— Jan. 7, 1939 —
I recognized the name Henrietta Heron, but knew next to nothing about her until I stumbled upon the column we feature today.
Research revealed that she worked at Standard Publishing (parent company of this magazine until recent years) before serving as president of the World Wide Baraca Philathea Union from 1928 until 1933, and then as general counselor of the organization after that.
According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s website, “Baraca Philathea was an ecumenical movement designed to facilitate adult evangelism through Bible study. A million strong during the early twentieth century, it tried to bridge the gap that young people, aged sixteen to twenty-five, felt between their churches and their own experiences. . . . By the early 1900s there were Baraca and Philathea classes [for young men and young women, respectively] in every major Protestant denomination, in almost every state in the United States, and in Canada, Italy, England, India, and Japan.”
Friends at Gordon-Conwell, which houses the archives of Baraca Philathea, shared the accompanying photo of Heron along with biographical information about her taken from the book Radical Godliness: The Devotional Writings of Henrietta Heron, edited by Ann Elizabeth Olson, 2004.
I’ll share more extensive biographical information at the end of this feature, but will mention here that Heron first wrote for Christian Standard in 1919, and her work started appearing more regularly in the magazine about 10 years later. Beginning in 1938, she wrote “The Friendly Counselor,” an every-other-week feature that ran six full years—likely until her death. Heron was 61 or 62 when she wrote today’s column from our first issue of 1939 . . . 80 years ago.
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— Jan. 7, 1939 —
The Friendly Counselor
(Recurring copy) . . . “Who seeks to help you recognize the spiritual processes at work in the commonplace experiences of every day, and thus to help you to deeper knowledge of His truths, and to a surer, closer walk to Him”
By HENRIETTA HERON
917 Fifteenth St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
Happy New Year!
How lightly we pass the greeting from one to another, “Happy New Year!” How glad and grateful we are for the friendly wishes! How seldom we pause to ask ourselves, “What will make a happy year for me?” To answer that question to yourself honestly may be to discover anew the purpose of your life. It is taken for granted that we all want to be happy, but what will make us happy?
Happiness is certainly an elusive thing; it can not be found in possessions or places or even in those we love, for about all earthly things there is an impermanency that deprives them of the power to bestow abiding happiness. Indeed, these very things may bring to us much unhappiness. God made our hearts with a hunger for happiness, and possessions and places and persons are intended to make us happy, but they can do so only as they are centered in the supreme desire to seek first to know and to do God’s will. How serious that sounds! How much easier to believe that happiness is in having our own way and in developing a sense of security in the possessions we own and the people we love! Yet all life confirms the teaching of Jesus that happiness escapes us if we seek it in the things that perish.
The kingdom of God and His righteousness first—then the “added things.” It is wonderful to have possessions when you know that you are but a steward of them. It is satisfying to be aware that the place where you now are is, for the time being, the place where the Lord has a work for you to do, either for others or for the development of your spiritual life. It is blessed to lavish affection on your loved ones, if first of all you commend them to the heavenly Father’s loving care.
Are you staking your happiness on the one thing you do not have? There is danger of doing that. We forget to thank God for the blessings He is granting us today. We mar the days with complaints, miss golden opportunities of being kind, of entering into worth-while enjoyments now, all because of longing or grief over the one thing we do not have, perhaps never had, or which, once having, has been taken away from us. When happiness is centered in knowing and doing God’s will, then it is easy to praise Him for His withholdings.
Jesus teaches clearly, and all life’s experiences confirm the truth, that happiness is found only in seeking FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. Then, and then only, can possessions and places and persons bestow upon us their rich gifts of joy.
And we are to be happy now. The temptation is to live in the past or in the future. Our need is to live courageously, helpfully, trustfully, kindly, lovingly today. We are to be happy today:
“Take what God gives,
O heart of mine,
And build your house of happiness.
Perchance some have been given more,
But many have been given less.
Tomorrow, Time’s relentless stream
May bear what now you have away—
Take what God gives,
O heart of mine,
And build your house of happiness TODAY.”
Courage for the new year. In a diary I find that I wrote this: “We are often uncertain of the next step, but we can always be certain of God.” The date of the entry is May 11, 1934. On the next day I wrote: “God will do the absolutely impossible.” And a week later the record is: “God did do the absolutely impossible.”
Christians are to face life with fortitude and serenity. Only simple, unfailing, daily trust in God can give courage to face the unknown pathway of a new year. May you be granted a brave high heart for the adventure of the year. May you experience that curious opening up of the way from day to day reserved for those who make the unconditional surrender of the heart, the will and the life to the Lord.
Believe it, beloved, God will do the absolutely impossible for you.
“O God, the sea is so wide,
Our boats are so small—
Take care of us.”
When Christmas comes on Sunday, as it did this year, I always remember it is the one day in several years that we as a peculiar people celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of our Saviour the same day.—Ida Lappin McDannel, Fairfield, Ill.
Answered prayers. Again and again word is received of answered prayers. We have had letters reporting the securing of work when it seemed impossible to find any, messages from those who have been restored to health to the surprise of the attending physicians, and letters telling of those who were out of Christ being won, even when such seemed far from the kingdom. In every instance united prayers had been requested. It is a great privilege to pray with others, though many miles may separate, for a definite person or cause. We may even be used directly of God in the answering of such prayers. Let us continue to pray one for another.
THE PLACE OF PRAYER
Dear Miss Heron: I have just been reading the page and feel I just must tell you again how it helps me. I used to read the “Well-bred Girl” in Girlhood Days, and am indebted to you for help received then. I also want to express my appreciation of the series of articles you wrote on “Faith and Finances.” I have it in my scrapbook and turn to it many times. It has helped me so much in learning to walk by faith. Wasn’t that a fine definition of faith that Brother Edwin Errett gave in his National City Christian Church sermon? I am so glad you shared that with us.
Miss Heron, the last night of the Christian Action Conference, you talked to me about the happy week. I truly believe it was the happiest week of my life. It was such a rich, spiritual experience. So many things that I had sensed only vaguely before were made clear. I am so grateful for that week.
I am sending a copy of a poem that our pastor quoted at prayer meeting one night. It has proved to be a great comfort and inspiration to me.
Unfortunately, I do not know the author of these impressive lines.
“There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes
Of blinded men to instant perfect sight.
There is a place where thou canst say, ‘Arise,’
To dying captives bound in chains of night.
There is a place where thou canst reach the store
Of hoarded gold, and free it for the Lord.
There is a place, upon some distant shore,
Where thou canst send the worker or the Word.
There is a place where Heaven’s almighty power
Responsive bends to thine insistent plea.
There is a place, the silent trysting hour,
Where God Himself and Jesus fight for thee,
Where is that blessed place? Dost thou ask where?
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer.”
Please, Miss Heron, count me as one of the prayer helpers.
Yours in His service,
Thank you Ruth, for your inspiring letter. The poem has long been one of my favorites and I hope it will now find its way into many a scrapbook. Rarely a week passes in which we do not receive some helpful letter (often marked “Not for Publication”) from former readers of “Girlhood Days.” I am happy to have you and other friends of other years among our circle of readers today.
To Bostonian.—Will the friend who spoke to me at the close of my message at Tremont Temple, Boston, introducing herself as “a faithful reader of the page,” please send her name and address?
To Governor Myers Cooper, Ohio.—A certain fine Bible class writes, “Mr. Cooper was the finest toastmaster we ever had.” And the Friendly Counselor, though five hundred miles away, heard what you said about her. It’s nice to be remembered. Thank you!
To Dr. Raphael Miller, Washington, D. C.—Thank you for the inspiring sermon on the anniversary of your five years of service at National City Christian Church. Money ought to flow in freely from Christians everywhere to help maintain such a ministry here in the nation’s capital.
To Donald Gill.—Greetings as you take over the pastorate of the West Side Christian Church, Dayton, O. Among my finest memories is one of your grandfather. He was one of the most saintly men I have ever known. Your parents, too, have always called forth my admiration for their staunch Christian character, the warmth and depth of their convictions and their courage to live up to them. You have a fine heritage, Donald. May the Lord bless you in your service to Him.
To Helen, Verda, Mildred, Dorothy, Audrey, Anita.—I am bending all efforts on the task assigned. I may surprise you!
To “Friends of South Dakota.”—Many thanks for your encouraging, helpful letters. Prayers have been answered. We think we have found work for South Dakota’s husband. The family is experiencing that strange “turn in the lane” which so often comes, in God’s mercy, when we reach wits’ end. Further report later. In the meantime, “Praise His name!”
To Mrs. Poland, Springfield, Ill.—Your reading of the Scriptures at the Bloomington, Ill., rally is worthy of commendation. I have seldom heard a Scripture lesson read so impressively. I wish many ministers could have heard you and “taken note.”
To “Many of You.”—Sorry for delay in publishing your letters—your turn will come in time.
And now, as we face together the untried path of the new year, and until we meet again, I commend you to the guiding and guarding love of the heavenly Father. He knows the way.
In Christian love,
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Here’s more information about Heron, gleaned from the book Radical Godliness: The Devotional Writings of Henrietta Heron:
Henrietta Heron (1876–1944) began her ministry as a teacher and discipler of young people, especially young men, and was viewed as an expert in this area. Her extensive writing was much sought after by evangelical publishers of the day. Revered as a gifted platform speaker and a brilliant teacher, in 1928 she became President of the World Wide Baraca Philathea Union. . . . Ms. Heron held a full time editorial position at the David C. Cook publishing house and wrote articles for their periodicals. In 1918, she left David C. Cook to join the Standard Publishing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio where she became involved with the Walnut Hills Christian Church. She continued to write and teach and was ordained on December 31, 1923 at the Walnut Hills Christian Church, in spite of a conservative movement in the larger church restricting women from pastoral leadership. In 1926 she because the President of the World Wide Baraca Philathea Union upon the death of Marshall Hudson, founder of the union and mentor to Henrietta. In 1933 she stepped down as President but carried on her work with Baraca Philathea as General Counselor until her death in 1944.
—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard