Mr. T. D. W. Muir, whose name is well known in the United States and Canada as a soul winner and devoted servant of Christ, and who was for many years editor of “Our Record,” was a close friend of Mr. McClure.
During a mighty awakening in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1875, under the ministry of Mr. Donald Munro and Mr. John Smith, two young men sat one night in the meeting under deep conviction of sin, and before they left the hall, both were rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven through the atoning blood of Christ. One of these young men was W. L. Faulkner and the other one, T. D. W. Muir.
They began their pilgrim journey to Heaven on that memorable night and very soon both were actively engaged in seeking to win souls for Christ. Mr. Faulkner became a fellow-laborer of Mr. McClure in the pioneer days in Ontario, later spending some years in Africa as a missionary. After his return he was linked up with Mr. McClure in tent work in California. From that field, Brother Faulkner was called to higher service.
Mr. Muir, at the early age of 20, was giving his whole time to make known the Gospel, especially in the rural districts of Michigan, U.S.A. God used this earthen vessel greatly in the salvation of souls and in planting assemblies of believers.
In 1881 he made his home in Detroit, a city that flourished greatly when the automobile industry began. Here Mr. Muir labored in the Gospel in tents, open air, and from house to house. At the beginning of this work his wife was his fellow laborer, helping him to sing on the street and holding his hat while her husband made known to the crowd that gathered around, the Gospel of God’s grace. The Lord greatly blessed the labors of His servant in that city and soon there was an assembly gathering in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, which grew under Mr. Muir’s helpful ministry and care to be the largest assembly in the United States.
A three-day conference was held in Saginaw in 1911. The Teutonia Opera House was hired for the occasion. The attendance was large and many assemblies in Michigan and Ontario, Canada, were represented. Mr. McClure and Mr. Muir were among the chief speakers and they gave helpful ministry. After the conference these brethren left together for Detroit. Mr. McClure began a campaign in Central Gospel Hall using his dispensational chart, and giving addresses on “Israel and the Church.” The interest deepened, precious souls were saved, and Mr. Muir was overjoyed to see the hand of God so manifested in the assembly he had planted thirty years before, and had shepherded all those years. He wrote about the meetings: “The work has been healthful and hopeful. The Hall at times has been taxed to capacity to accommodate those who came, a large proportion of whom were strangers not seen in the meetings before. Some are exercised about baptism and taking their place gathered out to the Name of the Lord, as a result of the meetings.” There was blessing to saved and unsaved. Ten were baptized and brought into the assembly, several of whom were saved during the meetings and others were to follow. This season of blessing was a great cheer to all in the assembly.
Mr. McClure then left for New Bedford, Massachusetts. He and Mr. Hunter pitched a tent in that city. He then sailed for a short visit to Ireland and on his return had meetings in the new Gospel Hall in Summit, New Jersey, where a little company had begun to remember the Lord each Lord’s day. They were much helped by the ministry and the attendance was good throughout.
Our brother attended a conference in Boston at Christmas and then went on to Philadelphia, Penna. New Year’s Day, 1912, he gave an address on “The Two Books” that has been remembered by some ever since. He read Psalm 19, and spoke first of the book of nature, and referred to the words of the Psalmist, “The Heavens declare the glory of God! and the firmament sheweth His handiwork,” dwelling on this book at considerable length, and showing many proofs of the handiwork of God in creation. The second was the book of the law, or the Word of God, and from this book we are taught the mind of God. We remember how he spoke of verses 3 and 4. “There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world”; referring to the sun, moon and stars which speak in every language; and then he read Romans 10:18, “But I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” Thus the Holy Spirit uses what we have read in the Psalm as a figure of the early preachers of the Cross who had carried the Gospel message to all the earth. While he was speaking, there was rapt attention and the presence of the Lord was felt by all.
Two young brethren, Greer and Hillis, who had come out from Ireland to California in 1910, and were being used of God in the Gospel, had started a work in Fresno, a city in the San Joaquin Valley, half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Early in 1913 a new hall was built and Mr. McClure began meetings, using a painting of the Tabernacle. A number of Baptists from Mr. McClure’s home town in Ireland had been received into the assembly and the meetings were a great blessing to them. A brother wrote of the work at that time, “W. J. McClure has been with us more than a month opening up the Word. God’s people received much help. Our brother has gone north.”
Coming back to Los Angeles early in 1914, Mr. McClure was best man at the wedding of Mr. S. Greer and Miss Rachel Porter of Belfast on May 5. He was also the preacher at that happy event. He gave an address on the bride and bridegroom, illustrating Christ and His Church from the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2, and enlarging on Ephesians 5. Many said that address would never be forgotten.
Mr. McClure and Mr. Greer linked up in tent work that summer. They first pitched in the east side of Los Angeles where they got a good interest, and a number were saved and added to the West Jefferson Street assembly. The next place was Garden, a town about 12 miles from Los Angeles, and they saw a good interest. During those meetings, World War No. 2 broke out and Mr. McClure was quick to take advantage of the current interest to further the Gospel, and he started to speak on “prophecy”—illustrated by a large chart.
The meetings were well advertised in the press, cards announced the subjects, and they had a large streamer across the street. It all worked as an “ambush,” for the people flocked from all around and from long distances to hear what would be said about the war and future events. But best of all, God wrought and souls were saved and a number were led into the assembly. Mr. Her, a young Baptist minister, attended the meetings and through the Word ministered, became deeply exercised about his position. Both he and his wife became burdened when the truth was so vividly revealed to them. He resigned his position, took up employment, and became a great help in the assembly.
After the tent season, Brother McClure continued in southern California until the spring of 1915 when when he left for British Columbia. He became much exercised about Waterloo, Iowa, and he wired his old friend, Mr. E. G. Matthews of that city, telling of his desire for meetings. A prompt reply was received: “Come on.”
He arrived shortly after, and prepared for a series of meetings, putting up his chart. He found a ready ear with many of the townspeople coming nightly. Souls began to be awakened and soon a number were saved, giving the believers much encouragement and the ministry of the Word was a real feast. Oliver Smith, a young farmer living a number of miles out in the country, not long saved, attended the meetings and to this young believer the ministry was wonderful, giving him a real lift heavenward in his early Christian life, but he wanted others to hear the same precious truths. So Oliver rigged up an old hay wagon with seats, and appeared every night at the Gospel Hall with from twenty to thirty people packed in his home-made means of transportation. Soon after, brother Smith went forth to preach, especially to the farmers of Iowa. He has been wonderfully used of God in the salvation of souls. Large assemblies are found throughout the country who owe their existence to the faithful, simple preaching of Oliver Smith. Thus precious fruit was gathered in. During the meetings Mr. McClure was quite sick and when they were over, he went to the hospital for an operation, and had a very good recovery.
He next went to Avondale in Chicago and a few other places around that great city and then went East. Mr. Hunter and I were working in a tent in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, when Mr. McClure came along and spent a few days with us, giving a helpful hand and his messages were good. Again he was back in Los Angeles and after the Christmas and New Year conference, he and Mr. T. H. Dempsey began a series of meetings in Jefferson Gospel Hall, continuing a few weeks and seeing the hand of God in salvation.