Early in 1878 Mr. McEwen spent a short time laboring with Mr. James Campbell. He was exercised about going to Scotland and Mr. Campbell commended him to God and gave him Joshua, chapter one, to strengthen and encourage him.
He crossed the Irish Sea to Stranraer on the coast of Scotland, only a few hours sail from Belfast. He was well supplied with tracts, a lamp, and gospel texts. He soon began to work for the Lord in what was to him a new country.
Going from door to door with tracts, the evangelist met a hairdresser who was a christian. While in conversation with him, a doctor crossed the street to speak with the hairdresser. After being introduced, Mr. McEwen said, “Whither bound, doctor, to heaven or hell?” These words found a place in the doctor’s heart, and he and his daughter were saved shortly afterwards. These were the first fruits of his labors in Scotland. Not long after, the doctor died triumphantly.
John Mc. invited the preacher to his home. He was a rough looking man and a boat builder. While Mr. McEwen sang:
Rocks and storms I’ll fear no more
When on that eternal shore.
Drop the anchor, furl the sail,
Safe at home within the vail.
tears rolled down the cheeks of the boat builder and he professed faith in Christ.
Looking over the boat house one day, Mr. McEwen said, “We could have meetings here.” John gave it heartily and seats were placed in order. They hired a bellman to go through the town and announce the services. The place was filled every night and he was joined by another brother in the work. Many souls were saved in that humble boat house.
A school house was secured a few miles from the town and again there was a work of grace. Mr. McEwen remarked of those days, “God did not see fit to give us much money. It was a usual thing, therefore, to take our bag in hand and walk from one town to another.”
One Saturday he arrived in Gatehouse. He had the address of a colporteur who lived there. Calling at his home, the door was opened by a tall lady with a sorrowful expression. The evangelist introduced himself and said, “I have come to preach the gospel in this town.” “My husband is dying upstairs,” said the lady. “Won’t you come in?” He was introduced to her daughter, Helen, and the usual question was asked, “Are you saved?” She answered, “No.”
A hall was secured and on Saturday the meeting for the Lord’s Day was announced all over the town. The hall was well filled and Helen sat in the audience. The preacher could discern the movings of the Spirit of God with her, and after the meeting, Mr. McEwen had the joy of pointing Helen to Christ as she sat in the kitchen beside her mother. She ran upstairs and fell across her dying father telling him the good news. They wept together and Mr. McEwen heard her father say, “Oh, Helen, I am so glad I have had this joy ere departing to be with Christ.” Ten years later, while on a visit to Scotland, the preacher again met Helen. She was a happy christian seeking to please God.
The town of Wishaw was visited next and the Lord wrought wonderfully. The preacher was entertained by an old friend from Ireland. There were marvelous cases of conversion in Wishaw and in Coalteridge district. Nathaniel Dunn, a drunken miner who pawned his family Bible to get liquor, was awakened and saved. William Hindman, the terror of the place when he got drunk, crawled up the stairs of the hall. While Mr. McEwen was preaching the gospel, William passed from death unto life. These, with others, were trophies of grace and their lives witnessed to the saving and keeping power of God. William became a good open air preacher. His wife was saved and their home was opened for God, and blessing to saint and sinner resulted from the Word spoken in that house. Thirty years afterwards while Mr. McEwen was preaching on the street in Coalteridge, a man who had listened attentively came up to him and asked his name. “I thought you were the man,” he said. “My father and mother were saved in that hall over thirty years ago when you were preaching in it.” Nathaniel Dunn immigrated to America and was also a soul winner.
While in Wishaw, a brother invited Mr. McEwen to accompany him to Glasgow. By mistake they boarded the express for Edinburgh. When the train reached West Calder they got off and began to distribute tracts. A signal man looked over the tract that was handed to him and said, “We don’t see much of this kind of literature distributed here.” “Do you ever have gospel meetings?” asked the evangelist. “No,” was the reply. “Well, I am coming to preach if you can get me a hall, school room, or cottage.” The friend went on his journey and Mr. McEwen began meetings in a school room. In a few nights he was turned out. However, an aged widow opened her house and souls were saved and were taught the truth of believer’s baptism. Mr. McEwen baptized a number and one Lord’s Day morning he spread the Lord’s table in that humble room. With the converts he remembered the Lord and the assembly in West Calder was planted.
This messenger of the Cross was much like Philip of old whose steps were guided by the Holy Spirit to fruitful fields, and was even turned aside from the multitude to reach one soul in the desert. The burning passion that consumed this servant of God to win souls for Christ caused him at all times and under all circumstances to take every opportunity to reach men. Indeed he was counted in the eyes of the world a fool, and he was content to be a fool for Christ.