William Edwin Robert Sangster – Cockney Convert

This is the day that … William Edwin Robert Sangster was born “on a blazing hot” day in 1900 … in London. (The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church spells it Edwyn … but both biographers, including his son, spell it Edwin!).

His parents attended the Church of England, but young William found the Radnor Street Wesleyan Chapel more to his liking. 10 year-old William was led to the place of conversion by Mr Wimpory, curator of the Chapel and a church officer at Radnor Street.

At the age of 16 he set eyes upon Margaret Conway, and fell in love. At 17 he became a local preacher.

At 18 he joined the Queen’s Royal Regiment – “nightly he prayed by his bunk while army boots were hurled at him…” (page 13). And he led a prayer and Bible study group with a few other soldiers. In Germany a Methodist chaplain called upon him – “had a walk and a talk and went away again…” Sangster, one biographer tells us, forgot about this meeting until a letter arrived informing him “that he had been accepted for the Methodist ministry”! (Sangster of Westminster, page 14).

So when the army days were over he entered Handsworth College …

His first sermon (before other theological students – a terrifying ordeal) was a disaster. “The delivery was spoiled by a Cockney accent so strong that it was almost comic” (page 16). So young Sangster worked hard at voice production.

He was ordained on 27 July, 1926 … and married his Margaret on 12 August the same year.

After some smaller parishes he followed Dr Leslie Weatherhead to Leeds Methodist Church. Paul Sangster, in his biography of his father, speaks of the many differences between the two pulpiteers – but, he says, they were “one in the fundamentals” (page 111). Anyone familiar with Weatherhead’s outrageous liberal theology must therefore wonder what Sangster really believed!

From Leeds he moved to Westminster Central Hall (where he followed Dinsdale Young, who was an evangelical!) … he was appointed President of the Methodist Conference … and wrote a strong defence of Wesley’s Christian Perfection doctrine, The Path to Perfection. Likewise volumes on the art of preaching and books of sermons came from his able pen. He shared platforms with Billy Graham, Alan Redpath, Lindsay Glegg, Tom Rees and George Duncan … evangelicals all.

But in December, 1957, the first symptoms of muscular atrophy appeared … the cause of his slow lingering death over the next two and a half years. When he died – on 24 May, 1960 (Wesley Day) – “he had not spoken a clear word for over a year.”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

David Zeisberger – Missionary to Red Indians

This is the day that … David Zeisberger was married – at the age of 60 – to Miss Susan Lecron, at the suggestion of the Moravian Mission Board. It was in 1781.

For the previous 40 years he had devoted his life to preaching of the Gospel among Red Indians. “He had made himself so truly their brother than they adopted him into their tribe and gave him the Indian name of Thaneraquechta …” (Torchbearers of the Faith, by A. Smellie, page 227).

Zeisberger’s translation of the Scriptures into the Iroquois language is described as “outstanding”. He pressed on with his work, despite being continually harassed by the French/Indian war, and the American Revolution. There are stories of massacres and imprisonment and hardship enough to daunt the most valiant of souls. Zeisberger persevered.

During a Moravian synod meeting the strong suggestion was made that David take himself a wife, which he did. He then returned to his Red Indians with the Gospel.

During the Revolutionary War, “The wrath of the British was directed mainly against Zeisberger… He and two fellow missionaries were arrested as spies. Practically starved, they appeared before the governor to defend themselves against vile and unjust accusations” (Early Missionary Endeavours Among the American Indians, by J. Mueller, page 92). Eventually Zeisberger was free to lead his Christian Indians across the border into Canada, where there was freedom – and “where the Moravian testimony continued for many generations”.

He died on 17 November, 1808, saying: “The Saviour is near; He will come and take me home…” He departed this life at the age of 87, over 60 years of which was spent in missionary service.

“No other Protestant missionary exercised more real influence, and was more sincerely honoured among the Indians, and none … excelled him in the frequency and hardship of his journeys through the wilderness” (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia, page 2570).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Willam Carey – Desperate for Missions

This is the day that … William Carey preached his “deathless sermon”, as it is described by his biographer, S. Pearce Carey.

It was 1792, and the place was Nottingham, England.

At 10.00 a.m. the young cobbler/pastor from Leicester rose to address the small group.  His text was Isaiah 54:2,3:  “Lengthen thy cords … strengthen thy stakes …” and then rang out a fervent plea for missions. The two key thoughts he drew from that passage are: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

One who was present tells us that Carey “was in an agony of distress” as he became spokesman for the perishing multitudes in heathendom.

As the ministers “once more quenched the Spirit” at the meeting’s close and began to leave, Carey grasped the arm of Andrew Fuller and cried:  “Is there nothing again going to be done, sir?”

“This”, writes S. Pearce Carey, “was a creative moment in the history of Christ’s Kingdom.  Deep called unto deep.  Fuller trembled an instant under that importunity, gesture and heartbreak, and then his soul was stabbed awake and the Holy Spirit flooded his spirit” (page 84).

With Fuller’s ‘inspired strength’ behind Carey’s vision, things began to move.

Before long the Baptist Missionary Society was born, and Carey himself was on his way to India.

While Count Zinzendorf’s Moravian community can be identified as an earlier missionary movement than Carey’s it is true that William Carey carried the burden of Missions like no-one before him. It was an obsession for him, which accounts for his passionate preaching.

Despite the ugliest of obstacles Carey got himself to India and pursued 41 years of missionary service. His wife’s insanity was but one of the crosses he had to bear. He had died to this world and spent himself in service of heaven.

Hyman Appelman – little jew with a big Jesus

This is the day that … Hyman Jedediah Appelman was ordained, in 1930.

This remarkable evangelist began life in White Russia on 7 January, 1902, born to an Orthodox Jewish family.  He was reared in the Jewish faith, emigrated with his family to America in 1914, became an outstanding scholar at various schools and universities and eventually (in 1921) was licensed to practise law.

During a holiday in Kansas City a newspaper reporter named Daly witnessed to him concerning the claims of Christ.  The next morning a Mr Garrett invited him to church – the first Protestant service he had ever attended.

It was later that year – now in Denver, Colorado – that Appelman was directed to Dr James Davis of the Central Christian Church.  There the 23 year-old Jew found his Messiah, was baptised the following Sunday, and sent a wire home to his family telling them the news.  His family disowned him, the Jewish law firm dismissed him, and his fiancée broke off their engagement. His father said to him, “When your sides come together from hunger, and you come crawling to my door, I will throw you a crust of bread as I would any other dog.”

But Hyman Appelman never faltered in his new-found faith.  He joined the United States Army, joined the Baptist denomination, and began preaching.

Shortly after his ordination by the Southern Baptists, he married Verna Cook (on 4 September, 1930), and commenced a remarkable evangelistic ministry that took him around the world, including Australia … in 1948. Just as the highly educated Apostle Paul laboured ‘more abundantly’, so too did this modern Jewish convert. It was hard to find a day when he was not ministering. He averaged two weeks at home out of a year.

Appelman looked directly to the Holy Spirit for his enabling. “The all-pervading, all-controlling, all-achieving Holy Spirit is the only Source of power. It is not in our schools, not in our churches, not in our organizations. It is not in our separation, not in our busyness, not in our attractions. It is not in our programs. It is solely the Holy Spirit who gives this power to do exploits for God, to promote the interests of God’s kingdom, to overcome Satan, to win the lost. There is no separating of spiritual power from the Holy Spirit. It is not power; it is the Holy Spirit. You cannot have power without the Holy Spirit. You cannot have the Holy Spirit without being flooded by Heaven’s power.”

Time Magazine once reported: Overflow crowds jammed Detroit’s Convention Hall to hear a sensational evangelist, Dr. Hyman Appelman, who calls himself “the little Jew with a big Jesus.”

This Russian-born Jewish American Baptist died in 1983.

Sir Robert Anderson

This is the day that … Sir Robert Anderson was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1841.

It was at the age of 19 that he saw a change in one of his sisters … she had been converted at a revival meeting nearby.  “I cherished the thought,” he wrote, “that the next Sunday services in the kirk might bring me blessing.” It was at the evening service that Dr John Hall made the gospel plain.  “His sermon thrilled me,” wrote Robert Anderson later.  “Yet I deemed his doctrine unscriptural, so I waylaid him as he left the vestry and on our homeward walk tackled him about his ‘heresies’…”

There on the pavement that night the minister challenged him “to accept Christ or reject Him.”  To which Robert replied:  “In God’s name I will accept Christ.”   He could say, “I turned homeward with the peace of God filling my heart” (Sir Robert Anderson, by his son, page 19).

He threw in his lot with the Brethren, becoming a well-known author.  Some of his books deal with prophecy, some cross swords with the growing influence of modernistic (liberal) theology, and some, like The Lord from Heaven, are richly devotional.  His volume, The Coming Prince, (published in 1882), is a study of the Antichrist, and helped to popularise the dispensational interpretation of Scripture.

Having studied law and criminology, in 1888 he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, and Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland Yard.  It was the same year that ‘Jack the Ripper’ began his orgy of death.

A curious problem presented itself when I read Stephen Knights’ assertion that Sir Robert Anderson “was well advanced on the Masonic ladder” (Jack the Ripper, pages 178-179;  Sun Newspaper, 3 August, 1976).  And the implication was made that Anderson “covered up” Jack the Ripper’s obvious Masonic connections!

But in a recent volume, Inside the Brotherhood, by Martin Short, there is documented evidence (he gives the references) that Sir Robert was not a Freemason!  (page 41).

The biography of Sir Robert Anderson written by his son makes it abundantly clear that he was a Christ-exalting child of God who would have had no time for the Christ-excluding Masonic Lodge.

He died on 15 November, 1918.