Appendix 1 - To Other Cities Also

Series: Our Fathers Saw His Mighty Works

            When Jesus Christ lived on earth some 2,000 years ago, He did not limit His ministry to one location.  Rather He said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.” (Luke 4:43 KJV)  Similarly, God’s work on earth through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent after He ascended to heaven has never been confined to one locale but has permeated nearly every region of the world.  God always finds ways of spreading His work to wherever people will receive it.  This was certainly evidenced in the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement.  Not only did the LEM quickly branch out from its Minneapolis, Minnesota, headquarters to other major Lutheran areas of the U.S. and hot spots of revival, but it even spread to regions which were not necessarily known for their religious fervor or Lutheran heritage.  One of the most remarkable of those instances is how God extended His work through the LEM to the Cleveland, Ohio, area beginning in the early 1960‘s.  But, as is usually the case with the unique ways in which God moves, this story began much earlier than the 1960’s.

 

            On May 6, 1922, Emerson J. Anderson was born in Deshler, Ohio.1  A few years later, his family moved to nearby Custar, Ohio, where they attended the United Brethren Church.  Here the atmosphere was conservative Christian with an emphasis on being born again.  Yet even as a boy, Emerson seemed to think of religion as impersonal and nothing more than an accepted part of culture.  When he was about twelve years old, he did go forward at an altar call during some special evangelistic meetings.  But looking back, he said it “was the expected thing to do . . . and I felt compelled to do what was expected.”  In the mid 1930’s, the church in Custar split over Modernism when the new pastor announced that all the pews would be moved out to hold a dance on the church floor.  Emerson’s parents, along with others, left the church and formed a new one.

 

            Whatever Emerson had seen of conservative Christianity during his childhood and youth apparently made little positive impression on him.  After high school, he worked in Custar for a while before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1941 for employment with the U.S. Navy Department.  At this time he stopped attending church completely, often opting to visit the nearby Smithsonian Institution on Sunday instead.  He abandoned virtually all Bible reading and prayer.  God was nearly a stranger to him.

 

            With U.S. involvement in World War II well underway by 1942, Emerson entered the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for training in engineering.  The next year he began sailing with the Merchant Marines and did so through the end of the war.  Four times he found himself on ships in combat zones.  As his ship dropped depth charges at nearby German submarines, Emerson would sit on his bed and read from a New Testament.  He had at least some sense of spiritual need.  Reflecting years later he said, “God protected me during all those unsaved years.”

 

            After sailing two years past the war’s end, Emerson married in late 1947 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he put his engineering experience to work as a boiler and machinery engineer.  Then in early to mid 1953, he suddenly began to attend church for the first time in eleven years.  This was likely because he and his wife were expecting a baby (born in January of 1954) and wanted to give her the culturally normal religious upbringing.  The church they chose was nearby Puritas Lutheran, a member of one of the Lutheran synods of German heritage.  Although Emerson had no Lutheran background, his wife had been raised in this synod because her family was German.  Nearly a year after the birth of their daughter, Emerson said, “I began to see the emptiness and vanity of my lifestyle.  I became restless and troubled in my soul.  I bought a small Bible and began to read it on a daily basis.”  In fact he often spent most of his free time reading that Bible, and God began convicting him of his sin. 

 

            “In June 1955,” Emerson said, “while I was sitting in my yard reading, my spiritual eyes were suddenly opened. 

“I saw my sin and God’s full forgiveness and salvation in Jesus on the cross, and I answered God’s call to receive His forgiveness and Jesus as my Savior.  It was as though the Word of the Gospel which I already knew very well intellectually became a precious Word of forgiveness to me in my heart.  Then I became sure that my sins were forgiven and that I was prepared to meet God.  From that time on, I had a new set of desires.” 

Those new desires, including reading the Bible and other Christian books, were in fact so strong that they soon displaced Emerson’s former pastime of dedicatedly following the Cleveland Browns and Indians which he now saw instead as a tempting distraction to his Christian life.

 

            Shortly after Emerson was saved, he and his wife began holding a Bible study in their home and inviting others from their church.  At least one younger couple became Christians as a result of this.2  Another younger couple began attending the study after the husband received Christ at a church retreat to which Emerson had invited him.3 

 

            Having always been studious, Emerson now also began to study Christian theology.  Among his reading material in this regard was his church’s synodical magazine Lutheran Standard, but God had more in store for him through it than just theological study.  A letter to the editor in the June 22, 1957, issue of that magazine caught his attention.  It read in part,

“I was considerably irked at the sweepingly dogmatic and indiscriminate condemnation of the premillenial faith as it appeared in the June 1 Lutheran Standard . . . The ‘Question Box’ gives the impression that only a few scattered, somewhat irresponsible Lutherans have ever believed in a millenium.  On the contrary, this doctrine has been upheld by not a few Lutheran scholars of real theological stature . . . I am one of those Lutherans who believes in the premillenial coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I am prepared to defend my faith from the Holy Scriptures . . . .”4 

The author was Rev. Theodore B. Hax.  This matter so intrigued Emerson that he wrote to the editor in the July 13 issue,

“Sir: The recent writings in the Standard on the question of millennium versus no millennium has created an interest in our church regarding the two views.  Rev. Hax has issued a challenge to defend his position.  I would like to see this challenge accepted by someone of the no-millennium belief, with articles or a series of articles on both sides appearing side by side in the Standard.5 

God saw to it that the outcome to Emerson’s reply was of much greater significance than he could have ever guessed.

 

            As Emerson had begun to grow in his Christian faith, he had discovered that there were few in his church who were of the same spirit as God had birthed in him.6  He had begun wondering if there were other Lutherans in the area who wanted real Christian fellowship as much as he did, and he had become burdened to find any who did.  Then God had led him to four others, and together they had begun discussing how to reach other Lutherans in the Cleveland area who were similarly interested in fellowship.  Since none of them had known of any, they had soon set aside the vision for outreach and settled down to a small Bible study.  Then came a letter in the mail.  It was a personal reply from Rev. Hax in response to Emerson’s letter to the editor.  And in it, Rev. Hax introduced Emerson to the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement and its magazine Evangelize. 

 

            As a result of that introduction, Emerson and his wife and daughter, as well as his mother (his father had died in 1956), began driving the 750 miles to the LEM Deeper Life Conference held each summer on Medicine Lake just outside Minneapolis.7  Here he found the fellowship he had been longing for “which seemed impossible in a Lutheran gathering.”8  And here he also met and was befriended by the veteran pastor and evangelist J.O. Gisselquist.  Gisselquist had retired from being an LEM evangelist in 1956, but as he put it, “All that happened was that I got off the pay-roll, but the Lord gave me no liberty to quit.  And I am glad.”9  Indeed, the Lord had additional special work for him to do. 

 

            Throughout his career, Gisselquist had always been particularly supportive of Christian lay activity.  Now he became especially fond of this layman10 from Cleveland who desired to “bring the lost to Christ and to strengthen the faith of believers“11 in his home city.  Gisselquist encouraged him,

“I am sure the Lord Himself is placing the burden for a Bible conference on, not only your heart, but on many others.  I am also more and more convinced that in the days ahead God will increasingly use the small fellowship groups . . . in which and by which the Holy Spirit will be doing His work.”  “My ministry from now on will be more devoted to help further the free work sponsored locally by men who carry the burden and concern for the spiritual need of their communities . . . .”12 

 

 

The Cleveland LEM Fellowship is Born

 

            Around the time of the 1961 Deeper Life Conference on Medicine Lake, Emerson Anderson and J.O. Gisselquist began serious planning for bringing the LEM to Cleveland.13  Over the following months, they wrote letters back and forth, and plans began to solidify.  Gisselquist wrote,

“I have noticed in the latter years, people are getting so busy that an eight-day conference with three sessions daily, as we used to have in the early days of the LEM, is about out of the question.“  “But times are changing.  Now the summer Bible camps . . . in which you combine vacation with a Bible conference are the ideal thing.  Let us move in that direction as I believe the Lord leads thus.”14 

Accordingly, plans were formulated for a Deeper Life Camp to be held near Cleveland the following summer, and a campground was reserved.

 

            What was to be the general purpose and format of the camp?  Gisselquist explained, “Here then you can have Bible study, real Christian fellowship in prayer meetings and fellowship with testimonies, evangelistic meetings, children’s services, etc.  You are built up in the faith.  And how that is needed!  If there is to be real work in evangelism where you reach out for the unsaved, then the people of God must first be revived and spiritually built up.  This is God’s order.”15 

 

            As the months passed, Emerson contacted and confirmed various pastors and evangelists that Gisselquist had recommended as speakers.  Fittingly, Rev. Hax was one of them.  In all sincerity, Gisselquist had said, “I would be willing to come too, but you can get better men.  I’ll back you up.”16  But it was clear where his heart was when he added, “If the Lord should lay it upon your heart that I ought to come too, then I would not refuse.”17  He was certainly not disappointed when the LEM director personally asked him to go to the Cleveland camp.18  Gisselquist was to become a mainstay of the LEM in Cleveland until shortly before his death in 1968. 

           

            But Gisselquist’s strongest advice which he repeated numerous times was, “I have a real conviction that a local board of brethren that share the burden for the work of God must shoulder the major share of the responsibility.”19 

“Let me say most earnestly that you Christians who are promoting this coming conference . . . appoint that committee.”  “Then whether pastors stay or go . . . or whether the church puts such pressure on the pastor that he will be forced to withdraw, or if the pastors are against such free work, with an independent committee composed of mature Christians the work will go on.”20 

A local committee was soon organized with Emerson Anderson as chairman,21 a role which he was to fill for the next 25 years.

 

            Gisselquist’s advice was wise.  In fact, the local committee could find almost no support from local pastors at first.  Emerson wrote,

“So far we have had one.”  “ . . . We don’t feel led to try to involve someone who doesn’t come forth gladly and voluntarily.”  “If LEM were to wait until some pastors in this area wanted them, I don’t believe they would ever do a work here.  Meantime, the coming may be near and we are holding back for fear of men.  If God give us a camp, money to operate it and people to speak his truth and people to come and hear, I can only assume He is doing a work.”22 

And He certainly was.  Gisselquist was sure of it too.  As he said, “ . . . We shall look to the Lord to undertake for us.  The work is His and He will Himself carry it forward thru us and by us.  Let us have faith in Him.”23  By March of 1962, Emerson could say, “This camp work is keeping me busy.  However, we have received several reservation letters from people who have been praying for a work like this in the area, and so doing such a work is rewarding.  The Lord gives the strength and His Spirit.”24 

 

            Three months later when the first Cleveland area Deeper Life Camp was held (June 22-30, 1962), between 85 and 100 campers arrived for a week of fellowship in God’s Word.25  The facility used was the Suomi Synod’s Camp Luther located on Lake Erie about 75 miles northeast of Cleveland, and the camp theme was “The Hope That Purifies.”  Every morning, a Bible study in I John was held at 9:00 AM, a Deeper Life hour at 10:00 AM, and a fellowship hour at 11:00 AM.  Every evening there was an evangelistic service.  There were also special morning sessions for children and for youth consisting of Bible stories, singing, crafts, and recreation.  In the afternoons, a variety of recreational activities were available like swimming, softball, horseshoes, and ping pong. 

 

            Those who came were hungry for God’s Word - so hungry that Gisselquist said they could have been fed with scoop shovels.26  And they were fed well.  After the week of spiritual refreshment, nearly all of the campers said that not only would they be coming back next year but also they would be bringing others along.  Some were even using their vacation time to attend camp.  But perhaps the most significant testimony was that of Gisselquist himself who wrote upon his return to Minneapolis, “Dear brother Anderson:  I returned home Saturday night at six, tired but happy in the Lord.  I was much strengthened in my spiritual life as we fellowshipped at the Deeper Life last week.  It was really a mountain-top experience even for an old-timer like myself, who by this time have attended about 100 conferences since I came into this work.”27  The same God who had raised up the LEM in Minneapolis was working in Cleveland.

 

            The following winter, a Deeper Life Conference on the theme “Rich Through Christ” was hosted by Parma Lutheran Church in a suburb of Cleveland.28  One Christian summarized the four days by saying, “It was a foretaste of heaven itself.“  “Those of us who attended stood by in wonder watching God Himself work!  God again proved that the LEM is His work and that He is opening a door for this great work in the Ohio area.”  Many from area churches, as well as some from out-of-state, attended morning Bible studies in Ephesians, afternoon studies on “Our Poverty and His Riches,” and evening evangelistic services.  There were also prayer hours and fellowship hours.  Three things were especially noteworthy.  First of all, the local committee was becoming increasingly united in love for Christ and for sharing Him with others.  Secondly, the Christians who attended felt greatly strengthened towards victorious Christian living, communion with God, and passion for the salvation of lost souls.  Thirdly, a number were converted during the evening evangelistic services including some young people who then commenced their own weekly meetings for prayer, Bible study, and testimonies.  One convert testified,

“I am thankful that my Sunday School teacher asked our class to attend the LEM Midwinter Conference, for it was at a service there that I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour . . . My life has been changed.  I have Jesus in my heart and He shows me sins in my life that I didn’t even know were sins before.  It was a wonderful day in my life when Jesus came into my heart.” 

The local Christians in attendance were certain that those four days were “just the beginning of what God will perform through the LEM in this area.”

 

 

God’s Work Continues in Cleveland

 

            These first two conferences became the pattern for what was named the Cleveland LEM Fellowship.  Every year from then on, a summer Deeper Life Camp and a winter Deeper Life Conference were held.  Local and regional interest started to increase.  And what Gisselquist had said began to prove true: “When the pastors see the Christians in increasing number go to these conferences and return with a glowing testimony, they too will want to come.”29 

 

            The second annual Deeper Life Camp at Camp Luther was held June 21-29, 1963, on the theme “Watch and Pray Always.”30  Attendance was up 50 percent from 1962, and spiritual hunger was growing too.  The schedule was similar to the previous year’s with studies on I and II Thessalonians, the Holy Spirit, and end times prophecies.  But so great was the interest in God’s Word that an unscheduled study hour in Daniel and Revelation took over part of the afternoon recreation time, and an impromptu fellowship hour was held before each evening’s evangelistic service.

 

            Those evening services were the highlight of camp for many.  One Christian reported, “God’s Holy Spirit really filled and spoke through Pastor Clair Jennings each evening, convicting men of their lost condition and drawing them to Calvary.”  “God opened the spiritual eyesight of many souls and brought them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  The harvest of souls was especially great among the young people, although young and old alike experienced salvation . . . Not a night went by without seeing someone take that decisive step to get in line with Jesus Christ.”  “Throughout the rest of the evening people could be seen throughout the camp grounds seeking out a pastor for counsel on salvation, and gathering in the chapel or out under the trees for prayer.  In the cabins many were having long talks into the night about our Lord Jesus and how rich, and full, life is when He is at the controls.”31 

 

            One of the new converts from Camp Luther testified, “Salvation in Jesus Christ is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.  A whole new world was opened when Christ came into my life.“  “I knew there was something different in my life.  Reading the Bible had become interesting.  Verses I had read over and over began to make sense; everything had new meaning.”32  Another reported, “Camp Luther was really a week of blessing to me.  There were many things that the Lord and I straightened out together.”  A man who had previously been only religious testified, “Christ’s peace was a mystery to me.  Like most average Christians, I felt I was a pretty okay guy, but I found myself living a worldly life.  Now I can say that I have found that peace.  I gave my life to the Lord, and I ask for His strength . . . He has brought new friends into my life, and He settles my problems.”

 

            And the fruit unto eternal life did not end with the closing service.  One man at camp that year was present only because he was temporarily out of work due to a medical condition and therefore had no reasonable excuse with which to counter his Christian wife‘s persistent appeals that he attend.33  She was not convinced that he was saved although he was sure that his perfect church attendance record vouched for his Christianity.  During a meeting near the end of camp, the local LEM committee decided to begin sponsoring a weekly evangelistic radio broadcast.  This man not only was trained in electronics but also owned sound equipment which was currently lying idle at his home.  The committee knew him and asked if he would assist in formatting the pre-recorded messages for radio.  Not having a legitimate reason to say no, he reluctantly agreed.  Two weeks later, one of the committee members came to his house to begin the project.  The sermons to be used were those of Rev. Herbert Franz from Cloquet, Minnesota.  As the two men prepared the first master recording for radio, they encountered what seemed to be an unusual amount of static and distortion which was not in the original recording.  Though they worked late into the night, they could not get rid of it.  Finally, the committee member headed home to get some sleep before work the next day.  The other man said he would keep working on it himself.  But it seemed that no matter how hard he tried over the next few days, he could not eliminate the distortion.  As he worked, he wore headphones over his ears to monitor the sound.  And although he didn’t particularly want to, he could hardly help but listen to the message of the sermon itself.  It was titled, “Religious but Lost.”  As this man was forced to listen to that message over and over, God began to convict him that he was only religious but not really a Christian.  And then suddenly, with no explanation besides the hand of God, the distortion was gone.  These events soon led to this man’s conversion. 

 

            Shortly after the next Cleveland area Deeper Life Conference in early 1964, Gisselquist wrote to Emerson, “It is marvelous how the Lord is opening doors for the LEM in the East.  We have been receiving some very warm testimonies from friends in Cleveland and Columbus.  It reminds me strongly of the early days of our LEM . . . these bubbling over testimonies.“34

           

            Within the next two years, increasing local church support and regional interest caused two more annual Deeper Life Conferences to be added to the schedule.35  With attendees beginning to also come from states farther east, the annual Deeper Life Camp was moved to Laurelville Camp and Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, in 1964, and the local fellowship changed its name from the Cleveland LEM Fellowship to the Eastern LEM Fellowship in 1966.  As several local pastors became supportive of the work, they began appearing as conference speakers on a regular basis.

 

            The earmarks of each conference and camp were similar.  Representative of these was Emerson Anderson’s report from the 1966 winter Deeper Life Conference.  “ . . . Many assembled . . . to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word . . . .”  “The prayer and fellowship hours were times of blessing and refreshment.  Older Christians testified to the faithfulness of the Lord and His ability to satisfy their deepest soul needs.  We were blessed to hear from those who testified for the first time and from our young people.”  “ . . . And not the least, we rejoiced that through the proclamation of the Word during the evangelistic hour a goodly number sought and received help in being reconciled unto God.”36 

 

            The youth participation that Emerson Anderson mentioned was not unusual.  In 1967, a representative from LEM headquarters in Minneapolis visited the Deeper Life Camp at Mt. Pleasant and observed that, of the 140 attendees, “there were about forty teenagers, a mixed racial group, who received much from the week.”  “ . . . I had graphic evidence that, when the Spirit of Christ dwells in people, people of different races live together in perfect harmony.”37  In 1969, the first year that the Deeper Life Camp was moved to Camp Burton in Burton, Ohio, one teenager rejoiced, “It was really a blessing to me to have fellowship with teenagers who feel the same as I when it comes to what’s most important in life.  My heart was greatly strengthened by the spiritual diet given to me by all the pastors.  Our Lord’s presence was not only there during sessions but also during recreation or whatever we were doing together, and it really did my heart good.”38 

 

            During Deeper Life at Camp Burton each summer throughout the 1970’s, “People always got saved . . . and many youth made commitments to Christ.”39  Some of the salvations were accompanied by definite deliverances as in the case of a husband and wife whose addictions to alcohol and nicotine vanished suddenly after their conversions.40  As they left camp, the husband lit a cigarette and put it in his mouth but immediately spit it out, discovering to his own surprise that he now found it disgustingly repulsive.  Shortly after arriving home, the husband and wife returned to the bar which they had formerly frequented and announced to their friends that they had been saved and would not be back.  The friends scoffed and predicted a hasty relapse for them, but the couple never did return to alcohol or to the bar. 

 

 

The February 1970 Revival

 

            Of all the mighty works that Emerson Anderson saw God perform through the Eastern LEM Fellowship, the one that he was to remember most vividly in his later years was what transpired at a Cleveland Deeper Life Conference in February of 1970.41  But the events leading up to that conference were as phenomenal as the conference itself, and together they formed irrefutable evidence that it was a sovereign God at the controls and not mere men.

 

            In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, a man named Merton L. Jannusch served as an associate pastor at a Cleveland church named St. John’s Lutheran.  After having lived a sinfully colorful youth and early adult life highlighted by drunkenness, lasciviousness, and theft, Jannusch had completely reformed his ways and settled down to marry a missionary’s daughter and begin a career in teaching English.  Considering that he had grown up in a religious environment, it was not so remarkable that he and his young wife joined a Lutheran church near their home.  But even Jannusch did not expect that God, through the pastor’s sermons, would call him to enter the ministry.  Willingly, he quit teaching and completed the required years of seminary training.  This included a fifteen month vicarage at St. John’s Lutheran in Cleveland.  The St. John’s congregation liked Jannusch so well that, after his graduation, they called him back as a full-time associate pastor. 

 

            In 1963, Jannusch left Cleveland for a senior pastoral position in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Shortly after arriving in Green Bay, he was appointed district evangelism director for his synod.  His job was to create interest in evangelism, beginning with the eighteen district pastors under him.  Around this time, a friend introduced him to the monthly magazine Evangelize published by the LEM out of Minneapolis.  Jannusch subscribed to it and read it with interest.  Its contents certainly had bearing on his work as evangelism director.  He attended an advertised LEM Midwinter Conference in Minneapolis and by the second evening found himself “anxious not to miss out” on any part of the sessions.  He began attending other LEM conferences and camps and became quite supportive of the LEM‘s program.

 

            One of the people that Jannusch began eagerly telling about the LEM was Erwin Brandt, a friend from his years at St. John’s in Cleveland.  Brandt’s own story was fairly unique.  He had grown up in Germany and, as a youth during World War II, had been compelled to serve in the Nazi army.  Toward the latter stages of the war as the Nazi’s were losing, they sent numerous reinforcements to the Eastern Front in a last-ditch effort to bolster their army.  Brandt was one of those reinforcements but, along with many others, was quickly captured by Russian forces.  Upon searching him, the Russians found a German Bible.  Looking back, Brandt always believed that because of that Bible he was spared severe suffering or death.  Instead, he was imprisoned in Siberia for several years and later allowed to return to post-war Germany.  From there, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland, Ohio.  He joined St. John’s Lutheran because of its large population of German immigrants and because of the special German service held there each Sunday morning.  Eventually, Brandt became an elder representing the German sector at St. John’s.  He also became friends with the young Pastor Jannusch and stayed in contact with him even following his departure for Green Bay.  After Jannusch became familiar with the LEM, he invited his old friend Brandt to an LEM Deeper Life Camp in the summer of 1969.  Brandt attended and, although he had been fairly religious until that point, he discovered his need for salvation and became a new creation in Christ.  He returned excited about his new faith and deeply burdened by the Holy Spirit to pray that the LEM might come to St. John’s Lutheran.

 

            Unknown to Erwin Brandt and to everyone else except God, the man who had introduced Brandt to the LEM was not even a Christian himself.  Merton Jannusch was later to say,

“I had become a pharisee of pharisees.  My past life of sin was covered over with a veneer of the first order - clean living, theological training, Biblical conservativism, ministerial success, and religious activism.”  “I was at such a low plateau in my spiritual life that I no longer had so much as a bleep on the screen of my conscience.”  “I was cognizant of no unmet spiritual need in my life.  I would have admitted that I was not perfect and needed to grow, but in the back of my mind I felt that I was head and shoulders above my peers and the leaders in the church.”  “I trusted in the cardinal doctrine of the Bible - justification by faith for Christ’s sake alone.  I thought that I trusted in Christ as my Savior because I believed everything in the Bible.”  “I was preaching the necessity of having a personal relationship with Christ.”  “I had full assurance of salvation,” but it was “a smug false assurance on the basis of my religious life.”  “I felt fully assured of God’s approval - since conservativism and Godliness were synonymous to me - although my heart was like stone.”

 

            In the fall of 1969, Merton Jannusch could say, “I was fully confident that my barns were full and my soul could take it easy.”  But God knew otherwise and had plans of His own.  For the previous four years, Jannusch’s church in Green Bay had held special evangelistic meetings in the fall.  For their scheduled October 19-23 (Sunday - Thursday), 1969 meetings, they invited LEM evangelist Nels Pedersen whose preaching Jannusch had appreciated at various LEM camps and conferences.  Pedersen stayed in Jannusch’s home where “he used a great deal of wisdom” and “never brought up a spiritual matter.”  But at the church, it was quite otherwise.  He “began to preach about the mental, historical, and intellectual faith which a person could have - and still be lost and slated for hellfire.”  Jannusch was pleased to see his congregation paying close attention.  “It was good,” he said, “to see people awakening to things which I already knew.”

 

            One of those who began to come under conviction was Jannusch’s own wife.  Although she had always been morally impeccable, she had lost the assurance of her salvation by the fourth day of the conference.  The evangelist’s statement which bothered her most was, “You can’t give away what you don’t possess yourself.”  Secretly, she began to hate the evangelist and avoided contact with him even in the home.  “She ranged through the New Testament trying to find her assurance once more.”  But “nothing worked for her any longer.”  Deeply troubled, she approached her husband with her problem on Wednesday afternoon. 

 

            Tired out from the many details of the conference, Merton Jannusch was just lying down to take a nap and was in no mood to be bothered with his wife’s spiritual questions.  After listening to her politely, he frankly told her that he knew neither how to help her nor how to give her assurance of salvation.  But, he said, he could tell her how he had seen the evangelist counsel and pray with a church member the night before after everyone else had gone home.  Strangely, as Jannusch began relating the previous evening’s details to his wife, he became “deeply touched and stirred.”  When he finished, he suggested that they pray together about her needs. 

 

            He began praying for his wife but before long felt moved to pray for himself.  He prayed as he had heard the evangelist lead the parishioner the night before.  “Oh Holy Spirit, show me my sins.  Let them pass before my mind so that I feel them and know them.”  Suddenly, Jannusch said,

“I saw a number of sins in which I had been enslaved for years - pride, lust, fear, greed, anger, lying, thieving, blasphemy, and others.”  “The guilt from some of the sins of my past - drunkenness especially - loomed very large in front of me.”  “It seemed to me like a very big, long list of sins which I spoke aloud to God in an attitude of sorrow and repentance.”  “When I had finished, I knew that I had nowhere even begun to see them all, but I had been shown enough to know that I was the biggest sinner that my congregation would ever have . . . .”  “I knew for the first time in my life that I was . . . not a child of God.  I knew that if I’d have died in this condition I would have gone straight to hellfire and damnation eternally.”  “At this point I could not stop.  I asked the LORD to forgive and cleanse me, as He had promised in I John 1:9 . . . .”  “When I finished with this, I proceeded to give myself and all that I had to Jesus.  I didn’t know where the power to do this came from, for I had tried to do this some years before but could not . . . .”  “I gave Jesus my life, my wife and children, my possessions, my congregation and my ministry, my future, my all.  Then I continued to pray, asking Jesus to assume Lordship and control of me by coming into me, as He said in Revelation 3:20.”  “When I finished praying, I thanked the Lord for hearing and answering me.”

 

            The newly converted pastor lay down to take his nap while his wife left as troubled and confused as she had come.  After his nap, Jannusch headed to the church to prepare for that evening.  “As I drove down the road,” he said, “the clear unmistakable impression came upon me, ‘It is well with my soul.’”  The next day, the last day of the conference, his wife also found that peace of soul.  Her biggest fear, it seemed, was that if she gave up her intellectual and mental faith and found herself unable to receive Jesus Himself, she might be left with even less than she had possessed before.  Boldly, she approached the evangelist.  Finally, after a lengthy discussion, he told her, “Well, you’ll just have to make up your mind.  Either keep what faith you have or give it up and receive the Lord.”  She opted for the latter and found the wonderful freedom and assurance she had been seeking.

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