Some day it was my privilege to have a visit with a former pastor of a church to which my husband and I once belonged. We were well acquainted with him and his wife, and knew he would have a good answer to the question, "How has your wife helped you most?" He began by telling about the first three years of his ministry, when he was en gaged in evangelistic campaigns.
"My wife played the piano and the vibraharp for all our meetings," he said. "During this time she cared for our two boys, cut the stencils for my sermons, and also mimeographed them. Later she helped bind them in book form, that their sale might help defray the expenses of the meetings. "While I was pastor of a large city church, she turned her attention to the Sabbath school department. First she inspired the church mem bers to ask that Miss Louise Meyer come and conduct a Sabbath school workshop. After this, she began brightening up the primary room. Soon every room in the Sabbath school was tinted and decorated and provided with up-todate equipment. "In our next church she organized the Dor cas Daughters, a junior Dorcas society. She went over to the church school and started what later grew into the junior choir of the church. "For weeks at a time, while we were erecting a new church building, she cooked for the car penters and the bricklayers. "As the Home and School leader she has al ways been successful in uniting parents and teachers in a close working group. One year, when the church school teacher was overloaded, she went into the schoolroom and helped. She organized MV classwork in the school, and as soon as these classes were moving smoothly, as signed the students to other thurch members who could carry them through their MV classwork successfully. That same year she worked on her own MV requirements, became a Master Guide, and helped others to do the same. As soon as the MV classwork was distributed among interested helpers, she added a class in ceramics, which was carried on in connection with their MV classwork. Each member of the class paid for his lessons. Then my wife persuaded some one to teach the class free of charge, and used the tuition money to buy a kiln and other ma terial and equipment, so that this hobby could be carried on permanently in the school. She took hold to help wherever help was needed in every department of the church work, and she inspired others to do likewise." "Yes, I was there," I reminded the speaker; "you might have said much more than you did. I happened to call at your home one day when she was lining up the volunteer help on the church construction. She had her needlework in her hand, and a special kind of telephone suspended over her shoulder in such a way that she could both hear and speak into it. We often wondered how one little woman could accom plish so much, and take care of her family, too. You were so busy with the church building that you couldn't help her very much." "She didn't do all those things at the same time," he explained. "She would work hard get ting a project started, and then turn it over to competent helpers while she began something new. She has the gift of organizing; she knows how to pick her help and inspire them with interest in the work, and then fade out of the picture as soon as things are going well." "That fading out is no small accomplishment in itself," I couldn't help remarking. "So few of us know how to do that. We too often try to keep everything in our own hands and to manage all the details ourselves, until we are overwhelmed, while other folk quite as capable stand by longing to do something to help."
In many interviews with gospel evangelists the topic of balancing the budget loomed large. One evangelist remarked, "Both training and skill are required by the wife whose husband is on a beginner's salary, if she is to provide suitable clothing and a nourishing, well-bal anced diet for a growing family, and at the same time meet all the household bills promptly." He asked, "Had you heard that the word salary originally meant 'salt money'?" It is not necessary here to repeat the wellknown phrases about the advisability of pur chasing durable clothing and materials, about watching the markets and securing the best foods in season at the lowest prices, about dis carding fancy bakery foods and turning a deaf ear to recipes for fashionable, fussy dishes that often contain a variety of unwholesome and expensive ingredients, and so on. But the idea of utilizing every inch of garden space for producing fresh vegetables may be emphasized with profit, for few realize what quick returns in the way of salad materials a small amount of labor will produce. One med ically minded preacher told of keeping a miniature alfalfa patch growing on his kitchen table by spreading alfalfa seed in a baking pan and sprinkling it daily with water. A few days after planting, his crop, crisp and tender, is ready to be chopped fine and incorporated in salads and sandwiches. He is also experimenting with other .devices for saving the expense of vitamin pills. This is an open question. It is to be hoped that sometime we shall know how to grow our own vitamins, and thus save money for other needs and for missionary projects.
Another minister counseled: "Let no minis ter's wife become discouraged because she does not have organizing ability, or musical skill, or the gift of speaking or writing for the public. Let her dedicate her talents, however humble, to the sublime work of the ministry, and the Lord will show her how to use them in saving souls. No woman need feel that she is a failure as a minister's wife if she is loving and lovable, self-effacing, and so eager to become efficient in her calling that she spends much time studying methods of labor from the greatest of all teach ers, the Chief Shepherd Himself." "That's an important point," I agreed; "how fortunate that you did not allow it to be over looked!" "If the minister's wife is not able to preside at the organ or sing a solo, she will be free to mingle with the people who come to the meet ings, and to make friendly contacts," he contin ued. "She can visit them in their homes and in public, she can speak in private, making per sonal appeals to those who are slipping into forbidden paths or who have not yet started on the Christian pilgrimage. She can cheer the sad and depressed, befriend the friendless, en tertain young people who are far from their homes, and speak kindly to the children." He paused and I took up the story: "She may not be able to hold a roomful of youngsters in rapt attention while she imparts spiritual lessons, but she can inspire her own children and the boys and girls in her church or community with the desire to become Chris tians and missionaries.
A picture, a flower, a thought-provoking question, may lift some child into a position where he can see Jesus smiling at him. 'Johnnie, what was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? Did you tell Jesus that you love Him? Did you ask Him to give you some work to do for Him today?' 'Mary, do you know how to be happy all the time? What kind of mis sionary work do you like best?' " After he left, I sat thinking—thinking of one shepherdess who longed to organize mothers' meetings, but lacked the initiative and confi dence to begin. Among her friends were young women who did not know how to win loving obedience from their little ones, who she knew were making sad and fatal mistakes in their manner of dealing with their children. She in vited a small group of these mothers to meet at her home, where inexperience could meet experience in friendly interchange of helpful ideas and plans.
Together they studied the highest of all arts, the art of motherhood. She gathered books and articles, and shared them with the group. It was a simple way of helping. If the shepherdess enters wholeheartedly into the work of bringing in the lost sheep and keep ing them in the fold, her talents will increase and her joy abound, until it is altogether likely that finally her soul-consuming passion will overcome all feelings of natural timidity, and she will wake up to find herself working side by side with her husband, entirely unconscious of self, unspeakably happy in the realiza tion that the great Shepherd is using her as a medium through whom He can reveal His love to His flock. The minister's wife can find a thousand ways of "making friends and influencing people" for God. Even though she may have few natural capabilities and limited education, she can em ploy that one abounding and fruitful gift of the Spirit, so freely bestowed on every true shep herdess—the gift of "helps." [End of Series]