Chapter 16 Texas (1902)

From 1893 to 1902 Mr. McClure labored with untiring zeal in California and as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia, preaching the Gospel and instructing the saints, both in public and in the homes. He was an evangelist who sought to make known the Gospel at every opportunity and watched for results. One who shared in the happy days in Monrovia in 1901 writes:

“Brother McClure shepherded those assemblies in California for many years, watching over and laboring among them; teaching and establishing by chart and ministry the wonderful truths of the Word of God; warning, praying and caring for the spiritual welfare of each one as a “faithful steward” who would render account to his Master in that Day. Many of those who remember the early years of Mr. McClure’s self-effacing love for the members of the body of Christ are looking forward with joy to that future day when they will see him crowned for faithful service.”

His ability as a teacher by this time was very marked and much help was given by his expositions on the Holy Scriptures. Abundant fruit had been gathered up and down the Pacific coast through his efforts and those of fellow-laborers, so that it could be said as of old, “And so were the churches established in the faith.”

Early in 1902 Mr. McClure became exercised about going east once more to visit Chicago from “whence he had been recommended to the grace of God.” Thither he went and after a profitable time spent in Chicago and Kansas City—enjoying the fellowship of the saints, and especially of such esteemed brethren as Mr. C. J. Baker and Mr. C. W. Ross whose labors for the Lord in those parts had been blessed greatly— he set out with Mr. Baker to attend the conference to be held at Waxahachie, Texas.

Mr. T. C. Bush who has labored much in the large “Lone Star State” writes of the cheer and encouragement that the saints received through Mr. McClure’s first visit to Texas:

“The few of us who are left on the scene can never forget W. J. McClure as he came an unheralded stranger amongst us. In those early days the gifts were few, and so it was that at those gatherings we usually had one chief teacher.”

Mr. Joseph Jameson, a native of Northern Ireland, and brother of Mr. Samuel Jameson, Evangelist, had come to Houston in 1893. He was a man whose godliness was felt by those with whom he worked, and by all who knew him. He had a splendid gift for preaching the Gospel in the open air as well as indoors. His first pulpit was the street corner in that large city and his wife his only fellow-laborer. She held his hat while he proclaimed the glorious Gospel of Christ to those who gathered around. After a time the Word took effect, a hall was secured, and a little assembly was formed in Houston through the labors of Brother Jameson. Today it is a large assembly.

When Mr. McClure returned to Houston he joined Mr. Jameson in a series of meetings which continued for four weeks. A close link of friendship was formed between those two brethren that deepened until Mr. Jameson, after an active life in the. Lord’s service in which he saw the work of God prosper in Houston, was called home in 1924.

From Houston Mr. McClure went to Waxahachie where Mr. Bush was laboring in the Gospel. Later they pitched a tent in Fort Worth, one of the leading cities of Texas. Soon an interest in the Word was manifested and precious souls were inquiring “What must I do to be saved?” All that summer they preached the Gospel and the Lord gave blessing. Souls were saved, and the foundation of the Fort Worth assembly was laid. Then as Brother Bush remarks: “Brother McClure returned north and soon began that tour that took him around the world, and brought his fruitful ministry to many lands, especially to South Africa.”

In 1904 he set sail for the British Isles. Most of that summer and fall was spent in Ireland. He secured a bicycle which enabled him to get around, visiting homes, showing much interest in isolated saints and shut-ins, and contacting relatives of some whom he knew in the United States and Canada. In all places where he ministered the Word, he had large gatherings, and his ministry was spoken of as rich and instructive.

One very warm Saturday afternoon he was on his way to Belfast. In order to be more comfortable he rolled his coat up and tied it on the carrier on the back of the bicycle. Coming into the city, he got off to put his coat on when, alas, he discovered his coat was gone. He had no other with him nor in the city, but eventually after difficulty he got a substitute for the next day.

That same year was my first experience in tent work, and late in August we were moving the tent to another part. Having one night free I decided to visit a tent pitched in County Armagh where a brother from Scotland was conducting a series of meetings. Instead of the preacher I had expected to see, a tall, dark, dignified-looking man was giving out the first hymn. After the hymn was sung, he prayed, then stepped on the platform and read Leviticus chapter 13 and part of 14. He preached on the cleansing of the leper and made the Gospel very clear and plain. Having seen and heard Mr. John Blair once before, (he had come from the colonies that same year also) I thought this surely was the same man. They looked so much alike. I walked up to the front of the tent, shook hands with him and said, “I heard you last at the Battleford Bridge Conference.” He said, “I never was there.” “But,” I asked, “Are you not Mr. Blair? He was there.” “No, my name is McClure.” This was my first acquaintance with Mr. McClure, and I little thought then that the time would come when I would become so closely associated with him.

At the Lurgan Conference in October, he gave very valuable ministry. One afternoon he took up Timothy as his subject and spoke upon (1) Timothy, a disciple; (2) Timothy, serving as a son with a father in the Gospel — an evangelist; (3) Timothy, of whom the apostle could say, “I have no man likeminded who will naturally care for your state”—a shepherd. He said of Timothy: “Paul took him as a fellow-laborer and never was disappointed”, adding, “I also have taken young men to the work of the Lord, and am thankful to say I have not been disappointed in them either. Timothy,” he added, “is one of the few men in the Scriptures called ‘a man of God.’”

During the conference, at a large Bible reading composed mostly of preachers and leading brethren, there was much discussion as to whether or not preachers should have a subject studied and outlined in their minds before going to the platform, or whether they should rather depend alone on the Holy Spirit, as in the case when Peter opened his mouth and God filled it with the proper message. It became quite interesting as the two sides were being thrashed out with much enthusiasm. Mr. McClure took no part until the time was almost up and then he said, “Brethren, there is a scripture I should like to read,” and he read Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea he gave good heed and sought out and set in order many proverbs, and the preacher sought to find out acceptable words.” He made no comment but just closed his Bible, and no one spoke again. A brother closed with prayer. The Scripture read seemed very timely, adding something most helpful to the Bible reading that day.

Beginning a series of meetings in Adam Street Gospel Hall, Belfast, Mr. McClure used a painting of the tabernacle. As he spoke upon its construction and furniture nightly, a great interest was created and much blessing resulted from the Word spoken. Even to this day there are those who tell of help received in their early Christian life at those meetings.

From Belfast he traveled South to County Cork. Here he was welcomed by Mr. McSeveney who became his host, and also by the assembly in Cork. Meetings were begun in that city where the greater part of the people belonged to the Church of Rome, and, despite the abounding darkness, the Spirit of God began to move in their midst, and a work was done for Eternity. This gave the assembly a fresh start and the saints were filled with joy. From there Brother McClure sailed for South Africa.