Chapter 10 More Pioneering In Tent Work

The work grew and spread. The evangelists were always seeking out some new place to publish the good news of salvation, and many interesting and some amusing events took place. In one place they had secured a hall, and a brother had printed a large notice to the effect: “Two men who were convicted and pardoned will preach the Gospel in this hall.” The notice was placed outside the door. Just as the people were gathering the first night, a tramp walked in, marched up to the front, sat down behind one of the evangelists, touched him on the shoulder saying, “What were you in for? I’m just out of ‘the jug’ myself.” He thought, of course, from the notice that they had been in jail.

During that fall and early part of winter these brethren continued their pioneer work in schools and halls, and then they left for a visit to the United States. In April we find them busy in Harrisburg, and good and fruitful meetings were reported in that large city. Souls were saved and saints enriched by their ministry, but about the middle of May they were back again in their Canadian field and busy making preparations for the summer campaign.

It was like taking up house, not only getting the tent and seats in order in preparation for the meetings, but arranging their household utensils, as their living quarters were in the tent also. Before the end of May, all was in readiness and the tent was pitched and the preachers were established in this humble abode under the canvas at Balsom Lake a few miles from Victoria Road.

An extract from a letter written to Mr. Ross who was editor of the “Barley Cake” will serve to show the conditions then and the work these young brethren were seeking to carry on for the Lord.

Gospel Tent, Balsom Lake, Ont.
July 24, 1886

“I have little to say in the way of conversions. That verse, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” has been somewhat of my experience. Today will complete eight weeks in this place. From the first, in point of numbers, the meetings have been the best we have seen in this country.

The people listen well and some are troubled, yet at present, we can only speak of two cases of conversion! Our hearts were made glad by the second one of them telling us she was saved on Thursday.

Preaching here has been pretty easy. The Lord has helped us night after night, to speak the Word to the people. Yesterday we had a meeting on the opposite shore of the lake, in a farmer’s home. He, like the man in the Acts, sent for us and gathered in his neighbors to hear. They are five and seven miles distant from the nearest kirk, and that may be a good thing for them.

On the first, we baptized eight brethren and seven sisters, most of them stray “ears” gleaned now and then. Praise God even for these. Tomorrow, we shall baptize a number more. I need not ask you to pray for us. We have had some “cold spells” lately. Bro. Douglas stands it fully better than I do.”

William J. McClure

The Gospel Tent stood there all that summer and well into the fall; and we extract another letter with the same address:—

Gospel Tent, Balsom Lake, Ont.
Sept. 9, 1886

“I suppose tent work is over with you for 1886, and it may be, ere 1887 comes, it will be something better with us than under canvas. It may be the City that hath foundations, in His own presence.

In about a week from now, we shall, D.V., strike our tent, and it will seem like breaking up home: for over three months we have prayed, preached, eaten, and slept in it in bad and in good weather. I do like living in it, for one then has an opportunity for reading the Word and waiting on the Lord more quietly than in most homes with such accommodations as usually are here.

Since I wrote you last, the Lord has saved quite a few, praise His Name, but we expect more saved through the Word preached here during the last three months. Yesterday we baptized six in the lake. One feature of the work here that strikes one, is that ail those who profess to be saved come right out. Before we begin to teach separation, they are in the place of it. Poor souls, where else should they go? If saved, there is nothing else for them in the kirks. Of the four so-called “ministers” around here, I hardly think one of them is saved. The best preacher of the four is reckoned, also, one of the best sportsmen in the country. Remember us in this needy part of Canada in prayer.

William J. McClure

These letters are surely refreshing and give tone to the work accomplished for God in those days. Also they show the zeal of these workers who toiled on week after week all summer long and well into the fall, preaching Christ, seeing precious souls saved, visiting among them, and teaching the young in Christ the foundation truths of the faith, baptizing believers, and seeing them brought into the assembly already established.

While this work was going on in the tent with spiritual stones being quarried around Balsom Lake, only a few miles distant at Victoria Road the brethren were busily engaged working in the literal quarry getting out stones, and in preparing the lumber already taken from the bush to build a Gospel Hall, and at the end of the year they had the joy of seeing it finished and opened with all-day meetings. Brethren McClure and Douglas were again among those who ministered the Word and they had a series of Gospel meetings in the new hall.