While Alexander Marshall was preaching in a country district, near Orillia, using a tent, the prejudice among the people was terrible. Within two thousand yards from the Gospel tent lived an Irishman, who was a very devout Episcopalian. It was beneath his dignity to go to the tent, but one Sunday afternoon as he was walking over his farm he heard the sound of a human voice, seemingly coming from a big maple tree by a stone fence, the width of a field from the road. He wondered who of his neighbors were visiting under this tree, so proceeded to walk over to see. When he got near the fence, he tiptoed up to the stone wall and looked over, greatly surprised to find Mr. Marshall and his fellow laborer on their knees praying and asking God to bring in the people to the meetings and save them.
These brethren who were preaching in the tent were doing as Paul and Silas in Acts 16. Every time the apostles prayed someone was saved. First, Lydia; second, the damsel possessed with the spirit of divination; third, the jailor. What a good thing if preachers today were so conscious of their need of God—it would lead to much prayer. In Acts 15 there is not a word about prayer, but plenty about disputations and dissension, even ending in Paul and Barnabas being parted asunder. In Acts 16 we read of them praying three times, and the chapter ends in the saints rejoicing and being comforted. If Christians would pray more, there would be less quarrelling.
This Irishman was so impressed when he saw and heard these men praying that he immediately went home and said to his wife, “These are good men, I am going to the tent.” The result was: he and his wife and a number in the family were saved.
It was literally so in those days, “These [men] that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6), and “There was no small stir because of the Way” (Acts 19:23, R.V.). And thus the work went on, and souls were saved in hundreds. This was real pioneer work, and we would like to see it repeated again by young men, in the strength of youth, going out into new ground in simple dependence on the Lord!