Wednesday, July 04, 2007

1934 Theologue: The story of John A. Davis Part 2: "Ye Must be Born Again"

A couple of days again I started a new series with the 1934 Theologue. It is a 10 part series from the year Dr. Davis passed away. Here is part 2 of the 10 part series: John A. Davis--Ambassador for Christ. Enjoy.

To read Part 1 click here.


“Ye Must be Born Again”

John 3:7

Upon entering the village, life was to have a new environ. There were new conditions to contend with and new acquaintances to be made.

With the change came the advantages of a better school life. From a rural school to Afton Academy was an advancing step.

Here he continued his education until he was about sixteen years of age. He was always recognized a good student, alert and quick.

Although John was very fond of sports, he cared little for hunting or fishing like many other lads. Baseball was his chief game and he was found very active in this sport. Hours were spent on the field playing. One time he tried to join the town team but because of smallness of stature was not accepted. He decided because of this, to organize a team among the school fellows. He became the best players on the team and later captain and manager. While playing at Vallonia Springs, midway between Sanford and Afton, an interesting incident occurred. Mr. Justus Carr, a member of the band which was often present, as the games were well attended, went from his home in Nineveh Junction to this particular contest and was accompanied by his daughter Etta. John was playing and was injured in sliding to a base. He was carried from the field to the spring house and laid on a bench.

The crowd gathered about the place to get a view of the injured lad. He laid in a white baseball suit that was stained with blood. Among those anxious for a better view was this twelve year old girl from Nineveh Junction. When she saw the wounded boy her sympathies were aroused and expressed audibly. However, a year later she too, moved to Afton and there developed a friendship between them which with the advancing years, grew into that unfaltering love which continued through all the trials of the busy years and even through the somber sunset hours.

Frequently Afton had special holidays and usually large crowds came. The merchants built stands in front of their stores to display their wares. These days were busy ones for clerks and merchants alike. On one occasion like this while rushed with business, A. T. England, had such a stand in the driveway at the side of his store. Young John, who had a great liking for parades, was standing in the store door at a vantage point, from which he could see over the heads of the people and enjoy the occasion. Mr. England was only able to attend to those at the stand so called to young Davis, “John, get into the store and get busy.” This was the beginning of a clerkship that lasted as long as the young man remained in Afton. The reports of this work with A. T. England revealed an industrious young man, pleasing the customers, and building up his employer’s business. While not busy, otherwise, he was putting the stock in order. His energy and earnestness was observed by other merchants with the result that other positions were offered him. However, the clerk was true to his employer. He was a steadfast, loyal worker for whom other offers, even with financial advantages, had no attraction.

John and his parents began attending the Baptist church at this time.

During the holiday season of 1889 the village was stirred by an evangelistic campaign, conducted by two student preachers, one being F. H. Devine from Colgate University, and the other W. J. Sholar of Hamilton Theological Seminary. They alternated in preaching. At this time John was in his later teens. From the very beginning of the meetings he showed great interest and attended regularly. The Truth as given by these tow faithful student evangelists seemed to grip him. Finally, he decided it was the right and manly thing to accept Christ as his Savior and take his stand in the Christian life. He believed that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” –John 3:3. He responded to the invitations of the evangelists, first, to be prayed for, and then to the more appealing one, to accept Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour. His confession testimony was: While I have no special feelings, I am glad to give myself to Christ.”

Going forth from the church, he went to his home with the determination to live a different life. His very nature made his a zealot. The results began to appear in his influence and efforts on others. He had a passion for souls, a passion that vitalized faith, banished doubt, developed experience, and gave poise to knowledge and reason.

On the following morning as he was putting the usual display out in the front of the England store, the editor of the “Afton Enterprise,” Mr. Nelson Barton, called John to the opposite of the street, extended his hand and said, “That was a noble stand you took last night.” This brought such encouragement to his heart that he went back to work with a greater desire and determination to live a life that would tell for Christ.

A few Sundays following this decision, January 26, 1890, a former pastor, Rev. B. Stone of Walton returned to Afton to have a baptismal service for those desiring to follow their Lord into baptism and join the church. Among those in this class were John A. Davis, his father and mother, who had never been immersed in baptism, and ten others.

In spite of his leadership in some things John was very timid and retiring about taking part in service. He was faithful in attendance and to all obligation, but when opportunity was given for a testimony meeting he was rather backward and shy. Sometimes, however, he would muster courage to testify in the Christian Endeavor Society. He gradually grew into active service in this church, especially among the young people.


Coming up Part 3- And The Word of the Lord Came unto Him Saying, Arise.

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