The Personal Side of Mr. Alexander

by George T. B. Davis

At this point it will be interesting to look back over Mr. Alexander's career and mark those influences which have been most potent in giving him such a world-wide influence, and in winning for him the devoted love of tens of thousands of people all over the globe.

First and foremost among these influences I would put his absolute belief in answered prayer. He believes that God answers prayer in even the minutest details of daily life as firmly as he believes in his own existence. It has been my privilege to be associated with him most intimately for several months, and I have come to see that his faith is ideal in that it is ingrained into every fibre of his soul and shows itself constantly in his every-day thought and conversation. He believes in asking God for temporal as well as for spiritual things, having never forgotten the lesson of the suit of clothes given in direct answer to prayer. One day at the dinner table, in speaking of the romance of his marriage, he declared that nothing was now too wonderful for him to believe.

A second distinguishing characteristic of Mr. Alexander's life is his passion for personal work. He declares that for more than two years after he became a Gospel singer he was content to merely lead the congregation in singing, and did little or nothing in personal dealing with the unsaved in his gatherings. But gradually his eyes were opened to his mistake, and when once he began to do personal work he went into it with his whole heart and soul. It is one of the most beautiful things about Mr. Alexander's life that he is willing and eager to learn from anyone high or low with whom he comes in contact. For five years he had with him a boy named Fred, who looked after his baggage and after the Gospel tents he used in America. Fred was an inveterate personal worker, and during his five years with Mr. Alexander he led 1,200 persons definitely to Christ by this method. Largely through the example and inspiration of Fred, Mr. Alexander was led into the light on this subject, and to-day he is not content until everyone with whom he comes in contact is engaged in this most effective form of Christian work.

A third quality which has given Mr. Alexander the affection wherever he has gone is his unfailing sympathy, courtesy, and kindliness. He is never too busy to speak to anybody, no matter how humble. Frequently after a great meeting where thousands of people have been present, he is surrounded by scores of people, all eager to have a few words with him, and I have often been astonished, as well as delighted, to see how he takes time to greet each one cordially and to turn a sympathetic ear to their words. After the evening meetings he is almost invariably one of the last to leave the hall. Often the lights of the building are turned out while he is still in conversation, giving kindly advice or leading the other to Christ. His wife is no less enthusiastic and energetic than himself, and she also frequently talks on in the darkness with some girl or woman, endeavouring to lead her into the light and liberty of Christ.

A fourth quality that endears Mr. Alexander to everyone with whom he comes in contact is his buoyancy and cheeriness under all circumstances. His radiant smile has become famous, but his ardent spirits among his best friends are less generally known. I well remember how one night a world-famous journalist was greatly puzzled by the amazing vitality and energy of Mr. Alexander, and at his buoyancy at the end of a long and arduous day's work.

Another source of Mr. Alexander's power is his desire to be helpful to everybody. He wants to give a blessing to everyone possible, either by personal contact or through Gospel song or through the printed page. As Mr. Alexander told me in various interviews the beautiful incidents in the foregoing pages I was deeply impressed with his desire to tell the narratives so that they might "be helpful" to the readers. It was this thought of helpfulness that led him, years ago, to take Second-Timothy-two-fifteen as a year-text, and then to urge everybody—thousands, everywhere he went—to take it also. It was this thought again that led him to put it on the outside of every letter he wrote, so that the mail distributors on the railroad trains, and the postmasters in the little country post offices might get a blessing from the unusual sight of a text of Scripture on a letter. It is this thought that still leads him to write 2 Tim. 2:15 beneath his name almost every time he signs a letter, and in a wonderful manner God has blessed his desire to "be helpful" with this text, for it has encircled the globe and brought a blessing to hundreds of thousands of people of divers races and languages.

It was again the thought of helpfulness that led Mr. Alexander to search for a song that would be caught up and sung by everybody, and when he had found what he was in search of in the "Glory Song" to set all the resources of his genius to work to make it the most popular song of the day. Again God marvellously blessed his efforts, for it not only "set Australia on fire," but has captivated all Great Britain and bids fair to capture America as well. Once more it was the thought of helpfulness that led him to utilise the remarkable little card bearing the four words "Get Right with God." At his own expense he started the plan and showed how it could be made a mighty agent in soul-winning, and he has since had the joy of seeing millions of the little cards printed, and of knowing that hundreds and doubtless thousands have been led to Christ through its agency.

I cannot close this sketch without giving the reader a glimpse at another side of Mr. Alexander's character—his humourous side. He has a seemingly inexhaustible store of anecdotes, any one of which will set a group of listeners roaring with laughter. In the home circle he is constantly uttering some droll phrase or telling some apt story which affords needed relaxation after the strain of revival meetings. In reproducing the peculiar tones and soft rolling laughter of the Negro of the South land, he is inimitable. His stories of Negro life are often as pointed as they are humourous. For example, one evening at a dinner party the Gospel singer related the following and while his hearers were still laughing he drove home the application:

"I meet people all over the world who think that they can continue in sin and still be in communion with God. There was an old coloured woman who had that idea, and expressed it in a rude way which fits thousands of cultured people in other ways. Old Eliza had stolen two of her white neighbour's geese, and had taken them home, turned a tub upside down over them, and slipped them under her bed. She purposed feeding them until they would be in good condition to eat. She did not know that her white neighbour knew of the theft. About this time a coloured preacher was holding a protracted meeting in the little Negro meeting house near by. Eliza went down one day and she thought she had received a great blessing from the Lord. She started back home shouting and clapping her hands. The white neighbour saw her coming down the road, and said to a friend, 'There comes the old hypocrite 'Lize down the road shouting and clapping her hands. I'll just go out and fix her as she comes by my front gate.' She went down and waited till 'Lize got just opposite her, then she called out: ''Lize, you old hypocrite, what do you mean by going down to that meeting and claiming to get a blessing from the Lord, and come along down the road shouting this way, when you know that you have got two of my geese in a tub under your bed this very minute?' 'Lize replied, 'Law' bless yo' soul, missis, d'you tink dat I'se agwine ter let a li'l ting like two geese stan' between me an' my blessed Lawd? No, sah, you'se mistaken ef yo' tink dat!' and she went on shouting down the road."

Of the countless benefits derived from a ten-months' study of the revival movement led by Dr. Torrey and Mr. Alexander, two of the most practical were these: the undertaking of personal work; and the formation of a prayer-list.

Would that one had the power to lay hold of every reader and tell with a tongue of fire the duty and the beauty of personal work. It is the Christ method, and it is the only way the world will ever be saved. Making it a rule for months to speak to someone daily about becoming a Christian and urging their acceptance of Him if they are not already His followers has proven a wonderful blessing. In this final word, may the writer not urge every person who reads these lines to make the matter a subject of prayer, and to ask God to show the path of duty in this regard?

Everywhere Dr. Torrey goes he asks the Christian people to make out a Prayer-List. The form he suggests is as follows:

"God helping me I will pray daily and work persistently for the salvation of the following persons:"
1.........................................................................................
2..........................................................................................
3..........................................................................................
4..........................................................................................
5..........................................................................................
6..........................................................................................
7..........................................................................................
8..........................................................................................
9..........................................................................................
10..........................................................................................

If a group of Christian people in any community will join together in this way to pray and work for the unsaved, and will pray daily for the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit in their church, a revival is sure to be the glorious outcome.

From Torrey and Alexander: the Study of a World-wide Revival... by George T. B. Davis. New York: Fleming H. Revell, ©1905.


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