This is a reprint of The Haystack Prayer Meeting. It was written by Edward Warren Capen, PH.D. president of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, now Global Ministries, and published as one of the 1906 Envelope Series. Subscribers paid 10 cents per year for the series.
PLEASE NOTE: This piece was written in 1906 and therefore reflects the language of that time.
Samuel J. Mills, Jr. was the son of the pastor at Torringford, Connecticut, where he was born April 21, 1783. "Father Mills," as he was called, was a somewhat eccentric preacher, a leader in the revival movement, a missionary under the Connecticut Missionary Society in 1793, and an editor of the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, which published so much missionary news. Mrs. Mills, a woman of beautiful Christian character, made herself the confidante of her youngest boy, who brought to her his doubts and difficulties and to whom she spoke of Eliot, of Brainerd, and of other missionaries. She was once overheard by him to say, "I have consecrated this child to the service of God as a missionary." A remarkable revival which occurred in his town when he was fifteen passed him by, though he was deeply impressed with his sinfulness, and reproached God for not granting him salvation. In November, 1801, as he was starting to enter Morris Academy, he exclaimed to his mother, in answer to her question. "O that I had never been born! For two years I have been sorry God ever made me." His mother instantly replied, "My son, you are born, and you can never throw off your existence nor your everlasting accountability for all your conduct," and then she retired to her room to pray for her boy. The prayers were answered, and before he reached his destination the vision burst upon him. He no longer rebelled against the arbitrariness of God; peace came and he arrived at the academy rejoicing in his new hope. Almost immediately the missionary thought entered his mind, and when he returned home he told his father that he "could not conceive of any course of life . . . that would prove so pleasant as to go and communicate the Gospel salvation to the poor heathen." A little later he decided to place in other hands the farm he had inherited, and he entered Williams to secure the education needed for missionary work. He threw himself at once into the revival work in town and college.