THE CHILDREN’S FRIEND
THERE WERE QUITE a number of children at the Faith Homes in the early years, the sons and daughters of the ministers and workers. Mrs. R. was always especially interested in these boys and girls. They, in turn, responded to her love, regarding her as their special friend, some of them considering her no less than a second mother. Sometimes, she was used of God to give them spiritual help personally; at other times, she gave the parents suggestions for their benefit.
Naturally Mrs. R. was interested that each of the children would be converted. In this connection the Lord had her tell the parents of a certain girl not to allow her to pass the age of six without getting saved. They took it for granted that she would, as a matter of course, get saved before her seventh birthday. The days and weeks passed. Then one day they realized that on the following day their daughter would be seven and that still she was unsaved! Remembering the word the Lord had given them by His servant and knowing they dare not disregard it, they took the child, explaining to her her need of a Saviour and of His plan of salvation. God honored their obedience and faith. The child melted before the Lord, repented of her sins with copious tears, and that day came to the joyous knowledge of sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ.
Again Mrs. R. wrote two dear friends that the soul of their nine-year-old son was in danger of being lost unless they “put him on the altar and seek to win him to Christ while young.” Plainly she told the parents they had not put this boy nor their other children on the altar; if they had, God would have come to them more greatly. She went on to say that this boy, in particular, “had not been loved enough, especially by his father.”
“Last year was the age in which [he] might have been softened and loved into a sweeter disposition, and this year he would have been better ready to yield his heart to Jesus.” Then followed a solemn warning, coupled with sound wisdom, to the effect that if the father and mother really desired to see their boy saved “and kept from being a don’t-care sort of boy,” they must win his heart to Jesus while young.
“To do this his father needs to spend at least ten minutes every day with [him]. If he fails to find time one day, he ought to take longer the next day. His father ought to have real heart-to-heart talks with him, which will rejoice [his] heart more than his father has any idea of. Then he ought to kneel and pray and point him to Jesus. There ought not to be one day that someone does not speak wisely and carefully to [him] about Jesus.”
Mrs. R. continued her loving interest in all these children as they grew older, whether they remained in the Homes or moved out of the Homes, nearby or hundreds of miles away. She was interested in their adolescent problems, their studies, their youthful joys and sorrows.
Concerning one of these children, then ten years old, Mrs. R. wrote his mother: “God is looking for the children who began so young to know Him to have the larger chance to serve Him than those who had to begin so late. May he be kept for Jesus and be always His. Give him my love.” And a little later she sent this word, “Tell him to remember how God wants the boys to do their work young."
In another letter she takes pains to express her interest in a boy’s high school work: “Glad to learn from your letter [that your son] is getting along so well at school. I am sure as he looks to the Lord for guidance he is helped with his studies. The best part is that he is trying to follow Jesus each day and live each day to please Him. His present experience will help him in time to come, I am sure. It is so lovely to learn to trust Him in the early years of life, and at the same time so many opportunities are given him to be a blessing to others who have not had the chance he has had to know about Jesus and His love.
“I was much interested in the theme he had been scheduled to write. I am sure Jesus will help with this as He calls on Him for guidance. ...
“Remember me to him, please, and may God continue to bless him and make him a shining light among those in darkness around him, especially his companions, and may his life radiate such a touch of Jesus, others will be drawn toward Him.”
One hot August afternoon Mrs. R. invited one of the Faith Home boys—together with his mother—to visit her. It had been taken for granted that Mrs. R. was interested primarily in the mother and that her son was included for good measure, but it was not long in the visit before it became evident that the Lord was using the occasion to deal with the boy.
Although only thirteen, the lad already had a Sunday school class of primary boys. Mrs. R. was pleased with this service, but she took the opportunity to remind the boy that be must live what he was talking about. “Practice what you preach.”
Tenderly the Holy Spirit went on to deal with him, telling him he should be sure to study the Bible for himself, that his acts, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes should be according to the Scripture. In this connection his attention was called to Philippians 4:8. Then as to his need for the fruit of the Spirit be was shown an excellent way to examine himself to see if this fruit was manifest in his life: Ask yourself what is the opposite of each of the nine graces mentioned in Galatians 5:22 and 23, and see if you have anything in you like that—hatred, sorrow, unrest, etc.
Solemnly the Holy Spirit warned the youth that the coming year would be his testing year, a year in which he would go on or go back in the things of God. There was no need for him to backslide, but that he was in danger of falling unless he was very careful. With this he was given instruction on how to avoid this pitfall. He should pray to have the conceit taken out of his life, that lie be not stuck on himself. “Let Jesus come into your life. Live for Him. Be simple.” Finally the Lord cautioned him “not to say that this was just a good message and leave it there, but to heed this warning.” And the Lord promised the mother that if she would believe God and see Christ as intervening over her son, he would not fail.
Before the visit ended, the little company went to their knees. The shadow of the Almighty had been upon those present. All had become very conscious that Jesus Himself was in the midst to pour out His Spirit, to enable the word spoken to be received and obeyed.
It was a changed boy who left Mrs. R. that afternoon—a boy that had been made very serious by the warning given, a boy who had not been made fearful but careful to do the will of God—to watch as well as pray throughout the coming year.
Sometime after that year was over, Mrs. R. was used of God to tell him that he had fulfilled during that year “pretty well.” He, of course, had hoped to have a visit with Mrs. R. at the completion of the year the next August. Mrs. R. would like to have had such a visit, too, but the pressure of her work did not allow her to take the time for it. In addition to this, however, the Lord had a definite purpose in not permitting their getting together then, which she explained later in a letter written at Christmas:
“Of course, we were both interested in one thing. The year before, I had given you a rather important message that you were to be very careful that year toward God, not to get tripped. You were at the age of youth (and it is so often excused [because] that is so) when you would get careless of God and righteousness and, maybe, of obedience to mother. Oh, how important that you should come toward God, and not away, this last year. So, when the time was up, you had it in your mind the Lord would have more to say to you. You had an impression that there was to be a climax to the year. You expected Mrs. Robinson to be able to see you and give the next message. Of course, God was pleased enough to have us meet each other, but if I had seen you and not taken up this matter, you would have been disappointed.
“Don’t you think God has ways of His own? He surely has, in managing our souls. He had called you for that year, —yea — but He had called you for all the years to follow. Today He is much [more] desirous that you shall be improving, that, if anything, this is a more important year than last. He has told you last year if you were not careful you would drop back.
“This year He wants you to go deeper with Him. Not that He means anything unusual. But just that you should be sure to go on, know God better. He did not intend your year to suddenly come to an end and to feel you had accomplished that which was spoken. Instead, His desire for you was not to look at a climax at the end of your year but to go right on, going deeper, knowing God better. Not because Mrs. Robinson has been helping or that you are being watched over by Mrs. Robinson, but because God is calling. It is you He is thinking of. But the Lord wants you now to know you are getting older. You must be on your own feet about it.
“And so you were left to go
on still and really see if the light shone any brighter and your soul was any
deeper for having not fallen down last year. Don’t draw away from God’s purpose
for you, and then don’t, of course, think you are to be someone unusual. Oh,
that is dangerous to a young soul. Be careful that you are simple, etc. Only,
dear —, God is watching over your soul, knowing your doings, and wants you to
keep straight for Him, hidden, out of sight, and Christ glorified.....
“Now for the Christmas letter. You know we like ... to have a little part in your Christmas. Whatever I give it must be small. I send you a little offering and have thought if you care to buy something for yourself, it would be nicer to select it yourself. Do you want a book? If so, the catalogues in our hands would help you out. Get something that will be good for you, you know.”
Many young people develop traits during their adolescence which prove a great hindrance to them in later life. They themselves are made unhappy, others are hurt, and, above all, they are defeated in their walk with God. Al] this, unless, of course, they later overcome these nature habits. To do so when older, however, is always more difficult, sometimes well nigh impossible because these nature traits have become so deeply entrenched and because there comes increasingly the attitude to accept one’s self as he is, “for better or for worse.
Consequently, when Mrs. R. saw that one of the Faith Home boys was becoming a dumper, she took the occasion of his sixteenth birthday to talk to him about this terrible habit he was developing. “That isn’t you,” she explained, but something that he was deliberately cultivating. This was partly because the boy had gotten the notion in his head that it was a sign of his growing up to let folks know he had a temper. The Lord promptly and squarely corrected that notion by telling him there was a no more babyish thing in the world than a dump. Coupled with this was the desire to be noticed even if it meant having someone wipe the floor with him in an effort to conquer him. Of course, the devil was much interested and stood present to help the lad along in his anger, explosions, and self-will—”I’ll just have my own way.
Firmly but patiently Mrs. R. pointed out that a person s temper was easier to handle when he was young than when he grew older, adding, “If one passes the teen age without dumping, he is not likely to dump later on.” She went on to show that a dumpy man would, when married, make his wife unhappy. Worse still is the fact that a dumpy person cannot live the deeper life,” and such a characteristic “has spoiled many ministers’ work.”
Then she made the application more specific: “Your besetting sin, i.e., the sin which is most predominant before others in your life at this time, is one of dumping. Don’t let that go on. God wants you not to do these things because Jesus would not like you to do them. God is after you. Be a man. Be gentlemanly. Be courteous even when people are most discourteous to you. And when you want to dump so that someone will see you, come to Mrs. Robinson and let her wipe the floor with you! Remember, it’s the daily life, not the sermon, that is important and counts with God, and he that ‘knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’”
So she counseled him to go ahead in the coming year, to fight the good fight of faith. “You’ll have a royal fight!—that is, an enjoyable fight. I wish you a successful year in Christ.” What a challenge! And who wouldn’t accept it?
A month later she reminded him that this fight was “a Christian fight, not a boy’s fight,” and prayed, “Keep him on the high side.”
This loving interest in the Faith Home boys and girls extended all the way through. She was intensely interested in what they did after high school, their choice of a job and place of work—or if they went on to college or university. To one who did go on to college, she gave this simple word before he left, “Any help you can be, be it. You are going for Christ.”
In common with many ministers, those in the Faith Homes not only secretly hoped that their children would follow them in their working for God, but also they were apt to make them feel that to do anything else in life would be displeasing the Lord. Wasn’t Christian service the highest calling of God for everyone? And, if so, why shouldn’t they get their training right at home where so many others had come from a distance for that purpose?
The Lord, however, showed Mrs. R. something quite different from this usual thought: “None of these children of the Faith Home are going to prosper best by starting at home. They must just be like other young people and God will do the rest.” To this end she lovingly encouraged them to follow the leading of God in their own soul and aided them in going to other places for their training for Christian service, if God so indicated.
Carefully Mrs. R. stated the will of God about the whole subject of a call to the ministry:
“You know, the first call to the ministry should, if possible, be from God Himself to the heart of the called, and the older people should not be looking, expecting, or perhaps, which is worse, demanding that the person be expecting this call. God must lead His children His own way.
“If a person is going to the ministry, be glad. If a person is not going to the ministry, expect him to live just as sweetly with Christ. Count their lives as important as if they were called. It means just as much to Jesus Christ to have the soul of the layman or the minister fully given.”
Then applying this general teaching to a minister’s daughter, Mrs. R. continued:ⁿ
“She is young. She is yet needing the daily—now—walk with Jesus—the happiness of getting to know Him—of living for Him—of serving Him as He shows her as she goes along, but not to feel that she ought to be constantly pressed for the ministry—made ready, you know—learning for the ministry. We, none of us, ought to be spiritual for the ministry. We should be spiritual for Jesus, whether we are going to the ministry or not. She needs rather not to suppose anyone is thinking of the ministerial call for her, but expecting to love and serve Him with all her heart anyway—to be led in the Holy Ghost—loving for Jesus who is love. He does not want us to know just what He does intend to do, nor should we try to know. He owns her. Let Him tenderly reveal as He will, when He will, what He wills.”
Note: In this and the following excerpts the name of the person is omitted, when Mrs. R. uses it, and, instead, the pronouns “she” and “her” substituted.