Excerpt (approximately 5 minutes) from the oral history with William Drury, who was interviewed by Robert Shuster in 1993. This excerpt comes from audio tape T3 from Collection 492. A small portion of the excerpt and transcript have been edited out; to read the full transcript, click here. The accompanying photographs of Drury come from his papers. For more information about William Drury click here. Click to play the Bill Drury excerpt on CN492T3

INTERVIEWER: What was the typical street meeting like? How did you grab people? What did you do with them once you grabbed them?

DRURY: Hmm! [Chuckles] We did things, you know [pauses], if you talked about it in seminaries today, they'd say, "How crude, how crude!" Manhattan, it doesn't take much to get a crowd in Manhattan, you know. We would stand on a corner, had prayer, walk into a little doorway somewhere and have prayer. Pray, you know, that we wouldn't get shot or killed or whatever [both laugh] and no public address system so we'd go over and we'd look up at a skyscraper and...and yell, "Don't jump! Don't jump! [Shuster laughs] Whatever you do, DON'T JUMP!" Five minutes, you've got thirty, forty, fifty people and they're saying, "Where, where, where?" And then we would say, you know, "Don't jump into the abyss of hell! Come to God tonight. Come to Jesus Christ. Let me tell you about what Jesus Christ can do for you." Another thing that we did: we took a hat, a fedora hat (wore fedoras back in those days)...took a fedora and put a Bible underneath it on the street corner and then walk around and just look at it, you know, three or four of us walking around and looking at it. This is New York, okay. This is not some rural thing. But people are gullible and they're acceptable and...and...and you get a few more people and...and..."So what are you looking at?" [Chuckles] "That's alive." "What's alive?"

INTERVIEWER: [Chuckles] And you'd point at the hat? from PHOTO FILE: Drury, William A.

DRURY: Yeah! Point at the hat. "That's...that's alive. Really is. That's alive." And you'd see people gathering and then someone would go to pick it up and we said, "DON'T TOUCH IT!" [Shuster laughs] Get a couple more people, and then finally somebody would whip up the hat and grab the New Testament or the Bible. (Today that would be an awful thing to lay a Bible on the concrete, you know) And, "The living Word of God, it's alive, you know, and the Lord Jesus Christ lives today," and you'd take off and...and go. There was no outlines as such. You took a verse, Bob, and you ran with it. John 1:12, John 3:36, I John 5:11, 12 and 13, but you didn't sermonize. You didn't sermonize...you know, you...you...you just took that.... And there is very little of application of the Word of God. You...you...we have sermonizers and we have people who have the "three C's" and "three T's," you know, and all of that. But application....

[intervening discussion]

...and...and I said, "Jesus said, `Feed my sheep.'" I said, "Week after week after week, there are hurting, hungry people, somebody on the verge of a divorce, that found out his son just had leukemia. Jesus said, `Feed, feed,' and...and...and try to get inside of people with whatever it is that you think and preach and teach," and...but we would just take.... But like I say, I was a novice. You know, what did I know about the Bible? What did I know about anything? But God blessed in the midst of my stupidity. I was available. I was available and God blessed, blessed in the midst of my stupidity.

INTERVIEWER: So you didn't sermonize. You took it and ran with it. But what exactly...what exactly would you say? Would you talk about yourself, or would you...?

DRURY: [Immediately begins giving a sample of a typical street sermon, with some explanatory asides to Shuster] "I want to leave something with you tonight. Listen! Listen! See if you can understand. If you can't understand what I am saying, raise your hand in the crowd. I don't care. Say, 'Hey, I don't understand' [reading] 'For God...'" You'd read the verse, maybe you wouldn't. "'For God.' Who is God? Look up at the stars, the galaxies, the moon. Who do you think made that?" You're on the street corner. You're in the open. "'For God so loved the w' ...the whole universe. Jews, Catholics, Protestants." You get a lot of Jewish people in New York. "He loves everybody. 'For God so loved the whole world!'" And you'd go on and on, phrase upon phrase upon phrase. "'So loved the world that He gave His only begot...' He only had one, Jesus, Jesus. You use His name everyday in the streets. The cabbies! The cabbies. You know, when they can't blame anybody else, they blame Jesus Christ. So you know the name." And just take it apart. "You, here, tonight, you can come to know Jesus Christ. How do I know? from PHOTO FILE: Drury, William A. I did it! I was a dirty, filthy, vulgar, profane, immoral degenerate! A high school dropout. I flunked...flunked everything but lunch and recess! And if God can take a life like this and change it and transform it, He can do it for you! But you have to confess the crud in your life. And you don't want to do that, because you're a pretty nice guy. And there are people out there doing a lot worse things than you do. I've heard that a thousand times. But God loves you. He really does. He wants to save you. He wants to cleanse you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to restore you! Restoration. He's in the restoring business. And He wants to give you peace, that you don't find in Manhattan, in midtown Manhattan. There is no peace. Listen. Listen to the cars, listen to the cabbies, listen to the foul language. But you can know that peace. How do I know? I've accepted it. It works for me. It works for me." So, that's about it, really, you know.

For more information about William Drury, Collection 492, to read the full transcript of the T3 interview, or to read any of the ten entire transcripts to the Drury interview, click here.

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