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Frank Buchman speaking to his team in 1957

Frank Buchman speaking to his MRA team at the Mackinac Island Conference Centre in 1957

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Unknown English voice introduces the meeting:  We had gathered in the new Great Hall in Mackinac with its glorious arched beams of Norway pine and Frank had asked us all to be with him because, he said, he had something special which he wished to say to all of us.  He began by telling us how he had often wanted to have this time together and he couldn’t think why we hadn’t had it before.

Frank Buchman:
For a long time I have been waiting for this chance.  I don’t know why it has been.  I had an illness here on the island and when I was able to talk again I remember, in that place at the back of Island House, I tried to tell what I had in mind but it evidently didn’t get across.  I hope this morning it will get across.  Every one of these days that we have here together that I have strength for, I trust you will be here because we are - as a friend of mine put it last night - the transference of our experience, just where we are in our experience.

At one time I was in State College, Pennsylvania.  There is one thing I used to do - I did a lot of things there.  I changed a lot of things in my life.  One of them:- I began to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning.  That was earlier than I usually got up, because I had two telephones in my room and they soon began to ring after 6 o’clock so I knew I needed to get up and have an hour alone with God so as to be ready for the day.

Then we took that experience and took it round the world, just as you have been around the world.  I was thinking of Devadas Gandhi - he is the son of Mahatma Gandhi.  It was his father in 1915 that I first met in India.  I spent three days with him.  He said later that it was the greatest thing - his meeting with me was the greatest experience that had come to him from the west.

Now Devadas Gandhi said an important thing this year - he has been with us in England.  What did he say? (mumble from several members of the audience, unclear) Well, heavens above, it has got to be louder than that. (loud and inaudible mumble!)  Can we say it again? ‘If MRA fails the world fails’.  Now did you really feel it most of you that these two weeks that we have had here together were as important as that - that the crisis and the world answer lay here?  If you had asked me, I would say no.  I would say most of you didn’t feel it.  I think you had a good time, some of you but I don’t know.  You are going back to the same old life that you have lived all along, same old critical life.  It shows in your faces, how critical you are.  The same standards, but no change adequate.

If this thing fails ... what else? The world fails (audience response). Now do we actually believe that? [‘Absolutely’, one woman’s voice, quietly.] I don’t think we do, honestly.  I have been through times such as we have been through these last two weeks and I know exactly what happens.  The birth of much of what has happened here began at a time like this.  We didn’t have as many people as you are this morning.  I asked everybody to come back - but they are not on time.  They are not here for the first cracker out of the box.

Another thing I discovered that time at Penn State was - I used to read the bible. Now how much bible did we have in those two weeks?  I used to read the bible, and I still do. I have had it read to me this morning.  I suppose you did that in your quiet time early in the morning.  I am sure you all read your bible and it is a jolly thing here since I can’t do much - they are still coming in, [shouting] if I were you I would begin to get here promptly and not wander in late - I wonder whether we haven’t missed something and that we are in a condition of real need here.  Real desperate need, with our smug contentment in these beautiful buildings - and they are wonderful but I wonder how many of these people get along together here?

That is a strange question to ask, but I wonder how many of the wives get along with their husbands and live in power.  I wonder whether we have say, probably 150 this morning?  If each one lined up at least with one person, what would happen?  What do you think would happen? What did you say this morning, John?

John - that there would be a hell of a bust up in City Hall.

Frank Buchman - say it again.

John - there would be a hell of a bust up in City Hall.

Frank Buchman - now would there be?  Well I don’t know, but John’s right.  We talked about that this morning.  Beneath our veneer, would there be a hell of a bust up in City Hall?  Is the problem us or is the problem outside?

How many of you are living really in defeat?  I heard about one feller who for the last two years (he is in the so-called heart of the fellowship) he hasn’t changed anybody. That is of course our secret - changing people.  For two years, and that particular group at least, were supposed have about 10 interviews a day and they were supposed to change people at State College, and they did.  I remember the time distinctly 1,200 people in bible study. 1,200 people!  What is your programme?

Take these men who are here. These 150 men who are here, who built this building, and there is genius abroad.  Even some of those leave us, there isn’t that constancy.  Now that is the thing that concerns me.  That’s the thing I am thinking about.

You know what the greatest words were at this assembly? To me they stem from that wonderful industrialist from Japan, when Sogo was at the meeting and in the midst of it all he just came forward and said, ‘I have found faith. I have found a faith.’ I wonder how many of us have a faith and have found it not only before this but even at this assembly.

Now it is simple faith - FAITH - Forsaking All (that’s all sin) I Take Him - Jesus. Could we all repeat that together? (so all repeat it, twice). That means forsaking all sin I take him.

It took me a long time to find that faith.  I was born in a village of about 1,200 people.  When I grew up to near manhood I was confirmed by the preacher, a delightful old chap, Revd William Fox.  He used to drive six miles to church with his sorrel horse.  He always came about 10 minutes before the service began.  He preached regularly and he did what every preacher in those days was supposed to do - he preached the gospel.  That is he always emphasised the great principle of the Atonement.  If he didn’t do that a great many of the worthies felt that the sermon was not adequate.  We had one in the afternoon - that was the Reformed - he always cried during the services, when he preached. That was all considered ok.

I was confirmed. I started to wear long trousers - that’s the only thing it meant to me: I wore long trousers.  No faith!  Not a bloomin’ thing.  I even went to Sunday school and that didn’t do any more.  I was always regular.  I was one of the fellows who rarely missed.  That went along until I was about 26 - that seems to me a long time to get any faith when there was such an abundant chance to get it.  But somehow or other I never got up to the point that I could turn that faucet and water would run out - or faith would run out.  Nothing for me.  I went in my careless, callous, but ‘meaning to do my best’ way - but nothing much happened.

Then I got ill.  I suppose you would think of it as a serious illness.  I went to a famous physician in Philadelphia - Mitchell, I don’t know how many of you know him. He lived on Wall Street.  He was one of those boss physicians who even wrote books - delightful books, of Germantown and delightful life in Philadelphia.  My cousin was a man he knew - no it was an uncle of mine.  He was also a celebrated physician, gifted with diagnosis, and did some unusual cures too.  He was delighted I had gone to see Mitchell and said, ‘You couldn’t do better’.  Well I will tell you what that fellow Mitchell told me  He said, ‘I don’t think there is much wrong with you. What I think is you need a holiday in Europe and if I were you I would take a bath every day, hot water, and then pour in cold water, and then some more hot water and then some more cold water.  You try that and I think that will cure you.’ Well I did that. I travelled through Italy and I had those baths regularly, every night. But it didn’t do much good.

Then I got to the North country of England, the Lake country.  I went to a Convention, the Keswick Convention.  I came there, I made myself at home.  I went to the meetings, did all the regularly prescribed things.  Then one Sunday afternoon I went to a little chapel and there in a service of 17 people Mrs Penn Lewis spoke. Mrs Penn Lewis really preached, or talked, with the cross as a personal experience.

Just the other day, when I was in Australia and the Salvation Army had gathered together there.  They did honour to Menzies.  He was one of the speakers.  I went of course because of my gratitude for Mrs Penn Lewis and I gave a generous donation because I owe everything to that experience.  They appreciated that and gave us a good seat.  Afterwards I heard that the man who was now director of the Salvation Army was none other than had preached the sermon for Mrs Penn Lewis’s funeral.  I read about it in the paper when I was travelling through Pennsylvania and I felt that a great loss has been done to Christianity when I found she had gone to her reward.

That afternoon something happened.  It didn’t usually happen when I went to church.  Something entirely different happened.  I didn’t go expectant. I didn’t - it wasn’t any different from any other service I went to.  There those 17 people listened to a woman who had had, and was still experiencing, the dynamic power of what it meant for Jesus Christ to give his life.  I will never forget the scene.  It was a vivid personal experience of a crucified Christ. There he hung on the cross, and I felt that he hung on that cross for my sins.  At first there was a great distance, a chasm, between myself and the Christ.  A real cleavage. This hast Thou done for me - what have I done for thee, Thou Crucified?  I long to serve thee more, reveal an open door, Saviour, to me.  Then can I speak of joy, to suffer or to die, since I am thine.  It was a real experience. There were my sins standing in the light of naked day and I hope it will come to all of you.

Oh, my bitterness!  At that time I ran a home in Philadelphia where any poor boy could come and live.  It was all regularly organised, had a good President of the Board of Trustees - an old gaunt chap.  Board meetings – oh my God!  I always felt him, tall, angular, loveless.  There were six others members of the Board of Trustees who were about the same stamp. They went to church every Sunday. They were mostly Elders and Deacons but they didn’t seem to me to have the nerve of the matter in them.  They all stood up there in my mind in front of that vivid experience.  My pride had to go.  A lot of things had to go.  My bitterness - all of it. Those men were trying to organise a charity, as they called it, that would pay itself - if necessary give the men and boys less food because there wasn’t enough money to balance the budget.  We were supposed to make all sorts of economies and all the rest of it.  This hast thou done for me, what have I done for thee, Thou Crucified?  I just hated those fellows. I didn’t say it out loud - I was well brought up!

I think some of you would be better if you weren’t so well brought-up, if you would really speak out a little more clearly and not get a sense of umbrage if someone told you the real truth about yourself.  We all have things, even the best of you, things we are not keen for the world to know.  I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better for the world to know and then there would be a hope for a cure.

I didn’t need any voice other than the voice that came from that man on the cross. This hast Thou done for me, what have I done for thee, Thou crucified? That was that man Jesus.  Very simple and I never apologise for putting things simply, because we are such fools.  We think we can hide behind a lot of words and a lot of definitions but just simply - who is this Jesus hanging on that cross?  JESUS - Just Exactly Suits Us Sinners.  Why he fitted me that day like a good glove. He just exactly suited every one of my needs.  Just Exactly Saves Us Sinners.  I am afraid some of us have to get to that uncomfortable but very necessary part of what we call salvation. Just Exactly Saves Us Sinners.  Then, Just Exactly Satisfies Us Sinners - he just exactly satisfies us sinners.

Now all the things we go through in life in order to satisfy ourselves. The women - God bless ‘em - but they have so many things that they hope will satisfy them. Lipstick won’t do it.  All the footling things that people in churches think are still necessary because you couldn’t be in the fellowship of a group of people like that if you didn’t wear lipstick - where would your beauty go?  Absurd things like that - oh very absurd.  Just Exactly Satisfies Us Sinners.  Just as if the cross of Christ wasn’t adequate for every one of those things.

Sin is a disease. You know that disease after a while, if you continue on it and it is the right kind of a disease, you will go on the operating table.  No one likes the operating table, at least I don’t.  Sin is a disease.  Jesus Christ is the cure. The result is a miracle.  Now in this modern day and age you get a psychiatrist.  A man who was here at this assembly in the early days said that the man promised him that for $15,000 he would cure him after three years.  Awful thing, wasn’t it?  He came to all the meetings, spent a lot of time seeing each one, and then he had an interview. He was brought face to face with this risen Christ, this crucified Christ.  He found the secret. Simple!  Why people waste time and oh, the pathetic waste of time that this thing costs the world.  It is really very simple.

I knew that I needed to write a letter. I didn't have to say much. ‘Dear So-and-so, I am sorry I have sinned.  I have nursed ill will against you.  Forgive me.  Yours sincerely (yours without wax).’ Just six letters.  The stationery, the stamp on it, and away it went.  Those six letters caused a minor revolution.  It meant a minor revolution for me.  It was more than minor, it was major because I was beginning to be a new man in Christ Jesus.  That is your first essential when you get together.  If you want to have power, if you really want victory, there is such a thing as a victorious life in Christ - real victory.  It can be constant and permanent.

I have been a fool. I have gone back on that and often I have failed.  I am ashamed of it.  But there was a thermometer of spiritual heat - what God could do for me. This hast Thou done for me, what have I done for Thee? My hate for those men gone. I liked the old President.  I don’t say that I loved him in the sense that I might love my mother but I had love for him.  I say kind things about him.  In a sense I felt they had wrecked my work and that is what we so often feel - whether rightly or wrongly. The only judge is Jesus Christ on the cross.

This hast Thou done for me, what have I done for Thee, Thou crucified? What could he do for a Washington that seems so defeated and so out of tune?  The East is longing for it.  Go you where you will in the East, there is a hunger for this message. They do not fully know yet, some of them, just what it means.

Take a man like U Nu - resigned his position. Communist hordes are making their way into Burma.  No reason under the sun. They have got all the territory they can possibly use, still they are going in to Burma.  It seems a footling thing.  What does it (this message) bring? It brings harmony, it brings peace, it brings contentment, it brings happiness.

That experience drove me into the life of one of those charming young men - he wasn’t an Oxford man, he was a Cambridge man.  A Cambridge man. There is a chance for Pembroke. Pembroke is a college in Cambridge to which our friend Bunny Austin claims a rightful heritage, and there is another college from Cambridge that is represented here which is even greater than Pemma.  There is yet another college, there are about three.  I went home with that charming young feller.  Of course this was in the days when things moved less rapidly than they do now.  I don’t know whether we had motors much in that day but they had a coach and four.  This feller had come with his family with a coach and four but he wasn’t happy, the rascal. Charming, curly-haired youngster!  He heard me tell of this experience which I have told you.  He said, ‘I want to walk with you.’  He walked with me - we went clear around Derwentwater - that is a pretty big sheet of water.  We really did have something to talk about and that feller became different. That was the first feller consciously that I knew I had ever brought face to face with that central experience. First one.

I didn’t then fully know that this, after all, was what the New Testament was all about. I heard someone say the other day that her brother, who is very high in a certain communion, reckons that this thing comes pretty near the Acts of the Apostles.  That the things we emphasise here and what we do here in winning people comes near the fundamental experience of the acts of the apostles - that is if we win them. For he that has some extravagant idea of how things ought to be done, finds it never happens because he himself is crooked as a corkscrew. That is why some of these conferences don’t succeed.  People are just crooked.  Crooked as a corkscrew. The thing to do is to tell ‘em. Nicely, in a friendly fashion, but just tell ‘em - crooked as a corkscrew, because they will never win anything. So it is not he that winneth sinneth. But what is it? (response from audience - if you are not winning you are sinning) Well, if you are not winning, you are sinning.

Now, this is for a moment for those people who still go to church on Sunday morning. I have my doubts - I hae ma doots - these people always regularly in their pews on Sunday morning and not a bloomin’ thing happens until next Sunday when they are again in their pews.  Here we are face to face with fundamental things.

I wanted this chance to have an hour with you when we faced fundamentally the real principles of what an assembly like this is for.  Some of you have spoken of the shattering effects upon you. Well, heavens above - for some of you, and it did for me, it was a shattering effect.  It bowled me over and still bowls me over. But unless you leave, as many of you are leaving this morning, with that fundamental conception, you will be the same old crooked, cantankerous, difficult Christians.  Well, some of you become smelly.  You just smell certain Christians, those who still call themselves Christians. They just stink. I was one of those fellers.

With special thanks to Ginny Wigan for her transcription, and Lyria Normington for her editing and correction.

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