Pillar Journal

A Sermon to One Hearer

The time came for the service to begin, but there was only one hearer.

Reverend Branner once promised to preach for a country minister in England. When the Sabbath came, it was terribly stormy, cold and uncomfortable. It was in the middle of winter and the snow was piled up along the roads, so that travelling was hard. Still, the minister urged his horse through the drifts. He put his animal in the shed, and went into the church. No hearers had arrived as yet. After looking around, the young man took his seat behind the pulpit. Soon the door opened, and one man walked up the aisle, looked about, and took a seat. The time came for the service to begin, but there was only one hearer.

The minister wondered whether he should preach for such a small audience, but he decided he had a duty to do, and he had no right to refuse to do it because only one man would hear it. So he went through the whole service: praying, singing, preaching, giving the benediction, with only one hearer. When he had finished, he came down from his pulpit to speak to his hearer, but he had gone away.

Such an unusual event was spoken of occasionally, but twenty years later it was brought to the minister’s mind in the following way:

The minister, being on a journey, stepped down from his coach one day in a pleasant village. A gentleman walked up and said, “Good morning, Reverend Branner.”

“I do not remember you,” said the minister.

“I suppose not,” said the stranger, “but we once spent two hours together in a church alone in a storm.”

“I do not recall it, sir,” added the older man, “tell me when it was.”

“Do you remember preaching twenty years ago in a certain place to only one person?”

“Yes, yes,” said the minister, grasping his hand. “I do, indeed; and if you are the man, I have been wishing to see you ever since.”

“I am that man, sir, and that sermon was used by God for my salvation. I have become a minister of the gospel, and over there is my church. The converts from that sermon, sir, are many.”

Question: Why did Reverend Branner decide to carry on with the service although there was only one hearer?

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-19.

Excerpt from
How God Sent A Dog To Save A Family And Other Devotional Stories
By Joel R. Beeke & Diana Kleyn