During our trip to India we met the American missionary Stanley Jones. We gave him our testimony and he told us it would be good if we could work together with his good friend, Mr. D. Samuel.
On 1 April 1937 our ship reached Bombay and from there we made our way to Coonoor, to the ‘Soldiers Home’. Lady Ogle was in charge of that home and gave us a warm welcome. She was a widow, a wealthy person. But she was very modest, she didn’t parade herself at all. She was a lovely believer. Her only danger, I thought, was that she would put what she expected to hear from an Indian into the Indian’s mouth. And that was unfortunate. But she might not have been aware of it at all. She didn’t intend it I suppose. When she was in England she was in the Honor Oak Fellowship in London. She was a good friend of Miss Cowie.
We had not been four or five days in Coonoor before an Indian leader, a good Bible teacher whom she prayed for, came to stay in the same house where we were staying. His name was D. Samuel!
He was an Indian Christian worker and in circulation for ministry among most of the mission stations in South India. He took us with him to share the ministry and we did that for a year and a half. (Harry D’Monte wrote an anecdote about his first encounter with Fred Flack in those early days of his time in India. See appendix 1.)
Watchman Nee had been to London and he stayed with Mr. Sparks or Lady Ogle. Lady Ogle had asked him to break his journey in India on his way back to China. And so he did and stayed with her in India for perhaps ten days. It was in that time that I was able and privileged to meet him. He asked Raymond Golsworthy and me what we were doing, because it was in our early days in India, in 1938. We told him we were being taken around by D. Samuel, to various mission stations, for ministry. He said, “I don’t think God sent you to India for that.” Well, neither did we. We went to India believing that God would join us to something He was already doing. We did not have to start anything. We did not have to try and reproduce the fellowship which we enjoyed in London. Watchman Nee did not personally influence us except through his literature which was very fresh and new and blessed.
We didn’t have any thought of multiplying churches. We were just satisfied to build up a local church in Madras. And it was being built up. We were blessed with three godly brothers who even before Bakht Singh’s inference were godly men: brothers Rajamani, Dorairaj, and Rajaratman. They were friends of D. Samuel. We were really blessed with them.
So, in l938, while in Madras, we received an invitation from D. Samuel to minister for two months to a group of about fifteen young people who wanted to serve the Lord. We would give them instruction for two months, which would help them to be ready for full-time service. In the meantime, D. Samuel had invited a man named Bakht Singh, a Punjabi from the north of India. He had heard him in the Sialcot convention. He was a real evangelist with gift and vision and purpose. Bakht Singh was invited to Madras and he came in 1938 for three weeks of gospel preaching. (For a short account of these days from ‘Monsoon Daybreak’ see appendix 2.)
The city was stirred—huge meetings, long processions of witnessing, love-feasts and a great awakening and hunger for the word of God. Bakht Singh majored on the Bible: “You must have a Bible, you must read the Bible, go by the Bible and not by your church constitution.” There was such a great stir and awakening at that time that you could not even buy a Bible in second-hand bookshops in Madras.
We were not in Madras in 1938 at the time of Bakht Singh, but our invitation to go to the group of fifteen young people occurred in October and November 1938, just following Bakht Singh’s visit and this awakening. We had responsibilities among soldiers in the Soldiers’ Home in Coonoor, so we could not both leave our station, and go to Madras. For that reason I went first and Raymond Golsworthy was to follow after.
I went to Madras by train and at the railway station I was met by some senior men, who had been stirred by the Holy Spirit and were already jealous for the Lord before, but they had met the Lord in a new way as a result of the visit of Bakht Singh. They immediately asked me, “What are you coming here for, for only fifteen people?” They obviously knew my purpose for coming and they said, “We want the Bible too. You must teach us about the Bible also.” Well, I didn’t know what I was in for, but they insisted, “We will come before we go to the office and we will come again after work. You must give us the Word of God.” So we decided to have two meetings everyday, except on Mondays. From seven to eight o’clock in the morning we had Bible studies and from six thirty to eight thirty in the evening, there was ministry of the Word. They were so hungry. I never had two meetings in a row before, but the Lord was in it. God opened up Paul’s epistle to the Romans to me, to share with them in the mornings, and for the evening meetings we had ‘The New Creation’ for our topic. It was a new experience—wonderful hunger for the Word of God.