Incidents in Travel and Soul Winning – By Elmer & Julia Shelhamer

Chapter 1

The Value of Travel

It has been said that travel makes a broad man, reading makes a full man, writing makes an exact man, suffering makes a mellow man, and praying makes a holy man. Some men are naturally broad and magnanimous, while others are given to narrowness. Some are optimistic, others pessimistic; some are constructive, others destructive. We have inherited or imbibed these characteristics, hence a good prayer might be: “Lord, weaken me where I am too strong, and strengthen me where I am too weak. In short, correct in me everything that ought to be corrected, I ask in Jesus name, Amen.”

How it would broaden and mellow some men if they could travel a little. They imagine that they or their little crowd are the cleanest and hottest on earth. I confess I once thought likewise But to my surprise I found extraordinary saints in various lands, who had never even heard of my little denomination.

Some people should travel, while others should stay at home. Perhaps we will not know until the Judgment to what heights we might have attained had we wisely encouraged or discouraged certain tendencies. On one occasion God said to Elijah, “Go hide thyself!” In the very next chapter He said, “Go shew thyself.”

This unworthy scribe has traveled abroad a great deal, I trust to the glory of God. I am sorry I did not start earlier in life. However, I would not advise all to do so. It might make some feel self-important, and thus militate against their piety and usefulness. Oh, that God would take us all in hand and providentially hold one back and thrust another forth. With some, travel would greatly enlarge and enrich them. They cannot see beyond their backyard or city limits. Paul caught a world vision and traveled much for his day. Had he had our means of travel, doubtless he would have set fire to every continent and every island of the sea.

Travel, is expensive and a waste of time and energy unless one is more or less dynamic and can by word or pen stem the tide and project into the future worthy principles that will live after he is gone. In this unassuming volume we hope to broaden and deepen the reader.

National Characteristics

The study of nations is intensely interesting. For instance: Our first visit to Japan, in 1910, taught us a valuable lesson on lines of courtesy. The Japanese people are very polite, artistic, and withal great imitators. On the other hand, the Chinese are just the opposite, slow and serious. While in, Japan we saw that though these nations hate each other bitterly, yet the Chinese were employed in preference to the Japanese, as tellers and cashiers in Japanese banks, because John Chinaman is naturally more honest.

In France we find a proud, haughty mind; in Germany a cruel, militaristic one; in England a polite dignity that borders on severity. We walked into a fruit shop in Southampton.

“You are an American.”

“Yes, how do you know?”

“By your looks and speech, Sir.”

“Well, what do you think of them?”

“They do things without thinking!”

“Yes, I believe you are right.” I might have replied that the English are conceited. But this would not be courteous; for when abroad we must study not to offend, nor take offense. More than once while in Europe we heard the remark, “You are from the land of kidnappers and racketeers.”

“Yes, it is too bad, but please do not be too hard on us, for ninety-five per cent of all our criminals come from Europe, especially Italy.”

On our second trip around the world, after visiting and laboring in various lands we finally took ship across the English Channel. As soon as we set foot on English soil, I lifted my hat and with a deep how said, “Hello, cousins!” Later I made it stronger and said, “Hello, brothers!” For wherever the “English jack” floats, liberty of conscience is guaranteed. We in America boast of our “land of the free and home of the brave,” but our freedom has almost damned us. We could learn a great deal from England in regard to reverence and jurisprudence.

While in Scotland we found a people who were very cool and canny. It was hard to move them to respond and lift the hand for prayer. Even then, only one at a time. But as sure as they went this far they had fully decided to go all the way. We could count on every one’s going into the “vestry” for prayer. On one such occasion in Glasgow, when we went in to assist them, our son said, “Father, these folks are not in earnest, see them with their heads down on the chairs, not saying a thing.” “Yes,” I replied, “I would rather see them do as we do in America, raise their heads and pray out loud, even if in their earnestness they beat the bench. But look under that man’s face and see the pool of tears!” When I can see penitential tears I know that the seeker is in earnest, and God is not far away.

In Ireland we found them just the opposite, loud and quick to respond to new truth, or ready for a fight. The Scotch would scorn the so-called irreverence in Ireland. But occasionally a Scotchman would let God bless him. One man was converted and happy in the Lord though with head bowed and very still. Some one approached and wanted to speak. He beckoned him away, saying, “Please let me alone, I am almost dying with emotion.”

Funny stories are told about the Scotch being close and stingy. Here is one which I know to be a fact. When I was in a revival in South America, a Scotch missionary came up to my room each morning to shave. I noticed that after he was through, he did not wash his brush, but with what lather was left he rubbed it on his nose and chin. I asked the reason why, and he said he could not afford to lose that lather. for it was “cooling” on his face. Of course I roared with laughter, saying, “You are surely a Scotchman !” But they do not all go that far, for we know some very liberal ones.

And so it goes the world around — all kinds of people in all kinds of climate make up the world. It would be such a blessing to self-centered people, especially those who are overcareful and exacting around home, if they could get out of their little ruts and travel a bit. A rut is a grave with both ends gone. I was entertained at a nice home; the wife, who never had any children, was so particular about little things, such as how high the shades should be, the way the chairs should be placed, and just when and where I should shave, that it made me feel uncomfortable. As I was leaving I wept and requested of the husband, if I ever returned, that he should let me sleep in the garage. He sympathized with me, but dared not say a word, for she, like an old setting hen; ruled the roost.

Sometimes it is the man who is narrow and queer. He is so conceited and overbearing that no one can feel easy when he is around. He is boss in the kitchen, boss in the parlor, boss in the bedroom, boss in the church, and boss everywhere. It is painfully distressing to see how his wife has little or no voice in the home, especially in finances. He carries the purse and she must bow and scrape to get a little spending money; even then she must give an account of how she spends every penny.

A preacher in a certain place was so mean that, though well fixed, he did all the buying for the table, and kept a close tab on just how much was used. His poor wife was a slave without privilege or personality. Good Lord! Such a man needs an awful killing of his inner self-life.

Yes, travel and rubbing up against all classes of people have a tendency to take off the rust and rough. Just now I was standing and reading the bulletin on the big ship, when a selfish smoker (and most smokers are selfish) came crowding up and blew smoke into my face. I looked at him, but he did not take the hint — how could he for he thought only of himself? At first I felt like rebuking him, but later he treated me with consideration when he perceived that I was a minister. Had I been sarcastic, I could not have helped him. By kindly taking his insult I myself was broadened, deepened and mellowed.

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Resignation To God’s Will

All scenes alike engaging prove

To souls impressed with sacred love;

Where’er they dwell, they dwell in thee;

In heaven, in earth, or on the sea.

To me remains no place nor time;

My country is in every clime,

I can be calm and free from care

On any shore since God is there.

While place we seek, or place we shun,

The soul finds happiness in none;

But with my God to guide my, way

‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.

Could I be cast where thou art not,

That were indeed a dreadful lot,

But regions none remote I call,

Secure of finding God in all.

–Madam Guyon