"He Giveth Power to the Faint"

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
"I tell you again, mate, 'religion' may do finely for women and children; but it will not do for men."
Such were the words of Jonathan Winters, a rough old miner, to one of his comrades who had lately determined to follow Christ.
"And as for you, Roger," continued Jonathan, "I'm sure you don't need making any more of a woman than you be already. You are the softest, most chicken-hearted chap I know. And if you really are going to be pious and 'Bible-reading' into the bargain, you'll turn so soft that a shadow will frighten you.
"Give it up mate; give it up. You're only half a man as it is, but whatever will you become if you stick to religion, I should like to know?"
"Something better than I have been," replied Roger, in a voice scarcely heard amid the jests and laughter of his fellow-workers.
Roger and Jonathan, with about a hundred others were employed in the operation of a coal mine. Roger was the only Christian among them. Months passed since the above tirade, and though jeered at and annoyed, Roger had never given up `religion'.
It was a bright day at noon, when Roger was let down in the bucket to the bottom of the shaft. When he reached the floor he began handing some tools and stores to "Little Ben", a lad sometimes employed below. The bucket was soon emptied, and Roger was stepping out.
But hark! What sound was that which made his cheeks turn pale? It was the rushing of water. His long experience told him that the water from a neighboring stream had found its way into the mine. In a few minutes his fellow-workmen might be overwhelmed and lost.
One foot was yet in the bucket. A jerk of the rope and it would be raised and he would be saved. It was the supreme challenge to his timid nature. Then he remembered his comrades; their unfitness for death; their willful ignorance of the love of Christ.
The thought of the Savior nerved his heart. He would not save himself while they were unwarned.
Quickly jumping out, he seized "Little Ben", placed him in the bucket, saying as he jerked the rope: "Tell all the town that the water is coming in and that we are probably lost. We will seek refuge at the far end of the right gallery. Be quick. Good-bye." The next moment the bucket and "Little Ben" disappeared.
The mine was a series of long, narrow passages from which the coal had been dug. Hurrying along these, Roger soon reached the working crew and told them of their danger.
It was a terrible moment. Each one would have rushed madly away in vain efforts to save himself. But his noble purpose made the timid Roger firm and calm.
He told them of the message he had sent to the surface and bade them follow him with their picks to the end of the right gallery. It was the highest point in the mine, and the trapped men succeeded in hollowing out a chamber higher up still. Here they hoped they would be above the level which the fast-rising water would reach. Into this chamber the men hurried, to await slow deliverance or to perish by hunger, drowning or suffocation.
A few provisions had been saved, though little enough for one day's rations.
During the long, dismal hours which followed, Roger prayed and entreated; and after the first excitement had passed, the men listened, as men will listen, when face to face with death.
Meanwhile, far above, relief operations had begun. Guided by Roger's message, rescue teams toiled night and day sinking a new shaft above the right gallery. On the morning of the fifth day, faint sounds of hammers below greeted the weary men above. With new vigor they toiled, and soon the entombed miners were reached. Several were dead. But more than half, and among them Roger, were yet alive.
Eventually all of the rescued recovered from their awful ordeal. With many the impressions then made on their souls were never erased, but brought forth fruit in their lives afterward as converted men.
Among these was Jonathan Winter, who had been the first to sneer at Roger's confession of Christ. When he learned how Roger might have saved himself and "Little Ben", leaving others to their fate, he exclaimed: "I said that religion would make Roger more of a 'softy' than he was before; but it seems to me, mates, that it has made him do what many of us would scarce have dared. The 'Bible-reading' that can make a timid chap like him risk his life for the sake of telling us about a Savior, must be good for us all. I cast in my lot with Roger. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:1313Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13).