Walter Wilson had the ability to turn nearly any conversation into a witnessing opportunity, yet with graciousness and kindness rather than belligerent buttonholing. A friend commented about him that he certainly had the gift of evangelism. True. But he also had an obedient and willing heart. He would have been the last person to have wanted people to think he was unique or that no one could do what he did. We can learn much from his spirit as well as the particular ways he had of turning conversations to the things of the Lord.
Harry Ironside urged him to write some of his experiences, which led to five books of anecdotes about various opportunities he had to lead people to the Lord. Some of the stories have been compiled into a fascinating book titled Just What the Doctor Ordered.
He was able to lead a German shop owner to the Lord when he told him the blank book he was buying was to be used for recording his prayer requests and answers. The man asked, “Can you get to Gott?” explaining that he had wanted to “find Gott” for many years.
One of my favorite chapters, “The Wrong Address But the Right Persons,” tells of a visit he tried to make while out of town to the son of a friend. After looking up the name and address, he arrived to find the man’s wife and two friends. As they began to talk, he realized that this young man, though he had the same name, was not the son of his friend. As he apologized and began to get ready to leave, he noticed a well-worn Bible on a table. He asked if they read it and loved it, which they said they did. He asked if they had learned from its pages how to be saved. Stirred, the three looked at each other, and then explained that when he had rung the doorbell, they had been on their knees praying that God would send someone who would show them how to be saved.
Another chapter tells about an atheist doctor known for his antagonism. Dr. Wilson visited him and discovered the one issue that kept the doctor from believing. He invited the doctor to church, and the Lord gave him just the right illustration that removed the obstacle in this doctor’s thinking. Another chapter tells how, as he was holding special meetings in a certain city, the pastor invited him to visit a church member who had been seriously ill in the hospital. They did so and had a good visit. Dr. Wilson took notice of a nurse in the room and went over to her to ask her if any of this man’s visitors had brought any message of comfort to her as well. She said no, she was not a Christian as these folks were. As he told her about the Lord, she began to weep. “All unknown to those who had visited the sick man, this nurse had been listening, the hunger had been increasing, and the desire to have what they were talking about became more and more acute in her soul…Although the visiting Christians had overlooked this splendid prospect, nevertheless God used their words to prepare her heart…The hungry heart may be quite close to us but may be all unobserved because we are not looking for the troubled soul.”
Other chapters are “The Case of the Japanese Barber,” “The Ticket Did Not Arrive on Time,” “God visited the Circus,” “Mrs. Fox Did Not Like It,” “A Hopeless Cripple Could Sing,” “Lost on Mount Wilson,” “The Candlestick Was Not in the Ark,” “”Lillian Was Miserable on the Stage,” “’Will I See My Little Girl Again?’” “The Intern Was Surprised,” “The Cursing Barber,” as well as others. At the end is a chapter entitled, “Hints and Helps For Personal Soulwinners.”
Dr. Wilson was not a trained or ordained preacher. He was a “medical doctor, natural scientist, salesman, businessman, author, preacher, school administrator, and more.” But he viewed sharing the gospel as his “principal business in life.” David Woehr, in his biographical sketch at the beginning of the book, says:
He translated that concern into action by taking advantage of every available opportunity to present the gospel. On the other hand, he placed great emphasis on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each morning he would earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him to the particular person whom He had prepared to receive the gospel. During the day, expecting God to answer his prayer, he would take advantage of each favorable occasion to speak a word for Christ. He was not one to wait for some strange, inner urging of the Spirit to move him, for the opening up of an opportunity was leading enough for him.
Always a gentleman and never intrusive or abrasive, it was evident that the love of God motivated him. He was not a salesman with a product to huckster onto some unsuspecting potential client…Each one with whom he came in contact was a person who perhaps needed the water of life. He was a man under orders, ready at every moment to follow the Spirit’s leading and be the instrument by which God would bring a new-born babe into His kingdom.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)