If Ye Ask – I Will Do
By Louisa Vaughan
In China, in the spring of 1903, I held my first Bible class for women inquirers. Having spent five years in the study of the language and in training in Christian work, I was delighted to find myself in a position where it was possible to bring the blessed Gospel of the grace of God to my Chinese sisters.
In the little village of Dung Kia An, hid away in the heart of the beautiful Lao mountains, the Chinese pastor had gathered together twenty-five women, that I might instruct them. In a ten-day school session I was to give them a saving knowledge of the Truth. I assumed that they all could read, at least a little, and I had bright hopes of what I should be able to do for them.
But as I talked personally with the members of my class, those bright hopes died. One informed me that I could teach her nothing, her heart and mind were as hard and dark as mahogany wood. The next one said that she knew nothing; that she had never learned a thing in her life; and anyway how could she be expected to study with her children to care for, one a baby in her arms and the other a little one of three at her side? Following her came a woman of more than sixty years. As she talked to me, she wiped her eyes with her sleeve. “It was very nice of you to come to teach us, Miss Vaughan, but I can’t learn. I am too old and my eyes are ruined. I can see nothing clearly. How can I see to read books?”
All of the members of the class were in practically the same condition. They had never been to school, they did not know one character of their language and they were sure they could not learn since from childhood they were told they could not. Every one of them had bound feet and the constant pain detracted their attention from everything they tried to do.
At the end of my roll call, it would have been difficult to find a more discouraged teacher than I. I said to myself, “How can these women be taught? They have come to me because their pastor has sent them. Their minds are wholly undeveloped and they have not even a wish to improve.”
Utterly dismayed at the task before me I went to my room to pray. There had been a very insistent question in my heart, “Where is your faith in God?”
“What has faith to do with this?” I answered, “This is my task and it is humanly impossible.”
“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible,” came the answer to my argument.
I dropped to my knees confessing my ignorance and helplessness, and prayed that God would show me exactly what that passage meant. Immediately, like a flash of light in a dark room, came these two promises: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
My burden rolled away as I realized the full import of these gracious words. I had nothing to do but to ask, for the Omnipotent God, my Savior and the Savior of these women, He who had died for us, had promised to do for me whatever I asked. I knew not how nor when but He would fulfill His promise.
I felt in my heart the truth of these words:
“We are coming to a King, large petitions will we bring.”
I made no small request. I asked the Father to forgive them for Jesus’ sake, to pour out His Holy Spirit upon them, convincing them of sin, of righteousness and of the world to come; to reveal to them the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior; to cleanse them in His precious blood from the guilt and stain of sin; and finally to fill them with His Holy Spirit that they might return to their homes to witness for Jesus.
Back to this class of illiterate women, bound in chains of iron by their superstitions, I went rejoicing in the Lord who had made such abundant provision for bringing the world to Himself. I resolved to wait patiently for Him to perform His miracle in each of their darkened and sinful hearts.
Meanwhile, I taught them this prayer: “Heavenly Father, forgive me my sins, cleanse me from them in the precious blood of Christ, and fill me with the Holy Spirit; I ask in Jesus’ name.” Some of the women spent the greater part of three days in learning correctly and intelligently this very simple petition.
My first day with them passed slowly, with no sign from God that He had heard my prayer. Throughout the next morning there was still no evidence that He was working. But that afternoon while we were on our knees repeating together the little prayer, one of the women began to weep out a confession of her sins. She asked that she might be forgiven and cleansed in the precious blood and that the Holy Spirit would come into her heart and dwell there. In a few moments we rose from our knees to greet a new creature in Christ Jesus.
In the course of the next few days woman followed woman in a similar experience until the entire class rejoiced in their salvation. They were marvelously transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit for they were now so eager to learn of Christ that I could scarcely find time to satisfy them. My strength was taxed to the utmost in giving them the help and teaching they sought.
During the next ten years of my residence in China, I held five or six classes of this kind annually. I always claimed those promises of John 14:13-14 and trusted in God to do the work in response to the prayer of faith. I do not know of one, in all this time, who left my classes unsaved.
Prayer for a Lost Husband
In one village where I was teaching, a woman came to hear me out of curiosity to see a white woman who could speak the Chinese language. After listening to the prayer that I was teaching, she asked if she might learn it. I answered, “Would you like to have a Savior and are you willing to accept Him?” She said yes and became a member of my class. In the afternoon she returned and took her place with the others. When the invitation was given for all to kneel in prayer, to my astonishment this woman, Mrs. Wang, began to sob, confessing her sins and pleading with the Lord to forgive her and to cleanse her heart and save her.
That same evening I gave the women John 14:13-14 and told them that these promises were their inheritance. Mrs. Wang stood up and asked, “Can the Lord Jesus save my husband? He is a drunkard. I have never known him to come home sober since I married him. He spends so much money for drink that the children and I never have enough to eat, nor warm clothing enough to keep us comfortable in winter. Can the Lord Jesus save a man like that, Miss Vaughan?” “Yes,” I replied, “He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Can you believe?” She burst into tears, “Oh, yes, but I’m so ignorant. I don’t know how to pray. Won’t you pray for me?”
I put the matter before the class, telling them we must be agreed to pray every day for this man. This we did for two weeks, at the end of which time the class had to be disbanded that I might go on with my work in another territory.
A Changed Man
A year later, I returned to this district. The morning my class opened Mrs. Wang was among the first arrivals. Rushing in and throwing her arms around me, she praised God for His goodness to her. This was her story:
“A year ago, at the close of the class in which I learned to know my Savior, I went home and told my husband I had become a Christian. He was furiously angry and beat me so that I was not able to leave my bed for a month. He reviled me and cursed me every day, continuing to persecute me for six months. All the time I prayed for him constantly. I just asked God to forgive him because he didn’t understand.
“And then one day he came home early from the market, sober for the first time since I had known him. ‘What is the matter with you?’ I cried in astonishment.
“‘That’s what I came to ask you,’ he replied. ‘Am I out of my mind? Today when I had finished my business in the market I went across to the wine shop, and just as I was lifting my foot over the threshold, a voice inside my body said very loudly, “Don’t go in there, go home!” I was so startled that I dropped my purse and spilled all my coins on the ground. I tried to make myself quiet by thinking that it must have been some boys making fun of me, but there was not a soul in sight. I was very much puzzled and called myself a fool. But again as I lifted my foot over the threshold, there came that voice, louder and more insistent than ever: “Don’t go in there, go home! Don’t go in there, go home!” I came right home as fast as I could. I am very much frightened. What is the matter with me?’
“‘I know what’s the matter. That’s the Lord Jesus. He is the Heavenly Father’s Son. He died on the Cross to save you. He does not want you to go in the wine shop and get drunk and be lost. It is the voice of His Holy Spirit speaking to you.’
“He was astounded. He listened intently while I told him over and over again that Jesus was his Savior. He said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me this before? I didn’t understand. I’ll never drink any more in my life.’”
And he never did. He was truly converted. He and his family became members of the church and he sent his children to a Christian school. Mrs. Wang lived another four years after her husband was saved and died a blessed happy Christian, rejoicing in Jesus and His power to save.
– Adapted from Answered Or Unanswered by Miss Louisa Vaughan.