The last thirty miles of my journey brought back many pleasant memories. Memories of yesteryears that seemed like distant dreams. Our conversation in the railway coach was exciting and interesting as we each tried to catch up with the events of the past five years. One by one the old familiar landmarks came into view, then receded quickly into the evening twilight. Soon the winter darkness enveloped the drab landscape, but in our little compartment it was bright and cheerful.
The long-awaited moment had come -- the train drew slowly into the station at Tillicoultry. Scores of Christian friends and townspeople had gathered for this tremendous occasion. As we stepped from the train the sound of singing filled the air. The old hymns of the church never sounded sweeter in my ear, nor to my heart. “To God be the glory, great things He hath done,” they sang lustily. The chorus resounded throughout the station, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice.” Then as they covered me with kisses, hugs, and handshakes, they sang triumphantly, “Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails,” and “God is still on the throne.” This was a joyous reunion after so many bitter years.
The following days and weeks were happy ones. There were the usual “welcome home” gatherings, special meetings at the Assembly, and visiting friends in their homes. These times of fellowship gave me many opportunities for testifying to the goodness and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father Who had brought me through the valley of the shadow.
After a few months of recuperation I returned to my secular employment, and also gave myself wholeheartedly to the work of the Lord in the area. The next few years were very difficult for me, and the period of adjustment was long and arduous -- it was hard to get settled down and find one’s self again. The walls of the factory in which I worked seemed at times to be closing in on me, almost driving me to the breaking point. For long periods, sleep almost left me and the infrequent naps were filled with terrible nightmares, however, there was much prayer made on my behalf during these trying days and though the odds seemed insurmountable, I praise God that His wonderful grace was sufficient. Slowly, my health and attitude began to improve and, consequently, I regained my composure.
I could not pass from this phase of my life without recording that in 1950, I was introduced to Lily Hislop of Hamilton, Scotland, and at first sight I was convinced that she was God’s helpmeet for me. In January of 1951, we announced our engagement and in June of the same year we were united in the Lord. In September of 1953, God blessed us with a baby daughter, Anne.
Eighteen months after our marriage I accepted a position on the staff of a paper company near Glasgow, where we spent four happy years. When my career seemed to be approaching its zenith, I felt that the Lord was calling my family and me to Orillia, Ontario, Canada, where my brother-in-law had established himself in the building business. On May 13, 1957, we left Scotland in an almost empty plane for the New World.
During our two and one-half years in Orillia, despite the pressure of the restaurant business, we gave ourselves to the work of the Lord. Gradually during this period the Divine pattern and plan for my life began to unfold. The pieces were coming together. The call of God became clearer and the leading of the Holy Spirit more apparent. This was really not a new situation for me. because God had spoken on many previous occasions. The crisis came during a weekend Conference in the West Street Chapel in Orillia. Mr. T.E. McCully, the father of Ed McCully, one of the five missionaries martyred for the Lord at the hands of the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956, was one of the speakers. The challenge of his message gripped Lily’s heart and mine. The Lord also used the pictures of the martyred missionaries to complete His work in us. After deep exercise of heart, we surrendered to the call and claims of Christ. We disposed of our restaurants and waited for the Lord’s leading, as to our place of future service for Him.
Sometime later we received a telephone call from Mr. G. T. Willey of Indialantic, Florida, asking us to come and visit. A few brethren had built a Chapel in Satellite Beach, but required someone to help them establish the work. Our visit to the area revealed the great potential. After much prayer by all concerned, we were convinced that Satellite Beach was to be our sphere of labor. On October 26, 1959, Lily, Anne and I left Canada for Florida to work among the space engineers and others in the Cape Canaveral area.
We have spent many happy years in fellowship with the Assembly in Satellite Beach. The Lord has signally blessed His work and many souls have come to know Him, while many more have been encouraged to progress into the deeper things of God.
I attribute my passing through the valley of the shadow, to the power of God and the fervent prayers of my loved ones, and many other friends in Christ. I believe that the God Who delivered Daniel from the lions, and Who also walked with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, is alive and can work for His children today.
I challenge you, my friend, to prove such a God in your own life and circumstances, and to “present your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, that Christ may be magnified, whether it be by life or by death” (Romans 12:1; Philippians 1:20).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.