In the Hop Fields
by William Luff
Travels in Hop-Land.
By William Luff
OUR travels in Hop-land were missionary travels; and if not so exciting as wanderings in heathen parts, they certainly were not without interest, as the following sketches will show.
FORETELLING A STORM.—Almost the first hop-yard into which we entered, opened to us a page of instruction. The weather was dull and threatening. "Going to rain, I think," said an old man at one of the bins.
"You are a black prophet," we replied; "but if your words are to come true it is quite as well to know the worst. Now I am going to turn prophet, and prophesy a terrible storm upon your head if you are not sheltered by the salvation of Jesus. You may call me a black prophet; but it is well to know the truth, and God has said, 'Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest'" (Psa. xi. 6).
WE CAN'T ALTER 'EM.—It was evening. Two men belonging to a farm where the hops were hardly worth picking were returning home. "They are bad this year," we said to them.
"Yes, sir, very bad."
"And I suppose cursing won't make them any better!"
"Nor would blessing!"
"No, sir, we can't alter 'em."
"Exactly; and we men are all bad, and we can't alter our selves. Do you believe God could make your bad hops good?"
They agreed He could. "And He can make us bad people good too, and He is willing to do it if we only ask."
All POLES DOWN.—The wind had blown down some of the poles, so that, instead of being upright, they were leaning toward the earth, and obstructing the passages between the lines of hops. We used these fallen ones as a contrast. "Here only a few are down; but in the field of human life, not one is left standing. It is not that the drunkard only is a prostrate one, or the swearer, or the thief. 'All have sinned.' There is not one standing."
GATHER OR SPOILED.—In a large yard, the hops were over-ripe and spoiling owing to the hot weather. To save them, two hundred pickers were put on. This illustrated the text, "Now is the accepted time" (2 Cor. vi. 2). If the hops were not gathered, the accepted and proper time for gathering them would soon be past, and they would be spoilt. So lives were spoiling because not gathered for God. If not gathered, the gathering time would soon pass away both for hops and for us. This truth received further confirmation from the fact that one of the pickers had that morning been called away by a telegram which told him his brother had been killed in a coal-mine.
A BARE POLE.—"Bring us a pole," said a woman standing at a crib. And the puller brought her one as bare as a clothes-prop. "There are no hops on it, "said she. "I want hops." It was done for a joke; but it gave us a chance of saying that God did not want our mere profession of religion. He desired fruit, something He could gather. What is there to fill God's hand in our life?
FISH.—One afternoon, we found a company of pickers in a yard near a river. "If 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' why are not sinners saved?" we asked, and then answered, "Because sinners do not want to leave their sins. They are like the fishes in yonder stream. If I went, down to its brink and told those fishes, I had come to save them from the water, they would not respond and think the green meadow better than their present surroundings. So sinners in sin are in their native element, and to leave it would be death to them; they forget, however, that this death to sin leads to a new birth and new nature. Christ saves the sinner from being a sinner and makes him a saint."
ALL CLEAN THERE.—We found one lot of pickers at a different farm from that at which we had usually found them. Referring to the former employer, they said, "He took in all sorts, sir, tramps and vagrants who were not clean, so we said we wouldn't mix with 'em."
"Quite right," we said, "but you cannot plead that excuse with our Master and His heaven; for, though He takes in all sorts, Ho makes them clean every whit. Heaven will not be a place of mixed characters. All who are there 'have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb' (Rev. vii. 14). 'There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth'" (xxi. 27).
MANY COOKS AND ONE.—On Sunday morning, we saw a company preparing dinner, and gave them an unprepared sermon on their work. "Many have a finger in your pie; one lights the fire, another fills the pot, Number Three peels the potatoes, and Number Four puts in the meat. How different to God's feast, where Christ does all, and then bids us, 'Come and dine!' We cannot even put in the salt in this matter."
PLATES OR MEAT.—The same Sunday morning we met a group of merry girls, who told us they had tracts last year. We told them we were glad, but tracts were only like the plates. Christ was the meat. Have we eaten?
A DIRTY CART.—Passing on to the farm, we gathered the pickers together, and my friend spoke to them of Christ as the Light. While we were so doing, I noticed an old cart, covered with mud and refuse, standing full in the sunlight. Had we passed that cart last night in the dark we might have imagined it newly painted; but now the light revealed its true condition. How many who are in the dark, think they are good; but set them out in the brightness of God's face, and they are discovered to be filthy. (John iii. 19, 21).
NOT TO BE IN HEAVEN.—That evening, we had a large meeting of pickers at a chief farm, and finished up by singing, "Shall we meet beyond the river?"
Stopping the song, we said, "Suppose there was a mark set upon one woman here that told us she would not meet us yonder. Suppose the whisper spread, 'That one will not be in heaven.' How we should pity her! To-morrow, in the hop-yard, how you would gather round and look at her! Sin is a mark which decides for us that we will not be in heaven unless it be removed. The blood of Jesus can remove it, and then we may be sure of meeting beyond the river."
OVER THE RIVER.—There was a bridge nearby, which we had crossed the night before. After our toll was paid, we shook hands with the old toll-collector.
"So you are still here," we said.
"Yes, sir, and I were here last season when you come."
"One of these days, perhaps, we shall come again, and you will be gone; are you ready? "
"Thank God. yes, sir, I am."
"That's good! Your toll is paid like ours. You don't stop us, but welcome us; and we are going to a home yonder on the hill to rest and have supper. So, when you cross the last river, you will not be stopped, for Jesus has paid your toll. So you will be met by friends, and rest in the home above the hills; you will sit down at heaven's board with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jesus."
Perhaps one not initiated in the mysteries of hop-land will ask, "How had the hop-pickers got there? for many of them come from far.
"We got into the waggon, and left all to the waggoner, Sir." This was the secret.
A lesson we all want to learn. A waggon is provided for us, broad and large; and it would save us and our Master a world of trouble if we would get in and leave all to the waggoner.
They rested. So do we when we trust Christ.
They went forward. It is our only chance of true progress.
They went to their work. The waggoner knew where to take them. So does He who holds the reins for us.
They sang by the way. Walking, weary saints are dumb; those who ride rejoice.
When they reached their quarters, they were not over comfortable. They entered a dark room, with one small window in it.
"We put up with it, Sir; we've got a better home elsewhere. So has the Christian. The world is a dark room to him. Thank God it has a window, and a good outlook towards the "Home Eternal." The body is a dark room for the immortal spirit. "In this we groan," but "we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. v. 1, 2). This is "but for a moment" (iv. 17); that will be "soon and forever."
How quickly the hops fade when severed from their roots; beauty and brightness go almost directly. The pole cannot preserve them—they cling to it in vain. Good while they draw from the root; but useless to minister life. How soon perishes our beauty if severed from Christ. It is no use clinging to forms then. Even the sun of blessing only scorches; while the rain, which would have benefited, rots. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned'' (John xv. 6).
Some poles are not worth pulling—they bear nothing but leaves. Is this why some lives are spared! It seems a wonder some fruitless people live on. Is it because they are not worth the trouble of removing! Let us act upon this principle in our studies and labours. Why spend time pulling bare poles! The same may be said of many so-called pleasures; they are not worth pulling, especially when there are fruitful ones close by. It will be a fearful thing if we ourselves are left at last as not worth removing. "Wherefore do ye spend . . . your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good" (Isa. Iv. 2).
Some of the poles had dead hops twined around them; good poles but bad hops. Don't blame the poles. These plants were twined like others. they stood as upright as others; but they were dead. Some have the appearance of saints, but are dead; some have the attitude of saints, but no life; some have the actions of saints, but their clinging is the grip of death.
They are no praise to the grower; they are no profit to the gatherer; they are no ornament to the garden. What would be thought of a picker who spent hours filling his bin with leaves instead of the hop-cones; then, when the measuring time came, expected to be paid? "The man is mad," you say. Yes! he might have been very busy, very sincere, and thought the leaves of great value; but he would have to argue eloquently before he made the master see as he saw. God does not employ us to gather leaves, however sincerely we may do it. "I sent you to reap," saith Christ, and only "he that reapeth, receiveth wages" (John iv. 36, 38).
One Sunday we had a real homily. The pickers were gathered together round a shed used for keeping agricultural implements. The lesson was that these implements could not do their work without power being supplied, nor could hop-pickers, or any other form of humanity, do the work God ordained without Divine power. Said a plough, "I'll make a furrow straight, deep, and long." But it moved not. Said a drill, "I'll sow good seed— the best of wheat." But it was incapable. Said a horse-shoe, "I'll tear up all ill weeds, and clean the ground beautifully." But weeds grew all around it. Men are as helpless without His power who not only said "Go," but who also said, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth " (Matt, xxviii. 18, 19).
We parted, as reader and writer must now part. Shall we meet beyond the river?
[Our friend Mr. Luff will (D.V.) spend September 1898 in visiting the hop-pickers in Hereford and Worcester, telling them of Jesus and His love. We trust our readers will remember this interesting work in prayer, and Mr. Luff will be grateful for parcels of tracts sent to him—c/o Mr. Turner, Woodlands, Eccleston, Tenbury],
WE are glad to direct attention to the good work carried on amongst the Hop-pickers by our friend Mr. Luff, and shall be glad to forward any books or tracts, or copies of "SPRINGING WELL," which are most acceptable for this work, or to receive donations in aid of the Mission.
To the Editor of "THE SPRINGING WELL."
As the hop-picking season approaches we are preparing, for the seventeenth time, to visit the pickers in the far-off counties of Hereford and Worcester. As the gentleman who for many years paid the expense of this work is no longer able to do so, we have to ask help of outside friends, both for tracts and funds.
Last year, in response to our appeal, we had a good and suitable supply of the former; but the latter, to a considerable extent, had to come out of our own pockets. This, in addition to giving three weeks' time, need not be, if a little help is sent besides the valuable tracts and books.
We do the work with the greatest economy, and feel sure there are well-to-do Christians who would be glad to ease us of this burden. Any contributions will be gladly received by the Editor, while tracts can be sent care of Mr. P. Clissett, Stanley Hill, Ledbury.
Thanking all who helped last year,
Yours in the Master's service,
WILLIAM LUFF 1899
The Railway Signal among Hop-pickers
l have had a month in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, walking 300 miles, and visiting 188 hop-yards, preaching and distributing the gospel to over 14,000 adults, beside twice as many children. We began with a Sunday at Worcester Railway Mission, and finished at Swindon Railway Mission on our way home. The Sundays we were among the pickers, we held twelve meetings at their camps, making 200 visits in all.
1,000 Railway Signals and 1,000 "Railway Mission Almanacs" helped to swell our daily burden; but the pleasure with which they were received, especially the latter, repaid us for all our weariness. Many a lone cottage and many a dowdy home will be made beautiful by these decorations. May God bless them as the days roll by. Mr. John Jones, of Shepherd's Bush, has again been my companion, this being our 17th year. We have worked as economically as possible; but having to bear our own expenses, we should be glad of any help to cover a slight deficit if sent through the office.
William Luff Nov. 1899
Hereford and Worcester Hop-yards.
IN company with Mr. John Jones, of Shepherd's Bush, we have for the 18th time visited the hop-yards of Hereford and Worcester. We began by a day with the Railway Mission in Worcester city, the men giving us a hearty send off. Returning to our starting place, after a walk of 300 miles up and down the counties, we found we had visited 127 hop-yards with the Gospel. It was hard, but blessed work. Among the thousands of Christian papers given away, the Railway Signal, kindly supplied by the Mission, was a large item. One old lady told us, the "Railway Almanac" we gave her last year was still ornamenting her kitchen. The word was preached to the pickers at their work in most of the hop-yards, and many of them have carefully taken to their homes the messages received. William Luff Nov. 1900
A HOP-PICKING CALAMITY
It will be many a year before hop-pickers in the neighbourhood of Canterbury will forget what happened to a waggon load of their number in 1894. It was a foggy morning; but as they came from the farm, they were singing and joking as only a party of hop-pickers can.
They knew not that seven of their group were going to meet death. How little we all think of these matters! Yet how near we are to our grave!
Before them was a level crossing, and the gate was shut, as such all gates should be. How many a gate have we found shut by a merciful God—there was danger—God knew it—He shut the gate. Sin is a shut gate, and over it in the writing of God is this notice, "Beware!"
The driver of the waggon sent a boy on to open the gate, and he did so without thinking of any oncoming train. I fancy we all do this sometimes, open the gate of sin, do the wrong, without any thought of consequences either in time or ETERNITY.
The gate being opened, the driver drove on; but without seeing the opposite gate open, so as to allow a free course. If men waited to see a way out of sin as well as a way in, many would stop in time.
Scarcely had the boy opened the gate, ere he heard the roar of approaching danger.
"Go back!" he shouted, "a train is coming."
And at the same moment, the waggoner also saw the death that threatened, and cried to the engine-driver to stop. But it was too late; the discovery and the warning were of no avail, nor the prayers and shrieks of the hop-pickers. Be warned in time; look around in time; pray in time; for in eternal things, all this is sometimes too late. Last warnings
are sometimes useless.
Here is the experience of a little boy of twelve years who just got out of the waggon at the gate and so escaped.
"The driver kept saying, 'Whoa'; but the horse did not stop; and then the train came and dashed right into it, close to the shafts. I cried, when I saw what had happened; then I picked up my baby sister and laid her on her little overcoat on the bank. She was dead. I went and told mother, who had gone to the hop-garden in the other waggon."
Six other victims were soon lying lifeless beside that wreck-strewn railway, and there were several more who were injured, and had to be removed to the Canterbury Hospital.
But what of the deathless souls, hurried before God so unexpectedly? Little did they think they had seen the dawning of their last day on earth. Many are cut off without warning; we may be. Are we ready?" Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved " (Acts xvi. 31). Christ died in our stead, and for our sins. I believe He died for me in my stead. Do you? "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John iii. 36). He need not fear death or anything after death.
"Hark, sinner, while God from on high doth entreat thee,
And warnings with accents of mercy doth blend;
Give ear to His voice, lest in judgment He meet thee:
The harvest is passing, the summer will end.
The harvest is passing, the summer will end.
The harvest is passing, the summer will end." W. Luff May 1901
WITH THE HOP-PICKERS
For several years past, we have spent the month of September among the hop-pickers of Hereford and Worcester, so it may interest our young friends if we tell our experiences.
A FIELD THAT WAS FINISHED.
One morning we entered a large hop-yard just as the pickers had cleared off all the hops. They were resting, waiting for the master to come and measure what they had done. It was dinner time, so they were sitting in groups around their fires enjoying their food. As we passed around with tracts and books, one of the men said,
"Ain't you going to give us a word, sir?"
Yes, as they wished it, we would. Looking across the picked hop-yard, we began:
"It is finished! Not a pole to pull, not a hop to pick; all is done and so you rest. There was a time when you came into this yard, the work was before you to be done; now, it is finished."
Then we told them of another work, which Jesus came to do, the work of keeping God's holy law and the work of putting away sin. Jesus began the work, continued at it, and at last could say, "It is finished."
Before entering that hop-yard, we had passed another, belonging to the same grower; into this the pickers were to go next and work. When we believe in the finished work of Jesus, then God has work for us to do; not to get saved, but because we are saved.
Who can quote words of Jesus that tell us thus to rest from labour that we may begin to labour?
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. xi. 28-30).
A FERRY THAT WAS FREE.
Another day we had to cross a river to get home. So we called the ferryman at the mill, for the boat was on his side. We could not go to him; he must come to us. Sin divides us from God, so that we cannot go to God until He comes to us; but we can call or pray.
When the miller came to where the boat was, he stood and scratched his head, for the boat was chained with a padlock, and he had forgotten to bring the key. It made me think of God's boat, the law, the ten commandments; we cannot be saved by that. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight" (Rom. iii. 20).
The ferry friend thought a minute, then he shouted, "There's another boat."
Good news! So jumping down among the rushes, he pushed off in that second boat and came to us. Then we had to trust him and his boat. God has a second boat, "Grace," the Son Himself; shall we not trust Him, and so get safely over all that separates?
When over, we offered the man two-pence for the ferry.
"No," said he, "not from you, while on such good work."
"Then you will have some of our books?" and I began selecting a handful.
"I'll have them, if I pay for them."
"No, we are giving them away."
"But somebody has to pay for them, and I shall help with my mite."
And with that, he tossed two-pence into my pocket. So instead of us paying him, he paid us. This was grace. Do we think we have to give to God? No, He gives to us.
"Can you do with a rabbit?" he asked.
"Do what? Catch it? Not we. Eat it? Rather. So taking us up to the house, he gave us this further present for the future, and in addition filled our pockets with nuts. Just like God's grace again. Shall we not empty our pockets to receive of His fulness?
"When do you go home? "he asked.
"How are you going to get to the station?"
"Walk!" though we half dreaded the tramp.
"No you will not walk. I have a horse and trap, and will meet you.
And he did; but took good care to let us know he did not do it in the prospect of being paid. The grace that ferries us, feeds us, and at last fetches us home,
A FEAST THAT WAS FURNISHED.
One evening, after a long day, we were walking to our lodgings, very tired. "Don't I wish I had a cup of tea," said my companion.
I told him he must do three more miles, and then he should have two, perhaps three. So we braced ourselves up to get the distance lessened as soon as possible, when lo, from the hedge above us came,
"Won't you have a cup of tea?"
We stopped, looked up—the evening shadows were closing—we saw no one, but again came the invitation, "Won't you have a cup of tea?"
"How long will it be?"
"Now." That was better than waiting and walking three miles.
It was a friend; he came down the bank, led us up and into his house, and there refreshed us with the best he had.
Young friend, are you thinking of having salvation presently, at the end of life's journey? Jesus offers it now.
After that tea, the three miles seemed so short and pleasant. Thus is it with life. Why put off that which will make you strong to endure, and even turn endurance into enjoyment?
"And what did you do with the two-pence the ferryman gave you?" do you ask.
We kept it till we came to another ferry, where it was demanded; and it made us think of the death-ferry which we are all nearing; the grace I receive now will carry me over at last; so remember—
"The Field that was Finished,
The Ferry that was Free
The Feast that was Furnished."
William Luff Oct. 1901
"The Railway Signal" among Hop- Pickers
Your readers may be interested to know how we got on in the hop-yards. We began with a good day at Worcester Railway Mission, the friends kindly volunteering the evening free-will offering towards the work. It being the nineteenth season in which Mr. John Jones and myself have been hop-pickers, we were recognized in almost all the 16 yards visited. Our tramp extended over 300 miles in Hereford and Worcester, carrying in daily burdens several hundred weights of gospel literature, including 1,000 Railway Signals and 500 Almanacs of the Railway Mission, which were asked for wherever they were shown, one woman telling us that she had on her cottage walls the one given her in a previous year. We not only gave books, but addressed the people 160 times, beside singing many hymns, and having numerous personal words with the pickers at work. William Luff
BY WILLIAM LUFF, AUTHOR OF "OUR KING."
LAST season was the nineteenth in which Mr. Jones, of Shepherd's Bush, and myself missioned among the hop-pickers of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In visiting 167 different companies, we picked up many illustrations of truth, some of which we pass on.
"What a lot of boxes they bring," we said, as we saw a waggon load of pickers going to a farm. "They are not all full," we were told, "but they hope to take them home filled with fruit and other spoil." This was faith. May we have such faith when coming to God. Bring empty boxes, not a few; such open mouths shall be filled.
Though the hop plants twine affectionately around the pole, the twain are never one; and there comes a time when they are roughly separated. How like the godly wife who clings to an ungodly husband, and yet feels that they two are never one. Living one, let not thine affections twine around the dead. "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. vi. 14).
Weeds grow in every hop-yard, even in the best and cleanest; but do not look for them, much less pick them. Look up for the hops, and you will not see the weeds. There are weeds in the best life, and work, and character; but hop-pickers do not search for chickweed and groundsel, nor must we look for faults.
A man at a crib had covered himself with a sack to shelter in a shower. But the measurer wanted the sack, and took it, just as I came up. "Lost your umbrella, old friend?" I remarked, adding, "Get Christ as a cover from the storm, and that will never be taken from you."
Sometimes fruit trees are planted in the hop-yards; and for a time are all but hidden by the poles; but there comes a time when the hops are grubbed up, and to the surprise of the ignorant, what has for years been a hop-yard is suddenly transformed into an orchard. Such is many a conversion; the fruit trees are there, planted by parents and teachers, but unseen until a final decision; then the work of past years is manifested. It is thus with the new nature planted in the midst of much that is contrary; but the new will outlive the old, and flourish in fruitfulness when it is dead and done.
In one hop-yard they were narrowing up the work to one corner. As we addressed them, we quoted the words, "Christ died for the ungodly," making an application from their scene of labour. "As you are narrowing up the picking, so narrow up that truth, 'Christ died for the ungodly,' for us, for me!" He who does this can say of salvation, "It is finished." Christian, work in the sunlight, and the labour will be light in a double sense.
As we drew towards the end of the picking, the hops began to turn brown, and acres of them were "left to fly." "Why use that term?" we asked. The hop-cone is really a bunch of winged seeds, and when fully ripe, the wind scatters these in all directions, and they blow away. Like some of our young people, once fair and fresh and precious; but if not gathered in time, browned and spoiled by sin, and scattered far and wide, away from home, and Sunday school, and God.
As we left after our month's work and 300 miles' tramp among the hop- pickers, we saw in the cleared fields, heaps of dry vine and leaves, dead and useless; and as we looked across the valley, we saw curls of white smoke arising from many of the yards we had visited. They were burning the rubbish. All the hops that were to be gathered were safe, and this was the end of all that remained. It made me think of Rev. xiv. 11: "The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever," and of Rev. xxi. 7, 8.
To try by God's help to gather for Christ those who gather the hops for the growers, we hope to go forth for the twentieth season, as helped by the prayers and gifts of God's people.
THE GOSPEL WORK AMONGST HOP-PICKERS
IT is a great pleasure to commend the good work carried on by our friends, Mr. W. Luff and Mr. Jones in the various hop-gardens, principally in Herefordshire. As our readers will observe, these workers have for nineteen years carried on this interesting Gospel service amongst those who greatly need it, and who, thank God, vastly appreciate the efforts of these brethren to do them good.
It would give us very great pleasure if, through the medium of "The Springing Well", we could help them in the matter of travelling expenses. They give their own personal service absolutely free; indeed, occupy the ordinary time usually devoted to rest and "holiday" in this blessed work. Last year they walked over three hundred miles, visited one hundred and sixty-seven different hop-fields, and told the simple story of the love of God to thousands of men, women, and children.
Any readers who may be pleased to assist in defraying the unavoidable outlay incurred through the mission may either send direct to Mr. W. Luff, 24, High Holborn, London, or to the Editor of this paper. (The Springing Well) The Gospel tour lasts about a month altogether.
By William Luff.
For nineteen years, it has been our joy to go among the hop-pickers of Hereford and Worcester, where over 11,000 acres are now under cultivation. Mr. T. S. Heley, late of Wing, Leighton Buzzard, first undertook the work; but since his home-going, and a few years previously, it has been done by Mr. John Jones and myself, helped by money and books kindly sent by Christian friends.
Last year we visited 167 different companies, gave 150 addresses, distributing nearly half a ton of good literature, and walking over 300 miles.
Our plan is to start out in the morning with as many books, etc., as we can carry, reaching as many hop-yards as possible during the day, giving tracts, etc., from crib to crib, and, wherever practicable, speaking to the pickers at their work. In this way, many thousands of persons receive the Gospel.
More is now done than when we first began; but many yards are still without a visit.
"No one has come to us all the times we have been here. The clergyman came twice last year, but not once this year"
As this was said near the end of the season, ours was probably the only visit these pickers had, and many were like them.
"Are you a dissenter?" asked a farmer's wife. "No," replied my friend, "I am an assenter to all that is in the Word of God."
In this unsectarian spirit, we seek to preach the truth in its fulness to the people who receive us gladly on every hand, sometimes showing their appreciation in doubtful ways.
"Have a drink of cider!" said one man, as we finished speaking. "Yes," was the reply, "when I meet you in heaven, if they admit it there."
"Don't forget the pole-puller," cried a fine, tall fellow. As it was near the end of the day, our larger papers were all given away. He seemed disappointed, so we gave him a Testament we had in our pocket. He was delighted, and said, "Now put my name in." We did so, and "Tweedside," whence he came, and at his request, adding, "From the hop-yards."
"That'll go back with me to the Potteries," he said, as he put it in his pocket.
Frequently, the surroundings give us texts as well as the Book itself.
A live, green, beautiful, fruitful vine, and a dead, brown, blasted one, were twined around one pole. How it preached, "Be ye separate." How near God's living ones and the devil's dead ones sometimes grow in a church, in a family; but they will be separated forever at last. After a hop-yard has been picked, only the barren and dead hops are left standing. A desolate scene! "One shall be taken and the other left." The good gone; the worthless left.
One broiling hot day, a party were picking in a leafy bower of hops. The shade was delightful, but bit by bit, they were pulling down and destroying their own comforts. How many with their own hands make an end of their few comforts in life!
"I am a sailor,'' said one man, "but, as I could not get a ship, I thought I would turn hop-picker."
"Then take another turn, and turn to the Lord; as you have given up the sea, so give up sin; and, as you have turned hop-picker, turn believer."
After a meeting one Sunday afternoon, one of the farmer's men came to turn on the water supply. How attractive was that tap! From barn, buildings, and barracks, the pickers were coming with pails, tins, cans, and kettles, all eager to be first.
As we passed we said, "Oh that you were as eager to drink of the water of life!"
Last year the men of the Railway Mission in Worcester, where we preached on the Sunday previous to starting our work, gave us the evening collection toward our expenses. A Welsh driver, after asking about the work, put half-a-crown into our hand. In this way, God has smiled upon our efforts, and we go forward for the twentieth season trusting Him for all we need. Any help sent to the office, 1 Adam-street, Strand, London, will be passed on to us for this special work.
[We shall be very glad to receive and pass on to Mr. Luff any help which friends may send to us for the work among the hoppers.] Sept. 1902
By a happy coincidence, a Christian driver who has shares in our work among Herefordshire and Worcestershire hop-pickers, was the man who took us to the scene of our labours. Going for the 20th season, we met with many old faces, and were greeted as expected friends in almost every hop-yard. Some nine workers have taken part in the mission, and by working in two districts at once, we were able to visit some 140 different hop-yards, distributing a liberal supply of Gospel literature at every crib, besides addressing the people at their work, and on Sundays. This has meant a tramp over high-road, bye-road, and no road at all, of 350 miles. We have often been weary and worn, but the gratitude of the people has stimulated us to continue. We have thus reached gypsies, tramps, natives of the village homes, and organized parties of pickers coming in from the busy centres of industry. To all, we have given the simple Gospel, and leave results to Him who says, "My word shall not return unto me void." The people keep our papers from year to year, some of them telling us that they have still in their possession the books given them in many past seasons. May the seed thus sown bring forth a harvest to the honour of the Great Husbandman. William Luff Sept. 1902
A Sunday with the Hop-pickers in Herefordshire
BY WILLIAM LUFF.
THERE were three of us, and we had six meetings with the pickers, at six different farms. Let me briefly describe them.
No. 1. Cleaning, combing and cooking was the order of the day, or rather the disorder. "Don't let us hinder you," said our leader; but in a moment all was quiet, and hymn-books having been distributed, they sang, "Christ receiveth sinful men." A short prayer brought even greater silence, and they sang, "Have you any room for Jesus?" Christ would receive sinners; would sinners receive Christ?
The Scripture was then read, telling of the woman who washed and kissed the Lord's feet (Luke vii. 36-50), followed by a brief application.
No. 2. Here again, cleaning, combing and cooking were in full swing, but as it was getting nearer dinner time we begged no one to stop their preparations. We had another good time, though it seemed a bit grotesque to see a woman peeling potatoes and singing to the musical splash of the tubers as they were dropped into the pot. After an interval for our own dinner, we again went forth.
No. 3. A very different scene, as clean and orderly a lot as one would find in any orthodox meeting. Forms were brought from other parts of the farm. The text was Eccles. viii. 14, 15, "There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man."
Our world was the little city; the Lord Jesus Christ was the poor wise man, Who by His death had delivered sinners from their foes; yet few thought of Him.
No. 4. Was reached through orchards and meadows; a rougher element, but not a whit behind in good behaviour, as a solo was sung about the handwriting on the wall; should the record be found wanting, or should it be found trusting? A short address followed on ‘the weighing of sovereigns at the Bank of England.’ The light ones are found out and condemned, but not cast away; they are melted and made afresh. Here was hope for light-weight sinners. After this we went to tea, and then off in another direction.
No. 5. The place of meeting was an open shed, along one side of which were bunks or cabins; each represented the "Home, Sweet Home" of a family of pickers. Here we sang, and read Isaiah liii.; "He is despised and
rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely, He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Eagerly the poor people heard of Christ crucified for sinners.
No. 6. Darkness was upon us as we picked our way to the last party. They were around two large fires. Books were useless, so a solo, "Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?" was sung, all joining in the chorus. Another address on Jesus paying our debts, and we closed, singing in the darkness, "There are angels hovering round."
And if ever we felt it was true, it was as we stood and sat in the dark shadows of the trees, illuminated by the light of dying camp-fires.
The Editor of "The Springing Well" knows that this is a gracious work of God, and is glad to receive any help for it from any interested friends who are pleased to send it to his care, or it might be forwarded direct to our kind friend and contributor to our pages, Mr. William Luff, 24, High Holborn, London,
Hop-Pickers in a Cider Mill
By William Luff.
The old cider mill was for the time turned into a church, with rather too much of "the dim religious light;" perhaps that was as well, for it prevented us seeing all the dust and dirt of the ancient edifice. Our congregation consisted of hop-pickers, and our first hymn suggested the text and sermon. It was,—
"Blessed be the Fountain of Blood,
To a world of sinners revealed;
Blessed be the dear Son of God;
Only by His stripes we are healed.
Though I've wandered far from His fold,
Bringing to my heart pain and woe,
Wash me in the blood of the Lamb,
And I shall be whiter than snow."
If the place was not bright, the singing was, as we all sang the chorus,— "Whiter than the snow."
What a blessing to be able to tell them there was a fountain open "for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. xiii. 1). All needed that washing, for He who knew said, "they are all together become filthy" (Ps. xiv. 3). But the same Divine One had also promised, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols. I will cleanse you " (Ezek. xxxvi. 25).
The singing over, the speaker explained how it was hard to see the filth of sin, because it was within the heart. That mill might be white outside, and ivy-covered, but through being unused, it was full of dirt within. Judging from without, this was not seen. The vileness of sin was inside. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man" (Matt. xv. 19. 20).
He made another use of the old mill. It was dark, and so the spiders and spider-webs, the muck and defilement, were not seen. He said the heart was a dark place, "their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. i. 21). No light came in through the mind, for the understanding was darkened (Eph. iv. 18). "They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness " (Ps. lxxxii. 6). The unconverted man "walketh in darkness " (Eccl. ii. 14); "he eateth in darkness" (v. 17); and in many cases, "he departeth in darkness " (vi. 4).
There was plenty of light outside that mill; the sun shone upon it, but the old windows were blocked up, and so the light could not penetrate.
Jesus has come, a light into the world. Gospel light is all around; but the windows of the heart are closed, not a ray shines in. "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. iv. 3, 4).
The hop-pickers were interested, and almost began to try and see the hidden cobwebs and insects. The thought of what might be hidden in the old thatch ready to drop upon our bare heads was enough to make us shudder. For the lack of sunshine did not destroy the fact that our church was the dwelling-place of numberless creeping things, and perhaps a few rats. We are sinners, even though we see not our sins.
"Suppose," said the speaker, "you all set to work to whitewash the outside, would that destroy the vermin within this building?" Of a truth, not. Nor would outward reformation get rid of inward corruption.
"Now," said he, warming to his subject, "if we could take the roof off, that would scatter the spiders and all their relations. The light would shine in, and perhaps, at first, we should be shocked. When the Lord lifted the roof from Peter's heart, it was so, and he cried, 'Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' (Luke v. 8). It was so with good Job. When the light of God's face shone in, he said, 'I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes' " (Job xlii. 6).
Has the light shone in upon your dark heart, reader, and revealed the abominations there hidden? Then you will desire cleansing, and take up the chorus of our opening hymn,—
"Wash me in the blood of the Lamb,
And I shall be whiter than snow."
Before we left the old mill and its hop-pickers, we sang another hymn. Friend, join us as we give it out, and may God's light fall upon the "alls" which it contains.
"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that Blood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away."
"Sister," said a dying child, "will you please get the Bible and read to me the verse about the blood cleansing from sin? Does it say it cleanses from some sin, or from all sin?"
Her sister read 1 John i. 7—"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
"Let me see and read it for myself," she asked. So the Bible was held in such a position that she could both see and read the verse.
"Thank God!" she said. "It does say, A-double-L---all sin. Satan was telling me there were some sins of my life which could never be forgiven; but God's own precious Word says, 'The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.' It must be true; I rest on that."
If the hop-pickers, and you, and I, rest there, we shall be washed "whiter than snow."
Let us remember there is a great difference between being white-washed and washed white. William Luff - Oct. 1903
An Echo from Hop-Land
For the 21st season, we have had the privilege of visiting the hop-yards of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The Railway Mission kindly sent a quantity of literature, which, though heavy to carry, was eagerly received where ever we took it. The friends of the Worcester Railway Mission kindly helped, some of them giving their Sunday to visiting the farms near home. The work has been heavy, the weather rough, and the walking very hard; but the Lord has helped Mr. Jones and myself, to visit from crib to crib in 117 different yards, giving 134 short Gospel addresses. But this has involved a walk of 300 miles. Everywhere we met with old friends, and were accorded a hearty welcome from the pickers, foremen, and farmers; and the books distributed have gone to many poor homes far and near.
The seed is sown—good seed—and God has promised to give the increase, but the harvest is not yet. William Luff. - Nov. 1903
Hop-Pickers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire
FOR the twenty-first season, Mr. John Jones and myself have seen the hop-picking from start to finish. 12,000 hop-pickers would form a large crowd, but at a low estimate, made by reckoning the number in each of the 117 hop-gardens we have visited, such a crowd of hop-pickers have heard the Gospel or received it by hand. To reach these, we have plodded over 300 miles of rough ground, in mud and mire, sunshine and shower, giving in field and farm 134 short Gospel addresses.
The first sum received this year toward the expense of this work was acknowledged in "THE SPRINGING WELL" as coming from New Zealand. That 4s. was a great cheer to us, as were other sums from readers, for which we thank God. .
The work is done once more; may God give His blessing, both on the effort itself and upon all who have helped. WILLIAM LUFF
"Fivers" in a Hop-Yard
By William Luff
The hop-yard was at the side of the railway, and just as I was about to address the people, a noisy locomotive with lumbering tail rushed along.
"I will wait till the train rolls by," I said, and I did.
The hop-pickers were all along the top of the yard against the embankment, and had just cleared enough poles to leave themselves exposed to view.
"Said a girl to me," I began, "as I came up to her hop-crib with gospel papers, ' Have you brought us five-pound notes?'
No. I had not the fivers to which she referred; for if I carried such things about, I might get robbed; beside it would need a big fortune to serve all alike, to say nothing of the difficulty there would be to keep the hoppers picking if they each had a fiver of this sort. But if you will listen for a moment, I will give you 'fivers' of far greater worth."
So "fivers" was to be my subject. And I afterwards found out and remembered that we were beginning our fifth five years of mission work among hop-pickers; and there were five of us; and one was in his 75th year; and it turned out that to make all hear, we gave five addresses; and to complete the "fivers," we sang a hymn of five verses. But to my address.
"My 'fivers,' friends, are words of five letters, and there are five of them; the first is—
The Name that is above every name. The birth-name of God's only begotten Son; the Name that foretold His life-work, 'He shall save His people from their sins.'
'Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!'
Do you know its preciousness? If so, you will find this name of five letters of more value than any 'fiver' of the Bank of England."
My second "fiver" was the word—
This is the hand that lays hold of and claims the first "fiver"—four fingers and a thumb—a "fiver" to grasp the other "fiver." Blessed five letters, making wealthy the beggar, "rich in faith." Jesus is of no value except as we believe in Him."
The third "fiver" was the word—
Jesus is the Saviour; faith accepts Him, and the moment that is the case, the soul having faith in Jesus is saved, saved from sin; and so the purpose for which Christ was named, "Jesus," is accomplished.
Saved from sin's guilt, because Jesus died.
Saved from sin's power, because Jesus lives.
Saved from sin's presence, when Jesus comes.
"Saved!" such a salvation is of infinite value. Blessed "fiver!"
But I had a fourth "fiver" for the interested hop-pickers working among the festooning foliage.
Saved to serve. This is the divine order, not serve to be saved; this is how too many read it; but saved to serve. And what service, for what a Master, with what a payment! What a privilege to serve the King of kings, the Lord of angels; Him whom sun and moon and stars obey. "Ye serve the Lord Christ." Could there be greater honour!
One other would complete my five "fivers"; perhaps it was the best of all.
The glory of Jesus, for said He not to His Father, "The glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them" (John xvii. 22). The apostles saw Christ's glory, for a brief hour; we shall share His glory forever. Here was a prospect for mire-stained hop-pickers! What a change from the clay of the fields to the golden streets of heaven,
"For me, Lord Jesus, Thou hast died,
And I have died in Thee:
Thou'rt risen—my bands are all untied;
And now Thou liv'st in me:
When purified, made white and tried,
Thy glory then for me!"
Then I took my audience back over my five "fivers."
J-E-S-U-S —given by God to save from sin.
F-A-I-T-H —belief in Jesus and the purpose for which He came.
S-A-V-E-D —the happy result of faith in Jesus.
S-E-R-V-E —the duty of all who are saved by faith in Jesus.
G-L-O-R-Y —the reward of service done by saved ones who believe in Jesus.
"Friends, you would be eager to take the 'fivers' to which the hop-picking girl referred; be as eager to accept these?"
Our Twenty-Eighth Year amongst the Hop-pickers
in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
MR. T. S. HELEY, who began the work among Herefordshire hop-pickers, has gone to his reward, and so has Mr. John Jones, with whom we went twenty-six years; but our faithful friends, Messrs. Denham and Stainford, are left, and hope to go with us in our twenty-eighth season. To give outsiders an idea of our methods, I will mention some of the means used.
Sheet Almanacs, such as the one issued with "THE SPRINGING WELL," are eagerly sought after. "I must have one," said a man two years ago. "But you cannot, we have not one left," we said. He looked disappointed,
and explained that he worked in a large workshop, and wanted the almanac to put up where the many workmen would see it. "You must give me one," he persisted. But it was late, and neither of my companions had one left. "Can I leave one anywhere for you?" I said. "Yes, at the shop on the road." So, taking his name, I told him one should be left; and it was. Last year this man was the first to greet us as the man who had the almanac. "And it is up in the workshop to-day," he said in triumph; and seeing we were tired, he put a stool for us to sit upon as he told others of the way he got that almanac. This time he received the first given.
Tracts.—Tracts and magazines are given at every crib, and frequently Scripture portions, etc. Giving a tract to a man last year he said, as he looked at it, "If I had taken heed to that, I should not have been here hop-picking to-day;" and many are like him.
Lavender Bags.—These, supplied by the "Bible Flower Mission," are reserved for the aged and sick. One bag, bearing the text "Christ . . . being made a curse for us," was given to an old lady, who at once responded, "That's my text, for I love Christ." It was the dinner-hour, so we stopped and spoke to the pickers, this one drawing near and assenting to the words spoken, thus avowing herself a believer before the other pickers.
Christmas Cards.—This year we are using thousands of old Christmas cards, texts and gospel extracts being pasted over the names of sender or receiver. These we find are greatly appreciated, and the texts thus given are preserved.
Preaching.—In nearly every hop-yard, at the buildings, and at every opportunity, we give short gospel addresses. A party of pickers were at the station waiting for their train—a motley group, sitting on boxes and bundles. We were on the platform waiting for our train, from which they were locked out, but as there was time the station-master allowed us to go to them. Our friend began his address by asking, "What do you think we must do to get to Heaven?" A woman from amongst the workers replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." No one could have given a preacher a better text.
Singing.—In most hop-yards, we stand in the centre of the people at their work and sing a gospel hymn. In one last year, the farmer was bushelling his hops—a rather unfavourable time for us; but the people specially asked, "Will you sing us the hymn you sang last year? "We began it, and the master kindly stopped bushelling until we had finished the song, and also a brief exhortation, listening and thanking us for what we had done. The way we are received by the owners is most encouraging.
Visiting one of our early workers, who is confined to his room with rheumatism, he recalled an experience when out with Mr. John Jones. At the close of a meeting John Jones said: "We have come to you many times; have our efforts done any good?" A young Irish woman stood forth and said: "Before you came, I used to go to the priest and confess my sins, but I never got any real peace until you gave me a little book called 'The Blood of Christ.' Through reading that book, I learned that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth me from all sin, and now I am perfectly satisfied."
Last year we thus visited 112 companies, comprising 15,500 adults, beside the children, to whom we gave 116 gospel addresses. To reach them, we walked 360 miles. We are looking forward to going again this September, and shall be thankful for prayers and help to pay expenses of travelling and lodgings, conveyance of parcels. "The Springing Well"
William Luff - 1910
WE have for years felt the greatest interest in the good service in the hop fields which has been carried on by our friend and helper, Mr. Luff, and his earnest fellow-workers. Good men such as Brother Heley and John Jones have entered into rest; but others are still here and ready to devote their time and energies to the continuance of this good work. We are sure our friends will pray for them as they go forth (God willing) during the present season. We are especially glad to commend this gospel effort to all who are interested, because these workers occupy themselves in this blessed way in the time that would be their ordinary holiday, and moreover, they do it largely at their own charges. If, however, there are those free to have fellowship in the simple expenses of travelling, etc., they might send direct to Mr. William Luff, 81, Carrington Street, London, N.W., or if any were able to help in the supply of good gospel literature, of which they require a very large quantity, we should be glad to provide such at cost price or less. They appreciate the numbers of this magazine greatly, and we would be pleased to let them have 5,000 for £7 10s., which is much less than they cost.
Among Herefordshire and Worcestershire Hop-pickers
"HAPPY to see you round again!" was the greeting in many a Herefordshire and Worcestershire hop yard, as two and two, we paid our annual visits to our old friends. Messrs. Stainford and Denham were mostly in the former county, while Mrs. Luff and myself were mostly in the latter. The total figures are 139 companies, to whom we gave 126 Gospel addresses, in most cases singing as well, and sometimes praying. Putting down each day the numbers at work, we found we reached 22,000 persons, to whom we gave gospel papers and Almanacs, such as that issued with THE SPRINGING WELL. "Now I can take down the old one," said one woman; while we overheard a man calling to his less favoured mate, "We've got a Halmanac for our house; you ain't got ne'er a one. "Such remarks show that what we give is appreciated. If accidentally passed by, the people do not fail to speak up, or in many cases a neighbour speaks up for them. "These will go to India," said one party as they carefully put up the cards, etc., we had given. As the yards lie far apart, there is little danger of workers overlapping. To reach those we reached meant walking 400 miles. In only two or three yards, did we hear of anyone going among the people, except in some parishes, where Church Army men were engaged. Our partner of twenty-six years, Mr. John Jones, is often mentioned.
"I remember the old gentleman's text," said one man. "And what was it? " I asked.
"Prepare to meet thy God," he answered.
"Yes," I added, "and you recollect how he used to put the five words on his four fingers and thumb." He did, and the recollection enabled us to preach them afresh.
The need of this work seems greater than ever, for though a few Christians go out from the towns, the outlying yards are totally unvisited. Almost the last day, a man whom we met on the road said, "No one came round to us; we did not have even a magic lantern."
May God bless the little that has been done! WILLIAM LUFF
Among Herefordshire and Worcestershire Hop-pickers
BY WILLIAM LUFF
GOD willing, we hope for the thirty-first season to spend September among the Herefordshire and Worcestershire hop-yards, in company with our tried helpers, Messrs. Denham, Stainford, and others. To interest our friends, we cull a few extracts from one season's records.
September 3rd. Leaving Ledbury Station, a man passing in trap called out, "Good day, glad to see you once more." We are welcomed everywhere.
"Have you come to take photos? "asked one, as we came among them with our packs. "No need," was the reply, "your photo is already taken, and they have it in heaven."
September 5th. Visited eight hop-yards, and spoke in each, besides giving books. Spoke on pole stripped and pole covered with hops. How different! All men will be stripped at last. Christ was stripped of all for us.
In string-work, a man was pulling down a string of hops, when it broke, and he fell to the ground, amid the laughter of the pickers. He gave us an illustration of trusting in false confidences. Result, a fall.
September 11th. Visited ten hop-yards; gave eleven addresses, and walked twenty-one miles. One party of 500 very rough; man and woman using dreadful language; but we started singing,
"I was once far away from the Saviour,
As vile as a sinner could be,
And I wondered if Christ the Redeemer
Could save a poor sinner like me."
At once there were cries of "Order," and the quarrel was suspended.
As we had left one hop-yard, an old man called over the hedge, "Thank you for your lecture. I liked it very much; I hope you'll have good luck in your business." It was quaintly put, but sincere.
Sunday. Good meeting in an orchard. In the evening, a good crowd gathered and stood from 6 to 7:15. Woman dying in one of the buildings, heard our singing, and said, "It was beautiful." When visited, was unconscious, but responded to the text, "The Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John i. 7). She died the next day.
These are a few specimen experiences in one of our thirty years among these people. Last year, our two parties reached 154 lots of pickers, numbering nearly 20,000 adults, without reckoning children. To these we gave 161 gospel addresses, in most cases singing besides speaking. To all, we gave books, including "SPRINGING WELL" and other sheet almanacs, "SPRINGING WELLS," and many kinds of gospel papers, cards, and portions. To do this, we walked 362 miles, and rode many more. The pickers reached were from Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Dudley, Birmingham, and London; also many gypsies, and the isolated villagers of the district. With hearty thanks to the readers of "THE SPRINGING WELL" for all help given, we once more commend ourselves to their prayers and sympathy and to God.
Editor: We have for many years encouraged the work of our dear friend, Mr. W. Luff, and his fellow-labourers, and we are grateful that kind friends have manifested practical fellowship with our brethren in their happy and useful service.
We are thankful for this for several reasons. In the first place, these faithful servants of God spend their "holiday" in the effort to make the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ known to this needy class of men, women, and children, and in the next place, they desire no compensation for their labours other than the joy of hearing those who hear and receive the gospel, confess the Name of the Saviour. If, however, any friends are free to help in the expense of their journeyings, we are glad to receive any donations to be devoted to this purpose, or for the provision of sound gospel literature for distribution by the workers would be greatly appreciated.
Mr. Luff may be addressed at 81, Charrington Street, London, N.W. 1913
Bible Gems in the Hop-yards
AS all through September, we hope to be for the thirty-first season among the hop-pickers of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. I will tell you about some of our young pickers whom we see who are away from their homes helping their parents pick hops.
Sometimes they play when they ought to work. One little one I saw sitting on the ground with a spoon in his hand, filling a saucer with dirt. What a meal! No, he was not eating it, but if I judge by the books some boys devour, I am reminded of that boy's saucer of dirt, and when I see boys with cigarettes in their mouths, I feel they do worse than he did.
At one farm, the pickers are allowed beautiful soup which the children fetch in all sorts of vessels. One evening I saw some boys carrying theirs home in a saucepan; but it smelled so good that they poured a little out in the lid and tasted it. I think they ought to have waited till they got home; but I admire them for liking such good food, and not minding the vessel out of which they drank.
We try to give them good spiritual food in the form of "SPRINGING WELLS" and other Gospel papers, and they prize them. One boy carefully tied his books up with a piece of string taken off the hops, while a girl said of hers, "I shall send 'em to my mother."
In one hop-yard, where there were 900 pickers, it came on to rain, so that we got wet to our skin while visiting round. Here I saw one little chap sitting in a baby-chair, under an umbrella, nursing a mite of a baby. In that wet hop-yard, we found three babes only three weeks old. No wonder one of them died and was buried in a little simple box. While on the afternoon of the funeral, we heard the mother was sitting in a public-house as if nothing had happened. What a blessing to have good parents who love us and care for us.
Shall I tell you about a good mother I saw? She was coming across the fields with three little ones, and under the arms of the youngest, she had a scarf, which she held, and so upheld the little toddler, thus teaching him to walk. This made me think of a Bible Gem which we find in Hos. xi., "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and taught him also to go, taking them by their arms, with cords of a man, with bands of love." How sweet to know that just as that mother upheld her child, so God's strong arm upholds His weak children.
One little child, whose mother was not watching it, fell into the fire that they had lit on the ground to boil their kettle, and was so burnt that it died. If God's hand is not holding, withholding, and upholding us, we are sure to fall into the fire of sin and be burned. This suggests a Bible Gem prayer, "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe" (Ps. cxix. 117).
When the pickers have finished picking a hop-yard, they have to carry their pots, pans, and pails into another hop-yard as well as the cribs in which they pick; this they call "flitting" and it is hard work. One day we were passing by, when the pickers were thus moving, and saw one little girl staggering along with a big pail-full of the family clothes. It was a heavy burden, and made her look miserable; but the friend who was with us, and very strong, took it out of her hands and carried it for her, and she gladly let him, and looking up, smiled her thanks. It made me think of a Bible Gem, "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isa. liii. 4), and verse 12, "He bare the sin of many." And also 1 Pet. ii. 24, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness." Was not this Christ's meaning when He said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"? (Matt. xi. 28). Like the young hop-picker, we know when Jesus removes our burden, it makes us glad instead of sad.
One Saturday afternoon, the pickers had thus lugged their cribs a mile into a new hop-yard, ready to start picking Monday morning. They then had over a mile to go to their barn homes.
An old-fashioned empty waggon was going to the same destination, and the good-natured waggoner intimated to the youngsters that they might ride. No second word was needed. They climbed the wheels, mounted over the back, scrambled up by way of the shafts, anyhow to get, not a seat, but standing room.
"How earnest they are," said my friend; and I thought how blessed it would be if boys and girls were as eager to get a place in the old waggon of salvation.
NO WAITING. They were almost rough to one another in their eagerness, for they felt there was no time to lose.
NO WASHING. They were dirty, just as they had come from the hop-yard; they would be clean to-morrow, but not one thought of any preparation just then.
NO WORKING. They had not to draw, the horses drew them. They neither built the waggon, nor brought the waggon, nor had they to drive or draw it.
NO WALKING. It was a good step to the farm where they were billeted, but their tired little feet were carried all the way.
What a gospel I had in that scene! The Gospel waggon is on the road to heaven; who will mount? No waiting, no washing, no working, and no walking here.
I saw some of the mothers lift their little ones into the hop-pickers' waggon, and many a christian mother would gladly lift her child into the waggon of salvation.
As the youngsters were getting into that conveyance, a motor car rushed past, but so eager were they, I do not think they saw it. Nothing should divert our attention from securing salvation.
When all were in, the waggoner gave the word and the old horses started; and didn't the children shout and cheer and laugh and sing!
"Now they're happy," I said to him as they passed; but they were not so happy as the children who trust in Jesus and start for heaven.
After the happy party had started, a boy came up from the hop-yard in time to see them far along the road, but too late to have their joy. Mind, you are not thus behind in sharing the true pleasure of the heavenly ride. William Luff - 1913
The Midland Hop-yards, 1913.
By WILLIAM LUFF
WE believe many of our readers will be anxious to have some report of our visits to the Herefordshire and Worcestershire hop-yards. Our friends Messrs. Stainford and Denham, who well know the locality, led the Herefordshire party, while we worked mostly on the Worcestershire side. Owing to a short picking and to expected helpers being unable to come, we lost some of our largest centres; but together visited 107 companies, totaling 16,635 persons, to whom we were able to give booklets, portions, tracts, almanacs, cards, and lavender bags. "Please you've missed me," said a little girl as we were about to leave one yard. Going back with her, we heard another picker say, "She's not going to let her granny lose her books." We told them if they sought salvation as earnestly, they would certainly find it. The sheet almanacs are their great delight, and they will not be put off without one if they can help it." We put 'em up in the van," said a gypsy. "Can you let me have another?" asked a woman, "it's for mother; she could not come, but said, 'Be sure and bring me the books.' " Another wanted to buy a second almanac to take to a very old man unable to travel so far.
Besides giving the literature and speaking from crib to crib, we gave 114 gospel addresses, in most cases singing as well as speaking. Most of these addresses were given while the pickers were picking, in the dinner hour, while waiting to be bushelled, and at the barracks on Sundays. Masters and men helped us all they could. One afternoon, when the hop-yard was frightfully dirty after a morning rain, a bin-man called out, "You'll find most of the pickers along this side and over yonder." "You can save us many steps and give us good advice," we responded. "And you can give us good advice, sir," the man replied. This saving of steps is important when the added miles of the days we were walking among them totaled 331.
Would we could give pictures of some Sunday meetings! Here is a large shed in which are three huge fireplaces filled with blazing wood. All is dark outside 'this hop-pickers' sitting-room, so we give out the well-known hymn, "There is a fountain filled with blood," and as we sing, the pickers gather in, until the seats and the tables are filled with the motley crowd. Then with bared heads we pray for the dear ones left at home, and that we may meet in the heavenly home at last. In the weird light of the fires, a young man from Worcester tells how we may be fitted for that place of purity. It is our last meeting with them, so we sing, "We shall meet on that beautiful shore."
One man pointed to a hill-top where, many years ago, our dear friend John Jones gave him a New Testament, and we learnt he had recently sought to carry on the little Sunday School on that hill. Offering a woman on the road a book, I told her it was "a good one." Laying her hand on a parcel she carried, she said, "I have a better." It was a Bible the hop-pickers were presenting to a mission hall on the top of another hill.
Our Thirty-Third Year Among Worcestershire Hop-Pickers. W. Luff
WE are hoping for the thirty-third season to visit the hop-yards of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, in company with our tried friends Messrs. Denham and Stainford and others. Looking at our diary of last year's work, I find we visited over 23,000 persons in 134 companies, to whom we gave 126 Gospel Addresses, besides a plentiful supply of SPRINGING WELLS and other Evangelical literature. While friends are doing all they can for the soldiers, let not the hop-pickers be forgotten, for from their midst many a brave fellow has gone forth. One of the first cribs we went to last September had eight gone to the war (WWI). Many, we doubt not, will have sad tales to tell of loved ones gone forever.
''Delighted to see you, and think everyone else is," was the greeting of a woman.
"Bring the books home," was the message of a woman who could not come. Another woman offered us a penny toward paying for the books we gave.
"The lady sang a hymn last year, Sir. Can we have one this year, because we may not meet again?'' was the request of one.
A man to whom we gave a magazine said: "My little girl has been asking me if I had got a book yet."
A policeman stopped us one day and said: ''I don't wish to ask your business, but I think you carry books in your bags, and as I have always had one, I should like one again."
Our plan on working days is to go from hop-yard to hop-yard and crib to crib, giving books, etc., and speaking personally as openings occur, generally singing and speaking to the pickers from a central spot before leaving.
On Sundays we go to them at their barracks, and have a more formal service, giving out hymn-sheets, and speaking to them as in an ordinary meeting.
We know the ground, we know the growers, and we know the people, and look forward with pleasure to this annual bit of work. All we ask is partnership in prayer, and in help to pay unavoidable expenses of fares, board, lodging, etc
William Luff and the Hop-Pickers' Mission
"AND the lord said unto the servant, 'Go out unto the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled' " (Luke xiv. 23). As from year to year, we have been privileged to commend the labours of our friend, W. Luff, and his fellow workers, to the prayerful consideration of our readers, we have very often thought of this scripture. The beloved brethren and sisters do truly "go out into the highways and hedges" and endeavour for all they are worth "to compel" the people ''to come in.'' God has been with them in the years gone by. He has accepted their ministry of the glorious Gospel of His grace, and many poor sinners in the hop-fields, tired and weary, have heard the Word of Life and have found rest in Christ Jesus the Lord.
We commend their work most heartily, because these devoted friends go forth during the customary holiday periods and use all their time in the effort to help these poor and, generally, needy people. They go forth, of course, without fee or reward, simply and only to serve the Lord. The cost of travelling is considerable, and so, if any dear friends are pleased to have fellowship with them in these inevitable expenses, they may communicate with Mr. W. Luff, 81, Charrington Street, London, N.W., or with the editor. “The Springing Well”
Our Hop-yard Visitation for 1915
By WILLIAM LUFF
WITH great gratitude to God we have completed our 33rd season among the Herefordshire and Worcestershire hop-pickers; the weather, the reception, the helpers and the help have been all we could desire, proving that the Lord provides even in time of war. Hops have been a failure in a few places, and fewer hops has meant fewer pickers, but seven of us have reached 104 companies, totaling 16,170 persons, to whom we have given 122 gospel addresses.
THE SPRINGING WELL ALMANAC is still a favourite, also THE SPRINGING WELL. Indeed, the sheet almanacs are what is most desired. One woman said, "I have four almanacs up on our stairs.'' Another wanted one in memory of her son at the war. He nailed it up last year, and it is up still. This will go alongside of it. The war is a grim reality to these poor people, who have given their best to protect our land. We scarcely went to a crib where the pickers had not someone fighting, wounded, or killed; and again and again the pickers said, "I shall send this to France," or elsewhere. One was picking who said, "The Germans have given me a kiss since I last saw you and pointed to wounds in both cheeks, where a bullet had gone right through, causing partial lock-jaw. We had a straight talk with him. Another was in the hop-yard whose fingers had been shot away.
One Sunday night we stood in a crowd of these poor people, singing and preaching to them outside their barracks. In the darkness, a tiny child had come to my side and put her little hand in mine. I illustrated trust by that child, saying, "If you will trust Jesus Christ as this dear child trusts me, you will be saved,'' and in the darkness we prayed, "Lord, help some here to say, "Lord Jesus, take my hand, my weak hand, my dirty hand; in Thy strong pierced hand." And He was present to do it.
Messrs. Denham and Stainford join me in thanking all who have helped us in this blessed and loved work, for which we praise God.
These workers write of their visitations: "We had a good and happy time, and were assured by some of the people that we did not know the good we were doing.
"In one yard, a little girl came as we were packing up to leave, and asked us if we would sell her a little book; she meant a Gospel, and began to untie her money from a dirty little rag.
"One man gladly received our papers, saying they would have been welcome to him a week before, when he was in Dartmoor Convict Prison. He had made a bad record since 1875, and had just finished five years. He now wanted to lead a straight life.
Illustrations Picked up in Hop-picking
By WILLIAM LUFF
FOR 26 years, my companion, or rather leader, was John Jones, of Shepherd's Bush, London. It was amusing to hear his answers to interrogations. In one hop-yard, a man called out, "Will you have a drink of cider?" "Yes, when I meet you in heaven, if it is admitted there," was his reply. At a farm a woman asked him if he had ever been to school? 'School, madam," he answered, "I have never been out of school since I was born." The same woman charged him with being a dissenter. "No, I am an assenter to everything in the New Testament," he said. A man cried out, "What's the good of talk and tracts to these poor people; give them some money." The reply was. "Our benevolent friend's suggestion is most practical, and I am prepared to give 6d. to any poor widow in this yard if our friend will carry out his proposition by adding another 6d." The benevolent friend disappeared among the hops. Right answers seemed given him. "I find my fingers get very bitter being among the hops though I do not touch them much." I told the pickers it was like the bitterness of sin; we cannot touch it, or be in its midst without tasting of its bitterness. A tree had fallen in the stream, within a few yards of where the pickers were sleeping. It gave us a capital illustration of the hymn, "O Christ, it fell on thee." God's judgment against sin fell on Him, instead of us "He was wounded for our transgressions" (Is. 53. 5).One afternoon we were very hot and thirsty so begged water at a cottage. The old lady drew us some fresh from the dark shady well. It was so good and cool. Out of the dark depths of Christ's sufferings and death, we draw the life giving waters of salvation; and our deepest and most heavy trials often yield us our most refreshing grace.
We were in the midst of orchards; passing under one tree, we saw by the broken branches and leaves, that it had been pelted at. "You may be sure it has good apples," said my companion, and trying one, found as he supposed. The best of God's trees are most assailed, as was Job, "perfect and upright and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1. 1). Christ, the Apple Tree of the best, was more thrown at than any of us (Song of Songs 2:3).
It was very nice to hear one woman say as we were leaving, "We are very much obliged to you for coming. It is very kind of you." I am sure she was only the mouthpiece of many.
One night we went to supper with the steward of this estate; and the pick of the pickers. Fifteen of them came up and formed a circle round the door to sing hymns in the moonlight, finishing with, "All hail the power of Jesus' Name." We all came to the door and sang. It seemed to show such good feeling between employer and the employed.
In September 1929, we visited and took the Gospel in print, preaching, personal conversation and song to over 22,500 pickers, and most of the same volunteers hope to do similar work in 1930. Any clean Gospel literature would be useful if sent to Mr. Walford, 93, Malvern Road, Worcester.
After 47 years continual service in the Hop-fields, our beloved brother, Wm. Luff, has this year to forego this pleasure and privilege. He is now in his 81st year and his dear wife very weak and feeble. Prayer is asked that they may both be graciously sustained and helped of the Lord in their closing days.
Our brother will still be responsible for the band of workers and any desirous of having fellowship in this good work can write him c/o Editor.
His Life Story, written and told, by himself which we have just published (2/6 Net) contains much interesting detail of a life spent in service for the Lord. A noble life of faith abounding with praise and thankfulness to the God of all grace; well worth reading and giving to young and old. From: "Threshed Wheat" - 1930
HOME-CALL OF MRS. WM. LUFF
The loving sympathy of our readers will be with our beloved brother, Mr. Wm. Luff, who was called to part with his life's partner in July 1932. For her, very far better, and for him, but a short while and a happy re-union. Our brother, although well over 80, is still active, and we may well pray for him that God will grant many more years of active service.—(Ed. G. F. Vallance)
14th May 1850 ~ 1st Oct. 1935
Our beloved friend was called to higher service on October 1st, 1935.
Others working With the Hop-Pickers
AMONG THE HOP PICKERS IN KENT. October 1882
During the last two months our missionary students have been scattered far and wide, and many of them engaged in active work.
Mr. Murray has been taking charge of a mission hall in Kent, and writes:
I found the mission hall here rather low in point of number attending but by beating up a bit, house to house visitation, etc., the hall is now well filled every Sabbath. The other meetings are also exceedingly well attended, especially the Sunday Bible reading. In addition to the hall work, I have been holding open air and tent meetings amongst the fruit and hop pickers of the district every Sabbath afternoon. The owner of the farm on which we hold our meetings is a rank atheist, and has never hitherto allowed any one to hold meetings amongst his pickers, of whom he employs about four hundred. But the prayer of faith conquered, and God has opened his heart to let us have these blessed meetings. The work amongst these people is very interesting, yet very sad. One day we meet with a tall handsome man, whose bearing tells of military service and better days; another day with a woman who was govemess in a gentleman's family in Manchester, and another who was at school with one of our lady workers. When questioned as to the cause of their downfall, the reply is ever the same old story, "It was drink that did it!"
I had two pledgebooks with me, and I soon had them filled with signatures to the number of seventy-five. Better still, at least five men and two women have ranged· themselves on the Lord's side, and I am watching patiently to see the fruit in their lives. The women are more difficult to reach than the men, and I have ever found it so. A really bad woman is, humanly speaking, a more difficult subject than a bad man.
To day a man ca.me to my lodging to sign the pledge. He told me that on Sabbath he had spent all his money, nearly two pounds, on drink, while his wife and two children had to sleep at night in a barn, where the rats were running over them during the night!
I am sorry to say that, notwithstanding Government measures, the accommodation for these hop pickers is generally wretched, though the owners carry out the letter of the law. The "divisions" between the beds in the barns and huts which are used for sleeping apartments consist of hurdles, through which any one can crawl; in fact they are mere apologies for partitions. The result of this state of things is that modesty, even decency, is disregarded among the pickers, at any rate for the time. They listen very attentively to the word of truth; and the singing of old familiar hymns, such as "Rock of Ages," by a few ladies, accompanied with a melodeon which I had given me for the work, strikes many an old chord and brings tears to many eyes at the memories of other days, of the Sabbath school or the happy home. May the sunlight of God's truth dispel the darkness which Satan has cast over the hearts and minds of these people.
I am, yours respectfully,
WORK AMONG HOP-PICKERS.
"We are just at the close of the hop-picking season, and (as for the past twenty-one years) we have again been privileged to spend much time among the many thousands of hop-pickers, seeking to tell them something of God's great love in the gift of His Son as a Saviour for sinners. We distribute gospel papers, converse with them, and address them in the gardens when they are taking their mid-day meal, or at their camps at night, or at an occasional free tea. Sometimes we pick with them at their bins, under which circumstances they willingly listen.
Possibly the depravity of human nature is nowhere more apparent than among this multitude; nevertheless, any real interest in them is valued, and amid much indifference there are many willing ears and occasional anxious enquiries, while now and again this ministry recalls to some of them the peaceful hours they once enjoyed, and makes them conscious of an aching void the world can never fill. We trust that in this, as in all service to our God, we may have been and may continue to be a sweet savour of Christ.
I send a little account of some gospel work among hop pickers in Kent by another brother and myself.
The district reached lies five miles to the left of the rail between SevenOaks and Tonbridge, and consists of the gardens of twenty farmers, employing about 2,500 persons, men, women and children. All these were visited once, and some more than once, at their bins, and each received on each occasion a gospel book, paper, tract, text-card or portion of Scripture. Two hundred and seventy portions, and many hundreds of gospel texts were distributed. Three persons only refused our papers.
The mornings and afternoons were given to visiting them at their work; their dinner hour was occupied by us in singing and speaking the gospel to them, and in the evenings we went to their camps or sleeping places and again sounded out the gospel. As time and opportunity offered, we spoke to them individually, and had several interesting conversations.
The pickers were of various classes—old soldiers, dock labourers, flower girls, costers, gipsies; and of various creeds too—Church of England, Wesleyan, Romanist, Catholic Apostolic, and nothing, some being true Christians. The Lord gave us grace to know nothing among them "save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and He gave us liberty in lifting up Christ—the power of God and the wisdom of God—while we sought to enforce the necessity of repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. On Tuesday, September 21st, I went to Lewes Sheep Fair, to reach the shepherds and drovers gathered from various parts of the county. They readily received books, tracts and texts to take away and read in their lonely homes. We realized the Lord's presence with us all the time.
C. R. "Echoes of Service" 1897