘Mice! mice!” The dog would dig into the soft earth and John would get cellars nearly dug by the efforts of the dog, who would often dig until his nose was raw.”

Aside from executive ability and leadership, he was very enthusiastic. Much of the work on the farm was done by him. The lad would start from home with eggs and vegetables to the neighboring village. Going from house to house selling his products, he would return home with the money earned; saving it to help pay off the farm debt.

All through his life this community about North Sanford held a dear palace in his heart. In 1922 the village organized a day of renewal of acquaintance and festivity called “Old Home Day.” Every year he made it a habit to attend. With the revival of interest in civil affairs and a desire to improve the appearance of the village, through discussion at beautified and developed, and to it was given the name “The John A. Davis Park” as a tribute to the farm boy of Melandy Hill, who had gone out and helped “make two blades of grass grow, where one had grown before.”

At twelve years of age a change came into the life of the youth. The family moved to the village of Afton, New York. This change was a step in God’s training of this youth for His future work.

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Coming up: PART 2: "Ye Must Be Born Again"

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