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

Chapter 16

Eclipsing the Past

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, I press toward the mark for the prize.”

Many a man’s history could be written in two words — arrested development. He ceased to eclipse himself; he stopped too soon because he was satisfied with present attainments.

Elisha prayed for a double portion. of the spirit that was upon Elijah; as a result he performed sixteen miracles while Elijah wrought only eight David first killed a bear, then a lion, then Goliath, each time surpassing the former achievement. We ought to do likewise.

Friends, I have caught a vision and cannot be content to settle down and get comfort from what little I have accomplished. We started with nothing, then at the age of twenty began printing tracts. This developed into booklets and books until now God has been pleased to let us spend over $60,000 in publishing nearly fifty books and scattering hundreds of millions of pages over the earth. To Him be all the praise. But, oh, I can see now where I might have done more; and in order to meet God’s expectations according to my limited abilities and opportunities, I must now double my energies. If I could only get hold of the unused means and capabilities of some, how I would bless the world!

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” — Acts. 1 :8. This is God’s order. If it worked then, it will succeed today. First; get the real baptism! Then witness before your home folks; then to those in the adjoining state, then on a broader scale and finally all over the earth. We have tried in a feeble way to literally carry out this last commission of our Lord. Our first trip, years ago, was when, after scattering holy fire in United States and Canada, wife and I felt led to visit the mission fields and impart a blessing not only to native workers and heathen, but to missionaries themselves. Later, son and I did the same, trusting God to open doors and supply finances. On this second trip around the world we traveled from East, to West, stopping first in Korea, where we worked with the Oriental Missionary Society. After the annual convention in Seoul (the capital) we went up into the interior, where we dedicated several new churches built by those who were heathen just three years before. These self-sacrificing converts were so poor that, in order to build, they denied themselves of a certain number of spoonfuls of rice, then sold it for a few pence. Thus a new church was built and paid for, capable of seating three hundred or more. What a rebuke this should be to many professed Christians who know not the meaning of fasting or self-denial!

Another case! A heathen man was visiting in Japan and there found Christ. Now he was all enthused to see the people in his own village saved, though a hundred miles away. He returned home and started to build a little chapel with his own money, intending to invite a missionary to come and hold a revival. But winter was coming on, the windows were not in, and there was no money in sight. What should he do? Prayer and fasting found a way. He had two oxen — he would sell one and get enough to enclose the little chapel.

“But,” inquired a neighbor, “how will you plow your rice field in the spring ?”

“I have figured all that out. I will bore another hole in the double-tree, and make my one ox pull four-fifths of the load, while I harness myself in the other side and pull one-fifth. Wife will hold the plow, and thus we will prepare and plant my field.” This made me weep! It is needless to say what followed — a mighty revival among raw heathen. They will rise up in the judgment and condemn this generation for its extravagance and self-indulgence.

We held many conventions in Japan and China, then sped on to Egypt, Palestine and England. I considered it a good investment to take our son to these land’s, since he was to be a preacher. Without our hinting for money God wonderfully supplied every need. Best of all, many missionaries and native workers dug their wells deeper and struck fresh oil.

The next year our entire family went to England, Scotland and Ireland where we had many calls. We divided up into two parties, in order to cover the ground in the allotted time. While in England, I left the family to fill out the engagements, and took my first trip to South Africa. I ventured out, knowing only two missionaries, Rev. J. W. Haley near Durban, and Rev. Jules Ryff near Johannesburg. But the doors began to open, especially among the Europeans, until we could not begin to fill the calls. I had now caught an enlarged vision and received a new commission. to give much of my future time to mission fields. How could I have missed this late call for so long? Just as many others who limit God and themselves.

Yes, we must eclipse ourselves or die with dry rot. After going to the West Indies and South America and paying out nearly $400.00, our next trip was to South Africa. Of course this meant more, for wife and daughter Esther were to go along. The expense for the round trip of nearly 12,000 miles was over $1,000.00. But, without our hinting for a penny, God moved upon the people to give us twice that amount. In addition, we sold, and gave away nearly $3,000.00 worth of books. The postage alone was nearly $400.00. How those dear people. devour deep books! Best of all, about 1,000 souls met God in a real way, many of whom were ministers and Christian workers. This was equivalent to many times that number of raw sinners. To God be all the praise!