Friday, July 06, 2007

1934 Theologue: The Story of John A. Davis Part 3: "And the Word of the Lord Came unto Him Saying, Arise"

I hope you have been enjoying this series about the life of John A. Davis from the 1934 Theologue. I enjoyed reading it as I typed it up. Here is part 3 of the series.

If you missed the first two parts you can read them here on the blog:

Part 1
Part 2



“And The Word of the Lord Came unto Him Saying, Arise.”

Jonah 1: 1 and 2

Changing fortuning led John A. Davis to take up residence in Binghamton, N. Y., where he received employed in one the large dry goods stores, then know as Fowler, Dick and Walker, or the Boston Store. He steadily developed and became a very efficient salesman. Rather than have a customer wait, he was often found pleasing three or four at the same time. The proprietor said “John sold more goods in his department than any other one had before or has since.” Whatever he did, he did well, putting his whole energy into it to make a successful and worthwhile work of it. He believed, “What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

The Main Street Baptist Church about this time was newly organized and had many enthusiastic, consecrated young men in its membership, who were on the lookout for every new member possible and for an opportunity for service. They took a keen interest in the newcomer, John A. Davis, and invited him to their services, and especially to the Christian Endeavor meetings, where he became very active. A revival spirit broke out among the young people and they were led into a desire for active service where they might witness for the Lord. The opportunity opened by going out to school houses in the surrounding country on Sunday afternoons to conduct services. One young man invited Davis to go, and so insistent was he that John consented. This particular Sunday proved to be one of the most important of Mr. Davis’ life. As they were walking to the service the suggestion was made for a prayer meeting preparatory to the work before them. The new member of the party wondered where they might have this meeting as a no building was in sight. One person pointed to an apple tree in a nearby field. This was a new proposition to John for he had never before offered an audible prayer. One after another prayed and he knew it would soon be his turn, so sentences were formulated in his mind, but when was time for him to pray, the prayer could not be recalled. At that very second a heart and life was consecrated to God. The Holy Spirit was given opportunity to come in and infill him. From this time on, never was he hesitant to pray, testify, do personal work, nor did people have to look around to find him for service for he was always ready. Someone has said, “Prayer is the hinge on which the door of opportunity swings.”

Monday morning as he entered the store, a marked change was seen in his life. During the remainder of his stay in the store he dealt with the clerks concerning their soul’s salvation, and as he waited on customers he did personal work. He withstood much ridicule from many and he was called by some “The Preacher,” but never once did he give up.

He went back to Afton and had services on the street corner; spoke to individuals in the home, on the street, anywhere in order to witness for his Lord. Most always he was seen with the Bible under his arm. In spare hours were devoted to Bible study, conducting meetings, and seeking opportunities to lead men to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was being used so marvelously in the work that people suggested that he devote his whole life to that of being a fisher of men, but he waited the definite leading of the Holy Spirit.

After much prayer and consideration, Mr. Davis felt a definite call to train for Christian service and to get a better knowledge of the Word of God. He resigned his position as clerk, which everyone thought was unwise choice because of his great success thus far in a business career. Through acquaintance and association with men from Chicago Evangelization Society, he decided to make application there as a student. When he was asked how he was going to get there, he replied, “By trusting God.” At the close of his last day of his last day of work at the store, all the clerks were summoned to the basement. At this time they presented him with a purse of money. In spite of the mockery and scoffing at his Christian life every person was saddened by his departure and bowed humbly and thanked God for the blessing he had been in each of their lives.

On April 19, 1893, Mr. Davis enrolled as a student of the Chicago Evangelization Society. It was the year of the World’s Fair at Chicago. This year was probably one of the greatest in the history of that institution. Mr. Moody made plans far in advance and secured men such as Dr. A. J. Gordon, Dr. John McNeil, Dr. R. A. Torrey and scores of others to speak and sing during this great exposition. In this way the students came in contact with these world-famed men. Meetings were held in large tents, theatres, public halls and churches, giving students opportunity for personal evangelism throughout the Exposition period.

Mr. Davis, like many other students, was not able to pay his way through school, and so had to work. His first employment was scrubbing floors, and later waiting on tables in the dining room. Because of his alertness, he was given the honor and privilege of waiting on D. L. Moody and his guests. This was the crowning point in Mr. Davis’ education because he observed Moody’s methods and characteristics. The things learned here were basic in the very principles carried out in his own work.

At the closing of the World’s Fair and the great evangelist campaign, he left school on September 7, 1893, and started on his way home. This he did voluntarily to enter evangelistic work. He stopped at Kalamazoo, Michigan for a few days. During his stay he held services in one of the city churches. He was on fire for God and a real revival broke out and he was urged to continue. He stayed four weeks, during which many made confession of Christ and the crowds became so great that the edifice could not accommodate them.

Without doubt this was God’s approval of his work and he realized his call was to preach the Gospel. But the times of testing came; temptation was to feel it had been a mistake to leave business; also that he was too young and with too little education. God’s hand was guiding. A definite call came from China, New York, to conduct an evangelistic campaign there. He prayed that if God wanted him in this work, He would give unusual results in this field. God marvelously blessed. Many a soul was reclaimed and saved. Continually invitations for meetings came from other places including Hancock, Deposit, and Binghamton, New York. Also an unsolicited call came from the First Baptist Church of Hallstead, Pennsylvania, to be its pastor.

Mr. Davis, however, found time in his busy schedule to keep in correspondence with a young lady whom he loved. On June 19, 1894, he and Miss Etta Carr were united in marriage, and two hearts were bound together by God with a united purpose to be of service to Him.

Coming up part 4: What Wonders God Hath Wrought

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