MARTHA WING ROBINSON
BY: GORDON P. GARDINER
Copyright © 1962 by Gordon Gardiner, 1987 by Robert D. Kalis and Paul Munsinger
To the memory of My Mother and Father who dared to prove all things and to hold fast that which was good.
APPENDIX: Chapters 30-59
Vessels in the Making
To Comfort Them That Mourn
Under the Anointing
Comings and Goings
Concern For the Individual
The Children’s Friend
A Minister’s Minister
Instructing the New Convert
Methods of Instruction
A Glory Heart Now
A Remarkable Move
Simple Spiritual Service
If We But Follow Him
The Children’s Bread
As Each is Called
The Way to Overcome
Years of Faith
Fundamental Helps For a Pastor
To the Regions Beyond
Set to Gleaning
What Does God Show You
Thus We Count the Cost
An Abundance Entrance
A Precious Service to God
In God’s Hands
Pathways to the Feet of Jesus
Nothing Matters but Christ Jesus
VESSELS IN THE MAKING
“OURS is NOT a trifling God. He likes a VESSEL to get down very low, to be so passive, He has that vessel for use at any moment, it can be anywhere at any moment. It will also be obedient at any moment.” So Mrs. Robinson wrote to Mrs. George A. Mitchell in Zion City, February 11, 1910, in a letter designed to help her and her husband in their desire to know the will of God for them at that particular time.
The previous year the Lord had sent Elder and Mrs. Brooks to Zion City where for three months they had ministered extensively with blessed results. The main purpose of their visit, however, so the Lord revealed during the course of their time together, was to bring spiritual help to the Mitchells and to Mr. and Mrs. James Leggett and thereby to prepare them for the next step God had for them.
As a young man Mr. Mitchell had been an officer in the Salvation Army and later very active in the work of the Lord in Zion. As a result of the failure of Zion, however, he had become very discouraged and had given up any idea of further Christian service. As a result, in much the same way as Peter, in a similar mood, had once gone “a fishing,” so Mr. Mitchell had gone to farming, together with his wife’s brother, James Leggett. Now, as the Mitchells and the Leggetts met together with the Brookses to wait on the Lord, the Holy Ghost so manifested Himself that the gloom which had settled over Mr. Mitchell was dispelled, and he was filled with courage and hope. Thus restored to his first love, the Lord called him to take his place once again in the vineyard of the Lord.
Before the Brookses returned to Toronto in the fall, the Lord gave the Leggetts and the Mitchells the word that they should get off their farms in the following spring. Why or what they were to do or where they were to go was not stated; they were simply told that it was the will of the Lord for them to leave their farms at that time. The Lord had so unmistakably confirmed other directions which had been given them that unhesitatingly they accepted this word also and began to prepare accordingly. As they did so, the Lord corroborated their plans in a marked way by causing various circumstances to be unusually favorable to such a move. With eager anticipation and a readiness to obey whatever the Lord should reveal, they awaited the word of the Lord for a further revelation of His will.
To the dismay of all concerned, however, not one word was given. Naturally, as the weeks passed and spring drew nearer, they became increasingly anxious to know what they were to do. After all, time Mitchells had a family to care for as well as themselves. And Mr. Mitchell, so methodical and businesslike, was used to planning his affairs within discretion and order.
Now the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell wanted to know the will of the Lord and were willing to obey whatever word He would give to His servants, and still no word was given, became “very bewildering” to them. In fact, it became a sore spot” in both of them. “God started it, and He has got to finish it” became their attitude, and with this came a demand for some word from the Lord through one or another of His vessels. Repeatedly they wrote Mrs. Brooks to see if she had not yet received any further word, but she got no word.
At this juncture, the Mitchells and the Leggetts jointly received a letter from a man in the West proposing that they come and take charge of his large ranch for him. A very appealing offer and a most timely one, so it seemed under their present circumstances! Perhaps this was God’s will for them. Perhaps this was why they had had no light before. They said nothing to anyone about the proposition and were just ready to accept it when Mrs. Mitchell received the letter from Mrs. Robinson quoted from at the beginning of this chapter. At just the right moment, the Lord had given Mrs. Robinson the word which would, if followed, result in the solution of their dilemma and in giving them the light of the knowledge of the will of God they were seeking.
To the folks in Zion City, the all-important thing was what they were to do. To God, however, the all-important thing was the making of vessels “meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.” The Almighty Potter wanted them to learn that He knew just what to do and when to do it, that all they had to do was to rest absolutely passive in His hands while He worked. Any anxiety or impatience simply hindered His working as He would. In becoming nervous and fretful, those involved were disobeying the clear command: “In nothing be anxious” (Phil. 4:6 A.R.V.). Therefore, the Lord dealt, first of all, with what He saw to be their real need – their spiritual need – not, as they supposed, their need for direction. That would follow in due time if their attitudes were right. In this connection, the Lord chose to give some teaching about the operation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
“I am going to explain one or two things to Mr. Mitchell,” wrote Mrs. Robinson. “In the first place a message is given by God. It is not by man. You can’t get it just when you please. You have to let God give it when, how, and as He pleases.
“When you begin to demand a message, you get into your own will. When you declare a message has got to be given, not a human being, who is a real channel, can get one.
Now to get a vessel to the place where he becomes a channel, it takes a high abandonment to the will of God. You must give up your own choice, your own will, your own heart, your own plans, and your own opinions.
“Now, then, when Mrs. Brooks was in Zion City, she gave you a message to get off your farm in the spring. To that message she never gave any addition. To the surprise of us all, not one word could either she or I get about the whole matter.
“I will show you something. Somebody said, ‘God started it and has got to finish it.’ It also meant another thing, that if somebody began to order God around, there was going to be a grand crash, or there was going to be a final failure. But nobody understood quite what they were doing.
“When Mr. Mitchell began to fret, he was away ahead of God’s order. It was nowhere near time to get off the farm. There was no hurry, and there was plenty of good time for a good, clear message to go down to Zion City, telling you just exactly the next step.”
Then follows the sentence quoted at the beginning of this chapter: “Our God is not a trifling God. He likes a vessel to get down very low, to be so passive, He has that vessel for use at any moment, it can be anywhere at any moment. It will also be obedient at any moment and will do something else – see its own trouble-making. When Mr. Mitchell began to fret, the Almighty Potter had him in hand, but Mr. Mitchell must look at himself and say, ‘I wobble badly on the wheel.’”
To illustrate what the Lord meant, Mrs. Robinson related in detail the “long story” of how the Lord dealt with Mr. Marlatt when, under similar circumstances, he wanted to know the will of the Lord but was allowed to “die” to his impatience and come into the complete rest of God before the Lord told him what to do.ⁿ
Note: This story has already been related in its chronological position in the preceding chapter of this narrative. It would be well, however, for the reader to re-read it at this point so as to get the full force of the important teaching that was here given regarding the leading of the Holy Ghost and the operations of the gifts of the Spirit.
“Now we cannot explain very much about the predicament you apparently are left in, further than this: you dropped your direct dealing [with the Father] in faith,” Mrs. Robinson continued.
“Then I will tell you this: whatever message God might have given could only be given through channels that were very passive themselves, and when Mrs. Brooks got anxious she got me a little worked up, and I regret to say we are not perfect vessels.
“You know, dear, we are all little vessels. Yet we do the works of the Lord. Our messages are truly His, and those things which He does by our hand are truly His. But we can no more do the things that are beyond our powers than you or Mr. Mitchell can. What I mean is like this: Mrs. Brooks and I both have, for instance, a measure of the gift of wisdom, but we need a larger gift to do larger things. The real lack in both our experiences at the present time is a more decided range of knowledge.
“I do not know whether you understand the difference between wisdom and knowledge. I do not want to take the time in this letter to tell you much about this. Wisdom instructs you what to do, but knowledge tells you how things are going to turn out.
“The gift of knowledge… could tell you how to get a faith home, like this: Go to No. 30 such and such a street. You will find a woman by the name of Jones, and all the details of how to deal with that woman would be given. Then you would be told how much rent to pay, and all the details to the very finest points could be given by a full gift of knowledge.
“The Lord has spoken to me so clearly about you and your husband,” concluded Mrs. Robinson, “and He said to me that Mr. Mitchell is for the vineyard, and that the Lord really had called you years ago to the vineyard, and that it had not been the mind of the Lord at all for you to be bound altogether to housework.
“Can’t you and Mr. Mitchell rise into a large faith that God will put you both in your right place? I will say to you, the awful picture the Lord draws to me of lives born and reared for the vineyard, and changed in the course, is sometimes a most dreadful one. But to my mind, there is no place so bad in that respect as our poor, sidetracked Zion City.”
Now, if there was no direction as to what the Lord wanted them to do after they got off the farm, whether they recognized it at the time or not, there was a suggestion of His plan concealed in time teaching given –His desire for a faith home in Zion City. Evidently the Mitchells and Leggetts acted on the instruction in this letter – to lay this matter down absolutely at the feet of the Lord and to rest passive in His hands for Him to reveal His will when and by whom He willed, for in a few days, on February 19, the Lord gave Mrs. Brooks a letter for the Leggetts in which He unfolded His plan for them. It contained minute instructions for the securing of a house for a faith home there:
“Try to be successful in finding a house with ten rooms… a very satisfactory place for holding meetings… down near the front street, anywhere between 27th and 21st St. and between Elizabeth and Enoch [Avenues].“
In the same letter the Lord indicated those who should reside in the home and the purpose of it. He wanted “a Home that will be open to anyone who can come to stay for any length of time” of His choosing. Further it was stated that the Brookses would leave Toronto for Zion City the first of March to take charge of the new home.
The arrival of these letters could not have been more perfectly timed, for absolutely unknown to those in Toronto, the Leggetts and the Mitchehls were just about ready to mail their acceptance of the proposal to manage the western ranch.
Immediately, however, they “conferred not with flesh and blood but with the Lord, and became convinced in their own hearts that this [word] was the call of God.”
In accordance with the instruction given, a house was secured at 2410 Elisha Avenue, almost the exact center of the limits prescribed by the Lord, just one block from “the front street.”
After the Brookses left for Zion City, the Toronto Faith Home was moved, May 1, 1910, from Surrey Place to a house a few blocks away, located on St. Vincent Street, diagonally across from the Central Presbyterian Church. There the meetings were continued by Mrs. Robinson, assisted by the other ministers who had remained in Toronto.
TO COMFORT THEM THAT MOURN
AS THE SUMMER of 1910 drew on, the Lord indicated that there should be tent meetings in Zion City, and on the first of July Mrs. Robinson arrived to minister in them. God’s purpose was to bring help to many needy souls in “poor, sidetracked Zion City.”
Previous to her coming, a tent had been erected on some vacant lots about a half a block from the home on Elisha Avenue. Miss Eva MacPhail had already arrived about three weeks earlier, and later the Lord led Mr. Campbell to join in this ministerial effort. Then, shortly after Mrs. Robinson’s arrival, the Lord directed that Elder and Mrs. Brooks, together with Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Leggett, were to go to Toronto for about a month. This left the leadership of the campaign with Mrs. Robinson, assisted by the remaining ministers, including Mr. Mitchell who had received a gift of preaching in his recent baptism in the Holy Ghost.
No better description of these tent meetings could be given, perhaps, than this vivid account by Bessie Bolund Pottinger, who attended them as a girl:
“My mother, hungry for God, had gone for a fortnight to attend a camp meeting in Indiana, leaving me for the first time to keep house for Father,” writes Bessie Bolund Pottinger. “One Sunday a school friend came to ask if I would go with her to a tent meeting in progress on Elisha Avenue, ‘for fun.’ ‘They are strange meetings,’ she said, ‘with a number of ministers, both men and women, on the platform who just sit and praise the Lord, sing spontaneously, speak in tongues, and prophesy.’ I was ‘all for it,’ as time was dragging a bit, and agreed to go, if she would help with the dishes.
“It was a long walk for a warm Sunday afternoon, but my friend entertained me on the way, having previously attended the meetings, with stories of their uniqueness. So we arrived, all prepared for a good time, and sat on the end of the very last bench.
“There they sat, these ministers in white, just as described, praising the Lord. We soon forgot to giggle and ‘have fun,’ for God was in the midst of these ‘odd’ people. The end of the service found us weeping at the altar in the sawdust.
“We were so sobered and melted that our conversation en-route home took on a different tone. We exchanged our first impressions of the ministers, describing them by their dress, characteristics, and ministries performed, since we did not yet know them by name. Mrs. Robinson was the ‘little one, who wore a white dress with black velvet bow at the neck and white sailor hat, and talked of Jesus as if she knew Him!’ And she did, as I was soon to learn.
“In those days I was very timid and reserved with strangers and did not find it easy to express myself either privately or publicly, but in my heart of thirteen years I knew her people would be my people, and her God my God, and I would cast my lot within this work of His.
“When Mother returned from her camp meeting, she found me in one, too, every possible opportunity sitting at the feet of Jesus, drinking in His Word as it flowed from lips of clay. Being a good mother, she came with me her first Sunday home to see what I had gotten into, and was satisfied, with me, to call it ‘Home.’
“One of my early recollections of close contact with Mrs. Robinson was being told through her the innermost thoughts and actions of my life, being taught how to seek Jesus for myself, to overcome a strong self-will, which operated mostly at home, until the enemy which was binding me would be himself bound, and I would be set free. Some weeks later, the never-to-be-forgotten moment arrived, when Mrs. Robinson came into a weekday morning seeking meeting, and in the majestic, quiet power of the Holy Spirit laid her hand upon my head and quietly cast out my tormentor. I knew I was loosed and cleansed. But she did not leave me alone to face, in youth and ignorance, the testings that would recur, subsequent to the grooves formed in my nature as a result of habitually seeking my own will.”
Bessie’s testimony goes beyond the time of the tent meetings but shows their further fruit:
“It was at about the age of fifteen, as a result of such help through a vessel wholly given to her Beloved, that all my then-present and future life was fully consecrated to Him. A number of years later I returned to her one day in distress, feeling I had failed Him and was not in the consecration. The help she gave nine then may help someone, who in a similar distress reads this, so I pass it on. ‘Did you consecrate completely?’ she queried.
“‘Yes,’ I replied.
“‘Have you ever taken that consecration back, or changed your mind and don’t want to have “just Jesus” and be all His?’
“‘No, no,’ my heart cried.
“‘Well, then, neither has He. You entered into a contract with Him, which He is able and will keep for and with you!’
“O blessed, wonderful Words of life, flowing from lips and a life all His. Such words flow on to Eternity!”
Not all who attended the tent meetings were children, the curious, or scoffers. Many of the regular attendants were some of the most respected and prominent citizens of the community, cultured, educated, prosperous business people. Among this group were Mr. and Mrs. H. Worthington Judd.
Mr. Judd, it will be remembered, was the gentleman who had actually found the site for Zion City. As Secretary and General Manager of Zion Land and Investment Association, he with his assistants had handled all the property transactions for the city’s thousands of settlers and investors. After the city had been opened, he became its Commissioner of Public Works and a trustee of Zion Lace Factory where Martha Wing Robinson had served as secretary to the manager. In addition, he had been the conductor of Zion’s famous, white-robed choir of about five hundred voices, in which Mrs. Robinson had regularly sung. All in all, he was one of Dr. Dowie’s main helpers and was recognized as a man of culture and of unusual musical and business ability.
Anyone so deeply involved in both the religious and the economic life and government of the city as he could not but be deeply affected by the tragic failure, spiritual and financial, which had befallen church and city. Faithful to God, he determined to seek and to find spiritual satisfaction in spite of all that had happened. In this spirit he came to the tent meetings, and his hungry soul was fed with the bread and water of life.
Naturally he desired his beloved wife to share his blessing and so invited her to the meetings. At first she refused as she was not interested, for she was not born again, nor was she particularly interested in things spiritual, especially in anything which many considered fanatical. A capable teacher and a successful businesswoman in her own right, for some years now she had conducted “Mrs. Judd’s School of Shorthand” in both Zion and Waukegan. Her business career and her family life were her all in all.
At length, however, Mr. Judd persuaded her to attend one of the tent services. In the first meeting she felt the power of God and consequently was willing to return with her husband for a Sunday morning service. During this meeting there was a rather prolonged period of silent worship during which Mrs. Robinson and the other ministers sat perfectly still, lost in love and worship, as God poured out His Spirit and brought the entire congregation into silence, very much like a waiting time among the Quakers of old. To energetic Mrs. Judd, who for years had made it her business to utilize every waking moment with profitable activity, such inactivity was a shameful waste of time, useless and senseless.
When Mrs. Robinson greeted the departing worshippers at the close of the service, Mrs. Judd could not but make some remark about the ability and willingness of the ministers to be so still for so long a time as they had. To this Mrs. Robinson replied, “Oh, we platform workers would sit perfectly still for an hour if God didn’t move us to speak or do something.”
Mrs. Judd continued to attend the services from time to time, still not too interested and primarily to please her husband. God’s Spirit, however, was drawing her to Christ. Some months later she was gloriously born again. Now she enjoyed the meetings for the most part and appreciated the ministry. Some things greatly troubled her, however – especially the periodic times of silent worship. A “know-it-all business person,” so she described herself at that time, she “felt very puzzled and doubtful about the silent times in the meetings.” She later testified, “I admired these people immensely and knew how very spiritual they were, but it was puzzling that they didn’t know the thing which I had known for many years, namely, that we should never waste a minute.
“One night, when I was on my way out of the evening meeting, as I reached for my coat, I heard a woman who was a regular attendant at the meetings say to Mrs. Robinson, ‘Now, Mrs. F— says that she would come to the meetings, but she cannot stand the silent times.’ That gave me my opportunity. I immediately called out to both of them, ‘Well, the fact is, it’s all we can do to stand them ourselves.’
“In stern, almost stentorian tones the Lord spoke through Mrs. Robinson: ‘Mrs. Judd, how do you dare speak that way about the greatest thing done in our meetings?’ As I was ambitious, I thought I ought to investigate the greatest thing the Lord did in the meetings. Evidently, it was not just a waste of time. God greatly blessed me in my investigating.”
Two or three years later the Holy Spirit called Mrs. Judd to be one of the ministers or vessels of the work, and then she gave up her schools. Mr. Judd, who continued his real estate and insurance business, became the work’s minister of music, playing the organ for the services, and enriching them with his full tenor solos, arranging other special numbers, and training the young people of the work as faithfully and professionally as he had his choir of five hundred.
Another earnest seeker after the Lord in these tent meetings was a refined colored woman, Ursie Naylor (Mrs. A. W.), a graduate of Wilberforce University. When God filled her with His Spirit, she spoke in other tongues in a foreign language unknown to herself but perfectly intelligible to someone in the audience.
In after-days the Lord bestowed various spiritual gifts upon this handmaiden of His, and she became one of Mrs. Robinson’s most valued associates in the work of the Lord. Of majestic bearing, she had the authority of God and was used to help many. “We accepted her as one of us,” remarked Mrs. Robinson’s first associate worker. “She was superior to the rest of us. God did more for her than for the rest of us.” Mrs. Robinson once said, so this same minister further recalled, that God was going to do more for the black people in these last days than for the white because they had been such a despised race. A true Christian, who truly believed that God had made of one blood all nations, Mrs. Robinson had no color prejudice.
Many of those who attended the tent meetings had never recovered from the discouragement and bitterness of soul they had suffered several years before from the financial and spiritual failure that had taken place in the city. By brooding over their sorrows and disappointments, they had sunk deeper into the Slough of Despond. The Good Shepherd was after these scattered and wounded sheep. Out of her own experiences Mrs. Robinson was able to help them back. Through her the Holy Spirit taught them to look away from their troubles and trials and to turn their eyes upon Jesus. Of inestimable value to such was the teaching to praise the Lord, audibly and at length, and thereby obey the scriptural injunctions, “Rejoice in the Lord always. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
“You can break through any cloud, you can dig through any stone, you can break through any darkness the devil can put over you, if you will praise the Lord.
“You do not know what would happen to you if you would from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment, praise the Lord. It would eclipse all that you have ever known. You would always see Him.
“There would come into your being a marvelous change, delights in His own way and His desires instead of the desires of the natural man, reveling in His presence – blessing and praising and magnifying His holy name. The highest form of service we can render to God is to worship and praise Him continually.”
As the hearers obeyed these admonitions, their gloom and discouragement were dispelled. They were brought out of darkness into the sunshine of His love and the clear daylight of his presence. Many in the city recalled in after-years, with deepest and everlasting thanksgiving, the way in which the Lord dug them out of their horrible pit and established their goings as the result of the teaching on praise which they had received from His servant.
Among the regular attendants were a number of ministers who were living in Zion City. Some of these had been greatly called and used of God in former days, but had either given up all thought of service or were marking time, waiting for doors to open. A number of such were restored and returned to their labors for God.
If these tent meetings were primarily for the edification of believers, laymen, and ministers, the unsaved were by no means neglected. Many of the earnest Christians who attended the services had unsaved children. One day the Lord had Mrs. Robinson speak to four parents about their respective oldest daughters – Lucia, Maud, Helen, and Katherine – who were either unsaved or just beginning to turn to the Lord. The Lord, speaking by His vessel, said to these parents that He desired to use their girls in His vineyard and that they should pray that they would be saved and prepared for His service.
Eventually, all except one became Christian workers. Lucia went to Africa, where she labored for many years, finally laying down her life in martyrdom at the hand of communist-inspired natives. How the Lord used Helen and Katherine in His harvest field will be seen later in this narrative. Thinking of the one girl who did not get into the work of the Lord, Mrs. Robinson once commented, sadly, that something went wrong whereby she failed to enter in.
As September advanced, the time came for the tent meetings to close, and the Lord indicated that Mrs. Robinson was to return to Toronto on Monday, September 26, accompanied by her two traveling companions. The day appointed for departure came, but there was not enough money for the fares. The very hour came to leave the house for the train! Still Mrs. Robinson and her friends did not have their fares! The luggage had been packed, however, and was on the porch ready to be taken to the station. All was in readiness for the journey, save for those last-minute things which must be done. God had proved His word too many times for Mrs. Robinson to doubt that He would provide the money in time, and so she was calmly preparing to leave as she had been directed.
Then there was a knock at the door. Alexander Taylor had come directly from his labor in the coal yard a few blocks away. A virtual stranger to Mrs. Robinson and the others, he had attended perhaps two of the tent meetings. Just incidentally he had heard that two or three of the ministers were going to Canada, but as it was none of his business, he did not pay any attention to it and did not know that this was the day they were to leave. Before going to work that day, however, as he prayed, the Lord dealt with this thrifty Englishman to take along with him some of the money he had carefully stored away. As the morning progressed, he had been so deeply impressed that he should give it to Mrs. Robinson that he left his work and made his way to the home on Elisha Avenue.
“I want to see Mrs. Robinson,” Mr. Taylor told the person who answered his knock.
“Oh, she’s busy packing up.”
Mr. Taylor waited for a time until Mrs. Robinson could come down. Shaking hands within her caller she asked him what he wanted.
“How do you people live?”
“We live by faith.”
Mr. Taylor did not understand that answer and thought he had better “come down to brass tacks.”
“Have you got your fare for where you’re going?” he abruptly asked, coming directly to the point.
“Well, no, we’ve just got a few dollars.”
Then he pulled out a handful of bills and gave them to her – enough for the fares! In a few minutes the household was gathered together for prayer and then left for the depot.
Mr. Taylor accompanied the group, as it was in the direction of his work anyway. While the train was pulling into the station, he was impressed to give Mrs. Robinson more money, and as she was just about to step onto the steps of the car, he pressed a substantial bill into her hand.
So the Lord supplied, not only the fares, but something to go on – just in time.
How perfectly the Lord had timed the closing of Mrs. Robinson’s ministry in Zion may be seen from the following event. Two days after Mrs. Robinson had left, a court injunction was secured and issued “to cease the use and occupancy” of the lots on which the tent was. The Lord had restrained the wrath of man, however, until His work had been accomplished and His servant had fulfilled her God-given mission.
UNDER THE ANOINTING
MRS. ROBINSON DID NOT return to Zion City until June, 1911. In the meantime she had ministered in Toronto and continued with her prayer and her ministry of intercession in behalf of others whom the Lord chose to help thereby. From time to time this call became so pressing that the Lord caused her to retire from public ministry altogether just to give herself to prayer. The conduct of the meetings and of the Home was then left to her associates. The victories which resulted from these protracted seasons of tarrying were unspeakably great and beneficial both to herself and to others. In May, before going to Zion City, the Lord led the Robinsons to visit his mother in Montreal. After their departure the work in Toronto was closed and moved to Zion City.
Meanwhile, some marked changes had taken place in the work in Zion City. A much larger, more commodious place for living and holding meetings, located on Emmaus Avenue, was rented in November. As the work grew, there was need for still another house, and in the spring of 1911, one of the finest frame residences in the entire city, at 2820 Eshcol Avenue, was rented and furnished under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It was in this house that Mr. and Mrs. Robinson took up their abode when they came in June. During the summer the tent was again erected, this time on the vacant lots directly across from the Eshcol Avenue Home. Services were held in it until a vehement, ripping wind, with one fell swoop, laid the tent flat on the ground – to the great rejoicing of the enemies of the work. Forthwith, the meetings were transferred and thereafter held in the Eshcol Home, where the large downstairs rooms were so arranged as to afford accommodations for large audiences.
All the while, the work continued to grow with more and more visitors coming to receive the benefit of the teaching given. This fact, together with the moving of the personnel of the Toronto home to Zion City, necessitated additional living quarters. These were found in a house at 2710 [now 2736] Enoch Avenue which was rented in August, 1911.
Shortly after the Enoch Home was opened, the first wedding of the work took place. On August 30, Mrs. Robinson’s first associate minister, Eva MacPhail, was married to William Leggett, oldest brother of Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Mitchell, with Mrs. Robinson as matron of honor.
Mrs. Robinson’s joy over the bride’s happiness was somewhat dimmed by a dark shadow which had just fallen upon her own pathway. As she extended her best wishes to the bride, therefore, she cried, not because of the marriage, she hastened to reassure Mrs. Leggett, but because her own beloved husband was not present. A few days before, in one of his recurrent moods of discouragement and depression, Mr. Robinson had suddenly gone to Montreal.
Within the coming of Mrs. Robinson to Zion City in 1911, and with the opening of the third home soon after, the work assumed the outward form which; with minor changes and variations, it was to bear throughout the remainder of her life. It is outside the scope of this narrative to give a complete history of this work as such, but only those details as may be necessary to understand better the setting in which Mrs. Robinson lived and ministered for the remaining twenty-five years of her life.
The three homes, each one of which maintained its own family life under the supervision of a ministerial couple, were under one administration which came to be known as the Faith Homes. The fact is, the work never had an official name. Nor did it have any formal organization as that term is generally used, for there were no officers such as president and secretary, etc. The affairs of the Homes were conducted by the entire group of ministers waiting upon the Lord for His direction and decision regarding every thing which pertained to them. It was a “spiritual arrangement,” made by the Lord Himself, whereby He, and no man or woman, was in reality the Head. This method proved a stronger bond for fellowship and basis of operation than any human organization with its constitution, by-laws, and elected or appointed officers. In this respect, the government of the Faith homes was indeed unique.
Now if the government of the Faith Homes was unique, the way in which they were advertised and were supported was equally unique. It may be remembered that when regular meetings were to be started in Toronto in 1909, the Lord had indicated that the ministers were not to advertise them but to let the Lord send whom He would. What might seem to have been a temporary injunction turned out to be permanent policy.
With the single exception of the printing and distribution of handbills announcing the first tent meetings in Zion City, no cards or announcements of the services were printed or sent out. Throughout Mrs. Robinson’s life no letters were sent out in behalf of the Homes, nor was any paper or report of the work published. Furthermore, there was not so much as a nameplate above the doorbell, much less a sign to indicate the location or even the existence of the work. (How could there be when it had no official name?)
In spite of this absence of even the simplest of advertising, people from all over the world found their way to these unmarked, simple homes in a small, mid–western city. Through the years the Faith Homes entertained literally thousands of guests, laymen as well as ministers, of almost every nationality of the civilized world, people of different races and of various denominations. One visitor told another of the milk and of the honey and of the wine made from the “grapes of Eshcol.” Thus the work was advertised by its fruits, and others came to taste and to see for themselves. The result was a cosmopolitan crowd – white and black, rich and poor, educated and uneducated – but all united in one common purpose, to know Jesus better.
Some of the visitors attended one of the services held three times daily (except Saturday) and then returned to their own homes. Others stayed for a meal or overnight, perhaps for two or three days or for a weekend. Still others remained for a week or more. Anyone was welcome to stay as a guest for two weeks. If anyone desired to stay beyond that time, the ministers inquired of the Lord if it was His will. If the Lord indicated that it was, the visitor was then expected, with rare exceptions, to share in the performance of the household duties in one or another of the three Homes. There were a number of people who remained in the Homes for longer or shorter periods of time, as the Lord led. Some of these were in training, as students, for Christian work. Altogether, the residents and guests of the three Homes numbered, on an average, about fifty. These were served from a common treasury by a common buyer.
But where did the money come from for the support of the ministers and residents of the Faith Homes?
Neither Mrs. Robinson nor any of the other ministers had any financial resources upon which to draw. Nor did anyone underwrite the expenses. No offerings were taken in any of the meetings except on the first Sunday of the month – and those went to foreign missions. Nor was a single resident or guest charged or asked to contribute so much as a single penny toward his room and board. Nor did any of the ministers or workers hint about the needs of the work – much less solicit anything from anybody privately or publicly.
Just how, then, were the food, fuel, light, and rent for the three homes supplied?
By the Father in Heaven. The Homes were His homes, and those who lived there were His children. He knew what was needed and guaranteed to supply every need in response to the faith of Mrs. Robinson and her associates. Often money and supplies came from the most unexpected sources, but He never failed.
Equally miraculous to the way in which God supplied the material needs of this large family was the way in which He regulated the flow of visitors, quite a number of whom arrived without any advance notice whatsoever. With the rarest of exceptions, however, all who came were able to be accommodated. How often did guests vacate their rooms only to have them filled within an hour or so by other guests who unexpectedly arrived! Only God Himself by His own outstretched hand could have so controlled the comings and goings of such a number of people, for, upon a little consideration, it is evident that only confusion and chaos could arise out of such a setup as this under any other circumstances.
To grasp the purpose of the Faith Homes, one must realize that they were born out of the experience which Mrs. Robinson had in 1907 after she had “cried to God” to let her get to the place where she would never, never have to do anything her way, but that Christ would live out His own life within her. As a result of this intercession and her complete obedience to the commands of Christ, He fully revealed Himself to her according to John 14:21 and 23. And now the thing which God desired to do in the Faith Homes as a group was what He had done in her individually – have His complete way about everything, down to the smallest detail of the home’s life – planning the menus, assigning people to certain rooms and to various household duties, etc.
To do this required a group of people who passionately wanted to please Jesus in everything and who were also consecrated to let Him have His entire way within them, no matter how that way might go counter to their own natural ways and desires. This course persisted in and can result in nothing else than the utter crucifixion of one’s flesh and the manifestation of Christ alone. And that was what God was after. Consequently, the Lord opened the Faith Homes as a place where those whom He brought there might be taught that “the call of God to every soul, whether a preacher, a teacher, or a secular worker, [is] to know Jesus better every day by obedience to His Word;” that one must know not only the letter of the ‘Word’ but pray it into the life; that the Bible must be lived, the commands of Jesus can and must be obeyed.”
The Word of God definitely states that the enemy is wroth with those “which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it is to be expected that any individual or group which purposes to do the will of God will be strongly opposed by him. Furthermore, those who sincerely want to live this way meet with a struggle in their natures, for the flesh warreth against the Spirit, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that people cannot do the things they would.
There are many lessons to be learned in the process. It is so easy to lean to one’s own understanding. It is difficult to realize that even one’s good, religious thoughts are not always God’s thoughts, nor one’s good ways, God’s ways. It is not always easy to wait until God reveals His will. The natural man is in such a hurry. Truly, to live an utterly committed life requires not only deep consecration, humility, and self-denial, but also patience and faith.
If this is true of an individual, how much more so of a group of people, all of them strong characters, extreme individuals, with a wide divergence of temperaments, ideas, and manners. Add to these traits the difference in spiritual experience, lights, and comprehension of the will of God. Only the grace and wisdom of God could bring harmony and victory out of such circumstances.
Perfection in the execution of God’s plan for the Faith Homes was never claimed, and the imperfections and failures incident to the endeavor were humbly acknowledged by the ministers. And no one was more painfully aware or sorrowed more over these than Mrs. Robinson, who more than anyone else realized what it meant that in all things Christ should have the pre-eminence. Yet, in spite of all the opposition and failure, they did better than anyone gave them credit for and approximated God’s desire more than most people think is possible to do here on earth.
Moreover, God undertook to give them special help for the accomplishment of His purposes. To do this in them personally and in the Homes as a whole, He taught them “to take a little time each day praying and praising about this – that Jesus Christ is this day being revealed, and to be revealed in and to you, and that this very day you will know Jesus better and have a closer relation to Jesus.” Daily each one was to claim that Jesus Himself, the glorified Christ, would manifest and show forth Himself, setting things to rights, stopping mouths, supplying needs, bringing about results. “Ask God to give you the light, faith, and grasp that whatever is done here will be done by the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And as people did this, He kept His covenant with them and did exceeding abundantly above all that anyone would ask or even think. A holy anointing continually rested upon the work and the workers because Christ, the Anointed One, was recognized as in the midst.
EARLY IN THE history of the Faith Homes, the Lord gave Mrs. Robinson a message by the word of wisdom entitled, “Inwardness.” Prepared originally for the benefit of the Faith Home ministers or vessels, as they were usually called, a slightly altered version was later issued for the use of the layman.
The purpose of this teaching was to show the all-importance of abiding in Christ and how to live in constant communion with the Lord. In addition, it contained a most solemn and pertinent warning, especially for the vessels, not to become occupied with the blessings of God, particularly with the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit, instead of with their Giver, not to consider the power of God more important than maintaining the presence of the Lord in one’s life. This instruction the Lord considered to contain the basic principles of a successful Christian life and ministry and directed that Mrs. Robinson give a copy to each of the vessels so that they might have it in permanent form to refer to and to pray over from time to time:
When Jesus first sets vessels to love Him, He wants them to see Him all the time, every moment, and if they are very much in earnest, they live that way – moment by moment.
Note: In the revised version referred to, the word “souls” was substituted for “vessels.”
In the beginning of such experience, most of the time they pray, praise, wait on God, commune, and often, if at work, see Jesus in the soul.
If they grow in this experience and become vessels of God for His use, they begin to seek more for Him, and He comes more to them, for He does to all who seek Him from the heart.
Also, He begins to draw their thoughts all the time – every moment – to Himself, causing them to find Him within. This is the beginning of the inward or deeper life.
As soon as this change takes place, He then teaches, if He can make them to get it, either by teachers or by their light, how to “practice the presence of God” – that is, to keep the mind stayed on Jesus – each wandering thought, act, word or feeling being recalled (i.e., called back) by the will of the vessel in the love of God.
However, this takes care. Often the mind lingers over a subject not of God. Turn the mind back to God. Words come not appointed by Him. Check such words at once, as soon as remembered. Look within and tell Jesus He rules, you will act, think, and speak as He would, and He will look after you to help you to be like that.
Also, you need to watch and pray to be in God, wait in God, etc. To so live for a time makes the inward change to abide in anyone who will go down to thus live; but if you keep to this lowliness, rest, and faith to be all the time in God so, then the voluntary act of dwelling in God, seeing God, thinking of God, and keeping in is done altogether by the Holy Ghost, which is the true inwardness called for in every Christian.
Then follows the warning of local application in particular, though the underlying principles are equally relevant to all ministers:
“Power work, control, speaking in the gift of wisdom, any of the gifts are all great blessings appointed for such as God wills.
Note: The term, “power work,” was of local origin and usage, referring to the way in which the vessels ministered in and by the power of God controlling them.
But to make them important, and inwardness (presence and communion of the Lord) secondary is to lose all, as no power vessel, getting outward, can stay a real power vessel… without keeping inward.”
The use in quotation marks of the phrase, “practice the presence of God,” in this article is significant, for it indicates Mrs. Robinson’s acquaintance with one of the great classics, ‘The Practice of the Presence of God,’ by Brother Lawrence. This little book, so Mrs. Robinson taught, contains special blessing for the reader, for, if read prayerfully, it puts into him more ability to do just what the title suggests – practice the presence of God. Therefore, she recommended it highly and circulated it widely.
Another treatise of like import which Mrs. Robinson read most carefully and recommended to others was ‘The Imitation of Christ.’ Few pages of her own copy are unmarked while some of them bear copious markings. And on one page is the shorthand note which says, “Don’t forget.” This is made in connection with the chapter headed by the words, “That God is precious above all Things, and in all Things, to him that loveth Him.” The opening sentence of this chapter is set off by Mrs. Robinson’s own characteristic markings: “Behold! My God, and my All! What would I more, and what greater happiness can I desire?”
All in all, the passages which Mrs. Robinson marked throughout this book, taken together, would form an excellent and rather complete summary of her practice and teaching. She believed that part of the book, at least, was definitely inspired by the Holy Spirit, written in a form of the gift of prophecy. This being so, it readily accounts for the fact that a large part of the book is written in the first person as though Christ Himself was speaking.
In connection with the subject of ‘Inwardness’ some remarks which Mrs. Robinson wrote to a friend during these years merit consideration: “I feel my over-busy life can not fulfill, unless I myself can let God lead more completely on the prayer side. I get so puzzled how to carry on all the work I have before me, and hide in Jesus with an unbroken prayer life.”
“My over-busy life” can well be understood when one remembers that there were three meetings daily (except Saturday) in the Faith Homes. It is true that Mrs. Robinson did not attend all of these every day, but she did attend many of them, preaching and teaching in them. In addition to this public ministry, however, there were administrative duties incident to the ministry and operation of the Homes.
Furthermore, many of the visitors were in great need of help, physical or spiritual, and these often necessitated much personal teaching. This combined load was so great that, on occasion, if there was the need and the Lord wanted her to, she would work right through for forty-eight hours at one stretch with neither sleep nor food, sustained by the life of God, Himself. This gives some idea of the extent of her unceasing labors – her “over-busy life.”
COMINGS AND GOINGS
COME AS SOON as you can,” Mr. Robinson wrote his wife in a letter from Montreal, March 3, 1913. “I am enclosing fifty dollars, and I want you to buy in Chicago any article of dress you may need, and you may have other needs besides clothing.
“Before leaving Zion City, please… buy some good thing for Gordon. He would like some sweet meats, and he can give some to his mother and his grandma, and bring a box of mixed caramels and a box of chocolates and bon bons for poor mother and poor me… Please don’t forget this.”
Prior to this, the receipt of this letter, the Lord had made Mrs. Robinson know that it was His desire for her to go to Montreal, and this warm welcome confirmed the direction which she had been given. The Gordon to whom Mr. Robinson referred was, of course, his wife’s nephew, the son of her beloved sister, Nettie, who had joined the Faith Home family the previous year. And now Mrs. Wing, their mother, had taken up her residence with them in the Homes. Once again those who had been so closely united in former years were brought together. Gordon and Uncle Harry always loved each other very much. Hence, the special thought of his nephew and the provision for the “sweet meats” for the boy who was not quite thirteen.
“I found one woman here who has received her Pentecost, Mr. Robinson wrote in the same letter, “and she is very anxious to get a little meeting in her home or in some place where hungry seekers can assemble to wait upon God. There are quite a few here in the city who are praying that such a meeting be started.”
Two weeks later, on March 17, Mrs. Robinson left for Montreal. During her absence she kept close contact with the work by means of daily reports from one or more of the ministers in Zion. In turn she wrote, as directed of the Lord, for their help and guidance in the affairs of the Homes. In addition to this, she often solicited their prayers in behalf of needy souls and situations which the Lord brought her into contact with.
“Mrs. R.” or simply “R” was the way she signed many of these letters and notes addressed to her co-workers, and the way in which they generally referred to her among themselves. Inasmuch as this was her characteristic designation, especially in her latter years, this form of reference will be used for the most part in the remainder of this narrative.
After three months in Montreal, Mrs. R. left on June 19 for a visit in Toronto. There she ministered to the various members of the Toronto congregation – Professor and Mrs. Toews, the Marlatts, the McConnells, and others. In July she accompanied friends to Lake Muskoka near Bracebridge before returning to Montreal in the early part of August. Some time after the middle of September the Robinsons left for Zion City, going to the Enoch Home where Mrs. R. had moved the previous November.
One of the outstanding things about Mr. Robinson was his love of music which is reflected in his excellent collection of gospel hymns. One of his favorite songs was “I’m Living on the Hallelujah Side.” And when Mr. Robinson was “living on the Hallelujah Side,” he had great ability to bring others over onto the same side. When, for example, he raised his long arms in praise in a meeting, the glory of God would fall over the entire congregation. His preaching, too, at such times was in the glory of God.
Vivid glimpses into Mrs. R’s family life as well as her ministry are found in a lengthy letter to her mother when Mrs. Wing was visiting Ada and her family in Iowa in the late spring of 1914.
“After several unsuccessful attempts to write you,” so Martha began her letter of June 11 to her mother, “having begun but not finished, I try again and am determined to get it off this time. After you went away, I intended to surprise you with my letter-writing attentions, but this kind of intentions with me never seems to carry.
“I had the privilege of reading the letter you wrote Nettie and also the one from Freddie [Ada’s son]. He writes a very nice letter. We are all well here. God is blessing, as usual. Would write about various things but will hardly have time, and will let it go till you return. Then I suppose you will hear some of the doings, about meetings, etc. Perhaps Nettie will do better than I and tell you more.
“I suppose you are having a beautiful time, and I wish Nettie and I and Gordon could be there, too. However, even if the door were open other ways, I am afraid I could not manage it because of the work. The little visit to Wheaton and to Chicago crowded me so I am still running to catch up.
“Did you know I went to the Chicago Convention at the Stone Churchⁿ the week after you left, after being in Wheaton the week before? Harry went in and then sent for me, though I did not think I could manage to go, but I did for two or three days, and we had a real nice time. The meetings were nice and... I was blessed and enjoyed the change. I’m afraid I haven’t time to tell you much about it, though would if I could, as you are interested in the Stone Church. There are two or three incidents that just at this minute come to my mind.
Note: The Stone Church was an independent Pentecostal Church whose first pastor had been one of Dr. Dowie’s leading associate ministers. Mrs. Wing probably made this church her church home while she lived in Chicago.
“One is that the best thing I got there was a private talk Harry and I had with Fred Bosworth. He visited with us for quite awhile one day and told us of the wonderful work still going on in Texas, how souls are being won, and how that intercession (soul travail) has continued with wonderful results, also [of] many interesting healings, baptisms, etc.
“I remember now the man who was born blind and [was] healed on the platform while we were there.
“Someone said [that on the] Sunday after Harry and I left, a missionary offering of $2,700.00 was taken up in a few minutes in one meeting.
“That reminds me that Harry was there when they, also in a few minutes, got the offering of $1,500.00 for a large tent which Mr. Ericson is now holding meetings in for evangelistic work in connection with the Stone Church. It seats 2,000 people. Harry went back the next week for a few days to see these meetings. They are successful so far. Mr. Ericson is a very fine evangelist, they say. He worked with Fred Bosworth in Dallas. Mr. Bosworth told us something about his, Mr. E’s, conversion, that he was at one time a regular tough, – I think has been in prison, etc., do not now remember details – but he has surely found the Lord.
“I might add another incident of the trip. Mr. and Mrs. Marlatt were in the same week and stayed at the same rooming house with Harry and me, and one morning, early before six, we went together to Jackson Park, taking our breakfast, returning in time for the ten o’clock meeting.
Note: The Marlatts were at this time making an extended visit in Zion City.
“Gordon had a piece of a picnic yesterday. Harry took him and Lehrⁿ down to the lake, that is, at Beach, and had an all-day bathing, etc., and came back by train, They had a pretty good time. Harry is red as a beet and pretty tired out today— don’t know how the boys got along, but Harry says they seemed to match him in the walking. He thought it would be nice to take the boys out for a treat.
Note: Lehr Kennedy, oldest son of Rev. Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Kennedy, missionaries to China, who were residing in Zion.
“There is a picnic [for] the children today in Shiloh Park which I suppose the boys will go to also. If they are as stiff as Harry [I] think it will be hard work. However, boys are at it all the time; it takes grown-up people to feel a picnic. Harry is such a good walker usually, they must have just done all they could [to keep up with him].
“I was thinking now how we used, sometimes when we were children, to walk three miles down to the Kline Woods with our dinners, work ever so hard walking through the woods, but what delicate children we would be with any housework in sight to do. So I suppose the boys were more able to do that than if we had set them to hoeing or something of that kind.
“When I started to write this, I got such a sudden sight of Ada and me, real little girls – not just imaginary ones, – and for a minute or two I forgot we were grown up and thought about ‘Ada.’ Now she is Mrs. Stevenson – yes, and she is Mrs. Stevenson that sings. I’d like to hear that! I’m not making fun. I got such an interesting sight of ‘Ada and Mattie’ I had to write about it. I don’t think Ada knows me very well now. Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Robinson are not very well acquainted, but I guess if Ada and Mattie got together, they would…
“How would you like, on your return, to stay over here at Enoch Home and be with this troublesome daughter a while again? We may be making some changes in the arrangement of the Home before long, and if agreeable to you that may be one of them. We find the people usually like to be at Enoch Home and don’t much care to leave, though, of course, if they know the Lord would have them live in the other homes, I suppose, then it’s all right…
“I said I did not have time to write about [the] work, but will say God is working and leading us a good deal deeper now, on account of the way He has been working lately, than He was in the early spring. We are having lovely meetings, abundant in the glory of God, and every one is feeling the presence of the Lord more, so much so, there is a real marked change already, and I know the Lord will do more. Then there is another thing, everyone around the place, no matter how busy they are, I find really wants to be in prayer, and God seems to be just intervening to make everyone better prayers.
“I wonder if you are remembering what we got in wisdom about your being sure to take time to pray at least one hour every day. I remember how urgently the Lord laid it on you to let all other things go, if you had to, to be sure to put in that hour. I do not want to urge it upon you myself, of course, nor maybe do I need to, or possibly you are doing even better and taking more than that time; but I remember the Lord advised you, unless you had the most unusual circumstances, to be real particular for the Word of God and for prayer…
“I remember how also the Lord gave it to you how that your tendency would be to get pretty busy over the home and you were to just let yourself be a visitor – to give others the oversight and you rest in God, and be useful in the way that would be most useful to those you were with. I am taking time to go back over it now, and hope you will do the same…
“Well, this letter is now at a finish, and although it has met enough interruptions, I am really apparently going to carry out my determination to get it off this time. How I would like to see you both, and be with my young man nephew, Clarence, a little while, and see Fred again! You store up all you can to tell me when you get here, and I will try to find the time to listen (really, not maybe), as I want to get a picture of Ada in her home. I would like also to hear about Aunt Em, Aunt Nettie, Aunt Carrie, Ray, Elmer, Uncle Hiram, Nellie and Herman, all the children, and, oh, every one you can think of…
“I must not write anymore except this, I do not know how you are fixed for your fare home. I did not add up afterwards what your expenses might be. I do not suppose you have quite enough, and you know the Lord can find it for you. I will send it on after I find how you are fixed – the Lord always gives it when we need it… I do want you to have a nice time, good rest and change and enjoy yourself, and be back here at the time you feel like it, not spoiling your pleasure by cutting your visit off before you want to, but otherwise we are wanting to see you and will be glad when you get back, and know the Lord will bless you when you come.
“Tell Ada how we love her, and what we are doing, and how we often long to hear from her. And now I will have to shut right off... In love and a hurry, Martha.”
From the last paragraphs of this letter one sees how Mrs. R. fulfilled the promise she made to her mother at the time of her healing when her mother had helped her financially. From henceforth Mrs. R. undertook her complete support.
The seemingly casual reference made to the Robinsons’ visit to Wheaton is in reality very important, although in all probability even Mrs. R. did not realize the full consequences of it at the time. The Robinsons had been invited to Wheaton, Illinois, by Miss Edith L. Chadwick, a devout and educated woman of the town who had attended at Wheaton College. Hungry for God, this woman had opened her home for some meetings so that others in Wheaton might have opportunity to know “the way of God more perfectly.” God never leads His servants to minister aimlessly, and there were some choice people in Wheaton whom He was after.
One of these was a very gracious Swedish lady, Miss Hilda Nilsson. She and a friend had been invited to attend a prayer meeting to be held in Miss Chadwick’s home, but she was informed that the people from Zion were fanatical. As an illustration of this, she was told that when they wanted to buy a cow, they prayed about it, that the Lord would direct them in their purchase. Miss Nilsson, who had had a rather unusual walk with the Lord for many years, was not at all surprised at this. Instead, she surprised her informant by saying, “Why, I pray about such things!” Still, Miss Nilsson was wary, for she had not met “these people.”
Early in the morning of the day when she was to go to the prayer meeting, Miss Nilsson recalls, “I opened my Bible to Acts 10, and my eyes fell on these words in verse 20: ‘Go with them doubting nothing, for I have sent them.’ As I was reading this, the Lord spoke the words, ‘Zion City,’ into my soul. I said to the Lord, ‘They are fanatical.’”
At the meeting later in the day, a number of women led out in prayer. At length one woman, dressed in white, prayed, and Miss Nilsson asked herself, “Who is that? I have never heard anyone pray like that!” And then this woman – Mrs. R. – a total stranger to her, came and laid hands on her head and invited her to come to Zion City. Having been prepared by the words the Lord, Himself, had spoken in her own soul, she knew that this was none other than the call of God.
Immediately Miss Nilsson took steps to obey the word of the Lord and came to Zion on the fourth of June. (About the same time Miss Chadwick came to reside permanently in the Homes and later became one of the Bible teachers of the work.) Thus by this visit Miss Nilsson and Mrs. R. were brought into a friendship which was to ripen with the years. For the next six years Miss Nilsson took her place as one of the workers in the Homes. A truly chosen vessel, she then became Mrs. Robinson’s faithful co-worker and minister in the Homes, and for the remaining years of Mrs. R’s life was her closest and almost constant companion.
CONCERN FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
LET YOUR CONCERN be over individuals – not meetings nor a work,” Mrs. R. counseled some young ministers. “Be concerned that that soul might not be saved, or that soul might not know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
If Mrs. R. thus admonished, she first practiced what she preached. Like the Apostle Paul, she labored to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Consequently, she was intensely interested in the individual – man, woman, or child – and, as has already been suggested, a large part of her ministry was personal.
“Many people besieged this little woman with requests for interviews and advice – just to mention a fraction of her pre-occupations,” says Ruth Brooks, “but in it all, she showed a loving concern for each one. Some of them, we would quickly have written off our books. One of these, an eccentric of the first magnitude, was mentioned to Mrs. Robinson in a manner unmistakably unflattering. Her response to the criticism was to the effect that this one, whom God loved, also loved Him more than many others who were more prepossessing outwardly. It was this kind of person, likely to be ignored, whom Mrs. Robinson took special care to notice and befriend.”
Again, on occasion, the Lord would lead Mrs. R. to speak to some about their spiritual condition without their having asked for specific help, and thereby reveal to them both their need and the way out of their difficulties. When appealed to, Mrs. R. did not forthwith take up a case, but would turn the request over to the Lord to see what He would have her do about it. Sometimes she might state, as she did at one time, “I wouldn’t want to take this matter up unless the Lord did, but perhaps He will have me do so sometime.” So she would await the Lord’s pleasure in each case. Perhaps He would have her consider it at once, or, as in the instance just cited, not until over four months later. Or maybe the Lord would not take up the question at all or have her refer the individual to someone else whom He indicated should handle the particular problem.
In any case, Mrs. R. never presumed to give her own judgment or what she might consider good advice “in the natural.” Long since she had learned that her thoughts were not necessarily God’s thoughts nor her ways His ways, that to advise according to one’s own understanding is not only dangerous but often or usually erroneous and hence wrong and fraught with possible disastrous consequences. Therefore, she refused to give counsel unless she was absolutely certain that it was of the Lord, waiting upon Him to teach her exactly what He wanted her to say or advise.
Sometimes such teaching, when given, might be in public or again it might be in her office or “teaching room,” as it was called. Again the Lord might make her to know His will in writing and give her a letter for the person in need. In this way, the person would have it in permanent form so that he could meditate and pray over it more readily and so get the full benefit of the teaching.
An excellent example of one of these teaching letters is one “received July 18, 1914,” by a businessman who had been well known throughout the United States. Having found food for his soul in the Faith Homes, he attended the services as often as possible, eager for any instruction the Lord might give him, publicly or privately. Daily, for years, he arose at two o’clock in the morning so that he might spend four hours in prayer and Bible study before going to his office where he was occupied for a full day of business. The Lord, seeing this man’s intense desire to please Him and to be delivered from those things in his nature which hindered his spiritual progress, used Mrs. Robinson to give him help by means of a letter.
First, he was told just how he had let the enemy into his life so that he developed “a pettish or peevish” disposition over anything that disappoints him.” Of course, when this had begun some twenty-five years before, it was not “a great noticeable fault.” Slowly but steadily and surely these attitudes of peevishness increased until they had “a large control” of at least a part of his nature.
“His attitudes of disappointment, peevishness, and so forth, are usually rather exaggerated or extreme in comparison with the actual cause, often being severe and pronounced both inwardly and in outward appearance, over trifles that under some other condition would not be counted by him worthy of attention,” Mrs. R. explained in the letter. “The key or cause of these disappointed attitudes often can be found in the fact that some party was not quite pleasing, and it is not a mere personal disappointment, but a hidden, peevish criticism about another’s actions.
“To get out of this difficulty of his life, he should aim to praise at all times, over all his mistakes and over all others’ mistakes, over all disappointments, and people’s blunders. ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway’ is the Lord’s commandment. As the feeling of disappointment comes upon him, he should be watchful – at once rise up against it – keep clear of it – stop it – commit it to the Lord – let it alone – think away from it – speak happily – keep bright in countenance – never mind what happens, rest – and let it be in God’s hands.
“Large trouble, small trouble, keen disappointment, light one, keep in praise and faith, and look away from it and yourself to Jesus with grace to blame no one for small trifles, nor large ones if people meant well – and if they did not, leave it to God.
“I am the Lord. These are My words to you. Be in earnest; I will provide help for all your needs.”
Later, he received another letter, a word of encouragement that the Lord saw that he had been growing, “not a little, but much.
“Can he feel Jesus in him? Not as he might if he had the light to know… Jesus was all the time in his life – in him – causing all his praises and rest and love.”
Then he was told to call on the Lord to fulfill for him as Christ lived in him and witnessed by him how Jesus loves, for he was to be Christ’s instrument to show forth Himself and His love to the men and women about him in the business world. Furthermore, if he would be diligent “all the time” just to see the Lord, think of Him, care for Him, bend his will to His will, someone else would be made to see Christ better each day because of his example. He should talk about Christ to others, but he should be sure to witness also by being patient and kind and keeping his “soul in love and grace and faith,” all of which things count in glorifying the name of the Lord.
THE CHILDREN’S FRIEND
THERE WERE QUITE a number of children at the Faith Homes in the early years, the sons and daughters of the ministers and workers. Mrs. B. was always especially interested in these boys and girls. They, in turn, responded to her love, regarding her as their special friend, some of them considering her no less than a second mother. Sometimes, she was used of God to give them spiritual help personally; at other times, she gave the parents suggestions for their benefit.
Naturally Mrs. B. was interested that each of the children would be converted. In this connection the Lord had her tell the parents of a certain girl not to allow her to pass the age of six without getting saved. They took it for granted that she would, as a matter of course, get saved before her seventh birthday. The days and weeks passed. Then one day they realized that on the following day their daughter would be seven and that still she was unsaved! Remembering the word the Lord had given them by His servant and knowing they dare not disregard it, they took the child, explaining to her, her need of a Saviour and of His plan of salvation. God honored their obedience and faith. The child melted before the Lord, repented of her sins with copious tears, and that day came to the joyous knowledge of sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ.
Again Mrs. B. wrote two dear friends that the soul of their nine-year-old son was in danger of being lost unless they “put him on the altar and seek to win him to Christ while young.” Plainly she told the parents they had not put this boy nor their other children on the altar; if they had, God would have come to them more greatly. She went on to say that this boy, in particular, “had not been loved enough, especially by his father.”
“Last year was the age in which [he] might have been softened and loved into a sweeter disposition, and this year he would have been better ready to yield his heart to Jesus.” Then followed a solemn warning, coupled with sound wisdom, to the effect that if the father and mother really desired to see their boy saved “and kept from being a don’t-care sort of boy,” they must win his heart to Jesus while young.
“To do this his father needs to spend at least ten minutes every day with [him]. If he fails to find time one day, he ought to take longer the next day. His father ought to have real heart-to-heart talks with him, which will rejoice [his] heart more than his father has any idea of. Then he ought to kneel and pray and point him to Jesus. There ought not to be one day that someone does not speak wisely and carefully to [him] about Jesus.”
Mrs. B. continued her loving interest in all these children as they grew older, whether they remained in the Homes or moved out of the Homes, nearby or hundreds of miles away. She was interested in their adolescent problems, their studies, their youthful joys and sorrows.
Concerning one of these children, then ten years old, Mrs. B. wrote his mother: “God is looking for the children who began so young to know Him to have the larger chance to serve Him than those who had to begin so late. May he be kept for Jesus and be always His. Give him my love.” And a little later she sent this word, “Tell him to remember how God wants the boys to do their work young.
In another letter she takes pains to express her interest in a boy’s high school work: “Glad to learn from your letter [that your son] is getting along so well at school. I am sure as he looks to the Lord for guidance he is helped with his studies. The best part is that he is trying to follow Jesus each day and live each day to please Him. His present experience will help him in time to come, I am sure. It is so lovely to learn to trust Him in the early years of life, and at the same time so many opportunities are given him to be a blessing to others who have not had the chance he has had to know about Jesus and His love.
“I was much interested in the theme he had been scheduled to write. I am sure Jesus will help with this as He calls on Him for guidance…
“Remember me to him, please, and may God continue to bless him and make him a shining light among those in darkness around him, especially his companions, and may his life radiate such a touch of Jesus, others will be drawn toward Him.”
One hot August afternoon Mrs. B. invited one of the Faith Home boys – together with his mother – to visit her. It had been taken for granted that Mrs. B. was interested primarily in the mother and that her son was included for good measure, but it was not long in the visit before it became evident that the Lord was using the occasion to deal with the boy.
Although only thirteen, the lad already had a Sunday school class of primary boys. Mrs. B. was pleased with this service, but she took the opportunity to remind the boy that be must live what he was talking about. “Practice what you preach.”
Tenderly the Holy Spirit went on to deal with him, telling him he should be sure to study the Bible for himself, that his acts, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes should be according to the Scripture. In this connection his attention was called to Philippians 4:8. Then as to his need for the fruit of the Spirit be was shown an excellent way to examine himself to see if this fruit was manifest in his life: Ask yourself what is the opposite of each of the nine graces mentioned in Galatians 5:22 and 23, and see if you have anything in you like that – hatred, sorrow, unrest, etc.
Solemnly the Holy Spirit warned the youth that the coming year would be his testing year, a year in which he would go on or go back in the things of God. There was no need for him to backslide, but that he was in danger of falling unless he was very careful. With this he was given instruction on how to avoid this pitfall. He should pray to have the conceit taken out of his life, that lie be not stuck on himself. “Let Jesus come into your life. Live for Him. Be simple.” Finally the Lord cautioned him “not to say that this was just a good message and leave it there, but to heed this warning.” And the Lord promised the mother that if she would believe God and see Christ as intervening over her son, he would not fail.
Before the visit ended, the little company went to their knees. The shadow of the Almighty had been upon those present. All had become very conscious that Jesus Himself was in the midst to pour out His Spirit, to enable the word spoken to be received and obeyed.
It was a changed boy who left Mrs. B. that afternoon – a boy that had been made very serious by the warning given, a boy who had not been made fearful but careful to do the will of God – to watch as well as pray throughout the coming year.
Sometime after that year was over, Mrs. B. was used of God to tell him that he had fulfilled during that year “pretty well.” He, of course, had hoped to have a visit with Mrs. B. at the completion of the year the next August. Mrs. R. would like to have had such a visit, too, but the pressure of her work did not allow her to take the time for it. In addition to this, however, the Lord had a definite purpose in not permitting their getting together then, which she explained later in a letter written at Christmas:
“Of course, we were both interested in one thing. The year before, I had given you a rather important message that you were to be very careful that year toward God, not to get tripped. You were at the age of youth (and it is so often excused [because] that is so) when you would get careless of God and righteousness and, maybe, of obedience to mother. Oh, how important that you should come toward God, and not away, this last year. So, when the time was up, you had it in your mind the Lord would have more to say to you. You had an impression that there was to be a climax to the year. You expected Mrs. Robinson to be able to see you and give the next message. Of course, God was pleased enough to have us meet each other, but if I had seen you and not taken up this matter, you would have been disappointed.
“Don’t you think God has ways of His own? He surely has, in managing our souls. He had called you for that year, – yea – but He had called you for all the years to follow. Today He is much [more] desirous that you shall be improving, that, if anything, this is a more important year than last. He has told you last year if you were not careful you would drop back.
“This year He wants you to go deeper with Him. Not that He means anything unusual. But just that you should be sure to go on, know God better. He did not intend your year to suddenly come to an end and to feel you had accomplished that which was spoken. Instead, His desire for you was not to look at a climax at the end of your year but to go right on, going deeper, knowing God better. Not because Mrs. Robinson has been helping or that you are being watched over by Mrs. Robinson, but because God is calling. It is you He is thinking of. But the Lord wants you now to know you are getting older. You must be on your own feet about it.
“And so you were left to go on still and really see if the light shone any brighter and your soul was any deeper for having not fallen down last year. Don’t draw away from God’s purpose for you, and then don’t, of course, think you are to be someone unusual. Oh, that is dangerous to a young soul. Be careful that you are simple, etc. Only, dear –, God is watching over your soul, knowing your doings, and wants you to keep straight for Him, hidden, out of sight, and Christ glorified…
“Now for the Christmas letter… You know we like… to have a little part in your Christmas. Whatever I give it must be small. I send you a little offering and have thought if you care to buy something for yourself, it would be nicer to select it yourself. Do you want a book? If so, the catalogues in our hands would help you out. Get something that will be good for you, you know.”
Many young people develop traits during their adolescence which prove a great hindrance to them in later life. They themselves are made unhappy, others are hurt, and, above all, they are defeated in their walk with God. All this, unless, of course, they later overcome these nature habits. To do so when older, however, is always more difficult, sometimes well nigh impossible because these nature traits have become so deeply entrenched and because there comes increasingly the attitude to accept one’s self as he is, “for better or for worse.”
Consequently, when Mrs. R. saw that one of the Faith Home boys was becoming a dumper, she took the occasion of his sixteenth birthday to talk to him about this terrible habit he was developing. “That isn’t you,” she explained, but something that he was deliberately cultivating. This was partly because the boy had gotten the notion in his head that it was a sign of his growing up to let folks know he had a temper. The Lord promptly and squarely corrected that notion by telling him there was a no more babyish thing in the world than a dump. Coupled with this was the desire to be noticed even if it meant having someone wipe the floor with him in an effort to conquer him. Of course, the devil was much interested and stood present to help the lad along in his anger, explosions, and self-will – “I’ll just have my own way.”
Firmly but patiently Mrs. R. pointed out that a person’s temper was easier to handle when he was young than when he grew older, adding, “If one passes the teen age without dumping, he is not likely to dump later on.” She went on to show that a dumpy man would, when married, make his wife unhappy. Worse still is the fact that a dumpy person cannot live the deeper life,” and such a characteristic “has spoiled many ministers’ work.”
Then she made the application more specific: “Your be–setting sin, i.e., the sin which is most predominant before others in your life at this time, is one of dumping. Don’t let that go on. God wants you not to do these things because Jesus would not like you to do them. God is after you. Be a man. Be gentlemanly. Be courteous even when people are most discourteous to you. And when you want to dump so that someone will see you, come to Mrs. Robinson and let her wipe the floor with you! Remember, it’s the daily life, not the sermon, that is important and counts with God, and he that ‘knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’”
So she counseled him to go ahead in the coming year, to fight the good fight of faith. “You’ll have a royal fight! – that is, an enjoyable fight. I wish you a successful year in Christ.” What a challenge! And who wouldn’t accept it?
A month later she reminded him that this fight was “a Christian fight, not a boy’s fight,” and prayed, “Keep him on the high side.”
This loving interest in the Faith Home boys and girls extended all the way through. She was intensely interested in what they did after high school, their choice of a job and place of work – or if they went on to college or university. To one who did go on to college, she gave this simple word before he left, “Any help you can be, be it. You are going for Christ.”
In common with many ministers, those in the Faith Homes not only secretly hoped that their children would follow them in their working for God, but also they were apt to make them feel that to do anything else in life would be displeasing the Lord. Wasn’t Christian service the highest calling of God for everyone? And, if so, why shouldn’t they get their training right at home where so many others had come from a distance for that purpose?
The Lord, however, showed Mrs. R. something quite different from this usual thought: “None of these children of the Faith Home are going to prosper best by starting at home. They must just be like other young people and God will do the rest.” To this end she lovingly encouraged them to follow the leading of God in their own soul and aided them in going to other places for their training for Christian service, if God so indicated.
Carefully Mrs. R. stated the will of God about the whole subject of a call to the ministry:
“You know, the first call to the ministry should, if possible, be from God Himself to the heart of the called, and the older people should not be looking, expecting, or perhaps, which is worse, demanding that the person be expecting this call. God must lead His children His own way.
“If a person is going to the ministry, be glad. If a person is not going to the ministry, expect him to live just as sweetly with Christ. Count their lives as important as if they were called. It means just as much to Jesus Christ to have the soul of the layman or the minister fully given.”
Then applying this general teaching to a minister’s daughter, Mrs. R. continued:
“She is young. She is yet needing the daily – now – walk with Jesus – the happiness of getting to know Him – of living for Him – of serving Him as He shows her as she goes along, but not to feel that she ought to be constantly pressed for the ministry – made ready, you know – learning for the ministry. We, none of us, ought to be spiritual for the ministry. We should be spiritual for Jesus, whether we are going to the ministry or not. She needs rather not to suppose anyone is thinking of the ministerial call for her, but expecting to love and serve Him with all her heart anyway – to be led in the Holy Ghost – loving for Jesus who is love. He does not want us to know just what He does intend to do, nor should we try to know. He owns her. Let Him tenderly reveal as He will, when He will, what He wills.”
Note: In this and the following excerpts the name of the person is omitted, when Mrs. R. uses it, and, instead, the pronouns “she” and “her” substituted.
A MINISTER’S MINISTER
MARTHA WING ROBINSON was first of all a minister’s minister. Although she was used of God to help many laymen, by the nature of her position and circumstances a large proportion of those to whom she was called to help were themselves servants of the Lord. Many of the residents of the Homes were either ministers or training to be ministers in some capacity, while many of the guests were also ministers, evangelists, missionaries, or Christian workers.
Oftentimes the Lord had Mrs. R. give very personal and practical teaching to these people so that they might be more effective. One very fine man with rather unusual gifts was, nevertheless, not as useful in the kingdom of God as he could be. One reason for his inefficiency was that he had certain personal habits in the routine of his daily life which militated against his success.
For such a one the Lord gave Mrs. R. the following instructions: “He is never to wake up and doze, but is to get up at once, and before he goes out or about, be is to give up a few minutes quietly to the Lord. He is not to sit silent, [but] is to get down on his knees [and] touch [the Lord] before doing anything else. Talk to Jesus about grace, soul, light, and life. Looking after trifles before touching God turns his mind [to them] and spoils his day. He is to keep the morning in the touch by giving up the first minutes to the Lord.
“He is idle in the daytime; he pokes. The Lord abominates that pokey time that does nothing, a sort of easy-goingness. It is more wearisome than anything he can do. When he finds nothing to do, he is to definitely take up the Bible and read, or go to his room and definitely pray. When he gets a lazy spell, he is to do some hard talking to the Lord. He takes a little [matter] here and a little matter there, and he doesn’t do much of anything.
“Here the young Christian or the unloyal one stops good service. If the consciousness of disobedience is there or if it be not, it makes little difference, the ardent desire to please Jesus seems not to be so great. Up to that time, he has wanted to please God all the time. Here it comes by a sense of duty, and if he be not strong and overcoming, he gives up his hearty climb toward God and acts as if lie would sit down and wait for Jehovah, not wait on Jehovah, but wait till He pulled him out somehow and gave back the love. Almost all this is simple teaching that all Christians learn by the soul as they go on with God.
“Now, at the time such a slide or loss comes, a real earnestness ought to come to the soul as to where the slide started. It may be a neglect of the personal, inward dealing with God. It may be only some temporary ease; perhaps it is a small disobedience overlooked. At any rate, whatever it is, the will of the Father is that the person should take for the reparation of the breach altogether the same steps obediently in prayer and consecrations and doings as brought about the blessing at the very first. To say it in plainer words, each thing you think God wants you to do ought to be done definitely and promptly, just as soon as He wants you to do it, when you don’t feel like it, as earnestly as when you do. Now, that is the type or idea of it, and now we will apply it to you.
“In your own nature, you have the most profound loss by coming to that spiritual slide often, and in it completely defeating the appointment of God over you by not at once picking up and obeying minutely when the feeling of obedience is getting to wane. Here you have made most of your big tumbles; almost all the holiness of your rich experience lies dependent upon what you do on these slides or outgoings from the inner love of God.”
Then the Lord used Mrs. B. to give this minister a little warning, for He saw that he was at “the place where he thinks he now stands.” “By some possibly unwitting slide, ‘The grip of your love and enthusiasm,’ the Lord states to you, ‘has begun to wane a little.’ ...The Lord says, ‘Go back to that climb by very simple steps, below named.’
“Get to prayer more for yourself earnestly. Talk to Jesus of your call, that is, your call to obey and live for God, and also the call of your real service in the vineyard. Pray as before, not to fail. – Pray you will go through. – Ask to do it for Him. – Be real. – Do not do it just for one day, but let this be the plan of your spiritual walk with him. – Be sure, as you go through, you recognize, in all the spiritual life before you, a method of inward and persistent seeking and praising prayer, without lapses, will keep you walking. Go on this way till this habit of inward dealing with God and personal love has increased, so that it cannot be broken.
“Here you are thus called to so obey, and so pray, whether you have the enthusiasm or feeling or any part of the enjoyment… I would call your attention to a familiar passage of scripture, which here fits in: Jn. 14:21, ‘He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto Him.’
“I would say all deep and ‘go through’ Christians learn something of this lesson, that is to say, that for very love of God obedience becomes a delight, but that if you do not enjoy that exquisite glory of love, if you will really take the obedience of the deep Christian, and do precisely as deeply toward God because you owe it to Him, before long you will discover the truth of His own statement that that attitude of obedience is love. That that is, therefore, an open door to reception and comprehension and enjoyment of His love, that through this method of stern holiness and lowly faith of believing that He will manifest Himself, you will find Him…
“This wonderful verse that has just been quoted does not belong to the beginnings of Christian grace at all. He who walks straight out into that verse is already in some measure of love, and already in obedience, and having seen the Lord some, opens his heart to desire Him more… Wherefore, working it out, a life following clear through on that verse, exercises distinctly and strongly high faith for the MANIFESTATION OF GOD.
“I quoted it, however, as a scriptural statement, and if you will really obey God, you will be showing you are loving anyway in a measure, whether the way seems dark and things dry, or not, and here God will meet you with the witness of His love, waken you up to a greater knowledge of Him.
“When anyone comes to the slides, slips, and back steps, such as you have found are a thorn of your flesh, and a trial in your service, there must be said to God, in such words as mean it: ‘God is the same. I change. He does not. I will therefore do toward Him all that in me lies, as if we saw each other as before, and if I cannot see Him plainly, I know He sees me. I will keep after Him. I go on and obey (follow) and He finds the way through. If I have slipped somewhere, or my natural man has not been subject enough to keep me in the perfect will of God, I will go on again in prayer and be the overcomer I have been appointed to be. He knows when I am in earnest. I don’t have to have men know it.’
“After a while, if you persistently are strong at the time of your tests and stick to the wisdom that says, ‘Hold on; look, you are approaching a slide,’ and if you will cultivate a clear right-about-face victory, the day will come, I say, that this peculiarity of your make-up cannot abide.
“With love to God, make haste, be the vessel herein described or called for, the one that takes tests and goes through… [This teaching] is to be prayed through, or it will be of little value.”
INSTRUCTING THE NEW CONVERT
THIS WOULDNT BE your ‘crowning day’ if Jesus should I come today, would it? You had better get over to that meeting as fast as you can!” the Holy Spirit whispered to Helen Innes after she had played the hymn, “Is It the Crowning Day?” It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in 1915. The rest of the family had gone to the Faith Home meeting, and Helen, alone at home, was consoling herself by playing various hymns on the piano.
Mr. Innes was one of the parents to whom the Lord bad spoken several years before by Mrs. R. that they should pray for the conversion of their eldest daughters.ⁿ Faithfully he had done this, and often when Helen was straightening up his room in the morning, after he had left for work in Chicago, she found the place where he had knelt to pray wet with tears. And she knew that those tears had been shed as her beloved father had fervently interceded with God for her salvation.
Note: See Chapter XXXI, p. 211
Up to this time, however, Helen “seemed to be utterly elusive to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.” Now a student at the University of Chicago, she was not interested in surrendering her life to the Lord and had been very clever, so she thought, in finding “ways of getting around God!” Today, however, the Holy Spirit had tracked her down, and in spite of the inclement weather she responded immediately.
“As I hurried the two short blocks to the service in the Faith Home Meeting House,” recalls Helen, “I secretly hoped that my father would not see me, for that was the last thing I wanted. But upon arriving at the Meeting House, the only available seat was one directly in front of him. Shortly after I was seated, a message in tongues was given, followed by the interpretation which, however, was given so low that, seated in the back of the congregation as I was, I could not hear. Later I learned that the message was to the effect that there was someone in that afternoon service to whom the Lord did not promise another opportunity for salvation, and would the people pray for the conversion of that soul.
“Immediately the entire audience went to their knees – everyone, that is, except me, for I sat upright, unmoved. After about an hour of fervent intercession, one of the ministers, Elder Eugene Brooks, came and stood in front of me and with his kindly southern accent said, ‘Daughter, don’t you think it is time for you to give your heart to God?’ That broke up the fountain of the deep within me, so that I went to my knees and cried for a long time until all the hardness of my heart was broken, and my life and will were surrendered to God.
“After the meeting two of the ministers, Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Judd, went home with me and for several hours taught me and prayed with me, showing me how to yield my life completely to Him and to grow in the Lord.”
Mrs. R. directed the young convert’s attention to such passages as First Corinthians Thirteen with its teaching on love; Colossians Three with its teaching on putting off “the old man with his deeds” and putting on “the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him;” Galatians Five with its teaching on the fruit of the Spirit; and Philippians Four with its teaching on rejoicing in the Lord always and what things we are to think on. These truths, Mrs. R. told Helen, must be prayed over and obeyed until they were lived out in her life.
“I have often said that I felt that if I had been cast on a desert isle I could have gone on with just those simple instructions for my spiritual life,” recalls Helen after more than forty years of successful ministry. “I shall never cease to thank God for the Faith Home ministers who taught me the all-importance of obeying the Word of God and seeking Jesus.”
Soon after this evening, Helen was baptized in the Holy Spirit and entered the Homes for training for Christian service. She it is who is responsible for preserving the quote from Mrs. Robinson: “Sweetly mind your own affairs when other folks don’t please you.” An excellent example of the very practical advice Mrs. Robinson so often gave for the daily life.
METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY
THE TRUE ENJOIMENT of Bible study is the great light of Himself – the light of Jesus – the finding of His presence as you study. Also, the truth of the Word is written to be DISCOVERED by the SOUL – when PRAYING over the Word rather than to be taught by a teacher, though both ways are scripturally appointed.”
“In our work, our desire has been to get the people not so much to have expositions and explanations of the Word from teachers as to be able to take their own Bibles and know them, having just enough guidance and suggestions from teachers to give them light how to so take up the Word. That is, to our mind, the true preparation for preaching.” Mrs. R. made this statement in a letter to someone who had asked her about Bible study and the advisability of attending a Bible school preparatory for Christian service.
“Most of the pupils from schools who come here and get the idea of this living, personal acquaintance with the Word and use of it for their daily life express themselves as advancing more under our methods, though some Bible schools are awake, no doubt, to these facts,” Mrs. B. continued in her reply.
“There are two sides for a young minister’s preparations. One is his service and ability to be among men and fill a minister’s place, preaching, etc. Another, and the important side, is the deep spiritual walk with God – the daily grace, the power to live in all places and under all conditions just for Jesus. Without this latter equipment, one had better not take the former service. The first is a necessity, of course, for a minister, and yet if he had that, and the second is lacking, he would fail.”
Then in discussing the subject of Bible schools Mrs. R. said: “We know something about some of the Pentecostal Bible Schools. Other schools, I suppose, I would not be a judge of. The question of attending a Bible school or taking courses depends both on the pupil’s state of experience and the kind of school. The result of Bible school work, etc., is a little disappointing sometimes, in this, the training seems to quench the originality and abandonment of the Holy Spirit, and the young preacher comes out stereotyped or, I might say, a little imitative, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit. True preaching to bear fruit for souls should be living, abandoned, and original, in that the Holy Ghost guides and brings out the truth, and it is not something just received mentally.
“Sometimes another difficulty is that the pupils seem to know about the Bible just THOSE THINGS THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, that is, they have not a sufficient grasp or knowledge of die Bible itself so they can go on independently without a teacher, and continue to grow in further knowledge and love of the Word. A minister cannot go on in God’s work depending upon past instruction – his Bible study has to keep pace with his experience and service. He must be advancing and deepening in Christ as lie preaches and serves. In fact, it isn’t just as one is taught. The best teacher and the best plan may fail unless the pupil is really a Holy Ghost student.
“Now, in your case, it, of course, depends upon your special experience and present knowledge of the Word, as to what is most needed in your Bible study. Once the Bible is a familiar book, and opened to you, and is your own, a Bible school or a course might then draw you on in your grasp, and would not press you to try to grasp mentally what you have not yet received in your experience. Otherwise, one’s knowledge of the Word is apt to be imitative rather than original, mental rather than guided by the Holy Spirit.
“Really a Bible school is apt to put you through a course not regarding your personal need. To take a student (who is unfamiliar with the Word, who has not himself lived in it) beyond his capacity and teach him things he is not yet in need of and cannot grasp spiritually is sometimes a great loss to him. It is necessary to first find out his need and add to his knowledge enough to make the Bible real. A pupil should have to get into the Bible on his own responsibility. I mean, in his own heart and love.
“Most large Bible scholars have taken training that way. Great men who do great things for God are taught of the Holy Ghost. Many Pentecostal preachers have not been trained men. They learn the Bible as they live and serve However, many pupils need some instruction to get started rightly…
“I would not like to be misunderstood as meaning study and education and opportunity of certain kinds of training are not useful and desirable if one is already abandoned in the Holy Spirit and able to keep subject to Him, and receive these instructions and training in the Spirit – and God does make use of them.”
(The fact is that Mrs. B. was used of the Lord to encourage more than one person to go to Bible school, for she knew that they would get the help there which they personally needed.)
“In reading this letter over,” added Mrs. R., “it seems to me it may sound as if I were giving a hint for you to come to this Home, as I speak of our undertaking to avoid some of these faults that come out of Bible courses and schools. I did not wish to convey the impression to you that I think we have a good system of Bible study. Instead, we feel ourselves lacking. Some of our young people are pretty good students, and some have gone on to the ministry from here. I just tried to write frankly. I do not know as I would have felt at liberty to write so fully myself, but the Lord gave me what to put in this letter.”
As has been indicated there were a number of young people in the Faith Homes who were training for Christian service. Much of the teaching which they received was given in the regular meetings. In addition, special Bible classes were held from time to time by various of the ministers and teachers.
Sometime in 1915 Mrs. R. began a weekly Bible class for the benefit of some of the senior students. Included in this group were those who had attended Bible school previously, and at least two had already been ordained and had had some experience in the ministry before the Lord had led them into the Homes, so that they might be instructed in “the way of God more perfectly.” All of these Mrs. B. taught in accordance with the principles enunciated in the letter just quoted. The pupils were not “stuffed” with information but were shown “how to go at things,” as one of the class expressed it.
“The Lord wants you to be independent Bible students,” Mrs. B. said in some of her introductory remarks. Fundamental to this type of study, it is essential for the student to be abandoned to the Holy Ghost. “Abandonment in Bible study is the complete, abject surrender of your lives to God.” The average person, the teacher explained, is apt to lay down what he has read and not use it, i.e., he is not apt to apply it to himself and to his daily life. But a real student should and will fasten himself to the truth God is giving him until he really gets hold of it and experiences it. For example, “You ought to take the commands in the New Testament, and never give up till you have obeyed every one of them.”
The same methods which are to be employed in one’s personal Bible study were to be used in the study of the assigned lesson for the weekly class which Mrs. B. was teaching. “You shouldn’t allow your approaching recitation to influence your study. If you study in order to make a good recitation, you lose your spiritual touch or your own good time with Jesus.” As one would seek for hidden treasure, so one should study for the class. With this preparation, Mrs. B. instructed them: “Come to the class with the treasure in you, and bring out of that treasure what the Lord wants.”
One of the early assignments for the class was to study the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the Love Chapter. From some notes which one of the students took of Mrs. B’s teaching in the class period, one is given an idea of how she taught:
“Set your foot down on everything in your life contrary to that chapter… Despise the workings of the flesh the chapter tells are in you… Watch yourself in regard to carrying out the different phrases and clauses… If somebody offends you, ask the Lord what kind of miserable flesh is left in you that gets offended… Take real exception to anything in your life contrary to the Love Chapter… Say, ‘I am going to put my own hand out to see my flesh crucified.’… You are exercising flesh when you don’t live up to that chapter… No matter what the other one does, you live the love life.”
Then the Holy Spirit asked the class members a searching question with respect to their own personal fulfillment in love: “Are you going to get that victory in that wherein you failed last year?” At the same time Mrs. B. reminded them that it is “the life of the Son of God in you that will live this chapter out.”
Repeatedly Mrs. R. warned her students, as prospective preachers, against the tendency to study the Bible to teach it or to preach it to someone else. “You are dreadfully in need of what you are going to give out to others, yourself.” The husbandman must be first partaker of the fruit. The truths of the Word should be “drunk in” or eaten and assimilated so that they become a very part of one’s spiritual substance. Then, if a preacher is truly abandoned to the Holy Spirit, the Lord will bring out from within just what an audience needs at just the right time. “Unless you see that point, you will have a hard time with extemporaneous sermons.”
“Your lives should be enriched and deepened every week,” Mrs. B. exhorted the class to believe. And so they were, as they studied in accordance with the instructions they had received.
A GLORY HEART NOW!
“WE ARE TO KEEP our eyes off everything and everybody but just Jesus,” remarked Mrs. B. in her Bible class, April 19, 1916.
In just a little over a week from then she was to be called upon to practice this exhortation herself in what was one of the severest, most painful experiences of her life.
For some time Mr. Robinson had been in failing health. Of course, there was no thought on his part or on the part of his wife to do anything but to trust the Lord for their bodies. That was a settled matter. In this stand all of their associates in the ministry were also of one mind. In addition to their believing in the doctrine of divine healing, had they themselves not experienced great miracles of healing? Mr. Robinson, it is true, had never had any great sickness himself and so had never experienced the healing power of God as had his wife. Nor had he known, therefore, what it was to pray and to fight through for physical victories as had his wife or Elder and Mrs. Brooks.
Now that he was attacked by the enemy, although he firmly believed in the power of God to heal, his attitude was virtually one of apathy, accompanied doubtless by discouragement and depression. When it was suggested that he ask for prayer for his condition, he dismissed the matter by saying he believed a person should pray for himself. At the same time he seemed to do little about it himself. Increasingly his condition, diagnosed as a fibroid tumor with ascites, grew worse. Yet, in his extremity there was no thought of turning to the arm of flesh.
Courageously and confidently, Mrs. B. undertook to fight for her husband’s life in spite of his attitude and condition. Calling their associates in the ministry together, with one accord she and they engaged in a tremendous prayer of many hours, beseeching God to raise him up for His glory. One minister who lived in the city described it thus: “It was a mighty cry. One could feel it outside the Home.”
On April 28, just two weeks after his forty-second birthday, Mr. Robinson went to be with the Lord. For him, Mrs. Robinson knew it was what he wished and was “far better.” For her and the work, it was a tragic defeat, a crushing blow.
How would she take this attack of the enemy? She had preached so much that God wanted His people to “rejoice in the Lord always” and “in everything give thanks,” that He wanted people to have a “glory heart.” How about her? How about now?
One of the ministers went to her after her husband’s death to “propose some assurance of faith and sympathy and hope.” Certainly she appreciated his kindness but replied, “I guess we have to have a glory heart now, don’t we?”
And she did. Absolutely! Perfectly!
But what of the much and mighty intercession for Mr. Robinson? Was that a total loss?
“No,” the Lord assured her. He would, in His great economy, turn that prayer into blessing for the entire work.
“Let’s make victory out of defeat,” was one of the basic tenets of Mrs. Robinson’s whole life. By keeping her eyes off “everything and everybody but just Jesus” she was enabled both to see His glory and to be kept in it continuously.
Having been victorious in her own sorrow, it is no wonder that she could counsel with authority and understanding those in like circumstances:
“And now let me offer a thought, which God gives me for you: Rejoice in the valley – a very sweet valley, instead of a dark one, when we go with Him, and our eyes are opened for the sunshine of His presence.
“Each time I write you, God leads me to sound this note of praise and hides all other sides of it, even the separation it really is for loving hearts. Is not Jesus tender, also ever wisest, beloved?
“His word seems to be, ‘Rejoice.’”
A FORWARD MOVE
ANOTHER POINT IN preparation [for the ministry] is the prompt putting into use, both in the daily life and, if [so called] for the ministry, public service, that which is received and learned.”
In the late spring of 1916 three of the young ministers, who had been students in Mrs. B’s Bible class, began to hold street meetings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, then a city of 40,000 with no Pentecostal work. These they conducted regularly every Saturday night for five months. Interest was evident. God blessed. Then the Lord indicated that Mr. and Mrs. George Finnern should go there to live and to open a mission, assisted by others from time to time. Thus on October 7, 1916, the Peniel Mission was opened.
The way in which God had found these two servants, Katharine and George Finnern, and had prepared them for this ministry had indeed been supernatural. Mrs. Finnern was one of the girls whose parents Mrs. B. had spoken to, telling them to pray through for the salvation of their daughters.’ Thus in a very direct way, Katherine was the fruit of Mrs. B’s personal ministry. Now she in turn was going out to seek the lost.
Almost four years before this, early in 1913, Mr. Finnern had come to the Faith Homes for the first time. He had been ministering for some time in the city of Milwaukee when one day the Lord spoke to his soul these words, “I want you to go to Zion City.” The same day, so he found out, the Lord also spoke to his wife, “I want you to go to Zion City.” All of this was rather puzzling and startling to the two of them. Aside from the fact that they had met a minister who lived in Zion City, they knew no one in this place and knew no reason for them to go there. They had never even heard of the Faith Homes.
At this time Mr. Finnern’s senior associate was in the city of Wausau, many miles from Milwaukee. Upon his return, he surprised Mr. Finnern by telling him that while away, the Lord had said to him, “I want George to go to Zion City.” Now Mr. Finnern was shocked! But in the mouth of three independent witnesses he concluded that this must be of the Lord. (Mr. Finnern did not know at the time how truly remarkable it was for his brother minister to get this word from the Lord in the first place, let alone pass it on, for the fact was, he was not at all in sympathy with the Faith Homes.)
Twenty-nine below zero was not exactly the most conducive temperature to take a trip to a place of which one knew nothing and the reason for which one did not have the slightest idea. To make matters worse, once the Finnerns became guests in the Faith Homes, things happened which puzzled them greatly. The ministry and meetings were new and strange. At their first morning meeting a minister began to speak by saying, “The Lord wants me to say – “ Mr. Finnern could by no means accept that at face value! Who could say that? Then other ministers made similar statements. What was this?
Questions multiplied until at the end of their second day, Mr. Finnern prayed in desperation, “Shew me about this thing, whether it is right or not.” Confused and perplexed he went to sleep.
The next day, still wondering and still looking to God for the answer to his questions, certainly not desiring to get into any fanaticism, he turned to His Bible, where the Holy Spirit directed his attention to such passages as these:
“We speak wisdom among them that are perfect” (I Cor. 2:6), and
“Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me – “ (II Cor. 13:3)
That was something he had not noticed before. So Christ spoke in Paul! Well, at least such an experience was in the Bible. But was what he was hearing scriptural? Was it genuine? He was by no means fully persuaded.
Now although Mr. Finnern was in the Pentecostal ministry, he had never broken through to the full liberty of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For three and a half years he had been earnestly seeking to be filled with the Spirit.
During the course of one of the morning meetings Mr. Finnern, who was sitting in one of the back rooms of the Meeting House, felt a tap on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw Mr. Mitchell standing at his side. “Mr. Finnern, will you do what the Lord tells you to do?”
“Yes, I’ll do what the Lord tells me to do,” Mr. Finnern replied, not at all committing himself to do what Mr. Mitchell might suggest, but reserving the right to judge whether he felt the forthcoming proposition was really of the Lord.
“If Mr. Finnern will come into the front room,” Mr. Mitchell then went on, “and kneel down by a chair there, the Lord will bring him through to tongues.” Well, that was simple and plausible. Furthermore, this was what his heart had been longing for – and it was something that he could prove. Mr. Finnern obeyed.
Once in the front room, Mr. Mitchell solemnly announced to the congregation: “Brother Finnern from Milwaukee wants the baptism of the Holy Ghost. If everybody will pray, the Lord will baptize him.”
Earnestly, the entire congregation lifted up their voices with one accord and asked that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Mr. Mitchell, Elder Brooks, and Mrs. Robinson together laid their hands on him. “Other tongues” welled up from his inmost being. Then Mrs. B. said, “If Mr. Finnern will stand up, the Lord wants to preach through him in tongues.”
He did, and mighty, powerful tongues burst from his mouth. Clearly and with perfect liberty he preached in tongues which Mrs. R. interpreted.
For all this corroboration, his doubts were not yet resolved. Just about a year later, Mr. Finnern again went to the Homes. (In the intervening months his first wife had died.) For three days and nights before he went there, the words kept ringing in his soul, “I want you to go to Zion City.” Unable to resist longer, he had followed this inner bidding. Upon his arrival in the city, however, he became heavy-hearted and greatly afraid. As he neared the Home, he asked the Lord to corroborate unmistakably his leading: “If I am right, send someone to me to tell I am in Your will.”
The service was already in progress; the meeting rooms were crowded to capacity; the only available place to sit was on the stairs leading to the second floor. There he went. After a time, Mrs. R. left her place on the platform and came to the visitor. Gently laying her hands on the stiff young minister’s head, she quietly said, “The Lord sent me to tell you, you are in His will being here.”
Some time later Mrs. R., most unexpectedly, said to Mrs. Judd, “The Lord wants Mr. Finnern in Zion.”
Businesslike Mrs. Judd immediately asked, “Shall we send him a special delivery letter, a long distance telephone call, or a telegram?”
“Do nothing,” the Lord replied over the lips of His servant. “I will get him here.”
Shortly, without any suggestion or outside help, Mr. Finnern came by the leading of the Lord in his own soul. The following September he and Katherine Boland were married and came to live in the Homes. Two years of intensive teaching and training followed.
One of the great lessons which the Lord taught Mr. Finnern was his great need of praising the Lord. “I had been in the ministry already for five years,” recalls Mr. Finnern, “had been used of God in preaching the gospel to the unsaved and ministering to the sick, and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit for two years before I realized the great need in my own life for praising the Lord and the victories and blessing that come therefrom.
“At that time the Lord brought me in contact with Mrs. Robinson who had a large gift of discernment and also the ability to teach individuals in the power of the Holy Spirit concerning their personal needs. By this ministry, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that for twenty years I had given in to shadows, depressions, and discouragements. Not only did I have a blue Monday, but seven days were blue sometimes.
“For these attitudes there is a very descriptive term, ‘dumps,’ for that is exactly what happens to an individual when he yields to any of these feelings. People so often excuse these feelings with the thought, ‘That’s natural. Everybody has them.’ They do not see how awful, how diabolical these feelings are. Why are they wrong? Shadows, depressions, dumps are contrary to the will and Word of God which commands us to rejoice always. They are contrary to being spiritual, for the fruit of the Spirit is joy and peace.
“The Lord showed me that I should pray daily and mightily to be delivered from this condition. As I prayed, however, I saw my terrible condition instead of the Lord, and my difficulties increased doubly. God in His mercy continued to help me by His servant and showed me that I must praise as well as pray, and I began a rigid schedule of praising the Lord with a loud voice daily for twenty or thirty minutes. I was also taught that when anything went wrong in my life or ministry, even in simple things like missing a street-car or train, I was to say, ‘Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.’
“At first, when I began to praise the Lord, I said, ‘How can I do this? I don’t feel like it. It is hypocritical for me to do so.’ Then the Lord showed me that I should praise Him, not because I felt like it, but because He is worthy of our praise.
“In the course of this fight, the Lord showed me that these feelings were something more than natural. They were from the devil himself. When I got that light, I said, ‘The devil? Then it is the devil who is running me!’ Forthwith I determined to fight more earnestly than ever. My victory did not come all at once, but I persisted until God showed me that I had won the fight.”
As the Finnerns had contemplated starting a mission in Kenosha, the Lord used Mrs. R. to instruct them very carefully about the type of work He wanted them to have in that city. It should be “large, deep life, Pentecostal, evangelistic.” God did not want them to fail to emphasize the Pentecostal message and experience together with the inward and deeper Christian life. At the same time there should be a clear, evangelistic message and aim to win the lost. And while they should not seek numbers for their own sake, they certainly should not be content with a mere handful of people, but should believe God to bring in a large number of souls.
From time to time, especially in their early years when they were getting started, Mrs. R. went to Kenosha to help them personally or in the meetings. Sometimes she went alone, sometimes accompanied by one of her associates, sometimes with a group of young people to give them an opportunity for practical work. On one of the latter occasions, as they were traveling on the electric train taking them from Zion to Kenosha, the Lord led her to speak to the people in the car during the ten minute trip. In her calm but majestic manner she rose and addressed her fellow passengers who listened very attentively to this little woman as she spoke simply and sweetly of Jesus and His love. There was nothing repulsive about her testifying in this way, for there was a charm and graciousness about her person and message which were absolutely irresistible.
The Finnerns had a difficult time in the early days of seed-sowing and plowing in Kenosha, but little by little the seed sprang up and bore fruit. Some time later Mr. Finnern, unknown to anyone else but his wife, was considering the possibility of going elsewhere to minister. The work was doing well now. Perhaps he should go to some other field of labor. One day, Mrs. R. came to see her young friends. In the course of her conversation, not knowing of his contemplations, she counseled him not to leave Kenosha, adding, “Don’t run away from your success.” They remained there for several years.
During this time the Lord worked in a phenomenal way, even to the stirring of the whole city by the healing of a well-known lame man which had to be acknowledged by the city officials. As a result of this work in Kenosha, about twenty have gone out into all the world to preach the gospel – very successful ministers in various parts of the United States and equally successful missionaries in India, Africa, and South America. Quite a few more have attended Bible schools and then have served the Lord in their home assemblies as Sunday school teachers and workers. And already some of the children of this first generation of converts have gone into the work of the Lord. Thus the ministry and influence of Martha Wing Robinson have borne untold fruit for the Kingdom of God in the lives of those in this one city alone and, in turn, in those who have believed on Christ through their word in this and foreign lands.
SIMPLE SPIRITUAL SERVICE
ONE OF THE YOUNG women who was signally led of the Lord to the Homes was Kathryn Roth. Faithfully she had shared in the performance of the various secular duties necessary for their operation – cooking, cleaning, canning, and general housework. An unusually timid person, Kathryn had not engaged in the various opportunities afforded for spiritual service, but had become content to serve the Lord in secular ways.
In this respect, however, Kathryn was not alone, but others in the Homes, more bold by nature, had also slipped into such an attitude. To do so was very easy, in view of the fact that these young people were constantly in the presence of so many older, more capable, and experienced ministers, resident and visiting. Against such attitudes Mrs. R. was militantly opposed, and periodically the Lord used her to wage a real warfare against them. Her teaching regarding this issue is well expressed in the following letter written to Kathryn (August 21, 1917) while she was at home in Milwaukee for a brief visit: “Those now living in the Homes ought to be fulfilling their experience more for service. The Lord has called the people to perceive that they themselves weaken their own experience and hold back their blessing and that of others by not being as eager and thorough and faithful in their spiritual service toward others, and between themselves and God, as nearly all think should be done in their secular duties.
“All Christians that advance in their experience to a certain point must begin to use the blessings already acquired, giving out to others in such ways as witnessing and in simple spiritual services, or they will begin to lag back and lose ground.
“The Lord suggested I write this and ask you, if you return, to see that you are not now a beginner in this work, but have had, one might say, the apprenticeship of your first stay in the Homes. Therefore, in coming, realize you are to be a blessing as well as to get a blessing, and let Him have His way in you. Do not see yourself so small, or so little useful in spiritual matters, that God removes your responsibilities and just lets the ministry stand for the spiritual burdens of the work, you feeling you fill your place by the housework. Let your heart accept His call.
“One gets to a stagnation place, unless one takes the advantages of the preparation already begun, and works in the spiritual lines as faithfully almost as in the other, knowing that all your work is for Jesus, but that the fact you are in secular work ought not to rob you of the other privileges of service, so that you neglect your own development and also let the people you are with lose the service appointed you.
“Not that the Lord calls for ministerial work yet. Rather to do in spiritual lines what you can do now. Do we need testimonies? Do we need people who are faithful or interested? Do you need attendance at Bible class, etc.? Being as faithful and responsible for these and like services, as you are for the housework, is what is needed by one in your present state of grace.
“Certain ones, when first in this work, get large lights and feel they are greatly blessed. After this they seem to lapse a little. The real cause of this is usually not the loss of the blessing received, but the failure to use it to others at the time it is full, and God is leading out to service. The check one puts upon the Spirit by disobedience to this call sets the person back spiritually.
“Now that is a fault in this work at this time. The laity permits the ministers to call them and induce them. They therefore lose leadings of the Spirit and do not do their spiritual work as volunteers for Him, but are just moved as someone else shows them, and that makes them get weak in grace.
“Will you not be one who says, ‘I am now more advanced than I was at first, and there are many places I can help in spiritual things;’ and not be one that, because you are not yet appointed to preach or teach, feel yourself unable to take up the experiences of service you could fulfill on.
“The Lord cannot make a minister of one who begins at the top of the ladder and preaches first, and we all have to begin at the bottom and acquire experience, doing the first simple work such as voluntary testimony and simple spiritual service without fear or backwardness.
“The call to the ministry is not only for the inward, given life; it is also for service for souls. You can find many little places of such sweet service in this work if you have a more clear view of the real need this work has of you in spiritual things…
“We have had special meetings lately to make this call to this work, and also to take up another difficulty, which the Lord says is the other weak spot of the work. That is, the work falls into a habit of letting those in wisdom and in charge of meetings, give too much guidance or instruction, the people carelessly letting themselves be reminded of what, if they did not have this help, they could find out and remember for themselves. The meetings stirred up the people in faith and interest, and we have had a very blessed time.
“I trust you will realize none of the above is written because the Lord has any fault to find with you. No, indeed, very much the other way. Your advancement has been very good. But you are now where the Lord can make the call to you, as to the others who are really in earnest. As you can see a field at your home and feel you may be really needed in it, it stirs you up for spiritual service. That is the way you should be if you decide to return here, lest doing so should weaken you, by taking you away from your service. If you take this letter as from the Lord, then your return will strengthen you to do what you are equipped for, as your faith will say, ‘If God really calls me out in this line, I am able.’…
“I tried to write this just as your letter came, and suppose you wonder at my delay, but I didn’t get it off, so the Lord had me finish these thoughts, so you might have the chance to have faith along with the rest of the people, that you are called to make the coming months better than the last ones even if the last were very good.”
When Kathryn returned to the Homes, she earnestly endeavored to fulfill in her “spiritual service” and thereby received a preparation for her ministry on the foreign field. At this time, however, no one had the faintest idea of the call of God in her soul, for she had told no one, and no one would ever have dreamed of the life of intense activity and public service that this retiring handmaiden of the Lord would perform in His whitened harvest field in the days to come.
IF WE BUT FOLLOW HIM
IN JANUARY, 1918, the Lord led Mrs. Robinson to go to Toronto to minister to the friends of the work who still lived there. While she was hurrying with her packing, preparatory to leaving, she was suddenly stopped by the Spirit of God. She really had no time to spare, for the train was to leave shortly, and she was by no means ready. What had happened? Why was she thus stopped?
As she looked to the Lord, He immediately showed her that she was not letting Him have full control of her preparations, that even though it was ever so slight she was coming out of the perfect rest of God. Mrs. Robinson repented of even this little “natural haste,” returned into the rest of God, and let God completely control her in her last-minute preparations.
What mattered if she did lose the train compared with losing, ever so little, the rest of God? After all, He had appointed the trip. He knew the end from the beginning. She would abide in the rest of God and leave the results with Him. Needless to say, she and her traveling companion, Mrs. Judd, arrived at the station in plenty of time.
In Toronto they were the guests first of the McConnells and then of Dr. and Mrs. Peter Toews. To these and the other members of the Toronto work who yet remained in that city, Mrs. B. ministered.
Mrs. B’s visit to Toronto coincided with an evangelistic campaign held there by Gypsy Smith. Always one to support such soul-winners by her prayer and faith, regardless of the fact that they were not Pentecostal, Mrs. Robinson was happy for the chance to attend one of this famous evangelist’s services. It was quite early when she and her friends arrived, so that there were still many unoccupied seats. As Mrs. Robinson quietly waited upon the Lord while the people gathered, all the time praying that God would bless Gypsy Smith and save souls in the forthcoming service, the Spirit of God opened her eyes so that she saw a cloud of conviction extended and held over certain sections of the building where as yet the seats were empty. Later, when the invitation was given by Gypsy Smith, it was in these sections in particular that people responded to the wooing of the Spirit and turned to the Lord.
From Toronto on January 28, 1918, Mrs. R. wrote homeⁿ about her visit which was “getting rather prolonged:”
Note: This letter was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. William Brooks. “Uncle Willie,” Elder Brooks’ younger brother, came to the Homes from Virginia in the fall of 1910. He and his wife, “Aunt Lena,” a cousin of Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Mitchell, remained in the Homes the remainder of their lives. Greatly beloved, they rendered invaluable service in the Homes both in the secular and spiritual affairs.
“We have had a delightful visit with McConnells and Mrs. Toews and others, but at present, after the Lord said, ‘Now your visit and service in Toronto is over,’ He kept Mrs. Judd and me for a week or nearly so, rather quiet and praying. Now, I believe, people who know us think we are gone, or at least some. At first we had someone calling or telephoning, or we were going somewhere all the time.
“We got to where we thought it good to be more quiet. Indeed, the Lord set us to avoid all this for a week. Then we sent Mrs. Judd home – I to remain some – I am not told how much longer. We have been blessed – at least I have – very much by the change…
“We all feel the need to get deeper, but I know all we need is Jesus, seeking Him, finding and enjoying Him, and He is our depth and obedience. So often He calls us as individuals to get that truth – we do not let Him simplify our spiritual progress – we labor at His work. Now He will lead us to abandonment – rest – etc., if we but follow Him – only Him.
“When we get this sight and let go all to follow and love Him, the rest comes or the progress. We then can see what He means. How hopeless human effort is! I know no way but to ask Him Himself to so draw us to Himself He will enable us to desire just Him…
“Jesus says, ‘Add a word for me: …What can you say to this – is it not My will for My Hand to be over you altogether, and no “I” be in your plans? You do so will, also. Yes, I heard you – and yet your hearts are not always glad. I do so will as to change the “I” and have it all My way. Can that be cured? Yes, you are so called. All Mine. Every moment – every act – every thought. Be Mine, for I purchased you altogether.
“‘Many of My own vessels see Me exacting – but that is God, not man. For between one’s own life and Mine… no thing of man, or self – or flesh can I allow to remain. Exacting? O, so exacting – so perfect – so mighty to raise and lift up – to put down or to lay low – God Himself King – Ruler – Governor – and man subject – ruled – governed. Can aught but blessing and glory follow so great a letting go of the “I” and “my” of men? Shall My Life be imparted to you – or you – My child, if yours be held back and desired – from Me? Let Me have the petty human life – you receive Me to abide in Me. Give up yourself – all of your self – let Me have My own – and I am not only God – King – Ruler – Governor – nay – but Lover – Blesser – and Helper – hiding you close in My Bosom protecting you in My Arms—and providing the need of your soul in My anointing and glory.’”
Mrs. B’s stay in Toronto was indeed prolonged – until June (1918). During these months the Lord gave her a much needed opportunity for an extended period of waiting upon Him, for which she was very thankful.
A LITTLE WORK is done by our young people in neighboring towns, etc.,” replied Mrs. R. to a query from one desiring to train for Christian service, “and this is the thing that puts into experience the lessons learned. Those who really get the benefit of this work usually are the residents – staying with us till the Lord opens a door for them. Most of the young people who have gone from us have done so when a door opened for ministry somewhere.”
The year after the work in Kenosha was opened, another mission was opened in Racine, Wisconsin, where several students from the Homes ministered throughout the following years. Then in 1918, during the time Mrs. R. was in Toronto, one of the junior ministers of the Faith Homes rented a little hall in Waukegan, then a city of 19,000, and began to hold meetings there. Upon her return Mrs. R. encouraged some of the young people to go along and help in the street meetings and various services. Well-intentioned as was the effort, it was a bit premature and almost proved abortive. After a while the hall was closed, though cottage meetings were continued. A second hall was later secured and meetings started with little better success. All in all, the venture was not very well organized, and somehow there was “a lack of faith” if there was “not lack of courage.”
At this juncture, in the spring of 1919, Mrs. R. offered to pick up the matter. The Lord, she knew, was interested in Waukegan and would be pleased to have a “Branch Work,” as it were, of the Faith Homes in that city which would serve as an outlet for ministry for some of the young people who by their knowledge and experience were now suited for some practical experience.
Throughout the summer of 1919, Mrs. R. encouraged a number of the Faith Home young people to participate regularly in the street meetings there each Saturday night. The Lord, however, indicated that these young people should be more than “just street workers,” for, “no ministry could preach to people long, seeing no fruit, having no personal attention to those preached to, unless he is so experienced he doesn’t get one-sided in a period of such work.” Furthermore, precious as ministering on the street is, unless it is followed up, it “does shallow work.”
Therefore, with the coming of the fall (1919), when the street meetings would normally close, the time seemed propitious for doing something of a permanent nature in Waukegan. “Now, do you young people who go to Waukegan to just have a Saturday night meeting not get lonely for those people you minister to?” Mrs. B. asked those who had been helping there in a letter dated September 26.
“Do you not long to find them helped in their daily lives just like you know?
“In what way will you get the fruit for your labors if you drop it every Saturday night? Can’t you follow them up in any way?
“Are you hungry to see souls saved? Would you be glad to be one of those who saw a door to do something for My Waukegan people, at hand?
“What one among this number is willing to go on the altar and do something more valuable, more permanent, of more benefit than you have been doing?
“The Lord Jesus Christ has a plan that will interest you and please you, unless your heart is not ready for souls, or God, or unless He calls you to something else.”
The proposition which Mrs. R. presented was that those definitely interested in ministering together in Waukegan should first of all ask themselves some searching questions such as: “Of what nature is your personal call? That is, are you just eager to preach and to be public in the pulpit? Is that your call? Or are you eager to win souls, help souls, bless them, and are you really in earnest to bear the burden of being patient with those who are weak and backward? Is it God’s work and God’s people that interest you, or your own development?”
Having searched their hearts as to the purity of their motive in engaging in this ministry, it was to be understood that in undertaking this deputational work in Waukegan, it was to be something in addition to their secular duties and spiritual service in the Homes, which were not to be neglected.
The principle of God’s plan in His ministry, so the Lord indicated, is: “Give your life to Jesus, whatever the work is, and don’t under any condition consider it ignoble to work by your hands. Yet, in case your life is filled with preaching, intercession, preparations, and personal work for souls, so you do not have time for the liberty of your hands, in daily occupation, then to be wholly confined to your ministerial work is best. For the real training of the ministry is the simplicity of a well-spent, devoted, daily life, always, in all places, doing your work because of, and for Jesus, and every bit of recreation (which you are entitled to sometimes) being for Him, unto Him. That is the true ministry.
“But, in addition, you must have a great spirit of self-sacrifice. No child of God, no Christian, is ever fully prepared for the ministry till he can bear the stress of a busy life and yet keep in prayer and keep in God, so his prayer and life and Bible study measure up. Daily opportunities come in these Homes for faith, prayer, love, grace, and real service for souls, and for other things. Keep to your ministry; see that at this time your life is given to His vineyard, and the Homes are part of that vineyard.”
The young people who felt called of God to work in Waukegan were to do so as a team. All of them were to be “equal as ministers.” To begin with, they were to spend – and did – many days of prayer together for the proposed mission.
Then, two by two, they were to engage in an extensive door-to-door visitation program throughout the city, advertising the meetings and personally inviting people to them. Mrs. R. gave minute instructions regarding this campaign: e.g., the men were to go into certain sections such as the business districts and “tough” neighborhoods, while the women were to canvass the residential areas.
With the opening of the services themselves, the young people were to take turns in leading them and in the actual preaching. In other words, all were to pray the work through together, labor together, minister together, and trust the Lord together for the expenses incident to the mission, each one feeling personally responsible for the work.
“I would like those who are interested in Waukegan,” Mrs. R. wrote, “to regard the actual will of God, not go by feelings,
‘I would like to do this or that.’ Under no circumstances say, ‘I’ll do a few things, help when I feel like it.’
“What are you? A servant of God or just sort of a beginner in consecration? Is your heart really given?
“Well, the ones I want are those who say, ‘Jesus, I want to be in Your vineyard, and I give myself for ever. I will do the thing that will bless Your work and not think of just myself, my developments.’”
“And yet the soul that does say that is the one that does develop, and no one of these young people have really seen Jesus in their call and ministry, if their cry is a chance for experience and development and not a cry to help souls, but if you help souls and do it for God, you get to love them.”
Although Mrs. B. indicated she would help and guide these young people, as the Lord led her to do so, the Lord made it very clear that if the project was to succeed, it would have to be by their faith – ”or not at all.”
So the Waukegan Full Gospel work was launched by a gospel team composed of some eight or ten workers.
Foremost in the group were Mr. and Mrs. Rex B. Andrews who had been engaged in the work of the Lord for a number of years. Mr. Andrews had first visited the Faith Homes in the fall of 1913, just after the Robinsons had come back from Montreal. In April of the next year Mr. and Mrs. Andrews with their two children, Carolyn and Charles, came to live in the Faith Homes at the express invitation of Mrs. R.
“Those days,” Mrs. Andrews recalls, “my nerves were at the breaking point.” Mrs. R. was used to help her greatly. Shortly after she arrived, one day Mrs. r. sat down with her on the davenport in the parlor and began to talk to her about her needs. Without having been told a word, Mrs. R. by the Spirit of God discerned the cause of some of her tensions or strain – for one thing, trying to be something spiritually beyond her present experience. The result of this “little” teaching was that she was brought out of her strain, an excellent example of Mrs. R’s fruitful, personal ministry. Naturally, Mrs. Andrews was occupied primarily with their children in those years, (a third child, Faith, the only child born in the Faith Homes, later completed the family circle), but Mr. Andrews was received as the junior minister or vessel of the work (July 4, 1914). This being so, and Mr. Andrews having had a real call from God to work in Waukegan, he was in a sense to be the leader among equals.
Others included in this group were: Helen Innes, whose conversion has been narrated and who had already ministered in the Racine and Kenosha assemblies;
Stella Leggett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Leggett, who had been converted in the Homes in 1912 and shortly thereafter had been engaged in secretarial work for Mrs. R.;
Minnie McConnell, who had been associated with the work in Toronto and had recently come to Zion for a period of training;
John Robinson (no relation to Mrs. B.), a native of England, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and a student at Wheaton College, who had come to the Homes as a result of Mrs. R’s ministry in Wheaton some years before;
Marie Wegman, a German Swiss, who had migrated to Zion City as a girl, had attended the first tent meetings, and after her conversion some time later had made the Faith Homes her church home;
Joseph Wannenmacher, born in Hungary, who had been a devout Roman Catholic before he was converted to Christ and, at the same time, instantaneously healed of tuberculosis of the bone about two and a half years before. A man of much prayer, Joseph was an exceedingly zealous witness for Christ and an effective personal worker.
This gospel team was very earnest, and from the start souls were saved, the sick healed, and believers filled with the Spirit. After meeting for a year or so in an upstairs hall right in the heart of Waukegan, Mr. Andrews purchased a library building from the nearby Great Lakes Naval Training Station and hauled it to Waukegan where it was rebuilt at 18 Philippa Avenue. By the summer of 1921 it was sufficiently ready for the meetings to be transferred to it. Thus the Full Gospel Tabernacle was established and one of the great desires of Mrs. R. was fulfilled—to see these young people, her joy and crown, launch out into the work of the Lord.
As a true “mother in Israel” Mrs. R. watched over and encouraged the “Waukegan young people,” as this band of workers was called. While she kept before them the vision of needy souls, at the same time she constantly reminded them of the need in their lives for knowing Jesus more greatly, and that “Jesus being sought always brings His blessing.” Ever they were commanded, “Be stedfast toward the Lord that you want Him.”
If she warned them that they were in danger of putting their vineyard work ahead of their seeking and wanting Christ alone, she also taught them how to consecrate that work to Christ and that if they did that, God would prosper the vineyard as a natural result.
If she discerned by the Spirit of God, and told them so, that they did not love souls enough, “Mother” Robinson also told them, according to the knowledge God gave her, that they were “putting up a pretty good fight – and getting used to it” – i.e., fighting the good fight of faith.
Sometimes Mrs. B. gave personal help to one and another of the workers. Referring to two of the number who were very strong physically, she said they also “must be strong spiritually to bear the cross and dare to step out spiritually.” To another, who later worked in Waukegan, she advised not to reflect and worry about what she had said in her preaching. Once she was finished, she should commit her talk to the Lord and not be concerned about what she had said.
In teaching the group once, she praised one of the young men very highly as a preacher: He knows how to preach, is one of the best preachers around here. Then straightening up – a characteristic mannerism with her – she added, “But I am to say, he doesn’t always practice what he preaches.” (Many years later he himself told this story, and when the congregation laughed, he said, “Don’t laugh! The rest of you are the same.”)
(Often when Mrs. B. was used of God to teach an individual, she began by praising him, perhaps singling out some quality or ability in which he really excelled. It was what followed the straightening of her whole body and the words, “But I am to say,” which one awaited with wonder, possible fear, and which left no room for boasting or pride of any kind.)
Throughout the years an outstanding feature of the Waukegan work continued to be – even to the present day – its street meetings which have always been productive in the salvation of precious souls. Located only four miles from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station with its thousands of sailors, multitudes of whom naturally spend much of their off-time in this city, Waukegan has provided an unusual opportunity to witness to Christ to these as well as to the residents. In addition to these listeners, often people who were passing through the city on what for years was the main route from Chicago to Milwaukee, Sheridan Road, would stop to listen. How many of these transients heard the gospel and believed then or at some later time, only eternity will reveal.
There was one outstanding experience which the workers had in this respect, however, which taught them how God was working. They had been praying most earnestly for some time for souls to be saved. Then one day the Lord told them that they had prayed enough to pray in one hundred souls. Now there had been no hundred souls added to the Waukegan congregation. Therefore, they could only conclude that although they might have prayed sufficiently, they evidently had not mixed their prayers with faith.
About that time two transients stopped to listen at the street corner, were converted, and then drove off. A year later these two returned to the street meeting, and they had a story to tell. After their conversion, they had witnessed in their home church, located down the line on the North Shore, and as a result a revival had broken out and ninety-eight souls had been saved! All because these two had heard and accepted the gospel the year before.
The original team of workers, one by one, answered the call of God to other fields of service:
Stella Leggett became increasingly occupied as Mrs. R’s secretary and as a minister in the Faith Homes.
Minnie McConnell returned to Toronto where she later conducted a home for the benefit of evangelists, ministers, and missionaries.
Marie Wegman and John Robinson were married and later went to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they faithfully and successfully labored for many years.
Immediately after their marriage in 1921, Helen Innes and Joseph Wannenmacher went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they still are laboring for the Master. Burdened for his own Hungarian people, the Wannenmachers began their work among them. Every Hungarian in Milwaukee received a copy of the Gospel of John in his native tongue. Many came to the mission and were born again. Later, English services were started. As the congregation grew, it “mothered” a half dozen other assemblies in the metropolitan area of Milwaukee. These, in turn, have started other churches. In addition to this, the Wannenmachers have been instrumental in sending more than fifty young people into full-time Christian service in this and foreign hands.
With the departure of the members of this gospel team to their respective fields of labor, the Andrews became the settled pastors of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. True, Mrs. R. encouraged and directed other young people of the Faith Homes to go to Waukegan to help there in various capacities from time to time, but the Andrews assumed the leadership of the work. Mrs. R., however, continued her deep interest in the Waukegan work and sought in various ways to help the Andrews personally and in their ministry. For example, “the fire of faith” and love burned in Mrs. R’s heart to reach sinners, and God especially burdened her for the many unsaved who daily passed through the railroad stations of Waukegan – ”souls God cared for,” many of whom would not get the help they needed or even might be lost if they were not witnessed to by some means. Consequently, the Lord led her to provide tracts to be placed in a box in one of the stations.
“Tracts indeed seem a small way to serve Him,” Mrs. R. wrote Mr. Andrews who had volunteered to keep the box supplied with tracts which she would personally select and furnish for this purpose, “but tracts launched with faith expectant of His using them have sometimes accomplished more than meetings…
“Can you not believe as these tracts are put in the station, the right person at the right time will get the right tract and that souls may come to Christ, not by coming to the mission only, but just to Christ, and in what way or by what means He provides? Won’t you pray over the tracts and papers before they go? And lift up your heart to Me occasionally about them when they have gone? And won’t you be responsible for them, wanting them to go on time, etc., wanting fruit for Jesus?
“You see when I tell you about these tracts, I tell you something that doesn’t concern our meetings at all. It presents to you the question whether those passing strangers souls are precious to you, whether all souls press upon your soul for salvation…
“Is it souls you are after, or good meetings? What is the real burden of your heart? Are you wanting souls? Or have you sought your success in meetings, and in your mission? Why aren’t you in some way seeing the souls outside of meetings? Souls that are not likely to get into a mission at first, and not even yours, perhaps, anywhere, where souls are, but especially when God gives you any chance for them, for then God helps you to help.
“The Lord has amazed me in the way He has been talking about the people that go through that depot,” added Mrs. R. in a ‘p.s.’ to this letter. “My tracts are mostly for Christians, but He put them nearly all away for tracts for sinners. He did put in a few for Christians, but He says that we don’t know how the people are without the knowledge of Christ. They are real out-and-out sinners, never hear the gospel. The Lord says we don’t realize how wicked the world is begun to be. Naturally this stirs me up further over our little opportunity.”
In the same postscript Mrs. R. made a comment which was very significant regarding the future ministry of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. Evidently Mr. Andrews had expressed to Mrs. R. the thought that he believed the Lord desired Leonard Johnson, who had been training in the Faith Homes, to help in Waukegan. In response to this thought, Mrs. R. commented “that it seems to us God is leading you about Leonard.” Subsequently Leonard Johnson went to help in the Waukegan assembly. After the Andrews left in 1928, he became its faithful shepherd and has “departed not out of the tabernacle,” but with his wife, Constance Andresen, who also trained in the Homes, continues to minister there.
Not only have many souls been saved in Waukegan itself as a result of the work which Mrs. R. was used of God to launch there, but from this one assembly about thirty have gone into full-time service in various parts of the United States and to India and South America.
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are, and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea, in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”
Note: Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford, William, Edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, p. 236.
THE CHILDREN’S BREAD
“IN PRAYING FOR THE SICK, it makes an immense difference what the attitude of the person prayed for is. If the person prayed for is first in the spirit of prayer, goes to God as His own privileged child, and asks for healing himself, and then is joined in with by another prayer – that is the best chance of healing.”
William Leggett, husband of Mrs. Robinson’s first associate minister, Eva MacPhail Leggett, had been severely injured as a young man so that he became increasingly crippled until he could walk only with the aid of crutches. For two years Mr. and Mrs. Leggett had been praying together for his deliverance. Now the Lord had Mrs. R. give him some teaching to show him what was hindering his receiving the answer to his prayer. The fact was that he had been leaning upon his wife’s faith, whereas if he was to be delivered it would be necessary for him by his own faith “to take the answer when it was given.” True, his wife “had prayed the heaviest part of the prayer and, of course, a person who prays a prayer,” Mrs. R. explained, “must take and hold it.” Then she continued with the teaching about prayer for a sick person as given at the beginning of the chapter.
Mrs. B. went on in her letter to show further what is the proper attitude for a sick person to have when he is being prayed for by another: “To be sure, the other person praying may be the greater prayer of the two and have the larger intercession or faith, but what would require a miracle of faith on the part of the co-prayer, if the one ill did not have active and leading faith in it, is a much simpler prayer – easier to get answered – if the one ill does have that faith.
“In other words, if you yourself get the desire and grasp of your healing, it is your prayer and you are equally in earnest – that is the first necessity, of course. The other part of that is that it is a sort of principle of Divine Healing. As a child of God you have the right to just ask for the children’s bread – you are Father’s child and need it. Come to Him in your ‘sonship’ and privilege, as well as your faith.
“Eva in praying with you intercedes for another, and it is by faith you and she call for the healing. But if she carries the prayer and you were not in a state of faith yourself – she could not get the answer anywhere near as easy.
“Of course you and Eva know all this.
“But the Lord says sometimes you have failed to grasp your place as a ‘son’ and appointed for healing and look at it [as if] the same prayer of faith would have to be prayed for your healing as would have to be prayed for a person without such a claim… All of this is really ordinary Divine Healing teaching and not just for you.
“This thought I have put in here about the children’s bread is something not seen as it should be by many people asking for their healing. The approach to God on that basis is the sound foundation for a confident faith. It’s your right and privilege. It’s God’s place and appointment. You glorify and obey Him to claim your portion. It is in the atonement of Christ for you. You step out into the purchased possession of Christ’s death for you by faith.
“We ask for that blessing as we do for others – such as the baptism, salvation even, etc., but He proposes the blessing for you ere you may even think to ask.
“I have been made to double on this point so it will be plain. You need to come as a child – simply – not looking at yourself as lacking in faith, but seeing your Father. Not fearful of your failure, but as a trusting child, seeing Father loves you and undertakes for you.
“He wants Will Leggett to have His health.
“You need the realization that He devotes Himself to you and claims for you as for others. You are called.
“It was some lack in this grasp that at first made it difficult to ‘take up’ your healing. It had to be you if possible who, as others have had to do, just went to God for healing, and if others prayed for you or not, you know you are going to keep in faith yourself till it is accomplished.
“In the same sense – now – it needs to be, you keep your expectations and faith clearly – as well as your co-prayer.
“Lately two or three incidents in this house have occurred to illustrate this. One person fell ill with what appeared to be approaching influenza and was told to get hold of that herself and pray and take her own grip of faith and be before God for it – and then ask us, if she liked, to cooperate – and be herself the one that expects that deliverance – and [she] was beautifully healed.
“And yet in other cases the Lord has had to not do this way, but take the case for such a one – by someone else – making, of course, a greater miracle to perform. And God wants us to make these allowances – [for] children and weaklings and sometimes people not weaklings who are not someway clear in Divine Healing faith.
“But Jesus likes Mr. Leggett to see himself as one Jesus does not count as a weakling – but as one of the men of God – no child in faith.
“This letter… is an explanation evidently of a principle I explained to Eva when I got the little message that the prayer was great enough if it was really in your faith.”
Is it surprising that shortly after Mrs. B. wrote this letter and Mr. Leggett acted on its instruction that he received an instantaneous healing?
AS EACH IS CALLED
DR. McC- WAS A Presbyterian minister, one of the comparatively few Faith Home visitors who was not Pentecostal. Hungry for God, lie was being led by the Spirit into some of the deeper truths of the gospel such as divine healing. In the pursuit of a greater knowledge of God, he had come to the Homes. The leaders there had themselves come out of various denominations into Pentecost, and some, by virtue of their own experience, thought that as a matter of course it was God’s will to lead all seekers after truth into Pentecost. Not so Mrs. Robinson, for the Lord had taught her that He deals with each individual according to his personal condition, light, and ability to be of geatest service in the Kingdom, whether in or out of Pentecost.
In a letter regarding Dr. McC- Mrs. R. clearly set forth the great, wide viewpoints which the Holy Spirit had given her regarding such issues as were involved in cases such as his. By it one also sees that she made no attempt to draw people to herself or into fellowship with the Homes, no matter how educated or influential they might be. Hers was indeed an unselfish, disinterested love for souls, a desire to help people just where and with ways God wanted them helped. And, therefore, seeing that Dr. McC- might be influenced by the suggestions or advice of well-meaning but over-zealous people, the Lord had Mrs. R. give some wisdom whereby those ministers in the Homes who were directly dealing with him might be guided:
“First, Jesus does not try to pull men out of their churches by advice of men. It is not a good plan. He had better carry his light into his church, if anything. And, moreover, it is not sure, when a man is a good Presbyterian minister, getting Divine Healing [light] and then managing to stay in his church, that he doesn’t do more good there than one would think.
“Will you consider this a little? He is fifty years old, and not Pentecostal. He is deeper than the church he is in. He would lead them up. For them he would be broad and liberal toward deeper life teachings. In his own church he takes his place.
“Now in Pentecost he is a beginner, and a little one. None of the great power is in him. Can he get his own place in the ministry in Pentecost, etc.? Is he not in a hard place if he should fall down in it? Now that is the question. Why try to get a man like that out of his church? And why dare to judge? Is it right? Who can answer this question?
“In case, however, we see a man himself so led – seeing it in his vision – longing to get out, – we meet him. Why not? We got out. Well, but if the Lord could give wisdom – I am sure that it would really give him help. But could he act on it? Is he to come out of the church? And if not, why not? And do you know? Where will he go? What is his field? Is he convinced of Pentecost? No – and I would teach it to him before he came out. And I would teach him Divine Healing. If then he wanted to take it back to his church, all right.
“Mrs. R. has long had such teaching as this. Men precipitately leave their ministries. O that they would let their light shine!
“Now, that is all for the ministry. And some must come out and some must stay in. Who knows who?
“We really need light on one point – is God Himself ready for all people to go out of the work they were led into when they get some new [line] of truth? Or would God, as He does in other matters, just lead you – myself – or others, as each is called? Is it your experience that always if one gets a new truth that God really takes a man away from the field he is in to tell and live that truth?
“Yes, I know, our experience is that God does finally lead one into a new line of work, and if he is able, places him where he will use his new light. Is it our job to convince men to move soon, and, well – what is God doing? – that is – not what we or others have done?
“Do you know if some miss their call by too hasty moves?
“Let us, knowing He knows, be wise by these hints as to our knowing too much ourselves and let Jesus show people these things.
“Dr. McC- is a strong minister in his own way, and truly spiritual in his own call, and yet would he by persuasion go through on a move to a new line of work and be held up through obstacles, disappointments, and trials if they meet him? Is his wife strong enough? What do we know as to God’s will about the couple?
“If not in Pentecost, but on Divine Healing lines, he stepped out – where could he go? If for Pentecost, which we see, is he at all ready in Pentecost, and so on?
“Now let Jesus show us wisdom. Keep ourselves out of the idea we can advise or draw that man to Pentecost unless God calls him first. We are, of course, to witness about Pentecost and teach it correctly, etc. But the matter of coming out of a church is an individual matter. Ere he draws out for Pentecost from a church still in God’s pleasure in some measure, as Presbyterians are often spiritually led, let him be himself clear and himself called.
“Does the Lord say, ‘Tell him all this?’ Not at all. Be careful to let him, if he is to get it, to get it by Jesus. So, if Jesus takes him from his church, Jesus can. If he takes him back to his church, Jesus can. But he is apt to take some of your advice if he can get it or be influenced by you. If you have talked to him about getting out of his church, just let it get balanced evenly – not by your seeing perfectly – but act – in conversation – just as if God leads people themselves and not as if you had found out now that he was not to leave his church…
“Mr. McC- leans at this time, so that he will be easily influenced. Don’t influence him. No, either way. If you have already influenced or encouraged him either way, get it modified some way. If it is to leave his church – better to let it get balanced the other way, that is, God Himself needs to show one – no rule to always get right out of one’s church, etc.
“Get it to him in time unless there has been no talk about it. Under the situation he is likely to break loose from his church and get sorry afterward. Men cannot easily go back to their churches after leaving too hastily. Men run, when if they followed Jesus He would lead them softly – out, if He willed, or in.”
THE WAY TO OVERCOME
“AT PRESENT you have begun the simple overcoming that children of God should have from the beginning of their life in God.” Mrs. R. sent these startling words to a successful minister of wide experience and years of service. Many souls had been brought to God through his earnest efforts. Many sick had been healed, even miracles had been performed, as a result of his prayers and faith in God. Furthermore, he had a “reputation of loveliness” and power as a preacher.
For all of these “works,” He whose eyes are as a flame of fire searched the heart of this servant of God and saw that his heart was not perfect towards God. There were places in his life and ministry where he still wanted to have his way instead of God’s way, places where he “did not like to be governed so closely” by the Spirit of God, places where he “did not perfectly obey” the Lord. Then, he sometimes had dumps and allowed shadows and depressions to rule in his life. To the extent which he permitted these works of the flesh to govern him, to that extent the flesh and the enemy were reigning in him instead of the Spirit of God with the fruit of love, joy, and peace. As a result, his greatest usefulness was curtailed, and those who were working with him were also hindered.
Awakened to his condition by the word of the Lord, he had now begun to seek God for deliverance and to overcome those things in his nature which were displeasing to the Lord. Earnestly Mrs. R. interceded in his behalf. Patiently she taught him line upon line. Slowly the light dawned and victory was manifest. Faithfully the Lord had her warn him that although he had a measure of victory he could not repeat his mistakes “and then suppose the devil will just run and be afraid” the moment he decided to do the will of God.
“It isn’t like that in the spiritual life,” Mrs. B. went on to explain. “You have to stand steadfast and be patient and show the devil that as you fooled and yielded, so now you don’t fool, and don’t yield, and are in earnest. And if you do slip somewhere, you are not going to let him run you, but will get right back again, sweetly and fearlessly, into God’s will… Satan can always overcome the man that is afraid he will be beaten and sits down in the flesh of fear.”
Mrs. R. continued to explain how the enemy gains advantage over a careless Christian who persists in disobeying the commands of the Lord. By committing mistakes and repeatedly “yielding to the flesh and the devil… the flesh and the devil have become the overcomers.”
Then “you wake up. You say you won’t do this anymore. You aim to overcome, and to your great astonishment the enemy doesn’t pay much attention to your good intention; and if you slip, it tries, just as hard as can be, not to go away, or return if gone away. It seems unfair to you, and you get peeved... ‘It is hardly worth trying, is it?’ Yet, Satan, when he tried to conquer you, was no baby. The devil kept at his job, and ought not he to have the privilege of keeping his place?
Just turn around and retrace your spiritual steps, and for every step of disobedience take a step of faith or a step of obedience; for every step of nervous struggle and fret – that you have to do right – step in faith and confidence that you belong to Me [Jesus], and I [Jesus] am seeing you through.
“When you give in to the devil – and you do at times – you let him steal your steps.
“And yet if you keep stepping, keep on in faith, keep on hoping and praising and doing as best you know, not the things that please you, but the things that please God, what will happen? Why, Satan will be as badly overcome as you have been. Satan will be conquered. Satan will be the one to get fearful and useless and sit down and guess it’s a bad job. The fact is, the devil... would then get to the abyss.
“The principle in the spiritual life is, every time you say, ‘No,’ to the devil, and deny your flesh, and say always, ‘Yes,’ to Jesus, you are overcoming flesh, and, of course, overcoming Satan. To live a steadfastly obedient, careful life with Jesus, and do these things that please Him, wins the life of Christ and crucifies flesh.
“Reverse the order, keep indulging the flesh; keep doing these things that don’t please Jesus; keep exercising your own will, etc., and, if you know the mind of the Lord, just fail to do it, why, of course, you miss your life in Christ; you get more in the flesh; and if you go at it extremely in the points you are weakest, and do the most wrong, there Satan tries you.
“…And if you would walk back to the faith path instead of the fear and grumble path, would be humble, [the Lord] could get you back past the dangers of these overcomers, i.e., the enemies which had gained the mastery because of disobedience and carelessness.
“Well, for every unovercoming mistake... will [you] really have to take a similar step of overcoming and denial of self to break down that flesh.
“Well, that would be fair, wouldn’t it?
“Yet, you see, Jesus always goes past justice into mercy.
“The heart’s purpose counts for so much with Him, and even on the devil it counts much too, for he looks at the wavering makeup, and he knows when a man puts down his foot of faith and settles the question that he will not go that way, etc., and Satan gives in when the man won’t.”
And so this minister persevered in the fight until God made him victor over his flesh and those things in his nature which had defeated him.
YEARS OF FAITH
“THESE ARE YEARS of faith,” is a notation in Mrs. R.’s wide-margin New Testament, dated July 23, 1921. While it is true that the just must always live and walk by faith, it is equally true that there are times when because of special trials they must exercise special faith. Particularly is this true of one who is called of God to be a leader in His work. So it was, the years of 1919 through 1922 were “years of faith” for this servant of the Lord. Unusually severe trials, both in the work and in her personal life, beset Mrs. R. whereby she was called to exercise greater faith. It was a period when by God’s permission His vessel “went through a great valley of losses in everything.”
Note: This New Testament originally belonged to Mr. Robinson and bears his signature and Montreal address.
Some clue as to the nature of these calls for faith may be gathered from the various notes and entries which Mrs. R. made throughout the New Testament which she used at this time. Taken together they form something of a spiritual diary for this period. Especially enlightening are the subjects listed for prayer. These include her personal needs, spiritual and physical, incident to her call and ministry, her co-workers, the Homes, and other vineyard workers.
The Waukegan work, it will be remembered, was launched in 1919. This was indeed a venture requiring faith – faith over the young people who were called to undertake this ministry, faith for the supply of the material needs of the work and the workers, faith for souls to come in and to have their needs supplied. In connection with this, much instruction had to be given requiring much time and labor. And while the missions in Racine, in Kenosha, and in Milwaukee (which was opened in 1921) were not her special charge as was Waukegan, Mrs. R. felt a keen interest and responsibility for the young ministers laboring in these cities, for after all they were her own children in the Lord.
Another call for faith was for the various needs of the Faith Homes. For one thing, during this period there was a severe and prolonged financial test. As a result, there developed an atmosphere of unbelief on the part of some of the workers which doubled the fight of faith, and this attitude of doubt had to be overcome, first of all, before God could supply the material needs. To accomplish this, Mrs. R. had to have faith that those lacking in faith would be given it, and this necessitated her teaching them in order that the obstacles might be removed and their faith built up.
“Now then,” Mrs. R. wrote one of her associates in this connection, “the atmosphere at the present time is like this:
‘We can’t run this work by faith.’
“If you give way to that, as a set of vessels, we are done for. You can’t run this work by anything but faith. Unless run by faith it will go to the wall. For it is a miracle of faith that we do run this work. No supplies of an ordinary mission are here. Unless we look to the Almighty, it is simply nonsense to talk about running this work.
“I mean we have to be more in faith when we are pressed and not get discouraged. The harder the battle, the better we must fight, the more clear we must be, I mean – the more simple.
“I don’t believe we are in any place of letting down our faith. In the matter of Faith Homes, I felt faith. We are in some kind of a ‘bump’ that we will get out of if there isn’t too much fuss, and talk, and heads, and no faith. Discussion always weakens faith, and that is one reason, until faith was pretty well established, the Lord didn’t try for financial conferences. He made the vessels prove we could live by the offerings, and not until then were there conferences concerning the finances of the work.”
In this situation faith again was the victor, and God saw the Homes over the “bump” and showed them His glory. And as a result the faith of all waxed stronger.
These were also “years of faith” in behalf of the needs of some of Mrs. B’s loved co-workers who became involved in fierce, spiritual battles incident to their call and ministry. In behalf of some of these she was called to fight a great fight of faith that they might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
Such labor was by far one of the largest, most important, parts of her ministry and necessitated hours of soul travail and hours of teaching, which in turn meant hours of waiting upon God for the needed preparation to enable her to teach each one “in all wisdom.” Often it was necessary to give the same teaching over and over again – ”precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Naturally speaking, this can be a tedious, sometimes thankless task. “A minister ought to be patience personified,” Mrs. R. said once. And she was just that as a teacher.
Only those who have been engaged, even to a small degree, in a ministry like this can begin to know the sacrifices involved – the cost in time, in effort, in spiritual substance, yes, and in the physical strength. (For example, Mrs. R. sometimes worked all night, as indicated by a pencil note at the end of a letter: “It is now 5 A.M. This was a teaching letter to a minister in dire need and consisted of more than seven pages of single-spaced typewriting.)
And only those used of God in a teaching ministry such as this can appreciate to the full the joys realized over victories gained in such battles, and, alas, the sorrows over defeats sustained when individuals fail of the grace of God. Such failures are painful in the extreme, and Mrs. R. knew many heartbreaks of this kind.
To Mrs. R. the result of many of these failures was far more than simply sorrowing over another’s loss. Oft–times she, too, suffered personal loss in the losses of her companions “in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,” for it is a cardinal law of the kingdom that if one member of the body of Christ suffer, “all the members suffer with it.” (I Cor. 12:26)
Of course, had Mrs. R. chosen to do her own will, she could have refused to bear these burdens of others. That would have been a far easier path for her to walk. Then she might have been able to devote herself to more spectacular and seemingly more valuable and permanent forms of Christian service – conducting campaigns, writing, a ministry of healing – which would have gained for her a greater name and more popularity. Instead, she chose the will of God and so “fulfilled the law of Christ.”
A beautiful, powerful locomotive may be able to race at record speed on a clear track between Chicago and New York, for example, but this is really of no practical value. The usefulness of a locomotive lies in its ability to haul – passenger or freight cars. Its speed decreases in proportion to the load, and the possibilities of trouble developing increases proportionally to the cars added. Occasionally an engine is given a load that is nearly too great for it, and so it has to all but stop.
Thus it is in the Kingdom of God. Spirituality does not exist for itself, and certainly not to reflect glory on its possessor, but for the glory of God and to help others reach the Goal. In the process of bearing another’s load, one may seem to lose his own life, but the words of Jesus were never more true than in such circumstances:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35)
In the course of these battles the archers of the adversary shot at and “sore wounded” this brave and valiant soldier of Jesus Christ. Consequently, these years also became years of faith” for physical healing and divine health. In the fall of 1920 the enemy attacked Mrs. R. with an illness designed to be fatal. One of less fortitude would have become an invalid. It was a most painful, tumerous condition. Never before had she had anything like it.
As she looked to the Lord about her condition and for instructions as to how to fight this battle, she received no light or word at all. This silence on the part of the Lord only added to her perplexity and trial of faith. “Jesus did not run to the rescue,” commented Mrs. R. afterwards, adding that sometimes He helps people most “by making them walk” by naked faith for a time.
Later the Lord explained to her that all this was permitted of Him to see if she would have any choice of her own, would “want to die” rather than to live, a temptation to which she could have easily yielded had she been less consecrated than she was. The fact was that there were many circumstances connected with her call and ministry which were most discouraging, so that “Heaven looked very inviting, and earth pretty dark.” And the Lord allowed her to abide in darkness for the time being, simply staying herself upon the Lord, desirous only that Christ should be magnified in her whether by life or by death.
As the conflict continued and she received no word of encouragement, she began to wonder if perchance God saw the struggle was an unequal one and, under the circumstances, wanted her to “go home.” If so, she was perfectly willing for that. While she pondered this possibility in her heart, the Lord asked her, “Don’t you feel it’s rather cowardly to want to get out of your trouble that way?”
That gave her the clue as to God’s desire for her. Immediately she began to fight the good fight of faith for her perfect healing. For many years after her first miracle of healing in 1899, Mrs. R. had walked in divine health. At length, however, as a result of some terrific physical onslaughts, her light of Christ as her Health had become a little dim so that when she became the victim of this subtle attack of the enemy, “she was floored” for the moment when she realized her loss in this respect. But now “she began to ask God to restore to her what she knew of divine healing or divine health and to put her in her office she had in being always well, always strong. She fought to win the memories of how she launched and walked in the strength of Christ.”
“The renewals” of these lights were granted to her eventually, so that once again she was enabled to live “in the faith of the Son of God.” Meanwhile, however, the thing which helped her to persevere was “the years of fortitude, of believing for health, of being able to stand in the strength of Christ, and do a great deal on the basis of faith.” “The power to really ignore facts and to see life and health in Christ” provided “the holdover” till the healing was won.
Throughout the winter of 1920-’21 Mrs. R. “simply lived by faith,” even though she was “near death” much of the time. But when the pain would be very great, the Lord did not have her pray for healing. Instead, He called her “into tune” with Himself and she praised and said, “Jesus is my Life. Jesus is above pain.” In a few minutes, “a flow of glory and life” would go through her body so that she was completely relieved of all pain. Thus she was “kept above pain in a wonderful manner.”
Once or twice she lapsed in the faith of this experience of reckoning Christ within as her very physical Life, with the result that she “discovered an utter illness and gripes of pain no one could bear well.” She could not stand up straight. At such a time she kept “cool,” however, and believed God that it could not go on, praising God, and saying, “Jesus is above pain.” The result was that Christ, who is Life, manifested Himself so that she was delivered of her pain and was given “supernatural life.”
Thus she had “days and days of just walking in Jesus, of just knowing that He must be her strength.” She confessed that during this period she had taken more sleep than she had since she had been in the Homes. Even so she was “rarely in bed before midnight,” beginning the next day’s work by six or before and then worked “steadfastly as hard as she [could] right through the next day and evening.” Without the manifestation of the supernatural life of God she would have been in bed. With it she was not only kept alive but working way beyond the ability of an ordinarily well person.
Right in the midst of her own mortal combat in the spring of 1921, one of her older associates, then almost sixty-five, felt so nervous and weak that he feared he was going to have a nervous breakdown and needed help. In spite of her desperate condition, she immediately undertook his case, going to the Lord for the necessary knowledge and wisdom to see him through. As a result, he was taught to grasp “his great possibilities in God of the health of Christ” and so was spared for many years of useful service in the vineyard.
Most illuminating and instructive in relation to these years of faith” are the notes and Bible studies which Mrs. B. made in her wide-margin Testament. Many of these are dated, so that it is readily seen that they were made during some of her sharpest conflicts. By these notes the veil is lifted a bit, so that one gets a little glimpse into her soul struggles and sees how she was sustained in the midst of her trials by the Word of God.
Note: During 1921 Mrs. Robinson made chain-reference studies of the following subjects in her New Testament: Faith, Prayer, Believe, Trust, Unbelief, Name, Hope, Wisdom, Grace, To Know Him, Meekness, Joy, Healing, Will of God, Glory, Mind (including thoughts), Worship, Thy God Reigneth, Devils or demons, Word of God, Giving thanks, Grace. She also studied and prayed over the Beatitudes, Love, First Peter, and Colossians. These studies furnish abundant proof that throughout her life and for all her spiritual gifts she made the Word of God her daily food and thereby nourished her inner man.
For example, in February, 1921, she was “specially moved” to make a study of First Peter in connection with the subject of “rejoicing in suffering.”
On May 15 (1921), she began a chain reference study on the topics of Faith, Prayer, Believe, Trust, Unbelief (including Doubt and Fear). To this were added the topics of Name and, on May 25, of Hope. These seven she joined together with brackets, probably indicating their interrelation and that together they really formed one study. Certainly this was vitally connected with these “years of faith” and reminds one of the fact that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17)
Pursuing these topical studies throughout her Testament one finds marginal notes which were very pertinent to her circumstances:
“Give me faith that Thou art Master of this storm. Thou art in the boat. Unbelief says, ‘Carest Thou not?’ Unbelief says, ‘It’s such a big storm – and it is so great!’ When the wind blows high and boat rocks, O let me have stillness and faith.” (Note beside Matt. 8:23-26)
“Make me throw aside tumult. Whenever there is tumult, cause me to stand still [and] look at Thee. Give me faith to keep my eyes on Thee – and off my troubles.” (Note beside Matt. 14:28-32)
“Remove unbelief, fear, doubt, distrust…” (Note beside Matt. 17:20.)
“Give me faith to see my path and know Thy will.” (Note beside Mark 10:52.)
“Double, quadruple, multiply my faith,” she prays in connection with the last verse of First Corinthians Thirteen. Then she adds, “Faith is God’s call all the time if in trouble and frazzle – not at time of victory – as I am now – without any change.”
At the end of Second Timothy Mrs. R. records the climax of her prayer for faith up to that time, July 15, ‘21:
“Give me faith to be a good taker and believe for all prayed thro’… Faith for manifestation and greater fullness of God – all I know about this, the greatest I know… Christ in you! …Keeping that which is gained. Maintaining faith in the midst of trial and keeping up continuously an attitude of faith.
Then Mrs. R. makes the statement with which this chapter opens: “These are years of faith. How many times have I prayed in faith? How much have I today? I shall ask Thee that this day may be a climax to these past prayers and calls and whatever I have prayed thro’ lately, that I may know that now, today, I have the faith that it is my portion.
On the next day, July 16, the Lord spoke to His child this word which she records on the fly-leaf of this Testament:
“What you want to see again is the abandonment that leaves things to God. What I want you to see is the power and might of God to take things over. If you are an abandoned vessel, God reigns.”
Whatever the immediate cause or circumstances of any of her trials were at this period, the real issue involved, the test which the Lord was giving her, was whether in the hottest of any battle she would stick to her original consecration and want nothing but “Just Jesus.” By every conceivable means, within and without, the Lord tried her on this point – whether in any matter at all she would exercise the slightest desire of her own or hold onto anything or anyone – blessings or experiences or people whom even God had given her – except Jesus.
So the Lord allowed the fiery trials to continue and to increase. In the midst of these the Lord gave this word of admonition, January 10, 1922, to one of her fellow soldiers in the fight:
“Don’t look on the dark side of faith things, but on the faith side of dark things.”
A most timely admonition this was, for exactly two months later, like Epaphroditus, “because of the work of Christ,” Mrs. Robinson was dealt the most fiendish stroke yet inflicted by the adversary and became “sick, nigh unto death.”
“I would like to be one of those who didn’t grumble when the fight is hard,” stated Mrs. R. in a sermon two months before her illness. “Sometimes the fight is so hard,” she continued, “that you get your eyes off the Captain, and sometimes the fight is so hard that you see nobody but the Captain. You do not dare to look at the enemy. That is victory. Look at Him. Victory is for the man that thought God was true and would fear no evil.”
And so she did just that.
At the beginning of these “years of faith,” the Lord Jesus Christ spoke a word to Mrs. B. (December 4, 1919):
“No matter what she is in faith, she is never to let Me go from her as her best Beloved and most Desired.”
And she never did. Through all the vicissitudes and perplexities and trials of these “years of faith” she “held Him and would not let Him go.” Thus united to Him Who is the Beginner and Perfecter of our faith, her faith was made perfect and triumphed over the work of the enemy.
“There were no ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ in this life,” wrote one who had the opportunity to observe Mrs. Robinson through these years. “They were all good even though bad. She sometimes sang her own little, lilting tune with the words:
‘Oh, Jesus is the way!
The way is very straight;
The way is very narrow.
And she loved this way more than her comfort because it meant fellowship with Christ her Lord.”
FUNDAMENTAL HELPS FOR A PASTOR
“YOU CAN NEVER know anything and you can never be anything, but you can know Me and you can be for Me.” These words were given by Mrs. Robinson to a young minister, Hans R. Waldvogel, when he called on her the first time for a personal interview.
A native of Switzerland and the son of a godly Baptist minister, Mr. Waldvogel had been strongly opposed to Pentecost as a young man. By various means the Lord had sought to give him light. A designer of platinum jewelry with one of the leading houses for making custom-made jewelry in the city of Chicago, he was exceedingly zealous to serve the Lord after business hours. On week-ends he went to be with his parents in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There he became acquainted with the Finnerns of the Peniel Mission and asked to join them in their street meetings on Saturday nights. After much earnest consideration of the subject, Mr. Waldvogel, at long last, became convinced of the scriptural–ness of Pentecost and received a mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit.
A week after this glorious experience Mr. Waldvogel attended a service (June 21, 1919) in Chicago conducted by a world-famous, Pentecostal evangelist. Seated on the platform were a number of ministers who had been invited there and given the privilege of participating in the meeting according to the leading of the Spirit.
Early in the service a little woman at the end of the front row of ministers quietly arose and gave a brief message in tongues and interpretation, calling the attention of the people to the presence of Jesus in the midst. Simple as it was, Mr. Waldvogel observed that the effect on that large audience was phenomenal. A crowd which had been bustling and not very worshipful in its attitude was instantly subdued by this message and the power of God which accompanied it. Noticing this change, Mr. Waldvogel could not help but be impressed with this “little woman” whom he learned was a Mrs. Robinson from Zion, Illinois.ⁿ
Note: It is Mr. Waldvogel who is responsible for the following anecdote which he was told by Mrs. R. herself. On one of her visits to Chicago – the date and occasion are unknown – Mrs. R. was riding on the rear platform of a streetcar on Wabash Avenue when suddenly it lurched and she was hurled through the air, landing on the sidewalk some feet away. Naturally the conductor and other passengers were greatly concerned, certain that she must have been seriously injured, probably some of her bones broken. Upon being questioned, however, Mrs. R. assured the incredulous conductor that she was perfectly all right. The fact is that as she was being thrown from the streetcar, she had just time to call, “Lord, help me,” and when she fell on the concrete, she said she did so as easily as if she were being prostrated under the power of God at an altar service! She felt no harm whatever at the time and had no aftereffects from what could easily have proved a fatal accident.
Five months later, on Thanksgiving night, he attended his first service in the Faith Homes and for the first time heard Mrs. R. preach. She spoke on the subject of “Dumps.” It was a long sermon, but Mr. Waldvogel remembered only the one word – ”dumps” – a word he did not like because, as he said in telling about it, “I was in one.” Unmistakably the Lord was after him.
Having gone once, his interest and curiosity were aroused so that he soon returned. One visit then quickly followed another, for he found that here was a place where the bread and water of life were served, satisfying his inner man. Often God spoke to his own heart so strongly when he attended the services in the Homes that he would take off from his work the next day, naturally with the loss of the day’s wages, so that he could pray over the things he had heard – lest they slip from him.
In June of 1920, he finally quit his job and went to live and to minister with the Finnerns in Kenosha. Now, as often as possible Mr. Waldvogel took the opportunity to go to the Faith Homes where his hunger for God was increased by hearing Mrs. R. and her associates teach that “the main occupation of our lives ought to be seeking Jesus until we found Him in His fullness.” Often Mr. Waldvogel was conscious of the fact that although he was not mentioned by name, God was speaking to him, personally, directly out of high heaven through Mrs. R.
For example, in the course of his caring for the mission in Kenosha, Mr. Waldvogel incurred an injury which resulted in great discomfort and pain and, if it grew worse, threatened to incapacitate him unless he received some natural help or was healed by the power of God. Coming into Pentecost, he found he had to take divine healing in the bargain. First, he went to the Bible and studied the subject thoroughly from beginning to end. As he did so, he became certain that it is God’s will to heal His people in answer to the prayer of faith. Then he requested prayer and was definitely helped. After a time, however, his trouble returned. Again he asked for prayer, received help, but again the trouble returned. This happened repeatedly. Help followed prayer, every time, but the victory was not established and his trouble returned.
In this condition, perplexed and tempted to discouragement, Mr. Waldvogel was led to go to Zion for a meeting. Mrs. R. was not there, but during the course of the service, she came in and forthwith began to speak. The substance of her talk was this:
“The Lord has brought me into this meeting to deliver a message, and when I have given it, I will leave. When God lays a prayer upon your heart, you must not lay the prayer down until you have prayed it through.”
In this connection Mrs. R. spoke especially about divine healing and the need to pray until one knew he had the answer from God and then to stand for this victory no matter how he felt. “Faith, not feeling, is the victory,” she explained, “and many people lose their healing because, after they have taken the healing, they look at the symptoms.” Then she added, “Here is a young man, for example, who has been asking God to heal him. God has enabled him to see that by His stripes he is healed, and he has taken that stand of faith. Now God asks him to walk with his trouble for a little distance, and presently he thinks he is not healed.”
Mrs. R. then left, as she said she would. Mr. Waldvogel had heard from the Lord, for he knew that Mrs. R. knew nothing of his condition, so that she was not prophesying out of her own heart (Ezekiel 13:2), but that it was truly from the Lord. More important than this in itself was that it was another corroboration to him of the authenticity of her ministry. Going from the meeting he acted upon the instruction, and ere long his physical victory was established.
Again, he received another interesting corroboration of Mrs. R’s prophetic ministry. One Saturday evening, during a season of prayer with one of the Faith Home ministers, the Lord spoke to Mr. Waldvogel to this effect: “Son, you have a great need. You need to get acquainted with the commands of God in the Psalms and in Proverbs. Study these things. They will lead you to the Fountain of Life.”
The next day Mr. Waldvogel attended the morning meeting when Mrs. R. preached. She knew nothing about the message which he had received the previous night. Imagine his surprise, then, when in the middle of her sermon, she stopped and interjected the following:
“Now here is a message for an individual in this meeting. It is not known whom it is for, but it is necessary for this individual to keep the commands. What you need is to study the commands of Jesus and to obey them. You mustn’t think that your shouting and your speaking in tongues are going to make you acceptable in the Day of Judgment. No, in the day of the Lord Jesus, the question will not be how much you shouted in meeting, but how much you kept the commands.” Then Mrs. R. resumed her sermon.
When Mr. Waldvogel had received his baptism in the Holy Spirit, he had a number of rather violent manifestations which continued as he sought the Lord. Sometimes he would pray with groanings and would weep bitterly. At other times, he would laugh uproariously and his whole body would shake. One minister advised him, “Brother, you had better ask God to cause that to stop.”
Perplexed and certainly not wanting to have any fleshly manifestations, Mr. Waldvogel met Mrs. Robinson in the hall of the Meeting House one day and, stopping her, told her of his quandary. “Every time I touch the Lord, I have such violent manifestations and I have been told to pray that they would stop. What should I do?” Quietly she smiled and answered, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t.”
Then she went on to give her own experience in this respect and what the Lord had taught her. “In the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement there was a great deal of shaking and violent manifestations that people didn’t understand. I didn’t understand it either, but I said, ‘It’s either of God or not. If it is of God, it must be wonderful. It must have a very real purpose.’” So she went to God about the matter and received an explanation.
“When I and others in this work arise to preach,” she continued, “we do that with the power of the Holy Ghost upon our bodies. In other words, He moves our bodies. Our bodies are His instruments. That is what God had in mind when He launched the Pentecostal Movement – to get hold of the bodies of His people. But in coming to them, the Lord often finds bondages in the bodies that have to be released before the Lord can have full control.
“With some people the change goes on very quietly and silently. But in others wherever God finds these bondages, there are often violent demonstrations until the body becomes perfectly yielded. Perhaps there is something like that in you unless you have ‘pushed.’ There are some people that enjoy these manifestations and they ‘push,’ and, of course, that’s wrong. I’ll ask the Lord if you have ‘pushed.’”
Here she stopped and enquired of the Lord. Presently she got the answer. “No, but the Lord wants to give you some help.” Then she closed her eyes and said, “I’ll give it in wisdom.”
“I certainly wouldn’t pray for these things to stop, but rather abandon myself to God so that He can have His full way and trust the Lord that He will not allow me to have violent manifestations in a place where it might stumble people. You can have that faith in God. After all, He controls, and if at some time something happens in a meeting, people will understand it isn’t Mr. Waldvogel but it is God.”
Relieved and instructed, Mr. Waldvogel went his way, and this teaching became a guiding light to him not only for himself but in his ministry. “I went on seeking the Lord, never trying to interfere with His operations either in myself or in others,” Mr. Waldvogel comments. “I found out that God’s plan and God’s way is always the best way. Today, I don’t shake even though the power of God is upon my body. And I found out, too, that if God is going to have a church without spot or wrinkle, wholly under His control, we must let the Holy Ghost really and truly have His way.”
It was some little time after this that Mr. Waldvogel had the visit referred to at the beginning of the chapter. Then, knowing that sometimes the Lord used Mrs. R. to give personal help to people, he went to her residence and asked if he might see her.
Note: At the time of his call on her, Mrs. R. was living in a little cottage about a half a block from the Meeting House. Following her illness, the Lord had indicated to her that He desired her to move to other quarters where she could carry on her ministry of prayer and teaching more effectively. A two-week vacation in Chicago in the latter part of July was followed by three weeks in the home of friends in Waukegan. Then Mrs. R. took this little cottage together with her companions, Stella Leggett and Hilda Nilsson.
When Mrs. B. learned who had come to see her, she asked the Lord, first of all, if He desired her to see the caller, for she had a bargain with the Lord to see only those He proposed for her to see. Assured that it was His will, Mr. Waldvogel was admitted and had what was the first of many mutually pleasurable and profitable visits.
Mr. Waldvogel proceeded directly to the purpose of his call: he wondered if the Lord might have some help for him through His vessel. Laughing, Mrs. R. replied, “Oh, that is what you came for! Here I was fooled. I thought you came to see me.” But then she asked the Lord if He had anything He wanted her to do or to say to this young man.
Presently the Lord began to speak over her lips: “Son, I have not been able to make you see how greatly you need to come down, and I have not been able to make you see how greatly you need to hide.” Then the Lord continued with the words already quoted: “You can never know anything, and you can never be anything, but you can know Me and you can be for Me.”
Truly a knock-out blow right at the beginning of her talk for an exemplary young minister who had been praying for hours daily for several months for humility and poverty of spirit, and who was eager to know about the things of God and to do something for Him!
“You want to know the Truth?
“You want to know the Way? I am the Way. I am the Truth. I am the Life.”
“Lord, what shall I do?” Mrs. R. asked as though Hans Waldvogel were asking the question, which he really was in his own soul.
Forthwith the Lord answered it by saying: “Son, get alone with Me. Get alone with Me. GET ALONE WITH ME. GET ALONE WITH ME. I can speak to you much better when you are alone with Me than by Elder Brooks or Mrs. Judd or Mrs. Robinson.”
By this word Mr. Waldvogel’s entire life was changed. That day his sails were set for the entire course of his ministry. The word of that day did something more for him, as he himself stated thirty years after this visit:
“Thus Mrs. R. proved to me the soundness of her ministry by not drawing disciples after herself but by commending them to God and to the word of His grace… in pointing men to the Fountain of Living Waters, to Jesus ‘Who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
After a period of intensive training, the Lord led Mr. Waldvogel to engage in extensive evangelistic work. Between campaigns he often returned to Zion where he was given additional help for himself and his ministry. In this way his spiritual batteries were continually recharged. At length, in the spring of 1925, Mr. Waldvogel was invited to hold meetings for two weeks in a small, struggling German mission in Brooklyn, N. Y. At the end of the special meetings evangelist and congregation were assured that the Lord would have them continue their association, for a time at least. So quickly did the Lord add to the assembly that seven months later the congregation had to move into larger quarters when the name, Ridgewood Pentecostal Church, was adopted.
Often when a minister finds himself in the midst of a rapidly expanding work, he becomes almost crushed by his duties – the weekly program of meetings, plus the pastoral duties incident to helping people with their personal problems, physical and spiritual, for “every kind of disaster can happen in the work for God.” And when such an one has not learned the lesson of casting all his care upon the Lord and of entering into the rest of God, he may be threatened with a breakdown.
This was what happened to young Pastor Waldvogel. When Mrs. R. was informed of his need, she recommended that he read prayerfully ‘Christ the Healer’ by F. F. Bosworth. “If you read that book, you’ll get the light you need about divine healing.” Before he had a chance to read this book, however, he met a friend who related some wisdom she and her husband had received from the Lord through Mrs. B. when they found themselves in a similar need: “The thing the Lord wants you to do is to take divine health, and walk out in it. I am divine health.”
Acting upon that word and light – that the indwelling Christ Himself was his health – the sick minister did in faith walk out in it and was completely restored. Greater than that, however, was the victory given him whereby he could leave everything in God’s hands.
Dedicated to the proposition that the Lord was to be allowed to have complete charge of the meetings, the Ridgewood Pentecostal Church soon became plagued with numerous fanatics from the metropolitan area of New York City. Having heard that there was “liberty” in Ridgewood, they came and attempted to “take over,” thereby creating a serious problem for the young pastor and his flock. The consecration to have Holy Ghost meetings was put to the test. The temptation naturally was very strong to do “something” about it.
Mrs. R. and the Faith Home ministers had faced similar tests. When one of the ministers there once expressed herself as not liking it that so many fanatics were attending “our meetings,” the Lord said to her, “So you don’t like them in your meeting? I thought it was My meeting.” Such a sight of the Lord makes the difference between faith and fear and wins the victory over such attempts of the enemy to discredit and defeat the work of God. Thus Pastor Waldvogel was taught to fight – by standing still and letting the Lord take care of these opposers – with the result that the cloud of God’s presence was so manifested that it controlled them and did not permit them to operate as they would.
But the problem of fanatics was only one of several for the young minister who desired the Holy Spirit to lead the meeting. “To understand just the order of the meeting, just to give it over to Him so we will sing at the time He tells us, go to prayer when He directs, have testimonies or praise as He directs” were lessons Mrs. R. herself had had to learn in the early days of her Pentecostal ministry. She knew from her own experience that it was not easy to walk this way, and she was therefore able to instruct those who were treading – sometimes falteringly and with grave questionings – the same path.
“You are doing right in just following Jesus, being led of Him,” Mrs. R. encouraged her young brother minister. “Ministers who go ahead, not being led, will have great loss. Better let the meeting be a little awkward, but wait for the leading of the Spirit. Do not work to please others. Do not conform to others’ ways. Discussions [about these matters] are unfruitful.
“When Christ called you, He called you only after Himself – Christ for you, no man between. God sees you reaching out after Christ instead of being anxious about meetings.”
“Reaching out after Christ instead of being anxious about meetings!” That’s the secret of successful, Holy Ghost meetings – just wanting Jesus and having faith that He will get His will done, manifesting Himself exactly as He chooses to do.
And ever the Lord used Mrs. R. to keep before this energetic worker “the great call of the King:” “Let Christ be you and you be crucified!”
“What is it to be crucified? Is it to have trials?
“No. It is to be dead [to self]. It is a daily cross-bearing – your own life also. Watch the little things of your daily life to see if you have any choice of your own. The people on this earth don’t know how they waste time in not bearing the cross.
To the same end Mrs. R. taught the young pastor on another occasion: “It isn’t the big events in your life that determine your victory. It’s the little things of your daily life – being faithful in the little things.”
At this point the teacher stopped and asked her pupil:
“What do you do if God wants you to wait upon Him a whole day, and there are five people clamoring to be visited? What do you do in a case like that?”
Thus Mrs. B. continually exhorted Pastor Waldvogel to remain at the feet of Jesus and to make seeking Him the main occupation of his life, letting his service be subordinate to that and engaged in according to the leading of the Holy Ghost.
From time to time Hans Waldvogel received calls to hold special meetings in various places which the Lord made him to know he should accept. During his absence from Ridgewood his pulpit was often filled by one or another of Mrs. R’s associate ministers and later by his brother, Gottfried.
At one time a very pressing and attractive call came to Pastor Waldvogel, but as he waited upon the Lord to know His will, it became clear to him that He would prefer him not to go, at least not at that time, though he was not given the reason. Suffice it, however, that inasmuch as the Lord had given him a check, he would obey, even though he did not understand the reason for his leading.
Some months later Mrs. R. explained to him the reason for the Lord’s leading him as He did. Inasmuch as it contains teaching fundamental for all ministers, it is included here:
“The Lord wanted you to know you were ‘stretching’ a little at that time, not visible to yourself; but there were calls and you were liable to get a little unsettled, not out of God’s will exactly, but misled and not so inwardly and deeply guided.
“Your work needed you to settle a little now – to center more in Brooklyn. Not that your people were complaining, but there was a time of such blessed opportunities of service, and really seeming to be God’s calls, while you in your own experience were leaning a little toward accepting these as open doors, that God might be pressing you into.
“God, on the other hand, saw for you the need of being less pressed to go; a deepening and quieting in soul in your own work, and a centering your heart in Him, rather than being drawn away into active, extra service. Some things went better for Brooklyn and for yourself; God’s will was done, in and for you, by your staying.
“If you had gone away and got occupied with other work, it would have been loss to you. To tell the truth, you would have ‘spread’ in your work. He says, ‘You have not quite comprehended God’s purpose in it. God was eager to have your soul have the repose of being in God’s will without being overdone at that time. You yourself were stretching so much it was going to show on you if you had kept on overdoing. You would have lost power. If you had erred at that time, “spread,” instead of going deeper, taking on more service instead of hiding in Him, it would have cost you.
“‘A great many calls were going to open to you, seemingly a more pressing need than you could have filled in the best way. Only by stopping at the time and withdrawing, could you have done God’s best. Not that you were ill. You, however, were stretching, and when you get stretched and busy and pressed, you go down in power, lose power in your spiritual as well [as your physical].
“‘At such a time it is difficult for you to grasp what is going on in your experience. Oh, it is so much better to just go on with Jesus in a deeper and more hidden, a closer walk with God, and not spread, carrying too many loads. You are more in God’s will to look within and to have only His will than to do a great deal of work with less inward results. You might get outward results, but the Lord would not have His great way. God is not satisfied for a man to enlarge because he has the opportunity, but let it be done because Jesus has appointed this to be done.
“‘Now if it had been God’s appointment to do so, He would have provided what you needed. But to go because you were needed and not because God wanted you to go, you might find those losses that come so often to ministers because they become too useful to escape the inevitable pressure. So few ministers understand what to do under these circumstances.’
“He undertook by His word and you took it wisely and simply so that… it saved you from ‘spreading’ both in spiritual experience and your physical.”
The effects of the great Depression were reflected in a sharp drop in the gifts received by Mrs. R. and the Faith Homes. As Mr. Waldvogel was led, he sent Mrs. R. offerings. In acknowledging one such offering Mrs. R. wrote:
“I may as well confess to you we were very thankful. Truly, God always looks ahead. I wish you could sometimes have the experience of watching where the offerings travel. What a wonderful arrangement that there should be such pleasures in the faith life. Something new, something surprising in every direction. Not only to the one receiving but if it could all be followed up, to the giver as well.”
And in the same letter she says, “Kindly thank the dear Italian sister for the ten dollars. I certainly do consider it very kind of this sister to remember me when she does not even know who I am and I suppose has never known any of the Zion folks even. That, too, is another sample of His goodness and another proof of His provision by unknown ways.
Again, a month later, Mrs. R. wrote: “You know, it is quite wonderful how the Lord undertakes sometimes. For quite a time you were not led to send any offerings, and God provided otherwise. Presently there was a shortage, and just at that period you sent offerings. Often we have witnessed similar experiences of His leading you just at the needy time, as He must have led you that time… But please do not let yourself do more than you should. We have to just leave [it] to God, and His love, but we do thank you.”
A remarkable testimony is included in incidental fashion in one of these letters when she apologizes for her inability to write when she wanted to: “A most unusual thing happened. Stella fell sick, apparently some kind of grippe, and then to help matters along, I followed several days later. This came unexpectedly to me. It was right upon me before I thought to look to the Lord to avoid it: Have never had a cold since 1907.” Twenty-four years without a cold! Then Mrs. B. added, “Stella and I, thank God, are healed.”
When Mrs. R. received the news of the death of Thomas A. Edison, Oct. 18, 1931, Mr. Waldvogel happened to be visiting her. “Isn’t it too bad,” she commented, “that The Light never dawned inside of him?” And once, referring to an invention which the research of Edison did much to develop, the motion picture projector, she observed, “It’s too bad the devil has confiscated these wonderful inventions.”
Unlike many “deep life” people Mrs. R. maintained a keen interest in political affairs and the leaders of the country. Throughout the years she made numerous observations and statements that, to say the least, were very illuminating and, in some cases, prophetic. After Calvin Coolidge left the presidency of the United States, she remarked to Mr. Waldvogel, “It would be so nice if he could find a place of usefulness in the kingdom of God. And if not, he might as well go to heaven, for there’s no use of staying on earth.”
When a little later Coolidge’s sudden and unexpected death shocked the entire nation, Mr. Waldvogel remembered the words Mrs. R. had spoken.
Throughout the summers of 1932 and 1933 a number of the young people from Pastor Waldvogel’s congregation held weekly street meetings in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the heart of the slums. These efforts resulted in the opening of the East Side Pentecostal Church, the first of eight out-stations or branch churches which have been established in the metropolitan area of New York City in fellowship with the Ridgewood Church. In this evangelistic outreach Mrs. R. showed great interest, and by her, the Lord declared that pastor and people were doing right to branch out into this needy harvest field.
Some little time before Hans Waldvogel came to Brooklyn in 1925, the Lord said to him through Mrs. R.: “The world’s big. There’s work to be done even across the ocean.” At that time he had never thought of going to Europe, but after this word the conviction deepened in his soul that God had a ministry for him in his native Switzerland and among the neighboring German-speaking peoples. In fact, when he came to Brooklyn, he felt that after his campaign there, perhaps God’s next move would be Europe.
In reality it was – but not for eight years. In the meanwhile, repeated invitations came to him – pressing, attractive calls from large European assemblies – to hold campaigns there. Each time, however, the Lord made him to know he was not to go, until in 1933 when he knew that the time had come for him to do so.
Knowing of Mrs. R’s interest in this step and desiring her faith in his behalf, Mr. Waldvogel kept her informed of his movements and ministry there. “I have followed with greater interest than I can tell you, your travels and your every step for Jesus,” Mrs. R. wrote him at one time. Then she added. “It was Christ who took you. Grant He fulfill in you and for you.” This word reached Mr. Waldvogel at a most opportune time, for just then he sorely needed encouragement.
This first trip to Europe was comparatively brief, but its importance lay in the fact that it was a preparation for a second period of ministry there four years later. Then after World War II the Lord opened the door for a larger ministry in Switzerland, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Germany resulting in the conversion of multitudes of souls and the establishment of various assemblies, the main one being at Kirchheim, Germany, with a much larger congregation than its mother church.
Thus the Lord’s suggestion by His vessel – ”There’s work to be done even across the ocean” – has been carried out and fulfilled beyond what anyone conceived as possible when first uttered.
Early in the course of Mr. Waldvogel’s New York ministry, Mrs. R. realized that he needed a strong, able associate to help bear the ever-increasing burdens of the work there. And when the congregation extended a call to their pastor’s brother, Gottfried, to join him in the ministry, in 1934, Mrs. R. rejoiced, for she had known for some time from the Lord that this was God’s will.
For about five years he had been pastor of the Waukegan church, an assembly whose members had especially suffered from the Depression, so that his circumstances had been very strained at times. He had lived a life of absolute trust, however, for the supply of the needs of himself, his wife, and eight sons. Now he was going to New York where admittedly things would be easier financially. While visiting Mrs. R. before he left for his new charge, the Lord gave him a word of counsel which all ministers could well apply to themselves when their material circumstances better: “Never lose your interest in heaven.”
For over eighteen years the two brothers labored together until Gottfried was called to his eternal reward. Then his son, Edwin, took his father’s place and became his uncle’s associate. About twenty years before this, during the course of a visit Mrs. B., the Lord had said to Edwin, then a boy in his teens, that He wanted him to help his uncle in the work of the Lord. Through the intervening period the paths of uncle and nephew had diverged for a time, but all the while God had been preparing him for his place. Then, after so long a time, was the word of the Lord by His servant, Mrs. Robinson, fulfilled – seventeen years after she herself had answered the call to higher service.
One day early in 1936, the Lord said to Mr. Waldvogel by Mrs. R., “I am going to give you a call over your own lips.” Presently, as they continued to wait upon the Lord, the Spirit of God came upon him and spoke through him a simple word like this: “I have set before you a new, open door and will help you to go through it.
Upon his return to New York, Mr. Waldvogel said to one of his associates, “I believe God is going to get us on the air.” Within a week two businessmen, unknown to him and to each other, approached a radio station in New York and asked that he be given time for a broadcast. As a result, for several years Pastor Waldvogel was able to spread the gospel by radio, free of charge. Throughout the subsequent years this “door” opened ever more widely until the Lord made it possible for Pastor Waldvogel to broadcast over Radio Luxemburg which is heard by short wave around the world!
TO THE REGIONS BEYOND
“WE ARE NEAR Chicago, and nearly everyone going from east to west stops off there, and we have visitors from all over the country who in some way have heard of our work; and while they are in Chicago, they take a run out here. In this way we get quite a good many missionaries who have been right in the field and have good, deep experiences. That is a great help to those preparing for the Lord’s work – it sets the fire burning in our own hearts.”
An outstanding characteristic of the Faith Homes was its many missionary visitors and its deep interest in foreign missions. Not only were these missionaries entertained as were all other guests, free of charge, but they were usually given an offering from the missionary fund and were diligently prayed for. More than one missionary testified that the only real rest he got while at home was during his stay at this haven in Zion.
The cause of foreign missions was always especially dear to Mrs. R. It will be remembered that the only offerings taken in the Homes were for missions the first Sunday of each month. On the same day letters which had been recently received were read from missionaries the world over. This custom was instituted about 1915 by the word of the Lord given by Mrs. R.
The amount of these missionary offerings was phenomenal, considering that it came mostly from the meager resources of the people in the Homes who had no regular income but lived by faith themselves. True, in later years it was augmented considerably by outsiders who were regularly employed, but in the beginning it was from the sacrificial giving of poor saints committed to the propagation of the gospel. Throughout the greater part of her life the distribution of this fund was made under the guidance of Mrs. R., as the Lord directed. And many were the testimonies from missionaries the world over as to the timeliness of the offerings received from the Homes. Thus the deep poverty of these saints ministered to the needs of others in distant lands.
The way in which the Holy Spirit brought various missionaries and their needs to the attention of Mrs. R. was often nothing short of supernatural. For example, one day the power of the Lord came upon Mr. Mitchell. Moved by the Holy Spirit he got a map of South America. Then the Holy Spirit guided his hand involuntarily over it until it came to a certain place where his hand was stopped and held. The Lord then spoke to him saying that a missionary there in the place where his finger rested was in dire need.
Mr. Mitchell did not recognize the place and knew of no one there. Under the leading of the Spirit he took the map to Mrs. R. and told her what had been said to him. Upon seeing the place, she instantly recognized it and exclaimed, “Why, that’s where – is!” Immediately she dispatched an offering as indicated by the Lord. Soon a reply came, stating that at that time this missionary was absolutely penniless, virtually facing starvation, so that the offering came just in time.
On another occasion the Lord spoke the name, “Anglin,” to Mrs. R. Never had she heard of anyone by that name and naturally wondered what the Lord meant. After a time she learned of Mr. and Mrs. L. M. Anglin and their orphanage, the Home of Onesiphorus, which the Lord indicated should be regularly supported and prayed for. Another missionary whom Mrs. R. early became acquainted with and supported ardently was Lillian Trasher and her Assiut Orphanage.
These missionaries Mrs. R. also held up as examples to the young people in the Homes who were training for Christian work: “Work for Jesus as you would if you were a missionary such as Miss Trasher with an orphanage in Egypt or Mr. Anglin in China” (November 27, 1921).
One day in 1924, the Lord instructed Mrs. R. that the people in the Homes should pray with some fasting for three days for Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Bender and their work in Venezuela. This meant that all the residents free to do so – probably about thirty or forty – gathered in the morning and prayed without intermission for about six hours. Some of this praying was audible, much of it silent, each one lifting up his own heart to God. At the end of the three days the entire company, however, lifted up their voice with one accord and claimed the answer to their prayer. The Lord declared the victory He had called them to pray through was given.
What was the result of this mighty volume of intercession? Immediately a mighty revival broke out in Venezuela which continued for months with multitudes being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Now Mrs. R. would be the last one to claim that this remarkable visitation had come solely through the intercession of those in Zion. No. She knew that the Benders were faithful workers, people of much and mighty prayer, and that many others had interceded for this needy field. The Lord did choose, however, to make this group give the help in prayer which was needed at this time, so that immediately after these three days of prayer the Spirit of God breathed upon the church there.
About the same time as this prayer was held for Venezuela, the Lord told Mrs. Mitchell that He desired a weekly prayer for missionaries to be held each Friday afternoon for two hours from 2:30 to 4:30. When Mrs. R. was told of this she was delighted, for the Lord had indicated the same thing to her. The first half-hour of this time was devoted to praying the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth laborers into His harvest field. The remainder of the time was spent in interceding for individual missionaries and the problems of the field. Thus in a very specific and practical way the work of foreign missions was kept before the people, especially those who themselves were training for Christian service at home or abroad.
The first foreign missionary to go out directly from among the Faith Home young people was Mabel Rigg, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. After a period of training in the Homes and service in associated assemblies, Miss Rigg went to South Africa in 1925. Mrs. R. was keenly interested in the preparation and thrusting forth of this ambassador to the regions beyond.
Early in her contact with Mabel Mrs. R. had said to her: “The Lord could lead you to the place where He could do as He pleased with you, and you would have no desire one way or another, except it be His perfect will. That is what He has chosen for your life. If you will accept it, He will start to work it out now as you pray, working more greatly as the prayer nears the final victory…
“Why worry about the future? Go at it now, and when the time comes, God will do something special to help you over the hard place. Jesus understands your frailty, and you are ever under His guiding eye.”
“The vessel must be emptied – emptied of self,” Mrs. R. told the prospective missionary. “Let go of yourself to take Jesus. You are just in the beginning. Follow Jesus, or you will be following the vessel you are trying to be.”
During Mabel’s busy days of preparation for leaving for Africa, Mrs. R. made this illuminating suggestion to her:
“Maybe you will have to do as I have had to do sometimes – go without eating or sleeping for forty-eight hours at a stretch.”
A final word of exhortation was to serve as a motto for her for more than thirty years of service in the land of her calling: “In Africa all your joys and sorrows and hard times are in Jesus.”
A year after Mabel went to Africa, Mrs. R. wrote in a letter to a mutual friend: “One sweet pleasure of my birthday was a cablegram from Mabel. I appreciated this coming from across the sea very much. We were glad to learn of God’s giving her a companion whom we believe is a real missionary. May God bless them.” Her “companion” was John S. Richards, and together they are still enjoying most fruitful service for God.
In 1926 another handmaiden, Kathryn Roth, left as an ambassador to Africa – this one to Kenya, where she has been used to bring the gospel to a tribe which had never had it before. Three years before, the Lord had raised Kathryn from death’s door, due to a serious heart condition. At that time she consecrated to go to Africa and soon after told Mrs. R. of her call.
In response Mrs. R. wrote her: “… if you go, you want to go in faith, and hope, and power for what will be needed all the time you are there, God undertaking Himself, even to the last moment, for all your needs. And God wants me not to meddle, as if I could advise you, but He wants you to have faith, and me to have faith, that God Himself must tell you, so you will feel you really know.”
And God did tell Kathryn, so that she herself unmistakably knew the will of God. Through all the vicissitudes of the years, many of them bitter and tragic to the extreme, she has been enabled to stand and be more than conqueror.
When Chiang Kai-shek became president of China, the Lord indicated to Mrs. R. that he and his country occupied a strategic place in the political world and should be fervently prayed for. Twice in 1931 the Lord had her call for an all-day of prayer for him and China because of the great importance of the situation there. That was the year (1931), it will be remembered, when Japan invaded Manchuria. Mrs. R’s interest in Chiang Kai-shek is all the more significant in view of the fact that then the importance of China in world affairs was not generally recognized, certainly not by Christians as a whole.
So it was that throughout her life Mrs. Robinson maintained a world vision, deeply interested in the kingdom of God everywhere, no matter what instrument was used for its furtherance, whether Pentecostal or of some other denomination. In this respect, as in so many others, she showed her breadth and that she was a true child of God, regarding all who named His name as brethren in a common cause.
SET TO GLEANING
“WE CAN BE SURE in these great, neglected fields of His, He will set you some way to gleaning for Him, if it’s only to witness of Him, just wherever you are placed, loins girded – lights burning – each moment.”
Dedham, Massachusetts, an old and aristocratic suburb of Boston, was the “neglected” field to which Mrs. R. referred in this letter written December 12, 1925. Mrs. R. H. Gardiner, one of the ministers of the Faith Homes, had recently gone there in order to care for her aged mother. In this town there were a number of beautiful churches, “rich and increased with goods,” but Christ was outside their doors. Only after some searching did Mrs. Gardiner find a very plain Baptist Church in a poor section on the farthest outskirts of the town where the gospel of Christ was proclaimed. In what was otherwise a spiritual desert, this little oasis, even if it was not Pentecostal, was welcome. Commenting on this Mrs. R. wrote, “I am glad there is some corner of worship where you may fellowship.”
Not long after Mrs. Gardiner became settled in her Dedham home, she visited Goodspeed’s Book Shop then located on Park Street, right in the heart of historic Boston. Its large, old-fashioned fireplace and hearth with the occasional chair for browsers, together with the absolute order of the store and the courtesy which characterized its clerks, furnished an ideal setting in which book lovers could seek for hid treasures. Here it was that Mrs. Gardiner found an unusual selection of second-hand religious books by eminent spiritual authors at very nominal prices.
The religious book department of Goodspeed’s was in the charge of a wise, witty, and gracious Christian gentleman, Wallace Fay Tenney, whom the poet Edwin Markham called “that friendly bookman.” Coming of an old New England family which esteemed and studied the devotional writings of both Puritan divines and such Catholic mystics as Thomas a Kempis and Madame Guyon and having had a personal acquaintance with some of the most deeply spiritual authors of his own generation, such as A. B. Simpson and Charles Blanchard, Mr. Tenney had a knowledge of religious books and their authors, old and new, rarely found.
Quick to notice the type of book his customer appreciated, Mr. Tenney became exceedingly helpful to Mrs. Gardiner, often calling her attention to choice items in stock or saving some for her consideration. Thus it was that this man became a source of great blessing to Mrs. Gardiner and the many friends with whom she shared her books. Among those who thus profited was Mrs. Robinson.
To her friend Mrs. Gardiner wrote about having found Goodspeed’s, and of its unusually fine care and appointments, and offered to share with Mrs. Robinson some of her finds, an offer which she readily accepted. “I have heard of that bookstore… I am very glad to hear… about the gentleman of the bookstore and also anyone else like that. I am interested in them, and also you have an interesting way of telling things. (I enjoyed the care of the bookstore.)
“Wonder if there are any books of Jonathan Edwards? The books written long ago are often more spiritual. If you happen in to that store, would you look around and see what they have of his? Also, any others of this kind.”
Mrs. Gardiner made it her business to “happen in to that store as soon as possible in an effort to satisfy the desires of her friend. There she found and immediately dispatched a four-volume set of The Works of President Edwards. Her copious markings, especially of the “Memoirs” of Jonathan Edwards in the first volume, are silent but powerful evidence of Mrs. B’s high regard of that Puritan divine’s life and spiritual experience.
Note: It was one of these markings which furnished the clue for tracing the ancestry of Mrs. R. on her mother’s side, the Tuttles.
The Edwards books were followed shortly by two more shipments of “others of this kind.” These included a volume by another Puritan divine, John Owen, ‘The Grace and Duty of being Spiritually Minded;’ ‘Life of Madame Catherine Adorna’ by Thomas C. Upham, well-known spiritual author and biographer of Madame Guyon; and the ‘Spiritual Letters by Mrs. P. L. Upham,’ wife of T. C. Upham. All of these Mrs. Robinson marked and in addition wrote some corrections or comments according to her discernment.
“At last! – “wrote Mrs. R. her benefactor, February 11, 1927. “I have been trying ever since your first budget of books came to write of my appreciation, but my correspondence seems always pushed aside, and I must beg your forbearance till I am given a chance. But I did appreciate your kindness – the Edwards books – and the other two installments later…
“I thank you very much for all these kindnesses. I would like to say more than I have time for about the books. I’d enjoy talking them over, but for fear this will be further delayed I will just have to let this go.ⁿ
Note: One little volume which Mrs. Gardiner sent had an interesting story behind it. One evening, as she was in prayer, the thought suddenly came to her that Mrs. R. might like to have Molinos the Quietist, and immediately went to her bookcase and sent it to her. Mrs. Gardiner was to learn later that her act was a definite answer to prayer which Mrs. R. had offered at that very time, that the Lord would send her the life of Molinos, the Spanish mystic, author of The Spiritual Guide. Her careful markings of this book are illuminating and indicative both of her appreciation of the gift and of the teachings of this man who guided souls on the inward walk with God.
“Now I must stop… I do not like, however, to close without a word about the way the Lord uses you...”
Throughout the more than four years Mrs. Gardiner lived in Dedham the Lord did use her to bring the light of the full gospel to a number of very hungry souls. From the beginning of her stay there, Mrs. R. had shown a great interest in her witnessing. “God bless you and make you still a greater blessing to those in need,” Mrs. R. prayed. Soon after this the Lord opened a door for Mrs. Gardiner to have a mid-week Bible class and prayer meeting which was signally owned of God. A number of miracles of healing took place in this little hand, and several became hungry for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and were subsequently filled. Mrs. Gardiner’s efforts were greatly strengthened and furthered by the help of various ministers who came from Zion and by the faith of Mrs. R. in her behalf.
Shortly before Mrs. R’s birthday in 1929, her mother, then eighty-three, fell practically the full length of the steep staircase going from the second to the first floor of the Home, breaking her collarbone. A few days prior to that, Mrs. Gardiner’s eighty-two-year-old mother also fell, as the result of a stroke, breaking her hip. It is concerning these events of common interest and mutual concern that Mrs. R. is writing in her letter to Mrs. Gardiner of November 19, 1929:
“I was glad to learn from your second letter that your Mother is improving… I am glad she does not suffer much. This, of course, will add much more work for you, but I am sure His grace is sufficient for all times. Please give her my love. She does not know me, but tell her I am one of those that love you.
“My Mother is improving daily. Each day she is able to wait more on herself. She gets up every day awhile but rests on the bed quite a bit yet. She, too, had a serious fall but was healed. She broke her collarbone. Jesus undertook in a wonderful way for her, praise Him.
“I must tell you before I close about my birthday. The dear ones got up a meeting at 2820 [the Meeting House] Thursday afternoon and invited me to attend. This was a very lovely treat for me. The friends came from Oshkosh, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, several people from different missions in Chicago, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Sterling, [Ill.], etc. It was a full house. We had sort of a meeting together, and we were blessed in fellowship with Him. I enjoyed seeing the old faces again. Some who were there live quite a distance from here and do not come this way very often.”
Ten days after Mrs. R. wrote this letter, Mrs. Gardiner’s mother went to be with the Lord. On December 4, Mrs. B. wrote the following letter of sympathy:
“As soon as word came about the departure of your dear Mother I aimed to write you at once, and my heart has been deeply with you, though I am again late.
“It is still strange to me, as I have told you, that I did not grasp nor did God tell me your dear Mother was hurt so badly. Perhaps God, knowing my inability to be of any use to you, did not have me know. Also, now I was quite unprepared for the word that she was taken, for we had gathered from your letter that she was recovering. Not having heard any particulars, we do not know whether it was the fall that really caused her death or whether it was some other trouble that set in after she had the accident. I feel as if I would be so glad if I could have been of some service some way to you, but instead I almost seem not to have had sympathy or interest.
“I cannot help but think of your kindness in writing about my mother in the midst of your trial. I have indeed raised my heart to God for you, and also since she has gone, asked our dear Father to keep you close to Himself and meet every need.
“Now that she has passed on, how blessed that you have the consolation He knew best, and she is so much better off with Him. No one can take the place of a mother, of course, but I am sure Jesus has been your source in this loss. I can only see you depending on Him for grace for this separation and believe you know just how to let Him be your burden bearer. I am sure He proved His faithfulness to you while passing through the deep waters as He always does when we look to Him in time of need.
“I hardly know how to write you, dear, but Jesus, who knows all about your need, will undertake for you and help you, I am sure. May He give the needed strength, also make Himself so real that your Mother’s place may be filled by His presence.
Two months later Mrs. Gardiner was back in Zion, taking her place in the ministry of the Faith Homes.
WHAT DOES GOD SHOW YOU?
“IT IS CHRISTMAS, and I am alone just now in our flat enjoying the sweetness of God’s love and the sunshine of His presence.” Mrs. R. referred to her small, three-room apartment located on the second floor of the “new” Enoch Home.ⁿ
Note: The “old” Enoch Home had had to be vacated early in 1923. Mrs. R. forthwith personally undertook the purchase of the house at 3002 Enoch Avenue. She and her co-workers moved in March 31, 1923.
In these simple quarters Mrs. R. and her two coworkers had lived now for not quite seven years, and here she was to carry on her ministry of prayer and teaching for the remainder of her life. Her mother and sister Nettie and six or seven other members of the Faith Home family made up the remainder of the household.
Note: Mrs. Wing and Mrs. Graham remained here until their deaths on April 19, 1938, and October 2, 1949, respectively. Mrs. Robinson’s other sister, Ada, died in Iowa, December 25, 1939.
The letter quoted from (December 25, 1929) was addressed to a young ministerial couple who were having their first pastoral charge, an old, established Pentecostal assembly. Somewhat awed by and fearful of the responsibilities and problems entailed, they had written to their spiritual adviser for counsel.
“But now, my dear friends, you ask what God gives me about your keeping your present work, or not,” Mrs. R. continued, taking up their request. “Instead of answering that, I must tell you the Lord has answered me that His best will is not to tell you by wisdom. What does God show you? You are young ministers – a door is opened – there is no great, complicated problem. Don’t you believe you can be shown right now, maybe, just His will? Just as you read this, what do you believe God has shown you or is showing? Have you not already seen how God is leading, or have you restrained yourself till I should write? In the latter instance, no doubt, you will find [His will] in a quiet time; He will make His will plain to you.
“My heart is moved to have a little chat with you young ministers launching out to know the guidance of Himself. How He loves to have you learn the secret of guidance and direct obedience to His will early, but the Lord spoke to me that I must close and hasten this, so I will have to omit this… But one thing I venture to add hurriedly, don’t fail to believe that I very greatly enjoy and appreciate your letters, and I most tenderly am interested and stirred over your precious accounts of your work. How I would enjoy dropping into a meeting! I cannot answer your letters as I wish, but I have such interest in reading.”
Four months later, Mrs. R. was again writing these ministers about the problems of their parish:
“When your letters come, there are often things in them I am much interested in, and would like to write about, but so far am not given the chance. In my heart I often wish to help you by wisdom and as an elder vineyard worker on problems that confront you in your early work, for I do feel you have a real problem in that so many that profess to be Pentecostal are dropped away perhaps in their first love. Of course, I know God can give you the light. He has put you there with the purpose of helping in just such things, and yet, as you say, you are so young there, you must go carefully. So I am glad to unite my faith with yours, even though I am no help otherwise.”
In an additional paragraph Mrs. R. makes a significant remark, indicating that those who had been instructed by her were to commit these things “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
“In the years gone by I was used to help the young ministers in such problems as you meet, but of late that has not been my privilege. Now these young ministers are helping others… And so the Lord provides the knowledge you need.”
It should not be inferred from these remarks that Mrs. R. was “on the shelf” or considered herself retired. Rather, at that time her work was primarily one of intercession and dealing with other problems closer to hand, so that she did not have the time to deal with all the calls for help and the problems presented to her for solution. She had to take heed to the ministry she had received of the Lord that she fulfill that. The fact is that at this time, as indicated in a letter in the previous chapter, Mrs. R. was engaged in a heavy program of prayer together with the Mitchells – prayer in behalf of the kingdom of God. This meant praying not only most of each day, but sometimes, praying through till four in the morning.
Consequently, although she was keenly interested in the ministry of her many spiritual children now scattered all over the United States and in foreign countries, she had to content herself with loving interest and prayer for them rather than with the direct handling of their problems. This was, in the natural, hard for her, but she was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, bound to do only what He directed. If the Lord would not let her take up a matter and see it through, she did not want to dabble with it. “I have not wanted to meddle as long as I had to be inadequate,” was how she expressed it in one of her letters. (Wise counselor indeed!) Yet her prayers, her faith, and the helpful hints which the Lord did give by her from time to time were invaluable.
“THUS WE COUNT THE COST”
“AT LAST I venture to send a little word in answer to your dear notes to me. It seems so precious to my heart that you have let me into your confidence, even a little, in this most precious of experiences.”
Mary Elizabeth Judd to whom this letter was addressed Mrs. R. had known since she was three years old.
“I have been so long separated from you that I have been unable to show you my interest, or any kindness, and you are now quite grown up from the dear little girl whom I had so truly in my heart. Our friendship has had to be an inner, invisible friendship – it gives me a little thrill to know you have let it be so and have taken me into your confidence as to God’s leadings in your dear, young life.
“Oh, Mary Elizabeth, Jesus is so tender – He wants us ‘rooted and grounded’ in love – His love – filling you with Himself and overflowing unto others. I find it brings me into the memory of how He brought me into Himself – almost a secret between Himself and myself – just Himself. I had no one to tell me anything, no one ever had prayer for me. My heart and head were filled with earthly ambitions and young theories which would this day be called evolution, modernism, etc., and He came – and swept it all away with Himself, wonderful Jesus.
“No, I did not have the light you have, of course. I was going into real infidelity with my theories. I had to pray, as I believe few pray, before I was even sure there was a God, but – He ‘took me out of the miry clay.’ He ‘put a song in my mouth’ and ‘established my goings.’ All love – love – love! What did it matter what He took from me?
‘Was it sorrow
Though thousand worlds were lost?
Our eyes have looked on Jesus,
And thus we count the cost.’
Let it be so all through, Mary Elizabeth. Count your cost of any sacrifice to be only the parting from that which would delay your knowing Him more, that you may be unfettered to run swiftly and joyfully after Him.
“Just another thought, it’s not just a joyous path, or pleasures, but it’s Himself. It is well to remember, from the beginning, ‘The perfect way is hard to flesh. It is not hard to love.’ And now instead of writing on as I feel, and speaking of yourself and things you have written, I must stop, trusting you will just accept this little ‘thank you’ for thinking of me and telling me glad news.
“Maybe God will put something in your heart again for me. And may He abundantly bless you, dear, yet further, is my prayer.
“Your friend in Him, our Friend.”
AN ABUNDANT ENTRANCE
EARLY SATURDAY MORNING, July 5, 1930, Mrs. Robinson received an air-mail, special-delivery letter from Pastor and Mrs. Rudolph Kalis in Elizabeth, N. J. It contained an urgent request for prayer for a young man, Walter, whose back had been broken in five places as a result of diving into shallow water during a Fourth of July outing. Hospitalized, Walter was made to feel by the doctors that soon he would be well again. They told the family, however, quite a different story: his hours were numbered. Faced with such a tragic, critical case, the Kalises felt they needed the best possible help in faith and prayer, especially in view of the fact that the young man was unsaved. Consequently, they had dispatched this letter to Mrs. R.
When Mrs. R. received the request, she went at once to the Lord in his behalf but “had an experience of being withdrawn from praying for his life… She was held still and then prayed that he would be greatly blessed in Jesus.” Afterwards she wondered if she had really given herself to prayer for him as she should and so “offered herself again” to intercede in his behalf. Again “she was made to pray the same thing. Of course, that showed her” that God was going to take him to Himself. Then “she got some light or word about Christ showing him how to ‘enter abundantly.’ Surely he would have an abundant entrance.”
Meanwhile back in Elizabeth, the sad and difficult duty to tell the young man his true condition fell to Pastor Kalis. Previously Walter had been a careless boy, but now he instantly responded and opened his soul to God and sought the Lord with his whole heart.
The change that took place in the young man as a result of all the prayer in his behalf was instantaneous and miraculous. Never one to read his Bible much, now after Pastor Kalis had read to him from John 14, he said, “Hold the Bible up so I can read it for myself.” Slowly and confidently he read:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”
The joy of the Lord so filled his soul that he exclaimed, “I never knew it was so wonderful.” One evening some of his friends, the young people from the church, gathered and sang for him. Lustily Walter joined them when they sang: “Goodbye, old world, I’m through with you.’
All this change took place within forty-two hours between Walter’s accident and his home-going! And it was a tremendous lesson to his pastor and all who heard it of the great victory God in His great mercy can work in a heart in even the last hours of a life. After his death Mrs. R. sent word to Pastor Kalis: “Sorry the dear young man was so fatally injured, but how sweet Jesus revealed Himself to him ere he passed away. Eternity will tell how many lives were influenced and blessed by his death-bed surrender.”
A PRECIOUS SERVICE TO GOD
“SINCE THE FIRST letter, in which your husband spoke of your not being well, I gather it is not only that you are not well, but also that you are getting a blessing of hope – the next great event of your young married lives…. Please believe me, my mother interest is large enough, I think, to have some of the interest and earnestness that your own mother’s heart must have.”’ⁿ
Note: Throughout this selection names are omitted and the family relationship substituted—husband, baby, etc.
As the years passed and the Faith Home young people married and started their own homes, Mrs. Robinson followed their joys and sorrows with the genuine interest of a true mother. Usually she was one of the first persons in whom they confided regarding their courtship and engagement. They claimed her faith and love and blessing over their actual wedding. Then as they looked forward to the arrival of their children, “Mother” Robinson was among the first to be informed. Mrs. R. deeply appreciated the confidences which these young people told her and united with them in faith for God’s highest will to be done in their several circumstances. So it was again when one of the young ministers wrote Mrs. R., and she learned of their expectation.
“Now, if it is not too much, may I ask you.., to write out of your heart how God is keeping you,” she wrote in reply, “and what is being done in your soul, and your husband’s, to help you both in the larger equipment that this will need in your life?”
“So often it is the woman who is supposed to need the equipment – preparation – etc. Well, so she certainly does, and of course she bears the greater load, but if the husband has the light, – I am sure yours has, – he, too, will see his need of equipment and preparation. I know that all around our work Christ puts the interest in hearts for both in a time like this…
“Before closing, though, I feel like saying something that the Lord has said to me two or three times. You see, dear, the Lord wants us to be glad, and not sad, over the wonderful thing that is going to take place. Try to make the newcomer so welcome that you will not mind the burdens and cares that inevitably lay upon you and your husband.
“Now I am not implying by that that you are not making the little one welcome. No, I am sure your own hearts rejoice in God’s goodness to you. Yet there are times that young souls fail to see what a wonderful thing God may bring about in their lives if they know it’s a gift from God, and their part again, a gift to God to be used for God. I suppose the little one was given to God by both of your hearts as soon as you knew there was to be such a life.
“Now I have not been writing by the Lord’s words, but these are thoughts of His heart, as the young people bring their little ones into the world. Oh, we ought to have some precious souls of the children of our young people, and the care of the young lives be to both mother and father a precious service to God, so that if it is sometimes hard, as all bearing and caring for children must be, it will seem as precious to do for Christ as other cares in the vineyard server’s life…”
Mrs. R.’s interest continued all through the months which followed, and then, when the day of delivery approached and the mother was a bit apprehensive and called for special prayer, Mrs. R. again wrote, telling how she had arranged for a group of women in the Homes to get together to pray for her. Then she goes on to counsel her that she get her husband, “and both of you go down before God in a good period of prayer and accept the answer, and be sure, dear child, to know you mean that it will really be done.
“God will hear, and, of course, will know what is needed. My dear, no matter who prays for you, the real needed prayer is that in your own heart, and your husband’s, will be rest and confidence in God. God wants you to have an easier time, and a better time, because you trust Him. Convince your hearts that Jesus loves you, and then let Him just take you in His arms. You are His, and He is more desirous than you to see victory.”
Sometime after the baby was born, he developed a bad case of eczema. The parents in their extremity called on their dear friend for prayer, suggesting a time when they could unite together with her and those praying in Zion.
“I wanted to run right away and attend to this matter about the baby Saturday,” replied Mrs. R., “and instead of that I was just made to take this matter up today, Monday – not touching it till now. You see it has come at an extraordinary time.” Mrs. R. then proceeded to tell her of other urgent needs that she and her co-workers had had to pray about so that they could not take up the request for the baby at once.
“We, ourselves, have little ways of our own in our united prayers taught us by wisdom. It is usually more difficult to have the one writing for prayer to set the time we are to pray. That is, unless the case is instant, pressing, and must be prayed at once. For instance, the Lord tells us whether it is better to go into a meeting, or be taken up by a few, or have it a kind of picked prayer, etc., as we prayed for you. Also, we cannot always do it at the time most convenient for others, because sometimes something else comes ahead. At all times all the prayers have to have their own duties considered too. And this time it happened we could not put in the prayer Sunday morning.
“I suppose you may have had the victory for the baby by your prayers and others, and that you believe he is delivered. But we are going to go ahead with the prayer, anyway, of course. There will be a good prayer, and we will not do any harm if we pray more than was expect.
“We are pressed on every hand at this time, but don’t think we will be indifferent about our boy. What we will do is let God show us whether the Lord wants us to take it up one way or another. We do not know the cause of the trouble. Let us have faith, whatever it is, God will deliver. We will pray that God will do His own will, and He will give us just what He sees is needed. Please do not believe that anything is handled as readily as our hearts prompt, but believe it is as readily and thoroughly as possible.
“We do not know just when it will be possible to get in a prayer for the baby… The prayers have to get their work in between, and there are visitors to entertain more than usual at this time, and to cook for. So altogether we are really pressed, and so cannot have the prayer… till we can arrange a time.
“We have never had any experience like this before. We really are placed in a peculiar way in the Homes at this time. But there is not time to go into detail about it now. Yet perhaps this information may show you just how it is.
“In writing this the Lord gave me a suggestion. He said it would be good to give to you about prayer for the baby. If you have need to have prayer for him again, or for yourselves, and you are led to put in a request for prayer, it is really better not to put it among too many. It is better if the people who are interested in him, and know you both, will pray; that is, those close to you, that it may be from the hearts.”
God heard and answered prayer so that the boy was completely delivered.
Shortly after the boy’s first birthday, the parents, in his behalf, sent Mrs. R. an offering from money which had been given him, accompanying it with a few words which his guided hand wrote. In reply “Grandma” Robinson answered:
“My dear sweet –: What a wonderful thing that I should have a letter from you: to think you should have thought of me, and written to me. Believe me, I will keep it, and make it my special treasure…
“I hope, my dear little boy, as you go on and get older, you will continue to be just as glad to give Jesus your precious offerings, and may it be not only money but your own, precious, little self.
“Will you work for your dear Lord? I am sure He is getting you ready, whether it be to preach or whatever it is. O may God bless your dear Papa and Mama, so even your little boyhood may be full of blessing of loving your dear Jesus and doing things He would like to have you do. Don’t let your little childhood be without our dear Jesus.
“Why, I must be your Grandma, for your Papa and Mama have taken me as Mother. Isn’t that lovely of them? Well, I’ll sign my name, I think, with as much love as from an own Grandma.”
“Grandma’s” prayers have been answered.
“LAST WEEK the Lord took me and told me a secret,” Mrs. R. wrote two friends, June 29, 1931. “It was a very serious one. This work is letting Mr. Brooks overwork and he does not know it. And moreover, Mr. Brooks is not able to bear just what one would suppose just now. He is not to be told he is so bad and might be extremely ill. Instead, the Lord wills to let Mr. Brooks find out he ought to, for Jesus’ sake, give up his work, for a time. And the Lord asks us to have a prayer for him at once.”
Elder Brooks was now seventy-five. Thirty-five years before this he had been healed of a complication of diseases when in a dying condition. Through all the years since then he had trusted the Lord implicitly for his body and had experienced a number of miraculous healings from very serious illnesses. He had taken it as a matter of course that the prayer of faith would save him and raise him up for the glory of God.
This time, however, his attitude was different. When he had this breakdown, he felt that since he had passed his three score and ten, “the days of our years,” probably his time to go to be with the Lord had come. None of the will to live which had always characterized him appeared in him. Meekly he resigned himself to whatever might come.
For over twenty years he had attended and participated in two or three meetings almost daily. In addition, he had spent hours in personal counseling and prayer and had shared in the conduct and management of the Faith Homes. In all his labors he had shown zest and enthusiasm. For the most part, now this fire burned low, even if it was not quite extinguished. Especially noticeable was the fact that meetings which had been his delight now held little interest for him. And he who hardly knew what it meant to take a moment’s relaxation, considering such rest a shameful, sinful waste of time, now lay languid on a lawn chair or on his bed. A valiant soldier had suddenly become worn out and was ready to lay down his armor, having fought a good fight.
But the Lord thought otherwise. He wanted Elder Brooks to live. He was too valuable to the kingdom of God to go at that time. And He had the ear of one person, Mrs. R., to whom He could speak and reveal His will and who He knew would see that his condition was prayed through. First of all, his wife was instructed what to do.
“Mrs. Brooks was told to look after him and persuade him to take care of himself,” Mrs. R. explained in the letter already quoted from. “Yet he was allowed to apparently go on with his work without overdoing or overtaxing himself. Finding out Mr. Brooks’ estate, the next step was to get real prayer for him. So those of our best pray-ers of the work were called together for a go-through prayer. This included the most experienced people and ministers. They were told to put aside other things, to go right into this prayer wholeheartedly. You know, this time of the year it is a very busy time with us, extra visitors, etc., meetings pressing – houseworkers among those who are on the prayer – very busy. But those who went on this prayer were told it was not just one big prayer, but would require perhaps a week, with prayer each day.
“You know, Mr. Brooks is not a young man, and he is worn out. And we were told that if this prayer did not go through, well, he might not live. This, I said, was the secret and was not told to the praying band,” Mrs. R. confided to her correspondents.
The Lord did give very specific instructions to the leader of this prayer group, telling him, among other things, that there were to be nine sessions of prayer and no more, suggesting that these periods would be about two hours in length, though this was not told to the prayers.
Accordingly, on and on, day after day, the faithful intercessors gave themselves to prayer until the ninth session. At the end of that period no one seemed to feel that he had the assurance that the victory was won. Somehow the prayer had not been prayed through, the victory had not been won.
The leader, remembering the word of the Lord, knew that something desperate must be done. Therefore, he rose and asked all who would consecrate to pray until they knew that the prayer was finished and that Elder Brooks was delivered to come into the center room of the meeting rooms, covenanting not to leave the room till they knew they had the victory. As one man, the whole group moved into the one room, and the doors were shut. Together “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord,” claiming the answer to all the prayers prayed, and crying to God to give a finished work. Within twenty minutes, all knew they had the answer and overflowed in one paean of praise and shouts of joy.
Now, for the first time, Elder Brooks was told of the prayer and of God’s purpose for him. He believed the word of the Lord. Slowly but surely he began to mend from that hour.
The Lord then indicated he should go away for a complete rest. Still so weak that he had to sit down on the steps of the house while waiting for the car to leave on the morning set for their departure, nevertheless he started forth in faith for New Jersey. There he spent some time at the ocean enjoying the sea air and the swimming. Daily he was strengthened so that it was quite a vigorous man who returned home after three months.
The Lord made it clear, however, that for a year he should make no attempt to attend all the services of the Homes, that he should be careful to do only what the Lord led him to do. In that way, the victory would be established completely. Careful to obey the word of the Lord, Elder Brooks was fully restored and lived for twenty-three years, the greater part of which he was actively engaged in preaching and in the leadership of the Faith Homes.
IN GOD’S HANDS
AMONG THE ONE HUNDRED or so friends who gathered to celebrate Mrs. Robinson’s fifty-ninth birthday in 1933, there was one who was conspicuous by his absence – George A. Mitchell. On similar occasions in previous years he had been the efficient master of ceremonies. Consequently he was especially missed.
A few months before this, Mr. Mitchell had suffered a slight stroke from which he had rallied so as to be able to minister. Now, however, he had failed again but, although very weak, he was fighting the fight of faith, believing God for perfect deliverance. Mrs. R. took up the fight in his behalf, too, but while relief was given, he continued in his state of weakness.
Remembering their absent friend, the whole congregation joined in most earnest supplication for him. At the conclusion of this prayer, Mrs. R. stated that Mr. Mitchell should be left in God’s hands. To many this seemed ominous; to some there came the sense that it meant that the Lord was going to take Mr. Mitchell to Himself.
The fact was that as Mrs. Robinson had prayed for Mr. Mitchell, the Lord had revealed to her that He was going to take His servant home and that she should inform the family. Consequently, at the close of her birthday celebration she told Mr. Mitchell’s oldest son of His will and that he should tell Mrs. Mitchell after the first of December: The Lord doesn’t say that Mr. Mitchell could not be healed, Mrs. R. explained, but unless he had faith for a perfect healing, it would be better for him to go home, for the Lord does not want him to remain here without a strong body. He can be of more use in heaven than to remain here in a weakened body.
Later Mr. Mitchell himself was told of the Lord’s plan and told that the Lord had declared him to be an overcomer. Thus informed and assured, he meekly resigned himself to the will of God. Shortly, as Jacob of old, he literally “gathered up his feet into the bed and yielded up the ghost” (December 23, 1933) and went to serve His Master, unhampered by the infirmities of the flesh.
It was just about perfect as far as a death could be. Yet it was a solemn occasion, for it was the first break in the circle of ministers who had ministered together in Zion City since 1910. Mr. Mitchell’s unique ministry would be missed, the loss of his wisdom and government keenly felt.
For some months, beginning in 1929, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Robinson had labored much in prayer together, and often, as Mrs. R. had special calls for ministry to individuals, one or both of them were used to minister with her to the one God was seeking to help at that time.
One interesting note found in Mr. Mitchell’s journal for this period is something “spoken through Mrs. R.” in the summer of 1929: “The greatest thing in the world at present for the Kingdom of God is Paul Rader’s work.” This evangelist, though certainly not Pentecostal, was one in whose behalf the Lord had Mrs. R. take a special interest in prayer and faith.
At another time during this same period, it was Mr. Mitchell whom the Lord had used to teach a young minister something about the gifts of the Spirit. One day when they and some others were in conference with Mrs. R., turning to Mr. Mitchell she asked him, “How does one lose a gift?”
Mr. Mitchell replied, “By stopping altogether” – i.e., by refusing to let God use your gift. “By holding back” – i.e., perhaps out of fear of man or reticence. “Or by ‘pushing”- i.e., by wanting or trying to be used beyond God’s appointment.
Again it was while Mr. Mitchell and Elder Brooks were in conference with Mrs. R. that a remark was made which, in reality, is the key to understanding her life and experience:
“Mrs. Robinson always wanted Jesus.”
Nothing for herself – neither gifts, nor powers, nor a successful ministry, nor wonderful experiences – nothing but Christ! And because of that singleness of desire, God had given her Jesus and added all the rest. Still, however, she was consecrated to be stripped of all these blessings, for she wanted only Jesus.
PATHWAYS TO THE FEET OF JESUS
“DOES MRS. ROBINSON study her Bible much?”
”Oh, my, yes! She is always studying her Bible.”
This question was asked toward the close of Mrs. Robinson’s life by a young ministerial student and answered by Mrs. Robinson’s constant companion of her last years, Hilda Nilsson. In common with so many, the questioner doubtless thought that a person of Mrs. Robinson’s spiritual attainments and experience, especially possessing so many of the gifts of the Spirit as she did, would not need to read and to study the Bible very much.
This idea is indeed an error to which many people who have emphasized the ministry of the Holy Spirit have been susceptible and into which many have fallen with disastrous results. Into such a temptation Mrs. Robinson never fell. On the contrary, she fought such a fallacy, knowing that the spoken word flows out of a vessel filled with the written Word and, of course, the spoken word never supercedes or contradicts the revelation of God as found in the Bible.
“You never get through with the Bible,” she declared in one of her last sermons.
And through the years she repeatedly gave exhortations such as these:
“You need your Bible, beloved.”
“Learn to love the Bible.”
“Say, ‘Yes,’ to Jesus when reading the Bible; the Word is being given your soul when you are reading the Word.”
“Live the Bible.”
“It is my business to know the Bible; I am an ambassador of the King; this is my message.
“Study Bible history like you study your country’s history… It is a disgrace not to know it as a Christian. You ought to know the history of the Bible.”
“Get what you can from the Bible by digging. Hear the divine calls for yourself.”
“You are happier and healthier when you do not get up [in the morning] cross, but get up in God. These things are told to you over and over because you don’t go to the Bible and get them for yourself.”
“I read Isaiah twenty-five times,” Mrs. Robinson commented in the course of one of her sermons, “before it began to unfold. Isaiah is rich; study it in the Holy Ghost. Read it softly at His feet. Commune with God about it. The promises in Isaiah are ours.
Again Mrs. Robinson testified, she would have been “at sea” when she began to study prophecy, “if I didn’t know the Bible as a whole.”
“Study your Bibles how to love one another.”
“Do not ever go by messages alone; use the Bible and follow Him, and when Jesus gives a message, take it and go right to God and carry it out, but do not lay your Bible down.”
“How many of you know that you love your Bibles?” Mrs. Robinson asked in one of her last addresses. “He [the Lord] says hardly any of you grow with your Bibles enough.”
That Mrs. Robinson practiced what she preached, that she was “always studying her Bible,” is abundantly substantiated by even a casual perusal of her Testaments and Bible. The studies found in one of these have already been examined and discussed in some detail. A second Testament, evidently one used in her later years, has numerous underlinings, but with no comments or indicated design of any specific studies undertaken. Her two Bibles, an American Standard Version and an Authorized or King James Version, remain to be examined.
Before considering the studies found in these volumes, however, it is well to state Mrs. Robinson’s belief concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures and the comparative value of the King James and the Revised Version, including the American Standard Version.
That Mrs. Robinson believed in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures can be accepted as a matter of course. In this connection she wrote a very interesting note in one of her books. The author, in discussing the different theories advanced for the origin of the Bible, said: “The first is the Verbal Theory. It claims that every word [was dictated to the authors], or that they were but mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit.”
Commenting on this the author said: “Serious objections to this theory can be easily shown. It destroys the individuality of the respective writers: an individuality which is apparent to every fair-minded critic, and accounts for a variety exhibited in the treatment of the subjects which would otherwise be inexplicable.”
The last sentence Mrs. Robinson marked by one of her own characteristic set of marks and beside it wrote:
“Easily accounted for in God’s gift. Various gifts of wisdom and prophecy perfectly spoken. This then might [be] different by different gifts in different ways of expression.”
Of course, this observation is but a restatement of the truth set forth by the Apostle Paul when he says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (I Cor. 12:4, 6)
To anyone familiar with the ministry of Mrs. R. and the other Faith Home vessels, this difference of expression was very easy to understand, for even in the limited circle of the Faith Home ministers, for example, there were a number who had the gift of the word of wisdom and of prophecy, and yet the individuality of the various instruments employed was most marked, and the “style” of speaking of each one was decidedly different. In fact, that was one of the outstanding features of this group of ministers; there was no copying of each other, and for all their years of living and laboring together so closely, they retained their distinctive personalities. Yet, it was obvious to any fair-minded critic, whether he accepted their explanation of their ministry or not, that these people were definitely “spoken from” as the Quaker of Charles Lamb’s essay, rather than speaking of their own volition.
As to the comparative merits of the King James and Revised Versions, Mrs. Robinson firmly believed that although the Revised Version was unquestionably more accurate in some instances, the King James Version had been more spiritually translated because its translators were not only men of education, but also men of prayer who most earnestly asked God to enable them to translate according to the intent of the Author, the Holy Spirit Himself.
The fact is that in her early Christian life Mrs. Robinson used the Revised Version almost exclusively. In this, doubtless, she was influenced by Dr. Dowie who strongly recommended this version because of its greater accuracy.
For one who emphasized so strongly the practical and spiritual use of the Bible for application to one’s daily life, it is interesting to note the attention which she paid to the minute accuracy of the translation. To her not only “the spirit” but the letter was important. Just one more evidence of the thorough student, Martha Wing Robinson.
For that matter, in a few instances, Mrs. Robinson goes beyond version translation in her marginal notes and gives the Greek word itself. And in a few cases she writes out the word in its Greek letters and does so with a perfectness and precision which denotes a familiarity with the Greek language. To be sure, she told young, prospective preachers, “It is more important for you to study your Bible to live a daily, spiritual life than to preach.” At the same time she also told them, “We have got to study out just exactly to what extent the verb always had to be translated that way” – in the passage being studied.
Perusing her American Revised Version one notes the very special attention she paid to (1) the various Hebrew names used for God; (2) the genealogies; (3) the dimensions of Noah’s Ark, the Tabernacle, etc., changing the measurements into the English equivalents; (4) lists of the kings of Judah and Israel together with the length of their reigns; (5) a list of the various prophets with their contemporary prophets – many details and facts which are often regarded as neither important nor profitable for “spiritual” Bible students. Thus, not only the New Testament but the Old afforded her material for deep, concentrated study.
In the Book of Psalms there are exhaustive studies of the prayers found therein together with a topical study of loving-kindness, the heart, etc.
As for the New Testament, there are topical, chain reference studies on the Holy Spirit, divine healing, and prayer (in the Acts). The Epistles of John bear evidence of diligent study of two interrelated subjects very close to her heart: knowing Him and keeping His commandments.
On one of the blank pages in this Bible is a list of the Early Apostolic Fathers down to Jerome and Augustine. There are a few other notes on early church history with special reference to the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles or the Didache and the Apostolic Constitutions, indicating her interest and high regard of the same.ⁿ
Note: Church history and the biographies of soldiers of the Cross, in particular, were of very special interest to Mrs. Robinson. Often she gave some biography to a young Christian to read, in this connection she studied and annotated with numerous comments and corrections The History of Christianity by J. S. C. Abbott. Although this is by no means an exhaustive history, it does contain numerous anecdotes from the lives of the early Fathers of the church and the martyrs, which are not readily accessible or usually found in church histories. Still another set of books of church history which Mrs. Robinson seems to have valued is: Church History Handbooks by Henry C. Vedder. A few passages she specially marked in the first volume, The Early Period, are so connected with the New Testament and are of such importance, reflecting her own belief, that they are included here: Under the heading, “Apostolic Ideal of the Church,” the author says: “The word ‘church’ in eighty-five out of one hundred and fourteen cases in which the word occurs in the New Testament means a local assembly of Christians.” Then follows a discussion of the usage and application of the word elsewhere in the New Testament followed by this: “But of a church that extends throughout the world as a visible body, of which local churches are the branches, the New Testament knows nothing. That was the perverted ideal of a later age… The bond between them [these local churches] was not a system of church law, but Christian love” (pp. 24, 25) Two other sentences are specially marked which deal with the opposition of heathen writers against Christianity by their “argument, satire, and slander,” Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry. Then the author concludes with this observation: “Of the heathen polemic in general, it is enough to say, no serious objection, whether on philosophic, historic, or critical grounds. Has been raised against Christianity during the last three centuries, that was not raised and for the most part exhaustively argued, during the first three centuries of the Christian faith. Modern infidelity has done little more than use again the spent ammunition of ancient heathenism” (p. 33).
And how characteristic of Mrs. R. to have put on the front end pages these verses, some oft quoted by her, from the pen of F. B. Faber:
The perfect way is hard to flesh
But is not hard to love;
If thou wert sick for want of God,
How swiftly wouldst thou move.
and these from Tersteegen:
O dare and suffer all things:
Yet but a stretch of road –
Then, wondrous words of welcome,
And then – the face of God.
The world, how small, and empty –
Our eyes have looked to Him;
The mighty Sun hath risen –
The taper burneth dim.
We follow in his footsteps;
What if our feet be torn!
Where He hath marked the pathway
All hail the briar and thorn.
Scarce seen – scarce heard – unechoed
Despised, defamed, unknown,
Or heard but by our singing –
On, Brethren, ever on!
And then turning the page bearing her name, there is a verse from Freda Hanbury’s hymn, one of Mrs. Robinson’s favorites:
And wouldst thou know the secret
Of constant victory?
Let in the Overcomer,
And He will conquer thee.
But it was her Authorized Version of the Bible, which her Bible class had given her as a birthday present in 1916, that was the constant companion of her last twenty years. From a perusal of this sacred volume, one sees again how intensive was her study of the Psalms and Proverbs. There one finds a chain reference study of verses dealing with “words,” the “tongue,” “voice,” and their synonyms. Still another chain reference study deals with the topic of guidance and leading. Another follows the theme of “trust.” The subject of the “heart” in Psalm 119 impressed her deeply.
Throughout the New Testament there is a chain reference on the subject of the “judgment,” “hell,” “condemnation,” and the end times in general. Beside the much-argued-over verse, Hebrews 6:6, Mrs. R. wrote in the margin: “This does not refer at all to the ordinary Christian, but one of those far beyond, such as have the victorious experience in Jesus.”
In the back end-papers may be found a table of “Incidents of Healing” from the Gospels, also “Healings after Christ Bose,” and her own study of the subject of “Divine Healing.” These seem to have been copied from her notebook studies made at the time of her first great healing in 1899, for they are almost identical. In addition, there are numerous notes on other subjects.
There is also a study of “The Lord’s Return” with a list of verses together with the word or phrase of the verse pertaining to the subject. This compilation reminds one of a word spoken in one of her sermons, oft-repeated in different words, however, but always the same in substance: “The Lord wants us to know the Bible well.., all about His coming and where to find it… Lay down your own opinions and see what the Bible says about the second coming of the Lord.”
So it was that Martha Wing Robinson meditated in the Word of God day and night. It was her constant delight, and upon it she fed continually, drawing from it the help she needed for soul and body. Her attitude toward this Book of books and toward the need for diligent study of this volume she best expressed, perhaps, in these two short statements:
The Bible is an outline to be filled out in each individual life.
The truths of the Bible are but pathways to the feet of Jesus.
During the course of a visit with Mrs. R. a young minister, who really spent hours daily with the Scriptures, remarked that he wished he had more time to spend with the Bible. “It takes me so long to read it,” he continued. “I read one verse and then I have to close my eyes and meditate upon it to get the life from just those words.”
Looking up in an attitude of worship, as she often did in the course of her teaching or preaching, she replied to this comment by talking directly to Christ, “Well, Jesus, after we have been with You a thousand years, we’ll still be drawing life from it.”
NOTHING MATTERS BUT CHRIST JESUS!
ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, January 26, 1936, Mrs. Robinson told one of the Faith Home “boys,” who had dropped in to call on her, of a dream she had had early that morning. In it she was singing a song for him, and then she began to sing it:
Along the River of Time we glide,
Along the River, along the River;
The swiftly flowing, resistless tide,
The swiftly flowing, the swiftly flowing,
And soon, ah soon, the end we’ll see;
Yes, soon, ‘twill come, and we shall be
Floating, floating out on the Sea of Eternity.
Along the River of Time we glide,
Along the River, along the River;
A thousand dangers its currents hide,
A thousand dangers, a thousand dangers,
And near our course the rocks we see:
Oh, dreadful thought! a wreck to be,
Floating, floating out on the Sea of Eternity.
Along the River of Time we glide,
Along the River, along the River;
Our Savior only our bark can guide,
Our Savior only, our Savior only,
But with Him we secure may be –
No fear, no doubt, but joy to be
Floating, floating out on the Sea of Eternity.ⁿ
Note: Words and music by George F. Root.
It was Mrs. Robinson’s unique way of announcing that “soon, ah, soon” she would be “floating out on the Sea of Eternity.” And she wanted to prepare the young man for that which would take place exactly six months to the day from then. But he understood not her saying. Perhaps it might be truer to say he would not understand it, for he certainly knew she was not well.
The previous April she had suffered a severe blow from the enemy and since then had grown weaker. At times, to be sure, she was stronger and through all her weakness carried on, ministering to those in need. But the idea of her dying was unthinkable. It just could not be. Surely God would miraculously raise her up as He had done so many other times. Repeatedly, however, she suggested to one and another that the time of her departure was indeed at hand. Yet even her dearest friend and companion of years, Hilda Nilsson, would have none of this, but confidently prayed that God would restore her and complete His work through her. At the same time Mrs. Robinson seemed to look forward to going to Heaven, to being with the One whom her soul so loved and with whom she had had such intimate fellowship on earth.
Throughout these last months she continued to point hearts to Jesus, as she did the young man to whom she had made the announcement of her home–going when she prayed for him:
“Open his soul to Jesus Christ.” Then she counseled him, as she had counseled multitudes of others throughout the years: “Run after Jesus!” How full of light and wisdom were the words she spoke – instructions which lightened the pathway of others for days, yea, for years to follow. So the weeks and months wore on.
The ninth of June was the eightieth birthday of Elder Brooks, Mrs. Robinson’s valued co-worker, whose restoration to health and vigor she had been used of God to bring about five years before. The residents of the Homes gathered to celebrate the anniversary of this patriarch which was to be coupled with the celebration of the graduation from college the day before of one of the Faith Home boys. Mrs. Robinson would attend this. Nothing would hold her back. She desired to participate in the joys of both her aged and her young friend. She remained for the evening service which followed. It was her last public appearance.
Two weeks later her old friend from Toronto, Minnie McConnell, who was visiting Zion, desired to take Miss Nilsson back with her for a little rest. Mrs. Robinson indicated she believed this to be God’s will and kissed her goodbye. Little did “Neely” realize that this was to be their final farewell. So, at the end of her life, her closest companion was in the city so inextricably connected with her own life, the city of her greatest sorrows and of her greatest joys and triumphs.
As the sun was lowering in the western sky on Friday evening, June 26, the head of Martha Wing Robinson quietly drooped, and her spirit floated “out on the Sea of Eternity.” So imperceptibly did her bark loose from its earthly moorings that Mrs. Judd who was sitting by her side, reading some choice passage to her, did not notice at the time that she had slipped out. But Martha Wing Robinson had entered the Haven of Rest and was at home “in the bosom of the Father.”
A year and a half before this, on her birthday, Mrs. Robinson had said to the friends who had gathered to be with her for the occasion: “Behold, what it is the Lord has sought for thee: It is to have Jesus. He is waiting for everyone. And then, evidently referring to her own experience of the indwelling Christ, she added, “He has not meant it for one, but for many.”
At another time, when speaking to one of her youngest friends, she referred to her own experience of the indwelling Christ as “a next generation experience.” Thereby she implied that the day would surely come when what had admittedly been unusual and exceptional in her life would be more general in the lives of those who had His commandments and kept them. These people Christ would indeed fully possess, body, soul, and spirit.
Unquestionably her experience had been a pattern to show forth what God can and will do “at the time of the approach of the coming of the Lord,” in those who crown Him King in their hearts and fulfill in their obedience to His commands. To such he will manifest Himself and take up His abode in them.
Throughout the years she had let the King live out His life in her, utterly abandoned to Him to do with her just what He would, caring only that He should be magnified in her body “whether it be by life or by death.” So it was that the Lord used her to call others to “come to Him, learning to know Him better till He [would be] King over their lives,” so that He could “manifest Himself the way He has appointed for these last days.” For that victory she most earnestly prayed and valiantly fought.
Others have been path blazers in the opening up of such truths as justification by faith, sanctification, divine healing, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, while Martha Wing Robinson was a path blazer in the field of God’s complete possession of one’s body, soul, and spirit. Not to her was given the privilege to see that victory generally manifested, but she led the vanguard in the fight for the establishment of it. And when the call came for her to lay down her armor, she did so with the full assurance that she had fought a good fight and that the victory was sure.
“God doesn’t always lead the way we expect,” Martha Wing Robinson said to Mrs. A. W. Naylor not long before her Homegoing. “He does lead according to His own mighty plans and takes us His own mighty way. And, after all, Naylor, NOTHING MATTERS BUT CHRIST JESUS.”
“MY BELOVED IS MINE, AND I AM HIS”
E’en like two little bank-dividing brooks,
That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having rang’d and search’d a thousand nooks,
Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my best Beloved’s am; so He is mine.
E’en so we met; and after long pursuit,
E’en so we join’d; we both became entire:
No need for either to renew a suit,
For I was flax, and He was flames of fire.
Our firm united souls did more than twine:
So I my best Beloved’s am: so He is mine.
Nor time, nor place, nor chance, nor death, can bow
My least desires unto the least remove:
He’s firmly mine by oath: I His by vow:
He’s mine by faith: and I am His by love:
He’s mine by water: I am His by wine;
Thus I my best Beloved’s am: thus He is mine.
He is my altar; I His holy place:
I am His guest; and He my living food:
I’m His by penitence: He mine by grace:
I’m His by purchase; He is mine by blood:
He’s my supporting helm; and I His vine:
Thus I my best Beloved’s am; thus He is mine.
He gives me wealth; I give Him all my vows:
I give Him songs; He gives me length of days:
With wreaths of grace He crowns my conqu’ ring brows:
And I His temples with a crown of praise,
Which He accepts; as everlasting sign
That I my best Beloved’s am; that He is mine.
– Francis Quarles
RADIANT GLORY – ADDENDUM
The following obituary appeared in the Zion City Independent, May 5, 1916 and was probably written by George A. Mitchell, one of the ministers of the Faith homes of Zion.
Henry Walker Robinson was born April 7, 1874, in the city of Montreal, Quebec. Of English parentage, he lived most of his life in the city of Montreal till his maturity, where he removed to Toronto, Ontario.
At the age of 21, he was sweetly and powerfully converted in the Fred Victor Methodist Mission of Toronto, giving himself very thoroughly to God. He was at once drawn out toward the word of the Lord, frequently dropping secular work for service in the vineyard, assisting pastors, and often himself holding meetings. He was blessed and used in a marked way – the Lord’s work taking first place even when he was in secular employment.
At the age of 27 he came to Zion City, and there engaged in office work till the church discovered his ability, and used him in the field as an itinerant worker. While in this capacity, he was considered one of the successful workers and gave much satisfaction.
In the year 1905 he married Miss Martha Wing, and they were placed in charge of a branch of the Zion work. At the time of the fall of Zion, he was already looking in his heart for deeper things of the Lord, and as the Pentecostal movement opened at this time, he and his wife were led at once into it. From this time his interests and affiliations have been connected with the Pentecostal movement, though in his ministerial work he would enter any open door. As in his earlier experiences he has been frequently used in the calls of the Lord’s service.
Last August he was taken seriously ill, and… passed from this life Friday afternoon, April 28, 1916, at the age of forty-two years and three weeks.
During [his long illness] he showed great grace and fortitude, and tried in every way to cooperate with those who ministered to him or gave their attendance. He expressed himself as being in earnest desire to give himself more utterly to God, saying if God spared his life, he purposed to let God have his way in every particular. He constantly experienced deep and sweet changes till the end, offering himself for the perfect fulfillment of God’s will.
He leaves behind to mourn his loss his wife of Zion City, and in Canada, mother, three sisters and five brothers.
RADIANT GLORY – About Martha Wing Robinson [Gordon P. Gardiner] Year 1962 ~BOOK 1