Holding a Church in a Saloon

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
When I first began to work for God in Chicago, a Boston business man was converted there and stayed three months. When leaving he said to me that there was a man living on such a street in whom he was very much interested, and whose boy was in the high school. This boy said that he had two brothers and a little sister who didn’t go anywhere to Sunday School, be­cause their parents would not let them. This gentleman said, “I wish you would go round and see them.”
I went, and I found that the parents lived in a drink­ing saloon, and that the father kept the bar. I stepped up to him and told him what I wanted, and he said he would rather have his sons become drunkards and his daughter a harlot than have them go to our schools. It looked pretty dark, and he was very bitter to me, but I went a second time, thinking that I might catch him in a better humor. He ordered me out again. I went a third time and found him in better humor. He said, “You are talking too much about the Bible. I will tell you what I will do; if you teach them something reasonable, like Paine’s Age of Reason, they may go.”
Then I talked further to him, and finally he said, “If you will read Paine’s book, I will read the New Testament.”
Well, to get hold of him I promised, and he got the best of the bargain. We exchanged books, and that gave me a chance to call again and talk with that family.
One day he said, “Young man, you have talked so much about church, now you can have a church down here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why, I will invite some friends, and you can come down here and preach to them; not that I believe a word you say, but I do it to see if it will do us chaps any good.”
“Very well,” I said; “now let us have it distinctly understood that we are to have a certain definite time.”
He told me to come at 11 o’clock, saying, “I want you to understand that you are not to do all the preaching.”
“How is that?”
“I shall want to talk some, and also my friends.”
I said, “Supposing we have it understood that you are to have forty-five minutes and I fifteen; is that fair?”
He thought that was fair. He was to have the first forty-five, and I the last fifteen minutes. I went down, and the saloonkeeper wasn’t there. I thought perhaps he had backed out, but I found the reason was that he had found that his saloon was not large enough to hold all his friends, and he had gone to a neighbor’s, whither I went and found two rooms filled. There were atheists, infidels and scoffers there. I had taken a little boy with me, thinking he might aid me. The moment I got in they plied me with all sorts of questions, but I said I hadn’t come to hold any discussion; that they had been discussing for years and had reached no conclusion. They took up the forty-five minutes of time talking, and the result was there were no two who could agree.
Then came my turn. I said, “We always open our meetings with prayer; let us pray.” I prayed, and thought perhaps someone else would pray before I got through. After I finished the little boy prayed. I wish you could have heard him. He prayed to God to have mercy upon those men who were talking so against His beloved Son. His voice sounded more like an angel’s than a human voice. After we got up, I was going to speak, but there was not a dry eye in the assembly. One after another went out, and the old man I had been after for months — and sometimes it looked pretty dark — came and, putting his hands on my shoulder with tears stream­ing down his face, said, “Mr. Moody, you can have my children go to your Sunday School.”
The next Sunday they came, and after a few months the oldest boy, a promising young man then in the high school, came upon the platform. With his chin quiv­ering and the tears in his eyes he said, “I wish to ask these people to pray for me; I want to become a Christian.”
God heard and answered our prayers for him. In all my acquaintances I don’t know of a man whom it seemed more hopeless to reach. I believe if we lay ourselves out for the work there is not a man but can be reached and saved. I don’t care who he is, if we go in the name of our Master, and persevere until we succeed, it will not be long before Christ will bless us, no matter how hard their heart is. “We shall reap if we faint not.”