By Rev. Carl H. Dauel
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” – Rom. 1:16
Many things occurred in my life before I was saved that I am ashamed of, and it is not a pleasant task for me to speak of them now, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and what my Lord has done for me. As I write this little sketch of my life, I am praying that the Lord will make it a great blessing to those who read it, and that it may be a warning to many precious souls to give their hearts to God and not to go into sin as I have done.
I was born February 13, 1878, in Hamsen Province, Hanover, Germany. My parents were members of the German Lutheran Church and I was brought up in that faith and confirmed at the age of fourteen. Father died when I was nine years of age, leaving mother with five children to care for, of whom I was the youngest. My mother was a Christian and tried to train us in the right way the best she knew how.
When I was twelve years old I began taking confirmation studies from my pastor. During this time I worked in a bowling alley connected with a saloon in order to help mother with the finances. Sometimes I served drinks to the customers, so at an early age I received training that later led me into the life of a bartender and saloonkeeper. My pastor was a member of this bowling club, and during the two years that I worked there I saw him stagger home twice under the influence of alcohol. This poisoned my young mind against Christianity, and I lost all my faith in God and man, as I had looked to my pastor for an example, and saw the inconsistency of his life. So for ten years I was a confirmed infidel (skeptic, atheist), never going to church nor mingling with Christian people.
After my confirmation, mother sent me to Bremen to learn the machinist trade, and there, away from mother’s influence, I formed habits and appetites that led me deep into sin. After I learned my trade, I made up my mind that I would see some of the world, so I traveled through several countries of Europe, all the while going deeper and deeper into sin. My sisters often told me that I was a disgrace to the family, but mother held on to God for me and pleaded with me to straighten up, even after I had caused her hair to turn gray in one night through my wicked doings.
At this particular time a desire came into my heart to live right, and I thought if I could get away from my old friends and associates I could stop sinning, so I hired myself out as a fireman on one of the big steamships. After seven months at sea I failed in my purpose and finally landed in New York City. Here I got work as a machinist, but a strike broke out and we were without work, so two other young men and myself began roaming around the country from place to place, in pursuit of gambling and the races. While we were traveling through Texas, Frank S. took sick until he became so weak that he finally said, “Boys, you will have to lay me down. I am going to die. I am going to hell, and you boys are to blame for it.” We found an old watering trough and buried him in it on the plains of Texas. Oh, if we only had someone then to point us to Jesus while our hearts were tender and broken!
We went to Chicago and I worked as a bartender in a saloon. By this time drugs had such a hold on me that I went to the Keely Institute to try to get rid of the morphine habit, but no deliverance came.
Two Christian girls from a rescue mission came into the saloon where I was working with their Bibles and tracts and talked to me. The men around the bar were laughing and jeering at them, but my heart was touched convicted of sin right then and there. The girls asked me if I would kneel down with them while they prayed for me. I was just about to do so when the devil said to me, “If your boss was to come in now and see you kneeling down on the floor with those missionaries, you will get fired.” So I stood there with tears running down my face while they prayed for my poor lost soul. As they were leaving the saloon they gave me a little invitation card to the mission they were attending, and asked me to come some night and see what kind of folks they were with, and I promised that I would go sometime.
Conviction of sin kept getting stronger all that week, but I did not know then what was the matter with me, so I went to a doctor. He said there was nothing wrong with me, but that I would soon be sick if I did not quit dissipating so much. One day I felt so blue and miserable, and my life had been such a failure, that I decided to drown myself in Lake Michigan. I hired a man to finish my shift at the saloon and I started for the lake. On my way to the lake I passed a church where a revival was taking place. I had a strong desire to see my mother, and a desire also came into my heart to go to that church revival before I ended my life. It was too early for services, and while I stood there waiting, I found the little invitation card to the mission that the girls had given me. I then remembered that I had promised them that I would go to the mission sometime, so I got on a street car and went to the mission, and found a little band of people on the street in front of the mission holding a street meeting. I stood and listened to them, and when the street meeting was over one of the workers invited me into the mission hall. I went in and sat down in the back seat next to the door. Sister Stromberg preached that night from John 3:16 and Revelation 22:17. If she had known me, and all my past life, she could not have told it any plainer than she did that night. While she was preaching, I said to myself, “Someone has told her all about me,” and four times I started for the door but one of the workers who was the doorkeeper that night asked me to sit down and stay until the service was over.
The sermon touched my heart, and when the preacher was through she gave an altar call and said, “Is there anyone here who wants my Jesus I have been preaching about?” I quickly ran to the altar, forgetting all about my suicide and everything else, except that I was a poor, lost sinner on my way to hell. I confessed everything to God and prayed through that night, and God for Christ’s sake forgave my sins and saved my soul. Every sinful habit and appetite was gone, and I walked to my room that night the happiest man in all Chicago. Praise the Lord!
Just before my conversion to Christ I had taken over sixteen hundred dollars from a man in a gambling game and had already spent one hundred dollars of it, but the next morning I took back the fifteen hundred dollars and asked the man to forgive me, and told him I would pay back the one hundred dollars as soon as I could. As I told him how Jesus had saved me, he broke down and cried, and said, “Carl, I don’t want the hundred dollars.” Later, while holding a meeting in his hometown, I had the privilege of seeing him and his family converted to Christ. The Lord helped me to right some wrongs, leading me step by step. How I thank God for those faithful mission workers and for dear Brother Rees, who was such an encouragement and help to me during the first year of my Christian life.
The third day after my conversion to Christ the Lord helped me get work again at my trade as a machinist. There I started noonday prayer meetings that resulted in the conversion of several of the men in the shop where I was working. Soon after I was saved a great burden came on me to go down into the slums and tell the boys what Jesus had done for me, so one Saturday afternoon I got a dry goods box for a pulpit, and with my Bible and song book I went down on Clark Street to hold a street meeting. I knew but one Bible verse in English (John 3:16), and two songs, “There is Power in the Blood” and “Down at the Cross.” I prayed a little in English and a little in German, sang my two songs, and soon had a big crowd around me. Many of the men had known me before I was converted, and the Lord helped me to tell them how Jesus had saved me. At the close of my meeting twenty-two hands were raised for prayer, and fourteen men kneeled with me on the curbstone. Some of them are in the Lord’s work today.
The mission workers told me that I must get sanctified, but the Lord was blessing my soul so much, and I had such sweeping victory, that I told them, “If I get any more religion, I will surely burst.” But about four months after my conversion the Lord showed me my need of heart cleansing, so one Sunday morning, after hearing Charlie Weigle preach, I went to the altar and the Lord sanctified my soul. Hallelujah!
One night I went with some missionaries to one of the saloons I had worked in before my conversion. The proprietor said, “Well Carl, I hear you are a preacher.” I said, “I am not much of a preacher but I am trying to tell people what God has done for me the best I know how.” He then said to me, “If you will preach from that whiskey barrel I will stop the orchestra and we will listen to you.” I got up on the whiskey barrel and said, “Well, praise the Lord, I have gotten the devil under my feet for once.” What a precious service the Lord helped me to hold in that saloon! Four young men knelt around that whiskey barrel for prayers and I am sure the saloonkeeper will not soon forget that meeting.
I received a definite call from God to preach the Gospel and go as a missionary to Japan. The way soon opened for me to go to God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, where I spent a part of two winters. After leaving school I started out as a schoolhouse evangelist, and God blessed my labors and gave me souls. Before I left the school I told the Lord that I was willing to go to places and hold meetings where other preachers and evangelists did not want to go, and the Lord took me at my word. In all the difficult places He has never failed me once.
In the early part of my ministry, while holding meetings in Nebraska, a church elder came to me one day and asked me if I would go out into the country to hold a meeting. After praying over the matter I felt that the Lord wanted me to go. When I arrived at the place I found things in a sad condition. The last two pastors who had been there had gotten into trouble and had to leave. Most of the members were backslidden and had lost all confidence in preachers. No provision had been made for my food and lodging, and my money was almost gone. So, after visiting the farmers and inviting them to the meeting, which was to begin the next night, and as no one invited me to stay with them, I went back to the church and slept on the floor. The next day I visited more homes, and that night a big crowd turned out to see and hear the ex-bartender from Chicago. For three nights I slept on the floor, and for three days I had only one meal a day. Thank God the victory came on the fourth night. More homes were then opened to me than I could go to. During that three weeks meeting there were about eighty people who knelt at the altar, and most of them prayed through to salvation. After the meeting was over, a holiness pastor was sent to the place and the work was built up and established.
At another time, Brother B. and myself were engaged by the pastor of one of the churches in a certain town in Nebraska to hold a revival meeting for him in his church. When we arrived at the place this pastor took us into his study, and after talking awhile, he asked us what we were teaching, and when we told him we preached sanctification as a second work of grace, he said, “Well brethren, I don’t feel it would be wise for you to hold the meeting in my church.” As we walked down the street Brother B. said, “Carl, I know that the Lord sent us to this town to hold a meeting and we are not going to be so easily whipped by the devil.” We saw the school board and got permission to hold the meeting in the schoolhouse. This was on Saturday afternoon when a big crowd was in town, and we held a street meeting, and advertised the meeting that would begin in the schoolhouse that night. Brother B. and I each had fifteen cents in our pockets after paying our car fare to the place, but we felt sure that we were in divine order and that the Lord would take care of us. After the service that night, since no one had invited us home with them, we slept on the schoolroom floor with our Bibles under our heads for pillows. For three days we lived on five cents a day each and slept on the floor. On the fourth night of the meeting, the class leader of the pastor’s church got reclaimed, and five others were also at the altar. After the service, the class leader asked us where we were staying, and we answered, “Right here in the school house.” He said, “Where are you sleeping?” We said, “Right here on the floor.” Then he broke down and cried and took us home with him that night.
The next morning the pastor who had refused to let us hold the meeting in his church came to see us. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Brothers, I want you to forgive me for not letting you hold the meeting in my church. I backslid over the thing but the Lord has reclaimed me, and now I want you to come to my church and finish the meeting.” He had some handbills printed and given out, and that night the church was crowded. After I had finished preaching, this pastor got up and asked if he could say a few words. He turned to his audience and told them that he had not preached the truth to them as he should have done, and that he had been reclaimed that morning and now was going to the altar to get sanctified. He asked how many of his members would go with him. Thirty-three went with him that night to the altar and what a time we had! This was a marvelous meeting, and when we left we had more than fifteen cents in our pockets!
The Lord has been so good to me and has led me in a marvelous way since my conversion. Five years ago, while holding a meeting in Denver, Colorado, the Lord gave me a precious wife, who has been the backbone of our ministry ever since. She has been with me in every meeting we have held since our marriage, and has been a great blessing to me and to the work. Soon after our marriage we united with the Nazarene Church at Greeley, Colorado, and held meetings on the Colorado District for a while. A year ago last October we went to California, and since that time we have been holding meetings on the San Francisco District under the leadership of Brother Isaac, our district superintendent. At the present time I am pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene at Fresno, California, and the Lord is blessing our labors and giving us souls.
From Bar-Room to Pulpit was revised, and may be reproduced and distributed.
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