S. O. SUSAG
By S. O. SUSAG
This book of a few of my experiences is written to show how the pioneer ministers worked, and how the Lord worked with them through his Holy Spirit. One outstanding fact in those days, when even though their training was limited, was their burning passion for souls shown in labors, fasting and prayer, and a heaven-born conviction and zeal for the truth. The Holy Spirit had revealed to them an unshaken faith in the Word of God; a faith that would not waver in the most trying and, to man, surprisingly unreasonable cases. My prayers are that this book will bring faith and encouragement to many a soul who is seeking God for help when all other help has failed.
I should not have waited so long before doing this writing, for because of that waiting the incidents are not written in the order which they should have been, and so many have been forgotten. Since many have indicated an interest in my experiences, may this book as it goes forth in Jesus' name bring honor and glory to God.
—The Author Year 1948
Ever since this book was first published for the author, S. O. Susag, by the Standard Printing Company, Guthrie, Oklahoma, in the year of 1948, it has been in steady demand. These many testimonies of outstanding answers to prayer have been an inspiration of faith to many people, and they will continue to be an encouragement to every earnest and honest seeker for an increase of faith in God's precious promises. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8.
In contemplation of printing this fourth edition, the undersigned publisher contacted S. O. Susag's daughter, Mrs. Art Rustand (Goldie Susag), and requested further information about her late father. In February, 1976, she relayed the following notes of interest to the reader:
"My father was born in Steinkjer, Norway, on March 28, 1862. He came from Norway to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was in the store business for a while. In 1892, they moved to Paynesville, Minnesota, where they engaged in farming. After they moved to the farm he was converted, and in the year of 1895 he received his call from God to the ministry of the Word. He traveled as a missionary to the Scandinavian countries for many years. He also served as pastor in Grand Forks, N. D., and as an evangelist for years. In fact, at the time of his death, which was in Culbertson, Montana, when he was 90 years of age, he was traveling around holding services. His death was attributed to his age. He was up and around until three days prior to his passing. At the time of his death he made his home with his second wife in Medicine Lake, Montana. He died on July 8, 1952, and was buried beside his first wife (my mother) at the Church of God Cemetery near Wendell, Minnesota."
—Lawrence D. Pruitt Guthrie, Oklahoma, March 8, 1976
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them." (Isa. 42:16). This Scripture seems to fit into my life's experiences.
I was born in Norway. My parents were Lutherans. When I was two years of age an incident occurred which I have never forgotten. It was this: My Grandmother on my mother's side—a very godly woman—used to visit us at least once a month.
On the occasion to which I refer, as she was about to leave us, Grandmother said to my mother, "Ellen, I would like to speak to you 'under four eyes' (that is to say, privately). Does the child understand anything that is said?" Her reply was, "No, he doesn't understand." Then Grandmother proceeded to say, "I have been wondering what would be the best way to pass out of this world without being a trouble to anyone, and the Lord has shown me that someday I shall lie down as usual to go to sleep and wake up in glory and this may be the last time that I shall see you; so now, my daughter, I feel constrained to urge you to seek the Lord." Again she said, "I am sure the Lord has shown me that I shall go that way." Four years later she went to glory just that way.
My parents had not given their hearts to God, yet they taught us to live right. The only religious services we ever attended were those held once a month in a country chapel. Other Sundays we would sing together in our home and father would read a sermon to us out of a book.
We would then repeat the Lord's prayer and sing another song.
One afternoon, when I was two and a half years old, a number of we children were invited to a neighbor's for lunch and play. As we passed the pantry window on our way in, we saw a number of dishes filled with nice red berries. One youngster suggested that we help ourselves to the berries, and this we did. After a few mouthfuls I began to scream and ran home. Mother, hearing my screams, rushed out to meet me and, picking me up in her arms, asked me where I was hurt. I couldn't tell her but kept screaming. Finally mother began to chide and shaking me, said, "Tell me where you are hurt." Still I could not speak, then mother fell upon her knees and cried, "Lord, my child is dying in my arms and I cannot find what is the matter with him." I was then able to speak and tell her the cause of my trouble. Putting my hand over my heart I said that I was having pain there and not in my stomach. Mother questioned me as to whether the lady had given us the berries, and I told her, "No," that we had helped ourselves to them. She said, "I will tell you how to get rid of your pain: Go and tell the lady what you have done and giving her your hand ask her to forgive you, and I am sure the pain will leave you." Mother went with me and when I confessed to the lady she took me up in her arms and wept with me. After confessing the pain all disappeared.
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When I was about eleven years of age it seemed that a voice was continually speaking to me and saying, "You ought to be a better boy; I want you for a preacher." I did not understand at the time that it was the Holy Ghost speaking to me. Mother often wept over me and said, "Child, O child, what shall I do with you! You make me more trouble than all the other eight children put together."
At the age of fifteen I was confirmed and at the following preaching service I was supposed to participate in taking the Lord's supper (as was the custom of the church). Before that service I went out into the woods to pray. I asked the Lord to forgive me for partaking of the Lord's supper, for to refrain from taking it would bring disgrace upon my family.
From that time on, the Lord continued to talk to me, saying, "You ought to be a better young man." It seemed as though I could not be better at home in Norway so I determined to sail for America.
I had been in America about a year and a half when I met a distant relative who was thought to be lost in this country, because his family had not heard from him for two or three years. He invited me to go into a saloon with him and have a glass of beer. We went in, and also played several games of pool.
In the meantime I took off my coat and hung it on the back of a chair. In the inside pocket of my coat I had my billfold containing about one hundred dollars, all the money I had, and also my valuable papers. When I went to reach for my money my billfold was gone. The saloon keeper seemed to know what had taken place and handed me five dollars. I had no work as there was none to be found. It was the custom in those days for the saloons to give a free lunch with a glass of beer. I went at noon every day and bought a glass of beer so I could have the free lunch that went with it. I lived that way for about two months.
During the late winter I got a job at night work, which consisted of pushing loads of stone in a wheelbarrow for the building of the Stone Arch Bridge over the St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River for the Great Northern Railway Company. The planks upon which we had to walk became very slippery and on one trip the man ahead of me slipped back in the wheel of my wheelbarrow upon which I had a large stone. The force of his fall threw both stone and wheelbarrow into the river. The man behind me, seeing what was happening, flung himself face down over his wheelbarrow, and in the dark, grabbed me as I was going over the plank into the river. He caught me by one of my arms and held me until help came and I was pulled out. I was hanging from his hands about fifty to seventy-five feet above the river.
After that experience I could not make myself walk those planks anymore, so I was again out of work and so terribly discouraged. A few nights later I walked onto the Tenth Avenue bridge intending to jump off into the river to end it all. As I took hold of the railing someone from behind me called out and said, "When you jump, your troubles will begin." I looked, to see the man who had spoken but there was no one on the bridge. The way he spoke had sent a chill through me. It was after eleven o'clock at night and I seemed to realize that it was the Lord who had spoken to me.
After sometime in America I found that I was still the the same young man as before in Norway. It seemed that I was unable to do better. Thinking to improve matters, I decided to go to school and study for the ministry. After two semesters in the college certain things happened which turned me into an infidel. I quit school, went into business and got married. Soon after I contracted tuberculosis of the lungs, and the doctor said there was no help for me, as both my lungs were like soup. During the depression of 1892 I lost all I had. In my sinful condition I called on God and He healed me.
We then moved to the farm and one afternoon a young man came to our home and asked me to attend a service with him that evening. In answer to my query as to what kind of service it was to be, he informed me that two women evangelists were conducting the meeting. I replied that I was not in favor of women preachers but I would go with him as I was not afraid the women would hurt me. As a matter of fact, it was through these women that I was partly awakened spiritually, but did not yet give up my infidelity.
One evening I was very tired and sleepy and went to bed at precisely nine o'clock. I went to sleep at once and had a dream. I dreamed that I had become a minister of the gospel and that I was traveling all over the United States and Canada, as well as in a number of European countries. Hundreds of souls were turning to the Lord in the meetings and many healings and miracles were performed. It would take a long life to accomplish all that I saw done in my dream. I awakened and felt so refreshed and rested, that I thought it was morning and put on the light but found I had been in bed JUST TEN MINUTES! I did not sleep anymore that night but spent the time in meditating on my dream which convinced me that there must be within the human body a positive something that would continue to live forever and my infidelity vanished.
A few months later (March 12, 1895), the Lord spoke peace to my wife and me at the same time in our own home, and called us into the ministry. He brought us out of darkness through three visions and showed us the evil of all sectarian division. All this was giving us light on the beautiful Church of God without our having heard any preaching on the subject, nor did we know anyone who believed as we did.
We commenced preaching at once and our first convert was a lady who was saved in our home. (Sister Hendricks, now Myhre, who is a minister). Our first case of healing was when the Lord healed me of blood poisoning in my left arm, caused from the scratch of a rusty nail. I caught cold in it and it swelled so fast that when I got into the house I could not get my clothes off and they had to be cut off with scissors. My wife and a young brother prayed for me, but I did not get immediate relief. My entire arm turned blue and yellow and soon my sides began to turn the same way. I had read in the Bible that the sick were to be anointed with oil. The young brother anointed me accordingly, and the swelling began to go down immediately, insomuch that the next morning there was no symptom of any thing wrong whatever.
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The next experience of healing was of the restoring of my hearing to my right ear. My wife had gone to services and I stayed home to take care of the children. I had laid down beside them to get them to sleep and had dropped off to sleep myself, and dreamed that I saw Jesus standing beside the bed. He said to me, "Do you know John Pederson?" "Yes," I replied, "he is my neighbor." And Jesus said, "Isn't he a blacksmith and does he not make sleighs? And," he continued, "if he were to make one for you and you were to break it, wouldn't he fix it for you?" "Why, certainly," I replied. "Well," Jesus continued, "I made your ear in the first place and don't you think I can fix it?" "Yes," I said. Then He stepped up to me and touched my ear with two fingers and I jumped out of bed and MY HEARING WAS PERFECT! I shouted glory to God.
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The youngest of our twin boys, who was nearly five years of age, was taken with double pneumonia and suddenly passed away. My mother-in-law prepared him for burial. As I was preparing to drive to town to get a permit from the doctor to bury the little one, the Lord said to me as I was on my way to the barn to get the team, "Why do you not go back and pray again?" I immediately turned around and went to the little corpse and laying my hands on him prayed and wept, and after a little while he came to life. He was not only alive, but also perfectly well. When I knelt down to pray my family did not dare to speak to me; they thought I had lost my mind.
About three years later our baby daughter, some ten months old, was sick and I was planning to leave home on Friday expecting to be gone over Sunday. The little one grew steadily worse and at eleven o'clock on Sunday night she passed away. There was great consternation in the family. The oldest boy fainted when his grandmother laid her out. After everything had quieted down and all had retired, except my wife who remained up, she went to the little body, held it in her arms as she knelt beside the bed until she was tired, then, laying the baby on the bed and laying her hands on it, prayed until life came back into it. When I returned Monday the child was as well as ever. In both cases grandmother prepared them for burial.
A little while after this experience the twins were out in the barn feeding the horses. Somehow in their actions one boy accidently stuck the tine of the pitchfork right into the eyeball of the other boy. Wife hearing their screams, ran out and brought them into the house. She washed the blood from the injured eye and laid the boy on the bed; then she and the twin brother laid their hands on him and prayed the prayer of faith. He went to sleep and slept untill morning, and all that remained on the eyeball was a small white spot in the center which disappeared after a day or two, and his sight was not in the least impaired.
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A similar case happened at Bruce, South Dakota, while I was pastor at Brookings and White. The little three year old daughter of Brother and Sister Hi Tellinghuisen was playing in the yard with an old rusty sewing machine oil can. She fell on it, the spout striking right into the center of one eyeball. She was taken at once to a physician who ordered her to be taken without delay to a specialist to have the eyeball removed. The parents then called me over the telephone to come at once. When I arrived and saw the eye, it looked to me like a dried up prune stone. I anointed the child, but could find no words to utter in prayer. I could only groan, but the Lord witnessed to the healing. (I think this took place on Saturday at 11 o'clock a.m. and the next day, Sunday, she was brought to the services perfectly well.) (At this writing she is teaching school).
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On March the 20th, 1904, wife was taken with quick consumption. Her fever was so high that she was delirious. As long as I remained beside her praying, she would be rational but as soon as I ceased praying her mind would wander. Over a week later, on Saturday, Brothers O. T. Ring and Carl Forsberg came to visit us. We then had agreement in prayer for the healing of my wife, and from that time on her mind was clear, yet she continued to go down. A number prayed for her but she grew weaker and weaker, until in the month of August. When the neighbors would come in to visit her, they would say to me on leaving, outside of the house, "We are sorry to say it, but we do not expect to see your wife alive again."
One day she said to me, "We have done everything we know to do except to send to Brother E. E. Byrum for an anointed handkerchief." I asked, "Do you want me to send for one?" to which she assented, and I sent for one. We received it by mail August the 23rd at 1 o'clock. I placed the handkerchief upon her and kneeling beside her laid my hands on her and prayed. She was so weak that it seemd as if she would pass away before I could remove my hands, so I soon said "Amen." She remarked, "This does not look very encouraging, does it?" I answered, "No, it does not." Then she drew one of her hands from under the covers and said, "Do you believe that any flesh is ever coming to these hands?" "Dear," I answered, "I do not know." Then she said, "I believe that it will happen." I asked, "Why do you believe it?" She told me that a scripture had come to her while I was praying. She said that it was the one about Naaman: "His flesh came again like the flesh of a little child and he was clean." 2 Kings 5:14.
Two hours later she was perfectly well, but weak, of course.
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On one occasion I received an urgent call to come to Norway Lake to pray for Mrs. John Evenson who was ill with tuberculosis. While on my way there I battled with devils, it seemed as though my buggy was full of devils, whispering to me and saying, "You are going to be arrested and put in jail." However, after driving sixteen miles, the Lord assured me that He was going to raise Sister Everson up, even if she were dead when I got there.
As I drove into the driveway I saw a number of men by the barn. It was the Constable and others. Jumping out of the buggy, I proceeded to unhook my team when Mr. Everson appeared, and said, "The hired man will take the team; come along with me." We went into the house and into the room where the sick woman was. Mr. Everson sat down in a chair beside the bed, taking his watch out, he then took his wife's hand in his to count the pulse. She was unconscious. I spoke to her two or three times but she did not hear me. I knelt down and asked the Lord to restore her to consciousness. Then I arose and spoke to her again. After a bit she opened her eyes and I said, "Brother Susag is here. What do you want him to do for you?" She replied, "I want you to anoint me and pray for me." I immediately proceeded to do as she requested, following which she sat up in bed and asked for something to eat.
The constable, with others, was waiting outside the house to arrest me if the woman had died. Mr. Everson went out to them and they asked him how things were going. He told them that before I prayed for her, her pulse was 124, and when I took my hands off, her pulse was 82—which is normal!
Thirteen years later she was taken sick again. Mr. Everson, not being saved, called for the doctor they had previously employed. The doctor refused to come, saying that Mrs. Everson "had lived for thirteen years on something more than human. I can do nothing for her. If she has faith, she can live another thirteen years." Then they telephoned me. I drove two miles in my automobile and was taken seriously ill and had to return home and go to bed. I was very sick for two days. Mrs. Everson died in the meantime, and I was well.
On one occasion Brother C.H. Tubbs and myself held a meeting at Bowbells, N. Dakota and a number of people were saved. We were to have a baptismal service. It was the month of February and we would have to go three miles to the nearest lake in which to baptize the candidates. There was no place there for the changing of clothes and it was slow traveling as we rode in a lumber wagon. Sister Stolsy, who wanted to be baptized, had been in poor health for five years and had a baby five weeks old. The Constable, on hearing of it, came to us and said, "If you put that woman through that hole in the ice, I'll be there with a warrant for your arrest." So Bro. Tubbs said, "We better go see Sister Stolsy," which we did. He said, "Sister, it does not look reasonable for you in your condition to be baptized." She wept and said, "I have wanted to be baptized for some time and now that I have the opportunity I am denied the privilege." Then I said to her, "Sister Stolsy, save your tears for something else. I will baptize you if I have to spend the remainder of my life behind the bars," and she was baptized. The constable witnessed the baptizing and saw that when she came out of the water she looked the very picture of health. Three days later the constable and his wife were baptized in the self-same place.
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I have baptized hundreds of people from Canada to San Antonio, Texas; from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, in every month of the year, in the lakes of Norway, Sweden and Denmark as well as in the North Sea, in all kinds of weather—once in the Red River at Grand Forks, N. Dakota, in a snow storm in zero weather, and I have never yet heard of one person having taken cold from being baptized, but on the other hand, MANY HAVE BEEN HEALED!
It pays to obey the commandments of the Lord. While I was pastor in Grand Forks, N. D., from December, 1919 to November, 1925, I baptized over two hundred persons.
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Once in company with Thomas Nelson, C.H. Tubbs and my wife, we held a tent meeting in the country northwest of Colfax, Wisconsin. Several people were saved and some were healed. This stirred up great opposition so that on a couple of nights an angry mob was on the spot throwing stones, sticks and lumber and bottles on the tent, demanding that we come out and they would cut me to pieces. One night a minister of that community was in the tent, and as he saw the stones come rolling through the tent, he became badly frightened and said to me, "This is worse than in a heathen land." "Yes," I replied, "but are they not your people?" He said, "Yes," and then getting down on his hands and knees crawled out the back way from under the tent and escaped to the woods.
The reason for this unseemly tumult was because I had preached that baptism was by immersion and other truths. The situation was that two grown young people, the son and daughter of a minister in the community, were among those who were to be baptized. But the fact that there was no water nearby in which they could be immersed seemed to give the opposing element great satisfaction. However, we continued to advertise that there would be baptismal services on the coming Saturday afternoon. Friday night it rained heavily and near the tent there was a low place covered with green grass where the water settled and the water was deep enough in which to baptize the new converts.
This goes to prove that the Lord's resources are limitless. The next Sunday night, being the last night of the meeting, after all had left the tent except Bro. Tubbs and myself, and as I was not making any move towards leaving the tent Brother Tubbs asked me whether I was not going home. I answered, "No, those people who threatened to cut me to pieces are coming back to pull the tent down and I want to be here when they come, but you go on home; I want to be here alone." But he said, "No, I will not leave you."
It was about a hundred rods or more to the house where we were staying and there was no other house near by. We put out the lights and sat waiting. A number of times Bro. Tubbs urged that we go home, declaring that no one would come, but at almost midnight a plank was thrown on the tent and out ran Brother Tubbs for home; and then just as I was coming out of the tent a big plank was thrown on me, striking my right shoulder and also hit my head. It might have been quite serious but that I was wearing a stiff derby hat at the time. As it was, I was almost knocked out.
I said to them—there were between fifty and seventy of them, "Just a minute men, I am alone here; please do not destroy the tent; it has no feelings. Take me and cut me in pieces as you said you wanted to do. If I have done anything wrong I am willing to suffer for it." This I said as I walked slowly toward them, "But if it is because I have preached the Word of God to you folks and you do not receive it, you will meet it at the judgment bar of God," and I continued to walk toward them. They said, "Do not come so near." "Are you afraid of me?" I asked as I continued preaching to them. Then they commenced backing up. Finally, it seemed I had no more to say. One man said, "Give us more of that." At this point Brother Tubbs appeared with eight of the brethren, whereupon the crowd turned and ran for their rigs and vanished into the darkness.
About eighteen months later I held another meeting in this same community and the attendance was very good. A number of the same people who had claimed that they wanted to cut me to pieces were also there. Eight souls had gotten saved and the attendance was increasing. All of a sudden, as I was closing the service, the Spirit of the Lord said to me, "This is your last service here. You will leave in the morning on the 4 o'clock train for Grand Meadows, Minn." Saint and sinner alike, said, "You can't close now; look at the manifest interest and the growing attendance!" "But," I said, "the Lord tells me to close." They insisted that it could not be that they all were wrong and I the only one that was right. So I consented to stay, but had I but left on that morning train I would have escaped the terrible storm that swept over that part of the country. As it was, I could neither get away nor continue the meeting. On the farm where I was staying they had to have a rope extended between the house and the barn for two days in order to find the way from one building to the other.
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I had held a number of revivals for Brother Millar of Racine, Wisconsin. One time, in this connection, I had a dream that I saw a pasture with green grass and beautiful sparkling water running through it and as nice a flock of sheep as I ever saw were feeding in it. But in this beautiful pasture that should have been utilized for good pasture. I felt impressed to tell Bro. Millar of my experience so wrote him of what I had seen in my dream. In his prompt reply he said, "You had better come with your 'stump-pulling machine' and pull them out."
Some time later, on a very hot Sunday at noon I arrived in Racine, all tired and worked out. I asked Bro. Millar whether there was to be an afternoon service. I understood him to say, "No, there would not be." I said to him, "I want no lunch so please take me to my room." And this he did. I undressed immediately and was soon fast asleep, but before long I felt my bed being shaken and heard someone speaking to me but it seemed I just could not wake up. The shaking increased and I heard a voice saying, "Brother Susag, Brother Susag." I looked up and there was Brother Millar! He said, "Why, Brother Susag, have you undressed? The chapel is full of people who are waiting for you to come and preach." I told him I had understood him to say that there would be no afternoon service, that he should go back and that I would follow as quickly as possible.
I had no message. I opened my Bible and from Genesis to Revelation the Scriptures did not seem to mean anything to me. I prayed and still no message. Then coming down stairs I met Sister Anna Hanson who was just starting for the service. I said to her, "Please give me a text to preach on." She said, "O you will have a text." I told her I was in earnest, that I could not think of a single text in the whole Bible that meant anything to me, that I was too worn out to think. Sister Hanson then said, "I have often wished I might hear you preach on the first text I ever heard you preach on and that was in Chicago. The text was, 'The Lord weigheth the spirits.'" Then the Lord opened my understanding and I had a text. At the close of the service Sister Hanson walked ahead of me to the parsonage and into the kitchen where Sister Millar was. She asked, "How was the service?" Sister Hanson answered, "The right message for the right people at the right time." Sister Millar said, "Well, praise the Lord!" and when Bro. Millar came in he said, "Praise the Lord," and jumped and shouted and said that every stump had been pulled—twenty-two of them!
While this meeting was in progress Brother Tiffany Flint from Milwaukee came down and asked me to come and hold a two weeks' meeting for him, but I had no open dates. In those days I was, at times, booked ahead as many as forty-two meetings, so I had to refuse him. But he urged, "Won't you come just a few days?" So I promised to go for three nights. When I arrived he said, "I have something to tell you: I have three persons here needing spiritual help." I replied, "Tell me nothing, on the train the Lord gave me three texts, one for each night, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which I am going to preach on." It happened that each text fitted each one of the three mentioned persons and each one came to service on the very night his particular text was preached on, and received his special benefit.
I am relating all these incidents because I have always believed in the leadership of the Holy Spirit; and now, after these fifty years of work in the ministry I am more firmly grounded in that belief than ever.
Some time later I held another meeting for Brother Millar. One afternoon, as I sat studying, the Lord said to me, "Here is your text; you go down to street so and so, such and such a number and preach at 2:30 this afternoon." After lunch I said to Brother Millar, "Let us take a walk." On coming out I said, "Is there a street in the city of such a name," stating the name the Lord had given me? He said, "I think so; what of it?" I told him that the Lord had given me a text to go down there and preach at 2:30. Bro. Millar then said, "We will take a street car and go down there and see, but I will tell you that if there is a chapel at that number you will not get an opporunity to preach there." We boarded the street car and the motor-man directed us to the street, and as we approached the given number we found a chapel and a meeting in progress. We went in and sat in the back seat. The singing had just stopped and the evangelist took his Bible and went to the pulpit. Bro. Millar smiled and hung his head, looking at me out of the corner of his eye, as much as to say, "I thought so." But I was pretty sober. I took my watch out of my pocket and held it in my hand and after the evangelist had given out his text and had spoken just seven minutes, he closed his Bible and said, "This is queer; I cannot speak this afternoon," and turning to the pastor, asked him whether he had the message. The pastor replied, "Why no, I haven't even my Bible with me." Then, looking over the audience, the evangelist said, "There must be someone here who has the message." Pointing to me, he said, "Haven't you got the message?" I answered, "Yes." "Then come on up here," he rejoined, "and take the pulpit."
On taking the pulpit I promptly explained just how it was we happened to be there at that particular time and proceeded to preach the sermon the Lord had given me to preach. I announced our services and everybody seemed to be well pleased with the sermon. I was not acquainted with any person in the audience, nor did any one know me as far as I knew. A little later a number of them attended our services and eight of them were saved and took their stand for the truth.
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At one time I received a series of letters from a leader in a certain Church of God congregation in which the writer earnestly pleaded that I come and hold a meeting for him.
He said that the Lord had revealed to him that I could be a great blessing to him and his congregation. I had never been to the place nor did I know anyone in the congregation that I was aware of. After giving the matter due consideration I felt that I should go, and wrote the pastor to that effect. On the day I was planning to leave I received a letter from the brother, upon the reading of which I began to tremble like a leaf—something I had never experienced before. I was standing on the floor reading the letter. Wife ran up to me and asked me if I was sick or whether there was anything wrong. She took the letter and read it, and said, "There is nothing wrong with that letter." "No," I said, "but I have a feeling that if I go I will meet something I have never met before." Wife answered, "Don't let the devil scare you now; you go, and I will pray for you."
On arriving in the city, as I stepped off the train, a man came up to me and said, "Are you Brother Susag? I am Brother X—; I have come to meet you. We certainly are glad that you have come, but I am sorry to have to tell you that our group is split into two congregations." I quickly reached to take my suitcase out of his hand, and said to him, "I'm going right back home; I'm too small a man to attempt to tackle anything like that." But he said, "No, you cannot go, for we have been praying for you to come and the Lord has shown us that you are the man to help us out." "All right," I said, "on one condition I'll stay. Take me to a hotel, and you inform both parties that I will only stay on condition that all meet together in one chapel and that no one tell me anything about the trouble, for if the Word of God will not make you one, I surely cannot do so." "But," said he, "you surely need to know something about how matters stand." "No," I replied, "the Lord knows it all and He also knows what messages to give me from time to time." "Very well," he said, "I'll take you out in the country three miles to an old couple who knows nothing of the trouble."
Three days later at three o'clock in the afternoon, the brother came to see me and informed me that my proposition had been accepted; the group had agreed to the conditions. I preached for eleven days and let them do their own altar work and the eleventh night there was but one congregation and all was peace and harmony. For the first eleven days of the meeting there was not one outsider in any of the services but on the very next night the chapel was filled, and there were seven ministers of the city present in the audience.
* * * * *
An Assembly meeting was being planned, soon to be held in Chicago, at the 74th Street Church of God and the brethren in charge wrote to the ministers of the Scandinavian Publishing work in St. Paul Park, Minnesota, requesting them to provide an evangelist who should preach in the Scandinavian languages—either Thomas Nelson, Emil Krutz or S. O. Susag. Brother Krutz and I were holding a meeting at Hereford, Minn. at the time. We received a letter from St. Paul Park asking us to pray to find out which one of the three of us was to go. Then Brother Krutz said to me, "I know you know who is to go; tell me who it is." But I answered him, that he should go find out from the same source from which I had found out. He left me and after two hours returned and said, "It was a little hard for me to find out because I wanted to go so badly myself, but the Lord showed me that you were the one to go."
On my way I stopped at St. Paul Park and met Brother D. O. Teasley from New York. He said to me, "So you are on your way to the Assembly in Chicago." I said, "Yes, if Brother Nelson is not going." "Why," he said, "he is not going. When I stopped in Chicago the congregation was praying the Lord to send you." God works at both ends.
We held the Scandinavian services at the Assembly up stairs in the Missionary Home. After five days' meeting, quite a few were saved, while down in the English services in the chapel where there were thirty-three ministers, none were being saved. Brother Reardon, hearing of our good services, asked me whether I preached in English, "Yes," I replied, "in my broken way." "Why, then," he said, "do you not ask the Lord for a message to preach down in the chapel?" I answered, telling him the Lord had already given me three messages but someone else gets to the pulpit before me. (This was the time for the free-for-all in the pulpit). Brother Reardon said, "Come with me," and he took me upstairs into a room where a group of the leading ministers were assembled and said to them, "Here is the man who is holding up the success of the meeting." I said, "How is that possible when I cannot even get into the pulpit? Somebody rushes in ahead of me, and one who did so was not saved." To this they said, "We have already attended to that person," and told me that I had better get another message from the Lord, but I said, "No." Then they said, "Will you preach it if the Lord gives you another message?" I said, "I will, if I can get into the pulpit and you will pray for me."
The second day following, the Lord gave me another message. My text was the last clause of the second verse of Proverbs 16: "... the Lord weigheth the spirits." After I had spoken a few minutes Brother Cole spoke up and said, "Please stop a minute, Bro. Susag, do not talk so fast; we do not understand a word you say." I said, "Please pray for me." Then again, realizing I was going quite fast, I stopped, when Sister Cole said, "Do not stop now, go ahead, Bro. Susag, we can understand you well enough." I seemed to be full of the Holy Ghost which seemed to be pressing me on. When I said, "Amen" there were forty-two at the altar crying for mercy.
Listen folks, this was not because of my good preaching, for they could not understand me, but they understood when the Holy Ghost spoke. When I went to the altar to pray with the seekers a man came running on his hands and feet, barking like a dog. He was taken out to another room to be prayed for. He was helped, and the devils were cast out.
After the altar service was over I asked Brothers Reardon and Ebel to go with me to the basement. As soon as we got there I fell on my face to the floor weeping, and saying to the brothers, "I need help, I am in serious trouble. It seems as though devils were tearing my very body to pieces." Thank God for good brothers who are able to help a person in time of need. Brother Reardon said to me, "Get up quick, Bro. Susag, don't lie there and cry for the devil." But I said, "You don't know what trouble I am in." But they said to me, "There is nothing the matter with you. Get up and rebuke the devil, get up and sit on that chair and we will talk to you." Then Bro. Reardon said, "The Lord used you to break the spell in the meeting and there were seven possessed with devils at the altar. The devil became enraged at you and was determined to ruin you." Then I resisted the devil and was free.
We will soon find out when we let the Holy Ghost have His way with us there are seemingly two equally great powers in the world. But thank God, we also find that He is the Omnipotent Ruler over all things.
Brother Tubbs and I once held a meeting at Portland, North Dakota. The wife of the man with whom we stayed professed to be saved and one of the saints. Her husband, as far as I knew, made no profession but was a very fine man and one of the leading business men of the town.
One day, as we were looking through the bookcase, we found a lot of fine looking books of Russellite teaching. We asked the sister who had bought them. She told us that she had bought them—"had bought over a hundred dollars' worth of those good books." We informed her that they were unsound, that they taught erroneous doctrine and should not be read nor handed to anyone.
Our taking this stand made things look as though we would be without a place to stay. But that evening the Lord changed the situation. The two-year-old child of this couple was suddenly taken violently ill. The mother asked us to pray for the boy. Bro. Tubbs plainly told her that the Lord would not heal her boy as long as she had those books in the house. When we were just starting to go to the service that evening, the father, who was holding the child in a blanket in his arms, said to us, "Will you guarantee healing to my child if I place it in your hands? Otherwise I shall have to get a doctor before it is too late." Bro. Tubbs answered, "We can guarantee nothing," and we started for the service.
Bro. Tubbs was already outside the door of the house when the mother of the child said pleadingly, "Won't you pray?" The Holy Ghost came upon me and I said, "Yes, on one condition, if you will promise to take all those books over to the meeting place tomorrow and burn them up before the eyes of the audience, I'll pray and guarantee healing for your child." She said, "I won't do that; they are good books and cost $100." "All right," I said, and stepped out of the door. The father said, "Just a minute," and then to his wife he said, "Isn't the life of our child worth more than one hundred dollars?" She said, "But they are good books." He replied, "The ministers say they are no good. I know nothing about them, whether they are good or not, but I do know one thing that my child's life is worth more than one hundred dollars." "All right, then, I'll do it," she said.
I stepped back in the room, threw my hat on the floor, went over and laid my hands on the child and prayed the prayer of faith and the Lord healed the child instantly, and the books went up in smoke the next day.
I have seen bookcases and book shelves in many homes that need just such a purge in order that the glory of God may dwell in the home, and sometimes even in the churches.
* * * * *
In the years 1915-16 I spent almost thirteen months in Denmark helping the few faithful workers there to raise up eight congregations and many books were burned during the time.
One old mother in Israel, when she heard of the books being burned, said, "I've got only one book and it's a good one." She brought it to me and said, "If you say this is not good, my salvation goes too." I asked her if I might mark with a pencil in her book and she said I could. After reading it a while I laid it aside having marked it here and there. She asked me what I thought of her book. Not to discourage her, I said, "There are some good things in that book." She took it and began to find the places which I had marked, finally closed the book and said, "This book is no good; the Bible says thus and so and the book speaks to the contrary." Then she said, "Why have I been blessed many times when reading this book?" I answered, "Because you were honest and did not know any better."
We pioneer ministers had many things to meet. On getting home one time, I found that a runaway team had pulled our windmill down so that we had to have a new one. The well was 204 feet and was hard to pump. After we got the new one, a neighbor came over and said to my son, Oswald, "See, your father has been out preaching and so you are able to have a new windmill." Yes, he had been gone seven weeks and he was eleven cents short on his expenses. The following year I was gone nine months and five days and I fared real well—I had $76.76 above my expenses that time.
* * * * *
Sometimes I got to thinking about little Charlie Brown, who I believe was about eleven years old at the time. When his father asked him if he got tired, he said, "Yes, I get tired of this walking preaching." So they went into a grove and prayed and his father said to him, "We will go to the next town and you preach on some street corner and if no one gets saved, we will quit and if some get saved we will keep on. What do you think of that?" Young Charlie agreed to that and a number of souls did get saved. Now "young Charlie" is Editor in Chief of the Gospel Trumpet.
Then it was empty pocketbooks, empty stomachs and sore feet, but that did not stop the preaching. Yes, in those days it was souls we were after, and not money and honor.
* * * * *
I did not have a new suit for sixteen years; wife had only one new dress in eighteen years. Although we lived on a farm we could not eat butter. We had to sell that in order to be able to buy more necessary things.
One year wife and the children were raising twenty-two hogs while I was out preaching in the gospel field, and we had a payment of $500 to make on our home, or move. When I arrived home in the fall wife met me with tears in her eyes as she told me that the hogs were all ready for the market when the price dropped from $6.00 per hundred weight to $2.75. "And," she continued, "the only reason I can find for it is that we have not given enough." "But," I replied, "I feel that we have given enough: Our gross income has been a little over $500.00." She then brought two pencils and two pieces of paper and said to me, "Come on." We knelt down and asked the Lord to bring to our minds what we had given, and in our check-up we found we had given $252.50. Then, almost scaring me, my wife, with tears streaming down her face, lifted her hand toward heaven, and said, "Lord, we have done our duty and you will have to pay our bills."
Two days later the cattle buyer came back and said that if he could get our hogs he would have enough for two railroad carloads. I told him he could not have them at that price. He said, "They are the nicest looking hogs I ever saw and if I can get them to mix in with the others I may get top price for all." "And," he added, "I will give you the old price: Six dollars ($6.00) per hundred weight." To which I replied, "They are yours."
One of our neighbors had twenty-two hogs born the same week as ours. The day they were brought into town people said, "Susag's hogs are the nicest, but P——'s hogs will weigh 1,000 pounds more than his." They weighed them and found that our hogs weighed almost eleven hundred pounds more than P——'s. They took them off the scales twice to examine the scales to see whether they were correct, but the hogs held their weight, almost eleven hundred pounds more than the neighbor's hogs. So once more, the Lord honored his faithful, humble people. There was enough money for the $500 payment and some to spare.
Two years later we had another $500 payment to meet, and when we started to seed in the spring, I said to the twins, "Let us kneel down right here in the field and ask God to give us a large enough crop to pay the notes which will be due in the fall." That year crops, generally, were very poor, average wheat being from 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 bushels to the acre (of screenings, or Number Four, as it is called). But the Lord gave us eighteen bushels to the acre on one piece and on the other, twenty-two bushels to the acre of Number One wheat. One old lady said, "I can't understand such a thing—only a fence between."
* * * * *
One time I had a dream of a scene taking place in the chapel at St. Paul Park, Minn. Brother Nelson, who had just finished his sermon, was standing by the pulpit with his left elbow on the pulpit and his hand on his chin, looking at the audience. Then I saw a woman, about two-thirds down the aisle, get up and shake her fist toward Bro. Nelson. The Lord said to me, "Do you see that woman?" I answered, "Yes." "You see she is not right with me in shaking her fist at my servant?" "Yes," I said, "I can see that." Then the scene changed in my dream. I was sitting on a chair right between the dining room and the front room at the Workers' Home of the Scandinavian Publishing Company, and there was a minister sitting behind me leaning his hands on the back of my chair. This minister I had met once before, and the Lord said to me, "You had better look out for that man; he is not right with me. He will get you into trouble."
Some days later I received a telephone message to come to St. Paul Park, Minn. at once. I went accordingly. On my arrival I found services were going on in the Workers' Home and very soon I was sitting exactly as I saw myself sitting in my dream. All of a sudden I saw the woman I had seen in my dream coming in from the kitchen. I had never seen her before, nor had I ever heard of her, but recognized her from the dream. Then I almost got scared. What if that preacher was sitting behind me resting his hands on the back of my chair, I thought. What's up, anyhow? I did not dare to look back to see!
The brethren asked me to preach, and when I got up and faced the audience, sure enough, there sat the very minister I had seen in my dream! I spoke on the twenty-third Psalm. I'm generally long winded in the pulpit but this time I cut it short. When I closed, Bro. Nelson said, "Is that all you are going to give us?" And I said, "Yes."
"Old men shall have dreams and young men shall see visions."
When the service was over, Brother O. T. Ring came to me and said, "Please come into our room; we want to see you a little." On going into the room I found that the ministry were there, along with this minister and woman, also some of the leading workers. Brother Nelson said, "We are having a little difficulty and we felt that we should call for you. You have had a lot of experience and we thought that possibly you could be a help to us." Then I got up and asked whether I might tell my dream. After I had told it I said, "If this fits, then you let me out." "Yes, it fits," he said.
A number of years later Brother J. S. Lane was to be the evangelist at the South Dakota State Camp Meeting. We met and introduced ourselves. Brother Lane said,
"Brother Susag, I stopped at Clinton, Iowa, and a sister said to me, are you going up to South Dakota and Minnesota? Then you'll meet a minister that I am afraid of. His name is Susag; the Lord speaks to him whether he is asleep or awake, but I have forgotten her name." I said, her name is so and so. "Yes," he said. That was about twenty years after the dream.
* * * * *
It was a wonderful experience the Lord gave me after the baptism of Sister Swenvorg and the wonderful healing of her eyes, and also the wonderful glory the Lord sent upon her with the persecution that came with it. That evening in the service the Lord blessed me so much I had to put both hands over my heart and had to ask the Lord to stop, as my human body could not stand any more pressure. This happened in Lukken, Denmark.
* * * * *
I once went to hold a meeting in Bro. William Gustafson's grove three miles north of Belgrade, Minnesota. The brother met me at the station and said he had quite a lot of business to do in town so I could stay at that station until he got through and then he would come and get me. But as quite a long time passed and he did not come I walked over to a store and asked them if they knew Mr. Gustafson and they said they did. Then I asked if they knew whether he was still in town. To which they replied that he had gone home quite a while ago. So I had to take my grips and walk out to his place, as the meeting was set and I was to stay in his home. I held the meeting and some souls were saved, but I never said a word to Mr. Gustafson about his leaving me in town. I thought that the good Lord could speak to him better than I could. The Lord gave me grace to treat him as nicely as though nothing had happened. When the meeting ended I had to walk back to town again.
At the next year's state camp meeting he came to me and said, "Can we go over into the timber?" Of course I said, "Yes." On our way over he told me that a would-be preacher had talked to him about me, accusing me of many things but that he had found out that they were not true. Then he asked me to forgive him and he also asked the Lord to forgive him, as he had lied to me.
It is too bad that such things happen, as a finer brother than Brother Gustafson there never was.
Then Brother Gustafson told me that the Lord spoke to him telling him he should have given ten dollars to me for that meeting, but now the Lord tells him it is to be fifty, and he wrote me out a check for that amount.
* * * * *
A WONDERFUL INCIDENT
Father Brewster, as he was commonly called, of Hereford, Minnesota, was taken sick and was sick for some time. If I am correctly informed, he was 89 years of age. For a number of days it was thought that he was dead but the doctor said that he was still living, but he might go almost any time, and the family sent for me to come and conduct the funeral services. He had been in a coma for eight days. On arriving I found that the doctors had not yet pronounced him dead. I went into the bedroom where he lay and stood looking at him for a few minutes, meditating on the many good times we had had together in the Lord. Finally I fell on my knees and began to pray. Suddenly he called out in a loud voice, "Praise the Lord, Brother Susag." He never moved a hand or a finger, all that he moved was his lips and the next day he passed away. He had not spoken a word for eight days.
* * * * *
One year when I was the evangelist at the S. Dakota State camp meeting, I mentioned one day in my sermon that I was very busy and had received enough calls since I had come to the camp meeting to keep me going for two years. After the service Brother Geselbeck, the elder of the church, came to me and said, "Let us go down to the car," which we did. He began by saying, "I've always had confidence in you, Brother Susag, but today in something you said, I thought you went too far, so I decided to speak to you at once as I did not want to lose my confidence in you." I said, "Thank you, that's fine, brother; what was it I said?" "You said that you had received enough calls since you had been at the meeting to keep you going for two years, and this is only the third day!" "Did I say that?" I asked. "Maybe I said too much, but we will see I have the letters here in my pocket and they are addressed to Arlington, Route 1, South Dakota." So we took the letters and read them and found that if I were to hold meetings at each place as long as they stated in the letters it would have taken me twenty-six months. Bro. Geselbeck then said, "I knew you were a busy man, but I never knew you were that busy, and I am glad that I spoke to you!" Yes, if we would all do that way when something is in question it would avoid a whole lot of misunderstanding.
* * * * *
I once had a cancer on my upper lip and one day I met Dr. Sandven on the street of my home town. He stopped and said to me, "You had better come over to the hospital and we will burn that thing out or else you will have something." I replied, "I've got something already." "Yes," he said, "but we may be able to burn it out yet." "Well," I said, "I believe I will wait on my own Doctor a little while yet." "All right," he said, "if you don't get rid of it, come over and we will try to help you."
A few days after this I went to Erie, North Dakota to hold a tent meeting for Sister Bertha Gaulke who was the pastor of the church there. We had prayer often, but for two nights the pain was so intense it seemed as though the roots of the cancer were going into my nose and up into my left eye. The third night I was weeping and praying and finally I went to sleep, and in my sleep the Lord said to me, "Wake up and take hold of the cancer; I have heard your prayers and it will come out." I woke up and did as the Lord directed, and out it came, roots and all!
I have had (and still do have) many dreams. The Bible says, that "... old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Joel 2:28).
* * * * *
During the time I was pastor in Grand Forks I needed a fountain pen. Sisters Hulda and Louise Werstlein gave me five dollars to get a pen, to be my Christmas present. I sent to my son, who was agent for such things, and he got me a $7.50 Waterman pen for the five dollars. After the Minnesota State camp meeting, Sister Moon of Canbee, Minnesota asked me to take her and her two children home. On reaching Montevideo I met Brother Thomas Nelson who said he would like to have a long talk with me. I told him that he could take Sister Moon and the children and myself and we could talk then as we went back and forth, which we did, but when I arrived home my pen was gone!
I wrote to the pastor at Montevideo asking him to look in Brother Nelson's car and around in the grass where the car had stood, thinking the pen might have fallen out of his car when I took my coat out of his car and put in in mine. About a week later I got a card saying there was no pen to be found anywhere.
A few nights later I had a dream. I saw my pen. It was standing up against a small willow in a bunch of grass in the road ditch; it was very dusty.
Some days after this, as I was on my way to town going north, I passed the road going west which I had been on when I lost my pen. The Lord said, "Why don't you go and get your pen?" I laughed to myself, but kept on driving and again the Lord said, "Why don't you get your pen; why don't you get your pen?" Finally I had to turn back, and as I did so I said to myself, "This is a trip that I'll never tell anyone about, starting out for 136 miles to look for a pen in a road ditch!"
After going a mile and three quarters I saw to my left a little willow sticking up just like the one I saw in my dream. I stopped the car and went to look, and there stood my pen just as it was in my dream.
We might ask how it got there. The only answer I can give is that I must have had my coat over the front seat of the car and the coat must have fallen down, and when I reached for it while the car was going the pen must have fallen out of my coat pocket in the dark.
* * * * *
A WONDERFUL INCIDENT
I had arrived home on Saturday, and Sunday I went to the service. The pastor said, "Now I know why I haven't a message today," and turning to me he said, "You speak for me." But I said, "No, I did not bring my Bible along." "Well," someone said, "we can let you have a Bible." I said, "Soneone else must have the message." There were two other ministers there, but neither had a message. Finally wife said, "Husband, I get a number of letters and here's one that reads like this, 'Dear Sister Susag: You should have been in our service last night. We had a wonderful message and a wonderful service. Several were saved, and do you know who preached for us? Your husband preached for us.'" Then she said, "Why don't you give us a message like that at home?" And they all said, "That's right."
Then I got a text. I looked at my watch and it was eleven o'clock. I knew the pastor had to be home at 12:30, but I forgot all about it, and not a person moved, not even the little children, while I preached. When I quit I thought it would be around 12:10 or 12:15, but on looking at my watch it was 3:15 in the afternoon. I had preached for four hours and fifteen minutes and the pastor and audience declared there must be something wrong with our watches! It seemed as if we must have been pretty close to the third heaven!
* * * * *
On one occasion while I was in Europe I visited at my wife's request, a cousin of hers who had been ill and confined to her bed for twenty-one years. She had become bedfast when she was nineteen. When I first visited her, as she did not understand anything about divine healing, she got quite peeved at the instructions I gave her. However her father, my wife's uncle, got gloriously saved. Two weeks later I got a letter from the woman asking me to come again and I went. Then she repented and turned to the Lord. I prayed for her and the Lord raised her up.
* * * * *
Once in a city called Stavanger, Norway, I was asked to come and pray for a sister who was in the last stages of tuberculosis of the lungs. As some of the people over there teach that it is witchcraft to heal by the word of God and prayer, a mob had gathered to stone me, and the folks called me and asked me not to anoint and pray for fear the people might do me bodily harm. I told them that I was not any better than the apostles or any other of God's ministers, and if that was to be my lot I would be willing to die for the gospel's sake.
I anointed and prayed for the woman and the Lord raised her up to the great astonishment of the people and no bodily harm came to me.
I met her twin sister several years later who said she had been well ever since, healthy and strong.
* * * * *
In 1916 while in Denmark I contracted tuberculosis of the throat and head. I got so weak that while holding a meeting in company with Brother Carl Forsberg out from Pandrup, Denmark, one evening before the service started I was suffering so intensely that I went out into the cow barn, sat down on a milk stool coughing and spitting, praying and weeping until I was so weak that I was unable to get up when I tried to do so. Time for meeting came, and the folks did not know what had become of me, so a Brother Madson, a big strong man, went out to look for me. When he found me he picked me up and carried me in, laid me on the lounge and the saints prayed for me, and I got strength to get up and preach. We closed the services that evening. Brother Forsberg returned to Sweden and I to my headquarters at Hjoring. I went to a specialist and asked him to write me a permit so that I could return to America. After he had examined me he said that he could not give me the permit as I would not be permitted to go aboard ship in the condition I was in. He said, "You would not live until you got there if you did start." I told him that I would like to be with my folks when I leave this world. He replied, "I don't blame you but it can't be done."
Then I got a letter from Brother and Sister Johnson of Jotta, Sweden, saying that "Brother Forsberg had come home saying that it looked as though the Lord was through with Brother Susag, he was no near gone. Wife and I agreed in prayer and the Lord says He is going to heal you and that you are going to preach to us here many times."
The following Sunday we had services in Hjoring at eleven o'clock, although I did not seem to be able to stand up, but I thought I might just as well go to heaven from the pulpit as to go from the bed, if I was going to die anyway. After I had been speaking about fifteen minutes I quit, as the pain got so intense in my throat I could hardly speak above a whisper, and the audience could not hear me. I went up stairs in the chapel where I had my room, and I lay down on the bed suffering intensely.
Outside my door was a tree and a little bird hopped onto a branch and began to sing. (I do not know the name of the bird, but the species was like the birds that used to come to our grove at home in Minnesota and sing. But I had never before heard one in my travels in Europe). I turned to the bird and said, "Did my heavenly Father send you from Minnesota to Denmark to sing for me when I was so troubled?" And the more I would speak to him the more he would flap his wings and sing and sing until I could forget my pain and had to laugh aloud. It was nearly four o'clock and that was the time for the next service. I got up and got ready for the service, and when I came into the pulpil to preach, to my surprise, I was perfectly healed and could speak as loud as ever without pain.
The next morning I went to the specialist and asked him to examine me again to see if I could go home if I wanted to. After examining me he said, "Man, O man, what have you done? There is not a T. B. germ about you—you can go or stay as you please." I told him I had done nothing, but that the people of God had been praying for me, the results of which was a great surprise to the doctor. This is the way the Lord deals with his unworthy, humble children that trust and obey Him.
* * * * *
I have generally observed a rule of not eating my evening meal until after the evening service. One evening in Sweden I ate a little fish out of a can that had been standing open for some time. After eating a little of the fish I remembered that the can had been standing open and did not eat any more. About a half an hour after I had retired and gone to sleep, I woke up feeling deathly sick with ptomaine poisoning. It seemed as if I was to be taken out of this world. All through the night Brother Forsberg, Sister Bettie Miller and others kept praying for me and the next day my life seemed to hang on a thread, but at five o'clock that evening we got the victory and I was perfectly healed, and able to speak in the service that night.
Some years afterwards while at Camp meeting at Anderson, Ind. I was poisoned in about the same manner. A number of brethren prayed for me without my getting any relief. Finally, Brother George Green, now pastor at Hanford, California, a true yoke-fellow of mine who loved me dearly, broke down and wept and had compassion on me and prayed a short prayer of faith and rebuked the devil and the sickness, and I was healed instantly. The Bible says of Jesus, "He had compassion on the people and healed all that came unto him."
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On one ocassion in 1933 I was not feeling very well. I was on my way to California and stopped in Minneapolis where my three boys live. When they saw that I was not well, they were determined to take me to a doctor and have me examined. He ordered me to a hospital where five doctors took six x-rays. After taking the x-rays, the doctors asked me, "What do you think you have?" I said, "The same as you think." They said, "What do we think?" "Cancer!" I said. "No," they said. I said, "Why do you lie, you said it was cancer and a bad one." They said, "Do you understand Latin?" I said, "I understand that much." In the evening the doctor called my son Clarence and said to him, "Shall I tell your dad what the matter is with him, or will you?" He answered, "It doesn't matter who tells him, as he is ready to live or to die; we want to know the worst." The doctor said, "It is the worst. Bring him to my office tomorrow at three o'clock." I heard the five doctors talking the case over between themselves, stating the position of the cancer.
On coming to the office the next day the doctor said, "I have good news for you, Reverend, you have no cancer." I asked him, "When did you lie to me, yesterday or today?" He said, "Neither, the picture clearly shows cancer. They forgot to take your food test so you had to go back to the hospital to have it taken and in the food test there was no cancer." The doctor asked, "What did you do, once a cancer but none now?" I said, "I did like a little story we ministers have about a little boy and his sister. They were out playing, and at eleven o'clock Mary was hungry and went in to ask mother for a slice of bread, but mother said, it is soon time for lunch, go out and play now, until lunch is ready. Then Freddy went in and asked for bread and he came out with a slice of bread with butter on it. Then Mary said, 'What did you do to get it?' 'I cried for it,' answered Freddy," so did I.
The Lord made them forget to take the food test at first in order to verify the miracle.
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One day I was plowing, since I had asked the boys to let me plow for the exercise it gave me. It was about ten o'clock in the morning and I had stopped and gotten off the gang plow to let the horses rest and stood looking south in the field when I saw six or eight feet before me dear Brother A. G. Ahrendt standing and smiling at me, just as real as if he were there in the flesh. "Brother Ahrendt is leaving Grand Forks by my orders," the Lord said to me. "If by your orders he is leaving there, amen," I replied. I then turned to get on the plow when on the other side of the plow there stood a lady minister and the Lord said, "Some are contemplating getting her as the pastor and that will be the ruination of the work in Grand Forks." (Not because there was anything wrong with her as a minister but because she would not fit in the place). The vision disappeared and I went to plowing.
Two or three days later I became so burdened about Grand Forks that I was almost sick, so I wrote to Brother Ahrendt and asked if anything was wrong or anyone sick, for I was so burdened. I expected an answer right away, but didn't get it, so wrote again and still no answer. The next week I wrote for the third time telling them that I was going through Grand Forks on my way to Raab for a meeting, and would be in Grand Forks and they could arrange a meeting for me over Friday night, Saturday and Sunday if he wanted me. Then a letter came from Sister Ahrendt saying her husband was away and that they were leaving Grand Forks.
Sunday afternoon, when in Grand Forks, I went by invitation to Brother Lars Olson's home and there met the four leaders of the congregation: August Shave, Bertha Gaulke, Lars Olson and Sister Johnstone. They told me that they had been talking of sending for me; Bro. Shave had proposed sending me the money for carfare, but Bro. Olson said, "No, we won't do that; we will ask the Lord to send him here and we will pay his expenses when he comes." These prayers going up from the dear ones in Grand Forks was what made the Lord burden my heart before I went there.
They then begged me to be their pastor, and I finally consented to come and stay with them for a month or three months or until they could get a pastor. I stayed with them for almost five years.
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While holding a meeting in company with Brother Renbeck in a school house out in the country between Kelly and Manville, N. Dakota and staying in the home of Bro. and Sister Holman, one afternoon as I was praying the Lord gave me a message on the judgments of God, and what would happen, even in this world, if people reject the Word of God. The Lord said to me, "They will close the school house." Then I asked Brother Holman if we should close the services tonight, where shall we go if we continue them? He said, "We surely are not going to close the services tonight; we will continue at the school house." I said, "The school house will be closed to us tonight." To which he answered, "Who said so?" I told him that the Lord had told me. Brother Holman then said, "You are a good Brother, but this time you are mistaken, for they would not dare close the school house because three of the saints' families are the biggest taxpayers in the district."
At the beginning of the service that evening, Brother Renbeck got up and commenced to preach on the subject, "The Church as a House." After speaking for about ten minutes, he sat down and said, "This is not the message for tonight." We knelt down and prayed asking the Lord to give a message, and the Lord said, "I have given you a message." I said, "Lord, that is too strong," but the Lord answered, "It is the message for this people."
The school house was large and it was filled. It was said that there were two or three congressmen in the crowd. I got up and spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes on the message the Lord had given me and when I was through I said, "Shall we close the services now, or has anyone a place to offer so we can continue the meeting, as I understand that the school house is closed against us?" The clerk of the school board (who with his family were professors of religion) went over to Bro. Holman and asked him who had told Susag that the school house was to be closed. The Board had only met just before meeting and decided to close. Brother Holman replied that Brother Susag told him that afternoon that the Lord had told him that they were going to close. The man went back to his seat. Then I said, "Is it true or not that the school house is to be closed?" Brother Holman answered, "It is true."
One man in the audience sat on the front edge of the bench so deeply interested in the service that his mouth would be wide open, and after the meeting was over he stuck a five dollar bill in my hand and said that the meeting had been worth that to him.
A man in the audience, who was an infidel, said, "I own a store building in Mechinoch, a few miles away, that these two preachers may have as long as they please, if some one can furnish a stove and wood to warm up the building." The stove and wood were promptly furnished, and we went there accordingly, and continued our services.
I am sorry to say that many who heard the Word of God preached in that school house rejected it and became real outlaws. The family of the school board clerk lost their salvation and two of their sons, who had previously professed salvation, became bootleggers.
At the store building a number of people got saved. One man sat in the back seat every evening and left as soon as the preaching was over. I saw that he was under conviction and one evening I got to him before he had left, and I asked him if he did not want to get saved and he told me, "Yes." While praying with him I felt a hand on my shoulder and a man said to me, "Brother Susag, Brother Susag, never mind this man; there are thirty-three at the altar and this man has not been sober in fourteen years." I said, "If he has not been sober for fourteen years he surely needs salvation and I will stay with him until he gets saved." And I did; and as far as I know he remained a true Christian and lived the life.
The first revival meeting we ever had in our neighborhood was held in our own house. The house 16 x 24, two rooms down stairs and one room upstairs. As many as thirty-eight slept in the house; the women and children slept upstairs and the men downstairs. There was one bed in which the children slept and the women slept on the floor as did the men downstairs. People were saved, sanctified and healed. It was salvation the people wanted in those days.
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Our first camp meeting was held in a tent a mile and three-quarters from our home. Warning was sent around the neighborhood for the people to lock their chicken coops as the camp meeting was being financed only by two poor men, who were giving free meals to all who came.
We had a wonderful meeting; many souls were saved and sanctified and devils were cast out, some were healed. We had some very straight preaching as we had some very fiery ministers who preached; such as, Brother and Sister C. M. Tubbs and the Brothers Enos and Elihu Key, Brother Thomas Nelson and Brother Tilgut.
The country around was stirred and people tried everything in their power to hinder the meeting. Some business men of our own home town (Paynesville) hired a team and borrowed a three or four-seated platform buggy from the implement Company and placed a small cannon on it, drove to within a few rods of the gospel tent and fired the cannon. The chairman of the town Board came to me and wanted me to have them arrested. But I said, "No, let them go."
The Lord "fined" them for us: As they were shooting off the cannon the horses took fright and ran away into the timber, smashing up the new buggy and tearing the harness to pieces. That saved us the court proceedings.
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The second camp meeting I was in, among the saints, was at Grand Forks, N. Dakota. I was called there especially to preach in the Scandinavian language as well as to help in the English preaching. When the first evening service was over every one who had no place to sleep was to stand outside the tabernacle near the big oak tree. One by one they got their place to sleep. Finally I was left standing all alone in the dark. No one offered me a place so I walked around among the trees. The camp meeting was held in the timber along the banks of the Red River. While I was looking for a place to lie down and rest, a man came running toward me and said, "Don't you have a place to sleep?" I said, "No." He said, "You go to that covered wagon over there and you'll find a place." As I approached the wagon I saw six feet sticking out of the wagon, almost to the knees, so there was no room for me.
I went back to the tent and shoved three or four planks together. These planks had been used for seats. I put my suit case down for a pillow and there I slept that night and during the rest of the meeting. When I would get a little cold in the night I would get up and walk around a bit. A few days later Oluf Erickson from Belgrade, Minnesota, who had gotten saved in one of our meetings at home, asked me where I was sleeping. I said, "I have a good place; another brother and I have a very fine tent with a bed in it." "Oh yes," he said, "I know where you sleep; you sleep in the minister's tent." "Yes," I said, "it's a minister's tent all right." But he didn't give up until he found out the truth. He then said, "My, my, had no one offered you a place to stay, and you are one of the evangelists?" I said, "Yes." Then he said, "Well then, I'll come and sleep with you."
In those days it was: "All for Jesus and souls" and not for personal comfort. We had a wonderful time together in the Lord. We also had a wonderful camp meeting in seeing scores of souls saved and many miracles done by the power of God.
Sister Renbeck, who had been bed fast for a long time, was carried in on a cot and the prayer of faith was offered. Brother E. E. Byrum took her by the hand and commanded her to arise in the name of Jesus. She arose and went running around the tent lifting her hands and praising God. I heard three men talking about it afterwards saying, "I wonder if that is real! She surely looked poorly and puny, but you can't tell." Another man said, "I wish my wife had been here; if it had been her we would have known it was real." (She had been sick for a long while.)
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While my first meeting in Grand Forks was in progress, Brother Renbeck came to me with the request that I would pray over a matter he had on his mind, and that was that after the meeting was over he and I might go together to hold a meeting at Whitten, Minnesota. I promised to pray over the matter and that at the close of the meeting we would talk it over together. And, accordingly, at the end of the meeting I prayed earnestly to get the mind of the Lord as to where He wanted me to go.
When Brother Renbeck asked me what I had gotten from the Lord in regard to the matter I replied by asking whether there were places in North Dakota by names of Kelly, Grafton and St. Thomas, "Yes," he said, "there are; what of it?" I replied that the Lord told me I was going to those places. He told me that just before the meeting here, he had come from those very places and there would be no use in going. I told him I was going to follow the leading of the Lord and go, that he could stay here until I came back when we would go to Whitten. But he declared if I was going he would go, too.
That trip proved to be the beginning of a wonderful work of God. Many people were saved and many healings and miracles were wrought by the Spirit of the Lord. In our visiting, the first house we entered at eleven a.m. an elderly sister, ninety years of age, was sanctified and her husband, ninety-three years old, was saved before twelve o'clock that day. This shows that Brother Renbeck had laid a good foundation in these places, preparing the way for the wonderful evangelistic trips that followed. Neither of us ever went to Whitten.
While at Grafton, N. Dakota, Brother Renbeck and I had the experience of holding a number of meetings in private homes. Interest increased and so did our problems.
One day we wanted to telephone to Brother C. H. Tubbs at Grand Forks. We went to a telephone office and were told that the cost of a message would be twenty-five cents. We counted up our change and between us found that we had only twenty-four cents, and so we had to leave the office disappointed. Out on the side walk we stood facing each other, one of us said, "Wasn't it too bad that we didn't have another penny?" I was standing with my back to the street when I heard the Lord say to me, "Turn around, a penny is lying right behind you." I turned around and there it was. I picked it up and we sent the message, but Brother Tubbs was not at home.
There was an old retired Methodist minister attending our meetings right along, declaring that divine healing died away with the departure of the Apostles. The next Sunday seven women were saved, one of whom was a young lady which had a stiff arm and crooked to such an extent that she could neither dress nor undress herself without assistance. She was prayed for and I asked her if she believed that the Lord would straighten out her arm and she replied, "Yes," but did not move it. I happened to be looking at the old minister and it seemed to be written all over his face: "Just as I expected." At the beginning of the evening service we gave opportunity for testimony and this young lady was all on fire to testify. She said, "I love Jesus and Jesus loves me, and He makes my arm well;" and then she raised her arm and waved it in all directions. The old minister bowed his head to his knees.
The next day we were called to the home of a young lady who was suffering from inflamatory rheumatism. Her entire body was stiff; her legs were crossed below her knees and her arms were crossed over her breast and were immovable, except that she could move her hands slightly and also her head a little. The doctor was coming twice every day to give her a morphine injection to ease the pain or she would make a disturbance by screaming at the top of her voice.
When we first visited her, Brother Renbeck began immediately to talk to her about salvation, for he thought that she must be saved before she could be healed. However, we did not seem able to get any spiritual help to her at all. So the next day before going to see her I asked Brother Renbeck whether people have to be saved before they can be healed. He said that he did not know. I then mentioned the fact of the ten lepers being healed and that only one returned to give glory to God; and, moreover, that I believe if we would pray for her the Lord would heal her and that God would get glory out of it some way. "All right," he said, "you talk to her today."
We went in to her room and I said to her "Martha, do you believe that God will heal you if we pray for you?" "Yes, the Lord healed Miss B. all right." I then said, "Are you willing to throw out all your medicine bottles and never go back to them again, even if the pain should return?" She called her father in and asked him to take the medicine bottles and smash them up. He went out and brought in a bushel basket and gathering them up, took them out and smashed them into pieces. Then we anointed her and prayed and while we were still praying she stretched out her hands and her feet. When we removed our hands she wrapped the sheet around her, jumped out of bed and ran around the house.
About six or eight months later while I was holding a meeting in Grand Forks, one evening a young lady of about nineteen years of age came into the service carrying her younger sister, nine years of age, who could not walk. I went right to them and asked where they were from and why they had come. The young lady told me they were from Grafton. She said, "I have not been well for a year, and about two years ago my sister, with some other children, was playing on the roof of an old shed and she either jumped or fell down, her heel struck a stone and her limb became withered. We have been to many specialists and none of them could help her. We heard that the two healers that healed Martha Gaulbright were here and we have come to be healed." I told her those men were no healers; that it was the Lord who healed Martha. "Well," she said, "the ministers, then." I asked her if Miss Gaulbright was still well? She answered, "She has never been sick since."
I told the young lady that only one of the ministers was here. The next day Brother Emil Krutz came and we prayed for a large number of the sick, (39 in all), however, before we got through praying the two girls were gone. On inquiring whether anyone knew where they had gone, I was told they had either gone to the Hotel or to the Great Northern Railway station. I rushed to the station two blocks away as I was anxious to find out whether they had been healed, but I knew neither their names nor their address. When I got to the station I inquired about the train to Grafton to find the train was just pulling out.
The next summer on coming to the North Dakota State Camp meeting at Grand Forks, I was two days late having come from the South Dakota camp meeting, a little girl came running toward me as I was coming on the grounds, saying, "Praise the Lord, Brother Susag." I said, "Amen, who are you?" She said, "Don't you know me?" I said, "No, I see so many little girls and they all look alike to me." She said, "I'm the little girl who came to Grand Forks last winter and could not walk." I set my grip down and wept for joy, and said, "Please tell me, sister, when you commenced to walk." She replied, "My sister carried me to the train in Grand Forks; when we got to Grafton my short, dried up leg was just as long and as natural as the other one, so I walked home. Now mother is here at the meeting to get saved."