My mother was brought up in Bass River, New Brunswick, was married and moved to Pugwash, Nova Scotia, where she brought up her family, joined the Presbyterian Church, and became quite a worker in it. There she was taught, and did teach, that all you had to do was do the best you can and, at the end of life, God would weigh your good deeds and your bad deeds and, if your good deeds outweighed your bad ones, you would be saved.
In the year of 1888 a man by the name of John Knox McEwen came to Pugwash and got a school house and began to preach the Gospel. My mother heard about him and decided to go and hear for herself, so she started out this night with a baby in her arms. It was about a mile walk, and when she arrived at the school house the elders of the church were standing outside of the door. They said, “Mrs. Wacome, you’re not going in to hear that man, are you? They have the seats painted red on one side of the school house for the blood-washed ones and on the other side they have them painted black for the sinners. Don’t you go in to hear him!” She answered, “I have come a long way and I want to hear what he has to say.” So she went in but saw no red and black seats. She sat at the back of the school house. Mr. McEwen started to preach on the ruin of man and God’s remedy. At the close of the meeting, Mr. McEwen stood at the door saying good night and asking each one if they were saved.
He shook hands with my mother and said, “Are you a christian?” She answered “Oh, I think so. I’ve joined the Church, I read the Bible, teach a Sunday School class, and give to the good cause. I guess I am all right.” The only thing he said was, “Be sure you haven’t missed Christ,” and she left the school house with these words burning in her soul.
She wanted to hear him again but there was so much persecution she never got back to hear the gospel. But those words, “Be sure you haven’t missed Christ” drove her to the Bible and she came to the place where it said, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” All her good deeds (as she thought) were only filthy rags in the sight of God. She found out she was only a religious sinner without Christ, and became in deep soul trouble but could find no one to tell her how to be saved. One day coming up from the field with a basket of potatoes in her hand, burdened about her soul, and not knowing how to be saved, she came into the house. That Scripture came to her mind, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3. She said, “What can a little child do? It can’t pray, it can’t teach a Sunday School class, it can’t give to the good cause,” and then that Scripture in Isaiah 45:42 came to her so clearly, “Look unto me and be ye saved.” She said, “A little child can look!”, and right there, standing on the kitchen floor with the basket of potatoes at her feet, she looked away by faith and saw that the Lord Jesus had died for her sins and finished the work and there was nothing for her to do but to accept Him. And she did.
Some time later Mr. McEwen came back to Pugwash and she found out that the next step was to be baptized, and in her own words:
“We left the house and came down to the river and cut a hole in the ice and I was buried. The water looked black and cold, but I was so happy that neither one gave me a thought.”
She lived to see her father and mother, four sisters and a brother, and a number of others led to Christ.
My father and mother were living together in Pugwash at the time J. K. McEwen came to have meetings. My father became a bitter enemy of the gospel and when my mother got saved his hatred for the gospel and God’s people grew to such an extent that my mother had to take the children and leave him. The day she was to be baptized, he picked up a stick of wood and, as Saul would have slain David to the ground, so he would have done. But she closed the door just in time to save herself, and the door was split from top to bottom.
My mother passed away before my father, and some years later, my brother Charlie was talking to my father before he died, and this is what he said, “Charlie, your mother was right and I was wrong. I have been reading in the Bible, and all that she said is true and I am saved now.”
There will be some happy reunions soon.