The Bible Fellowship Historical Society
“Today true reports came that Wm. Beaver was killed in battle July 1 in the vicinity of Gettysburg Pa. and is now buried in a cemetery in Gettysburg though at first was buried by the rebels. He cannot therefore be at present taken home for burial. Thus another of my friends has gone to the land of spirits and left me here in the vale of tears. Whether he has gone to heaven God alone positively knows. It has been affecting to me during the few last days to think that Wm. Beaver is no more. This case reminds me of my own death which is perhaps nearer than I imagine. May God give grace to continue in His service till death calls me hense to the judgment seat of Christ that I may then receive an unfading crown in the mansions of heaven where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are forever at rest. Amen”
I begin with this entry from the diary of Levi Jung for July 11, 1863. William Beaver was a neighbor of Levi’s who had been killed in the opening hostilities at Gettysburg. Levi was deeply moved by this news. He represents but one of many sensitive young men and women who are a part of the story of the Bible Fellowship.
Levi’s love for the Lord and concern for people came to my mind as I read the following two stories. The two stories were sent for different reasons to tell different stories. As I read them, I saw that they had much in common: godly mothers, sensitized hearts, and a love for the Savior.
Thanks to Robert Kauffman of Emmaus for his story. It was his intention to tell of the legacy of Jacob Moyer through his godly mother. His experience may have been much like many others who grew in our church. You will be reminded of the power of prayer and godliness. By the way, you will get to meet Brother Kauffman at our fall meeting since he will be presenting the history of the Emmaus Church.
Thanks to David E. Thomann of Lancaster for his story. He wrote to tell of his early days in the Gospel Heralds but shows the marvels of how God directs in his servants. Dave has written for us before. I enjoy the stories we receive from those who served in the Gospel Heralds. This training ground was also a mission field.
I have included some pictures of our ministry to youth. Some of the children in these photos have long since met death. Some of them are in the presence of the Lord. Some of these children still have an address on earth and have been faithful servants of God because of the teaching they received. Look into their faces. God has led them and done His work through them.
THE JACOB MOYER LEGACY
I would like to speak about the legacy left us by the man, Jacob Moyer: My mother was Lucy Blackburn Moyer Kauffman. Lucy was born October 1, 1886, the eldest child born to Jane and Jacob Moyer. In 1907, Lucy Blackburn Moyer married Edgar Kauffman. Lucy and Edgar Kauffman were the parents of seven children, two girls and five boys.
When I was a child, I remember stories that Mom told us about her childhood, her family, her parents, but particularly stories about her father.
Two stories I remember vividly. She told us how that if there was consideration of something like making a visit, Grandpop Moyer would go into his room, shut the door and spend time in prayer. Mom said the family would eagerly wait outside for the decision as to what they would do. Finally, Grandpop Moyer would emerge from his room and tell them, after prayer, what his decision was.
The other story Mom told us was how the family had gone to Camp Meeting, and upon returning, found Grandpop Moyer dead on his knees.
These two simple stories give us an insight into the spiritual character of the man, Jacob Moyer. They tell us that his life was bathed in prayer, and that there was absolutely nothing too mundane to not merit being prayed about. But the composite of those two stories tells us that Jacob Moyer lived on his knees, and died on his knees.
The legacy that he has left us is a life which spoke of the importance and the efficacy of the power of prayer.
The sadness, for me, is what it took and how long it took for me to come to an appreciation of that legacy and the great heritage that God had given us. The defining moment did come. I was eighteen years old in a camp in South West England on Mother's Day in May, 1944, just a short time before the Normandy invasion. We lived in six man tents with no floor but the English grass beneath our feet and our cots.
I had just returned from the mess tent and was sitting on my cot, alone in the tent, when I was overwhelmed with a flood of powerful memories. Some of those memories hit home with great impact. Probably the most powerful memory I had was of the time when the three of us who were the youngest in the family were still at home. Chronologically, they were Warren, myself and our sister Dolly. Warren had graduated and was working, I was probably a sophomore in High School and Dolly was in grade school. We would leave the house in the morning at different times, but as each of us left, Mom would pray with us, and when I say that she would pray with us, I mean to say that we got down on our knees on the kitchen floor by a chair and Mom would pray with us. However, it was my miserable fortune that, when it was my turn to leave, the baker would often come to our door. The baker would walk up the sidewalk to the kitchen door, call out, "Baker!," open the door, step inside and lay the loaf of bread on the chair inside the kitchen door. Time after time, when the baker would open the kitchen door, there were Mom and I on our knees on the floor, praying. I was then a cool teen-ager, and no cool teen-ager should ever be found on his knees on the kitchen floor praying with his mom. I was angry, embarrassed and humiliated. I would wonder why in the world, when she heard that baker come up the sidewalk, couldn't she quickly say "Amen", and I could get up from my knees and pretend that the praying had never happened. I am convinced to this day, that even if the president of the United States had walked into the kitchen at that moment, Mom would not have missed one syllable, because she was in the presence of someone far greater, she was in the presence of her God and King. And she had this teen-age kid who needed all of the Divine help that she could muster, and there was nothing and nobody who was going to interfere with her mission.
That was also the time when my brother Warren and I were quite busy in our rebellion. Although Warren was three years older than I, and his rebellion may have been somewhat more sophisticated, my rebellion was just as perverse. Late, late one night, Warren came home so drunk that he threw up all over the upstairs hallway. But there was Mom with a bucket of water, on her knees, cleaning up after him, There was no shouting, no screaming, not any scolding or even a word of rebuke. But there was deep, intense, silent pain. It was some years later when my dear Aunt Sarah told me a story about that particular occasion; she told how Mom had confided in her about her desperation concerning Warren's condition. She told Aunt Sarah how she prayed, "Lord, do anything, do anything, just bring Warren back to Yourself!" Our family knows full well that it was about that time that Warren became so seriously ill that he almost died. I remember the Doctor coming down from Warren' s room into the kitchen and with a note of despair, telling Mom and Pop that he had done everything, there was nothing more he could do.
At that time, Mom and Pop had already lost a twenty seven year old son, but the difference was, that twenty-seven year old son had been faithfully serving his Lord. In view of the specific prayer that Mom had prayed, I can just imagine the great anguish that she must have endured and how she must have persevered and persevered in prayer. But what a wonderful triumph, and what a great and beautiful divine irony! Not only was Warren's life graciously spared, but Warren would go on in life, and he himself would become a strong and dedicated man of prayer. And how thankful I am that what I now say of Warren, I can also say of each of my sisters and brothers, each one of them has become a staunch disciple of Jesus Christ and of the power of prayer.
I remember those days of my youth when I would pass Mom on my way to my room. There she would be at her place of prayer, night after night. I would brush by her as she was on her knees in her nightgown, but she was oblivious to everything and everyone except the One in whose presence she knelt. My sister Lillian has told me that often when she returned home from school she would search throughout our house looking for Mom and would find her in one of the upstairs bedrooms on her knees in prayer. I would look back on that posture of prayer and reflect on how the world looked at it as the posture of weakness, of subservience, and of submission. In fact the world looks at the posture of prayer with total repugnance because it offends the human ego. But God in his wisdom has made that posture of prayer to be one of great strength, of great virtue, and the posture of enormous power.
That dear little lady with nothing more than a third grade education could see more and could see farther on her knees than many theologians could see standing on their tiptoes because to Mom God was real. He was not some distant, mystical, mythological, medieval relic, but He was real, and she knew it, and walked and lived daily in the power of His presence.
One of the great and fond memories that I have is when I was still a little child who sat with his mother in church. I remember how I loved to snuggle up beside her. Those were the dark and difficult days of the Great Depression, and I remember that Mom had that cheap black coat with course fabric and a collar of prickly fur, which I can still feel to this day. But how I loved just to snuggle up to her and listen to her sing. Then I think of that late February night in 1952, when Mom got up out of bed, came out into the living room, and sat down in a chair and died. Were I to end with that, it would be a monstrous lie, because, in fact, that was really the night when Mom was ushered triumphantly into the presence of her God and King, And that was the night when Mom made her abundant entrance into her everlasting reward. And then I think of that little kid snuggled up by her side and listening to that alto voice sing the words to a simple hymn of the church. But, on that February night, it would be altogether different, because on that night that alto voice would burst with joy and with triumph as I can hear her sing these words to that simple hymn: "This robe of flesh, I'll drop and rise, to seize the everlasting prize, and shout while passing through the air, farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer."
If there is any hymn that should be the anthem of those of us with Moyer blood coursing through our veins, it should be that simple hymn of the church, "Sweet Hour of Prayer." That simple hymn that so perfectly embodies the powerful legacy left us by the man, Jacob Moyer. He may have been a poor and simple man, but he must have been an incredible man, a man with an indestructibly deep and profound faith in Jesus Christ and in the power of prayer.
May I close with one very, very personal sentence: The greatest gift that God gave to me outside of the gift of His dear Son, was the gift of the enormous privilege of having inhabited the womb of Lucy Blackburn Moyer Kauffman.
CALLED TO MINISTRY
David E. Thomann
On May 21, 1937, I entered the Gospel Herald Society, and was sent to Irvington, N.J., to be stationed with E. W. Bean, the leader of the mission. My pastor, J. B. Henry, who was married to the daughter of the President of the Society, W. G. Gehman, at times would have the Gospel Heralds visit the Wissinoming church to sing, play their stringed instruments and preach. This was always an exciting time for me. One of the Heralds would always talk to me about giving my life to the ministry. This man, Eugene George, was a kind and gentle man who had an interest in seeking young men for the Lord's work. I had already expressed my desire to my pastor about joining the Society, and I believed I had a calling from the Lord. I was converted at the age of six in our church during revival meetings. Then at the age of 12, while attending Edgewood Camp Meeting in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, the Lord spoke to me again, and I dedicated my life to Him. When I arrived home from the camp, I expressed this desire to my mother. Then she took me aside and related this story about her life. She said, "When I was in my forties I noticed that I was gaining weight, and after a Sunday evening service the pastor said that I looked good. I went home and thought nothing about the pastor's remarks. But that night I felt life. I prayed that if the Lord would give me a male child I would dedicate him to the Lord's work."
My mother's desire was that, from all her nine children, one would be called into the Christian ministry as pastor. I was grateful for a godly mother's support. Daily she prayed for my life and service to the Lord. There were times when I felt like forsaking this calling, but Mother continued to pray for me. Then after high school, and working for a few years, my pastor came to me and said it was now time for me to enter the Gospel Herald Society. I was kept active in my home church, teaching a Sunday School class, singing in the male quintet and helping the pastor in various ministries. At the age of 21 I left home to prepare for the Christian ministry.
Irvington, New Jersey, was the place to which I was first appointed. Pastor Bean welcomed me and gave me my own room with a single bed, dresser and a desk for my living quarters. This was the beginning of a new and different life for me. Our meeting room was in a store front setting. We lived on the second floor of the apartment with tenants on the third floor. On the corner and adjacent to our meeting room was a tavern. The owner allowed his daughter to attend our Sunday School. These were difficult days, but the Lord added to our group and these people became my friends for many years. One of these families was John and Edna Moran, who are still our dear friends.
I well remember Brother Bean taking me aside and giving me my instructions and duties, telling me that before I would go out in the neighborhood to canvass door to door I was to purchase a new pair of "walkover" shoes. Then he took me to the shoemaker to have an additional sole put on the new shoes. You can believe that I did a great deal of walking and needed good support for my body. The first day he took me to a section of town with many apartments. He personally showed me how to meet people and what to say to them. In a short time I became accustomed to my responsibilities. I always was successful in the Italian neighborhood, for in those days I had bushy black hair and wore a clerical color. I would ask people to donate to our mission work and offered them the magazine called, Gospel Herald. This was one of the ways we spread the gospel in word. Many times I was invited in the home to pray for people and to witness about our Lord. Only the Lord knows of the many that were spoken to and the seed that was sown. Some of the people were very liberal with their gifts and many slammed the door in my face. This was good experience for a young missionary on the streets of Newark N.J.
Not many people attended our mission but we had a few good families who had a heart for the Lord's work Finances were hard to come by, but we never went hungry. At times, after the Sunday evening service, we would travel to either Jersey City, or Elizabeth to visit the other Heralds and have a great time of fellowship, eating stale buns and cake which was supplied by a local bakery.
Once a month Daddy Gehman would visit the mission to settle accounts. After all the expenses were met, what was left over was divided between the leader and his wife and the workers. Needless to say, there were times when very little was left over.
Our services were held on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday nights. During the warm weather we held services on a popular street corner in town. We would gather our people in a circle, play our instruments and sing, and then when people would gather around our circle we would preach a short sermon. During that time some of our young people would give out tracts and speak to the people. It was a great time to spread the gospel.
We held tent meetings during the summer months. A large lot was selected to put up our tent and after permission was granted to hold services there we would erect the tent, build a platform, bring in benches, piano, pulpit and chairs. Usually a good group of people gather around to see what was happening. A large sign was placed near the tent showing time of service and the name of the mission. Remembering that this was in the late thirties when we did not have TV and people were happy to attend an attraction in a tent, and with all our people from the mission attending, our services were well attended.
It was not too long before brother Bean was moved to Hatfield, Pa., and I became leader of the mission. Brother Gehman sent Harold Yarrington, a convert from our Wilmington, Delaware mission and a young man named Kenneth Cole from our Staten Island mission as helpers. Soon I felt the need for additional education, so I enrolled in the Christian Missionary Alliance Bible Institute at Nyack, N.Y. I believe this was in the plan of the Lord to further study the Bible.
As soon as I arrived at the school I entered the music program and joined the large school choir and began singing first tenor in the school male quartet. This gave me an outreach as I was privileged to travel during the school year on the weekends to many churches, singing and preaching. I also had the opportunity to travel during the summer months all over the country singing in the Alliance churches. This widened my experience for the ministry.
After I graduated from Nyack I offered to enroll again in the Society. When I visited Daddy Gehman, he told me that he had a place for me so I was sent to a small mission work in Brooklyn, N. Y. This was a storefront mission which was sandwiched between the Catholic Church and a tavern. Several times men would miss the tavern and step into our mission. I worked together with Jansen E. Hartman until the summer months, when a young man named William A. Heffner arrived to assist us in our tent campaign. In the fall, the Gospel Herald Convention was held in Roxborough, Philadelphia. This was the time of the year when the Heralds were stationed to their various missions. Our President, Daddy Gehman announced that D. E. Thomann was being sent back to Brooklyn, but would not be going alone. This meant that I was able to get married. So I made plans to get married on December 6 to Pauline Musselman, with our President officiating at the wedding. But a few changes were made as Daddy Gehman went home to be with the Lord a week before the wedding. B. B. Musselman, acting as the President of the Society, married us in Allentown, Pa.
Our plans were to move to New York after our honeymoon. So all our furniture was sent ahead, but when we arrived home from our honeymoon we were informed that we were transferred to Trenton, N.J. Our furniture was then sent to the mission in Trenton. It was a cold rainy Saturday night when we arrived in Trenton. When we opened the door of the mission, put on the lights we found our furniture in the middle aisle. To make matters worse, the place was cold with no fire in the stove. We had to move the furniture to the second floor, make a fire and get our rest for the next day. When Sunday arrived we were ready to greet all the people to the service. But no one came that Sunday morning. In the afternoon some 35 people arrived for the Sunday School. We did not know, that the former pastor had a car and would pick up people for the service. This was the beginning of our ministry in Trenton.
The Lord blessed as time went on. A young man, who lived next door, and whose father owned a small eating place for bus drivers, befriended us. He would listen to the music and preaching each Sunday through the thin walls. One day I visited him and asked if I could bring my accordion over so that we could play together. He had a three piece band that played for small groups. He played the piano, but never knew any church music. The first hymn I taught him was, "Since Jesus came into my heart." We became good friends. It was not too long after that Bill became a believer. He was a great help to our mission as he would use his car to pick up children and young people for church. Bill was crippled in his legs, yet he was able to drive a car.
Polly and I served a short time at Trenton and was then transferred to the Northampton, Nazareth circuit in 1942. I thank the Lord for the experiences I received in the Gospel Herald Society. I was taught submission to the leaders, faithfulness to the ministry, getting along with little and the ability to love and talk to people.
That’s it for this issue. Be sure that you have marked your calendar for October 28, 2000. Our next meeting will be held that day at Bethel BFC in Emmaus. We will hear about the history of the Emmaus Church and the story of Jonas Musselman.
Don’t wait until then to be in touch with me. I would love to hear your questions or receive your stories. Have a great summer. While you are sitting in the shade of your back yard with a glass of iced tea, write me a letter and include your story. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.
723 South Providence Road
Wallingford PA 19086