Billy Graham Center

Report on the Meeting at the Addington Railway Works, September 9, 1902

This report appeared on pages 15 and 16 of The Outlook Illustrated Memento of the Torrey-Alexander Mission / August-September 1902. Notes in brackets [] were added by the archivist.

On Monday evening about 50 of the choir responded to Mr Alexander's appeal for assistance with the workman's meeting, so on Tuesday morning at 11.30, two brakes crowded with happy singers, and accompanied by a few traps, left Cathedral square, reaching the works a little before noon.

A number of the executive [committee in charge of events in Christchurch], with Dr Torrey and Mr Alexander, followed in a couple of carriages.

Upon arrival at the works, the company were received in a most cordial manner by the manager, Mr M'Carthy, who had made fullest arrangements for the meeting. The waggon containing an organ and piano was soon occupied by the choir and ministers as the men came trooping out of the shops and gathered in front, the chorus of the "Glory song," accompanied by Mr Harkness, was struck up and repeated again and again.

At Mr Alexander's request many of the men, of whom there were about 500, also joined, and made a very hearty opening of praise. The chorus of "A little talk with Jesus," was next sung, and soon impressed itself upon the big company who, in various ways, were encouraged by Mr Alexander to take part. A bright laugh was raised when he told them to whistle the tune if they couldn't sing, and many acted upon the advice. No offence was taken when he told those who were smoking, just for two minutes; to take their pipes out of their mouths and sing or whistle, and immediately all seemed to take part in the song with excellent effect. Mr Alexander sang the hymn as a solo, all joining in the refrain. It was a very happy beginning to the meeting.

Dr Torrey said he could not attempt to preach a sermon owing to the brevity of the time, but at the same time he knew they did not want one, at which more than one voice cried, "No." He contented himself with giving one or two taking [striking] illustrations of the power of conscience upon the evildoer, and of the power of Jesus Christ to give peace to the most troubled conscience.

Mr Alexander announced the hymn, "Tell mother I'll be there," but before singing it called out for "Hands up who have mothers in heaven." A considerable number of hands were immediately held up. an act which seemed to carry the words of the hymn home to the heart as the solo was sung by him, and the chorus by the choir.

Dr Torrey called for testimony, which amid such surroundings required, as he said, considerable grit. "Hands up of those who are followers of Jesus and are proud of it." About 50 or 60 hands were immediately raised, producing an impressive effect, and earning the warm commendation of the missioner [evangelist]. Again the order came, "Who will decide for Jesus now?" and two or three hands went up, Mr Alexander remarking of one: "That's the biggest man in the crowd. " Dr Torrey closed the meeting with prayer.

At this stage the raucous whistle blew, and the meeting had to come to a reluctant finish. Mr Alexander was equal to the occasion and started the "G1ory" chorus, as he did so, throwing a number of the red music books amongst the men, who were soon plunged into a happy scrimmage in the midst of which the imperious voice cried, .'Choir, throw in your books and I will renew them tonight." Immediately red books were seen flying all over the delighted crowd. Over eight books were thus distributed.

After the taking chorus, the men, who numbered from 400 to 500, gave three hearty cheers for tho missioners, and returned to their work, having had little dinner, but a most happy and memorable interval.

It is nine or ten years since a similar meeting was held at the workshops. As this was so highly appreciated, we may hear of several more of a like uplifting nature before another ten years have rolled by.

True to his word, Mr Alexander repaired his choir's loss with books having on the front page in his handwriting: "Chas. Alexander, 2 Timothy ii, 15. Railway Day." The autograph will be greatly prized.

During the proceedings the photos were taken which appear in this special illustrated issue. In view of the photographer's work, Mr Alexander got the men to gather closely around, telling them he wanted them all in the picture: "Come up closer, men, and you'll be nearer," he shouted, and with responsive laugher, closer they came, smoking their pipes and eating their lunch.
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