Story – The Praying Engineer

One winter, several years ago, there was a good deal of religious interest in a certain Midwestern town, and among those who joined the church was a little fellow twelve years of age, named Allen. His mother was a widow. Four years before, she had moved from their home in Vermont to this town in Wisconsin.

On the Sabbath evening of the day when he joined the church, Allen was sitting in the twilight with his mother.

“Allen, tell me what led you to want to be a Christian. Was it your home teaching, your lessons in the Sabbath school, the regular preaching of the pastor, or has it all come through the influence of the revival meetings?”

Allen looked up into his mother’s face.

“Mamma, it was none of these. Do you remember when we were coming from Vermont to live here four years ago, that I wanted to go on the engine and ride with the engineer? You were afraid to let me till the conductor, whom you knew well, told you that the engineer was a remarkable man, and that I would be just as safe on the engine with him as in the parlor car with you.”

“I remember that very well,” said his mother.

“Then,” continued Allen, “you allowed me to ride on the engine, where I was to stay till you or the conductor came for me. When we were about ready to start from the station where I first got on the engine, the engineer knelt down for just a little bit, and then got up and started his locomotive. I asked him many questions about its different parts and about the places and things which we passed by, and he was very patient in answering. Soon we stopped at another station, and just before we started he knelt down again. As he did this often, I tried to see what he was doing. Finally, after we had passed several stations, I made up my mind to ask him.

“ ‘My little lad, do you ever pray?’ ” he asked me very earnestly.

“ ‘Oh yes, sir! I pray every morning and evening,’ ” I replied. “ ‘Well, my dear boy,’ said he, ‘when I kneel down, I pray. God has allowed me to hold a very responsible place here. There are, perhaps, two hundred lives now on this train intrusted to my care. A little mistake on my part, a little failure to do all my duty, a little neglect, a little inattention to signals, might send all or many of these two hundred souls into eternity. So at every station I kneel for just a moment, and ask the Master to help me, and to keep the many lives He has put into my hands from all harm till we get to the next station. All the years that I have been on this engine, He has helped me, and not a single human being of the thousands that have ridden on my train has been harmed. I have never had an accident.’

“I have never before mentioned what he did or said, but almost daily I have thought about him, and resolved that I would be a Christian, too.”

True Education Reader, Fifth Grade, ©1933, 29–31.