Dust Storms on the Horizon
We carried on for two years among our beloved people in Alexandria, Louisiana, also spent some time looking after the general interests of the District which was showing signs of growth. The heavy load had been a draft upon the health of my wife, so the Assembly voted to give me a six months release from District duties in order that her health might be regained. (I had been unanimously re-elected as Superintendent for the fifth year). A hearty invitation came from friends in the State of Kansas to locate my family in their big house while I would be engaged in evangelistic labors principally in the West. Believing that this was in answer to prayer we accepted the invitation and made the move.
A considerable portion of my time was consumed in meetings in the dust bowl regions of Colorado. Here I witnessed something different from anything ever dreamed of in the way of storms. I had passed through cyclones in the south with their ominous black clouds of wrath, loaded with water but here I beheld swirling, wrathful “clouds without water” — rolling clouds of choking dust which penetrated the houses with closed windows and doors until later the dirt had to be shoveled out.
These dreadful dust storms were fearful omens of another type of storms which would soon strike with heart-bleeding blows. And yet these clouds which we so much dreaded were “big with mercy, and broke with blessings upon our heads.”
While conducting services in western Kansas (also in the dust bowl region) a telegram came to hand informing me that I was expected to meet with a certain church official at a given time and stated point back in eastern Kansas. Orders were obeyed, my meeting was interrupted, and at the given hour I stood in the presence of my superior. I found that other District Superintendents had also been called for the conference. We were informed that a certain group of people in the west must be dealt with, and that it was up to us to vote against them since by virtue of our offices we were members of the school in question. This came as a shock to your writer, for most of what I had heard regarding these folk in question had been favorable. My conscience would not consent to such an action. We were diplomatically warned of what the results might be if we failed to comply with the demands of our superior in regard to the School Board meeting which would be coming up within another week. One of these Superintendents was a member of the General Board and was deeply grieved over the situation. In an undertone he was told to take a vacation on that day in the event he could not feel clear to vote against the men in question. Your writer was also tempted to take a vacation, but felt that I might be playing the part of a coward not to face the cross. The result was a call to the carpet the day before the scheduled meeting. Since my conscience could not consent to what I believed was an unwise and unchristian procedure, my Superior informed me that my position as Superintendent was annulled, and that I would not be permitted to sit in the School meeting. Along with this came the cancellation of my future bookings. I was suddenly and ruthlessly torn from my beloved people in the southland where I had poured in nearly nine full years of service. This had been done without their consent.
Comforters came my way, but the matter was too serious for men to govern. I must have God’s leadings. The first thought was to return to my District and revolt against such action, but after seeking the will of God it became clear that I must not do so. The will of our Lord was diligently sought, then a few days later I got in my old car with ten dollars in my pocket and a thousand miles ahead of me. I parked at a place where I had never been before and where there was only one man with whom I was acquainted within fifty miles, with the exception of the elderly brother who was to assist me in some services. With only two dollars in money we undertook to rent a hall and launch a pioneering campaign. A cold wave soon struck which hindered our plans. Only a few folk would come to the meetings. Never had the way appeared darker. The enemy of souls was on hand to inform me that this was the end of me, and that it was the very height of folly to try to go on preaching. During this period one dear man was sent to deal with me and to try to persuade me to retain my relationship with the denomination with which I had been working. Another District was even offered to me. In fact two men came and wept on my neck and pleaded with me to return. In the meantime I had prayed clear through and knew that God was leading, even though the way was too dark to see. I simply could not yield to the pleasure of the brethren even though they were my friends and meant well. Upon being told that the way for me was very dark, without thinking my reply was, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” (Later I realized that I was quoting Judson the missionary). Upon being asked where I could preach, the reply was, “The world is my parish.” (Without thought I had quoted Wesley). Little did I think then that within three years I would have literally preached the Gospel around the globe, nor did I even dream that the time would come when my voice would be heard daily on both sides of the world.