Tillicoultry, Scotland, is a beautiful little town. It lies couched in the bosom of the Ochil Hills and nestles quietly in the shadow of Ben Cleuch, the highest mountain in the range. Oddly enough Tillicoultry is situated in the smallest county in Scotland, which boasts of the longest name: Clackmannanshire. The setting is just perfect, the beautiful Ochils to the north enclose a sheltered valley bordered on the south by the lower reaches of the River Forth. This river cuts its tortuous way through green fields and past sleepy little villages and farms nestling on its rich brown banks.
To the west at a distance of some ten miles is the site of such historic battles as Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn, where the Scots of long ago fought against great odds for their homeland. In proud but faded splendor, Stirling Castle stands like a sentinel guarding the approaches to the Scottish Highlands. Once impregnable, it is now obsolete with the ruthless fingers of time and decay relentlessly tearing at its formerly strong bulwarks. In the courtyard of the Castle is a bronze statue of King Robert Bruce, the valiant victor of the battle of nearby Bannockburn. Sitting on his prancing steed he proudly looks over the scene of victory and the city of Stirling, toward the slim pencil-like shape of Wallace Monument. This monument stands on top of a lofty knoll and was built by the patriots of Scotland in memory of William Wallace another of the great heroes of early Scotland.
Tillicoultry itself is situated on the River Devon. The paper mill, textile factories, and coal mines were the chief industries of the four thousand inhabitants. The town is beautifully kept and at the time of this writing has escaped much of the pollution and ravages of modern industry. It was in this lovely setting that I was born, named after my paternal grandfather, Daniel Cameron Snaddon.
My parents were godly people. I was carried to the meetings in the local church long before I knew it. When my sister, Jessie, came along five years later this process was repeated. The Assembly who met in Bank Street Gospel Hall was about one hundred strong. Its members were mostly from working-class families, many of them earned their daily bread in the bowels of the earth, far from the green verdure of the mountains and the pure air, which swept through the valley. The elders were spiritual men; they were not blessed with education from a worldly standpoint, but had a deep insight into the Word. There was a good percentage of young people in the Assembly; they were active, sometimes overactive. Nearly everyone had a deep desire to learn and live Christ. These were happy days; the Assembly was the heart and fulcrum of all our activities. Many of us worked twelve hours a day but meeting was never missed. The Lord blessed in those days as we labored for Him in this happy group.
At one point there was a great outpouring of blessing. There were no special meetings, but the Spirit’s power was manifested and people were being saved. We often wondered why the Lord blessed us so. Years passed, then the war came, many of the local group were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Upon returning home after five years in the Army I went to see Miss Nellie Gourlay who many years before had been taken to a home for incurables in Edinburgh with arthritis. She was lying on a bed completely immobilized; she was unable to move any part of her body. The only thing she could do was move her eyes from left to right. When I arrived she asked me to sit down where she could see me. then slowly and laboriously told me this story, the gist of which is as follows. “I am totally incapacitated, physically I am helpless. But when I move my eyes as far over to the right as I can, I can see the clock on the wall. I know when the Assembly gathers for the meetings, and I pray all the time they are gathered that the Lord will bless and save souls.” By the time Miss Gourlay had finished she was completely exhausted. As she lay there she looked radiant, touched by the Master’s hand. With breaking heart I laid my had gently on that tortured and twisted form and thanked God for a noble intercessor. The main reason for blessing in the Assembly fifty miles away was the prayers of this dear saint. A few months later God called her from suffering to an eternal weight of glory.
My conversion was unspectacular. There were no emotional experiences, no blinding lights, but looking back over my life one can see God’s hand leading in definite steps toward conversion. I believe that my Sunday School teachers played a big part in leading me to the Lord. My daddy was first used to start me thinking of Heaven, hell and salvation, he taught one of the younger classes. One day the Sunday School superintendent, Mr. Hugh McKee, spoke to the entire group. In his own way he brought to our attention the truth of hell to be shunned and a Heaven to be gained. In our opening exercise we had sung a hymn, one line of which said, “And what must it be to be there.” He quoted this, explained some of the glories of Heaven then added, “Have you ever thought, what must it be not to be there?” Another arrow of conviction penetrated my heart. Gospel texts were greatly used in gently leading me to Christ; they were as nails in a sure place.
One Sunday morning after the Breaking of Bread, Bill Paterson, late of the British West Indies, and I were leaving the church when Mr. McKee, a real shepherd, put his arm around Bill and said, “I haven been praying a lot for you and feel constrained to ask if you have given any thought to accepting Christ as your personal Savior?” Bill was interested and had been under conviction for some time. A conversation in a nearby anteroom led to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Bill emerged from the room a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Bill’s conversion made a great impression on me. The following week an intense longing to be saved grew in my heart. I knew how to be saved but had never reached the moment of decision. The next Saturday night Bill and I sat together at the Gospel Tea Meeting. The dear servant who had led Bill to Christ came and asked him if he still trusted the Lord. “Yes,” said Bill. “It’s wonderful.” Then with deep earnestness he said, “What about Dan?”
I was expecting this; somehow I knew it would happen. The good shepherd asked kindly, “What will you do with Jesus, Dan?” He quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I knew those words by heart, but somehow they were different that night, the meaning was clear -- and from the depth of my young heart I said, “I will take Christ as my Savior now.” Immediately a great peace filled my heart, my joy knew no bounds, I had to tell my dad and mom, my grandparents, everybody. As I look back on that day I consider it the greatest in my life. Dar reader, as you eagerly press on into the contents of this book, may I urge you to pause for a moment’s reflection? Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Before another minute passes, why not trust Him and be saved.
I have just been recounting the happiest day in my life, let me now tell you of one of the saddest. My dad worked in the coalmines as a deputy. He had the important task of looking after the safety of the miners in his particular section of the mine. He worked from 3 p.m. till 11 p.m. On a bright August day before leaving for work, he walked around our little living room with his lands clasped behind his back, his head held high and sang lustily in his sweet tenor voice, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Dad left for work that day -- a fond kiss for mom and little sister, a firm pat on the back for me, then away on his bicycle. I felt so proud of him; he looked so handsome and strong and carried his thirty-nine years lightly. With a cheery wave of the hand, he turned the corner at the end of the street. As I stood there a strange feeling of loneliness crept into my young and tender heart, nevertheless I resolved that when I grew up I would be like my daddy. Dad descended into the bowels of the earth just before 3 p.m.; at 6 p.m. he was pinned beneath a huge stone, which had mysteriously slipped from the roof of the mine. Ten men used every device they could think of to free him. He was rushed to the hospital but by 10 p.m. he had passed into the presence of the Lord.
The untimely death of my father was a dark mystery to me. It made life more complex than ever. The brevity of time, the uncertainty of life, gave me cause for serious reflection. Bereft of paternal protection, care, and counsel, I felt so lonely and the world seemed so big in my inexperienced eyes. I was not spiritually mature enough then to realize that my Heavenly Father would put His strong arms around me and protect me. Looking back I can see God’s hand in all of this; He was preparing me for the grueling experiences that He knew lay ahead and of which I was completely ignorant.