Development in Delaware
There is an odd American adage that says "to the victor belongs the spoils." This was comparatively true in the cause of Bishop Johnson's advent to Delaware. He had won a spiritual victory, but to him fell the responsibility of finding a locality easily accessible from all of the outlying towns and villages. In other words, since the folks who had come to Christ had come from all the outlying towns, a central point had to reached as nearly as possible. After what seemed an unfruitful search, Bishop S.C. Johnson was able to purchase a desirable plot of ground on Route 16, between the towns of Ellendale and Milton, Delaware. This was indeed a blessing from the Lord and Bishop Johnson and the saints were elated at his good fortune. This was a piece of virgin timber land and it had to be cleared and the ground made ready for the building that had to be erected. Cement blocks had to be formed for the foundation of the church, and a jumble of other infinite things too numerable to mention, had to be done.
This first winter of building, little progress was made above the foundation and a portion of the walls. In the summer of 1947, Bishop Johnson asked the cooperation of the brothers to help complete the tabernacle in Delaware, before the winter's snow rendered building impossible. In the meantime, a tent was raised for services during the summer months, and fruitful meetings. To date, the building in Delaware, is still going on and by the help of God, will soon be completed. Under shrewd guidance of our Bishop, a lumber camp has been erected and the ring of axes and the hum of the saw sounds throughout the Delaware community. It was not long before he set up sawmills on the grounds. Things got off to a slow start the roads were bad, if they were called roads. A long process of cutting away had to be done. The men battled against soon coming winter, because once winter came, the work would almost come to a standstill.
Sturdy limber packs went into the woods to match man's strength against statue like trees. The sound of constant hacking, a sudden will scream of "Timber", then the swish clash sound of the fallen trees. These fallen tress had to be taken to nearby sawmills, and then to the trains. However, the work was behind schedule. The trees were not coming to the mill fast enough, or when they did come, the saw would break down. When the mills were in good shape, there wasn't anyone there to run them. With all of this pending, winter came. It came bringing with it, heavy rains and deep snow. This made the bad dirt roads soft and muddy. The trucks laden with logs found it impossible to get out of the roads. Bishop Johnson bore these things like a true soldier. One could see him in his hunting clothes overseeing and doing odd jobs here and there. I remember it was on one of these jobs that a nail hit him in the eye. My heart pounded and the name of Jesus rushed from my lips. He walked a few paces from us to talk to the Lord, finally all was well. He came back and resumed his job. That night we were entertained by Bishop Johnson in the house on the tabernacle grounds. He related some of his experiences, while we sat around cracking pecans and feasting on the goodies that were presented to us. The worried strain had left his face as the evening went on, and a boyish smile lit his face. He knew that the harder the devil fought, the greater to victory in the end.
This proved true, for when he returned to Philadelphia, he came across something almost impossible to believe. It was a saw ran by motor. All one had to do was to put in gasoline, start the motor and hold the saw against the tree. This saw went through the tree in the same manner as a bread slicer would slice bread. Bishop then bought new saw mills to handle the work, and hired new men to operate the mills. Now the sawmills are turning in dividends and proceeds are going to the furtherance of the gospel. Our hearts are lighter now and greater joy is flowing through our souls. We contribute these factors to Bishop Johnson being with us more now, than he was in the last few months. With the sawmills running smoothly, he is now able to be with us on our Tuesday and Thursday night services. If one would observe him closely, they would see that he wears a more contented look. This is because his joy is in the people of God, and declaring the gospel of the Lord.
It is thrilling to witness him coming into the church at 22nd and Montgomery Ave. The audience would rise and sing, "Remember Me" as he came in, and knelt to pray. One could feel the closeness of the Lord. I suppose we felt similar to the children of Israel, when they stood, as Moses entered the tent. It was not long after he had entered that he stood and delivered a message directly from the Lord. The name of Bishop Johnson is becoming very popular throughout the states. His popularity is due to the gospel that he preaches. People come to see this man who preaches such strict Bible. They come and confess that the gospel he preaches is true. Men and women from all walks of life, people of many races, creeds and colors visit us.
Yes, they come to debate on what they have heard preached by Bishop Johnson. The night usually allotted for this purpose is Tuesday night. There have been many who came and debated on different subjects. The preachers would walk up to the pulpit to fight Bishop Johnson. Bishop Johnson would let them enjoy themselves, picking scripture, here and there that digressed from the point. Finally, Bishop Johnson would hold them to the point and ask of them the direct chapter and verse to prove their subject. They would wiggle, squirm of stammer, then break out in losing sweat as Bishop would confirm them to direct scripture. To give you an illustration of one of these debates, I would like to relate the final blow that Bishop placed on one of the false prophets.
The debate this night was with a man that Bishop had debated with several times before. This man did not believe that Jesus was the mighty God. He had switched and jumped over the point, failing to give a satisfactory answer. Nevertheless, this night Bishop was determined he was going to die the death of the uncircumcised. He told him that he was going to kill his erroneous doctrine and demanded of him a direct answer before the people. Apparently, he believed Bishop because he tried to get out of the debate, but the tense waiting audience would hear none of this. As he started to walk out, the people called him back, they came to hear a debate and a debate they were going to have. The debater came back to the pulpit and made his opening address. Stated his platform and the debate was opened. He read quite a few scriptures that didn't prove the point. Then Bishop questioned him on Isaiah. 9:6, which stated, that his son, which is to be born will be called the Mighty God. Bishop asked him, "Didn't Isaiah say, that this son was the mighty God?" Again and again Bishop hammered this question. Perspiration of defeat washed all the starch out of Bishop's opponent. Reluctantly he answered, "Yes!" A loud rushing sound was heard from the audience as he stood there beaten. He tried to regain himself and said, Jesus is not God. Bishop Johnson then asked him, "Did Isaiah lie?" The audience waited for his reply. The debater looked out on the faces of the people that had come to see how he would stand. He must have thought, "What will I do now, what road will I take?" The voice of Bishop Johnson was again heard, "Did Isaiah lie?" Now the debater knew that his time had come, he must answer. What would his answer be? It was, "Yes!" He had said that "Isaiah had lied." Crescendo-like gasps were heard from the audience. This man had stood and lied in the face of the Bible.