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    Chapter 3—Turning Toward Chicago

    During all those early years in Battle creek, Dr. Kellogg had been interested in helpful work for humanity in Chicago. He thought we ought not to be content to merely have a sort of sanitarium heaven up in Battle Creek, but we ought to be sharing some of our great opportunities with the poor in Chicago, and for some years a great work was carried on. By and by like all such work, it went through the early stage of enthusiasm and then there came a time when it began to wane and enthusiasm evaporated out of it. W. S. Sadler, who had charge of this work at that time, came up to Battle Creek to see about getting a lot of young people to come down and put new life into it. As Dr. Kellogg was in Europe that summer and I was practically acting superintendent, it became my duty to take some responsibility about the matter and I called the Board together and told them that I thought it was just the thing to do. Mr. Sadler said he did not want the trained nurses; he thought most of them were too backslidden to love the needy people in Chicago; he wanted members of the new class of nurses who had been there only a few weeks, to come down to work in the homes of the people.FF 30.1

    Unfortunately the Sanitarium Board did not see much light in it; they said some of the young people would probably go to the devil down in Chicago, but I thought it would do them good to get into direct contact with the needs of humanity. I was so determined on having these young people go down there that I would not listen to anything else. By and by one member of the Board said, “Dr. Paulson is pretty worn out; he needs a vacation. Suppose we arrange to let Dr. and Mrs. Paulson go down with these young people.” We left the next day; left our little cottage we had just rented at Lake Goguac, and brought with us forty of these young people, to bury ourselves in the heart of Chicago’s most needy district.FF 31.1

    The proposition was that we should be self-supporting, so we had to rustle for everything except our room rent. A large building on the corner of Twentieth and Wabash had already been leased and was being used as a headquarters for our work.FF 31.2

    I got the students together before we left Rattle Creek, and told them, “Now we have to support ourselves after we arrive there,” and we only accepted those who felt a call from God in their hearts. I had never been in Chicago over night before. Brother Sadler was there, but of course, he could not support forty young people. None of them were nurses, but I said to them after I arrived in Chicago, “Maybe some of you could nurse some cases. The Lord will help you to find the right kind of jobs.” We appointed one of our number, Mrs. Allison, who had been sent with us from Battle Creek, to help look after the class, to take care of the money we could earn, and we threw all our money into her lap. I suppose that would pass for socialism, but of their own accord, the class voted to have, as far as their earnings were concerned, “all things in common,” and truly we can say that the same sweet spirit that prompted the early disciples to this decision, hovered over this class in a wonderful measure.FF 32.1

    Whenever a group of people anywhere get the spirit in their hearts that these young people had, it will work satisfactorily as long as that spirit abides in the soul. When that vanishes, then the plan of saving everything in common also vanishes. That is something some of the social reformers have not taken into consideration.FF 33.1

    I told the folks to spend a day thinking about getting work, and praying about it, and the next day we called them together and there were fifteen of those girls said they would like to nurse. Then I said we would have to pray for fifteen jobs. You can believe what I am telling you or not, but there are forty people alive who know what I am saying to be true. The next thirty-six hours there were just fifteen calls came in over the telephone for just that kind of nurses; they did not want a trained nurse. For instance, an old woman had broken her leg and her son could not stay home to take care of her, etc. I placed those girls out and they earned enough to support all the rest of us if we had not done anything. It seemed to me it was a divine certificate that we were on the right track, and that it pays to launch out into the deep.FF 33.2

    Then the class was asked to seek God for wisdom to lead them into the various channels such as the Life Boat mission work, holding cottage meetings, selling the Life Boat magazine, doing gospel work in the jails, Workingmen’s Home, etc., where they would be able to do and receive the most good, with, of course, the understanding that as they acquired an experience in one line they would take up other lines, so as to get an all-round experience while there. We spent an hour every morning holding an experience meeting and giving instruction on methods of work. These were precious occasions.FF 34.1

    A few months later we were hard up for a stenographer. I have observed that most stenographers want to be well paid, and of course, we had no money to hire an expensive stenographer, so I said to Brother Sadler one day, “Suppose we ask the Lord to send us a stenographer?” So we made it our business to pray for a stenographer. A couple of days after that, a poor, shabby-looking English fellow edged his way into my office and said:FF 34.2

    “Are you Dr. Paulson?”FF 35.1

    “Yes.”FF 35.2

    “Would you do anything for a poor fellow?” “Yes, what do you want?”FF 35.3

    “I want a job.”FF 35.4

    “What can you do?”FF 35.5

    “I am a stenographer, sir.”FF 35.6

    I am bound to say I did not expect my prayer for a stenographer to be answered in just that kind of a package, and when that fellow shambled into my office in ragged clothes—a typical looking bum, it was hard for me to think he came in answer to my prayer. I did not know what to say, but replied:FF 35.7

    “I have been praying for a stenographer.”FF 35.8

    He said, “I have been praying for a job.”FF 35.9

    Without stopping to think, I said a wonderfully sensible thing then: I said, “I think you and I ought to thank the Lord we met.”FF 35.10

    He said, “All right, sir.”FF 35.11

    I got down and thanked the Lord that this young fellow who could do stenographic work had come, and he thanked the Lord he had found a job.FF 35.12

    I took him to Brother Sadler to try him out, and he eyed him up and down suspiciously and took him downstairs. By and by he came back and said:FF 36.1

    “Say, if that fellow can write out what I have just given him, he is a wonder.” Pretty soon he came back again and said, “Upon my word, here it is, every word just as I gave it.”FF 36.2

    I said, “You know you and I prayed for a stenographer. You didn't expect the Lord to send a second rate or third rate stenographer when He answered our prayers, did you?”FF 36.3

    And Brother Sadler said, “Well, that’s so.”FF 36.4

    The main thing in a stenographer is to be able to take things down and transcribe them; it is not a question of being on dress parade. He was a queer freak; he would get sore-headed sometimes, and one time I remember he did not like to take down my talk so he sat back there when I was giving an important talk and did not take it down at all. I went to him afterwards and said:FF 36.5

    “Say, man, why didn't you take that down?”FF 37.1

    “Well,” he said, “I can write it out.”FF 37.2

    “I wish you would.”FF 37.3

    The next morning he came and handed me fourteen pages of typewritten matter, and for the life of me I could hardly tell but what it was verbatim. Yet he hardly had sense enough to do other simple things that a child could do. He stayed with us a couple of years and was a perfect God-send to us, and worked for his board and room and a dollar a week for spending money.FF 37.4

    The question is often raised as to whether it really pays to labor for people who are in the slums of wickedness and sin. A good many people say to me, “Don't you get taken in real often?” Yes, and no. Once in a while some poor fellow that we do our best to get on his feet goes back, gives up everything and we naturally feel that our effort is lost. And may be it is so far as he is concerned but we have the satisfaction of knowing that at least we have tried to do our duty. I would rather have the spirit that would lift up a poor fallen fellow creature and get “taken in” once in a while than to live selfishly for myself and never do any of this work for those who need it.FF 37.5

    If we have sown the genuine gospel seed in tears, in the day of Judgment we shall find that not so much of it has been wasted as we may have imagined; for the gospel seed is immortal, and, like money, may pass through the hands of many before it actually comes to the one whom God intends it shall reach. For does not God say definitely, “My word... shall not return unto me void”? That which, from a human standpoint, may seem like a dismal failure, when viewed from God’s standpoint, who can watch it through its numerous windings down to the end of time, is a signal triumph.FF 38.1

    Doing rescue work in a city like Chicago is like searching for pond lilies in a marsh. There is an infinite number of reeds and rushes for each lily, and it requires diligent effort to find the lilies. Undoubtedly, thousands of the inhabitants in our large cities have as effectually closed their own probation as the tribes in the land of Canaan had when the children of Israel came to take possession of it. Yet there are jewels hidden in all this moral rubbish. God’s providential hand has been seen in so many different ways that it is clear that our work for perishing humanity is ordered of God. Oh, that our lives might become so filled with the sweetness of Christ that those who still have within them a desire for a better life may be led to us to be pointed to the same unfailing Source of life that has been imparted to us.FF 38.2

    Not a word of criticism or fault-finding was heard among the class of forty young people who came from Battle Creek with Mrs. Paulson and me, but the great thought uppermost in every mind was, How can I best improve my heaven-sent opportunities? Every morning Brother Sadler gave instruction on methods of work, particular stress being laid not so much on how to bring men to Christ as on how to bring Christ to men. The Spirit of God opened up the great truth that from God’s standpoint Christ and humanity have changed places, He being accounted sinful when He knew no sin, we being accounted just while we are ungodly. As a deeper significance of this wonderful truth dawned upon the minds and hearts of some of these workers who had attempted to labor in God’s cause for years without receiving it, tears of joy trickled down their cheeks, and an intense longing was born in their hearts to give this message to even the least of Christ’s brethren.FF 39.1

    I learned more fully at that time than I ever knew before, that people whose lives are given up to self-sacrificing labor for others, experience the reflex influence of it in their own lives. My work in Chicago brought me much in contact with earth’s downcast. I have struggled with morphine cases; I have knelt down alongside their bed and asked God to pity those poor sufferers, and I have seen those persons go off quietly to sleep, and I have had them tell me afterwards, “Doctor, that was a most wonderful experience.” But I want to impress on you the thought that it is not necessary for us to come into some extreme crisis in order to pray. You do not use the telephone merely when your house gets on fire; so the time to pray is before you get in trouble.FF 40.1

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