One of the most amazing true stories I ever heard was told to me by the superintendent of a Chinatown rescue mission in New York City when I visited there many years ago. I will try to tell you the story as he told it to me.
NEAR the turn of the century this old mission building in the heart of Chinatown had passed off as a Chinese theater. However, underworld gangs hid out in its black cellars. Drug rings flourished. Killers struck suddenly: then, like serpents, disappeared into their dens, often leaving their victims stuffed in trashcans.
When finally the theater was closed down, the drug rings found new hideouts: new crime waves lashed the city.
It was during these turbulent years that a shrewd woman known as Chinatown Gertie kept police on the run. Gertie was a drug addict, a prostitute, and considered as vile a woman as ever darkened the alleys of Chinatown. But Gertie was something of a queen of her underworld gang.
When New Yorkers were reading about Gertie's spine-tingling escapades and wondering what she would do next, an amazing thing happened. Someone from the mission searched and found Gertie and told her the wonderful story of Jesus and His love. Gertie had never heard such a story before. She listened with the eagerness of a child to the words of the gracious invitation, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18). When she learned that Jesus, the Son of God, loved her enough to die for her sins, Gertie's heart melted. She surrendered her life to Him who said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).
God heard her cry for mercy and instantly broke every chain of sin that bound her and set her free. And Gertie went to work for a new Master.
Gertie's years of sin and dissipation had taken a toll on her frail body, and she lived but a short time after that. One warm spring day she went to be with the Lord.
Her funeral was held at the rescue mission in Chinatown. People filled every seat and an overflow crowd lined the walls. From Fifth Avenue…Brooklyn…The Bronx they came…people from all over New York City came to gaze upon the face of the woman they had so long read about.
Funeral services were brief.
Then Gertie's casket was opened, and people marched by single file to view the body; line after line filed past until the building was almost deserted.
As the very last of the marchers approached the casket, an old man stepped out of the line. He moved closer to the casket and when he seemed certain that he was alone, he looked into the silent face for a minute. Then, with a deep voice that shattered the silence he began: "Well, Gertie. I thought I would like to have a little talk with you. Say Gertie, do you remember that time over on Coney Island when the den was raided. They got me, but you slipped through their hands?"
His voice saddened as he recalled other crimes their gang had pulled off. As he recalled each one he would say, "Do you remember that, Gertie?"
He paused for a moment. Then his voice mellowed, "But then one day somebody told you about Jesus. You repented of your sins and asked Him to forgive you. He washed away all the sin and guilt of your lifetime with His own precious blood. And He put your mind at rest, Gertie. You knew that you had work to do and not much time to do it in. You might have gotten tired going out in the rain and snow and darkness looking for us miserable slaves shackled to the devil. You wanted us to know about Jesus who could free us, too, and put our minds at rest."
"You done a good job, Gertie. You didn't stop until you had won every last one of your gang to Jesus!"
When the old man turned to go, his tear-streaked face was radiant. Looking back over his shoulder he said with a loud voice, "SO LONG, GERTIE, I'LL BE SEEING YOU ON THE STREETS OF GOLD!"
The same wonderful Jesus who lifted Gertie and her gang out of the gutter has never lost His power. You can be certain that your sins can be forgiven and know you would go to be with Jesus if death were to overtake you. Why don't you call upon Him now?
-Ora Mae Willing
"All that the Father giveth
me shall come to me;
and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
"For whosoever shall
the name of the Lord shall be saved."