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100 Years Ago: A Reprint From Word and Work–March 1916

by Stanford Chambers

[caption id="attachment_3678" align="alignleft" width="203"]Stanford Chambers (1877-1969) Stanford Chambers (1877-1969)[/caption]

 In answer to a call by wire, I joined Brother Evariste Hebert Saturday, February 12, and spent some days  with  him  in  meetings among his people. The  occasion  of  my  receiving  the  special call was that his flock at Evangeline was menaced by the modern "Tongues" fanaticism, which had gotten a  hold there  among the Americans before Brother Hebert went there with the gospel to the Acadian French.     In a revival of   theirs these  “Tongues" preachers were teaching that since baptism in Acts  is "in the name of Christ" the only name in which there is salvation, therefore those baptized "into the  name of  Father,  Son and Holy Spirit" (as Hebert had baptized )  were not scripturally baptized and must be rebaptized. The word went out that a "second baptism" would be given about one hundred persons there the second Sunday. Not knowing  just how much this might confuse his converts, and feeling somewhat at a loss to meet the preachers who spoke only in English, Hebert sent for me. Saturday night I spent at Crowley with Brother Hebert and family. With great interest we talked and read and prayed together.      

     Our first appointment was at ten  Lord's day morning  at Robert's Cove, some six miles, to which we drove. The weather was threatening but the box chapel  was  nearly  filled.  All  but one besides myself were French, about one dozen of whom scarcely  understood  English.  Brother  Hebert  addressed  them in French and I gave a lesson on the New Testament church in English. Prayers were offered in both French and English, and hymns were sung in both languages, most of them however in English, due to the fact that scarcely any of the few who can  read at all can read French. The communion service was conducted by Brother  Hebert  in  French.    It was  a quiet, worshipful, sacred service.

Thence we  drove  (without dinner )  some sixteen  or eighteen miles to Evangeline to help them in an afternoon communion service, and to be on the ground at the time of the  great  baptizing  announced. Bad roads  made  us late.     Our people bad come, waited and gone.   Nevertheless  we  went  to the meeting place, and within a few minutes the people, seeing us, began to come from different directions until nearly one hundred were present  for the  afternoon  service,  late  as it was.      We soon got a report from the "Tongues" that their one hundred to be baptized  dwindled  down  to  seven, a preacher  and  six others. It turned  out that our French  people took  no stock in it.  A young man confessed Christ at our night service which was well at­ tended and lasted two hours and a half, without complaint, despite  uncomfortable  weather, and  plank seats  without  backs. Three  meetings Monday,  three Tuesday           (besides  a baptizing) , and one at seven Wednes- day morning, were the extent of our labors at Evangeline. Baptism  and  tongues  were  dealt  with quite  vigorously,  both  in  French and English. I have no fears for  Hebert's  work  on  those lines.

This visit gave me an opportunity to observe  these  people  in  their  new  relation,  so recently  liberated  from Rome.  They were  happy  in the Lord. They have  come into a new  life in a new world.    Many would die before they would go back to their old ‘thraldom’.   They say, "Why, we didn't kn ow anything !"            I asked,  "What  particular  thing  was  it  that  turned you ?" They said, "Why, just as soon  as we  listened  to Brother  Hebert  read to us in the Bible we saw we were sinners and didn't have Christ. Then he read to us how to find Christ and we believed and he  baptized us."            A widow said, "Every time we attended

Catholic services we had  to pay for a seat else we were accused of being thieves.  We didn't steal anywhere  else and  I'm  sure we didn't want to steal at church." Another woman said, "I was a Catholic but  I was mean. I  had  a  terrible  temper. Any  one  will  tell you I was mean. I cursed. I would fight; I smoked cigarettes. But when I heard Brother Heber read the word of God, I had some terrible feelings.  I never felt that way  before,  but when I obeyed the gospel I was happy and have not said a bad word since." Then  she  related  how  later  on  she  asked  the Lord  to give her power  to  quit smoking; that  she  threw  her  cigarette in  the stove and  has  not  lighted one since.   I saw  men, young and old. who had  quit tobacco  ( Brother  Hebert does not  make it compulsory ) and I saw men hand over to him their pokes and pipes, saying they were  done.

It is wonderful the number of songs these Christians have learned in the few months  they  have  been  in  the  Lord. And how they do love to sing ! "I'm Happy in Jesus" is one of their favorites. "Happy  Day," "Wonderf ul  Love,"  "Jesus,  The  Light of the World," and "Calling the Prodigal,'' are  others.  They sang, "Blessed  Ass-

urance"  for me  the last  night and  asked me to have it sung  in  New  Orleans  when  I  returned. True,  they sing only by rote and their execution would hardly be pronounced artistic, but they make up in spirit and would put to shame  some  old  congregations I have  visited. They told me they did not know a hymn before their conversion ! And they said, "Nothing else, only to go to church and  hear  the  priest  read in  Latin,  and  pay  pew  rent. "


These people are nearly all ·poor but  far worse,  few, except the children who are now being provided schooling, can read or write. This is a great handicap  to  Brother  Hebert's  work. What have these people to thank Rome for anyway?  No  wonder the gospel  is so sweet to them  that over  500 have embraced  it in so short a time. Worse still, their dark ignorance led them into the most complicated marriage relations. Many men and women are living together who are  not  legally  married. Many are separated from former companions and living with others.  Some cry over their condition not knowing how to extricate themselves.  There  are  children  who  do  not  know  who their fathers are.  I said  to  Brother  Hebert,  "This is your  problem. The 'Tongues' menace is nothing to compare with it."  He  is not idle in regard to it. In all cases where those living together have a lawful and scriptural right to marry he urges it and has an arrangement with the Clerk by which he can obtain free license to marry them.    Several cases have  been  straightened up.


Already  the  work  is  so enormous  and  the  field  widening  so that Hebert cannot do justice to it. His great need is helpers.  But they  must  be  of  the same  race.    We can do little more than advise and encourage with words and prayers and means. Our brother realizes this need and has two boys with him studying the Bible. A few others would  thus begin  preparing  themselves but lack the means even to feed and clothe themselves while doing so. We are earnestly praying to the Lord on this matter. Hebert has been offered good salaries by denominational boards, but he says they demand his subscribing to their creed  and  he cannot do that. His last word to me was, "I'll never belong to anything but the Church of Christ." May the Lord lead us to stand by this faithful fellow-servant in his marvelous work.

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Philippians 4:13