Good News, vol. 17, no. 7, July 1926.
A STRAIGHT TESTIMONY.
What a wonderful thing memory is! There are some things we can never forget, some experiences that can never be taken from us.
I cannot tell you the day or date when I was saved. I had a week or so of repentance before I came to the place of acceptance with Christ, and let me tell you that no conversion is of much good unless there is a breaking-down of the old, sinful nature, and a confession before God. After backsliding for 17 years Jesus called me to return from my evil ways. "Russell," He I said, "you have gone far enough." I knew who it was that was speaking. What a wonderful thing to think that the Lord would stoop to deal with me in my sodden state! That was Saturday, September 13. 1907. I knew it was true—I had gone far enough. So I went home, but later in the evening I made up my mind that I would have a drink; so, in spite of the Lord's dealings with me, in spite of His Holy Spirit calling me, I went out and got the drink, and took home with me a gill of whisky to drink on the morrow. The next morning I got up and drank my whisky, and went back into bed. Then the Lord brought to my memory what He had done the day before. So I got out of bed, dressed, and went to church. When I came home I said to my wife, "No more drink for me—'that's the last." "I hope so," she answered. And at that very hour the Lord broke my desire for drink—I was free man! Oh! "He breaks the power of cancelled sin; He sets the prisoner free." I was as reserved a man as you could meet. I knew the Lord wanted me to testify that I was saved, but I could not open my mouth to do it. There was a missionary, a namesake of mine, Russell, going to speak at the Y.M.C.A. I went to hear him, and this man, David Russell, held up a card, saying, "If there's any man in this hall who would like to bear witness to the fact that the Lord has saved him let him come up and get this card, take it home, sign it, and bring it back." I saw at once that the Lord was opening up my way to testify, so I went forward and got the card, signed it, and took it back. I linked up with the Y.M.C.A. without knowing any of their requirements. Well, they had a day set apart for me to give my testimony. But God had opened my mouth, and I could not keep it shut. I could not wait for that day to come, and on the Sunday before I could not keep my mouth closed. God had saved me from my sins, and I must tell it out; so I got up and testified what the Lord had done for me; that was on October 30.
In 1908 a body of people came from some distance to hold meetings; they were baptised in the Holy Spirit. I had been warned to keep away from them, and told it was all of the Devil. One Baptist minister especially warned me, and after he came into my house I felt just as much love for him as I would feel for a policeman.
Before leaving my home it is always my custom to commit myself to my Saviour, to ask Him to protect and keep me from all harm, and I did so before I went to these people's meeting. Their work seemed to be all right. They were glorifying Jesus and exalting the Blood, and 1 could see that a supernatural power was there; but some of the Y.M.C.A. in the meeting were making light of it, and, remembering their caution (this fear that had been put into my mind), I wondered, "Is it the Lord, or is it the Devil?” I decided that if it was the Devil he had altered his way of doing things; so when I saw my companion I asked him what he thought about it. "It is a strange thing to me," said I, "if the power of the Devil praises Jesus and exalts the Precious Blood." "You wait," said he. "I'll go and see what it is, and let you know." He went on the Thursday night, and the next day he said, "It's all right, Jack; the work is of the Lord." That was Friday, and at night we both went. The young woman who was conducting the meeting invited anyone desired the baptism of the Holy Spirit to come up to the penitent form. The same Spirit who spoke to me that Saturday night and said, "Russell, you've gone far enough," spoke to me again, and urged me to go up. I went, and the young woman laid her hands on me. A brother said, "Plead the Blood.” Then one and another of those around me said, "'Plead the Blood." "I wish you would all keep quiet,' I thought. Then the Devil came and tried to discourage me. At last he said, "Give it all up, Russell." But when he said "all" he overstepped the mark. "Give all up all?” I said. "No, indeed, I will not. I am saved—I've salvation. I am going to keep it!'' So I knelt there while the Lord showed me how I had been a sinner and a prodigal far away from home, but had been brought back by a Father's love. I got home from that night something between 12 and 1, and got a warm time of it, but I didn't mind that. I knelt down and told Lord that if there was anything more for me, was in it. All night I was on my knees under the power of the Spirit.
The next afternoon I was putting up a chicken-hutch in the yard. My wife was keeping her eye on me. While I was working the Lord spoke, and said, "Kneel down here and I'll bless you." There were several workmen a little distance away working, and I had the tendency to give heed to men's opinions, so it took a deal of courage to obey the Lord; but I knelt down with an old kerosene tin for an altar, and started to plead the Blood. The Blood prevails, and the Blood avails. The Blood is the knocker at heaven's door, I saw a vision. The heavens opened, and I saw a light brighter than the sun, just as Saul of Tarsus had seen it outside Damascus. Suddenly, between the sun and myself, drifted one of the darkest, gloomiest clouds you ever saw. That passed, and Jesus stood before me. By this time my wife had missed the sound of the hammer, and came to see what was wrong. Just as she came over, the power of God had full possession and control of my life, and suddenly I began speak in Hindustani. The Lord made me to know what language it was, and gave me the verse of a hymn. I could listen to Him who was using my vocal organs. This was at 4 o'clock on May 9, 1908—18 years a to-day, according—to the day of the week, and morrow, according to the date.
After that, it was nine months before I again spoke in tongues, but I was filled with the Spirit of God. Somewhere about September 1911, a Baptist minister spoke to me about water baptism. "No," I said, "there is one baptism, and I have it."
It was not long before the Lord said to me, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." I knew at once what He meant, and was baptised in the Baptist Church on September 10, 1911. In this I know I was wrong. If I had been obedient I would have been baptised in the river that ran close by. God saved me in the open air! He baptised me in His Spirit in the open air, and He wanted me to be baptised in water in the open, also. What does God give His Holy Spirit for? It is the power to witness coming upon the sanctified life. The Bible had been a closed Book to me, but after baptism in the Spirit it was opened, and for months God taught me, until I was fit to speak. After studying a little, I took my stand, and gave witness in the open air. There was a power trying to bind me. The Devil wanted to stop me, for I was a most reserved man, but God gave me grace and power to stand right in the very middle of the men I used to drink with. They were surprised to see the man they thought so little of enabled, by the power of God Spirit, to witness for Him. I know the work God has given me to do is to witness in the open air. I have been doing it ever since he baptised me, and have spoken twice to-day. There are lost souls all around us, and surely it is our duty to warn the people, and tell them the provision that God has made for them in the person of His dear Son.
© Southern Cross College, 2004