IF the sowing has been a general one with a view to the gathering of the Lord's little flock from every nation, people, kindred and tongue, we must expect the harvest work to be similarly broad, widely extended. In reply to inquiries respecting the African mission: Returns from Brother Booth are meager as yet. He arrived at Cape Town and at once proceeded to bring the good tidings to the attention of the English-speaking whites and blacks in that city. He has met with some success in the sense that a few are hearing gladly. We hope that some of them will be convinced. Some are inquiring whether or not reaping work could be done in India, Japan and China. We reply that we have a few WATCH TOWER subscribers in those far-off lands, who doubtless are doing everything in their power, and they will, we feel assured, be prompt to tell us if there are openings there for the services of the Truth and for the harvest message.
Meantime let us not forget that our own land is the gathering-place for people from every nation under heaven, and is therefore a fruitful field in a larger sense than any other. The Lord seemingly held back the discovery of this continent until the due time, when it would become the gathering-place for the oppressed of all nations; for the oppressed are specially amenable to the Truth, as our Master's words indicate, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." As an illustration of the advantages of the freedom of conscience secured by many who come to this favored land, we mention two instances which came under our personal observation. Meeting an Italian workman casually and finding him to speak broken English we had a conversation with him, as follows:
"I never knew anything about other religions until I came to the United States some years ago. I was then surprised to find various denominations of Protestants, and that the Roman Catholics here were in the minority. I noticed that many of the Protestants were quite intelligent, and some of them apparently good people. I visited various churches, saying to myself, I want to find the Truth, whatever it is. A Methodist minister had a talk with me and urged me to join his congregation. I told him that I would do so if I could be convinced that it was the right onethat I was looking for the Truth. It was not long after this that one of the brethren handed me a tract, and subsequently I got into conversation with him and his presentations were more satisfactory than anything I had ever heard. He brought me the DAWN in English, and with patient perseverance I was able to read it and to understand it, and so the other volumes."
This brother promptly made some donations to the Tract Fund, sold out his business in Virginia and returned to Greece, where he has gotten out a translation of several of the tracts and the first volume of DAWN. His latest letter says that the translators are working on the second volume, which he hopes will be ready this year. The dear brother is throwing his entire heart into the matter, desiring to help the brethren of his [R4001 : page 164] own nationality. Meantime also he visits the ships that enter his port, and canvasses the passengers and seamen for English, French, Italian and Greek DAWNS.
Surely, as the Master said at the first adventThe fields are ripe for the harvest, and he that reapeth receiveth wages. (John 4:35,36.) What wonderful opportunities lie right at our hand! Let us be wise in the use of these, not only praying but laboring. We must not think of the immigrants ungenerously; they come from countries poorer than ours, but many of them are bright, and some of them apparently honest-hearted, and quite likely some of them are at heart true Christiansthe Lord's brethren and hence our brethren. Let us be on the alert to do them all the good in our powerto serve them with that which will do them more good than anything else we know of.
We earnestly commend the course followed by some of refusing better situations that would pay larger salaries, because the labor involved would be more taxing and leave less opportunity for the service of the Truth. We recommend that situations that pay well and absorb every moment of time except that requisite for providing the things that perish be sacrificed in favor of situations paying less wages but affording greater opportunity for volunteer work, colporteur work, etc. We are glad to say this spirit prevails more and more amongst those who have received the Truth in the love of it.
Try, dear friends, if possible, to secure a blessing by laboring in one of these departments of the harvest work. All cannot be Pilgrims, all are not qualified for the work, neither will the funds of the Society permit the engagement of large numbers, nor are many necessary, as each little class should have amongst its own number some possessed of talents which should be consecrated and actively used in the service of the brethren. All cannot be Colporteurs, though there is a much wider door of opportunity here. This service can only be engaged in by those who are comparatively free from earthly responsibilities and ties, or who can make themselves free by shaping their affairs to this end. They must be strong enough to endure a considerable amount of walking and the carrying of the books: they must be neither too young nor too old. Nevertheless this is a branch of the work which has been greatly blessed of the Lord, and laborers in this department are usually greatly blessed spiritually as they seek daily to lay down their lives for the Truth and for the brethren.
Mistaken ideas respecting calls to the ministry have troubled the Lord's people for centuries. Many seem to think that a mental impression is a call to preach, and insist that they must preach whether they have a natural ability or not, and whether they have opportunity or not, and whether people desire them to preach or not. A call to the Lord's service comes through the Truth and our acceptance of it. Whoever has the Lord's Spirit must feel interested in all of the Lord's work, and feel called upon to do anything and everything in his power to forward the same. Who needs more of a call to the use of his talents in the Lord's service than is given in our Lord's message, "Go ye, therefore, and disciple amongst all nations ...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway: even unto the end of the age."
God's message is so good, so grand, that whoever receives it into a good and honest heart receives a blessing which so rejoices him that he must desire to live it, to tell it to others. That desire is a spirit of the Truth. He should follow that desire, that leading, that love of the Truth, that desire to lay down his life in its service just so far as possiblehis limitations being according to his talent and according to the incumbrances and responsibilities which are properly his. A call to the Colporteur work implies that the person called has already turned from sin and is endeavoring to live reasonably, soberly. It involves more, that he has presented himself a living sacrifice to God. It involves further that he is so situated in life that it is possible for him to arrange his affairs without injustice to his own family or to his neighbors, so that he can be free to take up this work. The call to it consists of the desire to serve God, to serve the brethren, to serve the Truth. This holy spirit or holy desire should be gratified to the extent of ability, and should be restrained only by the necessities above mentioned. If all could realize this privilege and opportunity how many there would be to promptly enter this field of service.
Sharpshooters are those who have no particular time that they could devote to the Colporteur service, but who, nevertheless, make it their business to sell a considerable number of DAWNS to their friends and immediate neighbors. They differ from the Colporteurs in that they do not cover the territory. Any one who regularly and systematically canvasses territory spoils it as such for another for some years. All such are rated as Colporteurs, and need to have an assignment, that we may know what has and what has not been thoroughly worked. Nearly all of the Lord's dear people should be Sharpshooters, and we hope that they are.
"Volunteers" is a name applied to those who systematically undertake the distribution of the WATCH TOWER tracts free, in their own city or town, etc. Many of the dear friends do their volunteer work on Sunday mornings, going from house to house, perhaps having a son or a daughter assist by taking the opposite side of the street, placing the tracts carefully under the doors and ringing the door-bells. Very many indeed have been reached in this mannerand the tracts are free and the freight paid for you. We recommend that the dear friends in each city and town cooperate in this work so that it may be systematically done [R4001 : page 165] everywhere. The present rulings of the post-office department prevent us from sending tracts by mail at the usual newspaper rates as heretofore; hence we are more than ever dependent upon the dear friends for the scattering of the "hail" everywhere. "Do with your might
An illustration of the blessed influence of this work comes to our mind as told by a brother who is now deeply interested in the Truth. At the time mentioned he was a railroad accountant, and an attendant of one of the principal churches of Washington City. He was born in China, where his parents were missionaries, and had become accustomed to the religion of formalism. One Sunday as he came from Church he was handed a tract by one of the brethren, whom he recognized as a merchant, owner of several stores in the city. He said to himself, That man is not doing that work for pay, he must be sincere; I will read the tract. Slightly interested from the reading of the tract he obtained further reading matter, the DAWNS. Now a bookkeeper in one of Washington's principal banks, he is one of the most aggressive of the volunteer force there, as well as an Elder of the Church.
We are not to hold back from the service of the Truth because we are well known by our neighbors nor because the majority of those who distribute tracts and handbills are illiterate or forced to the service by poverty. Rather we are to remember that we have given our all to the Lord, not only our lives but our physical strength, our mental strength, our reputation and influence and our money. If we made a full consecration to him we gave our all, and we must judge of our Lord's estimation of our attitude by his words, "He that is ashamed of me and my Word,...of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed" (Mark 8:38); and again, we remember the declaration, "They that honor me I will honor." It is not surprising then that we find that those who are most active in serving the Truth and who thus indicate their special love for it and its authority, the Lord, should have special evidence of his love to them in their spiritual health and progress and keeping by his power.
The volunteer ammunition (tracts) is now being shippedtwo million tracts. How many of them can and will you use judiciously, carefully. Let the dear brethren and sisters of each place, who have not already made application, consider together and send in a united order as quickly as possible, now that the fine weather is at hand. We know not how many more such opportunities will be ours. All around us we see evidences that the shackles of error are breaking, the darkness of superstition fading away, and that new delusions are being brought forward by the Adversary to captivate those who are now awakening and beginning to see a little light. Let us be faithful, us to whom the Lord has been so gracious in the bestowment of such clear knowledge of his own character and of the harmony of his blessed Word in the "Plan of the Ages."
A short time ago, when first mentioning the African mission, we called attention to the opportunities that are still nearer at hand and in which many may engage in the interests of our black brethren. The more we think of this the more it appeals to us. In nearly every city of our land there are colored people whose parents were brought from Africa as slaves, and who in the Lord's providence are now free and able to speak and read the English language. Many of them give evidence of deep religious sentiment and fervency of spirit. Why is not the Truth for these? Perhaps the Lord allowed us to overlook them to some extent in the past; why may we not now make a general movement all along the line for their aid? In many of the little gatherings of those in the Truth there is a surplus of talent and ability to present the plan of God. Why should not this surplus be turned to the help of the colored brethren? This may be done by the congregation systematically or may be done individually. But in either case we would like to be in touch with the laborers, and be kept informed as to just what is being done. We suggest that the following plan would perhaps work to advantage everywhere:
Let those who have the time at their disposal and who have some ability for public address make a thorough study of the Chart of the Ages, with a view to giving several discourses therefrom. To those desirous of proficiency in this service we now offer free a little pamphlet giving outlines of discourses on the Chart that will be helpful to many. In writing for these please give a very brief statement of your qualifications, the time at your disposal, and the number of colored churches in your vicinity.