|CHAPTER XVI. -- Songs and Texts of Special Significance in Virginia's -- Twenty Years' Experience.|
Virginia says she has no special gift to sing, but she does have the spirit of praise, and God
has taught her many lessons through songs. A few of which we will record in part, giving their
special significance to her:
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word;
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?"
All of this beautiful song, of which we quote one verse, was given Virginia in her call to mission work, hence her devotion to God's Word. As the years have passed by she has been able to see every phase of that song realized in her many experiences, and today her faith mounts up, as if on eagle wings, and causes her to rejoice, whenever that song is sung.
"O, for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame:
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb"
This song was given as a spur to urge her on her first missionary trip from her home city. She verily needed help, for the trip must be made up the Mississippi river by boat, and Virginia was fearful to take it and would have doubtless given it up had not the dear Lord cheered and urged her forward through the above song and the following message:
"God is on the water as well as on the land".
She clearly saw her need of a closer walk with God would she do the work committed her! On a certain occasion a request was sent to the missionary training class of the Bible and Normal Institute by a very sick man that the Bible women come pray for him. Virginia made known the request to the class and secured a promise from five of the sisters to accompany her to the sick man's home. The following song of triumph was given her the morning of that day the visit was planned. The song thrilled and
filled Virginia's soul so that she was humming it all the day and thus prepared for effective
"O, thou God of my salvation,
My redeemer from all sin,
While the angel choirs are singing,
Glory to the Great I Am,
I with them will still be vying,
Glory, glory to the Lamb!
Soul and body, soul and body,
Shall thy glorious image bear."
The visit was made in the afternoon. The sisters all prayed, God's word was explained and God's presence was manifest to the edification of all present, and the conversation of the sick man. Ere the sisters could make a second visit, as they planned to do, death had borne him to the world beyond, but he left us the glorious message that he was going to live with Jesus and ever be with his Lord.
On another occasion when the opposition was high and enemies were raging and plotting
against us Virginia had an appointment in the country. Before leaving her home a heavy rain
storm came up, which she was considering sufficient excuse to defer the appointment. Then the
Lord gave her this suggestive song:
"Ye Christian heralds go proclaim,
Salvation in Emanuel's name;
To distant claims the tidings bear,
And plant the rose of Sharon there.
He'll shield you with a wall of fire,
With holy zeal your heart's inspire,
Bid raging waves their fury cease
And calm the savage breast to peace."
This was enough. Virginia well knew at this time her Master's voice when he spoke to her in song. So she arose and took her journey. She passed safely o'er rough, muddy country roads, through one place particularly that evoked exclamations of praise because in that mud hole a mule had recently mired and died before he could be extricated. This trip was especially blessed of the Lord; the enemies were silenced, God protected his servant and enabled her to strengthen the dear women of that section for the fight that was then upon them.
The following is another song of special significance:
"A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save,
And fit it for the skies.
"And can I yet delay,
My little all to give?
Oh, may it all my powers engage,
To do my Master's will."
Early in Virginia's missionary career she had much of the Jonah spirit and was loath to break away from her many society and home ties and make the sacrifices necessary to success of her work. At a certain time she went out to Stanton to hold a meeting and then purposed to go on to a point far removed from the railroad station. When Brother S. came to town for her he informed her the church was expecting a distinguished brother, Rev. M. Vann, to preach at the time of her appointment. She, desirous of returning home, said: "Very well, I can't afford to lose the time and if Brother Vann comes I'll return home." When the train came Rev. Vann did not appear, so there was alternative. Virginia was obliged to go. She had scarcely begun her tedious journey through
county, in the regular road wagon, with its plain board seat without springs, when this song, "A charge to keep I have," came ringing in her soul; it was with her all the way, then in the family prayer service that Saturday, night she sang that song twice and not until Sunday, when she began the church service, was its significance made clear to her, which was this: God had given her a charge and that special service was hers to conduct and no other could do her work; so the expected brother, who was then superintendent of Tennessee state missions, was providentially hindered that Virginia might get the lesson she needed and become settled as to the fact that God had really given her a work to do that could be done by no other.
As the mission work grew and it became necessary for Virginia to give up her school work at a lucrative salary and give herself wholly to developing the missionary work of our women it was somewhat of a struggle to give up a substantial, sure support to engage in work of faith, with no visible means of support.
Finally the struggle ended and Virginia sweetly surrendered. About this time one afternoon
when she had just completed the reading of her Bible through, which she has made a custom for
many years, and was rejoicing o'er the blessedness of that study the following song came rushing
"Jesus paid it all,
Yes, all the debt I owe,
Jesus died and paid it all,
Yes, all the debt I owe.
Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe,
Jesus died for all mankind,
Jesus died for me."
With the song the following text was given: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Room 8:32. This message could not be mistaken; she knew it meant that she give up the school room for the sacrificial life of the missionary; whereupon she surrendered and trusting Him who called her she went forth to do his will as best she could, as revealed to her from time to time by the Holy Spirit, in song or word.
Soon Virginia found herself in Texarkana, Ark., whither she had gone to assist Miss J.P.
Moore establish the Bible Band work in connection with the Baptist Women's State Missionary
and Educational work. The brethren of that state did not accord Virginia a cordial welcome at
that time, but rather opposed and criticised her aggressive movements in church work. As a
special comfort and encouragement to her, also significant of the fact that it was her business as
well as privilege to praise the Lord all the day long, since she had given up every other vocation
for the special work whereunto God had called her, the following song was given:
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine,
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood,
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long."
To her agreeable surprise, through the influence of Mrs. H. R. Traver, Virginia found on her return home a commission from the W. B. H. M. S. of Chicago, III., appointing her as missionary for western Tennessee with headquarters at her home in Memphis.
Thus God provided for the temporal support of his servant, who went out at his command, relying upon his sure word of promise.
Virginia was lost in Washington, D.C., one time. She had misplaced her sister's directions and
was a considerable time locating her. While in this dilemma the following song brought a thrill of
joy to her soul and enabled her to continue her search courageously until the desired residence
"Amid the trials which I meet,
Amid the thorns that pierce my feet,
One thought remains supremely sweet,
Thou thinkest, Lord, of me,
Thou thinkest, Lord, of me, of me.
What need I fear when thou art near,
And thinkest, Lord, of me!"
The jubilee melodies
"Steal away to Jesus,"
"Swing low, sweet chariot,"
"Keep inching along, like a poor inch worm," were often sung by Virginia with healthful effect
The following song was given as means of triumphing o'er assurance of victory:
"I have precious news to tell, Hallelujah!
"Christ has come with me to dwell, Hallelujah!
By his power and love divine
He has cleansed this soul of mine,
And he whispers, I am thine. Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, I'm redeemed,
Oh, so wondrously redeemed.
I'm rejoicing night and day,
As I walk the narrow way,
For He's washed my sins away. Hallelujah!
The 150th Psalm was her battle song in her great conflict, when persecuted for her faith in the Bible doctrine of sanctification.
Virginia was strengthened and prepared to receive the sad intelligence of her brother John's departure from this life by the following hymns:
"I would not live always,
I ask not to stay.
The few lurid moments that dawn on us here Are enough for life's sorrows, full enough for its cheer."
"Death has been here and borne away a brother from our side."
We might continue this narrative of suggestive sacred songs that God has used so lovingly and effectively to cheer, inspire and direct our missionary as she labored in his cause these twenty years. Those given are sufficient evidence of the powerful influence of song in this eventful life of our missionary.
We shall now give a few texts and outlines that God has enabled Virginia to use effectively: Bible authority for women's work. Text, Gen. 2:18.
Victory of the Cross. Texts, Rev. 11: 15. Heb. 1: 13.
In animal kingdom Bible gives illustrations from tiniest insects to king of beasts, showing all things created are subject to God.
"Powers of Holy Spirit." Text, Acts 1: 8.
An Open Door. Text, I Cor. 16: 9.
Praise. Text, Ps. 150: 6.
Then shall the earth yield her increase and God, even our God, shall bless us.
O praise the Lord, all ye nations, praise him all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord. Ps. 117.