Chapter 2—Getting My Bearings
Among Congregationalists.— I had no definite convictions nor settled ideas as to denominations. I really never had studied the question of denominations on account of my conversion having taken place in an undenominational mission.
Arriving in Brazil I naturally looked for a church of an undenominational character. I found that the Fluminense Church, of which Dr. Kalley was the founder and to which the Braga family belonged, was more to my liking, being a kind of a Congregational church with a Presbyterian directorate. One thing especially that I liked about it was the fact that they did not practice infant baptism, a practice that my conscience repelled as soon as I accepted Christianity. It always seemed to me like a shadow of Judaism and ceremonialism, which I abhorred.
The pastor of this church was the Rev. John M. G. dos Santos, a native Brazilian educated at C. H. Spurgeon's College. He was a good man, but extremely conservative. It took me quite a time to convince him that I had no intentions of substituting him and that my only desire was to help him in his ministry. As an illustration, let me tell what he did when I was beginning open-air services in Brazil.
A temporary Constitution had been adopted by the new Republic and was then being discussed. In it complete liberty was given to all faiths and creeds and separation of Church from the State recommended. I thought it an excellent time to try the worth of such a law. I asked the pastor to announce an open air service for a certain Sunday afternoon, to take place on the same square on which the Republic was proclaimed. Having to preach that morning in Nictheroy, across the bay, I was not present at the announcement. I was informed that he had made the following statement:
"Brother Ginsburg asked me to tell you that he intends to hold an open-air meeting on the Square of the Republic. My advice to you is not to go, as the Constitution has not been approved and we may thus endanger the adoption of such a law."
At three o'clock I was on the Square and looking around for helpers I only found four women — a mother with her two daughters and one sister. Asking for the loan of a stool from the keeper of the Public Garden, situated on one side of the square, I climbed upon it and started singing a hymn. Not more than a minute passed before a great multitude stood around listening attentively to the message I gave them in the name of Jesus. As the meeting continued more listeners came until there must have been more than five thousand standing around us. I told them of Jesus and His power to save and nothing else happened than a man shouting:
"Why don't you tell us something about the Virgin Mary. You speak only of Jesus, Jesus; tell us something about Mary."
I did not pay any attention to that and continued to preach Christ and Him crucified. It was a glorious beginning. When I finished my discourse a group of about a hundred members of the church were near me and said, "What a fine meeting that was!" I said, "Yes, but not with your help."
Work in Nictheroy.— During my first few months in Brazil I worked across the bay in the Nictheroy church or rather congregation. I found a small group of believers that had preaching in the home of a family about once a month. We soon changed that to full-time preaching. We rented a house on one of the principal streets of the city right in front of the bay, I began a series of meetings that grew in interest and power. The open-air services helped wonderfully and I began to hold them regularly all over the town. In one of the districts, known as the toughest, the people tried to topple over the chair on which I was standing with the object of falling on me and stabbing or wounding me. The believers, however, stood around the chair that was serving as my platform and when any of the ruffians attempted to get in between them they closed up shoulder to shoulder and kept them away.
Kicked Out of a Store.— My financial support, at that time I received from selling Bibles and books. It is a work that helps one to get better acquainted with the people. The work, however, is very difficult, especially with what I tried to do in the church, but it gives excellent experience and helps wonderfully in the acquisition of the language.
One day I went into a store in one of the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro and offered for sale a Bible. The man refused to buy; but as I thought that the man ought to buy one, I insisted until he lost his temper and laying hold of me and the books deliberately kicked me out of his store.
I calmly picked up the books, wiped the dirt off their covers and returned to the store again. I informed the man, in the best Portuguese I knew, that he had committed a crime because having a public store, with an open door, he naturally had to have people coming in to buy or to sell and that his way of treating me was altogether inhuman. If I had committed any crime the police were there to protect him, but that he had no right to throw me out like he did and injure the goods I had for sale. The best thing, I suggested, for him to do was to buy the book I offered, or else I would call the police and tell them what he had done. The man bought the Bible.
One day I was in very great need of money. I did not have a cent of my own and was very hungry. I went to the agency of the British and Foreign Bible Society and asked for 100 Gospels of John. I took them to the most frequented Public Square in Rio, right at the head of the celebrated Ouvidor Street. Climbing up the steps of the Catholic Church situated on that Square I offered to the worshippers coming and going to and from the church the Gospel of John, and in less than a half hour I had the hundred copies sold. When, I returned with another hundred I found a priest watching. I suppose some one must have called his attention to it. Though there is no difference between our edition and the one published by the Catholics, yet the priest does not want his people to read the Bible and I thought it best to leave the place.
Evangelizing in the Interior.— Mr. Maxwell Wright, who had crossed the ocean on the same steamer with me in 1890, was holding evangelistic services in the various evangelical churches of Rio. My knowledge of the Portuguese language at that time was rather imperfect and, being unable to preach, I did my best to fill the churches for the preacher, inviting the public and sometimes rather forcing them to go in. I know that in many places, were it not for such efforts he would have preached to empty benches. At least that was what he himself told me.
After a period of work in the great city of Rio de Janeiro we went into the interior and had wonderful times together. Mr. Wright was a good Gospel preacher and knew the language well, though his pronunciation was markedly continental and not Brazilian. The people liked it though, as it sounded like he was a native Portuguese instead of an English man. We usually managed to obtain the largest hall in the town, as a rule the Public Theatre, and the crowds would come to listen to the Gospel message. During the day I would visit the homes and sell all the Bibles and books I could. I certainly enjoyed that kind of work.
In my seminary days I was taught that the best way to evangelize people was to visit certain places, preach for a few days or a week, visit during the day and then go to another city. There is nothing like experience and keeping your eyes open. I found the following to be the case: After preaching for a few days in a place with good results apparently, selling books and and having a good many people stand up and manifest a desire to follow the Lord Jesus and His teaching, we would find on our return trip, that most of these we left interested would refuse to receive us. The reason for it was apparent.
After we left the city the priest would go from home to home and take the books and burn or destroy them and would then fill the hearts and minds of those people with intense prejudice against us.
This experimental knowledge was a great blessing to me, for it helped me wonderfully in my work for the future. I realized then that the Apostolic plan of evangelizing a place was to stay in the place until a church was organized. That is the only way to do the Master's work effectively. The sufferings the native converts have to undergo is almost impossible to describe. Especially is this the case in the smaller villages where the priest is feared and where everybody knows everybody else. For a man or a woman to face the opposition of his own people or of the priest and of the leading men of the place necessitates great courage. It is only the power of the blood of Jesus that enables a person to do this. Even then, the missionary has to stand by the convert and help him to overcome those trying days until the young convert is able to stand alone.
Using the Printed Page.— One other way of evangelizing that I tried during those early days was through the printed page. With the help of Senor Fernandes Braga I published a little monthly paper on the style of "The Christian," of London. The title of that paper was "O Biblia" (The Bible-Man), because the believers in Rio de Janeiro were known by that name on account of always carrying a copy of the Bible with them. Up to the present time the believers in Rio and neighborhood are known by that name. In other States they are known as Protestants or Baptists. The value of that paper as an evangelizing agency was proved by the fact that nearly all the believers received and supported it and up until today the paper is read, though now it has the title of "O Christao" (The Christian).
Visiting Pernambuco.— Unable to accomplish and carry out my plans of work in Rio de Janeiro on account of the opposition from the native pastor, I gladly welcomed an invitation from Mr. Fanstone, a Canadian Baptist, who was doing excellent mission work in the great city of Pernambuco, to substitute for him while he was on his furlough to England. I left Rio for Pernambuco in the beginning of 1891 and took charge of Mr. Fanstone's work as substitute pastor. The church in Pernambuco had about 100 godly and consecrated members with whom I had a blessed time. During the eight months I spent with them I had some of the most glorious experiences of my life. I will mention a few of them.
Utilizing Market Day in Cabo.— For my support I was, as usual, selling books. Putting into use my Jewish instinct I made quite a success of it, selling many Bibles and much other literature and making enough for myself and many of the poor of the church.
In the neighboring cities and villages Saturday was weekly market day. All I had to do was to buy a license, costing about 500 reis (10 cents), and then I had permission to sell my Bibles and literature during the entire day.
About forty miles from the city Pernambuco was a place called Cabo. It was a prosperous little village to which a great many farmers would come from all over the neighborhood to sell their goods. I sold Bibles and books there for four Saturdays in succession and every time I went I would sell every book I had taken with me.
On the fifth Saturday, however, when I reached the place I saw that my steps were being closely watched. As soon as I got my stand on the market place a great crowd of buyers gathered around me. Looking up I saw that the priest was coming with a crowd of his faithful flock and every one was carrying a club. It so happened that the priest was the political boss of the town. An illegitimate son of a rich sugar farmer, with a brother, or rather half brother, in a prominent political position, he had everything in his favor, including judge, justice and all. I realized soon that any stand I took would be useless and to avoid disagreeable handling by a hundred or more fanatical and infuriated men, incited by an all-powerful mulatto priest, I decided to leave the field to him. Gathering up the books that the would-be buyers were then handling I mingled in among the crowd of people, passed on to the other side of my persecutors and took to the sugar cane fields.
I walked for over three hours and finally reached the nearest railroad station, where I took a train back to Pernambuco, which I was glad to reach with my skin unscathed. I may state, however, that my time was not lost, as I sold Bibles all along the road, and arrived home with my satchel empty, as usual.
I very seldom ran away from a persecuting crowd, but there is no valour in resisting a mad crowd of over 100 fanatics led by a good-for-nothing priest. However, the precious seed sown was not lost for it brought forth in its own time abundant fruits, leading many to Christ. Today we have a splendidly organized Baptist Church in that city that is doing excellent work for the Master.
In Prison for the First Time.— Another interesting I experience I had at that time in Pernambuco was at an open-air service. We used to hold those meetings every Sunday afternoon. A good many souls were converted through these efforts.
One of my best helpers was a self-supporting Methodist missionary, the Rev. George B. Nind, a very excellent man of God. He supported himself by teaching music in some of the best schools and colleges. Every Sunday afternoon he would come to our open-air service dressed in his tall hat and Prince Albert coat, and lead the singing of our hymns. One Sunday a group of drunken men came to the open-air service and began provoking this good Methodist brother by striking his tall hat with a switch. He suffered this as long as he possibly could resist. Presently he lost his patience and fell upon the man and tried to drag him to the police station.
The companions of this wretch, however, came to his rescue and a fight ensued which ended in my good brother instead of the ruffian being lead to the police station. I protested and dismissing the meeting went up to the two policemen that were leading my Methodist brother and demanded his release; but they would not pay any attention to what I had to say. Without great difficulty I wrenched the brother out of their hands.
Then, of course, they laid hands on me also and took me to the police station, which was really what I wanted. Our imprisonment caused a great commotion at police headquarters and the Lieutenant-Governor himself came to make apologies and to give us back our freedom. While we were in custody the church was praying and when we were freed we found the hall crowded. The Lord gave us that night many souls. It certainly was a great reward for the little we suffered.
Anxious to Read the Word of God.— Just another illustration about the power of God and the heart-hunger of the Brazilian converts. A poor mail carrier was converted. During his life as a slave, his legs had been hurt and he walked knock-kneed. To deliver the mail he walked a distance of about 75 miles. Soon after his conversion he asked me to teach him to read. He was about 50 years old. "Why do you want to learn to read?" I asked him. He replied, "First, because I want to read with my own eyes the letter of my Father in Heaven; then also, as I walk along the road delivering mail from farm to farm, I should like to be able to deliver my Father's letter to all that do not know him yet."
I bought him a copy of an A B C book and taught him the letters. When he returned from his first trip, a fortnight afterwards, he knew the whole book.
I then gave him a copy of a New Testament, printed in large black type, and taught him how to read and use it. He took it with him and on his return from the next trip he told me of the remarkable things he was able to do. As soon as he reached a farm, especially where he had to stay all night, after delivering the mail, he would sit down in some corner of the kitchen and take out his Testament and stammeringly start reading a verse or so. Soon everybody with eyes and ears open would come and listen and give their comments. Interesting talks would start lasting through a great part of the night.
The seed sown by that good man has brought forth abundant results. Many souls were brought into the kingdom of God through the testimony and labors of this good man of God, who is now enjoying his reward.
Herculano: A Miracle of Grace.— "Lord, have compassion on a poor sinner!" was the continual wail and cry of a big giant of a Brazilian, as he lay rolling on the floor of his adobe cabin, in an agony of tears, touched by the Spirit of God, realizing, for the first time in his life, the awful, sinful state of his soul in the presence of God.
A day before he had climbed the stairs leading to our preaching hall in Pernambuco. I was preaching about the "Blood of Jesus, the Son of God, cleansing from all sin." Herculano had listened with eyes riveted on me. One could easily perceive that never before had such teaching reached his ears nor his hungry heart.
The preaching over, I went to where the newcomer stood, and, as was my custom, inquired as to his appreciation of what he had heard. He expressed himself highly satisfied, and when asked if he would like a visit to his home, where these truths could be gone over with more care and calmness, he readily assented and a meeting was arranged for next day.
Little did I realize, being new in the field, the danger which I would encounter. I was soon informed that the place where this Brazilian was living was one of the most dangerous in Pernambuco—a veritable den of thieves and murderers—which even the police feared to enter alone, and strangers that had ventured there were never heard from again. Imagine my feelings when told about these things; but as I had given my word to meet the man I resolved, after prayer and a renewed consecration of my life to the Master, to go and meet him even at the risk of my life.
At the appointed place and hour I was by the side of this great Hercules of a Brazilian, walking from the street car across a small rickety old bridge made of a few planks, into that dangerous district. People who saw me pass watched with curiosity, and some with pity, imagining the speedy end.
When we reached the small adobe hut, the home of Herculano, everybody inside seemed to disappear, his wife, his children, the dog and the cats—all seemed to fear his presence and fly for their lives.
Nothing had been said as yet concerning religion, and as I was invited to enter the house and to be seated upon an old kerosene box, I could not help but notice the blood-shot eyes and murderous features of him whose home I had entered for the first time.
Realizing my position and that perhaps this was my last opportunity to speak of Christ and His power to save I made up my mind to speak plainly and clearly and, after sitting down on that dirty, old, rickety box, I expressed myself as follows:
"My dear friend, I really do not know who you are and what you intend doing with me. After arranging for our meeting here I was informed of the danger of coming to this place, of the kind of people that live here and of what has happened to many a stranger who ventured into this district. But as I noticed last night your hunger for something better and your desire to learn more about Jesus and his power to save, I resolved to keep my promise and come and tell you these facts even at the risk of my life. Personally, I may tell you, that I am not afraid to die, because my soul is safe and sure in the keeping of Jesus, my Saviour and Lord. I am more concerned about your soul than about my own life."
The countenance of that man can be more easily imagined than described. He turned pale and his big body trembled to such an extent that I feared that something was going to happen to him. He afterwards confessed to me that he was struggling with himself not to fall on me and strangle me—but that something, some invisible power, withheld him and would not let him move.
"Tell me more about Jesus and how he saves," he then exclaimed. "What you spoke about last night in that hall disturbed my sleep. I have been thinking and wondering if what you affirmed last night was really the truth. I never heard anything like it."
In simple, plain language I explained to him the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ: How God gave his only begotten Son to die in our stead on the cruel cross, and how we can obtain a full pardon if we repent and forsake sin, and accept this blessed offer. The words did not seem to reach the heart and mind of the poor man, and I was almost despairing of ever being able to reach him when I bethought myself of calling to my aid the Spirit of God, and, turning to the poor fellow who was sitting and staring in a most helpless condition of despair, I said to him:
"My dear friend, I can perceive that my words do not reach your understanding; let us ask God to make these things plain to you. Now if you really desire to know these blessed truths, let us kneel down and ask God, who is here with us ready to bless you—let us ask Him to pity and save you."
I then slipped to my knees and the big giant who, very likely, had never previously bent his knees before his Maker, knelt down beside me. Then, with a trembling voice, and eyes overflowing with tears, I began pleading with God on behalf of this poor soul.
The answer was not delayed!
Soon I heard a body fall prostrate to the floor and a choked voice, which seemed to come from the bottom of a heart touched by sorrow and despair, pleading for mercy and forgiveness.
"Oh, God! save a poor degraded, miserable lost sinner!" was the piteous, continual, cry of this poor man as he was rolling in agony on the floor.
With tears of repentance, of shame and sorrow, he told of his terrible and miserable life: That he was the hired assassin of one of the most influential politicians of the State; that only a few days before he had returned from the convict island to which he had been sent, sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment, but had been pardoned after seventeen years; and that the day after his arrival on shore he had received orders to do away with a person and had done it.
Herculano, by the power of God, became a new man and a powerful instrument in the Master's Cause. He was afterwards baptized by Dr. W. E. Entzminger. His home became a center of spiritual influences which slowly transformed the whole district, not only into a place of safety, but also prosperity. Every time I went to preach in that district, Herculano would stand by me and none dared to throw a stone at me for fear of the great big giant whose fame was known to all and who, though converted, was still feared by everybody.
In all his difficulties, trials and temptations—and these, after his conversion, seemed to multiply—especially with his own family, who would insult and call him a coward because he had given up making a living by murder—in all these trials he would come to me and open his heart and then both of us would kneel down and put it all into the hands of God, feeling secure in His power.
One day, very early in the morning, while I was in my study, Herculano came in all upset, with his eyes full of blood and his features speaking plainly of murder.
"What is the matter, Herculano? What is troubling you now?"
"Oh, Pastor, I want to kill a man. My heart just tells me to go and kill him," and tears came rolling own his cheeks.
"But why? What has happened, Herculano?" And then he told a pitiful tale of how he had given hospitality to a former companion of his who had just been freed from the prison island and while he was away, very early, and his wife had gone to the market, this criminal had outraged his little daughter, a child of only eight years old.
"Pastor, my heart tells me to go and kill that man ... I know where I can lay my hands on him."
"Let us ask the Lord about it, Herculano," I said. "Let us see what the Lord will tell you to do." With a troubled heart and a bleeding soul in pity and sympathy for the poor father, I laid the whole affair before the Lord, pleading for wisdom and comfort and peace on behalf of this poor brother.
The answer came! We arose from our knees comforted and strengthened. We both went to the chief of police who took the matter in hand and brought the criminal to justice.
Herculano continued firm and faithful to the end. A few days before his death he came again and told me that he had come to say "adeus" for good.
"Why, what is the matter now?"
"Well, you see, pastor, my wife will not look after me and I am going to the hospital to be treated and am sure that I will not come back alive."
"Do not say that," I exclaimed, "you are strong and quite able to survive an operation and we expect a great deal from you yet. Do not be so discouraged. Go and get well, and let us know how you are doing."
Not a word came from him and when a week afterwards I made inquiries I was informed that Herculano had died a few days after his entrance and that up to the last moment he had spoken of Christ and his love and His power to save. To the priest, who wanted him to confess, he replied: "I have already confessed myself to Christ."
What a Stereopticon Slide Did.— It is really remarkable how the Lord uses little things, unthought of incidents, to call people to His truth as well as to greater service. While I was in England I would not listen to any denominational discussion. Even in the seminary, where all kinds of denominational differences were tabooed, but where I was approached several times on the question of baptism, I refused to consider it, thinking that such questions were not necessary to the development of the kingdom of God on earth. I always thought such questions were detrimental to its growth and development.
However, I was not long on the field, and in active service, until I discovered that such questions were vital to the stability and continual growth of the work and that definite positions had to be taken by leaders and workers if they desired to be true guides to the believers and make them firm in the faith once given to the saints.
One of the questions that forced itself upon my attention very early in my work was that of baptism. The Baptists in Rio de Janeiro were very active in propagating their distinctive principles and consequently many of the converts of other evangelical churches were drawn into the Baptist fold. No pastor likes to see his people disturbed and much less led away by divers doctrines. The Apostle teaches us to look out for such and admonish them. Some of the deacons of the church with which I was then working, called my attention to these things and urged me to attack the enemy with all my might. I was editing a monthly paper and I determined to study the question thoroughly and publish an article or tract that would answer all the arguments of those Baptists. As they appealed to the Scriptures for the justification of their belief and conduct I began studying the Scriptures preparatory to answering these arguments.
One incident incited me to do that immediately and that was the loan of a set of slides by the Rev. W. Bagby, the resident Baptist Missionary in Rio Janeiro. Among those slides was one representing Baptism of Jesus by John in the river Jordan. As I threw the slides on the screen I purposely made the following remark:
"You have no doubt heard of spoken lies, and also of written lies, but never perhaps of painted lies; but if you will look upon the picture before you, you will no doubt see one."
This statement was reported to Dr. Bagby and he immediately wrote me a scathing letter which made me angry and more than ever determined to study the question of baptism and proclaim the errors of the Baptists and their evil doings to the whole world.
Discussions and Discoveries.— To say a thing is easy, to do it is quite another, especially when you appeal to the Bible on a question where you discover that you are wrong. The reason why so many do not see the right side of the baptismal question is no doubt because they do not study it from the standpoint of the Bible. I had no other book to examine. Sometimes I did wish that I had studied the question in England and on the other hand I was glad that I had not done so as this gave me an opportunity to study the question at first hand. I took it up very seriously. I knew that the Baptists based their arguments on the Bible and the Bible was the best book to decide this question and so to the Bible I appealed.
It was not long until I discovered that the word "baptism" meant immersion in the Old Testament, as in the case of Naaman who was told to dip himself in the river Jordan (2 Kings 5:14). I found the same word used by the great Hebrew-Greek scholar, Dr. David C. Ginsburg, in his translation of the Greek Testament into the Hebrew tongue. I also remember that in the synagogue where my father often taught and preached existed a baptistry in which I myself and many others had been immersed many a time. That question was soon settled.
The question that troubled me most was the following: Was immersion the only form of baptism? If it was the only form mentioned in the Bible and practiced by the Lord and His disciples, then the position of the Baptists on restricted communion, the great bone of contention against the Baptists, was perfectly justified. This question of various forms of baptism troubled me for a while. I had a good many discussions with several of the brother missionaries, notably with the Rev. George W. Nind, the Methodist missionary stationed in Pernambuco, and with Dr. Z. C. Taylor, the Baptist missionary stationed in Bahia, who while visiting the Pernambuco field, I invited to my rooms. I verily believe that I did not let him have much rest, asking him all sorts of questions until, to obtain some relief, he hastened his return to Bahia.
The result of these studies soon became manifest. I recognized that the Baptists were right in their contention and that I was wrong. I also realized that the converts I had sprinkled in my ignorance had to be taught the right way. As supply pastor in the Pernambuco Evangelical Church I felt that I could not conscientiously continue. Having two candidates to sprinkle my conscience refused to allow me to practice a thing which I began to consider as blasphemous. I was in a very trying position. I was without any society to look after my support and without other friends but those that sent me out from England. To take a position in favour of the Baptists I knew would mean to sever all friendly relations with my good friends in England. Just at that time friends were organizing an interdenominational missionary society in England and Pernambuco was to be the first place to be taken under the wings of that Society. But I considered the following: If for the sake of Jesus I had already left all and yet nothing had failed me, I could be certain that by following the truth as it was taught and practiced by Jesus His favor would continue as before. Blessed be His name, He has never failed me, in spite of great and bitter opposition.
Just in passing let me say this: A great many have thought that I became a Baptist on account of marrying Miss Emma Morton, then missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention. Suffice it to say that my baptism took place in November, 1891, and I married Miss Emma Morton in 1893. When I decided the baptism question I was engaged to be married to a young lady I had left in London, England, who afterwards became my first wife.
Decision and Baptism.— Having decided to throw in my lot with the Baptists I gave notice to the church in Pernambuco informing the brethren as to the reasons that led me to take that step. I had several candidates to baptize the following Sunday, and I asked the Rev. W. C. Porter, a Presbyterian missionary, to perform the ceremony for me. I told the church that I was going to Bahia to be baptized and that I would not return to Pernambuco until the pastor of the church was back from his furlough. I would then visit every candidate I had sprinkled and teach him the right way of being baptized.
When I arrived in Bahia I found that Dr. Taylor was expecting me. Though I had not informed him of my decision he knew, and had told the brethren that they should expect me. He had been praying about me and knew that I would decide aright. In Bahia I also met the newly arrived couple of missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. Entzminger.
Soon after my arrival I informed the missionaries of my conversion to the Baptist position and before the church made my public confession of the faith. I was baptized by dear Dr. Taylor before a great crowd of interested brethren and friends. The following Sunday Drs. Taylor and Entzminger and two native pastors formed a council and I was ordained into the regular Baptist ministry. It was the most memorable day of my life. There were not many present and the congregation was not the most select, but the presence and power of the Spirit of God was there. With a heart full of joy I consecrated myself anew to the task of saving souls for my Master and Lord in the great neglected continent.
New Persecutions, Trials and Victory.— One of the first results of my decision in favor of the Baptists was the enmity of those who were helping me financially and especially of those who were organizing the new interdenominational missionary society for Brazil. The person, however, who seemed to be most upset over the step I had taken was the good sister who paid my passage and outfit to Brazil. But since I had fulfilled my contract, having worked as a self-supporting missionary, she could do nothing more than criticise my step.
I was engaged to a sweet English young lady, a professional nurse, who was completing her training. I had saved sufficient money to send her money for her passage to Brazil, and we were to be united in marriage. She had written to me to expect her on a certain boat, and you can imagine my excitement when the boat finally appeared. I dressed myself in the best I had and having secured an excellent row boat, went to meet the large steamer to welcome my beloved. Imagine my disappointment when I did not find her on board. In my mail I found a letter telling me that she had heard so many contradictory things about the step I had taken and the denomination I had joined that she had hesitated to come until I could explain it all satisfactorily to her.
My answer was brief. I knew more or less from whence the trouble had come and I wrote telling her that if she had no faith in me, but believed in what others had told her about me it would be best for her not to come. I also insisted that if she did not come the next vessel I would take it as an answer that the engagement had been dissolved.
She came, and in due time we were married, and it was not long after that I had the privilege of baptizing her into the same faith and doctrine. Though her life in Brazil was short, very, very short, as she only lived five months after reaching Brazil, dying of the dreadful scourge that then prevailed in Bahia, yellow fever, her sweet spirit, gentle disposition and wonderful missionary enthusiasm helped me marvelously in the beginning of my ministry in Bahia among the Baptists.
Baptizing Those I Had Spinkled.— It was about Easter of 1892 that I returned to Pernambuco to hold a series of meetings with the local Baptist church. The pastor of the Congregational church had not returned but another man was in charge. I was then able to fulfill my promise to visit all those that I had inadvertently sprinkled, thinking that it was what Christ had taught. The Lord was very good to me in that he permitted me to baptize nearly all those that had accepted Christ through my instrumentality. Only one I did not baptize, because he had moved away from Pernambuco and I have not been able to meet him, though I hope to do so yet. This brought me the epithet of "proselyter," though I do not think I deserved it. I have always respected other people's convictions and am ready to condemn those that persecute others for not agreeing with their ideas. But this case was different.
Here were about twenty-five people that I had led to Christ, but had misled on the question of baptism. I considered it my incontestable duty to, at least, explain to them that I had led them into error through ignorance. The fact of their accepting the truth and submitting to be baptized was independent of the question of my discharging my duty in explaining my mistake.
The same thing was repeated in Nictheroy. Several families that I had been instrumental in leading to Christ, as soon as they heard that I had joined the Baptists, began to study the question of baptism in a new light and with an open Bible. Later I had the privilege of visiting that city and it was my great joy to present a good many of them to Dr. W. B. Bagby, who taking advantage of the opportunity, moved to that city and organized the first Baptist Church of Nictheroy.
The experience I had in becoming a Baptist always gives me an opportunity to give a word of testimony concerning why I became a Baptist and perhaps for that very same reason a good many have left the Pedo-baptist ranks and become staunch Baptists. Still that does not mean that I am a "proselyter" unless giving your testimony to the truth is proselyting.
>>Chapter 3 - In Bahia
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from A Wandering Jew in Brazil: An Autobiography of Solomon L. Ginsburg. Nashville, Tenn. Sunday School Board, Southern Baptist Convention, 1922.
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