Crusading for Christ in Canada


Crusading for Christ in Canada

September 11th, 1966 @ 8:15 AM

And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
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Dr.  W.  A.  Criswell

Acts 16:4-10

9-11-66       8:15 a.m.


On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled Crusading for Christ in Canada.  In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts is a story representing the background of the message this morning; beginning at verse 4:

And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

And after he had seen the vision, immediately we

Luke joins himself to the company—

… immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

[Acts 16:4-10]

And this familiar story with its Macedonian call is the background for this message today.

There was a wonderfully able and affluent and gifted layman who belonged to the circle of our Baptist leadership in Texas by the name of William Fleming, a very wealthy oil man.  He lived in Fort Worth and was a member of the Broadway Baptist Church.  Mr. Fleming spent his summers in Colorado, and there in Colorado became interested in the pioneer establishment and extension of our Baptist witness in that mountain state.  And he poured into the spiritual and evangelistic effort in Colorado many thousands of dollars over many years.  After he came to the persuasion that his task and his assignment was finished in Colorado, he was seeking for a place to whom God would direct him in the investment for Christ of his gifts.  He made a journey to California and there visited with the leaders of our Baptist people in that Golden State, and looked upon our Baptist witness in the Pacific West.

But nothing came to his heart.  He had no conviction that this was the area to which God was directing him.  Upon an evening in one of the great national parks of California, lying under a giant redwood tree, looking up to the branches into the stars at night, he had a vision like this.  And God seemed to whisper in his ear, “I am sending you to western Canada.”  So vivid was the vision and so impressive was the voice from God that he made his way to the western provinces of Canada, to British Columbia, to Alberta.  And there he found God’s answer and God’s call for the investment of his gifts.  And in the Baptist Foundation, he created the Fleming Trust Fund for the assistance of that pioneer work, for the establishment of those churches, and for the evangelization of that giant western land.

Out of the blue of the sky, I had no thought of such an endeavor at all, in the early part of August, the executive leaders of the Baptist Foundation called me to break bread with them in their offices here in Dallas.  And there this was laid before me.  And on the part of Mr. Jim Cantrell, the executive leader of the Foundation, and Jimmy Roberts, who heads the Fleming Trust in the Foundation, and on the part of Mrs.  Fleming, the widow of that great good man, they wanted to know if I would go to Canada and look at that work, and survey that vast field, and if I would preach in those churches, and get acquainted with those pastors.  And they asked further that, if by doing it, I would come back, if the Lord so led me and impressed me, and seek to find in this great church a support, not so much monetarily, as spiritually, as personnel wise, to see if we could implement that trust and to help in the evangelization of that western nation.

So it seemed to me that God wanted me to do it.  It was a Macedonian call.  So, we went.  We have in that vast country about twenty-five little churches.  And we began in Vancouver, and I preached Saturday night to the Kingcrest Church, to an assembly of all of the leadership in that part of British Columbia, along with several of our leaders who came up from the Oregon and Washington Convention.  Then the next Sunday morning I preached at Westlynn Baptist Church, our little church in the northern part of Vancouver, on the other side of the Fraser River.

And to my delight the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour,” Charles E. Fuller, had heard I was to preach there that hour.  And he came and attended the service, got down on his knees and prayed for me and for our witness in Canada.  And that night I preached at the Pike Road Baptist Church, which was and is one of our finest lighthouses, guided by one of the ablest, most dedicated young men that I have ever met.  Now it was planned after Vancouver that we would make a giant circle through British Columbia and through Alberta by commercial airline and by automobile.  But there came up to Vancouver just at that time a dedicated and gifted young man by the name of Bob Dunn.  Bob has been the Training Union director for the Oregon-Washington Convention, had just been elected the superintendent of our work in Canada, and he had come to announce his acceptance of the work and to visit the pastors and the churches.

So it was decided, instead of going by commercial airliners and by automobile, that we would go in his little plane that I call the “Insect.”  So away we started.  From Vancouver we flew to Penticton, at the southern end of the eighty-two mile long Okanagan Lake, and the fruit center of the Okanagan Valley.  Then from Penticton we flew to Kamloops, at the confluence of the North Thompson and South Thompson Rivers.  Then from Kamloops to William’s Lake, a beautiful district covered with emerald dots of water.  Then from William’s Lake we flew to Prince George.  Then from Prince George across the Rockies through the Pine River Pass, to Dawson Creek, and then far beyond the Peace River in Alberta to Worsley, where we have, in the goodness and dedication of a dedicated farmer from Collin County, a little Baptist, Southern Baptist Church; then from Worsley, heading south in Alberta, through the wilderness to Edmonton and to Calgary, and then through Banff and Yoho National Parks.

 The vast extent of that western land is indescribable.  It is the largest wilderness area in the world.  To the far west are the towering, snowcapped coastal mountains.  To the east are the towering backbone, the Continental Divide, the Canadian Rockies with their shoulders bearing vast fields of glacial ice and snow.  And between those vast snow covered ranges is an illimitable wilderness, a lower mountain undulating land covered with vast forests.

The resources of that land are beyond imagination.   On the Peace River they are building at the Portage Mountain Dam and electric facility that is costing eight hundred eighty million dollars, almost a billion dollars.  And the influx of industry due to the illimitable water power, and the lakes, and the streams, and rivers, and the timber, and the minerals is becoming one of the most amazing developments in the modern world.  And the sight of that land is breathtaking!

Not in the earth is there anything that speaks more of the craftsmanship of God than that beautiful timbered land of British Columbia and Alberta.  Through the Banff National Park and through the Kicking Horse Pass, we visited the Yoho Valley and the Yoho National Park.  In it is the Takakkaw Falls, the highest in Canada; one thousand two hundred fifty-two feet high.

 And it was there that we saw our first moose.  John Cunningham, pastor of the Calgary Church, our Southern Baptist Church in Calgary, took us on that trip through the Yoho Valley.  And when we stopped to look at that moose, he said, “You know, there was a Scotsman who came here and looked upon just such a scene as we’re seeing now, and he asked, ‘What is that animal?’  And the man replied, ‘That is a moose.’  And the Scotsman replied, ‘Man, if that be a moose, how big would a rat be?’”

After the story of that Amazon jungle, it was never the purpose on my part, ever to get in one of those little single engine insects of a bug of an airplane.  But, again at the time it just seemed the thing to do, so we got in it.  I said to Bob, “What vintage is this crate?”  He said, “1956; it is a monument to friction tape and baling wire.”

Every time we get in that infinitesimal little thing and take off, he would head straight in to those vast, cavernous mountain walls.  And upon a day he turned to me and said, “You know why I’m doing this?”  I replied, “I have just supposed, to scare the living daylights out of me!”

“No,” he said, “not at all.” He said, “I head for these great mountain walls in order for the updrafts to carry up my little plane, and that saves gasoline.” “Well,” I said, “don’t you ever have any downdrafts?”

“Oh no,” he said, “downdrafts are impossible.   Always on the mountainside it’s updrafts.”

Dean Willis gave me the current issue of National Geographic magazine, and I read in that magazine that sometimes the downdrafts are as fierce as the updrafts, and Bob’s got a surprise one of these days coming to him.  Then he would explain to me: he said, “Now after we get a certain altitude, why, this engine is going to cough and spit but don’t let that worry you.  I am just changing the mixture of the gasoline.”

Well, I put up with that for several days, and finally I said, “Bob, do you have to choose the place to change that mixture over these yawning chasms below us?  Can’t you find a little level spot somewhere?”  When we came to Prince George, way up there in northern British Columbia, thus far we had had beautiful, beautiful weather.  But when we came to Prince George, the first day of the winter of the fall set in.  And those clouds came down to the mountains and down to the valleys.

We stayed there through Friday, then through Saturday, and then through Sunday.  And when I awakened Monday morning it was like pea soup.  But between the early morning hour and the noon hour the clouds broke.  And the weather man said that at Dawson Creek, on the other side of the great Rocky Range, the clouds were broken at twenty-five hundred feet.  So the weather man said we could make the trip from Prince George, two hundred fifty miles up and over the Rockies to Dawson Creek; that the ceiling had raised at Prince George high enough for us to take off, and the ceiling was high enough at Dawson Creek to land.  So we got in that little crate and took off.

Several things I learned that I didn’t know.  First, when you have weather broken at Prince George and when you have weather broken enough to land at Dawson Creek, two hundred fifty miles away, that does not mean that in between the weather is pretty and clear and the clouds broken.  That’s the first thing I learned.  You got two hundred fifty miles in there that nobody knows anything about, and you don’t know what the weather is in between.

So while we were headed up north and beyond I just had a suspecting, and I turned to Bob, and I said, “Have you ever been up here before?  Have you ever flown a plane up here before?”  He said, “No, I never have.”  The only place he’d ever flown that plane was down in Washington and Oregon and in southern part of Canada.  He’d never been up there before.

Well, I said, “How are you going over there to Dawson Creek, over these vast Rockies?”  He said, “I’ve got a map here and I’m going by a map.”  Well, for a few minutes everything was just fine, the clouds were broken and he was going along.  Then up ahead, up ahead, up ahead––and he turned to me when he saw me looking out there––he said, “Now this is just a little temporary thing, for it’ll get better as time goes on, and the clouds will clear away.”

It was no time at all until we ran into a fierce, heavy rainstorm, just as dark and black as it could be.  So he pulled that little plane around and climbed to over nine thousand five hundred feet, pulling it around trying to avoid that heavy storm.  Then as time went on I could see something was happening and something was wrong, and as the journey continued, he began furiously to go through all of those maps that he had.  And finally when he began to work with that radio compass, his hand trembled just like that.

And as time went on I said to Bob, looking out that plane, I said, “Bob, look at these towering peaks that are coming up to meet us and at these vast snow fields.  I could almost touch them.  He had lost his way, and the reason he had lost it was something else I didn’t know.  The little radio on that thing was so small; it was not built for those vast distances in northern British Columbia and Alberta.  And the radio compass, which is the thing that you hear the beam on, the radio compass would only work for just a few minutes, then the needle would get hot and he had to turn it off.  So he was frantically trying to find the radio beam, and the radio beam wasn’t strong enough, or his radio compass wasn’t good enough to pick it up, and he was up there in those boiling clouds in those towering Rockies, lost!

Well, he turned it around and tried to retrace his way.  And he said to me on this side and to Jimmy on that side, he said; “Now you look out and see if you can’t find the highway and the railroad that goes from Prince George to Dawson Creek.”  So I looked and looked and looked and looked.  I thought we would never find any such thing, but eventually it appeared, and he began following it and followed it up to that Pine Creek Pass.  And those clouds boiling and boiling, and finally up that Pine Creek Pass the canyon ran into a vast mountain that split the canyon right and left.  And he said to me, he said, “Can you see the road?”  I said, “No.”  But he said, “Do we take the right canyon or the left canyon?”  I said, “I don’t know.  I can’t find the road.”  He took that little plane, and by that time we were flat against the front of that mountain, and he turned it around on a dime.  My stomach is still up there!  He turned that thing around on a dime and came down into that valley.

And he said, “Now can you see a road?”  I said, “Yes.  It goes to the right.”  And I looked up that right canyon, and it was as black as smoke.  I said, Bob, “Let’s turn around.  That looks fierce.”  He said, “I don’t think I can, because I looked back, and the clouds back of us were as black and fierce behind as they were ahead.”  He said, “I’m going ahead, and let’s just pray that we will break out of this canyon and out of these Rockies onto the plain where the weather man said the sky is broken above Dawson Creek.”

So we followed in the darkness of that canyon, and in the goodness of God and the grace of the Lord, the clouds broke when we came to the plateau beyond the Rockies, and we could see the light of the sun and the light of the day.  By that time his little radio had picked up Dawson Creek, and he was listening to music, and he was beating the time with his hand, sort of allay his nerves.  And Jimmy said to me, “Look, he’s listening to music!”  I said, “Yes, Jimmy, that is the music of the heavenly angelic choir.  We’ve been so near we can hear it!”

And to my amazement, to my amazement, there in the identical place as in that near tragedy in the Amazon jungle, there was the rainbow.  I asked Jimmy, “Take a picture of that.”  Did you?  “Take a picture of that; God’s rainbow.”  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5], “Fear not; for I am with thee” [Isaiah 41:10]; God’s promise, His bow, His covenant, His remembrance [Genesis 9:11-16].  There are a thousand things I want to say.  I must close in this brief moment.

That vast and illimitable field; there are not one percent of the population in Canada Baptist, and it is less in the west.  In all of those numberless tribes of Indians, there are only seven known Baptists.  And the work is so small, and the churches so little, and the distances are so vast.  One of those associations has at least a thousand miles from one part to the other.

In Prince George we welcomed the new pastor.  He had just arrived the day before.  And on Friday night when we held the service, that was his first time to visit his field as pastor and undershepherd of the flock.  That service, I have seldom been moved or cried more than at that hour.  The pastor and his wife and his two teenage daughters, leaving our state of Texas and leaving his pastorate here, where those teenagers had grown up, and now with his family in the far northern part of British Columbia.

When I got through preaching and pressed the invitation, down the aisle came his younger daughter.  And with a flood of tears that teenager spoke into the ear of her father, and then down there below me they knelt on that church floor and poured their hearts out to God.  Then when she returned to her seat, his elder teenage daughter came and did the same thing.  And in a flood of tears they knelt and poured out their hearts to God.  I could see every syllable of it as I stood in the pulpit and looked upon it.  It is these children who pay the price of a dedication.

I could read every line of the story; they, taken away from all the friends they’d ever known, even taken out of the country in which they were born, and up and out and beyond in a far and isolated place.  I could just see the agony of prayer and supplication that lay back of what those two teenage girls did.  God blessed us that hour; there were three others converted.  We just all dedicated our lives.  And when it was over I asked the pastor, I said “I just want to be sure that I’m right in this, is that why those two girls came?”  He said, “Yes, preacher, that’s why they came.  They whispered in my ear, ‘Daddy, we’re for you, and if God has sent you here, here we are.  And we’ll help you, and stand by you, and pray with you.’”

There were two families there to welcome the pastor and a little handful of people, about as many as on this platform.  It’s not only a price in money or salary; it is a price in heartache and loneliness, all of this while we luxuriate in every affluence that the rich economy of America bestows upon us.  I could not but notice, after the service was over, that little handful of teenagers gathered at the piano, and one of them played and the others sang that sweet and precious and plaintive melody, “Kumbaya.”

“Someone’s praying Lord, Kumbaya, stand by me,” sing it with me.

Someone’s praying Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s praying Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s praying Lord, Kumbaya

O Lord, Kumbaya.

Someone’s crying Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s crying Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s crying Lord, Kumbaya

O Lord, Kumbaya.

And they never left it there; with triumph they added another stanza.

Someone’s singing Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s singing Lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s singing Lord, Kumbaya

O Lord, Kumbaya.

I realize, as do you, that this is just one out of a vast mission and Macedonian calls of the world.  How can we help?  There are some things we can do.

First, I want this Chapel Choir to go to the Pacific Northwest.  I think these teenagers up and down those streets witnessing for Jesus and singing in those municipal auditoriums can let the whole Northwest know that somebody loves God.  And this Wednesday night, when we show the pictures of that work, we’re going to pass the collection plates, and a part of that money that is not given to these pastors and their work, we’re going to give to Lee Roy Till to take this choir to witness in that vast, giant land.

Some of our staff can go from time to time in the goodness of the church and help those little churches organize a program of visitation and Christian education; our Sunday school and Training Union.  We’re going to try to make it possible that many of our people can take their vacations up there and work in Vacation Bible Schools.  Maybe many of our elders can go and preach in revival meetings up there, and above all we can pray

 One of those lonely pastors said to me, “Preacher, when you go home, sometime, would you call my name?”  I will.  I have.  I shall.  This whole world is a mission field.  God give us strength and dedication, as in our part and what we can do, we rise to meet it.  It is God’s Macedonian call to us [Acts 16:9-10].

Now we must sing our song, and on the first note of the first stanza—our time is late—if God has spoken to you, and you want to give your heart to Jesus, or to put your life with us in this dear church; a couple you, a family you, one somebody you; however the Lord would press the appeal to your heart, while we sing this song, you come.  Stand up coming.  On the first note of the first stanza, come.  “Here I am, preacher.  I make it now,” while we stand and while we sing.