Uncle Mike Stories by Michael McGinnis

Uncle Mike Stories

by Michael McGinnis
Mostly tales about religious people becoming Christians, which is a real miracle.

Table o' Contents

Preface   Peter Waldo   Rebecca Nourse   John Wesley   Phoebe Cunningham   Polly Houghland   Charles Finney   Corrie ten Boom   Don Richardson  


© 2001, Michael McGinnis

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As with my previous book, Brother Dirk and Other Stories, most of these tales have been retold many times while traveling with my nieces and nephews in their van. Most recently, four-year-old Hanah asked for them on the way to a Christmas program out of town. I told her story after story for four hours until I couldn't think of any more. But I later remembered a couple of extra ones which I've included here. Remind me to tell you others sometime, about John Bunyan and George Mueller, for example.

Most stories told today are not quite like these. That's why I chose them. No doubt I've changed or expanded some details, either to help the plot or because I couldn't remember them exactly. But as was true of my stories from Martyrs Mirror, everything in this book actually happened. In fact, each chapter, except for Peter Waldo's story, happens to be based on eyewitness accounts. Charles Finney's testimony closely follows his own words.

These are stories intended not only to entertain the mind but to enlarge the heart. They can be used for medicinal purposes as well. Hanah says as long as she was listening to them, she didn't get car-sick at all !

Michael McGinnis
December 2001

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Peter Waldo

Peter Waldo had few worries. He was a very wealthy businessman in Lyons, in the south of France. One day he and several other leading men of Lyons were standing around talking about various subjects. Standing around talking during the summer months was a customary pastime in France and Italy, especially if you were very wealthy and didn't need to work for a living. Some people do it even today. It was the same when Peter Waldo lived, eight hundred years ago.

"It's so hard to find good servants," one of Peter's friends sighed. "I only have twelve now, and I don't know how I'll be able to manage."

"Constantly having to beat one's servants is a dreadful bore," intoned another.

"I just received a letter from my butler, who is caring for my winter home on the Riviera. He says he had to let two maids go for stealing food from the pantry. The complained they were hungry and that I didn't pay them well," said a third.

"They would have been well paid enough if you had sent them to prison, or to the gallows," replied a fourth man.

"The poor do not understand their place," intoned the second man.

"And a good troubadour, if there is such a thing, is nearly impossible to afford. Musicians always want to wander from town to town, no doubt looking for a patron who will pay them more money for less work," said a fifth man.

"Troubadours and poets aren't the laziest of people, but I warrant you that they are close to it," a fifth man laughed.

"Nobody wants to do any sort of work at all these days, if they can get out of it. Why, when I was a boy..." said the second man.

"...You didn't have to work either," interrupted the third man. "We all know your father had a castle on the Rhone and one on the Loire, and he started you out with two hundred thousand gold sous when you were sixteen. Yes, we know you." All the men laughed.

"You're quite right," the second man smiled. "But I was talking about those who should be working. As for the rest of us who don't need to..." They all laughed again.

"I've heard that when Adam was driven out of the Garden, he was ordered to earn his living by the sweat of his brow. Somehow we seem to have escaped that curse," responded the third man with a smile.

The second man was going to say something else, but he didn't. For at that very moment, he fell to the ground, dead.

Understandably, the other wealthy men were rather disturbed by this, but none more than Peter Waldo himself. Realizing how short life is and how quickly it can be cut shorter, he made up his mind to seek God more than he had done before. He considered his lifestyle and his actions. He considered how he would feel if he suddenly had to account for them before the throne of God, as his friend did. So he began to turn away from these things.

Peter Waldo began giving more of his wealth to the poor. He gave a lot of it away, and it did a lot of good in Lyons. The town had many churches, but somehow none of them had ever been as interested in helping the poor as Jesus was.

Peter began reading the Bible. In those days, few people could read, and with no printing presses, every book had to be copied by hand. So Peter was fortunate. As he read, he discovered many things Jesus did then that nobody seemed to be doing now. So whenever he had the chance, he would encourage his household and his guests to turn away from sin and run toward God.

As Peter began his new life, his wealth decreased because he was giving so much away. But the throngs who were asking him about God kept increasing. He discovered he had a teacher's gift and began to explain the Scriptures to the crowds who flocked to him.

The leaders of the state church were annoyed by this, and they began preaching against Peter Waldo. During church meetings in which everything was spoken in Latin, they said, "Nobody should teach the Bible who was not ordained as a priest by our church. The Word of God should not be taught in common languages such as French or English. Common people were not meant to understand the Bible anyway." But the common people seemed to understand the Bible pretty well, when Peter Waldo explained it in their own language. They delighted in seeking God through his simple Word, and doing good deeds, instead of following confusing traditions and rituals not in the Bible.

Of course, Peter Waldo didn't want to cause trouble in his church if he could help it. And he didn't want to stubbornly cling to his own opinions if somebody could prove them wrong from the Scriptures. Some of his followers even went to the Pope to discuss what they were teaching. The Pope reluctantly agreed that it was biblical, but advised them not to take it too far. Some people might want to use it to oppose the state church, he said, and that wouldn't be good. In the end, Peter Waldo and his students were forced out. Peter began showing that the truths he taught had once been taught by the state church too, but not anymore.

In the end, under threats of death, Peter Waldo and his followers had to leave Lyons, or meet secretly. By this time, thousands of Europeans had begun to agree with him, and this movement of God could not be stopped easily. After massive killings, his remaining followers settled in the Italian Alps, since it's easier to hide in the mountains. There they were called the Waldensians.

"We must not love the world," taught Peter Waldo. "We must avoid evil companions. Still, we must try to live in peace with all men. We must not sue people in court, or take revenge against them. We must love our enemies, and willingly bear insults and torment for the sake of the truth."

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Rebecca Nourse

Rebecca Nourse was born in February 1622 near the sand dunes of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. Like other Puritans, Rebecca's parents had longed to see true faith replace cold nominalism in the Church of England. Unlike the Pilgrim Separatists, the Puritans had believed the Church could be reformed from within. But that no longer proved possible after 1628, when Bishop Laud presented the King with a list of all the ministers in the land with a letter "O" (Orthodox) or "P" (Puritan) beside each name.

Suddenly Puritan ministers were shut out from service in the Church of England, and in the next sixteen years, 20,000 Puritans seeking to restore "spiritual Christianity" went to New England in what became known as the Great Migration. In Massachusetts they adopted a church order similar to the very Separatists they had once looked down on and became known as Congregationalists.

In those days, in Puritan churches, membership meant covenant making and covenant keeping, in which Christians expected their elders and fellow members to hold them accountable to walk a godly path. If anyone fell into sin, the church felt responsible for helping lead them to repentance.

Rebecca came to America as a young woman with her husband Francis. Together they raised eight children. Her parents came to America a few years later. In 1676 Francis and Rebecca bought a 300-acre farm in Danvers, or Salem Village, Massachusetts. By the time they were done fixing it up, the farm had an orchard, a flax patch, a flower garden, pastures and fields surrounded by stone walls. Their daughter Mary and her husband John Tarbell lived east of him as did their daughter Rebecca and her husband John Preston, while their son Samuel lived just south of him -- four families within a few miles. Francis built roads so he could visit them all.

Though the Puritans in Massachusetts wanted to become a pure, godly community, their zeal waned over the years. In 1692, some girls in Rebecca's village began meeting in the pastor's house to dabble with fortune-telling. They were fascinated with the supernatural. They began acting strangely and boldly, even in meetings.

People started calling them the "afflicted girls," and when the girls found they enjoyed the attention, they began seeking more attention by accusing church members of being witches. The fits and imaginations of this group of hysterical children and women eventually led to twenty executions of innocent people.

One day, some neighbors called on Rebecca, by then a 70-year-old grandmother. Not suspecting anything unusual, she greeted them cordially. When asked how she was doing, she told them honestly that she had been sick for almost a week. "Yet she blessed God for it, for she had more of his presence in this sickness than sometime she have had, but not so much as she desired, but she would with the apostle, press on to the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus."

The sympathetic neighbors then told her that the afflicted girls had named her as a witch. Rebecca was silent, dazed. "Well, if it be so, the Lord's will be done," she murmured. "But what sin has he found in me unrepented of that he should lay such an affliction upon me in my old age?"

Indeed, a more unlikely witch could hardly be found. Rebecca and Francis Nourse were longtime members of First Church, Salem, though they usually attended the daughter church in Danvers with their son Samuel's family. Because of her age and the respect she received from the church, instead of sitting with the other women, she was given a seat with the men, in the same pew with Priscilla Gould Putnam, the widow of the town's most influential man.

Sickness had recently kept Rebecca Nourse from attending church meetings, but her worst fault seems only that she lost her temper occasionally. Robert Calef, a contemporary chronicler of the witch hunt, wrote that the details of "her extraordinary care in educating her children and setting them a good example" were too numerous to mention.

Edward and Ann Putnam presented the formal accusation against her and she was arrested on March 23, 1692. She answered each question as directly as she could. Charged with having killed more than a dozen people by sorcery, she declared, "I am as innocent as the child unborn." At one point in her trial, she raised her hand to heaven and prayed, "O Lord, help me. I have got nobody to look to but God."

Almost forty people signed a testimony that "we have never had any cause or grounds to suspect her of any such thing as she is now accused of." The document was signed by Jonathan Putnam, who had helped bring her to trial, and by Benjamin Putnam, whose granddaughter Eunice later married Rebecca's great-grandson.

During Rebecca's trial, no evidence of witchcraft could be found against her, except for the afflicted girls' graphic claims, and the jury found her not guilty. The reading of the verdict was followed by renewed wailing from the girls.

The judge also urged the jury to reconsider a chance comment Rebecca had made during her trial, when another accused woman was brought into court to testify. Rebecca Nourse had asked, "What, do you bring her? She is one of us." She meant one of the accused, but the court imagined that she meant a fellow witch. When the jury foreman asked her to explain her statement, she didn't hear his question, being "something hard of hearing and full of grief," as she said later. But they interpreted her strange silence as satanic stubborness, and they sentenced her to death.

A sympathetic member of the court told her that her life could be spared if she confessed. If she would only say she was a witch, whether she was or not, the judges would not execute her. Rebecca's reply was, "Would you have me belie myself?" Though already excommunicated from her church, she was more afraid of God's judgment for lying than of man's judgment for standing by the truth.

Other friends tried to help Rebecca. Rev. James Allen, the man who had sold the farm to the Nourses before becoming pastor of First Church of Boston, appealed to his friend Increase Mather, the founder of a family of Puritan theologians whose popular son Cotton Mather supported the witch hunts. Governor Phipps reprieved her but changed his mind under pressure when the afflicted girls cried out again.

On July 19, 1692, Rebecca was bound, put into a cart with seven others and driven up a rough, rocky road west of Salem. From that bare hill, they could look down on bay, river, ocean, farm, field and forest. There they were executed and their bodies thrown off into a shallow pit. Rebecca's sons took her body under cloak of night, probably by water, and buried it secretly on their farm near Danvers.

Only a few months after Rebecca's death, the people of Salem realized they had made a mistake. Innocent people had been killed because they refused to lie when the afflicted girls lied about them. Even Ann Putnam, the most wicked of the afflicted girls, later asked for forgiveness for what she had done.

Today Rebecca's grave is marked by a tall stone and a poem about her by John Greenleaf Whittier: "O Christian Martyr who for truth could die/When all around thee owned the hideous lie!/ The world redeemed from Superstition's sway/Is breathing freer for thy sake today."

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John Wesley

John Wesley was one of the youngest of twelve children of a courageous English pastor and his wife. Some people didn't like what John's father preached about, so one night they set the house on fire. Fortunately John's family escaped, but as they stood in front of the burning house, talking with indignant neighbors, they realized that five-year-old John Wesley wasn't there.

John's mother began to weep, sure that her little boy had died in the fire. Then somebody looked up, and there he was, standing at the window of his upstairs bedroom, flames behind him, screaming, "Father! Father!" But there was no ladder and nobody could reach him. As his parents began to grieve for him again, one neighbor climbed on the shoulders of another. He stretched out his hand and... just barely... grasped the boy's hand. He pulled him out the window to safety. Seconds after that, the bedroom ceiling collapsed into piles of deadly embers. Years later, John's mother told him this story of how he had been "a brand plucked from the burning," someone for whom God must have a special plan.

John's mother taught all her many children at home, but devoted one day a week to working one child in particular. John's day was Thursday. He was good at school. When he was a only a teenager, he became a student at Oxford University, where he learned Greek, Hebrew, Latin, philosophy and theology. Later he became a teacher at Oxford. While he was there, he and his friends formed a group that was called the "Holy Club." Members included George Whitfield, who later preached with John, and John's little brother Charles, who later wrote hymns with him. To join the Holy Club, you had to fast two days a week, pray several times a day, study the Bible constantly and visit the poor and prisoners regularly. Others at Oxford made fun of this determined group, thinking it was the "Holier Than You Club," which was not far off the truth.

But in spite of his dilligence, John knew something was missing in his life. So when he was offered the chance to become chaplain for the Georgia colony in the wilds of America, he took the job. Maybe he could preach to the Indians. Years later he wrote that he went to America because he "needed a change - or a changing."

John's ship hadn't even reached America before he was reminded once again of his failings. During the voyage, a wild storm struck the boat in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean. Knowing they might all die soon -- that had a way of revealing the hearts of the passengers. John tried to keep himself calm, but the young Bible teacher found he was as fearful as the other passengers. But not all the other passengers. While the mighty billows rolled, a group of German-speaking Moravians, seeking religious freedom in America, were peacefully singing hymns of praise. The Moravians: John Wesley would remember them.

Things didn't go very well in America either. In fact, John Wesley was a failure as a pastor. He tried to get the people in Savannah, Georgia, to adopt the strict practices of the Holy Club in Oxford. He tried to practice church discipline to enforce his order, but that didn't work either. One Georgian church member remarked to him, "Sir, we are Protestants, but as for you, we cannot tell what religion you are."

As the defeated pastor sailed back to England, he began to ponder his own heart. He thought again about the Moravians in the storm. He realized, "I had come to America to convert the Indians, but I myself had not been converted." Like John Bunyan, John Wesley could "talk briskly" about the Bible, and believed all the official doctrines of the established church. He himself could give an expert teaching on the verse, "By grace are ye saved." But he couldn't sing hymns in a storm.

Back in London, John sought out the Moravians. He spent much time with Peter Bohler, a minister whom he had met before. He confided in Peter about his lack of true faith. John now taught that anybody who had not received this powerful gift of faith was not truly a Christian. But because he lacked it himself, he wondered if he should stop preaching about it. Peter Bohler counseled him, "Preach faith until you have it. Then because you have it, you will preach faith." So that's what John hesitantly did.

But one evening, as John, still unconverted, walked through the streets of London, he happened upon a Moravian church meeting on Aldersgate Street. Wesley sat down as the leader read Martin Luther's introduction to the book of Galations. As John listened, he "felt his heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation."

John hurried back to tell his brother Charles what had happened to him. At first Charles was skeptical, but soon he had the same experience. Charles began writing hymns to express it. One says, "I woke, the prison flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed thee." Another member of the Holy Club, George Whitefield, began to preach the same liberating message. The joy in their hearts caused them to pray and read the Bible more than ever before - to serve God diligently. The way they spent their time, even the way they dressed, began to change. Because the followers of Wesley and Whitefield were so careful about their lifestyle, and concerned with discipleship, people called them "Methodists." They meant it as an insult at first, but it became the name of the new movement.

The Wesleys' new message spread rapidly, but not everybody enjoyed hearing it. John preached that being a member of the church was important, but not sufficient. You must be born again, he said. Pastors of large churches didn't like to hear that they and their congregations were not truly converted. So, many churches didn't welcome the Methodist preachers.

John was careful not to oppose the church he belonged to, the Church of England. But if its pastors wouldn't let him preach, where could he go? George Whitefield had already answered that question for himself. Out in the fields, thousands of coal miners were listening to him share the good news, tears of repentance streaking down their blackened faces. In the darkest parts of London too, the poor had the gospel preached to them by George Whitefield.

In 18th century England, as the Industrial Revolution was just beginning, people believed religion was just a personal matter, but it turned out they were wrong. Because England's leaders were not justified with God, they were not just and fair to others. They still allowed slavery. Because people didn't know how to find peace with God, they tried to find peace some other way. On an average English city street, every fifth house might be a gin house, a place to get drunk. Because factory owners weren't converted, they weren't concerned about the people who worked for them. Even small girls and boys broke their health working in the mines or the mills, for long hours and little money. Methodists invented something called "Sunday school" to teach them to read and write, as well as the Bible, simply because these children had to work every other day of the week.

When John Wesley began his ministry, the poor were ignored by the churches and by the king. The Methodists changed that in England, bringing hope and justice to the poor. In France, there were just as many poor people, but not really any Methodists. Half a century later, with no hope and no justice, the poor of France rose up, killing the king and thousands of other people. So when John Wesley cautiously began joining George Whitefield in the ministry of street preaching, he did more than save souls. He helped save the English nation from a bloody revolution.

John Wesley faced these horrors of his day personally, but he saw the power of God triumph. One day as he rode along on a his horse, a highwayman jumped out from behind a tree and announced, "Your money or your life!" (In other words, you'd better give me all your money or else.) Under the circumstances, John Wesley was glad to hand over his wallet. But before he left, he felt compelled to share a Scripture verse with the robber: "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin."

Years later, John Wesley was speaking at a church service when a man asked him if he remembered being robbed at such and such a place, at such and such a time. John Wesley told the man that, "I reckoned I did, for one does not easily forget the business end of a blunderbuss." With tears in his eyes, the man said, "I was that robber! But now I believe I have really become a Christian!"

John Wesley traveled thousands and thousands of miles on horseback during his life, even visiting other countries. His followers were some of the first preachers on the American frontier, in western Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. They awakened Americans such as Phoebe Cunningham to their need for God, not just in their minds but in their hearts. This work was carried on by Methodist preachers such as Thomas Cunningham, Edmund McGinnis and David Allen McGinnis.

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Phoebe Cunningham

Phoebe Cunningham lived on the farthest edge of America with her husband Thomas. In 1785, that was western Virginia. On the banks of Bingamon creek, in a clearing surrounded by forests, Thomas and his brother Edward had built adjoining cabins for their two families, with gardens, pastures and fields. The men spent their days planting, plowing and hunting; The women spent them spinning, sewing and teaching. The nearest tiny settlement was eight miles away.

But though their hours were peaceful, the settlers were at war. They never knew when the night calm would be broken by Indian war cries and the darkness lit up by Indian torches. They never knew when family members might be wounded or killed in a sudden battle with the Indians. And Indian hunters never knew when they might be shot by English settlers who mistook them for warriors. Both sides had learned they could not trust the other.

Like nearly all the settlers, Thomas and Phoebe called themselves Christians. But there were no churches on the frontier in those days, and many settlers secretly liked it that way. For them, pioneers were people who did what was needed with their own two hands, and went where they needed with their own two feet, or on their horse. They didn't miss having other neighbors, and they didn't think they needed much from God that they couldn't do themselves.

Phoebe taught her four children the Bible while she taught them to read, for the Bible was the only book the Cunninghams owned. She made them say their prayers, kneeling beside their beds, just as her mother had when she was little, back in England. The family said prayers before they ate, too. But for Phoebe and Thomas, faith usually didn't go beyond that.

But one day at dinnertime, while Thomas was away trading his furs and crops for family necessities, an Indian entered their cabin and closed the door behind him. For a few seconds, he raised his tomahawk as if to strike, but he quickly saw he had nothing to fear from a 24-year-old woman and four small children at a dinner table.

Next door, Thomas's brother Edward Cunningham had seen the Indian enter Phoebe's house. Quickly he put a wooden bar across his door, and thrust his gun through a chink in his wall, waiting for the Indian to come outside so he could kill him.

When the Indian realized a man was next door, his only thought was to leave quickly and quietly. But when he saw that Edward wanted to shoot him, he took his own gun and fired it at Edward. For Thomas's cabin also had a crack to shoot through. His bullet came so close to hitting Edward that bark from the log flew into Edward's face. Edward fired back but also missed. So far, nobody had been killed or hurt.

The Indian grabbed an adze and began to chop a hole in the back of Thomas's cabin, so he could escape into the woods without being killled by Edward. He asked Phoebe in English how many people were in Edward's cabin. She held up ten fingers. She was lying.

Five other Indians were waiting nearby. One of them came into the Cunningham's yard, but when he saw Edward's gun sticking out, he tried to get away as fast as he could. He was too slow. Edward shot him through the hip, into the stomach. He got behind a tree before Edward could fire again, but he later died, leaving his children without a father.

Phoebe stood quiet and terrified during the gunfire. She knew her family couldn't leave the house now, not without being killed by the other Indians. She vainly hoped the Indian inside her cabin would still leave without harming them. But the Indian was no longer thinking about leaving peacefully, now that a battle had begun and his friend had been wounded. He stepped into the yard and ordered Phoebe to follow him. Phoebe knew he would kill her if she didn't. Her children clung to her, screaming.

Outside, the Indian set the house on fire and joined his companions. Two of them waited outside the door for the flames to drive Edward's family out. The other Indians kept shooting, but Edward's family were able to put out the fire from the inside by ripping the burning boards from the roof and never had to leave.

Since the Indians couldn't kill Edward's family, and fearing they would be caught, the Indians met together to decide what to do next. It was Phoebe's most terrible moment. When the Indians left, they took Phoebe with them as their captive. Just Phoebe. While Phoebe went with the Indians, her children had gone to be with Jesus. Phoebe cried.

The first night, the Indians hid in a nearby cave. Several times on the ten-day journey back to the Indian's village, Phoebe could hear the voices of the settlers on the hillside above her, looking for her. But an Indian with a tomahawk warned her not to make a sound.

For ten days Phoebe had nothing to eat but the head of a wild turkey and three pawpaw fruits. She waded through so many streams that when they finally let her take off her stockings at the village of the Delaware Indians, some of her skin peeled away. The next day they made her start walking again, so the settlers wouldn't be able to catch up with them.

Weighed down under her awful sufferings and the sorrow of losing her children, Phoebe longed to die and wished the Indians would kill her. But one day, while praying that death would come soon, the thought came to her, "Are you prepared to die?"

She had never thought about that before, and her conscience was awakened. Now many things became real to her: the person she really was, the life she had lived, the things she had done. She began to understand the glorious holiness and beauty of God. And she couldn't pretend she was part of that. She had always believed in God, never doubted the truth of the Bible, and had always assumed that faith simply meant you agreed with its teachings.

Now she saw that if she died as she had lived, she belonged in hell, she would enter into suffe ing greater than she was experiencing now. Worse of all, to her, she would never see her children again, for they were in Heaven and a sinner cannot go there. Now her thoughts changed completely. She became alarmed that the Indians might kill her before she could find peace with God. As the Indians kept her moving, her sins became a burden too heavy to bear.

One night, the Indians built a fire under a large tree and lay down to sleep in a circle around it, putting Phoebe in the midst of them so she couldn't escape. But that night Phoebe couldn't sleep. She remembered a Scripture verse her mother had taught her. It said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." She tried to calm herself, willing her mind and body to quiet down, claiming rest for herself as a child of God. It didn't work.

Once she might have assumed that promise already applied to her. But now that she knew she had no rest, she knew she had never come to Him. But could she now? Would He take her in? Somehow these questions had never been more desperate than they were tonight. Kneeling at the root of the tree, in her agony she wrestled with God in prayer, as she never had before.

And in her humility and desperation, soon God's blessing came in power. Phoebe sprang to her feet, clapping her hands and shouting, "Glory to God!" at the top of her voice. The five sleeping Indians raised themselves up on their elbows, grunting "Yough" in bemusement. After watching Phoebe for a while, they lay down again. But in her joy Phoebe kept shouting for a quite a while. She was happy beyond words, and her fear of death was gone.

But the threat of death remained. When the Indians reached their village, they gave her to the man who had the most reason to hate her, the stern father of the Indian who had been killed. They made her keep wearing her same dirty clothes, which was a bad sign. Yet she continued to survive as a captive for three more years.

Then Phoebe heard the Indians and the settlers were preparing a peace conference. A white man had come to the village, causing quite a commotion. It was Simon Girty, who had joined the Indians who were fighting against his own people and had become a chieftain.

Phoebe decided to ask this man to help free her, though she had little reason to hope for mercy from someone like him. But she knew God was merciful. The next day she saw Simon Girty riding by, and clinging to his stirrup, begged him to let her go. At first the cruel man only laughed at her. But as she persisted, God softened his heart.

In 1788, Phoebe was ransomed from the Indians, and two settlers took her back with them. When she finally reached her home in Virginia, she learned that her husband had gone into the wilderness looking for her when he heard she had been released.. Though the other settlers rejoiced at her return, she couldn't enter into their joy until her husband returned safely three days later.

Thomas held his wife in his arms for a long time. They cried when they thought of their children who now were gone. But they rejoiced to see each other again. And someday, they would see the children again too. Thomas had also come to God in a new way. He became a Methodist preacher, the first one in the part of Ritchie County where they moved in 1807.

They had seven more children, and of these, the first one became a preacher like his father. When Phoebe died in 1845, her faith was as strong as ever. The voice that shouted "Glory to God" in the midst of her Indian captors shouted victory in death.

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Polly Houghland

When Polly Hoagland was 14 years old, she went off to school at Marietta Academy (now Marietta College) on the Ohio River. Already she was earnestly seeking God. In Marietta, she stayed with a Presbyterian family. One Sunday she wanted to attend the Methodist meeting and asked where they met for worship, but the family refused to tell her. She said she would follow the sound of the church bell then, but they told her the Methodists had no bell.

"Then," she said, "I will go and stand in the street and wait till someone comes along who looks like a Methodist, and I will follow that one to the house of God." Some women came by, dressed plainly and wearing very plain bonnets. "These," she said to herself, "are Methodist; I will follow them." They led her to a prayer meeting in a kitchen, where she gave her heart to God.

When Polly returned home for school vacation, she asked her father Cornelius Hoagland if they could have family prayer. Receiving his approval, she prayed with them regularly for some time. Finally her father told her he thought she would "better not pray any more in the house," so she began to pray in the garden after nightfall, sometimes until she fell to the ground exhausted. Her worried parents would search for her, and after this happened several times, her father told her to go back inside to pray. As a result, most of her family came to know God.

When some people asked a Methodist preacher to speak at a neighbor's housewarming, he invited Polly to pray after the sermon. According to the story, "she commenced in a low, feeble tone of voice, but soon her prayer began to go up and up until it reached the throne of God, and power from on high came down upon the people; sinners fell to the floor and cried for mercy, and many found peace with God," including the owner of the house, who gave up whisky and declared that he was "going to start for heaven this very night."

Once at a camp meeting, Polly fell to the ground under the powerful blessing of God and lay there as if she were dead. A skeptic at the meeting thought she was pretending, since her eyes were still wide open. But when a fly landed on her eyeball without causing it to move, the unbeliever declared, "This is no hypocrisy." He was converted and later traveled as a Methodist preacher.

Polly became a schoolteacher and continued to serve God. She met Edmund McGinnis when he came to Ohio for revival meetings. During the meeting, they were both busy praying for people who wanted to get right with God. Later they got a chance to talk with each other, and share their testimonies. Edmund told Polly that he was first convicted of sin when he was about six years old, but he was converted when he was seventeen, at a camp meeting on the Guyandotte River. They both felf they should meet again.

In 1821, Edmund and Polly were married. Edmund was licensed to "exhort" a year after their marriage, when their son David Allen McGinnis was born. Five years later, Edmund was licensed to preach by the Methodist church. Edmund became a circuit-riding preacher on the frontier. These settlements had no regular pastors or church services, so they were blessed when men like Edmund came to visit.

It was hard work. An earlier West Virginia Methodist preacher covered 3,000 miles in one year, visited 400 churches and was paid $12.10. Edmund preached the first Methodist sermons in the West Virginia counties of Logan, Raleigh, Fayette, Wayne and Braxton, where his circuits were located, and in many other places.

Polly and Edmund made her home in Cabell County, WV, giving birth to ten children. Throughout their life together, Edmund prayed with his family twice a day, besides having private prayer alone. Then in 1856, when Polly was already 59 years old, they moved to "wild Texas." After they had arrived, Edmund wrote a letter back to his son David Allen McGinnis, "We left Virginia on 29 April 1856, with an eight day layover in New Orleans which made the trip 20 days 8+12=20 We came by water by (via) New Orleans & thinse acrofs the Gulf to Galveston on board of a ship from there we took a steamer up the Buffalow Bayou to Harris Burgh there we took the steam car for Richmond a distance of 30 miles then stage 60 miles which brought us in 6 miles of Olivers.... cost $40 each = $120." Edmund was pleased with his decision to settle in Texas. He described his property, "...800 acres at $1750... back 20 acres fenced... peach trees... good well... The land I have here is rich and good enough for me..."

Edmund told his son David that he had many opportunities for ministry: "I had 4 sabbaths appointments 2 in a town and 2 in the Country. I can go from home to any one of them and return the same day My camp meeting is to embrase the first sabbath in Oct we have among the pretyest camps grounds up on the Globe in the senter and before the stand a frame shed in which 1500 people could be seated I am trying to serve god in good earnest and find I have lost mutch the Last 2 or 3 years of my stay in Virginia here I have many friends and no enemies save the devel & the pilage of my own heart My love to Sarah and the littel ones pray for us and write soon."

Polly wrote to David in the same letter, describing her new surroundings: "4 miles to church a tolerable good meeting house and good preaching and good class... Father, Elizabeth [her daughter-in-law] and myself have joined the class and are trying to make our way to heaven pray for us that we faint not by the way... are we settle for life is uncertain for we are as the rowling stone that gathers little moss Yet we hope in the end to reap and faint not... Leaving you all behind how painful to tell but hope to meet again in life or in blest eternity where parting is no more."

Three years later, Edmund wrote to his ailing daughter Melcena, still in Virginia, advising her "to come to this country if possible it mite save your Life.... you speak of your pretty home in your letter to Oliver and so it is But then my dear child think of that home above that Lieth 4 square where we shall not need the Light of a candle for the glory of God will light in it and those that are saved shall walk in the light of it think then of the mansions above and Let not your heart be troubled for this is not our home here we have no continuing city But should seek one to come then think of meating your Little ones there enjoying the shady bowers above How hapy you all will be then where parting is no more." He continued, "This world is all a fleeting show nothing sure But heaven there fore lay all up on Gods alter and concecrate yourself to him and be assured you have the prayers of a Father & Mother that Loves you..."

On March 5, 1865, Edmund became ill while preaching his last sermon five miles from home, and the sickness lingered for months until he died on June 9, 1865. At the last, he told his family that he was dying happy, gave his hand to everyone present, and told them, "Be good and serve God and meet me in heaven."

After Edmund died, Polly went to live with her children in Polk County, Texas. On March 9, 1871, 73-year-old Polly wrote a letter to her son David Allen McGinnis and to some of her grandchildren that, "I am abel to work and write a little though I feel quite feeble and often cough verry hard and suffer much yet the hope of heaven bears me up and I hope to live a while longer and want to groe better... Arden [another grandson] profest religion four hours before he died and talked to all present and bid them farewell and died praising the lord so we are all fast passing away... Mary and Samantha, Adorn the profeshion you have made and walk in the footsteps of the righteous and write when you can and pray often." She concludes with a note to 13-year-old Enoch Marsh McGinnis, C.D. McGinnis's grandfather, saying, "My dear little grandson I was glad to hear from you be kind to all and fear and love God with all your heart and write again and tell Parmenias to write to me." Polly McGinnis died July 6, 1876, apparently of tuberculosis.

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Charles Finney

Charles Finney wanted to become a brilliant and rich young lawyer. So in 1818, he went to study law with Squire Wharton, an respected attorney in upstate New York. Squire Wharton's village had a church, with a regular prayer meeting, and since both were new to Charles, he began to attend them. Charles had hardly ever been to church before. As he put it himself, he had been brought up in the woods and was "almost as ignorant of religion as a heathen." As Charles studied the laws of England and America with Squire Wharton, he noticed how often they referred to the Scriptures. That got him interested, so he bought his first Bible when he was 26.

At his church, Charles led the choir and the young people's group. But though Charles was attending church, he wasn't sure yet if he believed the Good News, and he asked his pastor many challenging questions. One thing he was sure of: if the Bible was true, he would have to become very different, inside himself, if he wanted to enjoy the happiness of heaven. He could see that already.

Once at a church prayer meeting, the people asked Charles if he wanted them to pray for him. He said no, for he couldn't see that God answered their prayers. He said, "I suppose I need to be prayed for, for I am conscious that I am a sinner, but I do not see it will do any good for you to pray for me, for you are continually asking but you do not receive." He wondered if God's promises were really true.

Then as Charles continued to read the Bible, he realized that it wasn't God's fault their prayers weren't answered. The Bible says we should pray in faith, and nobody was doing that in his church. So, convinced now the Bible could be trusted, Charles now had to decide whether he would believe in Jesus as the person the Bible says he is, or continue to live for himself and his pleasures. He felt an urging within himself to decide soon.

Charles had always been a proud young man. When he saw his need for God, he was too proud to let anyone know he saw it. He would pray, but he would make sure nobody heard him. Before, he had been studying the Bible without embarassment as part of his law studies. But now if somebody came into his office while he was reading it, he would hastily throw his law books on top of it, to keep them from finding out.

Actually, it wasn't pride alone that kept Charles from telling anybody what he was feeling. He knew that his pastor and the congregation were pretty confused about Christianity too, and he didn't want to get any more confused than he already was! He turned to the Bible, just the Bible itself.

One Sunday evening in October 1821, Charles made up his mind to give himself to God, if possible, and not wait any longer. Unfortunately, he had to spend a lot of time in the law office for the next couple of days. But God arranged it so that he wasn't very busy, and he read his Bible and prayed most of that time. But he prayed silently, under his breath, because he didn't want Squire Wharton to hear. The more he sought God, the more conviction he felt. But the more his heart seemed to grow harder. He could not cry. He thought if he could just find some place to pray as loud as he felt to, he might break through.

Early Wednesday morning, as he was walking to the office, questions began popping into his mind: "What are you waiting for? Did you not promise to give your heart to God? And what are you trying to do? Are you trying to work out a righteousness of your own?"

Charles stopped right in the middle of the street when these thoughts came to him. He realized that it was true. Instead of receiving Christ's righteousness, he had been trying to impress God with his own goodness. He didn't know how long he stood there before the thought came, "Will you accept it, now, today?" Charles's response was, "I will accept it today, or I will die trying."

So Charles turned off the road to the office and headed out to the woods, over a hill north of town. As he began to climb the hill, he became sure that if anybody saw him, they could tell that he was going away to pray. It was silly, of course, because probably nobody in the entire world would have suspected such a thing. But his pride and fear of man were so great that he ducked his head and skulked along a fence until he was far enough away that nobody in the village could see him.

As Charles walked through the woods, he repeated over and over his promise, "I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again." He found a place where two large trees had fallen across each other. He went in between them and knelt down to pray.

But he couldn't do it. When he tried to pray, he found his heart was dead to God and would not pray. Now that he could freely speak out loud to God without being overheard, he had nothing much to say to God. Several times he stopped because he heard a rustling in the leaves, and he thought somebody was coming to see what he was doing.

Now Charles wished he hadn't promised to give his heart to God before he left the woods. He began to feel deep fears that he was too late. God had given up on him and he was beyond hope. Now he had made a binding promise to God, and he couldn't keep it. His heart began sinking into discouragement, and he became almost too weak to move.

Just then Charles heard the leaves rustle and he opened his eyes again to see if anybody was watching. Then it hit him, why he couldn't pray through. He cried at the top of his lungs, "What! a miserable sinner like me, confessing my sins to the great and holy God, but ashamed to let anybody see me on my knees?" His sin of pride seemed awful, infinite. It broke him down before God.

Passages of Scriptures began jumping into his thoughts, some of them ones he hadn't remembered hearing. But he knew they were God's promises, and he began claiming them as fast as they came, for a long time. It was the first time he understood that faith begins with a decision not a state of mind.

His mind became so full that he was surprised to find himself on his feet, already scrambling back up the hill to the road. His thoughts were amazingly quiet and peaceful. He pondered, "What has happened? I must have grieved the Holy Spirit completely away, for I have lost all my conviction. I have not a particle of concern for my soul. Why, I was never so far from being concerned about my salvation in my life."

Then Charles remembered all the promises he had just claimed, and decided he probably shouldn't have done that. No wonder the Spirit was grieved, for a sinner like himself to presume to take hold of God's World like that. Maybe he had committed the unpardonable sin.

As Charles walked peacefully down the street, his mind was so quiet that it seemed all nature listened. He tried to get his feelings of conviction to come back. But he found that all sense of guilt had disappeared. He tried to feel bad about not feeling bad, thinking that it might be caused by hardness of heart. But no matter what he thought about or did, nothing could shake the wonderful sense of peace he felt. His heart was possessed with the sweetness of God.

Charles thought he had been gone from the village for only a little while, but found that it was already noon. Back in his office, while Squire Wharton was out to lunch, Charles got out his bass viol and began to play and sing some hymns. He often did that during his lunch hour. But today, every time he began to sing about Jesus, he started to weep. So he gave up and put away his instrument.

That afternoon, Charles was busy moving their books and furniture to another office. But the tranquility in his heart remained. Everything seemed to be going right. After work, as Squire Wharton bade him goodnight, Charles decided to try to pray again. Even though he was no longer even worried about his soul, he wasn't going to give up hope of finding God. So he built a large fire to keep himself warm during the evening.

As Charles shut the door, once again he felt his heart melting and his feelings flowing freely. His one thought was, "I want to pour my whole soul out to God." Charles went into a back room to pray, where there was no heat or light. He wrote, "As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.... I fell down at his feet. I wept aloud like a child and made such confessions as I could with my choked words."

He must have continued in that state for a long time, for when his mind became calm enough, he went back to the front room and found the big fire he had built was nearly gone. As he turned to take a seat by the fire, something happened. Without expecting it at all, without any memory of even having heard that such a thing existed, "the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul.. like a wave of electricity... in waves of liquid love... It seemed like the very breath of God." Charles wept aloud with joy and love, literally bellowing out the inexpressible overflow of his heart. He prayed, "Lord, I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me," yet he had no fear of death.

But before he went to bed that night, a cloud of doubt fell over his heart. Was he deluded, or crazy, such a sinner as he had been? He went to sleep without being sure he had made his peace with God.

When he awoke the next morning, the sun was shining a clear light through his window. Instantly the Holy Spirit fell on him again, just like the night before. He wept aloud with joy. As the waves of love flooded him, the Spirit seemed also to be gently rebuking him, "Will you doubt? Will you doubt?"

"No," he cried. "I will not doubt! I cannot doubt!" He literally found it impossible.

The power and love of God continued to rest on him even when he got to the office. He found he had already lost all interest he used to have in gaining wealth or practicing law. Somehow he knew that God had called him to preach the Gospel. He found that if he said a few words to someone, they immediately fell under conviction. They would run off somewhere and fall to their knees. Without knowing about Charles's own experience, many people began testifying that they had been converted in the woods.

Hearing this, Squire Wharton told himself that he had a parlor to pray in, thank you, and he felt no need to go wandering through the woods. Nobody was going to tell the story of Squire Wharton finding God in a grove of trees. When God showed him the pride in his heart, he refused to accept it. He tried to make himself believe, and make God believe, that it wasn't a matter of pride. Once on his way home from a church meeting, the dignified lawyer even looked around for a mud puddle to kneel in, to prove he wasn't proud. But for weeks, try as hard as he might, he could not pray through to God in his parlor, or anywhere else of his choosing.

Then one afternoon, a young man hurried into Charles's office saying, "Squire Wharton is converted!" He had just seen the plump lawyer marching back and forth, singing as loud as could, clapping his hands and shouting, "I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!" Then he would start all over again. And where had the young man seen Squire Wharton do all these things? In the woods, of course.

As he was describing the scene, Squire Wharton himself appeared over the hill. They watched him from a distance as he rushed up to an elderly Methodist brother and lifted him right off the ground with a hug. When Squire Wharton finally set the surprised man down, they talked for a few moments, and he resumed his hurried trip back to his office.

When he arrived, the heavy man was sweating profusely. He shouted, "I've got it! I've got it!" then clapped his hands with all his might. He fell to his knees in thanksgiving to God. He told them that the Spirit of God came upon him and he was filled with joy, as soon he humbled himself by kneeling in the woods.

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Corrie ten Boom

Betsie and Corrie ten Boom were both getting older, neither of them married. The two sisters lived with their father Caspar ten Boom in Haarlem, in the same Dutch house their family had owned for a hundred years. Betsie took care of the cooking and the cleaning upstairs, while Corrie helped her father in the family business downstairs, selling and repairing watches.

At first, Corrie and Betsie had the opposite jobs. Corrie spent hours struggling to keep the house clean and trying not to ruin dinner. Betsie spent hours trying to learn the details of the watch business and struggling to keep track of the money. Corrie secretly wished she could learn about watches, while Betsie longed to go back to housekeeping. But each sister wanted to lay her life down by taking the boring and hard work upon herself. One day they accidently found out what was happening. "You mean you really like to cook?" asked Corrie, amazed. "Yes, don't you?" asked Betsie, equally amazed. "I only volunteered to work in the shop because I thought you didn't want to." "And I offered to take care of the house only because I thought you didn't want to," replied Corrie. They didnt know whether to laugh or cry. After they switched jobs, they became much happier.

The ten Boom family had been earnest Christians literally for centuries. In those days, much of European society was prejudiced against Jews. Jews were not allowed to work in certain jobs, or even live in certain places. But even in the 1800's, the ten Booms had known that the Jewish people were the apple of God's eye. A century later, when their brother Willem ten Boom was preparing to become a pastor, he warned Corrie and Betsie that Germany was about to unlease a new reign of terror against the Jews.

It happened just as Willem had written. First Germany, then their beloved Holland, was taken over by the Nazis, by people who wanted the Jews to disappear. While some Dutch people secretly fought against the Nazis, the Ten Boom secretly protected the Jews from them. They helped Jews find hiding places in the country. But they also hid Jews in their own home.

Their first hiding place was under their floor. If the Nazis came, Corrie and Betsie could move the table from on top of the rug, lift up the rug, raise a trap door in the floor, let their Jewish guests crawl through, and then put the floor, the rug and the table back, as if nothing unusual had happened.

But Corrie and Betsie disagreed about what to do next, if a Nazi soldier then rushed into the home demanding, "Where are the Jews?"

"Then, Betsie, you must say, "Jews? What Jews? There are no Jews here," instructed Corrie.

"But Corrie, that would not be honest," protested Betsie.

"I think the Lord would understand," answered Corrie impatiently. "Remember that he commends Rahab in Hebrews 11 for misleading the soldiers looking for the Israelite spies in Jericho."

"Yes, because Rahab did not have the revelation of God's will as we have. And Rahab wasn't one of God's people," said Betsie sweetly.

"Oh Betsie! Be practical," blurted Corrie. But Betsie remained unconvinced.

Then one day, while Corrie was away, Betsie got a sudden warning that Nazis were about to raid their house. Quickly, she moved the table aside, pulled back the rug that was under the table, lifted up the trap door that was under the rug, and helped the frightened Jews climb under the floor. Then she closed the trap door, replaced the rug over the trap door, replaced the table over the rug, straightened the tablecloth and sat down in her rocking chair to continue knitting.

Seconds later, it seemed, angry Nazi police were pounding on the door. When they came into the room where Betsie was, they loudly asked her, "Where are the Jews? We know you've hidden them. Tell us where they are."

Betsie stopped knitting for a moment, gave the Nazis her sweetest smile and answered their question honestly, just as she had warned Corrie she would do.

"Why, of course," Betsie said, "They're under the table."

Eagerly several policemen bent down to look. One pulled aside the tiny lace tablecloth, then quickly put it back. The police stood up again, shuffling their feet in embarassment.

The leader of the police snapped, "It's not a good idea to joke with the Nazis." Then they left.

Later, members of the "resistance," the Dutch people who were opposed to the Nazis, began coming quietly to the Ten Boom's home to help them in their work. Everyone introduced himself as Mr. Smit. When Corrie and Betsie proudly showed the trap door under the table to one Mr. Smit, he dismissed it with, "No, that's too dangerous. It would be the first place they would look." Instead, one of Holland's most respected architects came to the old house to measure it for special remodeling. Then he laughed in delight, saying, "It's perfect!" In normal times, perfect was exactly what their house wasn't. Built as two narrow houses long before and imperfectly joined together later, no two floors or ceilings were on the same level. But perfect for a hiding place! One by one the "resistance remodelers" (all named Smit) came by, and soon they had finished their work. Betsie and Corrie were confused, for the house looked exactly the same as before, even to them. But behind a wall there was now an undetectable room where Jews would be safe.

Then one day the Nazi police raided the watch shop and arrested many people, including Corrie and Betsie. Their 84-year-old father Caspar ten Boom soon died in jail, cheerfully and peacefully, from pneumonia. He said he was privileged to be able to help God's chosen people. His grandson Kik never returned from the prison camp where the Nazis sent him. And Caspar's pastor son Willem, though few had believed his warning of what was to come until it came to pass, also gave his life defending the Jews.

By God's miracle, Corrie and Betsie stayed together in the same prison camp. Betsie's faith always seemed stronger than her sister's. Betsie never complained about the situations God had put them in, while Corrie sometimes became bitter. They praised God they were assigned to sleep in the same barracks, but to Corrie's dismay, it was infested with fleas. Soon they had bites all over their bodies. Corrie wondered why God would allow his servants to suffer like that.

But Betsie quietly began sharing God's love and hope with the other prisoners in the barracks. Amazingly, she had been able to hide a little Bible under her clothes when she came to the prison camp. Now she and Corrie took turns reading it to the women. They had glorious, unhindered freedom to pursue God. Corrie couldn't understand why the guards never came to stop them. Then she found out. No guard dared to enter that room -- they didn't want to catch fleas!

Betsie later died in that prison camp, weak but eager to meet her Lord in heaven. Her joy never weakened. After Betsie was gone, Corrie kept trying to hang onto God's promises, but it was hard. With little food and rest, her body was tiring out. Then one day a prison guard ordered her to get up and gather her things, because she was being released. She could go back to her home. She found out later that the next week, all the women her age in the prison were killed. She escaped death only because the prison office had made an error -- or was there another reason?

After the war was over and the Nazis were defeated, Corrie founded a rest home for those who had been Nazi prisoners. She began speaking all over Europe about God's faithfulness to her. Once, after she had given a talk in Germany, a man walked up to thank her for her message. Corrie immediately recognized him, and he must have sensed she would -- one of the cruel prison guards from her camp. "How wonderful to know, as you say, that our sins are cast into the depths of the sea," he remarked humbly. For an instant, she didn't want to shake his hand. But as she reached out to him, she felt the love of God like a jolt of electricity, and she cried, "Why of course! How wonderful it is!"

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Don Richardson

Don Richardson went from his home in Canada into the jungles of Indonesia to tell tribespeople about Jesus, about forty years ago. When he and his wife Carol got to Indonesia, they put all their luggage into a canoe, made from a hollowed-out log, and rowed up the river to where the Sawi tribe lived.

The Sawis were black-skinned people who wore bones in their noses and paint on their faces. Their houses and clothes were made of leaves. They had hardly ever seen any white American or even any brown Indonesian people. They had never heard a single thing about Jesus. They ate roots and fruits, when they weren't having wars with other Sawi villages.

When Don Richardson arrived in Sawi country, he got out of the canoe with his baby Steve in his arms. That's why the Sawis didn't kill them. When a Sawi man comes with his son in his arms, that means he's coming in peace and shouldn't be killed right away. Of course, Don didn't know that yet, but God did.

Carol helped the Sawis as a nurse, when she wasn't caring for her baby. She was the only nurse or doctor anywhere around. She would give medicine to sick people, and put bandages on wounded people who had been speared or shot with arrows during a fight.

Don spent his time learning to speak Sawi, because he wanted the Sawis to be able to read the Bible in their own language. First he had translate the New Testament. Both Don and Carol were learning a lot about the Sawis, and sometimes they were very surprised by what they learned.

One evening, the Sawis asked Don to tell them a story. Don had learned Sawi fairly well, so he began to tell them the story of Jesus for the very first time. How exciting it was for him! Don told the Sawis how Jesus was born, about the shepherds and the wise men, about King Herod. He told them how Jesus grew up and became a great teacher who showed the people what God's love is like.

But it didn't end exactly the way he planned. When Don told how Jesus was arrested when one of his closest friends turned against him, the Sawis laughed and laughed! Don was bewildered. The smiling Sawis congratulated him on telling such a good story. They told him they loved to hear stories like that, about tricking someone into thinking you're their friend until it's too late. That was their favorite kind of story. Don realized the Sawis thought Judas Iscariot was the hero!

Don was a little discouraged, but he kept writing down his translation of the Bible into the Sawi language. Some of the Sawis were helping him, of course, because he didn't know all the right Sawi words for what the Bible was saying. But that didn't work out exactly the way he planned either.

"What's the Sawi word for repentance?" he asked one man, explaining what it meant. "We don't have a word for that," the man replied.

"How about grace, or forgiveness, or love?" Don pursued. He explained what these words meant as best as he could. "We don't have words for them either," the Sawi man answered. "Those aren't things we do."

Don didn't know what to do now. He couldn't see why God had sent him there, if the Sawis didn't have any words in their language for him to explain what Jesus had done for them. Meanwhile, the Sawis villages began attacking each other more often. Carol was spending more and more time pulling arrows out of people and patching spear holes.

Don was getting really frustrated. He shouldn't have done it, but he started arguing with the Sawi leaders, telling them they fought too much. Finally he told them all that if they didn't stop fighting, he and Carol would leave, and the Sawis would no longer get any help from them. Actually, the Sawis were getting as tired of Don as he was of them, and they were thinking they should just spear him. But they needed Carol's medicine, so when Don threatened to stop helping their villages, they knew just what to do.

The leaders gathered together for a meeting in the village where Don and Carold lived. After much discussion, which Don didn't understand, they all walked to the village of their enemies, led by a man carrying his baby boy. The other people were waiting to meet with them. Both chiefs talked to the people. The man with the baby, with his wife beside him, sadly put their son into the arms of a couple from the enemy village. Then everybody started to go home.

"What does all this mean?" Don asked.

"Don't you know?" the villagers scoffed. "You told us we had to make peace. How else are we going to do that? To make peace, you have to have a peace child. Everybody knows that."

Don admitted that he had never heard of a peace child before, so the villagers explained it to him. The couple from his village had given their son to be raised by their former enemies. As long as the boy lived, there would be peace between the two villages.

Suddenly, Don did understand. He cried out, "Yes, this is exactly what I've been wanting to tell you. God longs to have peace with us, but we keep fighting him. So he sent his son Jesus, to be raised among his enemies. We killed him but God made him alive again. Now he will never die. As long as he lives, there can be peace between God and man."

And the Sawis understood too. Now they began asking questions about Jesus, the peace child. So many of them came to God that eventually all the Sawi villages stopped fighting.

Now the Sawis wanted to serve God. Another foreign believer taught them how to saw lumber by hand, and they became very good at construction. They built large churches in their villages to hold all the people who wanted to worship God. And they began traveling up and down the river in their canoes, telling other tribes about Jesus and helping them built church buildings.

One time some Sawi men went on a trip to give another tribe their own church building. They had to travel quite a distance to get there. As they rowed their canoe, they passed a group of Indonesians erecting a little government office, using tools like power hammers, electric saws, generators and air compressors. Indonesians usually look down on tribal people such as the Sawis. They think tribal people don't know anything because they don't have the fancy machines the city people have. But the Sawi Christians smiled and waved anyway.

When the Sawis arrived at the home of the other tribe, they got to work. They chopped down some trees with their axes, got out their two-man saws, sawed the boards for the church, and finished the whole thing in a few days. It was big, and turned out very nice. The other tribe thanked them, had a church fellowship dinner for them, and sent them on their way home. As the Sawis rowed their canoe home, they passed the same group of Indonesians. With all their fancy tools, they still weren't done building!

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These stories came from the following books:

Peter Waldo - from Martyrs Mirror, by T.J van Braght

Rebecca Nourse - from Pathway: A Family History, by Michael McGinnis

John Wesley - from The Journal of John Wesley

Phoebe Cunningham - from the History of Ritchie County, by Minnie Kendall Lowther

Polly Houghland - from Pathway: A Family History, by Michael McGinnis

Charles Finney - from the Autobiography of Charles G. Finney, edited by Helen Wessel

Corrie ten Boom - from The Hiding Place, and other books by Corrie ten Boom

Don Richardson - from Peace Child, by Don Richardson

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Bryan, TX 77801

© 2001, Michael McGinnis