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

Chapter 9

I Meant Well But Broke Over

While in South Africa, we had a very busy time for eight months, preaching sometimes two and four times a day besides praying with hungry hearts between times. Our manager, Captain Dobbie, and others tried to restrain us, saying, “You must rest a few days between, each mission.” We were told that a stranger to South African climate could not hold up under such in tense work. We conciliated them by promising to rest twenty-four days on the sea between Capetown and New York. I meant well, but broke over the second day on shipboard when we arranged a devotional service each day from 9:00 to 10:00 A. M. It did not take long to size up our Crowd. Out of nearly five hundred passengers we found ten missionaries and as many more who were glad to join us in singing, and reading a short Scripture lesson, after which I generally spoke for fifteen minutes or more. On Sundays we spoke twice to larger crowds. In addition, we started this new book, lest we get out of practice.

Now is this right? Should not a preacher take a vacation? Perhaps so, but I have observed that most men who take things easy accomplish little, eat well, and die before their time. “Better to wear out than rust out.” I remember well, back there when I was a boy preacher twenty-two years of age, one thousand miles from home, how I came down with tuberculosis, that dread disease which has taken two brothers and three sisters, at about the same age. When the doctor left my bedside, I overheard him speak in the kitchen, “It is too had to see a young man like that die, who wants to live and be a blessing.” This aroused me and I whispered (for my voice was gone) to my attendant to bring a pencil). I sat up on one elbow and scribbled to a preacher I knew in an adjoining town. “Dear Fred, come over quick, I am dying.” He came and for twelve hours prayed in an undertone in my room, and the adjoining one where was a fire, it being zero weather. I can see now why it required so long for him to create an atmosphere in which it would be easy to believe for healing. This was forty-two years ago and there were few then who believed and taught Divine healing. One reason why more are not permanently healed today is that they do not prepare the way by fasting, repentance, and prayer. Hence there is no atmosphere to inspire living faith; there is no well grounded expectancy. We do not expect a real revival without humiliation on the part of the church and backsliders:

Well, after twelve hours of praying down the healing power of God, I whispered to Fred to get a blanket, wrap it around me and lead me out to the other room where I sat in a rocker by the fire. Here I entered into a special covenant with God: If He would heal me, I would go forth and preach, without fear or favor, everything I found in the Bible. He quickened my mortal body, my speech returned, and I said, “I am healed.”

Next morning Fred went to the doctor, telling him he need not come to see me any more. Excitedly the doctor asked, “Is he dead?” “No, he is up and dressed.” “Well, I must go and see him at once, for he must be out of his head.” He came and, staring at me, asked what this all meant., I told him God had gotten there ahead of him and healed me. After taking my temperature he remarked, “This is wonderful! Your temperature last night registered 1041/2 and now it is normal.” That day I walked up town, snow being a foot deep. Business men said I was crazy and should be in bed. I replied that I was healed, but they, as in the days of Christ, “laughed me to scorn.” I gained seven pounds the first twelve days and have been going like a race horse ever since.

Yes, many times I have meant well, and intended to rest, but broke over. I can’t afford it as long as I can win a soul. After my healing, my friends said I might see thirty. Then they thought I might make it to forty, then fifty. Now since I am nearly sixty-five, I may never die, but be caught up to meet my Lord in the air. I remember when I was forty, I promised God that if He would only let me see sixty, I would try to crowd , eighty years into sixty. In other words, I would pray, preach and write with such intensity as to accomplish in sixty years what most men with the same degree of ability and opportunity required eighty years to perform. Well, my time is up and I must give sin and Satan a few more blows before I go hence. How then can I rest here when I will have a long eternity in Heaven in which to do so?

“Then persevere till death

Shall bring thee to thy God;

He’ll take thee at thy parting breath,

To His Divine abode.”