As my voice echoed these words around that room, suddenly God's love and presence became amazingly real. "The love of God was being shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost which he was giving me." I was now experiencing the truth of this verse for myself! God's love was overwhelming me as His Holy Spirit was being poured out within me. Wherever I wandered, he was there, in the church, in the side rooms, everywhere! Throughout the night, the faces of many old friends and acquaintances came to mind with an inward desire to pray for them. Until the morning light, God's divine love warmed me and I bathed in His presence. Lost for words of my own to praise Him, a heavenly language gave flight to my adoration. "Holy, Holy, Holy . . . Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of your glory!" At breakfast, the following morning, one of my colleagues leaned across the marmalade jars and crockery. "Are you all right?" he asked kindly. "You were making much noise last night! That must have been some prayer meeting you were having!" I smiled back thoughtfully. "I too had hit the jackpot in Las Vegas, 'A Holy love Jackpot!'"✞
A Las Vegas jackpot night comes to Captain Ray Lewis in Nevada with a special holy experience. Another town, Las Vegas, near the Californian border, has become a byword for luxury and affluence as the gambling Mecca of America. At night, the casino lights glimmered in rainbows of color from the sidewalks to the sky. Caesar's Palace and Harold's Place were crowded to see the big stars. There was a chance of a bonanza win at a "one-arm bandits" lining the halls. Occasionally a shout resounded, "I've hit the jackpot!" A cascade of silver dollars clattered into a tray. Unknown to me, my own very special jackpot experience awaited me in Las Vegas too. It all happened in the silence of a dusty little side room of the Parish House where our mission team stayed. Everyone else was asleep in other rooms and lying on a bed, I was saying the Te Deum, slowly to myself as I always did each night. The clock ticked away the syllables as I prayed, "We praise thee, O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting. To thee, all angels cry aloud, the Heavens and all the Powers therein. To you Cherubim, and Seraphim continually do cry. Holy, Holy, Holy...."✞
Our little cross church on the highway near Needles Church California brings many blessings for a weary traveler. Gambling and the chance of winning the jackpot were the main attractions of this glittering Mecca. At my next port of call, the sleepy little town of Needles, a very different pursuit attracted its devotees there, fishing. For on the Californian highway, the clear running waters of the Colorado river bubbled right past the door of St. John's little timbered church in Needles. The boating marinas and excellent fishing made it a favorite stopping off place for anglers, also weary travelers taking a break from their journey. One day, a casually dressed middle-aged gentleman wandered into the Parish Hall where I was working. "I was driving through," he explained, "and was attracted by your quaint little church in Needles. I thought I would look in." He carried a small Bible and we were soon chatting like old friends. Later, we went into the quietness of the church to pray. As we walked forward to kneel at the communion rail, our eyes were still adjusting to the darkness after the bright sunlight outside. Kneeling there, my friend gradually grew accustomed to the gloom. Suddenly, he realized that he was surrounded by crosses.
A large brass cross on the altar and two ornate processional ones at its side cast their shadows across the sanctuary in the misty sunlight streaming through the window. His Gospel Hall did not approve of ornaments of any kind. He whispered anxiously, "Brother, I can't pray with all these crosses staring down at me!" Like a shot, I rallied, "Then keep your eyes shut!" For a moment we both fell silent. Then he laughed and I did too. From that point, we poured out our hearts in praise to God in the stillness. A few weeks later, he wrote a touching letter enclosing a small gift toward our work because of blessings received in that quiet hour in St. John's little cross church.✞
A choir boy's voice shows love came down to a Los Angeles Happy Christmas in California. Another important part of my ministry here in Needles California was our weekly broadcast on the local radio. My friend drove down from Los Angeles to tell of blessings of a very different kind he had received from God. "For years," he recalled, "I was a homeless drunkard. I brought my family virtually to ruin. Then, desperate and broken I asked God to take over my life. He cured me of my drinking and changed me completely." This former alcoholic and his twelve-year-old son visited a mission for tramps and alcoholics in the slums of Los Angeles, California. It was Christmas Eve and bitterly cold outside but the austere meeting hall was crowded that night. Above the platform hung a huge painted sign, "Jesus said 'Come unto me!'" Going from one disheveled man to another, his son handed out homemade Christmas cards and greeted each with a hearty "Merry Christmas." The service began and this lone choir boy's voice rang out above the rest. Again we listened to the familiar story of how love came down at Christmas. Noses sniffed and eyes glistened as we pictured the stable scene. Long separated and far away loved ones were recalled. A few, like wise men of old, came shuffling forward to kneel before the Savior. With a hearty "May God bless you," this twelve-year-old laid hands on each. Then, encouraging us all to worship the Christ child too, he led us in, "come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."✞