By L. G. Terry, Evangelist in the Southampton Docks
As the Evangelist in the docks at Southampton, a unique opportunity is mine to place the Scriptures in the hands of all nationalities, classes and creeds. My prayer is that they may be read and become a means in the conversion of many, knowing that they are able “to make . . . wise unto salvation.” Therefore, placing the Word of God in the hands of men and seeking to introduce them to the Lord Jesus Christ, that He might become their Saviour, is my daily task. About 25,000 copies of the Scriptures, including Testaments and Bibles, are distributed on troopships each year, besides the thousands on the merchant ships among the crews; this being made possible by the gifts of the Naval and Military Bible Society, which is a section of the Scripture Gift Mission, to whom I owe a great debt of thanks. Each portion is given with a word to the recipient exalting the Saviourship of our Lord. What a power there lies in that little Book which I see so often placed in the breast-pocket of the battle-dress of our service men and women!
The “Word” Invites. A soldier looks in my case as it lays open on the deck, filled with Bibles and booklets, “I’d like to have a Bible, sir, but I’ve no money” he says. My mind goes to Isaiah 55, “Come and buy — without money and without price.” Could I let him go out to Korea without one,? (Remember, he represents us out there). Well, of course not. I challenge him, “Do you really want one?” “Yes, please,” he says. “Do you believe I’ll give you one?” After a moment’s hesitation he says, “Yes.” The Bible is given to him and the incident used as an illustration of Salvation — Wanting, Believing, Receiving — to the little crowd of chaps that have gathered around.
The “Word” Comforts. A young soldier writes from Korea: “You gave me a Gospel of John and a letter when I left Southampton. I am writing to say what a help and a comfort that little book has been to me.”
The “Word” a Blessing. “I am sitting in my small bivouac, with the rain pelting down,” writes a Christian soldier from Korea. “You may not find the men are very grateful to you as you give them the Scriptures at Southampton; but let me tell you that out here they are read and are a great blessing, many finding salvation through them.”
The “Word” Read. “I have seen some of the most unlikely lads reading the Gospels you gave them. They are seriously disturbed by what might happen out here! We are glad to see this type of lad reading the Word and are praying for them.” (Thank God for Christian soldiers).
The “Word” Appetizes. “I have found a lot of comfort in the “Soldier’s Guide” you gave me, but I treasure the New Testament more than any thing else. I would like to have a complete Bible; could you help me in this?” Needless to say, he had that by return; may he be blessed in reading it.
The “Word” Converts. “While waiting to sail from Southampton you gave me a Gospel and a letter; I have read the letter several times and the Gospel right through. On the thirteenth of this month I asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart and be my Saviour. Since then I have been very, very happy.” This R.A.F. boy is helping the missionaries near his station in the Middle East.
The “Word” a Grand Revelation. “On completing the reading of the New Testament you gave me and my comrades at Southampton, my eyes have been opened as to the real meaning of religion, faith, and the Lord. I can now see the mistakes I made in the past, which could have been avoided had I read the Word. If this letter seems rather mixed up it is because my mind is in a turmoil owing to, what shall I say, a Grand Revelation. I can now see things I never saw before and would like you to know that in my heart the burden of ignorance of the Holy Book has been lifted. I can see what joys I have missed through my ignorance or stupidity. You opened the gates to the sights of life for me and my comrades when you gave us the Scriptures.” This from a Welsh boy in Jamaica’s garrison.
The “Word” Silences. Standing in the cabins and messes of our great liners it is my joy to preach the Word to thousands of our merchant seamen. Men are put to silence and left with nothing to say when the Word is brought to bear on them. As a whole these men are totally ignorant of the Scriptures and great interest is aroused as one seeks to interest them by localizing the Word, using their jobs as illustrations.
In the messroom at dinner-time, it is opportune to meet the crew and chat with them over the meal, and to distribute the “Word.” The S.G.M. booklet “Sound Words” was handed to the carpenter with the remarks, “Some sounds are mere words, and some words are just sound, but here are sound words.” “I’ll have that,” he said, “I am always sounding” — a part of his job is to sound the water-tanks, etc. “Have you ever sounded the depths of God’s love?” I asked. “I’d like a rope long enough to do that,” he said. Then I told him that Faith was a rope of God’s provision, and that he could start today to fathom the depths of that measureless commodity — “The Love of God.”
The “Word” Magnified. All boys going to sea for the first time are given a New Testament, that the Word may work in their young lives and bring them to know Him whom to know is Life Eternal. During 1951 I was privileged to contact many thousands of our service men and women proceeding overseas and give them the Scriptures. Those portions of God’s Word have gone into many countries, and men have been saved through their medium; some of them are helping in mission-stations near their camp. Yes, the Lord has magnified His Word.