Nothing quite so much our own, as our own testimony. When first starting in the work, I was asked to “live” my testimony. It has been a help to me over the years, and what God has done for us, helping us to know something genuine.
My father was born in Sweden and came to the USA as a young man with his parents. My mother was Scottish, but Irish parents. Dad lost his sight at 22 years of age. Had typhoid fever and the temperature rose so high it destroyed the optic nerve, and he was completely blind at 24 years. Mother lost her sight at the age of 5 years. Mother did full schooling, went to the Industrial School for the Blind.
Father hardly knew what to do when he went blind, but got courage and said he would face life with courage and do what he could. He entered the Industrial School for the Blind and trained to make brooms, brushes, and hammocks. Mother was there too, and learned to do what anyone with sight could do – – housekeeping etc. They fell in love.
Father said he was most fortunate, he married the prettiest girl in the school! Uncle gave him a section – – built a little house on mortgage. He had a shop and made brooms.
Two boys were born, I was the older. Mother put a stake in the lawn and a rope tied to it, and had us on the end of the rope. She could always find me, but I got bigger and bigger and one day I untied the rope and was gone. She had to do something else. Mother and Father were very united in bringing us up. Mother would say, “Go and ask your father,” and he would say, “What does mother say?” They backed each other a hundred percent.
They were very religious; although Father was not able to see, he was a Deacon in the Baptist Church. Mother read the Bible; it was with her fingers after supper when dishes were done. I can still hear her read those verses one by one. Father said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find someone willing to do these things written in the Bible?”
I was treasurer and collector of the money in the Church. I had a mate, Roy Taylor, who wanted to be a Baptist Minister. They nick-named him “Deacon.” Roy talked to me and said, “You should be a preacher, too.” I said, “No, the last thing I would ever be.” I was a bookkeeper in a timber yard.
Father tried every religion; and one day I passed the place where I saw a tent, and the sign: “Gospel Meetings.” I told Father at the dinner table. Dad said, “I will go and hear, I might find something genuine.” Father knew every turn, and could go anywhere in the town. He and Mum went regularly together. Dad had his senses exercised… he could smell hardware shops, etc., even a Bank; he said, “Can’t you smell the money?” When Dad and Mum came home from the Meeting they said, “We never heard things like this before.” I went, too, and sometimes just stood outside.
Three weeks after[wards], I went to get ready for the Baptist Church and Dad said, “Son, your Mum and I are not going to the Baptist Church today, we’re going to a Sunday Morning Meeting.” They were invited to a Meeting four miles away. I said, “How are you going?” Father said, “With another deacon and his wife,” (a real bombshell). I asked, “Aren’t they going to the Church, either?” Father said, “Son, you know nothing of this and can’t go.”
I had enough in me when told not to go, to be there. I met Roy Taylor in the Square, my mate and friend. He composed 181 in our Hymn Book. I asked, “Did he know what Mum and Dad and others were doing?” He said, “If you go, I’ll go, too. You can’t go to these meetings and still be a Baptist.”
So we also went to this country meeting. When we got there they were singing “Rich are the Moments of Blessing.” It went right home to my heart. The older brother Worker said, “We are having a different meeting here. In the Gospel Meetings, we did all the praying and speaking to help you see the difference between the right way and the wrong way, between God’s way and man’s way; but now we have come to worship, and we can all help one another by prayer and testimony. Hope none are too proud to kneel.”
He also said, “We don’t want any Pharisee prayers.” All knelt, but I didn’t. The other Baptist man I had heard so often pray in the Church a real Pharisee prayer, “Oh, Lord, we thank Thee for the glorious day, the sunshine,” in holy tones. But this day he prayed a prayer from his heart. So broken and thankful. All prayed, and my father prayed; then I got down on my knees. Roy prayed, and then a long silence: I never knew how to pray, how to begin or finish. I came out in a cold sweat, but in a trembling voice I said, “Lord if this is Your way, help me to see it.” My father knew then I was in the meeting!
The speaker (older brother) spoke on Luke 2, “Where wilt Thou that we prepare?” Jesus told the disciples to go into the city and would meet a man bearing a pitcher of water, follow him into the house. He said Jesus was interested in those carrying water from the well of life, a cup of cold water. If we have taken a cup of living water from the well of life and given it to a brother or sister, we shall in no wise lose our reward.
I never knew before what this meant, but I sure knew it then. Later I found Father, went to him and grabbed his hand. He said, “Son, what are you doing here?” I answered, “I am here to see what you are doing.” He said, “I don’t want you to do this because Mother and I are; we want you to see it for yourself.” Roy and I went to the Baptist Church, we let the people in and took the collection – I listened to a dry sermon and thought of the Tent Mission.
Then the speaker spoke on the Prodigal Son spending his life and wasting it. God doesn’t want us to spend our lives and then they are gone, but to invest them. If investing, we enjoy them for a long time. Roy and I stood up together 3 weeks later. It was the best investment I have ever made. We went back to the Parson, He said, “I’m sure glad to see you ‘boys,’ come in.” We went in and I said, “I’m here to hand in the money as I can’t go to your Church any more.” Roy told him, “Neither can I.” The Parson was angry then, he said to Roy, “You can’t do that, you have your name down for a Preacher.” Roy answered, “But I’m not going to be that kind of preacher.”
He was so angry he went down to Father and said, “You have been taken up with those who have no name, etc.” Dad said, “I’ve been listening to them for 7 weeks, and have learned more of the Bible than when listening to you for 4 years.” The Parson said, “I am telling all the merchants not to buy any more of your brooms.”
Poor old, blind Father, he said, “I was convinced before you had not the spirit of Christ and now I’m even more sure you haven’t it.” One of the merchants said, “Change in religion don’t matter to me, this just shows me I should buy more brooms.” He bought 10 dozen.
Roy and I offered for the Work together, the only comment made was, “How soon could you be ready?” One and a half years after I made my choice, I went out. I had been paying off the mortgage for my parents. I gave Dad the final receipt and thought he would be glad, but he cried. I know what these tears meant. He said, “If the Lord lays His claim on your life, you go and don’t worry about Mum and I; the Lord will look after us.” Dad took my hand and said, “Son, never a day will go by but I will pray for you, but if you get sick, come home, and we will do our best to get you better again to go out. If you quit for any other reason, never set foot on my doorstep.” Dad welcomed me home at 50, but said, “I’m still boss here!”
The last letter from Dad read, “Son, we would like to have seen you, but we are praying for you. Your job seems to get bigger and bigger, but don’t you get big in it.” The Kingdom’s interests came first. It is not only those in the Harvest Field, but those behind the scenes backing us up a hundred percent. We need each other. It is a work of co-operation, not competition; working with Him, not for Him, praying we might be with Him; and this is what the Lord values, with Him a hundred percent.
I’ve never doubted arrangements made, but I must confess when asked to come to New Zealand and Australia, I thought a mistake was made (leave me in my own backyard), but already I have felt at home here. Charlie Mitchell and Arnold Scharman were the Workers we heard.
– Clarence Anderson passed away in Australia in 1987, after visiting New Zealand for conventions.