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In fulfilment of a long-standing promise and regarding it opportune for the advancement of the Lord's work, I arranged a ten-days' visit to Johannesburg and the Orange Free State to meet brethren in both places. Most of that time I spent in the "Golden City."
As there were no regular meetings held there I did not have an opportunity to lecture, but spent a busy time visiting those who were more or less interested, seeking to strengthen and confirm their faith.
I had also some interesting conversations with friends who do not quite see eye to eye with us, among whom was the President of the Natal and Transvaal Conference of Seventh Day Adventists. I had a more profitable time with some other friends I visited, and the outcome is that with the beginning of September there will be a little class meeting in Johannesburg for the study of God's great Plan. This is a small beginning, but it is a beginning, and I am hopeful of further development.
Johannesburg is a peculiar city. Being the center of the gold industry of the world it attracts to itself from all parts people of an acquisitive type, whom we would not expect to show much interest in spiritual things. The vigorous existence of several modern religious idiosyncrasies, such as the Apostolic Faith Movement (gift of tongues), Spiritism, Christian Science, etc., etc., indicate, however, that, despite our expectations, there exists even in this modern Babylon a spiritual hunger, which the old errors and superstitions cannot satisfy and reveals the presence of many who, though meantime blinded by the Adversary, are nevertheless groping for the light.
While in that district I took the opportunity to run down seventy miles into the Orange Free State to make the acquaintance of some Dutch brethren with whom I had been corresponding. I suggested a Chart Lecture in the little town of Parys, where they live, and they jumped at the idea. Through the courtesy of the municipality we had the free use of the Town Hall for the lecture, which was quite an event. The Mayor of Parys occupied the chair and introduced the lecturer with a few well-chosen words. The Vice-Mayor, a brother in the Truth, translated our remarks into Dutch for the benefit of the non-English-speaking portion of the audience after we had been accompanied to the platform by a prominent merchant in town, also a brother in the Lord. There were about 250 people in the audience and they listened attentively to an exposition of the Chart.
I had also interesting talks with several of the Boers and found them quite ready to reason about God's Plan and very tired of the spiritual fare served out to them by the Predikants of the Dutch Reformed Church.
The South African Dutch are a Bible-loving people. They are as yet free from the demoralizing influence of Higher Criticism and Evolutionary Theories and are growing restive under the continued preaching of a theory of eternal torment that is an insult to the intelligence of humanity and a libel on the character of God. Having met some of these people I feel more than ever convinced that God has a work to do among them and would earnestly recommend the proposals which I submit under other covers for their assistance.
We, a few in South Africa, gratefully own possession of your "keys" [STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES] and ofttimes praise our dear Lord for the privilege of the free access they afford us to the great storehouse of the riches of His Truth.
Further, in addition to the "keys," which we may also term a magnifying glass, we are greatly blessed with a carpenter in the flesh and "he stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with a compass." Oh, "What shall we render unto the Lord for all His benefits!"
But, dear brother, we know full well that there are not many in South Africa who put "the keys" to their practical [R4934 : page 447] use and that few have the penetration of spiritual character that would lead them to the use of the magnifying glass and many there are who cannot be reached by present temporal facilities.
We are, therefore, praying the Lord of the Harvest to call a feast in order that special opportunities may be afforded the lame, the halt, the blind and the indifferent ones, to "see themselves as they are" and afterward contemplate the King in all His love and beauty.
We feel that this is the Lord's due time in this corner of the earth for a special awakening of estranged brethren and the shaking of the structures of the formalist, the scientist, the spiritist and the atheist.
The "weekly flashlights" from across the waters are specially welcome to us, but our hearts are fervently zealous in supplication to our Heavenly Father that He will ship to us the Instrument of His handiwork and favor us with His command"Let there be Light."
We have come to realize "the liberty of the sons of God," hence our full freedom from restraint in holding converse with a brother we know and love, but have not yet seen with the natural eye, but hope to see in darkest Africa. And until you arrive on our shores we will do our best to serve the Lord and "roll the old chariot along" in His dear name, gratefully ascribing to Him all the honor and the glory.
Your favor of August 1 gladly received. My visit to this place is at an end. The Lord knows best what result shall come from it. The Truth is spread considerably over the country in many different ways. There is also a good deal of interest in Present Truth, but the Roman Catholics in general and Poles especially are very slow to join any Protestant congregation. Many are coming to the meeting and are circulating our literature, but they do not join the class.
The class at Warsaw is about twenty-five, at Pabianice twenty, at Ricin about eight, besides a few scattered here and there. On August 15 seven of the brethren were immersed. Some interest is manifested in Lodz. One of our brethren here in Warsaw doing Colporteur work will go there to assist. He is a young man, full of zeal, and consecrated; I believe it may be the Lord's will for him to go and do the work. Lodz is a large city of about 500,000 and is very close to Pabianice, where we have a class. At the railroad station in Lodz, at a newspaper stand, we placed Die Stimme; many Jews coming and going to Russia are buying and carrying the paper with them.
Many Jews in Warsaw and small towns already know your name. All Jewish papers were writing articles pro and con, but most of them have the idea that Die Stimme is a missionary paper. However, there is a good deal of interest all over the country amongst the Jews.
In regard to the permission for meetings, which Brother Bente tried to get, it is a complete failure. The first petition to the Secretary of Religious Affairs was refused on account of some miswording, though it cost fifteen rubles. The second petition was placed in the hands of a lawyer and cost seventy-five rubles and, after all, is good for nothing. I think I have found a man, however, who will do the work for us and bring desirable results. In whatever way the Lord's answer may come this time we will take it as from the Lord.
With this letter I enclose a copy of the Russian PEOPLES PULPIT, "Where are the Dead?" For ten thousand copies they charged seventy-three rubles, about $36. I ordered also stereo-types which will cost about $4 for four pages. Some difficulties were experienced before the paper could appear as it is now. While it is true that there are many difficulties, nevertheless there are many souls longing after God.