“Have you time to listen to me?” came the man’s bitter response. “Yes, certainly,” responded The Maréchale
“I had the happiest home in Paris,” began Emile, “I married the woman I loved, and after twelve months a little boy came to our home. Three weeks after, my wife lost her reason, and now she is in an asylum. But there was still my little boy. He was a beautiful child. We ate together, slept together, walked and talked together. He was all the world to me. He was the first to greet me in the morning, and the first to welcome me in the evening when I came home from work. This went on till the sixth year struck, and then…” Emile’s lips twitched, and he turned his face away. His hearer softly said, “He died.” He gave a scarcely perceptible nod, and smothered a groan. “Then”, he continued, “I went to the devil. Before the open grave, with hundreds of my comrades about me, I lifted my hand to heaven and cried, ‘If there be a God, let Him strike me dead!”
“But He did not strike you dead, for He is very gentle and patient with us all. And now you have come here tonight, Does it not seem to you a strange things that you out of all the millions of France, and I out of all the millions of England should be here at midnight? How do you account for it? Isn’t it because God thought of you, and loves you?...Do you ever pray?”
“Never,”was Emile’s reply.
“Oh, but I pray,” said The Maréchale, and kneeling down she prayed a double prayer for herself as well as for him. She wanted this man’s salvation for her own sake and the work’s sake. For weeks she had been fighting and praying for a break, and she felt as if on the issue of this wrestling for a single soul depended the whole future of the work in France. While she prayed for his salvation from sin she was silently praying for her own deliverance from doubt and fear and discouragement. Both prayers were heard!
When she opened her eyes, she saw the face bathed in tears. She knew that his heart was melted, and she spoke to him of the love of God.
“But I have hated Him. I have hated religion; I have come here to mock you; I have called you Jesuits!”
“Yet God loves you.”
“But why did He allow my wife to lose her reason? Why did He take my child if He is love?”
“I cannot answer these questions. You will know why one day. But I know He loves you.”
“Is it possible that He can forgive a poor sinner like me?”
“It is certain.”
Emile was won. Some nights afterward he gave his testimony, and for seven years he stood by The Maréchale.
Whenever Emile got up to speak and address the crowd, there was immediate attention. “Citizens,” he would say, “you all know me. You have heard me many times. This God whom I once hated I now love, and I want to speak to you about Him.”
Excerpt from the book,
The Maréchale, by James Strahan