After the work was established in Port Howe and also in Doherty Creek, Mr. McEwen became exercised about paying a visit back to the British Isles to see some of the places where he had labored in the gospel years before and to meet some of the trophies of grace that he had seen brought to Christ. He crossed the ocean and visited many familiar places and also greeted many people with whom he had enjoyed hearty fellowship in the past.
While in England he visited a town called Crediton in Devonshire where there was an assembly of believers. There he met a young lady called Miss Alice Fowler. She was a young woman born into a family of social standing in the town. However, early in life eternal realities were brought before her. The Holy Spirit moving in her young heart wrought conviction of sin and her eyes were opened to see the Lord Jesus, God’s only Son, dying on the cross for her sins. She received Him as her own personal Saviour. Joy and peace filled her heart and she could truly enjoy the words written by another young lady who had everything within her grasp that the world had to offer, but she too had received that wonderful Saviour, and in answer to questions asked of her, wrote:
As I bid adieu to the world’s fancied pleasures
You pity my weakness, alas! did you know
The joys of salvation, that best hidden treasure,
Would you have me forsake them? ah, never, ah no!
In the gay scenes of life I was happiness wooing,
But ah, in its stead I encountered but woe;
And found I was only a phantom pursuing,
I never once found it, ah, never, ah no.
How bright now the sunbeams of glory are shining
Around my sweet path as to heaven I go;
With Christ in my heart on His promise reclining,
Shall I yield up my treasure, ah never, ah no.
But now in the path which you call melancholy,
I drink of the joys that the world does not know;
Come taste them and try them, you’ll own your past folly,
Nor again bid me flee them, ah never, ah no.
By the counsels of Jesus my feet are directed,
My faithful Companion, we intimate grow;
With His love I am blest, by His arm I’m protected;
Would you have me forsake them, ah never, ah no.
These verses fittingly express the testimony of this young woman who became the bride of Mr. McEwen. She became a Bible student and searched the Scriptures daily for light and understanding. She saw the truth of believer’s baptism as given by the risen Lord in Matthew 28:18-20. Miss Fowler was happy to be baptized accordingly and was received into an assembly of believers who were practicing the precious truth she had just learned. Her consistent testimony was the means of bringing her mother and sister to the Lord in later years.
Mr. John Knox McEwen and Miss Alice Fowler were united in marriage on August 19, 1889 in Crediton, England, and soon afterwards they left England to establish a home in Nova Scotia. Mr. McEwen often spoke with much appreciation of the real help and blessing Mrs. McEwen had been to him down through the years. She became to him a true helpmeet and was loved by all who knew her—a real Phoebe of ancient days.
Mr. and Mrs. McEwen arrived in Doherty Creek and together they sought to establish the young assembly begun in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Eaton. With the use of horse and buggy Mr. McEwen was able to keep in close touch with the assembly in Port Howe. He kept busy preaching in school houses and halls as the Lord opened doors near and far. Late at night his neighbors could hear the familiar voice singing the lovely Gospel hymns as they echoed through the woods on his way home after a happy day of service. A harvest of souls was reaped in those stirring days and the believers were taught the ways of the Lord.
A home was built for them in Doherty Creek where they lived for a few years. Because of health reasons and family care, it became necessary to return to England for a time. Preparations were made and the voyage was taken across the ocean. They arrived in South England and after a time established their home in Exeter.
Again with unabated zeal this busy worker, who soon became a familiar figure, was sounding out the Word of Life by the wayside, in trains, in halls, and in tents. This warmhearted soul-winner was a busy man—in season, out of season, he ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Devonshire and South Wales became fruitful fields and during the summer months he preached heaven’s Good News in a canvas tent. Here, as in every place he went, this fearless outspoken messenger of the cross preached with such great plainness of speech that when some first heard him they were offended and turned away. However, God stood by His servant and many were brought under conviction of sin and were saved by His wonderful grace. Moreover, some who so bitterly opposed his preaching at first were also broken under the nightly power of the Word and were born again and became his friends and helpers in Christ.
In 1901 Mr. Robert McCrory, an old-time fellow-laborer of the writer, returned to Ireland from missionary work in Spain, and went over to help Mr. McEwen in a tent in Wales. He often went over his experiences with Mr. McEwen to me, saying, “Mr. McEwen kept me on my knees praying a good part of the day and night.” He was, to Mr. McCrory, the most remarkable man he ever met, one who had a burning zeal to win souls to Christ. His time was fully occupied in reading his Bible, praying, visiting, preaching, and going after anxious souls. This was the testimony of one of his fellow-laborers.
Mr. McEwen had a unique ministry that suited and met the spiritual need of the young in Christ and for such babes he manifested Godly care. For older believers his ministry was warm, heart-searching, and seasonable. He had a very piercing eye and many thought he could look them through and through. He could and did open up the truths applicable to all.