Freely Ye Have Received; Freely Give

James McConkey

Here, in McConkey's own words, we learn how he came to distribute his books for free to others.

The "teaching [of the secrets of the Holy Spirit] came to me in a time of much suffering and groping after the truth in my earlier Christian life. The light it brought was very precious to my soul, and I longed to pass on the blessing of it to as many others as possible. As I prayed about this, a text was laid heavily upon my heart by the Spirit of God. It was this: ‘Freely ye have received; freely give.’ I presumed the ‘freely’ meant ‘copiously, aboundingly.’ But when I came to look it up, I found, somewhat to my surprise, that it meant ‘without price.’ Without price ye have received; without price, give. Surely, I thought, the gospel of Jesus Christ is without price received, and without price given. I will put it into God’s hands to be given freely to all who desire its message.

“Shortly before, I had met a young Christian business man who was engaged in the free distribution of religious leaflets. I told him what was upon my heart. He said, ‘If you give your book to the Lord free, I will give my services free to circulate it.’ So, we two Christian laymen struck up a partnership, I to write books, he to print and scatter them. But we had no fund for this. And we realized that the Lord was sending us out without ‘purse or scrip,’ if we were to go at all. So we began to pray that He would give us some earnest of His will and care in this matter. We had prayed about three weeks when one day there came a letter from a stranger in a distant state. It ran like this: These articles have been helpful to me and I wish to help publish them in book form. Enclosed please find twenty-five cents.’ That was our ‘dew upon the fleece.’ It encouraged our faith and intercession so we prayed on. After about two months, there had come from various sources enough funds to issue the first edition of the little book, about one thousand copies. 

And then began this story. Will you mark its wondrousness? We began to give out the book free to any who requested it. People would write and request it sent to friends and enclose modest offerings to assist in the work. When the thousand books were gone, we found ourselves in possession of a little freewill treasury of ninety dollars. With this we were enabled to publish the second edition of fifteen hundred copies. When these were exhausted, sufficient funds had accumulated from offerings to publish a third edition of three thousand copies. . . . Whenever an edition was exhausted, the Lord had sent enough money to publish the next. Whenever a new book was ready, there was always enough extra money in our treasury to pay for its launching. We never had over- much, nor have we ever had too little.”—James McConkey, “Sure Shepherd.”