The Importance of Personal Soul Winning
By Dr. R. A. Torrey
“He first findeth his own brother Simon…. And he brought him to Jesus.”–Joh_1:41-42.
The one who brought his brother to Jesus was Andrew. We are not told that Andrew ever preached a sermon. If he did, the Holy Spirit did not think it worth putting on record. But this brother whom he brought to Jesus preached a sermon that led three thousand people to Jesus in one day.
Where would Simon Peter’s sermon have been if it had not been for Andrew’s personal work? The most important kind of Christian work is personal work. We envy the men who stand on the platform and speak to great crowds, but God pays more attention to the man who sits down with a single soul.
A blind woman came to my office in Chicago and said, “You don’t think my blindness will keep me from doing Christian work, do you?”
I replied, “On the contrary. It might be a great help. A great many people, seeing your blindness, will come and sit down with you; then you can talk with them about the Saviour.”
“That is not what I mean. When a woman can talk to five or six hundred, she doesn’t want to spend time talking to one.”
I answered, “Your Master could talk to five thousand at once, for we have it on record; but He didn’t think it beneath His dignity to talk to one at a time.”
Have you ever thought of the tremendous power there is in personal, hand-to-hand work?
One day a man in Boston had in his Sunday school class a boy fresh from the country. This dull boy knew almost nothing about the Bible. He didn’t even know where to look to find the Gospel of John. He was very much put out because the other boys were bright boys and knew their Bibles, while he was just a green country boy.
But that Sunday school teacher had a heart full of love to Christ and perishing souls. One day he went down into the boot shop where that boy worked and asked him, “Would you like to be a Christian?”
The boy had never been approached that way before. Nobody had ever spoken to him about his soul. He said, “Yes, I would like to be a Christian.”
And that Sunday school teacher explained what it meant to be a Christian, then said, “Let us pray.”
They knelt down in the back of that boot shop, and the boy became a Christian. That boy was Dwight L. Moody.
If it had not been for Edward Kimball’s faithful personal work, where would Dwight L. Moody and his great work throughout the world have been?
Who knows who there is in that little class of yours? Who knows what your ignorant little ragged boy may become? Teacher, make up your mind that you will at least make an honest effort to lead everyone in your Sunday school class to Christ. This world could soon be evangelized by personal work.
Let us suppose there are two thousand people in this audience this morning. Suppose every one of you became a personal worker. And suppose, by your very best effort, you only succeeded in leading one to Christ in a year, and that one led one to Christ the next year, and so on. What would be the result?
At the end of the year there would be 4,000; at the end of two years, 8,000; at the end of three years, 16,000; at the end of four years, 32,000; at the end of five years, 64,000; at the end of six years, 128,000; at the end of seven years, 256,000; and at the end of eight years your whole city would be won for Christ. At the end of thirty-five years every man, woman and child on the face of the earth would have heard the Gospel.
There is not one who cannot lead at least one to Christ this year. You can instruct everyone whom you lead to Christ to go out and be a soul winner. After you get hold of him, send him out, when converted, to lead another; and he bringing one, and that one bringing in another–you will soon touch the whole city.
I want to talk about the advantages of personal work.
The first advantage:
Anybody Can Do It
You cannot all preach. I am glad you can’t. What an institution this world would be if we were all preachers!
You cannot all sing like Charles Alexander. I am glad you can’t, for if you could, he would be no curiosity; and you would not come to hear him sing and give me a chance to preach to you!
You cannot all teach Sunday school classes. Some have an idea that any converted person can teach a Sunday school class. I don’t believe it. I think we are making a great mistake in setting the unqualified to teaching.
But there is not a child of God who cannot do personal work. A mother with a large family knows she is not called to be a preacher (at least I hope she does); but she can do personal work better than anybody else in her home.
A lady came to me–she had five children–and said (I think she had been reading the life of Frances Willard), “I wish I could do some work like that for Christ.”
I said, “You can work for Christ among all the people you are surrounded by.”
I watched that woman. Every one of her children was brought to Christ–every one! Every maid who came to work in that home was dealt with about her soul. Every grocer’s boy who came around to the door was dealt with about his soul. Every time she went out shopping, she made it a point to talk with the one behind the counter. And when, one dark day, death came into the home and took away a sweet little child, she did not forget to speak to the undertaker who came to do the last offices for the dead, about his soul. He told me that nothing had ever impressed him as that woman, in the midst of her sorrow, being interested in his soul.
An invalid can do personal work. I have a friend in New York City who has left a life of wealth and fashion to go out to work among the outcast.
One day she got hold of a poor outcast girl. The girl didn’t live much over a year after that lady had led her to Christ. My friend took her to her home to die. As Delia was dying, she wrote to her friends, some in Sing Sing Prison, some in the Tombs of New York City–all her friends were among the criminal class–about Christ. Those who were not behind prison bars she invited to come and see her.
My friend told me, “There was a constant procession up the stairway to the outcast–women and men who came to see Delia. Before Delia died, one hundred of the most hopeless men and women in New York City she had led to Christ.”
That puts us to shame! Suppose God kindled a fire right here in your hearts and you received the anointing of the Spirit of Christ, and every one of you should start out to do personal work; you would not need any evangelist to come from abroad.
We have come to stir you up to do it.
The second advantage:
You Can Do It in Any Place
You cannot preach in every place. You can preach in the churches two or three times a week; you can preach in the town hall occasionally; you can preach in the streets sometimes; but you cannot go down in the factories and preach often. You cannot go there and hold services, but you can go there and do personal work, if you press the point enough.
One man who came to our meetings in Liverpool from Hudson’s dry soap factory was converted. Every once in awhile I get a letter telling me of meetings there in the factory. Now they conduct meetings outside the building.
In Bradley’s foundry a workman got a card announcing the meetings. He could not come, so he handed it over to the most wicked man in the shop. That man was grateful for the invitation and thought he would go. He did and was converted at the very first meeting. He went back and told his companions, resulting in a revival in the foundry.
A telegraph messenger was converted in Manchester. Before we were through, seventy messenger boys were converted there. There is not a hotel or a factory or a public house where you cannot do personal work.
The third advantage:
You Can Do It at Any Time
Certainly you cannot preach every hour of the day, but there is not an hour of the day or night when you cannot do personal work. You can go out on the streets at any time and find some poor wanderer.
When I lived in Minneapolis, I employed a woman missionary to go out on the streets to speak to the drunkards, to the outcast women, and to night workers. Some of the best conversions were among these people. She had been an outcast herself at one time; now she was leading others to Christ.
Soon after Mr. Moody was converted, he made up his mind that he would not let a day go by without speaking to someone about his soul.
One night he came home late–it was nearly ten o’clock. He realized he hadn’t spoken to any man that day. He thought, I guess I have lost my chance. But looking out he saw a man standing in the lamplight. He