MIRACLES and MISSIONS – 002
Courage and the Great Commission
IN 1945 a large group of Puerto Rican boys were brought to the United States for army training. Many of them knew only a veryfew words in English. They missed their families and their beautiful little island. They were in a strange land among a strange people who spoke a language they could not understand. Christian boys in this group located a small church where they could feel the joy of the Lord; then they invited other Puerto Rican soldiers to accompany them there, and through interpreting to each other, they received some help from the services. When the pastor saw such hunger in their hearts he decided to get an army chapel and someone who could speak Spanish to them. The arrangements were made and the telephone rang at Southwestern Bible School in Waxahachie, Texas, where I was teaching.
“Long distance for Miss Collins …” It was Brother Ed Anderson from Mineral Wells, Texas, inviting me to bring some of my students to an army chapel for service with the Puerto Rican soldiers who had been in the States for four and one-half months without any kind of religious service in their language.
We told him we would be there Sunday afternoon, and at 5:30 P.M. Sunday three carloads of enthusiastic young folks, on fire for God, drove into town. We found that the soldiers had been waiting for over an hour before time to start the service. What happened that night was the beginning of great revivals in foreign lands, and it changed the whole course of missionary practice for me!
Everybody took part in the service; some led the singing while others testified and sang special songs. When the altar call was given, nineteen boys stood as one man and marched to the altar for salvation. Those who could not get around the altar bowed their heads at their seats, and for over half an hour they prayed with all their hearts. Then the bell rang and we had to dismiss the service.
As the soldiers filed out of the chapel we stood at the door shaking hands and giving each one a little Spanish New Testament.
The last three boys to come out had been Christians for some time. As they shook my hand they said, “We’ll be seeing you in Puerto Rico!”
“In Puerto Rico?” I thought. Then instantly, like lighting a neon sign, my mind was illuminated with a new way of doing missionary work: Tonight nineteen souls had been saved because we had enough folks to pray with them when the seekers knelt for prayer. There had been such keen interest in all the big group. No one would ever get discouraged in a group like that, for someone would always be on the mountain top of victory. The army doesn‘t send out just one or two boys to hold a whole island! Why should God‘speople not be as wise as the army and send out enough people at one time to hold the place for God? So I decided to talk to Cod and let Him talk to me about this new idea.
While I was praying the Lord told me to speak to Mary Mauldin and see if she would like to go along on such a group project — going during the summer months for evangelistic revivals in Puerto Rico. I asked her and she was thrilled, and thon two of us were praying for God to guide us. God laid one after another of the students on my heart and the idea caught like wild fire. Soon the school was ablaze with excitement and thrills as we all were arranging for passports, health and vaccination certificates, and preparing ourselves in prayer for this unknown future that was stretching out before us as a most alluring vision.
White some seemed thrilled about such a venture of faith, others were sure it was nothing but a brainstorm in the minds of some young folks who did not know how to weigh things properly! Others were sure that I was taking those students clown to some strange land where we would all starve to death, and thus bring disgrace on the school. They must have thought that God does not keep His promises, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth” and “everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. 19:29), and “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” He is still my Shepherd whether I am in one country or another!
But Brother Kendrick assured us that if we did starve he would see that a monument was erected at the school for us. After all, he was partly responsible for such evangelistic ideas in the first place. Hadn’t he taught us that St. Paul’s methods of missionary evangelism was so different from that which is practiced by most missionary groups? And we wanted to try St. Paul’s methods.
We made boat reservations in January before anyone had raised any money. Then the weeks and months sped by, and two days after school was out the bus of the First Assembly of God Churchin Dallas, Texas, took our group to the port.
It was raining dreadfully when Sister Putnam, my Mother, two small boys, the driver, Brother Hott and his wife, started out with our happy group of six to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where we were to take the boat. The rain fell in such sheets that several times we had to stop until it let up enough to see the road. The rivers were out of bank and water was threatening to cover the highway at any time.
“Shall we go back?” Brother Hott asked. “It might not be the Lord’s will for you folks to go on,” he added. But there was no turning back in the hearts of those students! God had picked a courageous group that saw no difficulties too great for God to solve. So on we went, singing, shouting, and rejoicing in the Lord for the great privilege of going for Him.
“That was the singingest group of young people that I have ever seen,” Brother Hott said later. “As soon as one would stop, somebody else would start, and I couldn’t get sleepy.“
All night long we drove, trying to reach Lake Charles by noon, when the boat was to leave. But when we arrived we found outthat due to the rains the longshoremen had been unable to load the skip and we would have to wait for four days until they could get the boat loaded.
We went out and held a street-meeting. A stranger in town who saw us holding the meeting walked back to the hotel wondering who we were and what we were doing on the street. To satisfy his curiosity lie stopped another traveller and asked, “Who are those young folks standing down there on the street corner looking straight up into the skies, singing with all their might, “Oh, I want to see Him,” as they clap their hands?”
When the second man heard such a description he leaped for joy, and asked excitedly, “Where are they, where are they? They are my kind!” He ran to join us. Four people were saved and we felt that God had put His blessings on us for the whole trip.
With meetings in several of the churches, the four days passed and the sailing day had arrived when a letter came. It was our letter we had written to the Puerto Rican soldier telling him what Boat we were arriving on. It had been returned with a notice that the soldier had been discharged and mail was returned to sender. We had no other address. What were we to do? Nothing but sail and trust God to lead us… and that is what we did.
About 11:00 A.M on June 4, 1946, six of us – Sadie Henderson, Mary Mauldin, Louise Stilwell, Verlin Stweart, Benny Walker, and I- went on board the ship, bag and baggage, footlockers, duffle bags, suitcases, army cots and mattresses, camp stove and lantern, flashlights and kodas, tracts, songbooks, canned food, and an accordion. We were ready for anything or any place, even if we had to sleep under a tree.
We were on board, the gangplank was raised, the hatch was locked, and everything in readiness to depart, but the ship did not move. About one hour passed, and no one seemed to know why the delay, until suddenly, dashing around the corner of the docks, running at full speed, was Milus Bradley, one of our fellow students. No one had been at the dock to wave us goodbye, and Milus had been trying to get there all the time.
We talked for a few minutes, the whistle blew, and the boat turned around in the channel. While Milus directed us from the shore, we all sang “God Be with You til We Meet Again”. God was faithful to take care of even little details. And we were out on a new adventure with God.