G. C. Bevington, Remarkable Miracles Through Prayer And Faith
Now to my starting point. You see my name is Bevington, and that was my father’s and mother’s name. I suppose that is why I have carried that long name more than seventy-four years. My father was a Methodist preacher, and they said he was a “rattler” too. I have been told that he made men’s hair stand straight on their heads. He was especially led to preach on Hell. He preached to the Indians in Wyandotte County, Ohio, and the adjoining counties; and built log churches and school-houses. This was all before I made my appearance in this arena. When I came on the scene, he was filling the place of a backslider, carrying on blacksmithing, wagon-making and carpentering at Little Sandusky, Ohio. He had backslidden over a barrel of soap; so you see that Satan can use most anything to get a preacher to backslide. But mother held on to her God and had prayer with us children, all of which had much to do in after life, in our finding God and keeping Him. The most beautiful features of her life were never seen until she was gone; then they seemed to stand out on every corner or crossroads as sign boards pointing in the right direction.
Now, you may wonder how father came to backslide over a barrel of soap, for it was over it and not in it. Had he gotten into it, especially headfirst, there might be some logical conclusion as to how he backslid. Father, as I stated, built churches and schoolhouses where the people were too poor to do so, and took pledges from them as payments on the church; such as meat, corn, wheat, potatoes, etc., and one man promised him a barrel of soap. Of course, father expected the soap, but the man never delivered it.
Father, soon after that, settled in Little Sandusky, seven miles from Upper Sandusky, in Wyandotte County, Ohio, and so did this member who had promised him the soap. Well, father preached there, and when this matter had run as long as he thought it ought to, be demanded that this man be put out of the church, as he was a liar, as he called him. He concluded that if the man was not fit for Heaven, he was not fit to be a member of his church. But he was then a good paying member and the class leader, so they voted with quite a majority to let him remain. So father handed in his resignation and never went into the church again; and of course he backslid.
But our home was a preachers’ home as long as the preachers did as they agreed. When they came there, I suppose every one said, “Well, he is an old friend of mine, and I will go and get him back into the church.” I well remember being in the shop one time when the preacher who was conducting the quarterly meeting Saturday and over Sunday came up there to draw father over to the church. He was using quite tempting bait, as it seemed to me; but finally father got tired of it, and said, “This whole. thing reminds me of an incident which occurred when I was a boy.
We had a neighbor, a farmer, who had three sons and two daughters, all married but one, and he was considered quite foolish. He never went to school. After the father and mother were laid beneath the sod, these children concluded to divide the property and the stock. Jim was so weak-minded that they thought they could easily dupe him, especially on the stock line. They had a lot of sheep, and, as usual, quite a number of poor, bony, scrawny old ones; and they said, ‘Now
Jim has that pet sheep of his that he has raised, and of course would not part with it; so let us take all the poor sheep and put them in a pen and put his pet with them, and then put the others in pens, and tell Jim to go ahead and take his choice.’ They supposed, of course, that he would take the pen his pet sheep was in.
So Jim went out and looked at them all, and the last pen was the one where his pet was. As he looked over the fence, and saw his dear pet in there, he said, ‘Mickey, we have been together for three years eating out of the same dish, drinking out of the same pond, and sleeping in the same bed. We have had many good times together; but, Mickey, you have gotten in such bad company that we will have to part.’ So Jim selected a pen of the choicest sheep.” Father said, “That is the condition here — bad company, and we can’t fellowship. We part as Jim and Mickey did.” How father would laugh as he told us that, and they never got him back in that church nor in any other, though I hope that he got back to the Lord. So you see Satan has pretty reasonable excuses, viewed from a backslider’s angle. The only hope for me is to keep in the middle of the road, and never backslide; then Satan can’t get such a hold.
Now, back again. I was born quite unhealthy, and never went to school until I was ten years old. I had a disease that baffled all physicians. Father, having a drug store in connection with his other work, had studied medicine some, and concluded to take me out to an uncle who lived in Indiana, and had a tamarack swamp. The chewing of that tamarack gum would cure me. So mother fixed me up, when I was thirteen years of age, and I went out there, and chewed and chewed that gum, and, sure enough, it cured me in less than a year. Then I got strong and hearty.
Father had a rule that I considered quite unreasonable, as boys often think that they know more than their parents. I got so strong that I said that I would fool him. He will never come that racket on me, that he has come on the older boys, I thought, so I foolishly ran off from my uncle’s, and went into Michigan.
Now comes the point that has led me to write this part, as mother’s life and her family prayers had made an indelible impression on me, and I could not get away from it. On Sunday morning, Christmas, fifty-nine years ago, I started down the pike at 11:30 p. m., to walk to Kindleville, Indiana, a distance of some fifteen or twenty miles. The snow was nearly knee deep, and I had a pair of overalls and one shirt, wrapped up in an old-fashioned colored handkerchief, which constituted my wardrobe and suit case. I had washed sheep the spring before, for a neighbor, and received $1.25 for it, and had kept that even over the Fourth of July and all fall and winter.
I arrived at Kindleville about daylight, and found that a train was going to Elkhart shortly. I purchased a ticket for Elkhart, and arrived there about 8:00 a. m., hungry as a bear. I slipped into an alley to see how much money I had, and found that I had forty-five cents. I had to go a little slow, as I had then sixteen miles to go to Edwardsburg, and then twelve miles to Cassopolis; but I must have something to eat. I went into a grocery, and got some bologna and cheese. I will never forget what a picture I presented with a hunk of cheese in one hand and a piece of bologna in the other, and my suit case under my arm. There I was stalking down the principal street of Elkhart, the largest town I had ever been in and oh, the sights in the windows, and the busy folks running here and there, were all so new to me that I would find myself standing, gaping after sights, chewing my cheese and bologna, holding fast to them, a laughable sight to the passerby.
Finally, I was accosted by a “Hello Bub”. That was the name someone called me out at my Uncle’s. My name Guy was hard to remember, so Bub was the name that I mostly went by; and now I was terribly frightened to hear that name. I never stopped to see who called it, but struck out, up the street, on a run, supposing that some one had gotten on my track and followed me that far, to take me back. I ran like a trooper; but the man holloed, and said, “I won’t hurt you,” and came after me, and with the help of some others he got me headed off and rounded up, with the cheese and bologna and suit case, and finally got me to go back with him, after convincing me that he never saw nor heard of me before. He saw that I was cold and, no doubt, hungry, and wanted to take me into his home as he saw that I was a stranger to the sights in Elkhart. I went through a hall away back, and into the kitchen where the good wife was eating breakfast. He said, “Oh, Mamma, here is our boy. I just found him.” And she came over and too k off my cap and brushed my hair and even kissed me. Well, that kiss, as I had not had one since I left home a year before, broke me all up; but I was so bashful and shy that I could not show any appreciation of her motherly affection.
I could not stand it to be in that strange house, though she had relieved me of my cheese and bologna and red suit case, and both had tried to relieve me of the embarrassment under which they saw I was suffering. She had me eat a good breakfast, and then I spied the wood box as being about empty, and asked permission to fill it, anxious to get out from under that terrible strain; so he showed me the wood house.
I sawed and split wood until they came out and asked me to come in for lunch about 9:00 a. m. But I never could go into that nice fine kitchen, and sit down to their nice table, as I was a perfect stranger, so I began to beg off, to present excuses, as people did of old. Pretty soon the man holloed, “Oh, Mary.” I wondered who Mary was, and soon I saw bounding and laughing and smiling, a rosy-cheeked, plump girl about my size and age, and she just took hold of me and hugged me and kissed me, and said, “You will come in, for we all love you.” She soon got me started, but I was wondering what in the world had made them love me, as no one but mother had ever used that expression, and I knew that she was not my mother. But I stumbled in and ducked in, being finally persuaded by Mary, who said, “Now I am your sister, and you are my brother; now come on and sit down right here by me, and Mamma will give us some fine buckwheat cakes and maple syrup.” Well, the cakes and Mary were quite inviting; but, oh, if I only had the cakes and syrup out in the wood house! But, no, here I was, and what could I do? Such fine linen was on the table, and silverware, forks and knives — something we had never seen or heard of. Somehow I managed to eat some as Mary cut it up for me, and was so nice; but I was suffering untold agony, as boys these days are farther advanced at eight years than I was at fifteen. As soon as I could, I got up, but not till I had blundered out what mother had taught me, “Excuse me.”
I went out to the wood house and brought up wood until I had piled it away up in the box. Then I saw that the water bucket was empty, and I filled that and the tea kettle. Now, all this mother had drilled into me, and I have always found it to be so helpful, as in a few years that I have been out in the work I have gotten into homes, to hold meetings, that others could not get into, just because I would chop up some wood and carry water and help some. They let me in for the work I would do, and that gave me a chance to preach the Gospel to them, that they had never heard, as they had been brought up on the “meetin’ house crumbs” and had never had a square meal given to them. It pays to be prepared for most anything to win the people.
Well, back to this home again, as I want you to see what a praying mother can do, though my mother did not know at this time but what I was at my uncle’s, as any boy should have been. Her prayers were not confined to Noble County, Indiana, but to me, and that meant wherever I was. Glory to God! I am sure that they leaped the bounds of that home with my uncle, and followed me closely every step I took, as you will see and be convinced that God hears a mother’s prayer. Amen and amen! Oh! how I praise God for a praying mother!
I kept on sawing wood all day, and had many thoughts. I had not told them who I was, nor where I had came from. They had tried every conceivable scheme to find out; but I just would not tell, as I was afraid it was a scheme to get me back to my uncle’s. When evening came, I was pretty homesick, and was intending to crawl in back of the large cook stove, and curl down for a nap; but soon in bounded Mary from school, and the first thing she cried, “Oh, where is my brother, my twin brother, where is he?” She soon grabbed me by the shoes and pulled me out of there, and out into the yard to play ball. When supper was called, I mustered up courage to go in without so much persuasion; but as soon as supper was over, I was in behind the stove again. As soon as the dishes were washed, here came Mary taking me by the feet, and getting me out again; and the first thing I knew I was in the parlor, singing with her some of the good old Sunday School songs that mother had taught me, and soon I was crying. Mary soon discovered that, and changed tactics on me and got me interested in a picture book. Then about the next thing I realized, she had pumped me entirely dry — had gotten my first and last name, and where I had come from, and where my people lived.
That man, then, though not a Christian, wanted me to go back to my uncle; but I refused. First, because I was afraid to go back; secondly, because I had no money to go back. He said, “Maybe you do not have money enough to take you there. I will give you money enough, and you need never pay it back.” But I persistently refused, though I wanted to go home, but I was too proud to do so. He then said that he would give me a ticket to Upper Sandusky, within seven miles of my home, but I said, “No.”
Well, I stayed all night, and in the morning I saw that the wood box and the water bucket were full. The man came in and said, “Mamma, we need just such a boy. Let us try to get him to stay with us.” So they made many propositions. He said, “All you will need to do is to sweep out my room, and clean a few glasses each morning, and build the fire, and look after the wood and water, and go to school and share equally with Mary.” He said, “We lost our only boy just a year ago, a twin to Mary; and Mary says that you are to take his place as you are much like him. We have all fallen in love with you; and as Mary is the only child, when Mamma and I are gone, all our property will be yours and Mary’s. We have a farm in the country, and just came into town to give our children a better education. When Mary graduates, we expect to return to the farm. But whatever we do, you shall share equally with Mary.” Well, that appealed to me wonderfully, as that would give me an education, and prevent me from being under the galling yoke, as I looked at home discipline through my carnal and young eyes.
I split wood that day; and as Mary came out on her way to school, and kissed me, she said, “You will be my brother, won’t you, as I need a brother to go to school with me?” I tell you that went farther than my chin. But there was one thing that seemed to bother me, and that was the washing of those glasses. What could that mean? By and by, the man came out and called me in to dinner. Going in I met Mary at the door, and she clasped me by the hand, and said, “Oh, my brother, my brother.” She made me feel considerably like I was her brother — but those glasses, what did that mean? After we had eaten our dinner and Mary had gone to school, the whole thing was gone over again, preparatory to the clinching. I said, “You spoke about washing some glasses and sweeping out your room. What is all this?”
There was a silence that could be felt even by an inexperienced boy. Finally, the man raised his head to speak, but seemed to be hesitating. He was going through a struggle that I could not diagnose, and his wife soon spoke up, and said, “Guy, he doesn’t like to mention the business he is in. He has a saloon in front, and we are all ashamed of it, even he is; but he is in it, and it seems that he cannot get out of it without losing all that he has put into it.” So then he rallied, and said, “Yes, Guy, we wanted to give the children a better chance than they could get out on the farm, and so we moved. As times were dull, I could not get any work. I was idle and hunting work about eight months, and the only thing that I could find was this saloon. The man wanted to sell out, and offered it at a great bargain; and, not fully realizing all that was involved in the business, I finally bought him out. We have been here three years, and neither of my children has ever been in the saloon, though it is right in front of us here. Neither has my wife been in there.”
Well, now comes what is involved in a mother that knows and does what is right. When I left home to go to my uncle, she called me to her, and took me between her limbs, raised my chin as I was on my knees, and said, “Now, Guy, you are going away from home, away from your mother’s personal care. I want you to promise your mother this one thing. Will you promise it? “What is it, mother? ” Tears were falling because of the near departure from my mother. “Well, Guy, do you believe your mother would ask you to do a thing that you could not do or that would hurt you?” That was a stunner. I said, “No, but what is it?” — a child’s curiosity. Finally I said, “Yes, I will do what you ask.” Then she said, “I want you to promise never to go into a saloon.” “Oh, well,” I said, “that is nothing. I am glad it is nothing harder than that.” I placed but little stress on her request at that time, for I had never been in a saloon, and supposed of course that I never would be. So I thought that I was let off remarkably easy. But as time went on, I soon saw that mother had a broader vision than I had.
Now I told these people what mother had made me promise. He jumped, threw his arms around me, and said, “God bless that mother of yours. You give me her name, and I will write to her and tell her that I have her boy, and will tell her of the proposition I made you, and how you refused as a result of her covenant with you. I will adopt you if your parents will give their consent, and you need never go into the saloon, as we will soon be out anyway. You stay here and do the other chores, and go to school with Mary, and be my boy until we hear from your mother and father.
But don’t you know I was afraid of that saloon, as I saw then that there must be some danger in it, or mother would never have singled that out for me at that time. However, I persisted then in going up into Michigan
Now I am coming to the lesson. The man said, “If you are determined to go, as it is so cold, a friend of mine that is going to Edwardsburg will take you in the morning in his bobsleigh.” After breakfast, the precious Mary kissed me good-bye, as tears rolled down her cheeks. I never saw her after that. I got in the sleigh, all covered up. I had no overcoat or overshoes; but an overcoat was handed to me, and a pair of rubbers, and some underclothing, wrapped up, that I did not know was for me, and a basket of provisions also. “When you get to E_____ , go in and eat at the hotel,” they said. We arrived all O. K., and I went into a room that proved to be the office of a hotel; and the man who brought me asked the privilege of my sitting in behind the stove to eat my dinner. So I slipped in out of sight, and took the lid off the basket, and there I saw a five dollar bill. I said, “They got that in there by mistake.” When the gent came out from his dinner, I said, “They got this bill in here by mistake, so you p lease take it back.” But he said, “No, that is from Mary; I saw her put it in. That is what she intended to put into a pair of furs this week; but she said that she would and could go without the furs, so this is yours.” I just broke down there, and cried behind that stove. He, seeing me crying, said, “Would you like to go back? If so, I will take you back, and charge you nothing.” (I learned that he was running a hack, but my fare was paid by the saloon keeper.) But I said, “No, I will go on to_____.”
Now comes the main thing of my whole life, which prompted me to relate all this, as this book is to be on the results of prayer. I started on a twelve mile walk, and had more to carry. The longing to be with mother, and the meditation on the kindness and the remarkable proposition made at that kind home, and the lovely Mary, as a prospective sister, as I had a sister at home, only two years younger — all of these combined to get me in a mixed up state and had woven a web around my heart, that seemed to about engulf me.
I lifted up my head, and saw a large tree just several rods off from the road. I went up there, and under that tree I thought I would say, “Now I lay me.” I thought that would lift me out of the despondency that seemed to settle down on me like a dark heavy cloud. I started in on “Now I lay,” as that was the only prayer I had ever undertaken to say; and I being not quite fourteen years old, supposed that was all that was necessary. But I was under that tree nearly two hours. I believe I offered the best prayer there that I ever offered, for I just got to really praying, and got lost in prayer. I don’t know what all I prayed; but I well remember that as I progressed in this prayer that the clouds began to break, and it seemed that I was being lifted up on a plane to which I had been an entire stranger. But I remember saying, “O God, just lead me to a religious home where they pray as mother did, where they read the Bible and they pray as mother did.” I got very happy, and rose from under that tree most wonderfully blessed. I believe that I was then regenerated; but not knowing what regeneration is, and being so young, I was kept, by Satan, from realizing that this was conversion. I do not remember all that I asked or promised, but have ever since believed that all was included that was required for my regeneration. I just ran down the road, and holloed and laughed and jumped and cried; I had never experienced such inward rapture. I ran for hours under that mighty something that made me feel as I never had felt.
Not supposing it to be regeneration, of course I never testified to it, but it was such a marked experience in my life that it stuck to me for years, and in fact I never did get entirely away from under its influence. I look back to that tree with great reverence. I had said under that tree, “Lord, if you will take me to a religious home, I will serve you the best I know how,” supposing I had to be older to get salvation. I ought to have known better than that, as I was sure that mother never left that impression. But Satan is always well on his job, and knows just where to get in his diabolical work. He cheated me out of what God had just given me.
While I was at my uncle’s, a niece of his spent several months there. She was from Michigan, and was a friend of my uncle’s old schoolmate whom he had not seen or heard of for years. They talked much about Mr. N_____, who was a wealthy farmer in Michigan. I was aiming to reach him and tell him of my uncle. I got to S_____ about 5:00 p. m., and inquired the way to Mr. N_____’s, and was directed. It was about four miles. Off I went, and traveled until I was sure that I had walked about four miles, and yet had seen no sign as I was told would appear.
Finally about 8:30 p. m., I met a man on his bobs, and asked him how far it was to Brush-ridge Schoolhouse. He said, “My dear boy, you are twelve or fourteen miles from there.” “No,” I said, “they said it was only four miles from S_____,” He said, “Yes”; but I had gotten on the wrong road back there at the lake. I was now ten miles from the lake; and if I went back to S_____, it would be fourteen miles I had walked. He asked me to go with him, and stay all night, as he lived only five miles from where I wanted to go. But, I had some of that same old fear in me, that some trap was being set to take me back to uncle’s (guilty). That bell, as Brother Kulp calls it, in our inner being, conscience, would keep ringing.
The man said that it was only about seven miles across. As the moon shone brightly on the snow, he put me on the fence and got his bearings, and sighted me through by some trees that stood so he could make a line straight to the place. That dear old man worked with me over an hour trying to get me to understand the trick of keeping the line by following certain trees. So I got to understand his principle, and started; but, oh, what a time, as the snow was drifted over the fences and I went down three times, away over my head, and had a terrible time digging out. Then I had to go back on my track and get my line. I trudged along, going through those drifts; a crust was formed, but I broke through occasionally.
Finally, I got out just where I was headed for. There was the mansion just in sight, and it was larger, I guess, than any building I had ever seen in the country. It was all lit up, three stories, I wondered what could be going on at that time in the morning. But I ventured up, and saw no signs of anything to indicate that my bashfulness should cause me any fear. Planking my suit case down at the gate, I cautiously ventured up to the porch. I heard unusual noises for that time of the night, and there I stood hungry as a bear, but trembling from head to foot. Oh, how I dreaded to knock at the door; but I must not stand there, as someone might come out, and I might be branded as a sneak. Stepping up to knock, I broke down, and slipped off the porch and started back to C_____. But I said, “Well, having gone to all this trouble, I had better return. Maybe someone is sick.” With that argument, much in my favor, I slipped upon the porch; and for fear that I would back out, I plunged right to the door, and rapped . Some one said, “Come in,” so I opened the door, and saw a great big fat man, who looked so good and fatherly that I felt quite at home. He said, “Good morning, Bub;” and that big bell was ringing again. He said, “Take that chair, Bub.” So I was confronted with a great big stove, and it was so nice and hot that I cuddled up to it, and said, “I am from Uncle Dave Voorhees, in Indiana.” Well, he brightened up and was so pleased to hear from his old school chum.
His wife came in, and he said, “Mamma, bring this boy something out to eat.” I was as hungry as a bear, being too stingy to break the five dollar bill that Mary had slipped into the basket the morning before. I said nothing, but sat there trembling, saying to myself, “If those folks don’t come down, I’ll eat something;” but I had a terrible fear of that noise which I could hear through all parts of the house. Finally Mrs. N_____ had a nice steaming meal, and oh, so tempting, all hot — mashed potatoes, rich mince pie, and such tempting cake. This was all put on a little stand, with a nice white cloth; and, oh, the food was so inviting, so appealing to my stomach. I was watching it as well as all the doors. The man said, “Bub” (there it was again, Bub) “come now, and sit up and have something to eat.” I buckled up courage, and was just going to eat, when there swung open a large door, and out they marched — a lady and a gentleman. Oh, such fine clothes! The lady’s dress had a long silken train, and the man had such long coat tails, and everyone had flowers. I had my head pretty nearly between my knees and was as close to that stove as I dared to get; and they all stared at me when they passed through, until I felt like a whipped dog.
Trembling fearfully when they all got out, I said, “Well, I must be going.” “Going!” said Uncle N_____, “where are you going?” I answered, “To C_____.” He told me to sit down and eat something and then go to bed. He said that I looked tired, and needed a good night’s rest, and that if I had to go to C_____, the boys would take me in the morning. “Whom do you know at C_____? ” he asked. I answered, “No one.” “Well then,” he said, “you sit up here.” But don’t you know that I was so completely scared out at the wonderful beauty and display and style and fixings, that I could not stay and walked out and started down to C_____, four miles; and, oh, so hungry and tired! By and by, about 4:00 a. m., I arrived at C_____. There I was, but the girl who had been at my uncle’s lived nine miles from there. So I started for that place.
God was on my track, and though I had made what seemed terrible blunders, yet I believe all was in accordance with His will, in order that He might answer the prayer that I made under the tree, the day before. While I was trudging down the sidewalk, all covered with snow, I soon heard some sleigh bells. I stopped and listened. What could that mean at that time of the day? Soon the sleigh overtook me, and the man said, ” Good morning, Bub.” (There was that name again.) He asked where I was going. “Going to D_____.” “What are you going there for?” “To get work,” I answered. “Well, you are a pretty small boy to be out hunting work this time of the year — and morning.” “You come here, and get in my bob, and go home with me, and then if you want to go to D_____, I will help you.” Somehow I felt my fear and timidity leaving under the soft, mellow voice and the entreaties of this man. He drove up to the walk, and I jumped in with my suit case. We had only a mile to drive.
The man took me up to the well lighted and warm kitchen, and there a sweet faced woman was sitting waiting for her husband who had been in South Bend, Indiana, with a load of black walnuts for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. That was why he was getting home at that hour of the morning. He said, “Well, Em, here is our boy.” She jumped up and took hold of my hands, and rubbed them, and kissed me. She got some hot water, and washed me, and then set me down to a well-filled table. She hauled out one dish after another from the warm oven, and set them on the table, steaming. Oh, I will never forget her motherly actions toward me that morning, and that fine table so temptingly spread, and how I did wade into those fine delicacies! It seemed that I had lost all of my bashfulness.
But I must not fail to tell you of the blessing that the man asked as we sat down to that table. He thanked God for sparing his life, allowing no accident on the trip; for getting so much money for his load; and, last but not least, for picking a little boy, and, oh, he just talked to Jesus there until he had me crying. As he said “Amen,” his wife took her clean apron, and wiped the tears all away, and kissed me again, and said, “There now, have some of this nice fried chicken and some of these warm mashed potatoes and some of this gravy; and she soon had me so hypnotized that I just ate and ate. After breakfast he took down the well-worn Bible, and read the fourteenth chapter of John. I was so wonderfully impressed that I investigated as to where it was, and that chapter has been a great blessing to me, and I have preached holiness as a second work of grace, from that notable chapter, until many have been brought into the sanctifying grace through it.
So you see, here is the answer to my prayer that I offered under that tree, as God had brought me into a religious home, and the home of a staunch Methodist at that — the same as I had been brought up in. Soon I gave God my heart in such a way that I knew I had salvation.