The Young Missionary To Indiana
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
AFTER leaving the Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, Ohio, Henry Ward Beecher was sent as a missionary to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He and his wife went to housekeeping in a barn, which they cleaned out and furnished pretty much with their own hands. He received, as a salary, two hundred and fifty dollars from the Home Missionary Society, and was promised a hundred and fifty dollars more by his congregation of twenty members. When he had a hundred and fifty people in his little church, he had all it would hold, but his heart was larger than his local society and he reached for the people round about him, preaching in the log houses and at camp-meeting gatherings with powerful effect. He preached a Gospel which he believed with all his heart. In referring to this missionary experience, he said : " I was sent into the wilderness of Indiana to preach among the poor and ignorant, and I lived in my saddle. My library was my saddle bags ; I went from camp meeting to camp meeting; and from log hut to log hut. I took my New Testament, and from it I got that which has been the very secret of any success that I have had in the Christian ministry." In two years he had made such a profound impression upon the community by his brilliant, earnest evangelical labors, that he was called to a church at Indianapolis, where he remained eight years longer. The same success attended his labors at Indianapolis which he had had in his first charge. He was then called to Plymouth Church, Brooklyn.
In speaking with Mr. Beecher once, about his ministerial experience in the West, he said to me it was invaluable to him, that he would not take anything in the world for it. He said he could never have enjoyed the kind of success he had in Brooklyn if it had not been for the experience he had had in Indiana; that there was a liberty, a breeziness, an earnestness and intensity which made him more vigorous than he could have possibly been under other circumstances.
Poverty and the wilderness, where there is the right spirit, are not barriers, but helps to success. They encourage a self-dependence, strength of will and manly vigor which are necessary to the highest mastery in life. They have developed some of the greatest men in every calling which the world has ever known. Unfaltering faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its acceptance as a vitalizing force in the soul is the secret of true success in life.