My First Fifty Years – By Gerald Bustin

Chapter 9

The Master Speaks Again

“My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.”

Revival services were being conducted in a Bible School in a northwestern State. One day while I was in my room my prayers went up in behalf of Australia and its need of the message of full salvation. I knew that Brother E. E. Shelhamer had been there, but had never talked with him concerning Australia. While in prayer the Lord spoke to me concerning this far away land, but I was not dead sure then that this was the voice of the Lord, for naturally it was an utter impossibility for me to go to such a country. As I continued to pray and wait in the Lord’s presence I was convinced that God had spoken. There was not the least thought of rebellion, however I did say, “But Lord, how can I go? No church would think of sending me, I have a wife and four children, no money, and no income from any source other than my evangelistic meetings. Thou knowest that it takes all that comes to hand for the bare necessities of life and to keep the children in school.” It was then that the Lord tenderly reminded me of my dogmatic preaching to others that when God wants us to do a thing it can be done. This was a padlock for my mouth. There was not another argument. The same day I spoke to a friend of mine and pointed out Australia on the world map saying, “The Lord tells me that next November I am to leave for there.” The reply was, “I would like to go with you.” There was one man among all my acquaintances whom I expected to heartily approve of my Australian plans, but I had a shock coming. This man was decidedly against the proposed idea, and became instrumental in closing doors which would have otherwise been open. This seemed hard at the time, but I am confident that God’s overruling hand was in all this, for He wanted me to learn the lesson of completely trusting Him for all. Some evangelists have sold their homes in order to make trips abroad, but I had no home to sell, and the one man in all the world I looked to most opposed my plans. I told the Lord I would not beg nor borrow. The economic depression was then on, so my opponent and others under his influence were certain in their own minds that I would not see Australia. This dear man was so certain that I was out of the will of God in the matter until when the night before my departure arrived he prayed publicly to the effect that if such was not God’s will He could let the boat go down on which we were to travel.

The writer was so certain that God would make the way for the trip to Australia until he had booking made months ahead for a particular date aboard the S. S. Niagari sailing from Vancouver, Canada. This was certainly not by sight, nor by human promises. Never had the way for such a move appeared to be darker than during those weeks just before time to sail. A thousand dollars were needed for the return ticket and landing money. The Australian Consul could not visa my passport without being assured of a return ticket and four hundred dollars to show upon landing in Australia. I could save nothing from my evangelistic labors, for the family required all that was coming in. Only a matter of weeks before time to sail I was crowded to Christ with my need. I would gladly have given up the idea to have prevented the sufferings which were already coming my way because of my intentions, but my conscience would not permit such. In my plight I cried to the Lord for special help, then came the answer: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” My head and heart were pillowed upon this precious promise, so I praised God for what I could not see.

Two weeks before sailing time I was with my family in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs. My baby girl, then seventeen months old (now eighteen years old) did not know me, and had not known me since she was four months old, for I had never spent more than a day or two with the family. My baby would cry each time I would take her until just a day or two before leaving. This brief period was not without its testings, for all that was required was not yet in hand, nor did I have my passport and visa until just before time to leave. Some of my “comforters”? would say, “I see you are not gone yet.” I could only say, “No, I am not supposed to leave here until the 18th.” This continued until two days before I was ready to leave to catch the boat in Vancouver. Not all the funds needed were in hand until about one o’clock on the day I was to leave at 2:30. At that time I had every dollar required, my passport, visa, and a round the world ticket. I had asked our Lord for a return ticket, but He had given abundant measure. In the meantime He had raised up a good man to travel with me as far as Australia. Brother C. B. Raisch, of Miamisburg, Ohio, felt the Lord would have him go with me to Australia.

Feeding the Fish

We had farewelled our families and friends and had traveled by train the many hundreds of miles across the Rocky Mountains, and now the long looked-for hour had arrived. The great steamboat whistle had sounded its signal of departure. The two untraveled men stepped aboard the royal ship in boyish expectancy of the experiences which awaited them during the course of the nine thousand mile sea voyage, as well as what the Great White Continent had to offer upon their arrival a month later. The gang planks were lifted, the port lines were loosed, the giant propellers went into motion and the big boat slipped away from the wharf and steadily steamed away in the direction of the open sea. As we were losing sight of land we were wondering what the first night on the deep held in store for us, but we were not held long in suspense. Before we were many miles away from land our cabin steward came in and safely fastened our porthole vents. We inquired if the sea was going to be rough that night. His reply was, “It will be a bit choppy.” Such a night! and this was only the beginning. For four days and nights we were hatched down below. The old vessel creaked, cried, pitched, tossed, and rolled as it plowed its way through turbulent waves of a wrathful sea. Not only did the old boat roll –our stomachs rolled with it. We were almost in the condition of the other sea traveler we are told about who boasted on the land that he would not get seasick. After leaving the land he was afraid he might get sick. He did. Later the poor man was afraid he might die, but eventually was afraid he wouldn’t die. It was bad enough to feed the fish all we had, but the worst part was that we continued to try to give them what we didn’t have.

I have traveled tens of thousands of miles by sea over a period of some years, and have had many experiences of sea-sickness, but I am utterly at a loss to know how to describe it, nor have I found so many as one person who could do so. The sensation is one of indescribable misery in the abdominal region. On this first sea voyage we had four days and nights of unrelenting rising, falling, pitching, tossing, and rolling. Among hundreds of passengers only a dozen or so were disposed to go to their meals, and even most of this small number went in vain, for they soon lost what they took on. During these days and nights we were all hatched down while thousands of tons of water rolled over our decks. Even now serious thoughts concerning this unenviable experience serve to gender unpleasant feelings in the section of the body which was so vitally affected.

Land Ahead

What excitement! What a storm of interest! upon being informed by ship’s authorities that land should appear in sight about day-break the next morning after we had sailed for more than one week without seeing even a dot of land. The storm had died away four days before, but our stomachs had not quickly responded to the comparative calm. Plain old earth had never held such interest for us before. Some of the passengers remained awake all night to catch the dim outline of land lying on the low horizon at the earliest possible moment. Others were promenading the decks long before the first blush of the morning. “Land on the other side” was the supreme interest of the hour. Some of us were reminded that this in some way illustrated the deep soul-longings of the saints of God who are eagerly focusing their thoughts and their profoundest attention on the subject of their Lord’s return — looking and longing for the first glimpses of the “better country” where they shall soon make their final moorings, and where “there shall be no more sea.” “I see the land,” “I see the lights along the shore,” and similar cries from all directions.

Within three or four hours the portmaster had joined our vessel and safely guided us into harbor. Yonder on the shore was gathered the official Band of Honolulu playing their native anthem of welcome as the great ship docked in the peaceful harbor. This is the original of our borrowed tune for the song, “He’s Coming Soon.” Well springs of joy throbbed within some of our breasts as we were suddenly transported in thought to that approaching day — glorious daybreak when we shall catch the first gleams of light from the “other country,” shall be piloted safely in by the Port-Master of the skies, and welcomed home by heavenly anthems. Praise be unto the Lamb for ever!

Australia (The Great White Continent)

In spite of the fact that there was no Band to welcome us as we sailed into the great Sydney Harbor of Australia, there were flowing wells of joy, for this was the country of our destination, the land of our calling. Our Lord had called, had made the way when there had been no way, and had brought us safely over the stormy seas. In tranquil expectancy your writer stepped ashore to await God’s marching orders for his life and labors in the strange land.

It would far exceed the limitations of such a book as this for me to tell of the many wonderful ways in which the Lord led and worked out His blessed will during the ten months spent in Australia. Without taking any initiative to seek out a place, the Lord had me at work within about one week. In the meantime He had provided me with a home at no expense on my part. After preaching in various churches I was led to purchase a Gospel tent, seats, lights, etc. and open an evangelistic campaign. In the early part of the first meeting one dear old lady found peace with God, then opened her home to me where I was treated like a Prince. No mother on earth could be more thoughtful of her own son than was this dear soul. Yes, opposition came, but the Lord gave me mothers, brothers, sisters, and children on all sides. No offering was ever asked for in any of these meetings, and yet all my needs were met, and needs for the family nearly 10,000 miles away. Repeatedly funds were placed in my hands from unknown sources. Such came to me through the mail, or were passed on to me from others whose names I shall never know in this world. I traveled, rented halls, conducted meetings, published one book, paid all expenses, then sent money to the family quite often. This is only a small part of God’s wonder workings. He gave me fruit for my labors, and abiding friends who have stood by us through the years. I believe the Lord will be pleased to have me relate at least one experience while in Australia.

In the summer of 1938 I spent about one month in the vicinity of Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia. During most of this time I was working with Brother McClain and Brother Cornell. While working with Brother Cornell in a series of services we considered renting a large theater building for the special meetings. We prayed much about this, then decided to take it. Brother Cornell was decidedly of the opinion that we should take offerings nightly for the expense of the campaign. Your writer was convinced that we should not take offerings at all, or even mention the needs along this line. My Brother Minister was charitable and allowed me to act as I thought best, however he did insist that we should call attention to a small offering box which had been placed in the rear of the building. I didn’t feel that this should be done on this occasion, but that the Lord would be pleased to trust Him fully for our needs. The Lord gave us some very gracious services, but the expense funds were coming to hand very slowly. During the last three nights of the campaign my good friend was much concerned, therefore pled with me to let him make mention of the offering box. I was not disposed to have him do so, for in prayer I had mentioned the needs to the Lord, and in reply had received the assurance that He would see that the material needs would be met if I would do His will in preaching the truth and seeking the salvation of souls. This I did to the best of my ability. He honored the message and gave us souls. The last night of the special meeting found my dear brother quite solicitous, for he was the treasurer and there were not sufficient funds to take care of the bills, and nothing at all in hand for the evangelist. I remained at the altar with some seekers, then after the altar service met with some of the people near the front. After about all the folk had passed out of the building I came up to my friend just in time to see him almost leaping for joy. He had counted the receipts and found that he had exactly, even to a half penny, the amount needed to take care of the bills. Then he came back to earth and said, “But Brother Bustin, there is nothing at all for you.” Smiling, I replied, “The Lord has silently taken care of my needs.” Means had come from various sources to cover personal and family needs. Praise God for His great faithfulness.

India Comes Into the Picture

Even though the Lord had graciously provided me with a ticket for around the world by way of India, I had had no intentions of using it unless He specially directed in that course. One day while near the tent in Sydney two strange men walked up to me and introduced themselves. One of them was just from India and asked me if I were acquainted with Brother John McKay who had attended Trevecca College some years before. I remembered him well, but knew nothing then of his present whereabouts. One of the men informed me that Brother McKay was then in India superintending the work of the Church of The Nazarene. I was asked if I were going by way of India, and if I would consider conducting the annual Camp Meeting in Central Province. My answer was that I would pray about the matter. Soon after this a letter came from Brother McKay asking if I would come even though they could promise me nothing more than my food while there, provided I could eat Indian food. Their people had passed through a great famine and were left in dire circumstances. After further prayer I had the conviction that I should go that way in December and would be on hand for the Camp.

After more than eight thousand miles of additional sea travel the great ocean liner was moored to the Bombay docks. I had been thinking of the perplexing problem facing me in getting through Customs in this land of strange languages when suddenly I heard my name called from among the bystanders near the gang-plank. I had not had reason before this time to specially admire my name, but this time I was electrified upon hearing my name. A well trained native of India had been sent to the boat to meet me. What a joy!

Only a few days were spent in and about the big city of Bombay before taking one of those notorious trains across country to Central Province, but I was there long enough to have my heart moved by the poverty, sin, and suffering of the Christless multitudes. Here I found numbers of homeless unfortunates huddled together in their rags as they occupied the unsheltered sidewalks for their beds. I visited the burning Ghats where mourners sat sadly by and watched their dead consumed in open fires. A visit was made to the Tower of Silence where sorrowing souls watched ugly long-necked vultures devour the dead. Within a matter of minutes the last mouthful of flesh is picked from the mortal frame and gulped down by these filthy fowl. Another depressing sight was that of poor suffering women carrying heavy loads of mortar upon their heads and climbing up four and five stories high. For ten hours labor they received eight and ten cents.

What a sight to behold! What a privilege, and what a responsibility! All of this was mine as I stood before a great company of native Christians, Hindus, and Mohammedans seated on the ground, three times each day, away out in Central India. Here the wild monkeys (big fellows and plenty of them) played on the camp ground by day and the jackals howled at night. Brother McKay had wisely planned the Camp Meeting out in the jungle in order that unevangelized natives might have a chance to hear the Gospel. My own soul was greatly stirred as I labored among these strange people, and my vision of a world’s need was enlarged. The Lord gave us fruit for our labors, but I am confident that my own soul received more than I gave out. In order that I might contact my boat in Bombay India, and thus fill appointments in Palestine and Egypt, the Camp closed two days sooner than it would have done otherwise. My heart was deeply touched by a man and his family who arrived on the ground just as the Camp closed. They had traveled fifty miles in an oxcart to attend the meetings.

I don’t feel clear to pass on from India without relating this word. You will remember that I had been promised nothing for my services in India other than my food. I naturally expected nothing, for the condition of these unfortunate multitudes could not adequately be described. When the missionary announced that on a certain day they would have their annual Camp Meeting offering, I confess that I considered this idle time, for what could such people give? Why not let the few missionaries give what little they could give toward the expense of the Camp and let it go at that? The day arrived and the crowds marched by — even the heathen as well as the Christians — and deposited their gifts. The spirit of this offering was different from anything I had ever witnessed. The people gave cheerfully, sacrificially, and liberally. They must have saved from their penury for many months. The day I was ready to take my departure for the coast Brother McKay called me into an improvised office out there in the jungle and handed me a very large roll of Indian money. I sought to refuse this, but the reply was, “Brother Bustin, God has given us a gracious Camp Meeting, all expenses are paid from the one offering, and our people want you to have the balance. I have never told anyone the exact sum received that day, but it was the largest offering I had ever received in my life, in any part of the world, for the same length of time given. From this I sent money to my family in the U.S.A., went into Palestine, then paid hotel and train expense while laboring in the land of Egypt.

In the Steps of the Master

Why our Lord has been so good to me I cannot tell. Little did I ever dream of visiting the land of our Lord’s earthly life and labors. Try to feature my sentiments when I first placed foot on Palestinian soil, then, a few hours later, after having slowly ground our way up the hills of David, when I first caught a glimpse of Jerusalem with mountains round about. At this juncture we were slowly swinging right and left up the hair-pin turns. A Jewish traveler was seated at my side. With subdued voice I said to the Jew, “Is that Jerusalem yonder in the distance?” He turned to me with moist eyes and replied, “Yes, that is Jerusalem.” You can well imagine the train of thoughts which demanded attention as, with reverent silence, and tear-clouded vision, I beheld, with an enraptured gaze, the most sacred City known to God and man — the sacred spot where the Lord and King of the universe gave His body and blood in sacrifice for lost man.

In this vicinity for a few days I was privileged to look upon scenes which are too sacred for mortal eyes to view. Outside the Jerusalem wall to the north lay the Jericho Road leading eastward across the Cedron valley and on beyond the Mount of Olives and winding its way down to the Dead Sea. Yonder on the western slope of the Mount of Olives is Gethsemane’s Garden, the “place” where Jesus had often gone with His disciples to pray, and the sacred spot where He on that fatal night sweat blood in an agony of prayer for the sins of the world. On the same sacred mountain range and northward is the place from which He ascended into heaven weeks later. Outside the north gate stands that rugged mound — the place of Calvary where God’s beloved Son and our Saviour made the Great Sacrifice. Nearby is the garden in which yet stands the empty tomb. Yes, there is the stable in Bethlehem, the little city of David, and the Birthplace of God’s only begotten Son. Yes, and there was Blue Galilee along whose shores I strolled and whose waters I beheld on another day churned into tempestuous fury. Time forbids that I tell of Cana, and of Nazareth wherein was the cave-home of Jesus our Lord. My last night was spent on the rugged slopes of old Mount Carmel, and only a little distance from the place where Elijah, the prophet of God, prayed fire from heaven upon the sacrifice. From here I took off for Egypt.

Even in Egypt I yet trailed in the foot-prints of the Master, for it was my privilege to visit the supposed spot where Jesus lived as a baby in Egypt. I was also led to the traditional place where little Moses was drawn from the river. Some of the most interesting and heart-touching meetings of my entire ministry were held in the land of the Pharaohs. Much of the time we were favored with fine crowds and the interest of those dear people could not be excelled. I had an unforgettable experience during the last night. My last Convention had closed and the missionary in charge suggested that he make arrangements for me to go see some of the ruins of upper Egypt the next day. Previous to this one dear old man had begged me to come to the town of Tema for some services, but time did not permit. I said to the missionary, “If it is agreeable with you I would rather go to Tema for a service tonight than to go sight seeing, then I can catch the night train in order to contact my boat at Port Said enroute for England.” He replied, “You may go to Tema.” These poor folk had no telephones, and no newspapers, hand bills, or radios by which to announce the service for this Monday night, nevertheless the big building was packed from the front doors to the platform. The crowd pulled the preach out of me until time to catch the 10:30 train, and still they cried, “Preach on.” The missionary said, “There is a fast midnight train which you can take and still get your boat.” I preached on until time to go for the train, and even then was loathe to quit, for the poor hungry people were hanging on to my words. A crowd of the men followed me to the train where they waved as long as they could see me, and their last words were, “Come back to Egypt.”

Not all had been easy in this land, for cheats had stolen from me in the cities. I had slept, and stayed awake too, with too many bed-fellows. I had taken some of my meals in a place where fowls roosted, and had eaten bread everyday which had been baked in plates made of manure, and yet I wanted to stay and tell the blessed Christ-story to these hungry-hearted people. Had I not already been booked for England I would have remained in Egypt even though it had been more than a year since I had seen my wife and children.

England and Scotland

After another week on the sea, having touched the shores of Malta, Italy, and France enroute, we moored our big boat to British shores. I had one month in London, a brief time in the south of England, then away to Scotland, back to England for a Convention with E. E. Shelhamer and Norman P. Grubb, a revival meeting, then across the Atlantic aboard the Queen Mary, and on westward to join my beloved family from whom I had been absent for seventeen months.

I believe that it is in order to give a brief word concerning my stop over in England and Scotland. It was a joy to make friends with some of God’s beloved children in these lands. Many kindnesses were bestowed upon me and I was kept busy for the Lord. I counted it a great honor to be able to visit a few noted places while in those countries. I felt that I was on holy ground upon my visit to the Wesley Home — the place where Wesley spent the latter years of his life, wrote scores of volumes, and from which he went to be with the Lord. There was the little room where he knelt in prayer each morning at four o’clock preparatory to preaching the Gospel in his nearby chapel at five o’clock before the miners went to their work, There I had the privilege of bowing my head in the room where he spoke his parting words, “The Best of All God is With Us.” Many things of interest were passed on to me by the keeper of the Home. Wesley received on an average of nearly $15,000 a year from book royalties, lived on less th an $200 and gave all the rest away. He said, “If I have ten pounds (approximately $50) when I die, call me a thief.” He did not have enough to bury himself. One of his sayings was, “I can no more worry than I can steal.” He implicitly believed and diligently put in practice the words of our Lord, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . .” His life and labors were spent for others. Little wonder that such a life had mighty bearings upon changing the history of England.

Many other places of interest could be spoken of, but I shall make mention of only two. I shall never know just how much my own little life has been influenced by the biography of David Livingstone, so I counted it no small privilege to visit the little town of Blantyre, Scotland, enter the house on the Clyde and bow my head in the humble quarters where little David was born. Nearby stood relics of the old mill where he labored as a child with a book in his hand preparing himself for future labors in Dark Africa. On the same ground stood a replica of the African hut from which he went to heaven — dying upon his knees — after having walked 27,000 miles back and forth through the jungles of Africa as he blazed trails for future missionaries to carry the Gospel to the unevangelized hordes. In accord with his own request his beloved natives cut out his heart and buried it in the heart of Africa, then bore his body upon their heads for fifteen hundred miles through the wilds to the shore from which it was shipped back to England where it rests in Westminster Abbey among the great and the wise. This visit to Blantyre did something for me.

Another brief visit was made to Edinburg for the special purpose of stopping in the humble quarters where the mighty man of prayer, John Knox, fought with the powers of Catholicism and of hell as he poured out his soul in mighty cries to God, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” I also walked on down the royal way to the palace of “Bloody Mary,” the queen of Scotland who had put to death many of God’s people and had repeatedly sought the life of Knox. It was she who said, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than the army of England.” God answered the mighty prayers of Knox defeated the Roman powers, and gave deliverance to his “bonny Scotland.”

In view of my experiences in India and Egypt where my soul caught a little vision of the perishing multitudes, then the added stimulus from my visits to these places, it is small wonder that aboard the Queen Mary to New York my constant cry was, “Dear Lord, please, though unworthy I be, let me have at least a small part in carrying the Gospel of Thy Son to Thy neglected creatures in other parts of earth. I love my homeland, but there are thousands of preachers in America while in other parts of the world there is not one. I stand ready to go to the place of Thy choice even though it might be the darkest spot on earth.” It is no small matter to pray like this, for God may take us at our word.