For more than twoscore years, the South-west Indian Missionary Bible Conference has been held annually for ten days each summer at lovely Camp Eldon, near Flagstaff, Arizona. It was my regular privilege for a full decade, to be one of the ministering staff at these meetings. Some of the happiest experiences of my life have been enjoyed in fellowship with the devoted missionaries who labor so unselfishly in the hot and arid regions of Arizona, New Mexico, and South-eastern California, for the salvation of the desert Indians of the Walapai, Mohave, Navajo, Hopi, Pima and other tribes. Many a brand has been plucked from the burning as a result of their testimony. Of these, numbers are now with Christ while others are witnessing for Him among their tribespeople. As I reflect on the events of those days, now long gone by, one sturdy Hopi witness for the Saviour stands out vividly on memory’s pages. “Little Rattlesnake” was his Indian name. The whites called him “Frank Jenkins.” He lived in the village of Moencopi, beyond the Painted Desert in northern Arizona. When he was a boy, he had gone to the Government school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and received a very good education, but he returned to his home, scorning the religion of the whites because of their wicked ways. He thought the old Hopi rattlesnake worship was better, and so he took part in the heathen ceremonies just as the ignorant pagans about him.
But one night he had a vivid dream. He thought he was in his little stone house, looking down on the village, for he lived on a hill. As he looked he saw that a strange excitement prevailed among the Indians below. Some unseen Being was going through the village putting a mark—a red mark—on some of the people, and passing others by. He put the mark on Mr. Frey, the missionary, and on Mrs. Frey, his good, kind wife. The Indians who had left the old wicked life behind and taken the “Jesus way,” all got the mark, but the rest were left as they were.
I asked him once, “What kind of mark was it, Frank?”
He replied, “A mark like a Navajo puts on his sheep.” Each sheep-owner has his own way of marking the animals belonging to him, using a red ochre paint for the purpose.
Frank pondered over the strange sight, as he dreamed on, and he felt that there was something very important connected with “the mark,” and he hoped that it would be placed upon him and on his wife, who had once professed to be a Christian, but had been turned aside through his influence. The strange Visitant, however, did not come near the house, and soon it was evident He had gone.
Suddenly there was a great noise above—a “big shout,” he told me—and in a moment all the people who had the mark were caught up in the air and gathered around a wonderful Person who was brighter than the sun. Then all became dark below, and Little Rattlesnake could hear the wailing of the people who were left, and his heart was filled with fear. He was so frightened that he awoke. But when he went to sleep, he dreamed it all again. Once more he awoke. “It is God telling me the Christians are right. I, too, want the mark,” he said. Again he slept, and a third time he had the same dream. In the morning he was greatly troubled. He told his wife about it, and she agreed with him that it was the voice of the Christians’ God.
We need not think it strange that this should be so, for we are distinctly told in the book of Job, by Elihu, speaking on God’s behalf, that “God speaketh once, yea twice… in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then He openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction, that He may withdraw man from his purpose and hide pride from man” (Job 33:14-17). Frank Jenkins was an Indian who knew little of the revelation given in the Bible, and yet enough to form a basis for the dream that was used to arouse his conscience and create within him a desire to know the Lord.
For days he was in distress. He knew that the Conference was about to be held at Camp Eldon. He came, and as he entered the preaching pavilion, I was speaking to a company of Indians and whites on the Passover and the blood-mark on the doorposts and lintels in Egypt.
“And when I see the blood, I will pass over you!” was Jehovah’s word.
“Ah,” said Little Rattlesnake to himself, in great agitation, “that is it! That is the red mark I saw in my dream.”
And that night he came to the Saviour, confessing his sins, and was “marked” with the sign of redemption, the precious blood of Christ.
I can see him yet as one of the missionaries, Mr. John Butler, led him to the front where five others were bowed before God in prayer, seeking the way of life. I spoke with him personally, but for perhaps fifteen minutes I did not get one word from him. Then, as I had quoted several scriptures, speaking of the precious blood of Christ by which we are redeemed to God, and which cleanses from all sin, he exclaimed as he rose to his feet, “I see it! I see it! I’ve got the mark!” I did not know of his dream, so was bewildered until he explained.
It was a wonderful conversion, and soon all the other Hopis knew a great change had come over Frank. He was out-and-out in witnessing to those with whom he had formerly consorted, and his upright life proved how real was his profession. His wife now turned wholly to the Lord, and together they taught their children of Christ. Little Rattlesnake, the pagan, was changed into “Frank, the Christian preacher,” for he began publishing everywhere the goodness of the Lord, and sought now to show his people the folly and emptiness of that idolatrous system which, before, he had himself espoused.
He was gifted in an unusual way, and became a remarkable evangelist. In order to help him to a better understanding of the Word of God, it was arranged to send him to the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, where he drank deeply of the precious things of Christ. In due time he returned to the reservation to give all his time to gospel work.
For three years he stood steadfast, and was the missionary’s greatest helper. Then, on a preaching visit at Oraibi (another Hopi village), he was stricken with influenza and died rejoicing in Christ, but bitterly mourned by the little Christian company. He had fought the good fight and finished his course with joy. The blood-mark upon his soul was his passport into glory.
When too weak to stand, he sat outside an adobe house, propped up against the wall, proclaiming the gospel to all who would listen. Many of the Hopis were afflicted with the same virulent disease, and quite a number died in the epidemic. But of these, there were several who received the message in faith and gave testimony before they passed away that they, too, had trusted the Lord Jesus as their own Saviour.
And you—have you the mark? The blood of Christ shed on Calvary in order that sinners might be saved is as efficacious now as ever. With this “mark” upon your soul, the destroyer cannot reach you. It is the sign that tells of sin atoned for, of propitiation completed, of justice satisfied, and of redemption accomplished.