Chapter 2 The Story of His Conversion From His Own Pen

“1874 will long be remembered by many in the British Isles, but by none more gratefully than the writer. In that year the mighty power of God was seen in the awakening and conversion of young men, who afterwards devoted their lives to the gospel in the home and foreign fields. Moody and Sankey had come over from America, and were not only used directly in the salvation of thousands, but indirectly in the salvation of many more, through stirring believers up to greater activity in the gospel.

“I was then a lad in my sixteenth year, a regular attendant at church and Sunday School, but like most lads of my age, utterly unconcerned about eternity. I was in the fair way of getting into a life of vice and drunkenness, from the example of the men with whom I worked.

“My eldest sister was living in Belfast at the time, while our family was living in Banbridge. She was a church member, had been confirmed and took the communion. As the result of the visit of Moody and Sankey, many cottage meetings were held, addressed by working men. My sister attended one of these and the man who conducted it was evidently a faithful child of God. He spoke one night from the text, ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15). That text took a tremendous hold on her. She had been confirmed and her name was on Seapatrick Church roll, but she did not know if it was in the book of life. There had never been a time in her experience when as a lost guilty sinner she had accepted Christ as her Saviour. Her peace was gone, and it was not until she came to Jesus and rested on His finished work that she did get peace, and the consciousness that her name was in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27). Her letters home were used of God to awaken me, and for some weeks I was afraid I might die and go to hell. My one desire was to know my sins forgiven. There was then some little activity in the church I attended, and the weekly Lenten Lectures were somewhat different from what was customary. The subject one week would be ‘A Word to the Anxious.’ Next week it might be ‘A Word to the Enquirer.’ I listened most attentively, but never got anything. It was too long range for me, and I went on for weeks without peace. I had a little Testament, and I pored over its pages in my bedroom and when I got an opportunity during the day.

“Deliverance came at last. Through reading 1 Peter 2:24, ‘Who his own self bare our sin in his own body on the tree,’ and Isaiah 53:5-6, I got just what I needed. But such was my state of anxiety as I prayed for forgiveness in my bedroom, that I was looking for some sign to assure me I was saved. Had I looked to the sky, and had I seen, or thought that I had seen the words, ‘W. J. McClure you are saved,’ I would have been very happy. It would have been a sign such as I was looking for, and would have given me assurance. Thousands of times I thanked God that nothing like that occurred, as that assurance would not have lasted long, for very soon after my conversion I met another W. J. McClure. Instantly the question would have arisen in my mind: ‘Did those words in the sky refer to you or to him?’ And away would have gone my peace and assurance. But I saw in John 3:16 a word which would take us both in and everybody else as well. It was that grand word ‘whosoever.’ The sixteenth verse of John 3 was not so well known sixty years ago as it is today, and it was not until after my conversion that I enjoyed its blessedness.

“About two months ago in Tokyo, Japan, a native believer put it in a way that struck me. He said that ‘John 3:16 is the Fujiyama of the New Testament.’ Fujiyama is the highest mountain in Japan. Now it happened that just then I was able to see how very appropriate was the simile. On my way a day or so before I was on the way between Peiping and Yokohama. Sitting one beautiful sunny morning looking about, all at once there stood out that majestic mountain, Fujiyama — grand and sublime, towering above the forests 12,341 feet, glistering white in the morning sun. It was a sight worth going far to see, as it illustrates the outstanding grandeur of John 3:16.”