If I Had a Hundred Thousand Lives…


Daniel Thomas

One young man in South Wales, taking God serious, and thus God’s will for his life, was ready to burn his bridges behind him and venture out to far and dangerous lands.., if God so led. When, later, his mother found out he was definitely praying and preparing for South America, she despaired. She offered him the small fortune of 100 Gold Sovereigns, if only he would give up such ideas.
To no avail! Daniel Thomas loved his Lord and Savior even more than his own dear mother. And God used him mightily in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Spain, but not without a cost.

As he opened his heart to those who prayed for him, giving them glimpses of all that went on in his life and work, we too may benefit and learn from such dealings of God with a willing heart.

1913        Paraguay

From Darkness to Dawn

How ready God is always to hear our prayers and to supply our need! The power of darkness is tremendous and the clip_image006_0001discouragements could be numerous, but halleluiah!, He has taught me to cast my burden
on him for He will sustain, and that is what I am doing; laying all the cares, troubles, trials, temptations, discouragements, and everything else on him. Then I go along with a light and happy heart with no heavy load to drag along.

God’s dealings are so gracious. He is so loving and merciful. It might seem a thing incredible that one could be filled continually with his peace and joy in the midst of sin of every description, yet we are kept, because we are enclosed in Christ Jesus. This alone is the secret of our being able to live with clean hands among these people.

True, we feel at times that we are almost alone, yet we are encompassed with the prayers, sympathy, and love of large numbers of saints in different parts of the world. We long to see others in this great “neglected continent” sharing and enjoying the blessings which we so abundantly receive.

Truly this land is a wilderness and a parched land, a land of spiritual famine and of darkness where millions pass away into eternity without any hope, and without God. We are sad when we see the condition of these poor people, not trusting in the merits of our Lord. They trust in their own merits, or in the prayers of some priest, or in the prayers of friends who may intercede for them after they have departed from this world… Our hearts go out to them in love and compassion.

How we long to tell them of a Savior who is “mighty to save”, of him who alone is the hope of the world! If I had a hundred thousand lives to give I would gladly give them all to tell this people the way of salvation. But I have only one, and may God have that one entirely to witness for him in Paraguay.

Very gradually prejudices are breaking down. The dawn is breaking; Satan’s kingdom is beginning to shake; the people’s faith in the priests and in Rome is failing; and before long we may have the joy of gathering in the sheaves after years of hard work and discouragement.

God has already granted us the first fruits of our labors in Villarrica in saving a young Paraguayan, who now seems to be growing in grace. He has offered himself to work among his fellow-countrymen, and has already begun to witness for the Master in his own district. He intends to ask the school-master there for the use of the school-room, in order to hold Bible readings among the school boys. May he be strong in the Lord, and may God use him in bringing many others to the Savior. By saving this dear brother God has put his seal upon our little school. It was through the school that we were brought into contact with him.


Conversions – Confessions

Recently I baptized three men in the river. One of them, Martin, has been a shining light and many have been converted through his testimony. Another one is Constantino, also converted through Martin. Just before he entered the water, a woman, one of the believers, went up to Martin and confessed publicly that she had spoken hard words against him wrongly, and asked forgiveness. Immediately there was a general confession amongst the believers, one asking forgiveness of another for something done or said. I could not help thinking; surely the Lord’s work will prosper in this place. Both Martin and Constantino are lovers of God’s Word.

About a fortnight ago we had our first service in the house of Juan de la Cruz, one of the converts, who lives in a village about eight miles out. He had invited many and quite a number came. During the meeting some men who were in hiding threw oranges, and one fired his revolver, but no harm was done, and the meeting was not broken up. Juan de la Cruz has plenty of opposition, but he holds on.

1916            Argentina  

From ‘Abandoned’ to ‘Abundant’

Cantalicio has been saved. His story is a wonderful one. He had been ill for about eighteen months, and was getting steadily worse. He is an orphan and homeless, and had prayed, not to any image, but to God alone, that He would send someone to help him. He had done this knowing nothing whatever of the Gospel or of the way of salvation. Some time after he began praying, I was told about him, so Constantino and I went to visit him. We found him very poorly, and were told that he only had one meal a day, slept on a board, and that on cold nights his sores were so painful that he could not sleep.

We washed his sores and bandaged them, and told him that as soon as he could walk he might come and stay with us. Next day we visited him again and found that he had slept well and was much better. Within a few days he was able to walk alone to our house, about a mile distant. The first day that he was with us he began reading the New Testament we had given him, and he never tires of listening to the Gospel story. He has also taken a great interest in the meetings and has hardly missed one.

Recently we baptized another young man, also called Cantalicio, who was our first convert in Posadas. A large number of people were present, some of whom we had never seen before, and all were very attentive.

1923            Brazil

Abiding and Abounding

We do not know what is ahead of us, but when He leads and we follow, it will be alright whatever comes, for we know that there will be sufficient grace for every trial; and in the loneliness of inland South America the Lord is near to us. It has been so in the past when far away from civilization. Deprived of the fellowship of the saints, I felt his presence more real than even when I was home amongst the believers. How gracious the Lord is unto me, and his mercies never fail; his keeping power is a continuous miracle in me. I am kept each moment by him.

What does the psalmist mean by saying, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”? The thought came to me that it had the same meaning as the words of our Lord in John 15, “Abide in me”. There is safety in abiding in him, and not only safety but also blessing, fellowship, power, much fruit. Now Psalm 91 has new meaning for me. Preaching to the Indians, I spoke of the result of abiding in Christ, and the result of not abiding in him. What a great difference it makes. He that ‘abides’ is under the shadow of the Almighty, kept each moment, and living the Victorious Life – and that is the only life worth living; while the non-abiding, though a Christian, is not under the shadow of the Almighty. Such a one may be very busy and doing his best in the Lord’s service, but all is of very little real value, he has not the “Well done!” of the Master, because he abides in “self” and does his own will. His labors are labors of duty and not of love, so there is no true joy in it. To him that abides in Christ, it is quite as easy to live the Christian life even in the midst of Satan’s stronghold.

We are so secure, and it is so peaceful. It is no wonder that we are so happy and content, even when external things are against us, and when this body of ours has to suffer so much. And again: from this “secret place” we have a clearer view of the condition of this world, for we see it from the same standpoint as our Lord. It is impossible to abide for long in him without becoming more like him. We love the natives because of the love that God has given unto us, and that love constrains us to give of our best in order to bring poor lost sinners to the foot of the Cross, even though our love and kindness towards them are so often misunderstood. Abiding in him makes a great difference in our dealings with fellow-men.

The Lord knows all about our difficulties, and supplies us daily with grace sufficient. How hopeless we would be without his sustaining grace. We get his sweet fellowship and grace to rejoice in tribulations.

The ungrateful and the loveless ones come back to us as hard as ever, and are met by love and its fruit – kind words, sympathy, and good works – only to continue with the same hard and rebellious spirit. True love knows no defeat, and quietly at the Throne of Grace pleads for these poor and degraded souls. It hands them over to him who is able and willing to save the vilest, and we have the privilege of seeing many of them coming to Christ for forgiveness and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, and oh, what a change! Drunkards, gamblers, thieves, murderers, and all sorts are being born again, and go to tell others of what God has done in their lives.

1933            Spain

Giving Out, Gathering In

We feel more and more that the great need of Spain today is to have the Word of God in every home in the land. To most of the Spaniards the Bible is a closed Book, and to many it is unknown. Many could tell us the history of the different saints and the supposed miracles that they have done, but could not repeat one sentence of John 3:16, or other well known verses. The people themselves are not to blame for they have never had the opportunity of knowing the contents of the Sacred Book. Our experience in Gospel distribution is that the people are eager to have and to read the Word of God in spite of the anathemas of the Church of Rome.

The most fruitful work today in Spain is the distribution of the Holy Scriptures. People for one reason or another will not come to a Gospel meeting, but they are generally ready to receive a tract. Just this week as we were out in the country distributing tracts, we met two men coming from another village. We had with us only a few Gospel Portions which we were reserving for those who had not previously received a copy. We gave a tract to one and a booklet to the other. They were so surprised to get them free that they almost forgot to say “thank-you”. We were then about three miles from town, and as we walked behind them we could see that one was listening and the other reading, and they continued so until they were out of sight. They were reading the Good News for the first time, and no doubt when they reached home that evening many more would hear it read.

As we continued our journey home we saw a man ploughing in a field to our left with his daughter following him sowing the seed in the newly ploughed furrow, and following her another man was sowing manure in the same furrow. As they were some distance from the road, I held the little book up then placed it by the side of the path. Within a few minutes a boy appeared from somewhere and took it to his father. Immediately all work ceased and the four sat on the ground while one of the number read to them. As we went out of sight in the distance, we saw them still listening with eager ears to the wonderful words of the Saviour.

It was through tract distribution that we came in contact with Manuel, our first convert, as he was going to his work on the farm, and today he carries on the same work in the face of much opposition when he has time and opportunity. Many believe that he is insane because he reads so much of his Bible. Others cannot understand how he who was for years a leader in many evil things has so completely deserted them all. His consistent life is at last having an influence on some and on his family who persecuted him so much. The other day one of his old friends told him that he longed to live a life as he did, but could not. For eighteen months he had been watching him, and knew that a great change had taken place in his life. Manuel had another opportunity of testifying to him, not only of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also of his keeping power, moment by moment, and showed him how he also could have the same life, peace, joy and victory.


Praises in Prison

As John and I started out again on another tour of a hundred miles through the province of Granada, we were well laden with literature. Our destination was a town of about 15,000 people. This town, as far as we know, has never been visited before with the Scriptures. About a year ago, a priest was robbed and killed there.

While traveling that morning I felt that we would not leave that place without being imprisoned, but did not mention that to John until we were in jail… After a pleasant trip we arrived at about eleven, and after placing the motorcycle in a garage, we began distributing in the main street, going from door to door, John taking one side and I the other. Before very long, people came from all directions asking for the booklets. As I had more people on my side, John got ahead, and was soon out of sight; but in a little while I saw him coming round the corner between two policemen, and as I was caught in the act of giving out our literature, I too had to accompany them, and we were taken before the mayor who also acts as Chief of Police. When we stood in his presence, his face was white with rage, and he asked who had given us permission to distribute our books.

As John was the spokesman, he took out his passport and told him that it was in perfect order, and also signed by the Governor of the Province of Málaga and that for fourteen years he had visited the towns in the south of Spain and had never been molested by the authorities, so he thought it was not necessary to ask his permission. The mayor refused to examine his passport, and still in a rage, ordered the sergeant to put us both in prison. So once again we were marched through the streets with the sergeant at our side and another policeman behind us, each well armed with a revolver and a sword.

Once inside the prison, the policeman in charge asked us what documents we had, and John produced his passport again. After it was examined, he asked his name, his parents’ names, where he came from and what his profession was – all was entered in a book. That morning I had forgotten to take my passport with me. They could have made trouble about that, but I prayed that he would not ask for mine. After he had finished questioning John, he just asked me my name, a few more questions about my parents, etc. and then closed the book without asking for my passport, to our great relief.

He then took the remaining literature, and asked us if we had any knives or razors or dangerous weapons on us. I answered no, that we did not carry weapons with us when we traveled. If he had searched us as he should have, he would only have found a handkerchief and about eight shillings in Spanish money on me; but he trusted our word, which he would never have done had we been Spaniards.

To enter the cell we had to pass through a long narrow passage. It was a room about four yards square with a stone floor and a little courtyard outside. There was no bed or chair in it, but the jailor kindly gave us a chair each. As he left us, we heard the door being bolted, and realized that we were in a Spanish prison, not knowing when we would be released. It was a very happy time that we spent there. How near we felt heaven was to that dreary place, and fellowship with him for whom we were there was easy and sweet! Our hearts were full of joy and they burst forth with songs of praises for our Redeemer.

While we were enjoying our rest, the mayor had sufficient time to cool down and to realize the injustice that he had done that morning, for we had not infringed the law of the land by distributing Christian literature, nor had we done anything in the town to cause us to be put into prison. So, after being detained for about an hour and a half, he sent the sergeant with orders to release us, and to accompany us outside the town. When we were taken from the cell, the jailor’s wife appeared and asked for our books. They had been returned to us and so I gave her the Epistle to the Romans, and Peter’s and John’s epistles, and also ten tracts – one of each. We then said goodbye to the jailor and his family, and once again we were led through the streets – this time to our liberty.

The reason given by the mayor for having the sergeant escort us was that he was afraid we would be mobbed by the crowd. The true reason was that he was afraid that the people would rise up against him for imprisoning us. I am sure that the mayor and the authorities were greatly relieved when they saw us leaving the town in peace, and without causing any disturbance because of our imprisonment.


From Husks to Hymns

            “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

The Spaniard’s religion is almost all ritual, just outward forms. According to his belief, being present occasionally at the Church is his principal duty, and it is not of great importance to him in what spirit he attends, nor what his behavior is whilst there. He is satisfied at being present.

In our town today for the first time in its history, the songs of Sion are to be heard in the homes and in the streets, sung by the children and maids and whistled by the young men. May they be a light to many that “sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Lk. 1:79). When we hear the singing, we rejoice that the Gospel is being preached to many that will not come to the meetings, even through the hymns.

There is now also a greater interest in the reading of the Scriptures than formerly. We are being asked continually for Gospels and New Testaments. Thousands of these Gospels are today in the hands of the people and no doubt being read by many. Just a few days ago a poor old woman of nearly eighty came to the door and asked if we had the little book that gives the story of the sufferings of our Lord, as she had a desire to read it. We had the privilege of giving her a gospel of John and some tracts, and after assuring her that it contained the story of the crucifixion, she went home quite happy with the greatest treasure in her possession.

How great is the responsibility of the Church of Rome, withholding the Word of God from the people. Instead of receiving the ‘pure milk of the Word’ (1 P. 2:1), they are given “husks” which cannot satisfy the great need of their souls.

We rejoice in the interest that is shown, also in well attended meetings, but these alone do not satisfy us. We long to see souls being brought under deep conviction of sin, and led to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

“You therefore… be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses,
commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life,
that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”

2 Timothy 2:1-4