The Soul-Winning Work of John Vassar
John Vassar was one of the greatest personal workers of the nineteenth century. He never preached a sermon but that he did personal work. He was a wonder. One time he was going to help a preacher in a town. This preacher met Vassar at the Depot. Walking down to the hotel they went past a blacksmith shop. He said to Vassar, "There's a blacksmith in there. He's got a great drag with his crowd but he never comes to church. If we could only win him, then he would win scores in his class." Vassar asked, "Have you talked to him?" "Oh, we are afraid. He will cuss any preacher who comes near him." He said, "Wait a minute until I take my turn." Vassar went in. The man was shoeing a mule -- that isn't a good time to talk religion to a man, take it from me! But Vassar had good sense and waited until the fellow was through and had disarmed his prejudice. In fifteen minutes he had him on his knees weeping like a child. He went up to the hotel where he was to be entertained . He registered, then strolled around, looking for somebody to speak to. He went into a little reception room and there sat a finely dressed lady. He walked up to her and said, "Lady, are you a Christian?" She said, "Yes, I am." "I beg your pardon," he said, "I didn't mean that kind. I mean, have you been born again?"
"Oh," she said, "we've gotten over that here in Boston." "Well," he said, "lady, you've gotten over Jesus Christ in Boston, too. You've gotten over God." He talked with her until her prejudice was disarmed and tears trickled down her cheeks; then he said, "May I pray for you?" She said, "I wish you would. God knows I need it, although I'm a member of the church."
He prayed. She wept and he slipped out. Her husband came in and noticed that her eyes were red. He said, "Has anybody insulted you?" She said, "The queerest little man was here a little while ago and he talked so nice to me about Jesus." He said, "If I had been here I would have told him to go along and mind his business." She said, "I wish you had been here. You would have thought he was minding his business. His business was a mission for his King, to bring people to Jesus Christ."
Vassar distributed tracts in the army. He worked with the American Bible Society. When the chaplain died, they wanted Vassar to take the place of the chaplain. He wasn't ordained and the government law does not allow anybody to be a chaplain who hasn't been ordained. He came up to Poughkeepsie and they were examining him. One fellow with cinders all over his back, said, "Mr. Vassar, your duty now is to distribute tracts. Your salary is three hundred dollars a year, and you wish to be ordained?"
"Does that mean an increase of salary?"
"Yes, sir, fifteen hundred dollars a year."
Then he said, "The increase of salary has allured you and brought you here for us to ordain."
Vassar said, "Stop where you are! I don't want it; I won't take it if you give it to me", and he wouldn't. He went back to distributing tracts for three hundred dollars a year, to do something for Jesus Christ. He was a wonder. God did marvelous things through him.
"Are you lonesome?" a man asked a lighthouse keeper. "Are you lonesome out on this lonesome spot?" He said, "I was before I saved four men from drowning...Is that a boat out there?" He was always on the lookout for other boats that he might save men from a watery grave.
Get somebody else for Jesus Christ and you will get a new vision of life, a new vision of what it means. It is something besides going to church and keeping warm a little spot seventeen inches square for a half hour and listening to a sermonette. You had better squirm around in your seat and stoop down! You had better duck!
"He that winneth souls is wise." Some people think it is beneath their dignity. Then you live on a higher plane than your Master, for He went about doing good wherever he was in the world.
A lady said to a friend of mine, "Do you think that my blindness will hinder me?" My friend answered, "It is a misfortune, but I don't know. I have the opinion it will be a help to you, because people will come up to you to express their sympathy for your lack of sight and that will give you the opportunity to speak of Jesus."
"Oh," she said, "I don't mean in an effort like that, but to stand on the platform." She thought the only way to serve God was to get in the spotlight, not to be doing something with the people whom she might shake hands with day by day in her home.
A man was thinking of entering evangelistic work. He came to my friend, Dr. Chapman, and said, "I am thinking of entering evangelistic work."
"That's good." Dr. Chapman said.
"I think I will begin out in Colorado -- Denver and Colorado Springs, and out in Pasadena, California. My relatives are there."
My friend said, "Have you any brothers or sisters?"
"Yes, I have."
"Are they Christians?"
"Well," he said, "I don't know. When we set up the estate four years ago my brother and I had a quarrel over it and we haven't spoken since."
"And your sister?"
"My sister took my brother's views of the proposition and she hasn't spoken to me since. I haven't been in her home."
Dr. Chapman said, "What do you intend to do?"
He said, "Evangelistic work."
Dr. Chapman said, "The Bible says, 'First be reconciled to thy brother.' If you start out the way you are, failure is written all over you. 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,' the Bible tells me, so there is no use trying to bother your head about God for He won't listen to you. That's as sure as you live."