Frances (Fannie) Carroll - God's Providence - Santee, California - October 1964

I am sure there is no one gladder than I am to be back here in San Diego convention.  My brother Jack Carroll and I and a younger worker came to San Diego for the first time in the beginning of 1922, and I have been here off and on since that time.  It is a good many years since I was here for convention, though I was here for special meetings about a year and a half ago.

When we think of all the goodness of God and what He has been to us as His servants, and what He is willing to be unto us as His people today, our hearts are comforted as we come together here.  I believe that is the Lord’s purpose.

I have thought much lately of God’s providence, and how He has worked in all our lives.  I know as I look back upon my own life, I can see how in my earliest childhood God dealt with my young heart.  I am glad I was brought up in a home where our parents taught us to have a reverence for God and the things of God.  I believe that is why at an early age I longed to know God.

My mother had taught us a little prayer that most children are taught—“This night when I lie down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  Then we would remember our father and mother, and our brothers and sisters.  That used to put a fear in my young heart, lest I should die before I would wake.

When I was eight years old my sister, May Carroll, and I happened to be away from home for one summer.  A man came around giving out tracts, giving me a card that had a prayer on it.  Then I added that prayer to the one I already knew.  A little later, when I was eleven or twelve years old, I added the Lord’s Prayer.  I am glad that little by little my heart grew softer toward God and the things of God.

When I was thirteen, our loved father was called from time into eternity.  As any of you who have had the same loss know, that meant very deep sorrow for us.  I had one sister younger than myself and there were four in the family who were older.  I believe God at that time caused us to realize as never before the reality of life, the reality of death, and the reality of eternity.  Though I was only thirteen, I had some very serious thoughts about these things and I longed to know God.

The day of the funeral, a Roman Catholic neighbour took me on her lap and tried to comfort me.  She said, "You will meet your father in heaven."  I did not answer her, because I felt I did not know God, but I longed to know Him.  Nine months later we heard of some Gospel meetings being held in the little town of Nenagh, in the County of Tipperary. My brother, Jack was in business there, and we wondered why he was writing home as he did.  My sister, May, was there, too.  Many of you know both of them.

May, a girl of seventeen came home for two weeks’ vacation.  While she was at home, we were at the dinner table one day and she said to my older brother, "When I go back to Nenagh, all of the young people will have turned good."  My brother said, "Well, there is one thing sure; I am going to hell!"  She turned and said, "Well, you will have company."  I heard her tell afterwards how condemned she was after saying that, for she was not only going to a lost eternity herself, but bringing him with her.

She had attended the meetings for two weeks before she left for her vacation.  When she went back on the last night of the mission, one of the worker’s sang, "Life at best is very brief, like the falling of a leaf, like the binding of a sheaf;" and she made her choice that night.  As we read in the Scripture, the rest of us as a family would hear the same message of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as was spoken to them and it was something we had never heard before.

My brother had tried to do his best.  When he left home at fourteen to serve his time in business for four years, he had promised my father that he would go to church.  My father was very anxious that his boys would do right.  He would not allow playing cards in the home lest his boys would turn to gambling.

Jack was having his vacation and one of the workers came with him to our home, because he was taking him to Scotland for his vacation. When he came to our home we saw he was different from any preacher we had ever met.  We were accustomed to the Episcopalian preacher visiting us once or twice a year, but that was all.  When the meetings began, the little hall was crowded with people night after night, and the way of salvation was explained to us as we had never heard it before.  It was spoken of as a life within.  We were told that we needed to be born of the Spirit of God.  I don’t know how it happened, but I had never heard before that that was necessary.

One night the meeting was tested.  I was sitting beside a school companion and my sister, and we were asked if we were willing, no matter what it meant or cost, to yield to the claims of God, and allow Christ to come in and dwell within our lives and be our Lord and Master and Saviour.  I stood to my feet and purposed in my heart that I would be willing no matter what it would mean or cost.

In that neighborhood at that time, it seemed there were more young people in their late teens and early twenties than there had been for a long time. There were whole families who made their choice to serve GodThe meetings only lasted for three weeks, but fourteen workers went out from that mission Some have gone on to their reward.  A very few did not continue, but the majority continued in the great harvest field and are today in different parts of the world.

Not many who professed at that time are left, but the work goes on, and it is going on even unto the ends of the earth.  Some time after we had professed of course, we were tried and tested, but what joy and gladness we had when we came together to have our meetings.  I remember on a Wednesday night we came together in a little hall.  It had a concrete floor and it was very cold, but we paid no attention to that.  We knelt on that concrete floor for an hour sometimes.  It was not repetitions we prayed.  Our hearts were so overflowing with joy and love for God that it was a real foundation to us as we got older and faced other experiences.

Three months after I professed I went to a boarding school where there were fifty girls.  I am glad for the experience of even leaving home and being with strangers.  I was tested, but I am glad that I was able to even stand on my feet when I had no meetings, when I did not have the help of others.

When I returned home for vacations I remember how my older brother and I used to pray together.  He was a great help to me.  I felt I needed to learn more of the Scriptures.  As I think back, I am glad for that today.

I got about six or seven of the girls at school to decide.  My first converts never amounted to very much, but it was good for me to make known my purpose even to those young people.  I have asked some young people if they didn’t give their testimony in High School.  They said they didn’t.  I was ashamed to think that they had not spoken to others there, because often there are those who want to hear and know.  We cannot see what is in the hearts of other people.  We are responsible for giving a reason for the hope that is within us, with meekness and fear.

After I left that school we went to live in the City of Dublin.  I was tested a little more there.  We had two business places and we were kept busy.  We didn’t think anything of working from seven in the morning until seven at night.  As time went on, there were quite a few young people who professed in that city, and in the evenings we would go out riding on the country roads on our bicycles.  I did that for some time, and then I found I wasn’t giving time to reading and praying and I began to feel guilty about it.

I went to spend one weekend with my married brother and his wife.  They used to read and pray together, and one morning my brother said to me, "You pray."  We knelt and knelt, and I could not pray.  I knew I had not been giving God His time in my life.  I felt that time we knelt was nearly an hour, but it wasn’t too long.  Neither of them prayed, and we got up from our knees.  My brother put his arms on my shoulders and looked into my face, but he said nothing.  Then I vowed in my heart I would give more time to these things.  I believe that was a milestone in my life.

A short time after that, we were coming from a meeting one night and an older worker said to me, “Have you ever thought of going into the work?”  I said, “Yes, I had.”

He said, "There will be an opening for you, perhaps at the beginning of the year."   
I said, "Well, Jack is thinking of going tooIf both of us leave, what would my mother doShe, being a widow, who would take care of her?"

He said, "Oh, Jack will be able to go, too."

At Christmas time Jack and I went to the City of Belfast to Special MeetingsThose meetings were tested to see how many would go in the work, and several said they wouldWe were amongst them.  Tom Lyness was another.  Sam Jones, who wrote so many of our hymns, was another.  The weeks went by, and things worked out so that Jack and I left about the same time.  I left February 11, 1904, and Jack left February 14.

I was with two sister workers in the County of Armagh.  One of them has gone home to heaven.  The other is still living, and even in her old age is seeking to do the little part she can do, and that is Dora Holland.  Then I went to say good-bye to my brother Jack, who was having a mission.  We got there on a pouring wet Sunday night, but the place was packed with people.  The meetings were held in a loft over a stable, and there were only planks up to it.  The people sat on benches without backs, but they were anxious to hear.

Then I went with the first companion I had ever been with to England. My sister, May, was in Suffolk, England.  We started meetings in different places.  We started first of all in a Methodist Church building, and in two weeks’ time the preacher came and ended it.  Then we went to the country, and I am glad we met some seeking souls there.  There was six in one family who made their choice, as well as another young man.

The very week they professed, we were tested sore.  We had nothing to eat.  We went out one afternoon to visit, though we weren’t able for it.  We were weak, but it didn’t bother us because our hearts were filled with love and gratitude to the Lord for giving us the hearts of some hungry souls.  My companion was only in the work a year and a half at that time, and I had only been in it a short time.

I went to the Post Office and received there a letter from Willie Gill He was the first from the mission we had professed in to go into the Lord’s harvest field, and in the letter he had sent us help.  I went back to my companion and told her, and then I went down to the store and got some tea and other things.  That was very little in comparison with getting personally acquainted with some in that family who then ministered to our needs.

Then in 1905 many workers, over sixty of them, left for overseas. I would like to see over sixty leaving California and even going overseas for the Gospel’s sake because of what it has meant in this country, in Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other places.  When we think of the goodness of God in giving us this wonderful privilege of going even to the ends of the earth with the everlasting Gospel, we realize we have everything on our side.

When we went, we went in weakness and fear and much trembling.  I heard about a young man whose mother and other relatives tried to get him to give up this way and the work.  He said to his mother, "To see one man or woman whose life God is able to change is worth a life time."  I hope that mother does not forget the words of that boy, her only child.  She did not understand very much.  As I said to him once, "You can pray for your mother and have hope that even yet she may turn to the One Who alone can satisfy her heart."

I told him about our brother, Eddie Cornock.  The day he left to go into the work it was snowing.  His mother came to the bedroom where he was packing his few things in his suitcase.  She said, "Eddie, I would rather see this snow falling on your grave than see you doing what you are doing."  Inside of two years she also submitted to the claims of God upon her life, and he had the joy of having fellowship with her for many years; and he was with her at her death-bed.  We have to face these things.

My mother was living when I left for New Zealand in 1905.  The night I left I went upstairs and my mother came up after me.  She took me in her arms and wept.  Then she took out her handkerchief and said, "I must not make it too hard for you."  Afterwards as I thought of those words, they wrung my heart.

It was me she was thinking of, not her self.  She came to the boat to see me off as I left at 9 o’clock that night.  Willie Gill was the only worker there, and he came from Scotland.

I stood there alone on the boat, and we crossed to England in four and a half hours.  Then I met the other workers who were going with me.  We arrived in London the next morning and got on the ship, and we sailed that afternoon.  When I saw that big old gangplank being taken down something happened.  I had kept up while I was in my home for the sake of my mother and sisters, but when the gangplank came down I went around the other side of the ship to be by myself.

There were eight workers going to South Africa at this time.  One of the older ones, Mary Moody, came around to comfort me.  I wanted to be alone, but I appreciated her kindness to me.  It was three weeks’ journey from London to Cape Town, and eight workers got off there.  When I was in Australia recently I was happy to meet a worker from Africa.  She was Irish - from County Cork.  She went to that part at 62 years of age, and told us about learning the language.  In a year’s time, she was able to speak it at convention.  She said she had shed many bitter tears over learning that language.

You should not forget those who are struggling to learn another language, because it is hard, nerve-wracking work.  It means a great deal and I sympathize with you who are doing it.  We did not have to do this, because we were going to a British Colony, but going to a land where you do not understand a word the people are saying takes courage.

People who have come here from Europe have grit and courage.  They are the backbone of this land today, and this generation should learn much from them.  They should not be so pampered and even selfish, thinking of themselves and themselves only and not considering others, especially those who are out in God’s great harvest field.

I do not tell you these things to discourage anyone from going forth into the harvest field.  It is the greatest privilege any person can have.  Eternity alone will reveal what it can mean.  We have the everlasting Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which has been the same from the beginning.  It has worked wonders in the lives of men and women in every age, because God did His work in them, and it was to will and to do His own good pleasure.

Before Dan Hilton left here the other day, he said, "Fannie, if you speak in the convention, speak about the harvest field."  Dan is not the only one who has had this laid on his heart.  The need is greater as time goes on, because this world is a world of confusion in every sense.  It is a world of darkness, and we need those who are living in their homes to be up and doing.

I can never understand a person living at home and never writing to workers.  I am glad when I get letters from men and their wives who have spent Sunday afternoon writing to me and others.  I am comforted and it makes me feel happy because there are those who have the interests of the kingdom at heart, and are not merely living for the seen and temporal things instead of for the unseen and eternal.

I am not able to be as active as I once was because of a heart condition, but I have made up my mind that I will impress those who have free lives to give first their life and live right in their homes to be approved of their brethren.  A person who has a good job should go forth in God’s harvest field, those who have proved in their homes what they are and what is inside them, and that they are whole-hearted in their service at home and in the little church where they meet.  They are as burning and shining lights; they don’t put a damper on the meeting.

I have been at meetings where certain ones get up and give a big sermon, and you feel there is nothing back of it.  I hate to feel like that, but you can’t help it sometimes.  If a person is moved by God, it helps all, and they are comforted and encouraged to give their best and their all, and that fellowship is all it should be.

"Fellowship in the Gospel" means you never lose sight of those in the harvest field.  Paul commended the saints at Philippi for that.  He said he thanked God upon every remembrance of them, for their fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now.  They never forgot him and he never forgot them.

In the last chapter he commends them because he says, "Ye sent once and again unto my necessity."  He says, "Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."  That is the way God’s people can help in this great work of the kingdom.

I am sorry to say I have asked people where certain workers were and they did not know.  They had received the workers’ lists, and yet they did not know where they were labouring.  Let us not only be interested in those in our own state, but the world over where God’s servants are labouring.  There are many poor souls who need our prayers, and though you don’t know them in the flesh, you can pray for them, that they may not only begin but continue and finish in the race.

I trust our coming together at this convention may mean everlasting blessing in all of our lives.  May it be so for His Name’s sake.