Letter to the Editor, The Sun
by John G. Lake
In appearing before the San Diego public at the Egyptian Tent Theatre Sunday, I do not come as a theorist but bring the richness and ripeness of thirty years of strenuous Christian life, such as few in our day have had opportunity to experience. In appealing to God alone and trusting Him only under almost every known circumstance, I have had abundant experience. I relate a few of these for the benefit of your readers.
In 1911, a scientific party was going into the depths of unexplored Africa. I begged to be permitted to accompany the party for the sake of companionship with white men. When in the depth of tropical African forest, the party was stricken with blackwater fever (malaria). Four of the seven died in five days, including the doctor and the surgeon; I was the only member of the party not sick. When it became known the surgeon was dead, the three dying men went into the blackness of despair; all were hopeless. I then told them of my faith in Christ as the Healer as well as Savior of men, and begged them to let me minister to them and to trust Him for themselves as best they were able. I spent two days and three nights in fasting and prayer with them. They were healed, and we finished the trip without remedy or preventative medicine of any kind.
In 1908, a terrible epidemic of African fever struck the Zuitpansberg district. In one month, one-fourth of the entire population, both black and white, died. I was then in Zuitpansberg. In riding from home to home among the isolated Dutch Boers (farmers), I found on the fourth day of the epidemic, women dead in bed by their husbands and vice versa; children two and three in a bed, sometimes two dead; the whole family stricken, no one able to assist another.
I then rode seventy-five miles over the mountains to the neatest telegraph station and reported the situation to Louis Botha, then Premier of the Transvall. He wired me to remain on the job and represent the government until relieved and that forty ox wagons would leave Pretoria at four am with supplies. An ox wagon has from sixteen to forty-eight oxen attached. When the situation at my missionary headquarters became known, four Europeans volunteered to come and assist me. I buried all four in three weeks and was left alone to do what I could. The government had reached us with medical assistance and a proper organization was set up. In this epidemic, I saw thousands healed through prayer only, both white and black. In this service, the Transvall Parliament gave me a vote of thanks.
I not only believe in healing of disease but believe that, through faith in God, we can be tendered virtually immune from disease and contagion.
In 1912, an epidemic of smallpox ran riot among the isolated Matabele natives; tens of thousands died. We were six hundred miles from civilization. Natives in this district wear no clothes. Imagine trying to lift a big, helpless native from a mat on the hut floor when his naked body is covered with eruptions that would burst under your hands and by the pressure on your body as you carried him about. Do it all day, and imagine the state of your clothes by night, when your overalls and jumper would be soaked through with smallpox pus. Then, having no change of clothes, you went to the nearest creek and washed them out as best you could and walked about in your birth clothes till they dried; then next day you did it over.
I have lived with and prayed for thousands of African lepers and, in all my African experience, never contracted disease or carried contagion to my family. It is because of such experiences as the above that I say I do not come to the people of San Diego with untried theories, but out of the strenuous past draw the lessons of faith in God that make life to him who has [been] hidden in Christ glorious and give to the soul of man the divine mastery.