Will there ever be a better time to preach the Gospel?

The World is Ready for Evangelism

John R. Mott: In the service of four world-wide Christian organizations my life has been one of constant travel. Repeated journeys have taken me first and last to all parts of the world and to most of them again and again. On the average I have spent over thirty days each year on the ocean. This has familiarized me with tides which constitute one of the truly world phenomena. With this as background, let me share my conviction that if we take the world as a whole, the present is, contrary to the popular impression, a time of rising, not declining, spiritual tide.

It is a time, the world over, of a rising tide of expectation. My contacts with discerning leaders in the realm of thought and action have impressed me with the fact that they are genuinely alarmed by the present outlook and possibilities in the life of the world.

This is indeed reassuring. A man to be alarmed must be awake and alert. He must be on an elevation from which he can see things in perspective. He must have been humbled and chastened. He must be eager for light and determined to follow it when he finds it. It means much, therefore, that the real leaders of constructive forces are burdened with solicitude and are devoting themselves as at no preceding time of crisis to reflection, discussion, and formulation of plans for ushering in the better day.

Quite as impressive to me have been the evidences among the masses, especially among backward, depressed, and oppressed peoples, that they think they are on the threshold of something better than they have hitherto experienced. We cannot trace this to a sinister source. Is it not the loving heavenly Father brooding over his vast human family, evoking longings, aspirations, hopes, and purposes for something fairer, more just, more free than they have ever known?

The present and the days ahead constitute a rising tide of opportunity. In a very real sense doors are open on every hand. There have been times in the past when this was true here and there, but never before has there been a time when simultaneously in so many lands and among so many peoples the doors were so open to the friendly and constructive ministry of Jesus Christ. How true this is even in countries and in wide areas of the world where we have least expected it - for example, in countries under aggression.

One is reminded of Paul's interpretation of the situation which confronted him: "A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:9). He did not say under those circumstances that a great door was open unto him but that there were so many obstacles, difficulties, enemies in the way that it was an idle dream to think or talk about going through his door of opportunity. Rather did he regard this critical outlook or situation as an added attraction and incitement to press on.

And so today with knowledge of what confronts the Christian cause in different lands near and far in this time of literally global war [1944], I wish to repeat that I know of no land which I honestly believe to be closed to the friendly and constructive ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Time will show that Christ has never been better preached and better lived than at the present fateful time in lands where we may have least expected it. Without doubt we have been having demonstrations, and shall have more, that the blood of the martyrs is still the seed of the Church. A striking passage in Isaiah has its pertinent message for our present day: "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). Observe it does not say that under such serious conditions the people should learn righteousness. No, they are a significant stage in advance of that; they have been humbled and chastened and are in. an attitude of learning the better way, the way of righteousness. Under such circumstances limitless are the possibilities. The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

On every hand also there is a rising tide of interest in things genuinely spiritual. This manifests itself in individual inquiry. Discerning Christian workers everywhere, clergymen and laymen, bear testimony that wherever they are thrown with individuals they are confronted with questions - not idle or captious questions but those which are serious and which lead into the great realities of faith and conduct. The attitude of silence which one encounters often turns out to be equally significant.

Quite as meaningful as prevailing individual inquiry has been and is the multiplication of groups, formal and informal, large and small, for the study and discussion of the most vital and serious matters that can concern the mind and welfare of men. Often do we hear of the Oxford Groups and their emphasis on sharing in matters pertaining to the deepest things of life. These are not exceptional.

In every land groups under various names - groups of the young, of the middle-aged, and of the older - are coming together to face seriously and constructively the issues involved, personally and collectively, in bringing in a better world order. The same is true in connection with extensive religious organizations, more particularly Christian organizations, denominational and inter-denominational, with hundreds or even thousands of groups who in this tragic time, as at no previous time, are meeting to share with one another. Share what? Share knowledge, experience, insight, burdens, fears, hopes, governing convictions, and purposes. Very much of this is all to the good. On the whole it is indicative not of a declining but of a rising spiritual tide.

Another evidence of such a rising tide is presented by the ever-growing volume of books, brochures, pamphlets, and bulletins appearing in different lands notwithstanding difficulties incident to paper shortage and problems of distribution and censorship. In contrast with the first World War this is remarkable. One has the impression that there are today twenty voices and pens and organizations dealing with the spiritual aspects of ushering in a just, righteous, and enduring world order where there was one at the corresponding stage of the first World War.

One might almost stake his argument, supporting the contention in favor of the rising spiritual tide, on the remarkable increase in the sale, circulation, and use of the Christian Scriptures. The record of the American Bible Society is notable in this respect. A report recently issued by that Nestor [wise old counsellor] among Bible societies, the British and Foreign Bible Society, states with reference to their sales of the Scriptures across the 150 years' history, that in the first hundred years the circulation was 100,000,000, whereas in the last fifty years the circulation was 300,000,000. Were we to add the statistics of the World's Sunday School Association, and of the Religious Education Movement, and of other agencies fostering the study of the Scriptures, all of which report truly notable advances, this point would take on even more impressive significance.

Another evidence of a rising tide of spiritual interest is the growing spirit of criticism one finds in different parts of the world on matters pertaining to religion and morals. This is not without its encouraging aspect. When I come into a country or community I always prefer to find thoughtful people lined up against Christianity and what it stands for rather than to find them indifferent, apathetic, and unresponsive. Upon the basis of my years of serving the various lands and races I have so much confidence in their honesty that, if I find them enough interested to criticize seriously, my heart leaps high with hope. Why? Because, with you, I know whom I have believed, and nothing has taken place in these last fateful years to invalidate a single claim made by Jesus Christ. How true it still is that Jesus Christ and he only can make this world a safe place and flood it with good will.

Above all, recent years, including the present, have been and are a time of a rising tide of faith. In not a few fields the Christward movement is increasing not only in volume but also in momentum. The late Bishop Neville Talbot in connection with one of his books used a title which might aptly apply to this spiritual movement, "The Returning Tide of Faith." There are evidences of this in our own country. Of this there have been gratifying evidences in several denominations, large and small, likewise in inter-denominational movements, a good illustration of which is the recent Christian Student Conference at the College of Wooster.

In some respects the best proof has been that presented along the pathway of the Preaching Mission under the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. The first year they conducted a chain, of missions in our major cities, followed the next year by many carried on in large or middle-sized centers; then in the third year they conducted missions in universities and additional cities large and small, and more recently they have continued with special missions in [military] camps or in cities near camps of men in uniform.

Throughout the history of the country we have had striking examples of fruitful evangelistic effort in a few communities in a given year under the leadership of a single outstanding evangelist, but nothing that in scope and concerted effort on the part of all the evangelical forces corresponds to the Preaching Mission. Its chief shortcoming was that of undertaking more in a given year than could be well done. Notwithstanding its limitations and shortcomings, this vital undertaking has achieved notable success. For one thing, it has laid bare our deepest spiritual needs and pointed the way to better things. Moreover it has drawn the Christian forces together in study, in planning, and in effort as never before. It has led to the discovery and calling into action of fresh, effective, apologetic voices and pens. In view of the exacting and overwhelming demands in the pathway of the present war, how providential it is that we have had such a vital preparatory process.

We think also of Canada. Within the past three years I have visited nearly all the leading cities and universities of the Dominion from Halifax to Vancouver. In every visit I have had the rare privilege of the presence and intimate collaboration of national church leaders of all the Protestant denominations. It has afforded a rare opportunity to feel the pulse beat of the religious life of Canada. I have been impressed by the movement known as the Evangelization of the Common Life of Canada, likewise by the evangelistic emphasis of the separate denominational bodies. There are also reassuring signs of new spiritual life among the students. Moreover the ministry of the churches and of the Young Men's Christian Association on behalf of the armed forces is a model of its kind.

And what of the mother country [Britain]? I know of no land where for nearly five years [i.e., since the start of WWII in 1939] there has been such an impressive demonstration of Christian constancy and endurance unto death, such marked sinking of class distinctions, such inspiring examples of Christian heroism, such losing of itself in great unselfish causes of an entire people, and such spiritual solidarity not only among evangelicals but also on the part of Catholics and Protestants.

The example presented by the Christians of northern, western, and southern Europe affords convincing evidences of the reality and conquering power of the Christian faith. I make bold to say, in the light of wide contacts and intimate acquaintances, that Christ has never been better preached and better lived than in the European lands under aggression and oppression. Of this there are heartening examples on both sides of the present tragic struggle.

On my first visit to [Czarist] Russia I found it impossible to gain access to the educated classes of that great empire. At that time if I had been found on a street corner with five Russian students we should all have been subject to arrest. Our meetings then were necessarily held in secret between midnight and four o'clock in the morning. That year I gave only one public address in Russia, and at that meeting spies were present on all sides, and I knew it. It took me some time to decide upon a subject that would be safe for the occasion, but at last I determined upon "Secret Prayer." Had I spoken upon anything that even suggested union with others, joining hands in friendly relations, combinations, association, propaganda, my lecture would have ended all efforts then and there.

On my visit to Russia a few years later [after the Czar was deposed] the largest halls obtainable in the great university cities were taken to hold the students. Generally speaking, the students in those days were without religion, yet they had a thirst to find God. Every word of my addresses had to be spoken through interpreters - as a matter of fact, two had to take turns each night. The women students were always present with the men. The police would not allow anyone to stand in the aisles, but there is a large area in front of the stage in Russian theaters where they were allowed to stand night after night. I never shall forget those Russian faces reaching from the pit up into the galleries, almost every face bearing its mark of tragedy.

I say "tragedy" advisedly, for in those days more Russian students committed suicide each year than in all other nations put together. Not only did these students come in multitudes and listen with that intensity that fairly draws out one's soul, but they thronged me on every occasion, even on the streetcars. When no interpreter was present they would follow me about the streets and come to my hotel at hours when it had been announced that I could not receive visitors. They seemed to think that if they could draw near me, as the messenger of the Christian students of America and other countries, they would find something to help them.

Baron Nicolai and I left little bands of investigators of Christianity in all places we visited. In one university center I said to the audience, "All who would like to follow this Christ as I have been setting him forth, come to such a hall tomorrow afternoon at two o'clock." The test was difficult, but more than four hundred students responded. I tried faithfully to put with elemental simplicity the facts concerning Christ as the sufficient Saviour, and then I had that crushing experience of being obliged to leave those hundreds of student inquirers without any religious organization and without teachers. In subsequent visits by my colleagues of the Christian Student Movement and me, and more particularly under the leadership of Baron Nicolai, there were organized in different universities Bible circles which evolved in due time into the Russian Christian Student Movement. In recent years [under Stalin] it has not been permitted to function in an open organized form except among the Russian emigres in other parts of the world.

During the first World War, I had the direction of the work on behalf of the prisoners of war. This afforded a great opportunity, for among the six million prisoners of war on both sides of that struggle three millions were Russians. We were permitted to minister to them, and that work of Christian mercy and religious activity opened countless doors for service not only during that war but ever since, notably among the millions of Russians who, following the revolution, spread over the world. This service of the prisoners of war paved the way to the large program of Christian activity among these Russian emigres, especially in France and other parts of Europe. It is believed that this continued and extensive Christian program and action and recent developments in Russia itself are preparing the way for larger liberty and life in this land and among these peoples of such limitless possibilities. [After WWII, Stalin was careful to execute returning Russian prisoners-of-war.]

On my first visit to North Africa I tried to find access to the Muslim students in Cairo, but it was impossible. A few years later when I raised the same question the government officials said, "You may hold meetings for them, but we do not advise it. It will but fan the flames of fanaticism." Some of the more conservative missionaries were amazed at the plan proposed, which was to secure the largest theater in Egypt for the meetings. As there was a play every night, we could not secure the use of the theater for the evenings when students were free, and were obliged to content ourselves with a very unfavorable hour at the close of the afternoon.

The first day I went down with some misgivings, but every bit of space in the house was taken. After the first day the police and some of the British soldiers kept order among the hundreds outside who could not gain admittance. Day after day I sought to set forth positively the truth as it is found in Christianity, without equivocation but without making any attack upon Islam or even speaking against agnosticism. Attention was fixed upon the living Christ.

On the last afternoon when the time came to give up the theater because of the play, I had not finished, and I saw that there was very close attention. The audience was composed largely of Muslim students and unbelievers from the government colleges. I put to them a proposition like this: "Those of you who would like to believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, if you could do so with intellectual honesty, meet me at the hall of the American mission." This was about half a mile away. To my amazement, when I arrived there, I found this hall filled with hundreds of students who had come in response to this invitation. It was one of those times when one is vividly conscious of the presence of Christ, an experience which in itself is an evidence of the living Christ. Christ not only was; he is, as much as anyone living. I know this. I may have doubts on some questions, but I have had too many experiences of the power that worketh in him, that raised him from the dead, to have any mental reservation on this point.

On my first visit to India I spent about four months, chiefly among the educated classes, and it was a great joy to be convinced that a few scattered Hindu and Muslim students had been led to become investigators of Christianity. Few if any of them had confessed Christ when I left, although I am glad to say that some were subsequently baptized. It sent a thrill of deep joy through me recently when, in one of the Christian conferences, one of the leading delegates arose and said that in one of those meetings he had come into a reasonable and vital faith in Christ.

Another Muslim student came the last day of my first visit in the Punjab and said: "My reason is convinced that I ought to become a Christian, and something in my heart tells me I shall not have peace or purity or power until I do become a Christian." I asked him the reason why he hesitated to become one, and he replied: "I am an only son. My father is a prominent government official and a man of wealth. He tells me that if I become a Christian he will disinherit me. The only time I mentioned it to my mother she beat her head against the stone doorstep until the blood came, for she felt it would be such a disgrace if her son should become a Christian." I had to tell the man that there might be times when, for the sake of the truth, it becomes necessary for a man to leave father and mother and brothers and to leave houses and lands; but I pointed out also the attendant promise of what blessing will come into the life of a man who makes that sacrifice. That proud Muslim student bowed his knee for the first time to Christ, but he had reason for his fears. He was cast off and was obliged to flee to another part of India for safety. Later, when he was permitted to return to Lahore, the change in his life had been so great that it influenced some of his fellow medical students to become inquirers into Christianity.

These were merely beginnings. Some years later Sherwood Eddy and I found a wide-open door as we went to the five university centers of Madras, Bombay, Allahabad, Lahore, and Calcutta. In every place the largest hall we could obtain was filled with students. Here were audiences of crowded ranks of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Parsees, Jains, and followers of other non-Christian religions. Little bands of Christians were scattered among them. Every meeting was a conflict so great that every night after the siege we went away completely exhausted.

In Madras it seemed on one occasion as if everything were about to go against us in the great pavilion. The meeting had been tempestuous. If the name of Christ was used, it was hissed. Suddenly a hush came over the assembly, then a deepened attention, and then a wonderful responsiveness. Some months after we learned what had taken place. We had seen several persons leave the pavilion and supposed it was because of their antagonism, but we discovered that they were Christians who had gone out to give themselves to prayer. We saw this tempest stilled by Christ, as he stilled the tempest in olden days on Galilee.

Today in India not only can we gain an extended hearing for the gospel with the educated classes, but there is a response - and, in my judgment, there will be an increasing response - to the gospel message. It means more to be able to point to even a few baptisms of Hindus or Muslims in India than it would if a thousand agnostics in our universities in the United States should come out into a reasonable faith in Christ.

I recall a conference at Serampore with students from seventy colleges from all parts of India. One evening about dusk Bishop Azariah led down into the water of Hugli River two Hindu students for baptism at the very spot where, one hundred years before, [Bishop William] Carey had baptized his first low-caste convert. These two students were the first fruits of the meetings conducted by Mr. Eddy and me. All over India today there are not scores, not hundreds, but some thousands of the educated classes who are intellectually convinced, whose hearts are deeply moved, but who need that additional impulse which will come when the Church of the West recovers her comparatively buried talent of intercession.

I was pained, in India, to hear the president of a Christian college rise to say that he did not expect conversions in this generation among their students, and I could hardly trust my ears when he added that the governing board at home agreed with him that they were not to expect conversions in this generation. I said to myself: That is not the spirit that will win conversions in the next generation. It reminded me of the young preacher who went to Spurgeon to ask why he did not make converts in his ministry. "You do not expect to make converts after every sermon, do you?" Spurgeon asked. The young preacher replied, "Oh no, of course I do not expect them after every sermon." "That is just the reason why you do not get them after every sermon," was Spurgeon's answer.

The time has come in the Indian Empire to get results from our siege work, and also to intensify it. I thank God for those who have the type of heroism that is willing to live and, if need be, to die in doing siege work. They are as much to be envied as the men who see the walls fall.

More remarkable than such developments among the educated classes has been the almost unbelievable progress of the Mass Movement among the outcastes of India. This has gained such momentum that I am told that among the more than two million Protestant Christians of India nine-tenths are the product of the Mass Movement. More remarkable than this, we are told that as a result of the object lesson of the transformed lives of these outcaste Christians a large and increasing number of caste people have been led to become inquirers and to accept Christ. Alexander Duff said that he would as soon expect to see a dead body rise as to see a caste person become a Christian. And yet there are now tens of thousands.

On my first and second visits to Japan I found relatively small opportunities for evangelism among the educated classes, but by the time of my third visit the field was dead ripe and wide open. Every night on a tour including all the leading government school centers we had meetings, and as many as two thousand Japanese students, chiefly government students, decided to become Christian inquirers. If we are to judge results by difficulties overcome, possibly the most remarkable experience of this journey was our last night in Japan. After a very full day, beginning at about six-thirty in the morning, with many meetings and conferences with missionaries and Japanese, we went down at night in front of the Imperial University, with its five thousand graduate students. It had about five hundred professors, nearly all of whom had received one or more degrees from European or American universities - the most intellectual lighthouse for the whole Eastern world. We had secured the auditorium of the Canadian Mission for this meeting. As I went down there, somewhat exhausted, I said: "It is time, O Lord, for thee to work." Every seat on the floor and in the gallery was taken, and the standing room at the back was completely filled. With four addresses, each one made through an interpreter, the meeting lasted nearly four hours. At the close, 370 of these men, including two professors and some of the doctors of philosophy, signed cards indicating three things:

(1) I will make a conscientious study of the four Gospels; and, that I may do this to the best advantage, I will meet for one hour each week with others who are making the same investigation.

(2) I will pray daily to the holy God for wisdom to find the truth and for courage to follow it after I have discovered it.

(3) When my reason and conscience permit me to do so, I will take Christ as my Saviour and Lord.

Those last moments with the 370 bowed in prayer together constitute another of those evidences that Christ lives and that he is able to speak through languages or the lack of language. He is able to break through intellectual pride and through racial prejudices and misunderstandings. If he is but lifted up, he will draw all men, whether they are educated men or illiterate men, whether they are in the Far East or the Near East. Later I was cheered by word that of those who became inquirers in different parts of that country many had been baptized. In later visits I have always had similar results.

In the years just before the war Japan witnessed some of the most remarkable developments in the history of evangelism in all the Orient. I refer in particular to the launching and carrying forward of the Kingdom of God Movement under the leadership of [Toyohiko] Kagawa, the inspiring evangelist and Christian social reformer, and with the backing and participation of virtually all the Protestant Christian forces. It advanced in stages of one to three years each, concentrating now on cities, now on rural districts, now on meetings for industrial workmen, now for the peasants, and at all times for students. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to mention another land where year after year throughout an entire country there has been such a comprehensive, united effort to present to all classes the claims of Jesus Christ. This experience abounds in helpful lessons for other fields.

I did not visit Korea on my first journey around the world or on the second; but I shall never forget a scene on my third journey to Asia, one winter afternoon in Independence Hall, some distance outside of Seoul. I had gone there that year, although advised that it was not a favorable time for special evangelistic meetings, particularly for the student class and the official class, on account of the conspiracy trials. We could not pass by that field which two years before had given sixty thousand additions to the Christian Church. Although we could not promise to spend a week in Seoul and although it was winter and such a critical time, a tent was erected to hold three thousand. This was filled, and people stood outside as well. The last of these meetings continued for three hours, and after we had literally driven away everyone except those who had signed cards to indicate that they would accept Christ as their Saviour or would become investigators, I was still surrounded by three hundred stalwart, loving Koreans. I came away from that country believing that if Christianity were to die out in America and in Canada and in England it exists with such vitality in Korea that it would ultimately spread again to our shores and reestablish itself. [And now the biggest Christian congregation in the world is in Korea!]

In 1896, when I first went to China, I became interested in the literati, the scholars of that great land of scholars. A missionary with whom I was speaking said: "We shall never live to see the day when the literati will be really accessible." When I wrote my first book I characterized the Chinese literati as the Gibraltar of the student world, for they seemed to occupy an absolutely impregnable position. I spent one day with the presidents of seventeen missionary colleges during which most of the time was given to discussing the question of reaching the literati. We concluded that it might be possible to reach one here and there, at the end of the examinations, and that in time we might win a few, but that we could have almost no hope for large numbers and still less for organized work among them.

Five years later the walls of Jericho were beginning to crumble. In some places we could look through, and here and there we could reach a hand through and feel somebody clasp it. The ancient literati were beginning to give way to the modern literati, and in three places I was able to meet them.

Coming from India on my next visit, when I reached Canton, I found to my surprise that they had hired the largest theater in China, a building that holds thirty-five hundred people. On the night of the first meeting, as we neared the theater, I saw crowds in the streets and asked, "Why do they not open the doors?" Someone came to tell us that the doors had been opened for an hour and that every seat was taken. Tickets had been distributed, to the government students, to government officials, and to the educated classes. On the platform were about fifty of the leading educated Chinese of Canton, many of them young men who had studied in Tokyo and in American universities. The first night the chair was taken by a chief justice, a man who was not a Christian. The next night the chairman was a man high in government position, but not a Christian. The following night the commissioner of education, a Christian, took the chair. Every night I gave two or three addresses through an interpreter. There were always large crowds, though not so large as on the first night; and by the time the series was ended more than seven hundred had signed cards with the three promises mentioned before. Those seven hundred led a hundred more of their fellow students to become inquirers. Within a month 145 had been baptized or were preparing for baptism.

From Canton I went north to the province of Confucius, that "sage of ten thousand generations," as the Chinese designate him. He has been a wonderful teacher, and I am not sorry that there is a certain degree of reaction in favor of his teachings. The Chinese were going too fast in their tendency to throw aside all the teachings of Confucius. I said to the students, "Hold on to everything in the writings of Confucius that your reason and your conscience teach you is true"; but I always added, "Do not let that keep you from adding and accepting the truth which Christ alone made known to men."

I visited the tomb of Confucius and then went on to Tsinan, the capital of the Shantung Province. The governor heard of our coming and said, "We must let them use this parliament building," which we did. It was as if one of our state capitols should be turned over for use. There we had afternoon addresses, and when the last afternoon came - it was on a Sunday - it was at the end of a terrific strain, and my interpreter was not up to the mark that day. For some reason we did not have many sympathetic friends about us. No Christian Student Association had been organized there. A wonderful piece of mission work had been established, but it was outside the city wall. I was not sure that it was an environment in which I was looking into Christian faces. But that was one of the most wonderful meetings of all, in which more than five hundred decided that they wanted to learn about Christianity. I went back to my room exhausted, but that night it occurred to me what the reason was for this unexpected number of inquirers. It must surprise some of you that I, then the leader of the World's Student Christian Federation, had forgotten that that very day was the "universal day of prayer for students." That explained the whole matter. "The chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof!" (2 Kings 2:12) Students in forty nations had been in prayer that day for the students of the world. It is an easy matter for an omnipresent and omnipotent God to bring to bear a mighty force to supplement all human limitations and to work with converting power.

I had not planned to go to Manchuria, but the Scotch and Irish and Danish missionaries expressed their conviction that I was making a mistake not to visit Mukden. I told them that if they could put more days in the calendar I would plan to make a short visit. I also suggested that they might persuade the Japanese government to put on a special engine and car so that it would not be necessary to travel on Sunday and I should have an entire weekend there. Finally, however, by cutting my visit short in Korea we arranged for the visit to Manchuria.

The governor heard that I was coming and said: "Our hall is not large enough." They telegraphed me about this. My friends in America and Canada and England had said, "If money will widen your opportunity, use money." I therefore telegraphed them to build a pavilion at our expense, but the governor would not permit it and took the money from his own pocket to build the large mat pavilion. He also called upon the students and professors of the government colleges to march to the meetings. Not only was the place filled with five thousand, but many had to be turned away. There we had one of those experiences that fasten themselves in memory. On the last day six or seven hundred signed the threefold resolution as inquirers. On the platform by my side during these lectures was the commissioner of education, not a Christian.

When I had sent the crowd away and had only these six or seven hundred inquirers there, his Excellency arose and announced, "I want to say something." As I sat down by my interpreter, the commissioner said, "Young men, I have heard all these lectures to which you have listened, and I have been particularly interested in the promises you have made. I call upon you now, every one, to keep these promises. If this gentleman ever comes back to Manchuria, let it not be said that any one of you has gone back on these resolutions."

Mr. Sherwood Eddy could tell of like remarkable experiences in Peking, Nanking, Hongkong, and Foochow, where in the last days of one of his later campaigns five thousand were in daily attendance and nearly two thousand became inquirers.

In Peking the President of the Republic [Sun Yat Sen?] received me and said, "I have heard about your methods, and I should like to know about your message." For more than forty minutes he questioned me as to the vital points of the Christian message. Then he said, "You must change your plans. I want you to stay in China and visit not only the great cities but all the smaller cities wherever you can find young men and schoolboys to tell them about this message; for, while Confucius teaches us the truth, you have been giving us a message which tells about the power which enables one to follow the truth." That is the Chinese mind again, laying hold of the essentials.

This evangelistic tour of mine throughout the student centers of China was followed by two likewise nationwide evangelistic campaigns under the leadership of Sherwood Eddy, and then another conducted by a group of Chinese Christian leaders, all of which campaigns were attended by even more marked results than the one here reviewed. Then was launched the notable Five Year Movement under the auspices of the Protestant Christian forces of China, extending to all parts of the country. It was built around the famous watchword, "Revive thy Church, beginning with me."

This Christward movement acquired such momentum that at the end of the five years the Christians from all the provinces could not think of stopping but unanimously decided to press on through another five-year period. While the war precluded the carrying out of the original plan in all its wide scope and varied phases, the Christian forces have entered into the heritage prepared by the incomparable sacrifices of the recent tragic years and achieved evangelistic results of such extent and character as to constitute present-day convincing and contagious evidences of the superhuman working of the living Christ.

Much more evidence could be adduced to support the contention that the present is a time of rising spiritual tide. But I wish to emphasize the point that it is always wise to take advantage of a rising tide. We can do more then in a relatively short time than in long, weary, waiting periods when the tide is slowly ebbing away.

I have often thought that if the Christians of the West in the late eighties of the last century had heeded the reports and appeals of the missionaries in Japan that country today might be a Christian country. Or if we in America and Britain in the fifties of the last century had taken the great missionary Alexander Duff at his word in connection with his deputation addresses on both sides of the Atlantic when home on furlough, the Christian history of Hindustan [India] might have been markedly different.

Let it be emphasized also that a rising tide may be very dangerous. In the study of physical geography in my schoolboy days I learned that in the Bay of Fundy there is a difference of seventy feet between lowest ebb and highest rise of the tide. While in St. John, New Brunswick, a few years ago, I asked a mariner whether it is not difficult under such conditions to navigate a ship. He replied that it is not only difficult but dangerous, and emphasized the need of wise pilots which leads me to ask: Who are the pilots who should understand the tides across the world with which we have to deal? They include the ministers, the teachers, the editors, the lay leaders of various walks of life. They include also the fathers and mothers, and the older brothers and older sisters.

What characterizes the wise pilot? Obviously he must know the port. Unhappily this cannot be taken for granted. I recall an editor of an influential Christian organ who unmistakably does not know the port. It is to be feared, moreover, that here and there is a minister who, judged by results, is a failure as a wise pilot. The pilot must also know the course. This is much more difficult, for he must have full and accurate knowledge of hidden rocks and shoals, of shifting sand, and of cross currents. He must know the danger signals and the lights along the shore. In this time of subtle and dangerous rival challenges to the allegiance of youth and of many conflicting loyalties, this point takes on greatly added significance. How absolutely essential also is it that the pilot know the hour. He must indeed have understanding of the times. Never more so than today. Above all, he must know the North Star - Jesus Christ, the great Pilot, the unerring Pilot, the ever-accessible Pilot, "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).

Chart and compass come from Thee:
Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

A "Sam P. Jones Lecture" by John R. Mott at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 1944

  1. Christ Commands Worldwide Evangelism.
  2. The World is Ready for Evangelism.
  3. Dwight Moody, the Greatest Evangelist of the 19th Century.
  4. Individual Work to Convert Individuals.
  5. The Evangelization of the World in This Generation.

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