Here is the longest section of the 1934 Theologue. It is the fifth section of John A. Davis' life. It offers many accounts of different campaigns that Dr. Davis led over the years. It is an interesting section about the work of Evangelist John A. Davis.Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
“DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST.”
II Timothy 4:5
After five years of successful work as a pastor in Hallstead, Pa., Mr. Davis felt the call of God “to do the work of an evangelist,” so in his implicit obedience to the will of God, he resigned his pastorate and embarked on a course of evangelism which for brilliancy ranks with that of the greatest evangelists of the present century.
We believe that Mr. Davis was one of those whom Paul was speaking in the fourth chapter in the letter to the Ephesians when he said, “and He gave some, apostles; and some prophet; and some, evangelists; and some, and some, pastors and teachers.” Truly, Mr. Davis was a God-ordained evangelist doing a God-ordained work in many, many places where the Spirit of God led.
God’s seal of approval upon this humble ambassador’s work can be traced into every field of service where he ever held a campaign. He has been instrumental in leading many thousands of souls out “into the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ.” His aim was for a million souls for Christ in eternity! He came very close to his aim; how close, only eternity will reveal.
It would be an impossibility to give an account of all the campaigns which Evangelist Davis held. It would be impossible even to list the places where he has been privileged, under God, to present the Glad Tidings to hungry hearts. We wish that more space might be available to reiterate some of the wonderful works, wrought by the Holy Spirit through the life of this unassuming, unpretentious servant. However, we shall try to touch on a few of the larger campaigns in order to give an idea of how the campaigns were conducted and the manner in which they were generally received.
To many fields, Mr. Davis was recalled two, three, and even as many as seven different times. Associated with Mr. Davis, as singer, was Mr. Fred A. Mills, a man with a rich baritone voice and Spirit-given ability, both as a soloist and as an inspiring chorus leader. “Davis and Mills” were names known in the evangelistic field comparable with those of the generation before—“Moody and Sankey.” To this clay the name “Davis and Mills” are remembered by thousands upon thousands of the older generation.
In looking over some of the newspaper clippings of the great Brooklyn campaigns held in the year of 1907, we were thrilled by accounts with head-lines such as the following: “2,500 People Attend Davis—Mills Meeting,” “1,200 Men at Single Mass Meeting,” “Revival Meetings Fill Two Churches,” “Evangelist Davis and F. A. Mills, His Singer, Arouse Great Enthusiasm,” “Lively Time at Revival in Brooklyn, Evangelist Davis of Binghamton and His Singers Stir Up Things,” “Davis and Mills Asked to Return Next Year.”
There is much that we might say concerning the work of Evangelist John A. Davis in these campaigns. He was held in very high esteem by pastors throughout the entire city of Brooklyn. The following article concerning the coming campaign which Davis and Mills were to hold in the Washington Avenue Baptist Church appeared in the Sunday Bulletin dated March 3, 1907.
“The long expected coming of these powerful evangelists is about to be realized, for Davis and Mills begin special Gospel meetings next Sunday and continue with us to weeks. It is positively certain that their coming will be of immense benefit. They are masters along the line of their specialty—the arousing of the conscience in allegiance to Jesus Christ. Their work is thorough. Their appeals are tremendous. Their business is to make converts to the world, of which our Lord will not be ashamed; and they know their business. They are unique in the revival field, for they are first, midst and last, men of action. Other evangelists preach and sing. These men act, and influence the people to act with them. They are generals with a plan of campaign mapped out in advance, and you find yourself following their lead. However sluggish you were yesterday and indifferent, when they command, you arouse yourself and follow. This is because they command so sweetly and appealingly that you cannot help loving the Christ they proclaim. The writer spent last Wednesday evening from 8 to 11 o’clock at one of their meetings and found it hard not to go again Thursday night. They held my attention from start to finish. How can they continue a meeting for two and a half hours and hold the crowds? As Philip said to Nathaniel, “Come and see.” In that throng of people I saw nobody asleep, but I did see people laugh and weep, and less than a hundred went out before the close. The evangelist took less than thirty minutes for his sermon, and sermon it was, all right, preached with the picturesqueness and vividness of a Talmadge, and the power of Moody. True, it lacked the homiletical form of a college trained, theologically dried sermonizer. It came near offending the intellectual demand. In fact it may be said, as I look back upon it, to have dethroned the intellect, and after the giant lay there cast down, Davis was cruel enough to stand upon him and reach out after your heart. He succeeded in boring into the conscience, in grappling the heart, in stirring the phlegmatic propriety of spiritual indifference to the depths, in honoring Jesus and making Him seem more indispensable to Christian work and living than before seemed to be necessary. These youngsters, for they are very young men as years go, though veterans in the spirit, posses a charm hard to define, and the best of it is, the charm lingers with you after the meeting is over, and next day, and you feel uneasy until you go again. We are told we heard the evangelist at his best in preaching and the conducting of the after meeting, which by the way is never conducted two evenings the same. Even so, I cannot conceive of his second-best being uninteresting and tiresome. I imagine someone asking if less than thirty minutes were taken up with the sermon, how in the name of all that is good and great could the rest of the long evening be made not to drag? A detailed answer would take too long, so again I must answer, as above—“come and see.”
The following account appeared in the “New York Herald” of May 7, 1907, giving an account of the closing night of the Brooklyn campaigns. “A most remarkable demonstration of the deep hold Evangelists Davis and Mills have secured upon the religious element of this city during their four month’s campaign was strikingly given in the closing service held in the largest available building, the Janes M. E. Church Sunday night. Tickets were issued, but notwithstanding, hundreds crowded before the doors singing the old familiar hymns learned during the campaign, while waiting for admittance. The crush at the front filled the great auditorium in a moment after opening of the doors and overflow meetings were quickly arranged for in nearby churches. The sight inside was a most inspiring one, as 500 singers in the great union chorus crowded the platform and galleries, and when Mr. Mills waved his baton as the signal to begin, those who heard will never forget the enthusiastic melodious response, the deep spiritual fervor, as from song to song the hundreds swung in unison and with great accord.
“Shortly after the song service Evangelist Davis took charge. He was given an enthusiastic greeting, men and women from all the walks of life and social positions—professional, businessmen, mechanics, rising to their feet again and again and again to express their appreciation of the great work done. Mr. Davis in characteristic form and with unique power, after prayer led the great congregation into testimonies of benefits received. The pastors first telling how great blessings had come and saying they had never expected to see the like and told of the good that had come to their churches. Laughter and tears followed along the enthusiastic wave as men, women and children continued rapidly telling, in varied form, of the joy that had come into their lives. It was the greatest religious demonstration ever held in this city and fittingly closed the campaign, which has been a chain of most remarkable incidents from the beginning. Davis’ and Mills’ remarkable meetings have left a deep impression on this city of churches. They hold a campaign in Baltimore May 12-19, (1907) in the centre of the city, a union of the churches, an outgrowth of their great work there last December.”
From Brooklyn, Davis and Mills went to Baltimore, another one of the large cities of the East. It was a united campaign embracing fifteen churches, out in a section of the city near Goucher College, north of the Pennsylvania depot. This campaign was also very successful as indeed was every campaign carried on by them. At the close of these meetings a newspaper account reads as follows: “Not since the days when Moody and Sankey so mightily stirred the city of Baltimore has so great an evangelistic campaign been held as that recently closed by those consecrated men, Davis and Mills, who have been holding a series of meetings in North East Baltimore, fifteen churches uniting, representing five different denominations as well as the mission interests of that part of the city. The greatest harmony and a choice sweetness pervaded the whole series, and nothing was said by those tactful, and yet fearless workers, that in the least jarred the fine spirit in the union effort. The resolutions passed, state that much of the harmony was due to the masterful way in which Evangelist John A. Davis looked after the details and held the grasp of every service. The remarkable work in large measure was due to the forcible Gospel sermons preached by Mr. Davis, expository and topical in their make-up; and his broad and liberal attitude which has been likened to that of Spurgeon. Marked evidence of his special work of an evangelist, were seen in every service and people were turned away night after night while great crowds attended the meetings. F.A. Mills had charge of the great chorus choir, and his masterful ability as a singer and leader soon aroused a spirit of song which stirred the whole section of the city. Night after night people gathered in front of the building or congregated on street corners singing the hymns of the meetings, and it was often a familiar sound, to hear above the hum of the trolley cars the sweet strains of the familiar hymns sung by those homeward bound.
“The results of the meetings were great, many were quickened to strong religious interest and many started in the new way of living. Indeed the interest became so great and the influence extended over so wide a territory, that the greatness of the work cannot be computed.”
From Baltimore, Mr. Davis returned to Brooklyn at the request of the up-town churches. It was this return visit that he held a union service at the Hanson Place Baptist Church, and from which the choirs and audience marched to the South Oxford Street residence of Ira D. Sankey, the great singer who was co-labored with D.L. Moody. “Underneath the window of his room the great chorus gathered while hundreds listened to the old familiar hymns he had made famous, and which were carried to him through open windows. The choir sang, ‘When the Mists Have Rolled Away,’ ‘There’ll Be No Dark Valley,’ ‘While the Days Are Going By,’ ‘For You I Am Praying,’ and Mr. Mills sang the solo. ‘The Ninety and Nine.’ It was a time never to be forgotten, as the singers heartily joined, while hundreds from the surrounding dwellings threw open windows to catch the inspiration of the moment, and some of the members of Mr. Sankey’s family came with tear-dimmed eyes to look upon the scene.”
One metropolitan daily reported the incident as follows: “One of the most remarkable services ever held in Brooklyn was that yesterday morning at 7:30 at the Hanson Place Baptist Church. It was the occasion of a union Easter morning service led by Davis and Mills, who have been holding evangelistic services in the city for several months. Fully a thousand people, representing many churches, filled the church, galleries and all, and the meeting could scarcely be closed by 9:30. The evangelistic choirs from the Janes Methodist, the Sumner Avenue Baptist, the Embury Memorial Methodist, and the Washington Avenue Baptist churches filled the large platform built for the occasion and nearly half the gallery on either side. Most of the songs sung were the familiar ones learned by the audience in the various campaigns in the borough. Mr. Davis gave a soul-stirring talk, and then followed a rapid-fire testimony meeting which has scarcely been equaled anywhere. Often a half dozen were on their feet at once waiting eagerly their chance to speak.
“Near the close, Mr. Davis revealed to the audience a plan that he had kept as a surprise, and together a thousand people marched four abreast around to the residence of Ira D. Sankey, the singer now blind, who made song so famous in the Moody campaigns, and there under his window sang his favorite selections. The Rev. Dr. C. D. Case, the Rev. John R. Know, and Davis and Mills headed the procession. One song that Mr. Sankey especially requested them to sing was, “There’ll Be No Dark Valley.” The people next proceeded to the residence of Dr. Theodore L. Cuyler, who also lives on South Oxford Street, a little below the home of Mr. Sankey, and sang for him. The doctor was on his porch and responded to the song with a short appeal. He said that nearly five year ago Ira D. Sankey sang the last time in public just where the crowd was now, and where Mr. Mills was leading th singing, and that he sang at the time, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” He especially requested that the same song should be sung, which was done tenderly. He put his arms around Mr. Mills and thanked him. The people broke up a little after ten to hasten to their own services.
“The Davis and Mills mission began with the Hanson Place Church in the evening with a house filled. The large platform, the largest the church has ever had, was filled with singers. Mr. Davis filled his sermon last evening with rich personal experiences which showed that he had much of that power which made Gipsy Smith’s sermons so effective. Mr. Davis can be wonderfully tender at times and at others he makes the building ring with his voice. It is impossible to compare Mr. Davis with any other evangelist. He discards all formalities in his dead earnestness. So absorbed was the audience that probably few knew that twice he sat down in the chair, and when people thought they had before them fully a half hour of testimony he so suddenly closed the meeting that they sat quiet a few moments before moving. He declared the service was closed and leaded from the platform all in the same moment.
“The sermon was on ‘Soul-winning,’ and was from Daniel 12:3. ‘And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.’ He declared that every man can be a soul-winner, and that he pitied the person that had never won a soul to Christ.”
The day following the service the letter below was received from Mr. Sankey, and is here used by special permission.
148 So. Oxford Street
Jan. 28, 1908
Messrs. Davis and Mills,
Hanson Place M.E. Church, Brooklyn.
I wish to thank you and your choir with all my heart for singing for me last night.
It was very kind of you indeed to remember me, and I hope that we shall sing together some day in the land that is fairer than day.
With best wishes for your continued success, and with kindest regards, I am,
Ira D. Sankey
During the two years of his stay in Brooklyn, Evangelist Davis was mightily used of God to win hundreds of precious souls and build up the spiritual life in the following churches of the city: the Summer Avenue Baptist, the Embury Memorial Methodist, the Janes Methodist, the Washington Avenue Baptist, the Hanson Place Baptist and the Simpson Methodist.
While he was thus engaged in presenting the Glad Tidings in Brooklyn, he received a call from the pastors of the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania, where thirty evangelical churches were willing to unite in the movement. After some correspondence, Mr. Davis was so impressed with the need and the great opportunity, that he concluded, after much praying, that it was the call of God and decided on the close of the Brooklyn campaign to open the work there.
Consequently one Saturday evening late in March 1908, Mr. Davis arrived in Altoona and as he stepped from the train with some members of the committee, who had gone down the road a few miles to meet him, he was given a most cordial greeting by the 200 or more persons gathered at the station. They sang the hymns, “God Will Take Care of You,” and “Victory Through Christ,” under the leadership of singer Mills who had preceded Mr. Davis to the field. No such enthusiasm had ever been evidenced in the city before. The crowd marched through the station, out to the street, where Mr. Davis was introduced to the workers, and an open air service was held by a large number of the Christian workers and citizens of the city. A prayer was offered by Mr. Davis and after some remarks and the singing of a number of hymns the very atmosphere seemed charged with the spirit of the revival, and the campaign was on!
From the opening service it was apparent that there was no building in the city adequate to hold the great crowds. So the committee decided to divide the city into three sections, with Davis and Mills in the center, and his co-workers Rev. William H. Pike in the second section, and Rev. Charles H. Harrington in the third. Even this provision proved inadequate, for all three places of meeting were soon over-crowded. Therefore, the committee considered the advisability of erecting in a central location a tabernacle capable of seating at least 3,000 people. The meeting was held on a Saturday afternoon, and the contract awarded. The following Tuesday morning the erection of the building began. In five days the great tabernacle was completed, the floor laid, the lights installed, the seats arranged, the everything was in readiness for the service on Sunday afternoon, at which 3,000 men gathered.
Even this huge tabernacle was not sufficient to accommodate the crowds, and hundreds were turned away. During the closing days many would come to the afternoon service, bring their lunch and remain in the building in order to insure their securing a seat for the evening services.
So great were the crowds that Evangelist Davis thought it wise to open a campaign on the south-side of the city. This was done and the meetings there were carried on with splendid results.
Thomas B. Dilts, the General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A at Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a city of about 12,000 people, situated some forty miles east of Pittsburgh, was mightily stirred by the reports that came to him from Altoona concerning the great things the Lord was doing for the city, and his heart longed for a similar work for his own home town.
After much prayer he and a fellow worker decided to spend a Sunday in Altoona to see if the reports were not exaggerated and if possible to catch some of the fire of revival. It was toward the close of the Altoona campaign that he and L.A. Stahl visited the meetings, and as they expressed it afterward, soon learned that “the half had not been told them.”
They at once entered into communication with the evangelists to learn if it were possible to secure their services for a campaign in Latrobe, and upon what terms. After correspondence the way opened, and an invitation was extended to Davis and Mills to conduct a campaign in that city.
The meetings were held in the skating rink which was arranged so as to accommodate over 2,000 people. At the first Sunday afternoon service, the following communication was read by General Secretary Thomas B. Dilts:
Midnight, Oct. 2, 1908
My dear Brother:
At an enormous gathering of people in the Second Presbyterian Church tonight, I was unanimously and enthusiastically authorized to send the following message:
The churches of Altoona send Christian greeting to the churches of Latrobe, bespeaking for our beloved evangelists their warm-hearted, earnest co-operation and prayers, being well assured as we are that divine approbation and blessing will rest in fullest measure upon them in the saving of souls and for this we will ever pray.
Henry Howard Stiles,
Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church
It would be practically impossible to tell all the incidents that indicated the power of God as it was manifested in this campaign.
“Dance Called Off—Merchants Failed to Put in Appearance.”
Under the above head the following article appeared in the Latrobe Daily Bulletin, and is here given to indicate the great interest aroused by workers in the evangelistic campaign.
“’There’s no use trying to have a dance while this religious revival is going on,’ said Prof. R. E. Jakes, the dancing teacher, late yesterday afternoon, when he called off the dance which he had announced for last evening in the Doherty Auditorium, and stated that he would discontinue his weekly dance until after the evangelistic campaign comes to an end. This means that there be no dance in school until early in November at least. Prof. Jakes stated that a number of his regular patrons and requested him to discontinue the dances during the revival, and as the attendance had been failing off very noticeably since the evangelistic meetings started, he believed the proper thing to do was to call off his dances.
“The effort to have a big meeting of the business men of the town for the purpose of rehabilitating the Merchants’ Association, proved unavailing last evening, less than a dozen business men having assembled at the city hall. Consequently, the meeting had to be called off. The reason for the non-attendance of many merchants was to be found in the fact that they were at the evangelistic services at the rink, a number of them being in the choir, and others being in the audience. It is likely that no further effort will be made to hold a big meeting until after the evangelistic campaign has been concluded, inasmuch as so many of the merchants are actively identified with the religious movement, making them loath to miss any of the services.”
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” It is the exception that prove the rule. There proved be an exception to this rule when Davis and Mills returned to Mr. Davis’ home city, Binghamton, to conduct a campaign in 1907. The story of the inception of the Binghamton campaign is a story of the power of the Holy Spirit’s work to bring about the will of God. For two years previously a few godly women had met at different times to pray for an outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the city of Binghamton. In God’s own way the answer came. And in an article by Rev. F. O. Belden in “Echoes,” our Bible paper, on the preparations for the revival he says:
“If I were asked to tell when preparations began for the great spiritual awakening, known to us as the Davis and Mills meetings, I should answer, ‘God foreordained it before the foundation of the world.’ He began to reveal it to some in the city, however, several months ago. While it was not known who would ‘command the battle,’ yet there were groups of praying men and women that were laying hold of God’s great promises and believing that the time of refreshing from the hand of the Lord was near and He was about to ‘pour water upon him that was thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.’
“The way the three churches, the West Presbyterian, the Tabernacle Methodist and the Main Street Baptist came to unite in this work is of special interest. In fact, to those to whom Christ committed the work it is sacred, because of the manifest leading, as we believe, of the Holy Spirit. Last spring two of the pastors were together attending a commencement at Colgate University. While they were talking over their work and plans for the fall, to their great surprise it was found that the same desire and heart hunger was in each soul and not only that, but in the souls of many of their people. On their return one of the pastors went to the other neighboring pastor only to find that God had given to him the same burden. This led to a meeting for conference and prayer by the pastors of the three churches, and from the first it was decided to advise our people to unite in the early fall in a union evangelistic campaign, if we could find the right man to lead us. After a few weeks a committee of laymen from each church was invited to join with the pastors in conference and to advise in regard to the selection of an evangelist. With the increased members the interest broadened and the desire to have the united work deepened. Gradually but surely we came to the conclusion that we wanted Brothers Davis, Mills and Carr, whom we so well knew and loved, to be our leaders. Therefore our brethren were invited to come with us early in October. Believing that our invitations expressed to them the will of God, they accepted, and we commenced to plan for the work.”
Besides these campaigns already mentioned, Mr. Davis labored in many other cities and towns. Some of the better known cities in which he worked during the early years of his evangelistic career are: Elmira, NY; Reading, Pa; Birmingham, Pa; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Hancock, NY; and at Hazelton, Pa., where he received the vision of a Bible training school, out of which grew the present Practical Bible Training School. Other cities include Clyde, Ohio; Cambridge Springs, Uniontown, Wellsboro, Phoenixville, and Wyalusing, Pa; Baltimore, Md; Afton, NY, his boyhood home; Worcester, Sidney, Massena, Oneonta, Illion, Governeur, Albany, Sherburne, Cortland, Ithaca, NY, and back to his home section, Lestershire and Binghamton, NY. He also held campaigns in New England cities and in the West.
Why were the campaigns of Evangelist Davis so different from all others and why were they readily recalled many years after the evangelist had left the field? Because Evangelist Davis thoroughly believed in using all legitimate methods to God’s glory. He did not propose that the children of the world should be wiser than the children of Light. Therefore, he employed the most unique methods of procedure, not only in the conducting of the services, but also in getting the attention of the crowds. His methods were different, startling and attractive. One of the methods commonly employed was his parades. In some of his parades as many as 500 horses have been used. It took two hours for some of his larger parades to pass a given point. He solicited the co-operation of the Mayor and leading officials of the town and often the Mayor of the town led the parade. Some of his parades were said to have cost as much as $5,000 for a single town. He spared neither money nor effort in order to make each parade a success.
One of the interesting features of the parade was the white brigade, which was a company of girls whom the Evangelist had trained in military tactics. The brigade never failed to win the heartiest applause from the enthusiastic on-lookers. Interest ran high—people from every walk of life offered their heartiest co-cooperation. Business men closed their offices; stores were closed, and it seemed that they central theme for the day was “the great Davis and Mills parade.” Every vantage point was filled with eager, enthusiastic spectators. Roofs of houses, fire escapes, windows and sidewalks were crowded with people who had come to see the sights.
Many times Evangelist Davis has been criticized for conducting these parades. Many people have said that it was a waste of money and that such methods should never be employed in the service of the King. But the parades had their psychological effect. For a whole day the eyes of an entire town were focused upon the Davis and Mills evangelistic party, and after one of these parades Evangelist Davis “owned the town” by the popular vote of the people themselves. The support and enthusiasm of the towns-people never waned at the end of a parade, but extended far into the campaign, where many hundreds, and often thousands, looked upon the crucified Christ and believed.
He held meetings where no one else would ever think of holding them. The incident has been told of the time when the great fair was held in Seattle, Washington. Evangelist Davis had been informed that no religious meeting could be held on the fair grounds. But he was a man who never stopped at odds—if he couldn’t do things in an ordinary way he was bound to do them in an extraordinary one. After praying much about it and getting God’s approval, he consulted and the people of the church where he was holding his campaign. All plans were in readiness for a service. The time chosen was a period when everyone was interested in looking at the side-shows and other attractions always presented at a fair of this sort, and the problem was to draw the people so that they could preach to them. Evangelist Davis walked down the main street and, jumping upon a platform erected for some side-show, he began shouting at the top of his voice. Mr. Mills came running from another direction, Mr. Carr from still another, and the people of the congregation came pouring in from all around. In just no time at all a huge crowd congregated in front of the platform and a wonderful service followed in which God marvelously owned and blessed His Word.
One may wonder how it was that after attracting the crowd by parades and in other unusual ways, that Dr. Davis could hold their attention—even more, promote a greater interest night after night throughout a campaign. The fact was Mr. Davis through his search and study of the many and varied methods of great and mightily used men of God had developed a style and method entirely original, distinct and unique.
The instance has been brought to mind when Evangelist Davis crossed the Atlantic to Wales, for the sole purpose of studying the Welsh Revival which was at that time sweeping, not only the entire British Isles but was reaching into the adjacent countries of Europe.
Evangelist Davis always tried to get his congregation to participate in the services. He firmly believed that if he could “break down the flesh” and get the minds of the people from themselves, that the Spirit of God would have a greater right-of-way in their lives.
One of the methods effectively used, most enthusiastically received, and perhaps with the greater results was his “popcorn” meeting. Mr. Davis first explained how corn could not be popped over a refrigerator, but over a fire. Now “warm-up” was a characteristic expression, and the people always heartily responded. Quickly and from all over the house, the main auditorium and galleries, people arose and in a short concise manner they earnestly told of the blessings that the meeting had been to their own lives and of their love and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ. As many as 225 have taken part in these meetings in eighteen minutes, while applause, laughter and tears punctuated the different testimonies.
His after-meetings were unexcelled for variety of program and results. One of the evangelist’s plans was to have what he called a “line-up of Christians.” He asked for all those who were not ashamed of Christ to raise their hands. Upon response to this question he requested those who professed the name of Christ to step out into the aisle, form a line and march down to the front of the church auditorium. There they gave a clear and forceful witness of the power of Christ to save, to keep and to satisfy. Hundreds of people have often taken part in this manner and it has been frequently found that men and women who had not spoken for years in public opened their mouths in confession of Christ. Often men and women have made their first profession of Christ as Savior in just such moments as these. This indeed is a favorite method of Mr. Davis of curing what he called a Christian’s “heart trouble,” and experience has shown that it is an excellent method for developing Christians for active service.
One of the most inspiring incidents in the after-meetings was his means of a voluntary choir. At these times hundreds of men, who knew the Lord, were called from the audience and massed on the platform where they were led by Singer Mills in singing such old favorites as ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ and ‘Rock of Ages.’ Such services were always impressive and many great audiences have been thrilled. A deep spirit of devotion always pervaded these services. Among the singers oftimes there was a gray-haired saint of God and as he sang these hymns of praise tears coursed down his cheeks and his face bespoke his devotion to his Lord. On many of these occasions the audience sat spell-bound, only to break out into enthusiastic applause as the sound of the hymn died away.
A service in which marked interest has been shown and a service that Mr. Davis has made famous throughout the country is the tenderly beautiful “Pink Rose Service.” Much space could be devoted to a description of this, but instead we will read what the reporter had to say about it as it was given in the city of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
“The afternoon service was such as no one ever witnessed in this place. Long before two o’clock the people crowded around the door of the rink waiting for the opening. Hundreds and hundreds were there and how they sang while waiting for the doors to be thrown open.
“The hundreds of voices rang out with the revival hymns as the crowd patiently waited for the opening, and when the doors were opened, such a crush resulted that it took the combined efforts of Evangelist Harrington and an enlarged corps of ushers to preserve any kind of order.
“Inside the rink, in a short time every space in the gallery, on the floor, the platform and every conceivable place was utilized for seats. On the platform sat the choir with ladies dressed in white and the men in black, while each member of the choir wore a beautiful pink rose. The scene was one of beauty, seldom witnessed. It was a remarkable service and much interest was displayed. Mr. Davis read the story of “Delia” and the choir sang with spirit and in harmony.
“The story was of the rescue of a fallen woman named Delia, through the efforts of Mrs. E.M. Whittemore, and the music was especially written for the story. The service will always be remembered as one of the greatest ever help in this city.
THE CLOSING SERVICE AT THE RINK
“With the song of beautiful sentiment, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” poured forth from about two thousand throats with such volume that the words could be distinctly heard several blocks away, while the rafters of the buildings seemed to tremble, and great series of evangelistic meetings which had been under way for five weeks past were brought to a close at eleven o’clock last evening, evangelists and people joining together in the song which assumed special significance in view of the near departure of the former.”
Davis and Mills were untiring and ceaseless in their efforts to promote the cause of Christ. No matter where they went they endeavored to leave a testimony with those with whom they came in contact. The incident has been recalled where the whole party was visiting a coal mine in Pennsylvania and when they had penetrated far into the bowels of the earth, Mr. Davis conceived the idea of holding a short religious service. Can you imagine the effect that this service had upon the miners? It was so different that the newspaper reporter the next day sent dispatches all over the country telling of this unique service. Below is an excerpt from one of the write-ups concerning it:
“Echoing and re-echoing through the headings, rounding the ribs into the rooms, breaking through the impenetrable darkness of the Atlantic Crushed Coke Company’s mine at Bradenville, yesterday, there was wafted the sweet refrain of the now familiar hymn, “God Will Take Care of You.’
:Miners wielding their picks against the walls of coal stilled their blows with their picks poised over head listened for the words which reverberated through the mine, striking the inky-black walls and glancing off into new corners and sections of the mine. Drivers halted their mules and stood silent, upon the tracks, while men driving headings, about to shoot the solid, held the electric spark from the squibs so that there might be no deafening intonation of a dynamite explosion to interrupt the refrain which met their ears.”
The characteristic principle of Dr. Davis’ entire life of living for others was greatly manifested in his evangelistic efforts. During his campaign in Altoona, Pennsylvania, because of adverse business conditions, hundreds of men were deprived of positions and as a result, many families were in great need. Their circumstances appealed strongly to Mr. Davis and upon his suggestion the executive committee of the campaign set aside one night, during which supplies of flour, sugar, canned goods, potatoes and other necessities were received. The response to the suggestion was gratifying; over a ton and a half of flour was received besides great quantities of other necessities. When these were distributed to those in dire need they were gratefully received.
Another evidence of the thoughtfulness of Mr. Davis was the request for cut flowers and potted plants for the “shut-ins.” Many beautiful flowers of every description were brought for the distribution; many hearts were gladdened, and many sickrooms made more cheery as a result of this thoughtfulness.
A marked feature of all the campaigns was the utter lack of begging for funds. While Evangelist Davis adhered strictly to business methods and believed in the prompt settlement of all obligations, his trust in God carried him along and almost universally he left the question of financial support in the background. He believed that if he did his best that God would prompt the people to do their best for the furtherance of the Gospel. Many church members and others who have been in his campaigns, yet recall numerous beautiful incidents. Many could tell of the time when Mr. Davis on behalf of the trustees or other officials presented the pastor of the church where he was holding his campaign, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Many times in practically every field where he labored for Christ this scene was enacted, and while the flowers have faded and the fragrance gone, yet the memory of the Christian act still remains.
Coming up Part 6: And it Came to Pass
Labels: 1907, 1908, Altoona, Brooklyn, Campaign, coal, Colgate, Echoes, Fred A. Mills, Hallstead, Moody, Sankey, Seattle, Theologue, Welch Revival, William Pike