Born into the home of a pastor, Levi was given over to the Lord as a baby to one day be a minister of the Gospel. As a teenager, Levi made a public profession of faith and joined his church. But it wasn’t until he was in college that he began to feel the true weight of his sins. He was a member of the Pious Club and a well respected member of the college. But inside his heart, it was a different story:
I walked in thick darkness; surely it was the darkness of the shadow of death. I read the promises to the penitent but could not apply them to myself. There was nothing in the Bible to heal my wounded spirit. How readily would I have given the world were it in my possession for that peace which God giveth to his children? At a meeting on Saturday evening I rose to speak but could not proceed. “O pray for me” was all I could say. After meeting my friends said, “you must resign yourself to God” but, in my view, I could no more do it than I could move the globe. Every effort was struggling against God, every prayer was the service of the lips, not of the heart. I went backward and forward on the right hand and on the left but could not find him. I retired for rest but my thoughts on awful subjects roll “Condemnation and dead.” I slept a few moments, but it was the sleep of sorrow. I awoke to experience the bitterness of despair.
For two long weeks, Levi lived with this agony, this feeling of hypocrisy. One Sunday morning, a day Levi described as “the happiest of my life”, everything changed:
After prayers in the chapel, I took my Bible and retired to a grove west of the college. I recollect distinctly the impression on my mind while I walked to the grove, that it was the last attempt. If unsuccessful now, I can do no more. This passage of scripture was fixed in mind, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself”. My past abused privileges, my unholy prayers, my opposition to a holy God, were set in array before me and I saw the wickedness of my whole life as clearly as I saw the sun which shone upon me…At this moment, I was directed to Jesus as an all-sufficient Saviour. Then my heart acquiesced in his atonement and in his dealings with such a vile sinner as I saw myself to be and my soul reposed itself on the arm of everlasting love. I felt the chain break. O it was the bondage of sin. I opened the Bible and read these words, “For this cause I bow my knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It will never be in my power to give an adequate description of my feelings in view of this passage. There was a beauty, majesty, and sweetness in it which are indescribable. I dwelt upon it until my heart was in a flame of love for Jesus.
This young man, now a new creature, would go on to help open Palestine to the Gospel and to serve as “the first Protestant missionary in that city of sacred memories”, Jerusalem.
On this day in 1876, P.T. Crawford, a missionary in China wrote a letter from Tung Chow, China. A friend back in America has asked for an autobiography from Crawford. Crawford politely responded that he was too busy to write, but gave the man a brief summary of his life and summarized his work as follows:
We have aided in establishing churches in China; have preached the gospel to millions of people; taught many youths of both sexes; made and distributed many books — all we have done and suffered for the cause of God, during these twenty-five years, can never be told. What remains for us in the future is known only to God, our Heavenly Father, to whom we have consecrated our entire lives
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