For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. -- Hebrews 4:12, KJV
John Wengatz thoroughly believed in the power of the Word of God, and often gave out copies of the Gospel of Matthew -- and the Lord did many things with those small books. One of Wengatz's missionaries encountered a young man named Buta. Buta had just finished his military service as a soldier and was retiring as an officer. He had learned to read and write during his military service, and when a missionary gave him the small, red book (the Gospel of Matthew) he was delighted at a chance to use his reading skills.
John Wengatz was an American missionary to Angola, arriving there with his wife in 1910 to start their work.
At their first "official" outreach service to a tribe that had never heard the Gospel before, John Wengatz and his wife Susan saw something truly amazing: during this open air service, the people were reacting powerfully, weeping, crying, and prostrating themselves on the ground .... all calling upon Jesus to forgive their sins. However, Wengatz was not used to such emotional reactions and in his naivete encouraged them to avoid such open expressions of emotion. The result? It killed the service. The locals all sat calmly, paying close attention to the speaker, and didn't move a muscle when the altar call was made. They no longer felt the freedom to reach out to the Lord.
The Nightingale of Sweden
Jenny Lind was an incredibly talented Swedish singer nicknamed the "Swedish Nightingale." She visited Manhattan not long after the cholera epidemic had come to an end. Tickets to her performance were being sold by the none other than P.T. Barnum, and were in such demand he resorted to auctioning them off to the highest bidder. Crowds went wild for Ms. Lind, and if anyone had the right to be a true diva, it was Ms. Lind.
However, she did something quite interesting during her New York tour. Jenny Lind made a surprise stop and the New York Institute for the Blind. There she gave a free performance to the students, and here is what struck me as the most fascinating aspect of this appearance; she allowed the sight-impaired students to come to her and feel her face. That is about the most un-diva like behavior I could imagine.
After facing so much illness and death, Fanny became increasingly considered over the state of her own soul. She had been so busy learning, teaching, lobbying, and nursing that she had forgotten something very important: Fanny realized that she did not have a true love for God in her heart.
Education Made Available
When Fanny was 15, she was given a scholarship to the New York Institution for the Blind in Manhattan. The government of New York decided to give a scholarship to one blind child from every county in the state so they could get an education and learn a trade. This was to be a dream come true for young Fanny!
Many of you may have heard of the blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby. She remains one of the most prolific hymn writers in American history. Even if you don't spend much time listening to classic hymns, I suspect you have heard of "Blessed Assurance," which was based on her personal testimony.
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.