[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 95.10 (5 March 1925): 2.]
The following incident was told by Gipsy Smith in one of his sermons during his meetings in Nashville, Tenn. “One night the eloquent minister, Dr. Charles Beery, sat in his study with his slippers on. Everybody had gone to be in the house. It was after two o’clock, and he was reading and thinking. He was a great student. The bell rang, and he went to the door. It was in his first church, I should tell you, after he left college. He went to the door, and there stood a typical Lancashire girl with a shawl over her head and a pair of wooden shoes, which they call clogs in my country, on her feet.
“She said, ‘Are you the minister?’
” ‘Yes,’ he said.
” ‘Well,’ said she, ‘Come quickly. I want you to get my mother in.’
“She was weeping. In telling the story to Dr. Jowett and to me, he said: ‘I thought her mother was in a drunken brawl,’ and said, ‘If it is a case of that sort, you must get a policeman.’ She said, ‘It is not a policeman I want. My mother is dying, and I want you to come and get her into heaven.’
“He stood there, he said, and wondered what he should do. He said he looked at her and said, ‘Where do you live?’ and she told him. It was a mile and a half away. It was after twelve o’clock at night and he said: ‘Isn’t there a minister nearer? She said: ‘Yes, but I have come to you. My mother is dying.’
“He stood hestitating, wondering what the people would think if they saw him walking through the streets at that hour of the night with a girl with a shawl over her head. He said: ‘I thought more of my reputation than I did of that dying woman. But while I was debating she caught hold of my sleeve, the sleeve of my coat, and she said: “O man of God, make haste! My mother is dying. Make haste!”
“I got ready and went to her and when I got there it was a house of shame downstairs, with men singing their low songs and jokes and drinking, and upstairs the woman lay dying. And when I got in the room where she was lying, I began to talk to her about the Jesus I knew, and all I knew about him was the Jesus of history and the Jesus of example, and Jesus the teacher.
“She wasn’t arrested, and she tossed about on that pillow like a ship at sea in a storm, and she looked at me through her tears and said: “Mister, that is no use; that is no use for the likes of me. I am a sinner. My life is lived. It is no example I need. I have wasted my life. I haven’t a chance. I can’t live; I am dying. Can’t you tell me of somebody who can have mercy on a poor sinner, and save her and forgive sin?”
” ‘Instantly I knew I was in the presence of a dying woman; and I had no message, I had no gospel, I had nothing to tell her. I was helpless. Here I was in the midst of sin and death, and I had no message; my ministry was no good to her.
” ‘I saw it. And for the sake of that woman I jumped back to my mother’s knee and began to tell that woman what my mother had taught me as a child, that Christ died on the cross for poor sinners because He loved them and that He was able to save to the uttermost, and she looked at me through her tears and said: “Now you are getting at it. Tell me some more.” I told her the story, and I got her in. Blessed be God, I got her in, and I got in myself, and my ministry was revolutionized. I got myself in.’ “