Orville "awful" Gardner's conversion



One of the most notoriously bad characters that ever lived in New York was Orville Gardner. He was the trainer of prize fighters and companion of all sorts of hard characters. His reputation was so thoroughly bad that he was called "Awful Gardner." He had a little boy, whom he dearly loved, and this boy died. A short time after his boy's death, he was standing in the bar of a New York saloon, surrounded by a number of his boon companions. The night was sweltering, and he stepped outside the saloon to get a little fresh air. As he stood out there and looked up between the high buildings at the sky above his head, a star was shining down upon him, and as he was looking at it, he said to himself, "I wonder where my little boy is tonight?" Then the thought came to him quick as a flash, "Wherever he is, you will never see him again unless you change your life."

Touched by the Spirit of God, he hurried from the saloon to the room where his godly mother was. He went in and asked his mother to pray for him. They spent the whole night in prayer and toward morning "Awful Gardner" had found peace and gained the victory. He was the victim of an overwhelming appetite for drink, and had in his house a jug of whiskey at the time. He did not dare to keep it and did not know what to do with it. Finally, he took it down to the river, got into a boat and rowed over to an island.

He set the liquor on a rock and knelt down, and as he afterward said, "Fought that jug of whiskey for a long time," and God gave him perfect deliverance. He did not dare to break it, lest the fumes set him wild. He did not dare to leave it, lest some one else get it. Finally he dug a hole and buried it.

He left the island a free man. "Awful Gardner" became a mighty preacher of the Gospel. He visited Sing Sing prison, and it was through listening to him preach that the young Irish convict, Jerry McAuley was set to thinking and praying, and resulted in his conversion, and eventually the founding of the Jerry McAuley Mission. Illustrator