By C. E. Parker
In 1901 I had a call from Bishop Warne to go to India. I was expected to live on half salary, remain single four years and learn the language. If after four years I could speak the language with some degree of fluency, I was to continue in the work; otherwise I should return to America. Under these circumstances nothing more could be said about marrying. I had saved eighty dollars while working my way through school and Drew Seminary gave me fifty dollars upon graduation. That was the extent of my worldly wealth.
Arriving at the great city of Hyderabad and looking out upon its wretchedness, somehow my heart got stirred. Hyderabad was off the beaten track and few travelers came that way. I could not be satisfied to preach in the English Church alone, and I thought, “If I can get ten or twelve native men together and live with them, and pray with them, then if the Spirit of Christ is in me, He will reveal Himself to them.” Though I could not speak the language, I knew someone would then get a vision of Christ.
I saw the people bowing to an idol, a big stone monkey painted red. They would paint their foreheads red and then bend and touch the idol. From this constant contact the red paint covered the idol to a thickness of a quarter of an inch. I felt that I would not be able to stand it unless I could get some of these men. One day I found a man with his head shaved and I said to myself, “Who is this specimen? Some day Jesus Christ will put His stamp on him and he will be a power for Him.” My thought came gloriously true. I wish you could see that man now. He reported two thousand souls brought to Christ in a single year.
In a short time we had several boys in the school and only one small room. We were led to pray to God for a building. One evening we got down on our faces in our room. I had spent almost a night there in prayer. The next day, about noon, a cablegram came bringing money for a new building. Then we prayed that in one year God would save five hundred souls. We gathered for fifty days and prayed, and called it Pentecost. Soon God laid it on our hearts to go out to certain villages where no one had been baptized. In a little over a month, or about forty five days, during which we traveled three hundred miles carrying only bedding and other necessary things, we had three hundred and sixty conversions — more than in the previous two or three years.
We then turned aside to rest. One of the men said, “Let us not rest; let us pray.” So we prayed for several days. I do not know how many days we prayed. Then we went out by twos to preach and live before these people and love them into the Kingdom of God. All of the workers preached from one text, John 3:16. When God saved me, He gave me a love that knows no color, knows no nationality — knows nothing but Jesus. I felt that on the heart of every man in the world there is the imprint of the likeness of God. If you can really reach men, you can bring it out. We went out trying to love people into the Kingdom of God. When we returned after two months the mass movement had begun. We have now had thirty two thousand baptisms in that field, and more than twenty thousand are on the waiting list. This was the beginning of that mighty movement that we believe will soon sweep all of south India.
Let me tell you how the John 3:16 campaign started. I was led to write five hundred letters and send them out to those whom I desired to enlist in the service of prayer. I took the Methodist Year Book and went down through the lists of names, and I prayed over each one, asking for guidance. I said, “Lord, this is only between you and me, and forgive me if it is wrong, but I want you to direct me to those who will pray, and who will get others, to pray that five hundred souls may be brought to Thee this year, and so let the enemies of the Gospel know that in Jesus Christ there is a greater power than they have known.” I prayed over the names until I was impressed to whom to write, and then I addressed the envelopes and sent the letters.
We were soon in the midst of a great movement, just as the water rises and overflows the banks of a river. Word would come from different sections, “Everyone wants to become Christian. Come over here.” Soon, also, I began to receive responses from home in reply to my letters. Among them was one from an invalid. I have this friend’s picture; I also have her picture in my heart. She wrote, “I received your letter. You asked me to pray for five hundred souls, but when I thought of India and all the needy millions there, and tried to pray for five hundred, I could not, and I said, Lord, save at least a thousand.” Before her letter reached me, we had baptized twelve hundred. Now we are receiving two, three, and four thousand a year, with a great waiting multitude. We have a large pile of papers, upon which the natives have made a black thumb mark, the only way in which they can sign their names, begging for someone to come and teach them.
I went out one Sunday morning after being in a meeting all night. (We cannot close meetings; we simply begin them.) I was starting for a village about two miles away and I met a great company of men, women and children, clapping their hands. These were the only musical instruments they had. They were singing a song which meant, “What a great feast has come to us; Jesus Christ has come.” One of our schoolboys, who had helped me when I was ill, was the preacher in this place. Someone said, “Stop their singing; if you don’t we will have a riot. The enemies of Christ will not allow them to go by singing.” (They were low caste.) We began a meeting at ten o’clock that lasted until two in the afternoon. We wanted to stop to eat, but they said, “There is no time to eat.” After this we went on to an afternoon meeting and then to a night meeting where a great number were converted.
In India we do not teach the people to pray. We say, “Talk to Jesus; be just as familiar with Him as with your friend. He is just as near to you.” On one occasion an old woman would not hear the foreigner’s message. She put her fingers in her ears and tried to shut out my words. I turned to two of the Christian women as the old woman did this and I said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ meant what He said?” They answered, “Yes.” I said, “His promise is, ‘If two of you agree on earth as touching anything, it shall be done’ (Mt. 18:19). Would you like to see her converted.” They answered, “Yes.” “Do you believe He will do it?” I asked. They said, “Yes.” Then I said, “One of you kneel on one side of this woman and one on the other side and talk with Jesus.” They got down on their faces in the sand and the rest of us went on to another meeting not far away. After a while, one of the women came to me saying, “She has taken her fingers out of her ears.” I said, “Go back and pray until sin goes out of her heart.” Soon all three came along arm in arm. The woman had been converted. Her ears were opened and her heart was also opened wide that night. I wish you could see her today. I sometimes tell her and the other missionaries that I like to be near her on earth, as I will never get up near her in heaven. She has since then led hundreds, and perhaps thousands, to Christ.
The district of Hyderabad-Vikerabad has been divided since I left. We now have both the Hyderabad and the Vikerabad Districts. Dr. J. D. Harris is the superintendent of the Hyderabad District and also has charge of the Hyderabad Bible Institute, where we are training men for work. We have, in Vikerabad, an emergency training school where we take men for three months and teach them to read. When they are sufficiently advanced we send them to Hyderabad. We have also opened in Hyderabad a number of emergency schools, where we train men for three or four months, and then let them go out and test their powers at teaching, and return to report their success. We are trying to train men in this way to act as pastors in the great movement.
A woman came to Dr. Harris not long ago. She had to wait quite a while to see him, and when he came she said, “I brought them.” He asked her what she meant. She said, “They are all converted. You told me when I came here four years ago to go back and lead all my people to Christ and then you would receive me.” (Dr. Harris’ predecessor had told her when all her village was converted he would come and baptize them. She thought Dr. Harris was the one who told her this.) She was one of the leading women of her community and much depended on her testimony. Without being baptized herself she had led all her village to Christ. Dr. Harris went to her village and baptized about four hundred people. Out of that group five men came later to the Bible Training School to fit themselves for the ministry. I had a letter from Dr. Harris two days ago. His heart is simply bleeding. He said, “I cannot stand it. They are coming to me. They are falling at my feet. They are begging me to come to them. What am I going to do? The conditions are the same everywhere.” I did not know it would hurt me so to come home, though this is not home to me — India is my home. If Jesus Christ could stand here today He would not say, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). He would say, “Look on the fields, for they are spoiling for lack of reapers” (Mt. 9:37-38). It breaks my heart. If India is not brought to Christ within the next few years, the doors will be closed and we will have a very bad situation in that land. Pray that God will send reapers to reap, lest the harvest be spoiled.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” – Jesus, Matthew 7:7
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