A Modern Gideon and Mrs. Gideon
By Mrs. David L. Cooper
"They Weighed Anchor And Sailed" (Acts 27:13b)
WE SET SAIL from New York on September 19, 1936. Upon our arrival in London, Dr. Cooper and the young professor whom he had taken to assist him immediately began the research work. They spent eight hours a day for about two and a half months in the library of the British Museum."If ye abide in me ... ask whatsoever ye will,
The first Tuesday of the month was the Society's day of fasting and prayer. On account of pressure for time, the two men went on to the library on that first Tuesday in October to do their research work, and I fasted and prayed alone until evening, remaining on my knees for hours at a time. I had a most joyous day there in the presence of the Lord. In my diary I wrote, "Prayed first Tuesday in October that God would open a door for Dr. Cooper to speak at the Mildmay Conference Center. Prayer was answered October 19. He was requested to speak one evening each week on the Psalms to a very large class of students who had been recruited from the neighborhood." This meeting continued for three weeks.
In my diary I also have, "I prayed for an open door for Dr. Cooper to present the Jewish work at the China Inland Mission. Prayer answered October 18. He spoke on the Jewish work to a large group gathered for three o'clock tea. He also preached to a group of missionaries assembled in the China Inland Mission Hall one Wednesday evening.
and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7)
One morning after our arrival in London, Dr. Cooper went down to get visas for the three of us to go into Palestine. He was promptly told by the authorities, "Palestine is closed. We are not issuing visas to Palestine now." He was also told that, even if Palestine were open to tourists, he would have to deposit $900 ($300 for each of us) with the British Government before we would be permitted to enter. When he returned that evening, his heart was as heavy as lead. He said, "Well, dear, it is all off. We can't go to Palestine." I was greatly astonished and immediately asked why. He stated that the authorities had told him that they were not permitting anyone to go into Palestine, and that, even if Palestine were open, we would have to deposit $900which we did not havebefore we would be permitted to enter."Unto thee, O Jehovah, will I call" (Ps. 28:1)
I said, "Oh, well, I'm not going to give up, because the Lord sent us money to go to Palestine. He didn't say, 'Go to England.' "
Dr. Cooper answered, "You don't know how foolishly you are talking. I have just told you that the authorities said that Palestine is closed. Now that ends it. We can't go so we'll just have to drop it. When we are through here, we shall turn around and go home."
I said, "Well, the British Government may block it, and you may be through with it, but I'm not through with it, and I don't believe the Lord is. God is bigger than the British Government; and, if it is His will for us to go to Palestine, we will go."
The next day when Dr. Cooper and his assistant went back to the library to work, I went to my knees, and day after day I stayed on my knees from one to three hours. Knowing that the money had been sent designated for us to go to Palestine. I could not believe that our journey would end in London.
In my diary I wrote, "Prayer was answered November 14, 1936. The British authorities wrote to Dr. Cooper that, if he still wanted to go to Palestine, to come in to see them." We got that letter at nine o'clock at night. By eight o'clock the next morning, Dr. Cooper was on his way down to see the authorities.
When he arrived at the office, one of the officials said to him, "Dr. Cooper, do you still want to go to Palestine?"
"Yes," was the reply.
"Well," he stated, "we have reconsidered your case and have decided that, although Palestine is closed to tourists, we want such men as you to go there; therefore, we are giving you the visas."
Dr. Cooper answered, "But I haven't the deposit of $900."
The British official said, "We are waiving the deposit."
Although no request was made of the British Government to waive the $900, and although it had stated that there was no way by which we could get into Palestine without putting up the deposit with His Majesty's Government, it was waived.
When Dr. Cooper returned that evening with the information that the amount had been waived and the visas granted, he fairly burst into our room, threw his hat into the air, and said, "Oh, Sweetheart, what do you think? Glory to God! Hallelujah! God has changed the attitude of the British Government! It is permitting us to go to Palestine and has waived the $900 deposit. We are going! Let us pack up tonight." I, too, began to shout praises to God for this miraculous answer to prayer. Oh, friends, it pays to pray! I have in my diary, "Hallelujah! Praise His holy name?"
Now this answer to prayer was not granted before Dr. Cooper and his assistant finished their research work in London, but immediately after its completion. God had timed everything just right. Had this word come sooner, they might have been prone to leave the work in the British Museum before it was finished and start on the way to the Holy Land. As you might suppose, the first thing we did was to kneel and thank God, and such a praise meeting as we had, one has seldom heard.
Another note from my diary reads, "I prayed that we might receive some money in England so that we would really know that we were in the will of the Lord in being there." Prayer was definitely answered in November, 1936, when Dr. White Robertson of Mildmay Conference Center stepped up to me and handed me 10 pounds in English money ($50 at that time), stating that if God could move the British Government to waive the $900 and to grant the visas to Palestine, he knew that God was in our work, and he wanted to give this amount.
I said, "Oh, no, I couldn't take it; it wouldn't be right for me to."
He stated, "What God tells me to do, He does not tell you to block. You take it."
I took it and thanked him and thanked God for another answer to prayer. Then I knew more definitely than ever that we were in the center of God's directive will in coming to London for the research work.
Before leaving London, we definitely prayed that the Lord would go ahead of us and prepare the way in Paris, and that He would raise up some one to be an interpreter for us, as we were unable to speak French, although both Dr. Cooper and the young professor with us were able to read French very well. It was just like our blessed Lord to send along two wonderful missionaries, Rev. George Urban and Madame Ducommun, to the train to meet us when we arrived in Paris. As we went from the train to the station, he called out, "Dr. Cooper, is that you?" To our great surprise and amazement, they had made all arrangements for our stay while in Paris. Although we had never met either one of them before, our home office had been in correspondence with Brother Urban and had written that we would be in Paris. Madame Ducommun accompanied us every day, acting as our interpreter. The Lord had once again marvelously answered prayer."Delight thyself also in Jehovah; and he will give thee
At Touraine, Italy, to our great surprise, the Lord sent a lovely Christian Italian couple, unknown to us, to meet and to make arrangements for us. A mutual friend had thoughtfully asked them to assist us while we were in Touraine. Again we were met when we arrived in Rome.
In Athens, Greece, we were met and entertained for a week by missionaries who were strangers to us. Truly this was God's own provision for us. We had a special interest in Greece, as our branch worker, Mr. N. Yeromichalis, had distributed three thousand of the Trinity message, The God of Israel, in the Greek language, in Athens with marked blessing. Mrs. E. W. Peters, an Armenian and a missionary to her people, together with the aid of her husband, Mr. Peters, distributed five thousand of The God of Israel, in Judeo-Spanish, to the Jews of Salonika. The following is an excerpt from a letter received from Mr. Peters after the war: "While we were in Greece we sent the Greek and Judeo-Spanish translations of The God of Israel, by Dr. Cooper, to all the leading Jews, including those in the Rabbinical College and ancient Thessalonica (modern Salonika). Little did we know that these Israelites were being reached for the last time. Only a few of them survived. This also reminds one that there are many whom you will reach likewise for the very last time, as the books are prayerfully distributed."
Dr. Cooper was feeling especially uneasy when we arrived in Haifa, Palestine, as he knew that, although he could read Hebrew well, he could not speak modern Hebrew; and he wondered how we would be able to get through the customs since we could not understand the Hebrew spoken there. Knowing that our schedule had been changed and that we would arrive at a different time and on a different boat, we were not expecting anyone to meet us; but, as we came ashore, to our great surprise, a voice, called out in plain English, "Dr. Cooper, is that you?"
How our hearts praised God and leaped for joy as we grasped the hand of Mr. Moses Ben Maeir, who had translated our books into Hebrew. He had heard that we were coming and had been meeting the boats for several days, trying to see us. He knew that without help we would have great difficulty getting through the customs. Again in answer to prayer God had provided. It was indeed marvelous to us.
the desire of thy heart" (Ps. 37:4)
On this trip Dr. Cooper had the privilege of studying in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Vatican and Pontifical Biblical Seminary Libraries in Rome, and the National Museum in Athens. In Palestine he did some special research work in the library of the Hebrew University, and his assistant did research in the Franciscan Library. They found some works there that were not in the library of the British Museum. The authorities at the Hebrew University were most cordial and helpful in placing their magnificent library at Dr. Cooper's disposal."... He will bring it to pass" (Ps. 37:5)
Dr. Cooper was also invited to do research in the private library of an outstanding Jewish man, a library that contained thirty-five thousand volumes. And both Dr. Cooper and his assistant were given permission to use the library of the American School of Oriental Research.
In Jerusalem we had the privilege of staying in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Headquarters, where Rev. and Mrs. Ralph Fried were in charge. Our association with them was a time of joyous spiritual fellowship, and they did all they could to make our visit profitable and blessed in the Lord's service.
After we had been in Jerusalem a short time, Dr. Cooper went on a two-weeks missionary tour with Rev. Ralph Fried, in Transjordan. Every day while they were gone, I prayed that the Lord would open a way for us to go to the Jewish colonies. A note in my diary states that on Wednesday, January 24, prayer was answered. Dr. David Yellen, one of the professors of the Hebrew University, whom we had met, sent us to see Dr. Kohn of the Zionist Headquarters. When we entered his office, he cordially said, "Shalom! [Welcome]. Come right in, Dr. Cooper."
My husband tried to introduce himself, but Dr. Kohn said, "You need no introduction to me, because I have read your books, and Dr. Yellen told me about you." Then he asked, "How long have you been here, Dr. Cooper? Tell me what you have seen. Have you been around Jerusalem? Have you seen any of the new colonies?"
My husband told him that we had not seen the Jewish colonies, but that we would very much like to visit them.
Dr. Kohn then said, "Dr. Cooper, as you see, I am a very busy man, and you, too, are extremely busy. Now let us get down to business."
Dr. Kohn drew a diagram of Palestine and located the colonies on it and said, "You must see these colonies. I will take you over them if you can go."
Dr. Cooper told him we would be delighted to go; but when Dr. Kohn asked if we could go that day, he replied, "No, I am sorry, but I have an engagement,"
"How about tomorrow?" Dr. Kohn asked.
I was so afraid Dr. Cooper would say "No," that I answered, "Yes we can go tomorrow."
Dr. Kohn asked if eight o'clock the next morning would be convenient for us. Dr. Cooper said, "I have a Bible class at eight o'clock."
"How about nine o'clock?"
That time was convenient for us, so he ordered a service car to take us at nine o'clock the next morning.
This extremely busy man took two days of his time to show us the colonies around Tel Aviv and those in the Plain of Sharon, as well as the Lighter Boat Harbor, and he related to us the marvelous story of the building of it. He also provided transportation for another two wonderful days trip and asked two Zionist leaders to show us the colonies in the Valley of Esdraelon and northern Galilee. These were the most joyous and interesting trips we have ever had, and we knew that God had graciously answered prayer. Four whole days with some of the leaders of Zionism, having them tell us about the colonies and show them to us at their expense was the "exceeding abundantly above all" I had ever thought or prayed. And again we had a great praise service, thanking God from whom all blessings flow.
After leaving Palestine, we went to Egypt and there met Mrs. Cowman of the Oriental Missionary Society. Through her efforts we were enabled to distribute copies of the Yiddish translation of The God of Israel in the homes of one thousand Jewish families in Finland. We also placed two hundred fifty copies of Messiah: His Redemptive Career in Yiddish, in that same country. It may be that many of the Jewish residents of Finland who received these two books were later saving those who were tortured to death in the Nazi invasion. We thank God that the message had already been given to them in their own language.
A few days after we had given the order to release these books to Mrs. Cowman, we set sail for Rome; and, while docked at Syracuse, on the Island of Cyprus, I was stricken with a duodenal hemorrhage, and my life hung in the balance for hours, until Dr. Cooper cried out mightily to the Lord and He was pleased to spare my life. The doctor said I would not be able to leave the boat when it docked at Italy three days later. But God strengthened me; and, to the doctor's amazement, I walked down the gangplank, waving good-bye to him.
When we again landed in London, it was the week of the coronation of the late King George. We found England a beehive of action and festivity and the countryside ablaze with a profusion of tulips of many colors.
Two weeks later, when I had recuperated somewhat, we sailed for home on the palatial Queen Mary. Our third-class accommodations were lovely indeed, and the five days required for the crossing were soon over.
Back home again we praised God anew for all the blessings and answers to prayers which He had bestowed upon as in those nine months of research in the libraries of Europe and the Near East, and for the beauties of His world which He had meanwhile enabled as to enjoy.
Truly this trip to Palestine was blessed of God and proved to be a great advancement in the program of the Biblical Research Society.