ARLETTA MAUD MARTIN
Methodist — Nazarene
December 15, 1939, was my fifty-fourth birthday. Now, in August, 1940, I am afflicted with heart trouble and cancer of the lungs. Since I have been confined to my home I have conceived a desire to record in writing some of the Lord’s dealings in my life.
Two years ago, while on a trip to Florida, I was privileged to see once more the little house in which I was born, near Riley, Indiana. Although it looks old and dilapidated now, and the surroundings are greatly changed, it is the same house which was my home during the first six years of my life.
I have always believed that I was a badly spoiled child. Of my mother’s eleven children, only three survived their infancy, and they came to her with intervals of ten years between each child. I can imagine how my dear mother’s heart ached over the loss of so many babies, and naturally that aching heart lavished its wealth of affection in unstinted measure upon the little ones who were spared to her. My mother was, from every viewpoint, a beautiful woman. She was admired because of her physical beauty, and she also possessed beauty of soul. She did not always enjoy a Christian experience, but during the last weeks of her life she blossomed out into a lovely, full-fledged Christian. She died when I was seventeen years of age, and I always think of her as my best companion and friend.
My father was not a Christian but he seemed to be converted on his deathbed. He lived with me in my home, and died when my youngest child was three years old. I accompanied his remains back to our old home and preached a short message at his funeral. He had lived an unsaved life among many of the men who were present, and some of them were impressed by the peaceful expression on his face. The blessing of the Lord rested upon me while I told the gospel story which had brought that peace to my father’s heart.
A certain aunt filled a very important place in my young life, for she was like a second mother to me. Since my own mother had lost so many of her children in their infancy, when I was born this aunt was invited to live with us, so that she could nurse me at her breast with her own baby daughter. During my entire life I have clung to that aunt as to a mother, and a life-long friendship has existed between that little girl cousin and myself who shared her first meals with me. We are like twin sister cousins.
My mother used to tell many funny stories about my early childhood. She declared that at first I had no hair on top of my head, and for a long time she feared that I would always be bald. But friends advised her to massage my head thoroughly. She did so until the much desired hair began to appear and, after a time, the once bare head was covered with tight, red curls. Although I was very fat, I always teased my mother to carry me. Since she was a little woman who weighed only about ninety-eight pounds, she often carried me in her arms when I was half her size. Oftentimes she should have punished me, but instead she carried me whenever I insisted.
When six years of age I suffered an attack of diphtheria which nearly proved fatal. Since there was no anti-toxin in those days, the doctors operated on the throat and inserted a silver tube. Years later, when I visited home with my own babies, the old family physician, Dr. Bunker, told me all about that operation. He said that the disease left me with a heart which would always cause me trouble. His prediction proved to be correct.
Before I reached my seventh birthday my father became a traveling agent for the Deering Harvester Company and we moved to Terre Haute, Indiana. There I received my grade school and high school education and ten weeks of business college.
I was converted when I was nine years old while attending a children’s meeting during a revival campaign in the Mt. Rose Methodist church. Neither my father nor my mother was attending church at that time, but in the schoolyard I met a little girl who was inviting other little girls to attend the children’s meetings. Everyone was saying “yes,” so I said “yes” also.
I do not remember the minister’s name, neither do I recall the sermon that he preached, but I do remember that my heart was broken because my sins were not forgiven and I had no Jesus. I went to the altar with many other children. I do not recollect the scene myself, but my Sunday school teacher told me about it afterward. She said that when the minister asked those of the seekers at the altar who knew they were saved to testify, I shouted and cried and testified, declaring how happy I was because of what Jesus had done for me.
I was afraid to go home because I did not know what my mama would say about the step I had taken in going to the altar. So one of the church members, who was our next-door neighbor, offered to take me home. When my mother saw me at the door, she took me in her arms, soothed me and made me lie down to rest. I did rest when I realized that my mama was really glad and happy because I had found Jesus. What a wonderful experience that was! Although only a little girl, I soon discovered that reading the Bible was the best of fun, and I dearly loved to study its pages. My mother could not understand, and she really believed that I was in danger of losing my mind.
Soon after my conversion (the following Sunday I think) my Sunday school teacher asked me to tell the class what Jesus had done for me. After my testimony we all knelt down and the teacher asked me to pray. I can remember well what a happy experience that was, because other girls in the class began to pray also, and we had a genuine little revival right there in our Sunday school class.
I greatly enjoyed the Junior League Band of the Mt. Rose Methodist church, and was frequently asked to lead in their meetings. Also, I remember a remarkable answer to prayer soon after my conversion. The older girls of our class owned a football, and one day they gave us younger girls permission to play with it. We lost the ball, and even after searching high and low, we could not find it. The situation seemed desperate, but I requested another little girl to meet me at the schoolhouse at eight o’clock the next morning. I had faith to believe that, with divine help, we would find that ball. After I went home I told my newly found Savior all about our dilemma. I felt sure that He would help us find the lost ball. My little friend met me at the appointed hour, and I need not tell you, dear Christian friend, that we soon located the football and returned it to the owners with thanks.
That was one of the notable days of my life, for it was the day when I first determined always to talk with Jesus in the future about even the common affairs of daily life, because I was convinced that He is interested in all that concerns His children, and that He is also able to help them in all their difficulties, no matter how trifling and insignificant they may seem to be.
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The memories associated with the Mt. Rose Methodist church, in which I was converted, have always been an inspiration to my soul. But after a time we moved from its neighborhood to a congested part of the city, and it became necessary for me to find a new Sunday school and church to attend. Since my parents were not church-going people, the entire responsibility devolved upon me. At that time I encountered some temptations that were new to me. For instance, in my new Sunday school class I was often tempted to feel that I did not belong to the crowd and that I was not wanted. Such a subtle temptation only the devil can bring. But the Lord always helped me, when in desperation I carried my needs to Him, and I continued to be happy in my Christian experience while I found the greatest joy of my life in serving the Lord.
The friendship between my twin sister cousin and myself was very close and I spent almost the entire summer with her. Her mother was a Seventh Day Adventist. She was careful to pray and read with us every day and to instruct us in the principles of the Adventist faith. I was so deeply impressed and so thrilled that I promised to unite with the Adventist Church. However, my mother would not allow me to take the step at that time. She insisted that I was too young to know what I was doing, and that I must wait at least until after my sixteenth birthday. After that she promised that I should be free to unite with any church that I might choose.
In the meantime my cousin and I enjoyed many happy days together. We both had boy friends, and we all enjoyed running about to the Adventist meetings of the day.
Nevertheless, during that period my spiritual condition was not always satisfactory. In fact it was a series of “ups and downs.” It was often hard to say “No” when I should and frequently equally as hard to say “Yes” at the proper time. After each failure I would punish myself and pray earnestly to the Lord for forgiveness until I was clear again. I do not remember that I ever failed to testify when opportunity was offered, but I often suffered defeat along certain lines, and my soul longed for something more satisfying than I possessed.
Finally in my sixteenth year I met a beautiful young woman, a member of the Methodist Church, who had been a Salvation Army officer. Her testimony was always one of victory, in marked contrast to mine. I determined to seek an interview with that young lady, Miss Lily LaDrew. I went to her room with a list of about twenty questions concerning different phases of the Christian life, such as, “Is it right to keep company with an unsaved boy?” “Is it right to attend church suppers?” Some of the questions had reference to the doctrines of Seventh Day Adventism. Miss LaDrew was a few years my senior, and she had been engaged in active Christian service, so she was a wonderful blessing and help to me in my perplexity. Her advice to me on that first interview could be summed up in these few words — “Follow the Lord and He will lead you in the right way. Follow Him at any cost.”
The first interview was followed by several other visits. On one occasion she told me about an experience that Christians should have. She said that we may have the evil nature cleansed out of our hearts so that the Holy Spirit may come in to abide in sanctifying grace. She said, “This experience is called sanctification.” My heart was very hungry. I felt that I needed that experience very much indeed. All the failures and stumblings of my Christian life looked so big to me that I felt I could not go on as I was.
Miss LaDrew invited me to come to her room at the noon hour so that we might pray together for my sanctification. I lived in anticipation until the next Tuesday. I was in the second year of high school, and I always carried my lunch to school. After eating my lunch I hastened over to Miss LaDrew’s room. There beside her davenport, we kneeled together, telling the Lord of my great need. My friend told me that in order to become sanctified, I must consecrate all to God and die to the opinions of others. My heart was so hungry that I was willing to do all that I was told. I at once felt that the unsaved boy friend must be given up, also that I must be willing to live according to the convictions which God had placed in my heart.
That was a crucial moment in my life, and the thing that I was doing was very real to me. When I came to the end of myself, the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart, “I have accepted you.” The joy of the Lord filled my soul. Every cloud and every burden was gone. The idea that I had entertained of keeping Saturday and of becoming an Adventist was all swept away. There seemed to be but one thing left in my thought, and that was “to love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself.” I was ready to worship the Lord every day of the week, every moment of the day, or on any day that might be asked of me. “One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).
As I hurried back to school with the assurance bright in my soul, every step seemed to bring a greater joy. One of the high school girls called to me to wait for her. When she caught up with me and we started up the steps, I said, “Do you believe in sanctification?” She replied, “No, do you?” I answered, “Yes, for I have the experience.” That was my first testimony to sanctification.
I knew that in the afternoon I must tell my mother about my new experience. Since she was not yet converted it was very difficult to talk with her about the things of the Spirit. When I arrived home from school Mother was waiting at the gate for me, because she wanted me to go with her on an errand. As we walked down the street together, I told her about the experience of sanctification which I had received that day at the noon hour in Miss LaDrew’s room. She stopped on the sidewalk and looked at me as if she thought that I must in very truth be losing my mind. She seemed, however, to recognize the fact that it required some courage for me to tell her. So she did not say one word, and we walked on together and performed our errand. My mother lived only thirteen months after that incident. During those months she was beautifully converted, or rather reclaimed, in our own home while she and I prayed together, and during her last illness she was sanctified wholly. I believe that we will meet in the City of God.
After my sanctification God laid it upon my heart to say grace at the table and to have family worship on Sunday mornings. Those things seemed hard, almost impossible, for me to do, for I was only sixteen years of age. But God went on before me and made a way when there was no way. He never asked me to do one thing that He did not help me to do, and I had great joy in my heart because of the victories which my Lord gave me. I would like to relate those victories in detail, but they would make this narrative too long and tedious for the reader’s patience. But I will say this much to the young Christian: The God who converts you and sanctifies you will walk beside you in all of the undertakings of your life, and if you do not fail Him, He will always give you the victory.
At that time we had my brother’s four motherless children in our home. That was a heavy burden for Mother because she was not strong. I did so desire to see those children reared for the Lord. I talked with them all from time to time and prayed with them. I have never ceased to pray for them, although so far as I know, they have never become established Christians. My brother soon took them away, so we were allowed the privilege of influencing them for God for only a short period.
In my school life I soon learned that Jesus was ready and willing to guide and to lead and to help me to manifest His grace. I talked with most of my classmates, urging them to become Christians. Some of them were already Christians, and one high school girl followed my example by introducing family worship into her home.
The graduating class of which I was a member began to make great plans to purchase a gift for the high school. In order to secure the necessary funds we decided to conduct a three-day school fair at which we planned to construct booths and to sell art gifts, ice cream and confections. We met one evening to discuss our plans. Our class president was a boy from a higher class who had failed to graduate the preceding year because of illness. Since he had a wonderful personality we made him president of our class. He suggested that it would be a fine idea to have an orchestra and a dance in the gymnasium at the close of the fair. That was indeed a severe test for me, and I shall relate my experience under that test so that every young person who reads this story may know that Jesus has a good way for each of His children, and it does not need to be the way of the world.
I knew that if that dance should be staged I would be compelled by my conscience to withdraw from all of the class activities. I promptly reminded the young president of that fact, but his retort came like a flash of lightning, “Well, who said they wanted you?” I made no answer, for I did not think it was necessary. I just kept quiet the rest of the evening. I did not really feel hurt, for I felt that it was perhaps no more than I should expect. One of the girls went home with me that night. When we reached the house, she said, “Didn’t you feel terrible over what the president said to you?” “Well,” I replied, “I did not feel so bad as might be expected.” I scarcely understood why I did not feel hurt except that I loved Jesus with all my heart, and I knew that I was doing what He would have me to do, and consequently I was perfectly satisfied.
I asked my visitor if she was a Christian. She replied that she was not. Then I asked her if she would like to become one. “Oh, yes!” she exclaimed, “I would!” That night at my bedside she gave her heart to God. Oh! how happy we both were when we climbed into bed! The happenings of the earlier part of the evening were practically forgotten and we were as happy as we could be. But surprises were in store.
When we returned to school the next morning we were informed that a committee had been sent to the principal to inform him that the class did not wish to have the dance which was under consideration. It was a complete surprise to me, but soon I received a hasty note from the young class president in which he enclosed the principal’s letter which informed him that the dance would not be permitted in the gymnasium. In his brief note the president said, “I guess you are to blame for this.” At once I sent a note in reply, saying, “This is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you, but how glad I am about it!” But this is not the end of the story.
I set to work in earnest for the fair. I visited the business men and, as I remember, raised more money for our gift than any other member of our class. I also arranged a booth which I filled with Christian mottoes. They were something of a novelty at that time, and I was kept busy selling them, for everyone seemed to want them.
But the climax of the victory was reached when a committee from the class visited me to say that the class wished me to have a part in the commencement exercises, and to ask me what I would like best to do. That was an outstanding moment in my life, but God had already prepared me for it. Once while on my knees I had already found the answer to that very question, “What would you most like to do for your high school class?” “Oh! to pray with them,” I thought, “would be my supreme delight!”
So when the class committee visited me and asked me that question, I promptly replied, “I know just what I want to do.”
I was living in Terre Haute, Indiana, a city of seventy-five thousand population. Our graduating exercises were always conducted in the Grand Theater, which was the largest in the city. A minister from one of the uptown churches was usually invited to offer the invocation. Nevertheless, when that committee asked me to state my preference, I said, “We have always asked one of the prominent ministers to offer the invocation. But could I be allowed to do that this time?” The committee replied, “We will see.” They interviewed the principal, asking him if it would be permissible for a student to offer the invocation. He replied that he had never heard of such a thing, but promised to consult the superintendent of schools. In due time, through the mail I received a notice from the superintendent stating that the request of my class had been granted, and that I was elected to offer the invocation at the commencement exercises.
On that memorable night the principal asked the audience to stand. It seemed that every seat in the auditorium, balcony and boxes was filled with people as I looked out upon them. I was asked to step forward and offer prayer. God helped me that night when I lifted my voice in prayer for the school and the teachers and the students with whom I had been associated for four years.
At the close of the exercises a messenger boy handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I was the only one in the class who received flowers. I felt that God was honoring me because I took my stand for Him under a severe test. Christian friends, He is waiting to do the same for every one of you.
Later the president of the class called upon me and I knew that he wished to make everything right between us. He did not understand the art of apologizing, but I was sure that was what he wanted to do, and I held no grudge in my heart against him. So we enjoyed a very pleasant evening together. He asked me what I was planning to do, for he thought that I expected to become a missionary. My answer was, “I am not certain just what my work will be, but it will be something for the Lord.”
After graduating from high school I attended DePauw University at Greencastle, Indiana, for three terms. I greatly desired to finish my college course, but my father could not see his way clear to finance it, and after I prayed very earnestly about the matter, it seemed that the Lord was leading me to other things. When I quit school I felt that I loved it and my books more than ever before. I could have borrowed money for school expenses and paid it back later when in a position to do so, but the Lord knows just how to deal with His children. I was learning more and more to allow the Lord to guide me in all things.
After my mother’s death, my father and I went to live with my sister. I missed my mother and her counsel so much that I learned to wait upon God and to plead with Him for guidance in the most minute affairs of life. The Lord never seemed to grow weary of me, but He was patient and He helped me through those stormy days.
While speaking of my college days, I wish to relate how I met the dearest girl I ever knew. During my first term at DePauw I roomed with Dora Lucas. She was a beautiful, sanctified Christian girl, but she had been sanctified only a short time. Her mother was a Christian Scientist and, of course, of no spiritual help to her daughter. So when I returned home in the summer I felt that I was almost backslidden. Such a time as I did have praying, crying and begging the Lord to give me more grace and added strength to be true in every battle. I had convictions about a lot of things that other good Christians did not share, but when I was not true to those convictions I came under condemnation. When I was first sanctified I had three rings on my fingers and I felt that the Lord led definitely to give up those rings. Each ring had its own story, but when God said, “Give them up,” I took them off, never to put them on again. I met other girls in my college days who seemed to be better Christians than I, yet they wore rings. But whenever I prayed the Lord held me to the light He had given me.
During that vacation the Lord sweetly assured my soul that He was with me and would continue to be with me and that I had nothing to fear. So I took courage and decided to ask the Lord to give me a definitely sanctified holiness girl to chum with at the college during the next term. I received the assurance that He would grant my petition.
During that next term my position in the dormitory, where I was boarding and rooming, was that of bell girl. I was asked to come early and help get the dormitory ready for college students. I watched all the first week for my sanctified girl. I picked out one girl who was very plainly dressed, thinking that possibly she was the one. I made some friendly advances to her but received no response. I learned later that her oddities were merely eccentricities, that her father was an infidel and very eccentric, and that she took many of her traits from him. The outward appearance is often deceptive.
But late on Saturday night after the opening of school a very attractive girl arrived, and the preceptress requested me to meet her on Sunday. “She wishes to go to the mission,” explained the good lady, “and I told her that she might go with you.” I had been attending a Methodist mission in the poorer section of our college town. I replied, “Bring her up and we will have a little chat together, I am too tired to attend any service tonight.”
I had made it one of the habits of my Christian life to tell my new acquaintances about my sanctified experience so if they did not wish to associate with holiness people, our friendship need not go farther. So I told that new student about how Jesus had sanctified me. She was leaning back in her chair near my study table.
“Do you believe that God sanctifies you?” she questioned eagerly. I replied, “I know He does.” Down came her chair with a bang and she exclaimed, “Oh, glory!”
I looked up quickly and said in my heart, “Here is my sanctified chum!” And so she was.
She had been sanctified during the summer in a campmeeting under the ministry of Thomas Hodgins who lived in Indianapolis. She wished to attend school in Indianapolis where she could meet the Hodgins family frequently. But her parents, who were opposed to holiness, would not allow their daughter to attend school in that city when they learned that Rev. Hodgins lived there. They wrote to several colleges for their catalogs, and DePauw was the first to answer. This is a story of answered prayer and of two lonely holiness girls who found deep and lasting friendship in a much needed hour. It was the sweetest girl friendship that I ever knew. My friend afterward married a holiness preacher in the South, but she died during the first year of their married life.
Evelyn came home with me for the Christmas holidays and we discovered the Church of the Nazarene which I afterward joined, and now I have been a member of that church for more than thirty years.
It pays you wonderful dividends, young people, to be sanctified early in life, for God brings so many rare blessings into your lives and you escape so many mistakes and regrets.
Source: “Miracles In White” (hdm3473) by Arletta Maud Martin