Greetings and fond love in the Lord! It is now some little time since last we wrote you with respect to those of our dear brethren who are affected by the Military Service Act in this country. We are glad now to report some slight improvement in the situation. From the very beginning our brethren have claimed exemption from the provisions of the Act as Conscientious Objectors, but for a long time the Tribunals before which their cases came were not prepared to acknowledge their conscientious objection, one difficulty being that the I.B.S.A. was not known to them. But things have changed now and our brethren are finding it less hard to secure—as an alternative to Military Service—some work of National Importance. At the present time five of our brethren have been given absolute exemption, twenty-three are in a Non-combatant Corps, one hundred and fifty-four have been given work of National Importance, and eighty-two have been handed over to the Military and have suffered various punishments rather than obey Military orders. With reference to this latter number the Government put into operation a scheme whereby these men are to be released from Prison and—as State servants—be employed in work of National Importance, such as road-making, quarrying, etc. About thirty of the eighty-two mentioned are already thus engaged and about twelve others are at home on parole waiting for work to be found for them.
You will be interested to know that the War Office officials have kindly consented to cancel the papers calling to the colors all those brethren who are Elders, pending the decision of the High Court as to the proper status of our Elders under the Act. This decision we expect to receive about the middle of November. This means, of course, that various Classes are to receive the benefit of their Elders' services meantime. We are grateful to the Lord for this evidence of His loving care for His dear ones in this hour of need.
We need hardly say how keenly we are anticipating further opportunities of service that the Lord in His gracious purposes may have this side the veil; and we are looking to you as His faithful servant to point out to us such further privileges of witness as it may be His good pleasure to provide. We believe that the trials through which our beloved brethren here have been called upon to pass of late have had a mighty, sanctifying influence and have helped us all to be still more devoted to our Lord, and prepared to spend and be spent in His service—realizing the privilege of being His witnesses and suffering, if it be His will, for His name's sake.
We pray for you, dear Brother, and all our beloved brethren associated with you in service for the Lord, that He grant you all Heavenly wisdom and grace sufficient each and every day, so that your labors may ever be to His praise and glory.
Of late years I have been greatly oppressed by the growing power of evil in every denomination, and I felt a withdrawing of the Holy Spirit from me. I prayerfully sought to know the reason, and my only answer was a direction to study the book of Revelation. I tried to do so several times, but even with the help of a commentary, I could not understand it. Finally, I thought that if I carefully and prayerfully read your books they could not harm me. I did so, and looked up every reference and the context, and also the history of the world.
It was just a whole year (a long one) that He saw fit to permit me to be laid on the shelf—until He graciously opened the way for me to go out again in the follow-up work, just six weeks ago. You know something of the starvation of soul it meant. Now I can tell you that, true to His promise, when we hunger for these things, we shall be filled; so my whole soul doth magnify the Lord my Creator for His refilling. Through this experience I realize that I have never in the past sufficiently appreciated the goodness of the Lord in permitting me to handle His precious truths and to feed His lambs, to uphold His name and character to all with whom we come in contact. Henceforth many times daily I will by His grace remember my vow to thank Him, "particularly for the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work," and with reverence handle these sacred vessels of the Lord.
Every day we meet some hungry souls who declare inability to understand the Bible—some who say their neighbors think them peculiar because they love to talk about the Bible; some say they are "starved" for the truth of the Bible. "What manner of persons ought we to be" who are entrusted with a Message for just such waiting hearts!
The Father Himself has provided "strength for every day"—temporal blessings far better than we deserve or would ask for and spiritual joys which we could not have dreamed of, except that "it is just like our Father." We wish that we had much more that we could sacrifice for Him, for our little sacrifice is completely lost sight of because of present joys and the joys in prospect.
While renewing my subscription to THE WATCH TOWER, I avail myself of the opportunity to tell you how much its semi-monthly calls gladden us. We ever find therein, abundantly given, the strong meat necessary to properly maintain us as new creatures, that we may grow in all the graces and fruits of the Spirit.
In spite of the trials and difficulties abounding in these perilous times, the condition of our little class is very satisfactory. Each of us is holding firmly to the anchor of faith—the precious promises of our Heavenly Father, which alone can protect us against the waves already foaming, roaring and threatening to engulf the "mountains." We make Psalm 46 ours.