Willie Brown - Journey from Lebanon to South Africa and return

To brothers, sisters brave and true,

I'd like to write these lines to you;

For time draws near when we must part

And with this thought I've aches at heart

 

Some sixteen months ago, I came,

From distant lands of Bible fame;

Where faithful souls who did their best,

Though sorely tried, they stood the test.

 

In those dark lands the light once shone,

Far brighter than the sunniest morn;

And though the face of things have changed,

Our God eternal is the same.

 

From lands of olives, figs, and vines,

Which make us think of Bible times;

I started from these lands of old,

My journey to the land of gold.

 

Tyre and Sidon, then Palestine,

Brought home to me this thought sublime;

That he who shepherded His flock

Is still the One who says, "Fear not."

 

Familiar things along the line

Made me think of Samuel's time;

For when we came to Gaza station,

I thought about the Philistine nation.

 

A ruthless and formidable foe

They fought and laid God's people low;

Hophni and Phinneas they slew that day,

And took the sacred Ark away.

 

'Twas not so long until they found

That it was on forbidden ground;

And so their victory that time,

Brought sorrow to the Philistines.

 

A little picture seemed to draw

Itself upon my mind;

'Twas Joseph and Mary plodding on,

True to that voice divine.

 

God had trusted this noble pair

Love moved them to do and dare;

This desert road to them was sweet,

For daily was His will made meat,

 

One thought continually in their minds,

It was the Lamb of God divine;

To guard and keep and shelter Him,

Who was to pay the price for sin.

 

On through the desert to the land of Goshen,

Reminding us of God's true token;

And of that lad of seventeen,

Who saw God's plans within his dreams.

 

From the land of promise the old man came

With wagon loads of Egypt's grain;

Joseph a corn of wheat had died,

The need of all had been supplied.

 

In crossing o'er the boundary line,

One is reminded of the time,

When Pharoah's power was smashed and broken,

Moses had triumphed, for God had spoken.

 

Soon I arrived at Cairo Station,

It thronged with men of every nation;

I found my way to a little home fair

That oft has been a place of prayer.

 

A welcome there from a faithful soul,

Whose heart was opened like Lydia's of old;

Was a little oasis in a desert land,

That oft refreshed God's little band.

 

Tracks I made to Thomas Cook's,

For there my ticket had been booked;

They gave me all the information,

About the port of embarkation,

 

On board a lovely boat I stepped

And now my face was firmly set;

On sunny Africa's shore so fine,

This was to me a thought sublime.

 

Some anxious thoughts were in our minds,

At times we thought of floating mines;

And people spoke of sometimes dreams

That made them think of submarines.

 

The sight of Africans sunny shores

Brought memories sweet of days of yore;

Of fellowships who born my load,

When hard I found the desert road.

 

Ashore I stepped and it was sweet

Nellie and Marthe again to meet;

And Mr. Stead with his automobile,

His hearty welcome was very real.

 

'Twas Sunday Morning, to a home we went,

As those in God's New Testament;

The little flock of God was there,

it surely was a place of prayer.

 

Convention time was very near,

Within my heart were hopes and fears;

The help of God I needed much,

And how I longed to feel His touch.

 

The train I boarded at Durban Station,

For Alex had given me an invitation;

The Cape was far, but the journey was fine,

For I met old friends along the line.

 

The grip of their hands and kindnesses they showed

It all seemed to me to shorten the road;

Some workers they joined me at Kimberly Station,

And soon we arrived at our destination.

 

Alex Pearce, Ando Robb were there on the job,

'Twas fine the old veterans to meet;

A few words were uttered and little was said,

But feelings were mutual and sweet.

 

Four days we were gathered, the meetings were fine,

For God had drawn near with His Spirit Divine;

Refreshed and encouraged we went on our ways,

And purposed to dive Him the best every day.

 

At each of the places our needs they were met,

Abundance from Heaven before us were set;

Our hearts were softened, Our spirits were broken,

There was dew from above for the Heavens were opened.

 

The future unblemished, unspotted by sin,

We launch out together united by Him.

The load may be heavy but the yoke it is light,

With love in our hearts we pull with our might.

 

In a quiet secret chamber we breathe earnest prayer,

For we see that the need is so great, everywhere;

His spirit to guide, His Truth to defend,

Coworkers together on whom Thou canst depend.

 

In a hall in a city we started to preach,

The Story of Jesus that sinners can reach;

The interest is good from the very first meeting,

And some come along who seem to be seeking.

 

The lives of the Christians were a true commendation,

We ne're could forget their cooperation;

As stewards of home and all they possessed,

My gladly gave all and there we had rest.

 

So the meetings continued and some made their choice,

The lambs and the sheep of His flock did rejoice;

In hearts and in homes God’s blessing was given,

It seemed to us there was a fore-taste of Heaven.

 

There are so many things I would like to mention,

But sufficient is written to show my intention;

The heart has a language the pen can't write,

But there's One above and we live in His sight.

 

There's a world we live in that others can't see,

‘Tis there we can prove we are loyal to Thee;

Those little decisions, that seem, Oh; so small,

Determine just whether we stand or we fall.

 

The year has expired and conventions draw near,

We think of the past with joy and with tears;

So much we had purposed, so little attained,

But our hope is in God and we're trying again.

 

Impressions were made that I'll always remember,

God spoke through His people and He was so tender;

Correction was given by words clothed with grace,

Fresh courage imparted to win in the race.

 

The day of departure is now at hand,

And Angus Mackay has assembled a band;

He's booked us and helped us and made preparation,

And we’re all gathered at Johannesburg Station:

 

Saints, servants have come to bid us farewell,

As again we go forth the old story to tell;

The few words of cheer and the shake of their hands,

Inspires us to go to a far distant land.

 

A number of Christians are on the same train,

Their annual leave has all been arranged;

And here I will tell you of their one intention

And that's to be present at Salesbury Convention.

 

Three days we have spent and God has drawn near,

Our hearts are refreshed and our spirits are cheered;

At N'Dola, Luwanshya, N'Kana we've met,

God's little flock there we shall not forget.

 

Jack's grave we have seen in a lone sacred spot,

Our friend and our brother shall ne'er be forgot;

As we stood there a. moment in deep solitude,

Our hearts they were filled with true gratitude.

 

For he gave up his all, the strength of his youth,

His purpose was firm and he stood for the truth;

We mourn not, because his life it was given,

And now he's at Home with his Father in Heaven.

 

On through the Congo the grass it was tall,

The road it was rough, the chauffeur was Paul;

We had breakfast en route where all was so still,

And at noon the same day we arrived at Elizabethville.


The week end we spent there and we had two meetings,

And Henry came down, it was just fine to greet him;

And on Monday morning at Elizabethville Station,

We boarded the train for a new destination.

 

Some days we did travel by train and by bus,

The heat it was trying, the dust it was worse;

But these are such small things and I'll tell you of balm,

'Twas to meet Willie and Douglas at DaresSa-laan.

 

The week passed so quickly it all seemed a dream,

For we walked and we talked of the days that had been;

The brogue of old Ireland was there just as fine,

As ever you'd find on the "Emerald Isle."

 

Farewell to the few and once more on the train,

For Kenya we’re bound the land of big game;

Kilimanjaro we've sighted, majestic and grand,

A triumph for God and a humbling for man.

 

On, on through the country it's green and it's fine,

And Mattie we've met just along the line;

Driesie is there at Nairobi Station,

Soon with Robert and Gertie at their habitation.

 

A trifle perplexed as we think of the meeting,

Four days are arranged, we feel like retreating;

The time it comes round and we gather together,

A poor little flock to help one another.

 

The meetings continue and thoughts are expressed,

Some speak of fresh hopes and some of regrets;

Bread has been broken, we're strong for the fray;

Save us lest we should rise up and just play.

 

The days that we spent in Kenya were fine,

The folks in the town and the farm all combined;

The meetings we had the evenings we spent,

All helped us to think of God’s New Testament.

 

Once more we are found at Nairobi Station,

The bell it has sounded and we are just waiting;

We've bid all farewell and we're now on the climb,

It won't be so long 'til we re crossing the line.

 

The line has been crossed we've arrived at the lake,

Kyoga's its name and the steamer it waits;

We've boarded the ship she's loft somewhat late,

Our bed's on the deck, but all is firstrate.

 

Masindi is reached and we're taken to tom,

Dutiaba's a place and for this we're bound;

The steamer is waiting on the Lake Albert Nile,

And Packwack is reached just after a while.


Another tranship and we're kept on the go,

Connections are good though progress is slow;

There are gnats by the billion, there's refuge for none,

I wish the old ship would get on the run.

 

At last we pull out and we're mighty glad,

For files and mosquitoes were never so bad;

Two days on this steamer, the time quickly went,

We saw hippos and crocodiles and some elephants.

 

Arrived at Nimuto we're in the Sudan

And everything is going according to plan;

We're hopping along and soon come to Juba,

A fine stately boat is there to receive us,

 

Before we can board her the customs man asked,

"Have you things to declare?" and he makes some remarks

it's easily arranged and we're off with a smile,

once more on a boat on the Famous White Nile.

 

A cabin for two and we're glad for seclusion,

For now we're free from all the intrusions;

It's Saturday night and in prayer we are bowed,

Away in the stillness apart from the crowd.

 

Next morning we arise the first day of the week,

We gather together in fellowship sweet;

We think of God’s children who sit at His feet,

Who gather the Passover Lamb to eat.

 

We speak of coworkers, of friends far and behind,

We linger in thought for they're all in our minds;

In cities and towns where numbers are met,

Some lonely on farms we dare not forget.

 

Things seem to go well with our boat on the Nile,

When we struck a sandbank and were there for a while;

A steamer was passing, a true fellowship,

She tugged and she pulled and she sure did her bit.

 

Another one came and with might and with main

They pulled us clean out, we set sail once again;

And after they left us, I seemed just to say,

"Thank you, I'm glad that you passed on our way."

 

This teaches me something, a lesson so grand,

That when I'm in trouble and stuck in the sand;

I cannot go forward, to go back would be pain,

But the push and the pull give me fresh heart again.

 

She's steaming along at ten knots an hour,

There are bends on the river and sometimes there's showers

Her course is unaltered, this saves navigation,

We're bound for Khartoun, but we call at some stations.


We've doctors and nurses, officials on board,

Some sailors, some Arabs, it's quite a mixed load;

We're often so conscious we cannot fit in,

But we want to be true amidst all the din.

 

Sunday morning again and in prayer we are found,

Our meeting is small but God's love abounds;

Our hearts they are stirred as we think, speak, or pray,

For God has equipped us again for the fray.

 

We've encountered a storm, but the ship does not fail,

There's wind and there's rain, but she's facing the gale;

Kosti is reached, 'tis the boat's destination,

And here we entrain for Khartoun station.

 

A sleeper for two, there's a fan in the corner,

The heat is intense, we don't wish it warmer;

The ground is hard, 'tis hard and 'tis bare,

The bones of some camels dispersed here and there.

 

A number of vultures with their ever keen eyes,

Have gathered together, a camel has died;

I think of the times it has knelt for its load,

But never again will it travel that road.

 

On the fourth of July we arrived at the station,

That place on the Nile has some reputations

We walk round the town and see statues of men,

Their lives rise described by the men with the pen.

 

Once more in the train and for Halfa we're bound,

A place in Sudan, a very small town;

We passed through a desert by day and by night,

And still we were there the next morning's light.

 

Not a blade of green grass, not a tree to be seen,

Not a soul was in sight, 'twas a desolate scene;

The heat was terrific, we looked for the station,

And happy we were at our new destination.

 

Goodbye to Sudan – we’Il always remember,

The roasting we got and our skins they were tender,

Once more on the Nile, two nights we will spend

We'll soon reach Shelall, we’re nearing the end.

 

At each side of the Nile green patches are seen,

We watch how they turn the old waterwheels;

This method remains from the days long ago,

They change not, they live, they labor, they sow.

 

Shelall it is reached somewhere about ten,

From the boat we can see sculpture work of great men;

Proud eves gazed in great wonder long centuries ago,

On the works of a kingdom that God His brought low.


Egyptian State Railways are not just the best;

We're now on the train and we're trying to rest;

We've passed through Luxor, where kings reigned of old,

Tutankman's great tombs and his treasures of gold.

 

We think of Moses, God's servant of old,

Whose eyes looked upon those treasures of gold;

He chose rather suffering with the people of God,

His examples inspires us though he's neath the sod.

 

As we near Cairo City, three pyramids stand,

Those greet tombs of kings and queens of that land;

Inside there are chambers so empty and bare,

At one time the bones of great people were there.

 

At Cairo's station two men we are seeking,

'Twas Willie and Harry we sure want to greet them;

They're there and they've labored and given invitations,

They're seeking souls set free amongst the Greek Nation.

 

In the City of Alexandria we've gathered for meetings,

Twenty in all and there we are seeking;

Bread has been given and we've sat at His feet,

We've tasted once more of His fellowship sweet.

 

Farewell to the few and once more on the line,

We're bound for that famous old land Palestine.

Two days in Jerusalem and we've seen sacred spots,

Centuries have passed, but they'll ne'er be forgot.

 

If stones they could speak and trees they could draw,

They'd till of the Greatest the world ever saw;

And though in this Babel of dark desolation,

Not a doubt's in our mind of the way of Salvation.

 

The lap of the journey, a new chapter has dawned,

Tyre, Sidon is passed, we're in Lebanon;

Three hundred thousand live in Beirut,

We pray and we hope some are seeking the truth.

 

There's a glimmer of light shining forth from some souls,

They are so few in number, but to God they are gold,

Away in the mountains on a lone humble cot,

We kneel, pray and speak; all of earth is forgot.

 

The need it is great and the darkness is deep,

But we know and are sure there are other lost sheep;

So we ask you to whisper our names when you pray,

That God may give grace as we show them the way.