How the Lord Sent Me to South Africa
John G. Lake
I planned to go to Africa as a boy. I looked forward to it through my young manhood.
Shortly after my baptism in the Holy Spirit, a working of the Spirit commenced in me that seemed to have for its purpose the revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ to me and in me.
Through this guardianship and remolding of the spirit, a great tenderness for mankind was awakened in my soul. I saw mankind through new eyes. They seemed to me as wandering in the midst of confusion, having strayed far, groping and wandering hither and thither. They had no definite aim and did not seem to understand what the difficulty was, or how to return to God.
The desire to proclaim the message of Christ and to demonstrate His power to save and bless grew in my soul, until my life was swayed by this overwhelming passion.
However, my heart was divided. I could not follow successfully the ordinary pursuits of life and business. When a man came into my office, though I knew that twenty or thirty minutes of concentration on the business at hand would possibly net me thousands of dollars, I could not discuss business with him.
By a new power of discernment I could see his soul and understand his inner life and motives. I recognized him as one of these wandering sheep and longed with an overwhelming desire to help him find God and find himself.
This division in my soul between business interests and the desire to help men find God became intense. In many instances what should have been a successful business interview and the closing of a great business transaction ended in a prayer meeting. I would invite the individual to kneel with me while I poured out my heart to God on his behalf.
I determined to discuss the matter with the president of my company and frankly told him the condition of soul I found myself in and its cause.
He kindly replied: "You have worked hard, Lake. You need a change. Take a vacation for three months. If you want to preach, preach. But at the end of the three months, $50,000 a year will look like a lot of money to you, and you will have little desire to sacrifice it for dreams of religious possibilities."
I thanked him, accepted an invitation to join a brother in evangelistic work, and left the office, never to return.
During those three months I preached every day to large congregations, saw a multitude of people saved from their sins and healed of their diseases, and hundreds of them baptized in the Holy Ghost. At the end of the three months, I said to God: "I am through forever with everything in life but the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
I disposed of my estate, distributed my funds in it manner I believed to be for the best interests of the Kingdom of God, made myself wholly dependent upon God for the support of myself and family, and abandoned myself to the preaching of Jesus.
While ministering in a city in northern Illinois, the chore boy at the hotel where we were staying asked for help in sawing down a large tree. I volunteered to assist him. As we sawed the tree, the "spirit of the Lord spoke within my spirit clearly and distinctly: "Go to Indianapolis. Prepare for a winter campaign. Get a large hall. In the spring you will go to Africa."
It all came to pass. It is power. Power is manifest in many ways. There is the power of faith which draws to you what seems impossible.
I returned to the hotel and told my wife of the incident. She said: "I knew several days ago that your work here was done, for as I prayed the Spirit said to me, 'Your husband is going on.' "
I went to Indianapolis and the Lord directed in a marvelous way. In a few days I had secured a large hall and began conducting services, as He had directed.
One day during the following February (after I had been preaching some time), my preaching partner said to me, "John, how much will it cost to take our party to Johannesburg, South Africa?"
I replied, "Two thousand dollars.
"Well, if we are going to Africa in the spring, it is time that you and I were praying for the money."
"Tom, I have been praying for the money ever since New Year's. I have not heard from the Lord or from anyone else concerning it.
"Never mind. Let's pray again.”
We went to Tom's room and knelt down by his bed in prayer.
After some time he slapped me on the back, saying, "Don't pray anymore, John. Jesus told me just now that He would send us that two thousand dollars, and it would be here in four days."
Four days later Tom returned from the post office and threw out upon the table four $500 drafts, saying, "John, there is the answer. Jesus has sent it. We are going to Africa."
The gift of money had been sent to Tom by a friend with a letter. The letter read, "I was standing in the bank at Monrovia, California, and something said to me, 'Send Tom Hezmalhaltz two thousand dollars.' It is yours, Tom, for whatever purpose God has shown you."
I never knew who wrote the letter, as he desired that no one else know.
We went straight out and purchased the tickets for the entire party to travel from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Johannesburg, South Africa. There were twelve of us my family of eight and four others.
We had our tickets to Africa, but there would be many other expenses en route. I had only $1.50 in hand.
As our train pulled out of the station at Indianapolis, a young man who had worked as my secretary ran alongside the train and threw a two dollar bill through the window. That gave us a total of $3.50.
A young lady, who had been one of our workers, was traveling with us as far as Detroit, Michigan. I needed $10 to buy her a ticket to northern Michigan.
As we rode along, I said to my wife, "Jen, when we reach Detroit, I will need $10 for Winnie's railway ticket; but I have no money." So we bowed our heads and prayed.
We always followed this practice concerning our needs. We never told anyone what our needs were, but we always told the Lord.
When we arrived in Detroit, my brother and married sister were there to meet us and with them was my younger brother, Jim.
As I stepped off the train, Jim took me by the arm and walked across the station with me. Then he said, "Jack, I hope you won't be mad, but I would like to give you this, " and he pulled out of his wallet a ten dollar bill and slipped it into my vest pocket.
I thanked him, turned about, and went to purchase Winnie's ticket.
I still had $3.50. We purchased some canned beans and other edibles which we used on the train a route to St. Johns, New Brunswick.
When we finally arrived at the ship for Liverpool, I had $1.25 left. On board I gave 50 cents to the table steward and 50 cents to the bedroom steward. When we reached England, I still had 25 cents.
We remained five days in Liverpool at the expense of the transportation company, waiting for the second ship.
One day Mrs. Lake said to me, "What about our Laundry?”
I replied, "Send it down. I have no money, but perhaps the Lord will meet us before we need to get it." Being very busy, I forgot about it entirely.
On the last night of our stay in Liverpool, just after I had retired about midnight, my wife said, How about the laundry?"
I replied, "I'm sorry, but I forgot it."
"Just like a man! Now I'll tell you about it. I knew you didn't have any money, neither did I. So I prayed about it. After praying, I felt that I should go down to the laundry and inquire what the amount of the bill was. It was $1.65. As I was returning to the hotel, I passed a gentleman on the street. He said,
'Pardon me, but I feel I should give you this.' He handed me a number of coins. I returned to the laundry, counted it out to the laundry man, and found it was just the amount of the bill."
We rejoiced in this little evidence of God's presence with us.
The next morning we left by train for London and that evening boarded our ship for South Africa.
At that time, I had an English shilling. When our ship stopped at Madeira, one of the Canary Islands, I purchased a shilling's worth of fruit for the children and the last penny was gone.
Through my knowledge of the immigration laws of South Africa, I knew that before we would be permitted to land, I must show the immigration inspector that I possessed at least $125. We prayed earnestly over this matter. About the time we reached the Equator, a rest came into my soul concerning it, and I could pray no more.
About eight or ten days later we arrived in Cape Town harbor, and our ship anchored. The immigration inspector came on board and the passengers lined up at the purser's office to present their money and receive their tickets to land.
My wife said, "What are you going to do?"
"I am going to line up with the rest. We have obeyed God this far. It is now up to the Lord."
As I stood in line, awaiting my chance to explain our dilemma, a fellow passenger suddenly tapped me upon the shoulder and indicated that I step out of the line and walk over to the ship's rail to speak with him. He asked me some questions, then he drew from his pocket a traveler's checkbook. He handed me two money orders totaling 42 pounds sterling, or $200.
He said, "I feel led to give this to help your work."
Johannesburg is 1000 miles inland from Cape Town. Throughout the voyage we earnestly prayed about the subject of a home. As faith missionaries, we had neither a Board nor friends behind us to furnish money. We were dependent upon God. Many times during the trip to Johannesburg, we bowed our heads and reminded God that when we arrived there we would need a home.
Upon our arrival, as we stepped ashore, observed a little woman bustling up, whom I instantly recognized to be an American. She stepped up to Tom and said, "You are a American missionary party?" He replied, "Yes."
"How many are there in your party?"
"No," she said, "you are not the family. Is there any other?" He said, "Yes. Mr. Lake."
Turning to me, she said, "How many are in your, family?" I answered, "My wife, myself, and seven children only." "Oh," she said, "you are the family."
"What is it, madam?"
"While in prayer last night, God told me to meet, this boat, and there would be upon it an American missionary with a family of nine, consisting of two adults and seven children, and that I was to give them a home."
At 3 o'clock that same afternoon, we were in a furnished cottage in Johannesburg. God had provided the home for us.
Our beloved benefactor was an American missionary, Mrs. C. L. Good enough. She remained our beloved friend and fellow worker in the Lord.
And that is how we got to Africa.