LONDON DRAMA EXPERIENCES
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
We feel sure you will be glad to hear of the splendid witness that is being given by means of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION at The London Opera House, Kingsway. The guiding hand of the Lord has been so wonderfully manifest in every detail of this exhibition that the brethren are rejoicing greatly in the privilege of having a share in it. In fact, they are realizing that the message of the PHOTO-DRAMA is the only one that can bring comfort to the hearts of the people in these distressing times.
It had always been our desire to secure the Opera House for a presentation of the PHOTO-DRAMA, as it is, without doubt, the most suitable building in London for that purpose; but the state of our treasury did not admit of the payment of the large sum required to rent the place. We had, however, given the Solicitor of the Opera House to understand that we should be glad to enter into negotiations for the house if he could make a more favorable offer. About the beginning of October a letter was received from the Solicitor, stating that they had a period free from October 12th to October 27th which they could offer us. On receipt of this we immediately called upon them and told them that we had spent most of the money allotted for this particular purpose, that their offer had come too late. Upon going thoroughly into the matter, an offer was made of L100 for the hire of the building. Mr. Wylie, the Solicitor, who has lately evinced considerable interest in our work, closed with the offer. He has since visited the exhibition on two occasions, and states that the interest aroused in him has led him to read his Bible after many years of neglect.
It was resolved to advertise this presentation by means of a distribution of 400,000 DRAMA tracts. Although only a week elapsed between the definite booking of the Opera House and the commencement of the exhibition, the brethren entered into the work of distribution with such a zeal that practically all the tracts were given out before the opening day. In addition to the ordinary means of advertising by posters, circulars, etc., a large number of window-cards were produced and these proved very effective. Some of the brethren called upon large business houses, warehouses, stores, hotels, hospitals and all places likely to engage a large staff, with the show-cards and supply of tickets, which they were generally pleased to accept. Some houses desired as many as 500 tickets, which they guaranteed to distribute amongst their staff. In the same manner they called upon P.S.A.'s, Men's Bible Classes, Sunday Schools, etc., requesting them to announce the DRAMA to their members and providing them with tickets; it was reckoned that 90% of the places thus visited co-operated with us in this matter. As there were a great number of boxes available in the Opera House, special invitation cards for these were sent out to the aristocracy and persons of good address in London; and, as a result, our boxes were nearly always filled by a class of people that the DRAMA has not hitherto touched to any extent.
Having done our utmost to make the presentation public, we anxiously awaited its first exhibition on the afternoon of Monday, October 12th. A large number of brethren were required for ushering, stewarding and other duties connected with the exhibition; and all realized their great privilege of service and fulfilled their duties faithfully and well. Many of the public commented on the orderly and gracious manner in which everything was carried out. One gentleman who attended was so greatly impressed by the dignified and courteous manner in which the sisters performed their duties, that he particularly asked his mother to come to see how the DRAMA was conducted, as he felt sure that all who were taking [R5581 : page 350] part in it were Christians. At his suggestion she came the next day and enjoyed a time of fellowship with several of the ushers, and also on the succeeding Sunday at the Tabernacle. Another gentleman stated that he had been grossly misinformed regarding Pastor Russell and his teachings; for he saw the effect they had upon those who were helping to present them. He is a leader of a large Men's Bible Class, which he intends to bring to the DRAMA. Another stated that the spirit of the workers showed him that it was not a theatrical display, but that the work was being done for the glory of God. Each day, before the commencement, the brethren assembled to sing a hymn of praise and to request the Lord's blessing upon all the proceedings.
The audiences on the first day were not large, but the two following days noted good increases, while on the evening of the fourth day our house was completely filled, as was the case almost every subsequent evening. The public seemed so eager to witness the DRAMA that many hundreds waited in a queue outside for a long time, in order to gain admission and even then, because of the limitations of the house, we were compelled to turn away a great many. Quite a crowd, however, waited at the door for nearly an hour in the hope that some of the audience might come out at the intermission, when they would take their places. It was deemed wise not to admit children; but on Saturday and Sunday afternoons they were permitted to come in if attended by adults.
Our audiences were made up from all classes and kinds of people; we have noted many of the clergy in attendance. One vicar wished to know the object of the PHOTO-DRAMA. When we explained this to him, he seemed intensely interested and expressed his joy that this beautiful building should be used for such a worthy purpose. He asked for tickets that he and his wife might come and see it again. A Church of England Rector has attended the DRAMA several times, and found it so interesting that he has purchased five bound scenarios and has brought many of his friends to witness it. Two bishops have also been present, and several titled people.
Each day we receive, by mail, a great number of requests for tickets; and many of the applicants express their appreciation of the PHOTO-DRAMA. The following letter is from a gentleman who sends us a donation for the work: "I beg of you to accept the enclosed token of my appreciation of the beautiful pictures being shown by you at the London Opera House. I am convinced of the vast amount of good that is being done by the films and lectures. Let me add that I cannot but admire the disinterested spirit in which this good work is being carried out, especially in this self-seeking, commercial age." We had a letter, too, from a minister who, after seeing the DRAMA, writes, "While I could not see eye to eye with all Pastor Russell's views I must testify to his faithful Scriptural delineations. As a Biblical student I feel bound to wish him and his workers God-speed in their attack on the anti-Scriptural and God-dishonoring doctrine of eternal torment." He further requests that, if possible, one of our speakers come and address his Bible Class on the topic, "Pastor Russell's Message to the World."
We have been impressed by the manner in which the public assist us in advertising the DRAMA with the least expense. Many apply for window-cards that they may exhibit them in their shops, etc.; and others take supplies of tickets to distribute amongst their friends. Practically all who attend seem to be deeply interested in what they see and hear. The serious times in which we are living seem to be preparing the hearts of some to receive the truth. At the conclusion of one session a lady came to one of the stewards and said, "I have been to all the pictures and lectures, and I feel I must thank somebody. I do not know whom to thank; there seems to be nobody; so I want you to convey my message of thanks and appreciation to the right quarter." Another lady told us she had inquired at the Religious Tract Society's office respecting the PHOTO-DRAMA, and was strongly urged not to go; but she was evidently so impressed by the advertisement that she decided otherwise. She was delighted with the Message and considered it the finest thing that had yet been done to bring the people back to the Bible--which fact she did not fail to impress upon the R.T.S. officials.
At the intermission the lady ushers give opportunity of purchasing the Scenario to any who desire to do so; and, as a result, a great number of these have been sold. Altogether we have disposed of nearly 2,300 scenarios during the fifteen days. We enclose a detailed report of the attendances and scenarios sold for each day, from which you will see that very few of the latter were sold on the Sundays. The reason for this is that we did not mention the sale on Sundays, as a great many Christian people object to the sale of books on Sunday, and this might prove a stumbling-block to some who might otherwise have received the truth, as well as giving a better impression to the people in general.
Remarks regarding the beauty and acceptableness of the exhibition are frequent, and surprise is often shown at the generosity of so good a show being free. Expressions of appreciation have been offered by people of standing. One such lady stated, after the Finale, that it was good to come in touch with those who had a message of comfort and hope. Another expressed her intention of attending the Tabernacle. Both had signed cards.
These, and many other evidences of interest amongst those who were attending the DRAMA, gave us great encouragement and reason to suppose that we would have a most successful Finale. This took place on Tuesday, the 27th of October; and our hopes were realized in every way. In the afternoon, over a thousand people were present, while in the evening, the house was completely filled and hundreds were turned away, being unable to gain admission. Brother Hemery [R5581 : page 351] gave the lectures on both occasions; and at the conclusion many seemed eager to sign their cards, a total of twelve hundred being received.
Owing to the increasing interest in this particular presentation, we have arranged to continue at the Opera House for another twelve days, report of which will follow later.
Truly, the people appreciate the Message that the DRAMA has to give. It demands even the respect of openly avowed agnostics and is making many realize that Jehovah is their Rock and their Fortress, their Strength, in whom they will trust. With much love in the Lord as ever, we are,
Your brethren and fellow-laborers,
INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSN.
THE BRETHREN IN SWITZERLAND, ETC.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
After a long, but unintentional silence, I will write to you again, hoping these lines will find you in good health, as they leave me.
Many things have happened over here since I last wrote to you. The newspapers in America must keep you posted about them. Respecting our personal experiences I can tell you, dear Brother, that the Lord has kept us wonderfully; we cannot thank Him enough for His goodness toward us.
Our dear friends at Muelhausen have passed through dreadful times; the city and surroundings have been twice the scene of very hot battles, where thousands of French and German soldiers have lost their lives. Within four weeks Muelhausen has been twice in French and three times in German possession, and even today the fights about Alsace continue. As the border between Switzerland and Germany, e.g., between Basel and Muelhausen, was closed for several weeks, we were left entirely without news from them. Lately, venturing to cross the border in order to visit the brethren, I learned of their wonderful preservation--for not one was hurt. They send you special greetings and ask you to continue to remember them in prayer that they may be kept faithful unto the end.
Our dear friends in Belgium and North France must have suffered much, too; I am sorry to say it is quite impossible to communicate with them.
Here in Switzerland, and especially in Basel, there was very great excitement; many people thought the "end of the world" was coming. All our army was called in and still guards the borders against invasion. Spiritually we had a good season, for very many who didn't believe our Message before are now on our side. The meeting halls are always overcrowded, and we have to look for larger halls. All public lectures are under the military censor; but they are not so strict here as in Germany.
By all these practical experiences we are more than ever convinced that the end of the present order of things is at hand and the Messianic Kingdom will soon be established. How we all do long for the realization of this grand hope and sure expectation! How true is the chronology and how precise its fulfilment! We are glad that we never gave up our expectations for 1914.
Re PHOTO-DRAMA: As the slides came so late, we were only ready for public presentation in Berne the very day the mobilization decree came out, disturbing the whole arrangement. Brother Krull will no doubt have given you an oral report of our experiences.
The first two weeks in August everything seemed upside down; but when the people became a little more quiet we profited thereby and started the Drama--though still under many difficulties. While all other cinematographic shows were shut by the Government, I succeeded in getting a permit for two weeks, but we were allowed to operate only four times a week. We had the large, magnificent hall on the Exhibition [R5582 : page 351] grounds packed full every time (1,400 visitors), so that more than 12,000 people saw and profited thereby.
Tomorrow we start again in Zurich (largest city in Switzerland). As we have no phonograph records I must read the lectures.
In France we were not able to do anything. Many of the brethren are in military service, and I might be called in any day.
The bank in Berne, where you sent the money, and which was, under normal conditions, a safe one, shut its doors, like all other banks, allowing only very small sums to go out. I succeeded, however, in getting more than half of the money by the following transaction: As the Government had put its hand over the banks, and as the brethren needed food, we put up a large stock of the most necessary articles, and the merchants, presenting their bills for this cause to the bank, received payment, as this was in the interest of the Government. As the social conditions will be still worse in winter we may be glad to have this lot of rice, dried bread, beans, condensed milk, etc.
I hope you approve this action, and would be glad if you could advise us of other good means for ameliorating the great tribulation which came so unexpectedly upon Europe. Many people have no work and many brethren in the Truth have lost their positions. We tried to employ some as Colporteurs, but the people of the cities have little money and cannot buy books. In the country the people are in better circumstances and the Colporteurs sell a few books every day. So we are trying to continue the Harvest work until our Master calls us to the Harvest beyond the veil.
We may not be able to communicate with each other much longer, and I take this opportunity to say again how much I love you, including with myself my wife and many other dear friends, all of whom appreciate the love and interest you have always manifested toward us.
Soon you will hear the blessed words, "Well done, good and faithful Servant! Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will now make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."
With hearty greetings to you and the Household of Faith at Bethel, I remain,
Your thankful brother in the Lord,
I.B.S.A. EUREKA DRAMA
DEAR BRETHREN:--Greetings in the name of the Lord! Enclosed find report to date. The beginning of our Drama was on Thursday. We did not have time to advertise it, or we should have done so; but the Lord permitted us to be greatly blessed in an advertising that we knew not of.
A lady had advertised a Lodge meeting for the same night and at the same hall, not knowing we had rented the hall. She had secured a number of new members to be initiated. When she came she found the "picture-show" in progress, and began to devise means of getting the people out of our meeting.
She sent the Town Marshall to notify them to come out. He saw the pictures and sat down and stayed until the close. Finding the Town Marshall did not return, she asked our doorkeeper to help her. He replied that he could not see how he could get the people out; so she sent another man up. After looking over the shoulders of about thirty who were standing, he returned to the lady and said, "Lady, you had better go home; they have the finest pictures I ever saw, and there is the 'talkiest' man up there I ever heard!"
She had six gallons of ice cream to treat her crowd, but she didn't get a chance to use it. "God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform."
Our prayers go up daily for the Heads of the various departments of the Tabernacle Office, that they may have more grace and wisdom in the work that remains to be accomplished. Love to all.
Yours by His grace, B. A. GARR.--Ky.
INTERESTING DRAMA EXPERIENCES
We are having some glorious encouragements in the work. There are wonderful crowds out here in Demorest. One man said, "It disgusts me to see how some of the very people who have misrepresented you folks are on hand early, and crowd forward to get the best seats."
The Methodist minister was present on Sunday when part three was shown. During the crucifixion scene the power was temporarily shut off. While waiting for its return he got up and spoke of the wonderful impression made by the pictures, and told the people that they ought to have a deeper realization of what the Savior had done for them as a result of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION.
Truly our God is a wonder-working God. What faith these things should develop in us!
A brother was telling at Convention about some ministers at a certain place where Drama was being shown, who were worrying for fear people would think they had something to do with it. A merchant present remarked, "There is no danger people will connect you with it, because it is conspicuously announced there will be no collection."
Yours in Christian Love, B. H. BARTON.