The first book I read of E. Stanley Jones’ after being saved in 1965 was his autobiography A Song of Ascents, and then, a couple of years later, when I was dating my future husband, a native of Hyderabad, India, I found the most enlightening book, Along the Indian Road.
During that time, Dr. Jones came to speak at Calvary Temple, my church in Denver. After having read his book on India, I could not wait to hear what he had to say. My sister in-law who had just arrived from India as a medical intern was with me. So often I wish I had a cassette copy of that teaching so I could go back and hear specifically what he said that so encouraged me.
What I remember about that evening was Dr. Jones’ quiet presence. He was not in a hurry to give his message but seemed to relish the silence somehow, and so all of us became quiet and waited along with him. To this day, I have never been in such a gathering. It was like we were all in a holy place with which he was well-acquainted – his ashram. I came away somehow comforted and filled. Of all the great speakers I heard, E. Stanley Jones remains the most memorable.
Some of his books are on my shelf: A Song of Ascents, Conversion, The Divine Yes, The Christ of the Mount, and Victory Through Surrender. On my computer I have just downloaded a PDF version of Christ of the Indian Road provided by Boston University. His biography on the website is inspiring. I am keeping it in my journal.
My husband and I spent two months earlier this year traveling to seven cities in South India to reunite with family and friends. I had not been there in 25 years although my husband regularly went back. Being in India again reminded me of what E. Stanley Jones wrote in Along the Indian Road that truly foreshadowed my own experience in many ways. His conviction resonates with me still.
“I came to India out of a very conservative training. There were no doubts because I had closed out all problems. I had a closed mind, closed upon the fact of the satisfying Christ within. If walls shut out other things, they also shut within one this precious Fact.
But as the first disconcerting years of a missionary went by and my contacts with educated non-Christians became more intimate, my walls began to be assailed. They even crumbled before the revelation of such truth as this in the Hindu Scriptures: ‘You are to be like the sandalwood tree, which when smitten by the ax pours its perfume upon the ax that smites it.’ Was that not loving one’s enemies and doing good to them that despitefully use one? But this came out of Hinduism. How could I relate my never-before-heard-of newness in Christ to this fact of evident truth and beauty found elsewhere?
I studied the sacred books of other faiths, afraid of finding goodness and truth there. To find it would destroy my inward position. I had my back to the wall for several years. Only my experience of Christ held me steady amid the swirl of mental conflict. Then one day I inwardly let go. I would follow where truth would lead me. I could feel myself turning pale as I did so. Where would it land me? I was letting go securities that had been satisfying for an uncharted sea. But after some time, when I looked back, I found that I came out not two inches away from where I went in. The great securities of my faith were intact. But now I held them because they held me. . . .”
My Hindu husband brought his mother to live with us in 1992 after her husband passed away. It was a joy having such an accepting mother-in-law. She died last year at the age of 96. E. Stanley Jones’ words have made a huge impact on my witness to my Hindu family and friends. I wish I could thank him personally for encouraging me to persevere and love, no matter what.