Rev. Percy B. Crawford, M.A., D.D. President, The King’s College, Briarcliff Manor, New York
My dad was a blacksmith who ruled his home with an iron hand (or rather, a rawhide whip!) When one of us did not appear in church, he would march us to the basement and flog us with that whip. Down in my heart, there was revolt. I thought, “You just wait! Some day I’ll grow up and show you what I’ll do with your dry religion!” Yet I went to church and Sunday school, and even received a Bible for regular attendance.
From the time I was seven years old, I sold newspapers on the street corner in the mornings and after school. We needed the money. The time finally came when I had to leave school to go to work.
I got a job driving a delivery truck. At the end of the first week I went home with a total of $23.50 for my pay. I thought I was a millionaire, and that my chance had come, so I waited until Mother was by herself in the kitchen, handed her some money, and said: “Mother, I’ll give you ten dollars a week for my room and board, and if you don’t mind, I’ll do what I want about church.” For a long time I was not seen around church.
A rebellion against my parents began. They forbid me to smoke, so I smoked. “Don’t let us catch you in a pool hall,” said the folks, so I started to play pool and gamble. They warned me never to go into a dance hall, so I took dancing lessons. Many a night I got home so late that I had to climb a pole to my bed on the back porch so no one would know what time I got in.
I was in revolt. I did not want religion; I wanted something with life and pep. I wanted a good time.
I was in my teens when I left home and drifted around the Pacific Coast. In Portland, Oregon, I worked my way through high school and then went down to Los Angeles. All this time I was in rebellion against God. Although I was not interested in Him, He was interested in me. Although I had forgotten Him, He had not for-gotten me.
I traveled to Los Angeles by boat and as I walked down Broadway, with my two suitcases, not knowing where to go, I met two young women with whom I had been dancing on the trip. “Haven’t you a room yet?” they asked. “Why not try the Bible Institute? They have a hotel for men and one for women.” A Bible Institute surely did not appeal to me, but they persuaded me to try. Setting my two suitcases down in the lobby, I walked over to the desk and asked for a room. The clerk looked at me and said, “Young man, are you a Christian?” Well, I had not come to be interviewed, and besides, I was no heathen, and since I thought I was a good deal better than many Christians I knew, I said yes. I thought because I had not killed anyone, or held up any banks, I was entitled to call my-self a Christian. He said he could accommodate me for only a few days, since the students would be coming in. It was Thursday.
That night I went to a dance; Friday, I went to a party; Saturday, I went to the Cinderella Roof Dance Hall. On Sunday morning I thought it would be nice to go to church to keep up the spiritual side of my life, as well as the social. It was a large church, seating over four thousand, and I knew no one would know me. I sat fairly near the door, just in case I did not like the preacher. The service started, and did that man preach! I never heard anything like it in all my life. I was accustomed to a nice, sweet, soothing voice, poetry and book reviews, and I could sleep well under those conditions, but there was no sleep for me that morning!
William P. Nicholson, the speaker, preached on hell and heaven and sin, and told me Christ was the One I needed. He seemed to pick me out of that huge congregation, and speak directly to me. God knew I was at the crisis, the crossroads, and that I was either going one hundred per cent for the devil or for Jesus Christ. At the close, when the invitation was given, I raised my hand and took it down quickly for fear someone would see me. They sang a hymn and asked those who raised their hands to come forward. But I would not. However, a converted Jew put his arm around me and walked with me to the front. That was September 23, 1923. What a joy the Lord Jesus has been to me ever since!
That is why I am a preacher. That is why I seek to train young men and women at The King’s College, that they might be leaders. That is why I travel forty thousand miles a year preaching. I long that other young men and women, fellows and girls, may not let anything keep them away from the Son of God.
Will you right now say, “Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe Thou canst save me; I’ll now accept Thee?” I guarantee that He will do for you what He has done for me.
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