In four weeks we won out and he became a good Christian man. Now he plays at our meetings and takes a share in them, giving his testimony. I’ve had him over to my home many times. He takes great delight in our garden there and waits with longing for Thursday to come, for that’s the day he visits us, the best one in the week for him. There’s nothing like the country for building a man up.
This man came from a good German family, and can play three instruments, piano, violin, and clarinet. I asked him if he was married. “No,” he answered, “thank God I never was married. I have not that sin on my soul! I’ve done nearly everything any one else has done: been in prison many a time, drank and walked the streets lots of nights. I’ve written home to my mother and told her I had taken her Jesus as mine, and, Mr. Ranney, here’s a letter from her.” I read the letter. It was the same old letter, the kind those loving mothers write to their wayward boys, thanking God that she lived to see her boy converted and telling him the door was always open, and for him to come home. How many mothers all over the world are praying for their boys that they have not seen for years, boys who perhaps are dead or in prison! God help those mothers!
Part of my work consists in holding outdoor meetings. Through my friend Dan Sullivan I received a license for street preaching, so whenever an opportunity opens I speak a word for the Master, sometimes on a temporary platform, sometimes standing on a truck, and sometimes from the Gospel Wagon. It is “in season and out of season,” here, there, and everywhere, if we are to get hold of the men who don’t go near the churches or even the missions.
One night while holding an outdoor meeting on the Bowery at Bleecker Street, I was speaking along the line of drink and the terrible curse it was, how it made men brutes and all that was mean, telling about the prodigal and how God saved him and would save to the uttermost. There were quite a number of men around listening.
The meeting ended and we had given all an invitation to come into the Mission. One young man, well dressed, came up to me and, taking my hand, said he believed every word I said. I saw at a glance he was not of the Bowery type. I got to talking to him and asked him into the Mission. He said he had never been into a place like that in his life and did not take any stock in them, but my talk had interested him. He could not understand how I had given up such a life as I said I had led and had not taken a drink in sixteen years. I said I had not done this in my own strength, but that God had helped me win out, and that God would help any one that wanted to be helped.