Once, when I was working in Poona in Western India, and was very weary because the climate was trying and the Brahmins were argumentative, I went to a place near Poona for a week-end. On Saturday night, when I entered the hotel dining room, I found seated beside me a naval officer, next him an infantry major and the major’s wife, next to them a sergeant- major and his wife. When conversation started, the naval officer said, “Why don’t these missionaries stay at home and mind their business? Why do they come out here and worry these people ? You can get all the converts your want at one rupee a head.” It was the time of the Armenian massacres, and there were rumours that the British fleet might be ordered to Constantinople. I turned to that naval officer and said, “Supposing you were ordered to take your battleship to Constantinople tomorrow, and I were to say, Why don’t you stay here and mind your business, there is no sense in your going to the Bosphorus?'” The man’s eyes flashed fire as he said, “I would tell you to mind your business; if we are ordered to go we must go even if every ship is sunk and every sailor killed.” I said, ” Quite right, my friend, but I have my marching orders, not from any human government, but from the Divine Government. My command was to preach the Gospel to every creature, and India has one-fifth of the population of the world, and the primary question is not whether in India converts may be made at one rupee or 5o rupees a head; the primary question is not whether I get any converts at all, but whether I am going to obey the last wish of my Lord and Saviour. Are you a Christian?”
The man tried to change the subject. I said, “Play up, old man, you brought this on yourself; if you are not a Christian I can understand your position, but if you claim to be a Christian surely to be a Christian means to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to carry out His will.” For two hours, from 8 o’clock until 10, we spoke, but we did not speak about foreign missions; we spoke about Jesus Christ and His claims. No one left the table. It was one of the best opportunities I have ever had to witness for Christ. At the end of the meal the infantry major followed me out and said, “There are not 20,000 such Christians in the world as you would have us be; furthermore, you cannot be in the Army and be a Christian.” I said, “Well, that is news to me; where are you stationed?” He told me where he was, and I said, “Do you know a young artillery officer?” naming a certain man. He said, “Yes, he has no business in the Army, he ought to be a parson.” I mentioned several others, Army officers who were earnest Christians, and the next day when I was preaching in the open air in the vernacular in front of an idol temple, this infantry major and his wife and the naval officer came and stood by me during the service. It was a beautiful thing to do.
July 1925, Keswick