Chapter 32 The End Of A Long Life (1938-1941)

In 1938 Mr. McClure had a hemorrhage and was taken to the hospital in a serious condition and little hope was held for him, but he recovered and after a few weeks convalescence he desired to attend the Houston, Texas, Conference in October. It was quite an undertaking but Mr. S. Greer, who had been conveying him around in his car and helping him from placed to place, promised to take him by automobile on the 2,000 mile trip.

They arranged to spend a few days in Jerome, Arizona, on the way. In this out of the way place Mr. Greer had seen a work of grace and a little assembly formed, so the saints there were mostly new born souls with a hunger for the Word. When the believers in Jerome heard that these brethren were going to visit them, they arranged a Conference for two or three days.

The primitive appearance of the place and the manifest interest among those young believers for the milk of the Word, reminded brother McClure of his early days in Gospel work in Ontario and were most inspiring to him.

Mr. McClure had stood the journey very well and during the three days’ Conference in Houston, Texas, he ministered the Word with much help and gave one address on the “Great Woman” (2 Kings 4:9). He spoke of her exercise of heart and forethought as to the needs of a servant of God in making provision for his comfort. He went on to speak of hospitality as an outstanding Christian grace, and deplored the increasing lack of it in these days. During the Conference he received a telegram from Los Angeles, stating that an old friend had died and he was wanted if possible to speak at the funeral. He was anxious to attend it, and many thought the train would be better means of travel for him. He and I left on Monday morning by the Sunset Route and we arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday morning. He was wonderfully sustained and that same afternoon he took part in the funeral services.

While our brother had recovered sufficiently to travel, he required someone with him, and for a few weeks longer he remained with Mr. F. Hillis in Los Angeles and took part in the usual meetings.

In November he arranged to go to the Oakland Conference at Thanksgiving time, and a number of the Lord’s people put him on the train. In the morning he was met at the station in Oakland, but because of a minor accident that day he was deprived of the privilege of being at the Conference.

For a number of weeks our brother was confined to the house, something which he did not appreciate very much. On my way East early in January, 1939, I called to see him, and he greeted me with the words: “Why not wait until the weather is more favorable and I shall go with you to the East.” He talked that afternoon about another trip to Ireland. His heart seemed set upon it and he had it all planned. He wanted me to accompany him on the trip and said, “We could leave from the Pacific Coast giving us a long ocean voyage by way of the Panama Canal.” The doctor had encouraged him by telling him his heart was still in good condition. Sometime after I arrived home I had letters from him still hopeful of recovering and again arranging about the trip.

In May I received a letter from brother McClure stating he was coming East with Miss McIntyre and asking me to meet him and take him around. His first stop was Akron, Ohio, to visit beloved Dan Becker.

Mr. Becker, a brother greatly beloved and a true shepherd in the Oakland Assembly had spent many years on the Pacific Coast and made his home at McIntyre’s also. Mr. McClure and he were very close friends, but Mr. Becker had taken ill and was then being nursed in the home of his brother.

The meeting between those two brethren was very touching as in both cases the sands of time were sinking and it was only a short time until beloved Dan Becker was with the Lord.

Early in July I met Mr. McClure at the New York Terminal. He had become more feeble and was no longer able to travel alone. We remained in the city about a week. He enjoyed the Lord’s Day at the 125th St. Assembly and also a night at the Bronx, and one night at Richmond Hill. I drove him to my home in Rhode Island and arranged meetings in Pawtucket, Providence, Boston and New Bedford. Many said it was wonderful how fresh and helpful his ministry was and he enjoyed much meeting many old friends.

In August we attended the Conference in Maine, but he had to be brought home when it was half over. After this he wanted to return to Oakland to see the eye specialist who still gave him hope that he would get back a measure of sight. Our brother wished to spend a short time in Detroit and we arrived there early one morning. Again his ministry was much appreciated by the Lord’s people in the city and he still liked to visit the sick, although at this time it was with difficulty that we got him from place to place.

While in Detroit Mr. McClure greatly desired to visit Mr. John Ferguson, who for fifty years was a well known herald of the Cross in the British Isles, United States, and Canada. As an Evangelist Mr. Ferguson had few equals, excelling in proclaiming the wonderful story of Calvary as well as the awful doom of the Christ rejector. His preaching had moved multitudes and through his ministry many were saved.

Mr. McClure and Mr. Ferguson had often ministered the Word together at large Conferences, but Mr. Ferguson was at this time nearing his Heavenly Home.

We brought Mr. McClure into the room and sat him down beside the bed where Mr. Ferguson lay. It was indeed stirring to me and a scene long to be remembered to be present at the meeting of these two soldiers of Christ, weary and worn after many years of wholehearted labor for the best of Masters. They conversed about the Lord they loved and served and of His unfailing faithfulness to them, and they wept together as they talked of the glories of Heaven. It seemed indeed like hallowed ground.

They bade each other farewell and after a little longer suffering and waiting beloved brother John Ferguson was called Home to glory.

We left for Cleveland and were at the Conference on Labor Day. Brother McClure took part a few times giving one address on the words “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).

After the Conference in Cleveland Mr. McClure and Miss McIntyre left for Oakland, California.

The assemblies on the Pacific Coast arranged to take care of brother McClure. They appointed two local brethren, Mr. George White and Mr. E. Little of Goodyear Assembly in Los Angeles, to carry out this ministry. There was a monthly contribution sent from each Assembly and other Assemblies remembered him as well, so he lacked nothing. His eyes did not improve and in 1940 he was notified of the death of his sister in Los Angeles. This was the last of the immediate family circle as his brother Simpson had preceded her a few years.

He managed to be at the funeral and then remained for some time in Los Angeles. At some meetings I had, the Lord’s people brought Mr. McClure along every night. He sat in the chair and prayed at the beginning of each meeting. He was always pleased to get out and said, “Well, I can still enjoy the Gospel.”

In November Mr. McClure became very anxious to go “home.” That was how he always spoke of the McIntyres, and when he got word about the Conference in Oakland coming on and a letter from the McIntyres saying they expected him home for it, he wanted very much to be on his way.

Each day as I went to see him his first words were “Have you heard of any one driving to Oakland or do you know anyone who would lend you an automobile to drive us up to Oakland?” The meetings were finishing and I talked the matter over with the brethren, suggesting that I close on a certain night and leave the next night with Mr. McClure for Oakland. The suggestion met the approval of all, and we sent a message to Oakland advising them of our arrival. Next day as I went in to see him, his first words were—“Well, any more word about Oakland?”

“Yes, Mr. McClure.”

“What is it?”

“We leave tonight by train arriving at 16th St. Oakland, in the morning and I have sent a message to the McIntyres. I am going to the depot to get the tickets and will be back to pick you up.” What a pleased expression came over his face as he said, “All right.”

While we were busily engaged packing his bags for the last time, he sat and wept. He always wanted to help in some way, but he just said, “I am sorry I can’t help.” We said, “It is a great pleasure you are giving the rest of us here, to do this service for you.”

At the terminal quite a number of saints had gathered to say farewell, and they hired a wheel chair to take him to the train. On the way in the chair he said, “As Donald Ross used to say, ‘Such kindness to an old man.’” The Lord’s people were visibly affected at the parting that evening and some clung to him as they would to their father.

The Conference began November 21 and while sitting in a chair at the morning session, Mr. McClure gave his last Conference address from Psalm 127:

“This Psalm was not written to stir up more activity. In these days of such a nervous pace and concern about the things of time, many of the Lord’s children lose fellowship with God in their effort to secure these things. The world believes in building the house, but ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ Thank God for what follows in these verses. ‘It is vain for you to rise up early and to sit up late.’ The Lord puts his people at rest and gives them a sense of repose in Himself. While resting in Him, He provides for their needs, whatever they are, the needs of the body, or the needs of the soul. Instead of our becoming nervously occupied and busy, he says, ‘Rest in me.’ He ‘giveth his beloved sleep.’

“Thank God we may know that in actual experience. Nearly 60 years ago, in following the Lord’s Word, I gave up my position in a large place in Chicago. Mr. Donald Ross in talking to young men who desired to serve the Lord urged them to go forth looking to the Lord for only bed, food, and washing. In 1882 I went out in the Lord’s work altogether and I was surprised to get more than just bed, food and washing. The Lord provided more than these to meet the needs we must find in the world. As the years went by there were things that tried us, but we always found love enough. If we had the power to choose over again, we believe by the grace of God we would do as we did—trust Him and find Him faithful. Thanks be to God we are found in Him, and He is faithful. Years ago when strong in body and able to go around we were cared for, and now, as an old man, broken in health and unfit for the things that we once did, what do we find? Not a care as to our path, and not a care as to our need. The Lord just seems to take it all in hand and we find the truth of that word, ‘He giveth His beloved sleep.’ He provides for them, and thank God, that is to be the way right to the end.

“I know the need of this Psalm, and I give you this portion of God’s Word as something we should know in these meetings. May the Lord grant that this Conference of 1940 may go down as one of the best we have ever had—not that we are better prepared, but that He is able. The nervousness that leads people do this and that is not needed. He provides for His people who trust in Him. They rest in Him and He does everything else. May this Psalm speak to us for His Name’s sake.”

At the close of the meeting many remarked he fresh and inspiring were his words.

My last visit with him was in Sept., 1941. Brother Samuel Greer had just died and he said, “Think of Sam being called home and I am still left here, but,” he added, “all is well.”

The end came rather suddenly. On Dec. 4, 1941, the doctor examined him and told Mrs. McIntyre it would be all right to give him a little change. When this was mentioned to him he was pleased and said he would like to go to the beach, and they began to prepare for this trip. Friday to the surprise of all he came downstairs alone and could even tell them apart. Saturday morning, Dec. 6, Mrs. McIntyre had gone out to the store and a message followed her to come back immediately. When she returned she found Mr. McClure had passed away without a struggle. The portals of glory had opened and the ransomed spirit of beloved brother McClure had entered in to see that Blessed One in glory whom he had preached and served for more than sixty years.

The news spread rapidly by ’phone and wire and many hearts were moved. There was a deep sense of loss among the Lord’s people for “a Prince and Great Man” had passed away.