By Charles H. Stalker
The following from the pen of Catherine Booth should shake all who are lukewarm and indifferent. She writes, "Many do not recognize the fact as they ought, that Satan has got men fast asleep in sin and that it is his great device to keep them so. He does not care what we do if he can do that. We may sing songs about the sweet by and by, preach sermons and say prayers until doomsday, and he will never concern himself about us, if we don't wake anybody up. But if we awake the sleeping sinner he will gnash on us with his teeth. This is our work - to wake people up."
John Wesley Redfield was a man who awakened both the sleeping sinner and careless Christian. When Mr. Redfield prayed or preached men and women were touched by Jesus and went home different than when they came. Under the influence of Mr. Redfield's ministry, the slaves of sin were brought to repentance and totally set free. Wherever he preached, church after church seemed to be effected in the same way.
On one occasion Mr. Redfield entered the pulpit with an especially intense and heavy burden pressing upon his heart. Without hesitation he began his message by clearly describing all those who had lived in the church for years without true saving grace; who had sat under the most searching gospel ministry; who had seen the truth lived out before them and yet rejected it all. With passion he warned all those who had shunned the narrow path of repentance and the cross of Christ. As Mr. Redfield spoke the Holy Spirit brought a shaking conviction of sin upon the entire congregation. Some cried out, some fell prostrate before they could get to the altar, and others fell at the altar. The slain lay in some places totally helpless, one upon another until the aisles were closed for hours. At this exact same time, people miles away also fell under the power of God in the seclusion of their own homes.
John Wesley Redfield said of himself, "God has made me a rough man and given me a rough gospel for rough hearts." He preached holiness forcibly every where he went. This sometimes aroused great opposition, but it also brought great results. Dead churches were revived, new ones were built and the sick were often healed. Mr. Redfield's doctrine and anointing were not borrowed from books, but born in prayer. "Frequently he would groan as if in the throes of death as he wrestled in prayer; then the victory would come. People shouted, prayed and confessed, many lost their strength and did not regain it until they promised obedience to God." Such manifestations of God's power frequently followed his ministry. Under Redfield's preaching in New York, people would run out the back doors of the meeting house trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They would then fall helpless in the streets under the power of God. When found later, they were assumed to be drunk and taken to jail. The first night this occurred the officers marveled, as one after another the once rebellious sinners, recovered, repentant and praising God.
The key to John Wesley Redfield's success was his total and unrelenting dependence upon Jesus Christ. Through many trials he had learned that he could truly do nothing apart from Jesus. Is it not true, that much of our failure to bring forth lasting change lies at the feet of our own self-dependence and pride? We must recover our simplicity and joy of devotion to Jesus. We must repent and put away our methods and programs of self-reliance and once again embrace the "better part" of sitting at the feet of Jesus in humility and prayer. (Luke 10:38-42)