Archive for the ‘Testimonies’ Category

A Wonderful Meeting with Peggy O’Neill Who Found The Truth, After Fifty Years As A Nun!

May 13, 2017

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On the May Bank Holiday weekend last my husband and I embarked on a four hour journey to the south west of Ireland. What a journey that was – but how rewarding the outcome! Years ago I had read this lady’s testimony in tract form and also her story is one of twenty in a book called: “The Truth Set us Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories,” by Richard Bennett & Mary Hertel.” Somehow I had always wanted to meet Peggy… This desire intensified when an acquaintance asked me did I know anything about her or her whereabouts now. This person told me that Peggy was in the process of writing to the Pope and cardinals at the time (she had met her in 2013) and that behind her home were all the verses of the fruits of the Spirit… painted on planks.

Having approached all the people I thought might have known and ‘drawn a blank’, I eventually contacted members of a local Christian Fellowship in the area who were able to tell me. This was before Christmas last year and at the time I was dismayed to hear that Peggy was critically ill. I prayed very much for her then, still with this great desire in my heart to meet her. I later learned that Peggy had recovered from that illness. My prayers (and I am certain, the prayers of others) had been answered!

Well, on the afternoon of Saturday 29th April after a long drive, more prayers were answered when I had the great joy of meeting Peggy for the first time ever! She is now 96, bedridden for the most part and in a nursing home but there is an amazing brightness about her which clearly comes from knowing the Lord – this dear elderly lady is truly unique. Her face lit up when I showed her my big Bible and she hugged her testimony tract, which I know is so precious to her. Although missing her right eye from a fall some years ago and although frail with all the pains and aches that accompany someone who is not far from 100, she is so content with a beautiful, peaceful spirit – something which only those who know the Lord’s Presence in their lives can truly experience.

Here is a very short summary of her testimony – which can be viewed online in several locations by googling “The Testimony of Peggy O’Neill.”  Peggy was born in 1921, in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, one of a large family who were raised Catholic. At school she notes that she was “well grounded in Catholic doctrine” and that in her local convent school many of her teachers were nuns. Having viewed life as a nun as “being the highest calling for any woman,” she later took her vows and maintains that “during my fifty years as a nun, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs of life, I was very happy. Happy to believe that I was following what I then thought was my God-given vocation. The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience I had made were meant to be perpetual and final.”

Then in 1989, her nephew (Tom) came home from England with what she terms “an interest in the Bible.” “He also said that he had left the Catholic Church.” Greatly concerned about this, Peggy decided to investigate for herself and discovered, to her shock, that “not only were there additions, but also some Catholic doctrines even contradicted the Bible.”

She states in her testimony: “Today there are thousands of false religions in the world and every religion, including Catholicism, has devised a different gospel. A church stands or falls by the Gospel it preaches, and at the age of 70 I had no option but to leave the church, which for so long I had greatly trusted.” She goes on to say: “for me there is only One Saviour and One Mediator, The Lord Jesus Christ.” Peggy states that after 50 years of serving as a nun (from ages 20-70) in the Catholic Church “I came to this profound realisation, and put my whole faith and trust in the saving work of Christ.”

That weekend my husband and I stayed in the town of Ballybunion, the place where Peggy’s life had begun in 1921. From our room we had a lovely view of the sparkling waves of the Atlantic Ocean as they washed in on the Blue Flag beach and on the last evening, as we walked along the shore, watching the last rays of the setting sun on the sea, I thought on the goodness of our Heavenly Father and Creator – and on my loving, lovely friend Peggy, who says in her tract: “I thank my Father who loved me so much that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to save me. I thank Him my dear Redeemer who even now is interceding for me as my High Priest, and who will soon return to take me home to Heaven where I will shine like the sun and praise Him for all eternity.”

Over those three days we had the joy of visiting Peggy each day: on our way to Ballybunion, on Sunday afternoon – and by the Monday morning she had grown accustomed to our visits and was so overjoyed to see us. I felt a great closeness between us and the Lord’s Presence with us as we read and prayed with her. She has a pleasant view of some trees blowing in the wind by her little room in the nursing home. I remarked on this and on the beauty of the sunny countryside outside, to which she smilingly nodded in agreement. “But,” I said quietly, Heaven will be even better than this – and, of course we won’t have all our present human ailments…”

Heaven will be even more amazingly beautiful than the most stunning scenes of nature in this world. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Corinthians 2v9) And this is the Lord’s will for each person in the universe, if they would only but trust Him! (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2v2)

I praise the Lord that this lovely lady has, as she says “abandoned all other means and mediators and put her faith in Christ alone;” I pray that the Lord will assist me to share her story with loved ones, friends, neighbours and, yes, even with those I meet quite by chance. As I gave Peggy, my dear sister in the Lord, a hug before we left, I knew that this is what she would want, to the glory of our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Testimony of my mother Ella Hutchinson (née Turkington) (27th May 1929 – 13th December 2014)

December 29, 2014

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even our very demeanour and presence would make such a deep impression on people that it would lead to their trusting the Lord as Saviour? Mary Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who led my father to the Lord, made such an impression on my mother, that she was later to pen this poem about her…

 

I met a soul so full of grace

And as I gazed upon her face,

I found it was not hard to see

Where she would spend eternity.

And sadly I did leave her there

But in her love for God did share,

And prayed that I might be like she –

So full of grace and charity.

 

 

For me it was an enormous privilege to have been brought up by parents who came to know the Lord as Saviour before their marriage. I shall always remember my mother’s generosity and hospitality to the many visitors to our home and to all the people who came to help my father on the farm and her goodness to one ill and elderly man in particular, as she washed sheets for him by hand and made meals for him. In fact my mother made such an impression on me in this respect, that I penned a poem about her for Mother’s Day once. References to all the lovely things she accomplished, as well as her talent for art are included in the poem which is inspired by the words of Proverbs 31v10-31. I have printed it as a tribute to her at the end of her testimony. This is my mother’s testimony, as related to me one evening in 2012…

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“I was brought up in the town of Portadown, County Armagh, in a loving home where Sunday was respected as the Lord’s Day and where my only sister and I were sent to Church and Sunday school, but it was not from the church pulpit that I found a witness or any words ever spoken to convict me of sin; rather this was to come from many a faithful witness of the Lord over the years.

I remember once when I was very young my family and I were on holidays for a week in Warrenpoint, a picturesque little coastal town in County Down. We were staying in one of those lovely old guesthouses along by the seafront and I shall never forget the meaningful question of the elderly man of that house… “Do you love the Lord Jesus?” These simple words touched me and made an impression on me at the time, filling my child’s mind with conviction. I remember turning and running back upstairs again to my room, where I knelt by the little bedstead and prayed to the Lord, as best as I knew how at the time. This special moment in my life has stayed with me over the years and I feel that it was then that the stirrings of conviction had begun in my heart.

The years passed with all their ups and downs for even children have these times in life and often I would have had thoughts of eternity. What would happen to me when I died? I was filled with dread at the thought of this. When I was around nine years old I took a disease called rheumatic fever which attacked me badly, leaving a legacy of ill health which still affects me today. I recall walking home from school holding onto the railings and then my mother kept me at home from school to nurse me back to health. I was nearly a year missing from school and I shall never forget my return there; I had missed so much and the teacher had no sympathy with me whatsoever, even under these circumstances. School became something of a nightmare for me, as I was never helped to catch up on everything that I had missed. When I think on those years now, how good it is to have a Saviour to lean on – and how miserable the lives of men, women and children who shoulder these burdens alone!

World War Two broke out in 1939 when we were in Newcastle, County Down on holidays at the end of the summer and I worried about my father being taken away from us to fight in the war against the Germans. I remember wondering whether we should we hide him in the attic! My father was an insurance agent in those days and worked very hard, cycling around the country to sell insurance. My mother worked hard too, as she looked after both her own mother and her mother-in-law until they passed away.

Another incident stands out in my mind; a simple event which was to fill me with conviction. I was around eleven or twelve when a tent mission came to the Seagoe area, just down the road from where I lived. I remember curiously cycling close to it and hearing the lovely singing of the opening hymn. A man called to me from the tent opening… “Won’t you come in?”

I, in turn made some excuse about not having a hat and he answered that this didn’t matter. I believe now that the man just wanted me to hear the gospel but I made my excuse because I knew instinctively, even then, that this meeting could mean that I had to greatly change my life in some way.

Some time later a clergyman called to the house one day to see whether I would like to be confirmed.  My mother opened the door to the gentleman in question and as soon as she did so I ran out the back door! Other young people may have viewed confirmation as just another ordinance of the church, but I sincerely felt that I could not go through with such a ceremony, unless I had truly made a commitment to the Lord. I honestly felt that to be confirmed would be wrong at the time and so I never was.

Eventually, at age fourteen I left school and started an apprenticeship with a hairdresser in Portadown. As I grew into a young woman, I would go out to the cinema occasionally on a Saturday, but apart from this, I didn’t socialise much. After some years, when I was just nineteen in the year 1948, I met a young man who was from the country near Armagh, whose name was ‘Jack Hutchinson.’ In those days the bridge over the River Bann was a favourite meeting place for young people and it was here that I was amused one evening to see Jack throwing a box of matches in the air. I think that perhaps he was trying to impress me but as it happened he dropped them!

Unknown to me, this young man had spotted me on other occasions too – once at a sports event when I was much younger and another time at some amusements. I was a bit of a ‘loner’ in those days and Jack told me later that he had noticed that I was standing alone, away from the crowds. Now that I had met Jack we would both go out together to the ‘Regal’ cinema on a Saturday night. I enjoyed his company very much but then something happened which was the start of a great change in Jack’s life. In the early summer of 1950 he started to go to a mission which was being run by an organisation known as the Faith Mission, in a little hall at Cloughan near Armagh. Jack had always attended his church faithfully, but now he told me that he knew that there was something missing in his life and one day he told me that he felt that he would like to have the assurance of being ‘saved.’ I was very curious about this mission and wanted to know what he meant, so I too went along with him one evening.

There I met Miss Cordner, the Faith Mission pilgrim who was later to lead Jack to the Lord and I have to say that this lady made a very deep impression on me, for she seemed so pure and full of goodness. This encounter awakened a yearning in me; I wanted, as the poem which I wrote about Miss Cordner goes, to ‘be like she… so full of grace and charity.’ Soon, one day Jack told me that he had been back to this mission again and that he had trusted the Lord to save him. Right then I knew that my life would need to change too if our relationship was to continue. I had been trying to read the Bible in those days, but starting in the Old Testament I found many things so difficult to accept and yet I knew that this was God’s Word and I wanted to be right with Him.

Conviction of sin lay heavily upon me in those days following Jack’s conversion. I remember praying and pleading with the Lord to make me right with Him. The conviction upon me was so deep that I would pray aloud in anguish, so much so that my sister Betty heard me. Seeing how disturbed I was, she gave me some advice… “Perhaps if you pray, meaning every word, it will work,” I recall her saying to me.

Then one night my parents and sister were not there and I was alone praying and pleading again in our living room. That evening I was kneeling at the left hand side of the fireplace and I cried unto the Lord: “Lord save me!” And praise God that evening I knew that something marvellous had happened; I had broken through to Him this time… He had answered my prayer and He had saved me and what is more, this time I believed that He had saved me! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

How I thank the Lord for that wonderful evening which was to set the scene for the rest of my life! In those days we didn’t know to write down the date of when we came to know the Saviour. I know that it was just a very short time after Jack’s salvation experience but I am uncertain as to exactly when. But I know where it happened and praise God, I know that He answered me when I cried out to Him that evening and I began to know His lovely Presence in my life. It makes me smile now when I think about how Jack and I were such an enthusiastic young couple, anxiously wanting to work for the Lord wherever He would lead us.

How our lives changed! “Behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5v17) Instead of going to the Regal on a Saturday night, we started to go to the young people’s meeting in Edenderry Presbyterian Church Hall in Portadown. Now, on the bus to work I felt that I should read the Bible openly as a witness to my fellow passengers. However, I remember a neighbour asking me a question about the Book of Revelation which I was unable to answer as I had only just started to read the Bible! On one occasion Jack and I were invited to give our testimonies in a mission hall in Tandragee and I remember that Jack took such a long time speaking that the person behind him on the platform pulled on his jacket! Those were good days – and although we were to have many ups and downs in the years that lay ahead, the Lord was faithful and kept us faithful to each other and to Him.

On May 27th 1952 (which was my 23rd birthday!) Jack and I were married, but returning from our honeymoon in Scotland I found quite a challenge awaited me! Here was I, a young woman of just twenty-three from an urban background going to live in an old house on a little farm at the end of a long winding country lane! But somehow the Lord undertook and I learned to lean on Him throughout it all. I was to learn that the only safe place is to be leaning on the Lord for all the negative situations that hit me in life.

One lovely memory stays with me to this day… I remember one day that I was hanging washing on the line at this first old country house we used to live in when suddenly I heard heavenly singing – like a chorus, or a choir of angels coming from the old Armagh Road. To this day I have no idea as to the source of the singing, but it is a beautiful and very special experience which I still share with loved ones today.

In our years in that old farm at Liskeyborough, before we eventually moved to Woodview, Jack and I had four healthy children: Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine; each one of them is so special to me in their own unique way and I pray for my daughters and their husbands and my son and his wife, and all my grandchildren, that each soul will truly know the gracious Presence of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in their daily lives.

Throughout the years the Lord has been my faithful Friend – a never failing Friend whose love for me has given me strength to face tomorrow, whatever it may hold. I recall especially how the Lord undertook for me during my heart operation which occurred over twenty years ago. After a ‘touch and go operation’ a leaking heart valve was successfully replaced and the Lord wonderfully gave me many more years to be with my family and to see all of my grandchildren. On another occasion I had a serious hernia operation, after being in considerable pain and in recent years I have been in and out of hospital with bouts of pneumonia and have even been diagnosed with heart failure but my Saviour has been my strength and refuge throughout life’s battles. With my brothers and sisters in the Lord I can say… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

How He has been with me and strengthened me through my own personal illnesses, pain and serious operations over a whole lifetime; through the illnesses of loved ones and through the recent loss of my dear Jack to whom I was married for nearly 60 years, when he passed away in February 2011. But I praise Him that after life’s short day, it is not the end! One day recently I looked up into the beauty of the sky and I thought… “Heaven is up there… that is where the dear Lord is, that is where Jack is – and that is where I am going!” Once when I was searching for words of reassurance for the Lord’s sanctifying power in my life, He gave me these words: “I am with you and shall be in you.”

Today I claim those words afresh as I look to Jesus, who gave His life that I might go to be where He is, when He calls to take me Home – Home where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes and where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying nor pain. (Revelation 21v4) “My Jesus if ever I loved thee, tis now!

 

For My Mum

(Proverbs 31v10-31)

Born in the lovely month of May

Yours was always the blossom…

Apple, Hawthorne and Cherry

Gracing Ireland’s hedgerows and trees,

Just as you graced every house

You ever lived in, making it home –

Home for the labourer, the rambler,

 The loved one.

Your food gathered from near and far

Fed so many mouths.

Your hands, baking bread,

Clicking needles, loving gifts for all –

Or giving beauty life on canvas.

Your voice, singing choruses of praise,

Speaking words of comfort

To another soul across the ward…

And once, so long ago,

You heard a choir of angels sing,

As you wearied not in well doing –

His promise that some day you would reap

The blossom you have sown.

Many daughters have done virtuously,

But you have excelled them all.

Elizabeth Burke

Jack Hutchinson – “You can be Saved – and Know it!” By his daughter Elizabeth Burke (née Hutchinson)

February 25, 2011

Jack Hutchinson was my Dad and so I knew him better than most! Throughout my unregenerate youthful years I had viewed my father as an honest, upright, hardworking, loving father and husband. My mother and he were always so close; to me their marriage was ‘heaven made,’ as my Mum too trusted the Saviour shortly after my father. One thing that used to embarrass me in my youthful days, though, was Dad’s unrelenting witness to every soul he came in contact with. I remember driving home with him one summer’s afternoon from a seaside location. For some reason there were just the two of us in the car – probably because I had to return home early to get back to work. As we drove along, I saw a young man in the distance who was ‘thumbing a lift’ and I instinctively knew what would happen next. Dad drew up alongside him, the young man climbed into the back seat and Dad witnessed to him for the entire journey! I was silent, squirming in my seat and looking out the window but on that day, to be honest, my father’s words even convicted me.

Since I too became a Christian, my father and I have naturally become close and I love nothing more than to discuss spiritual matters with him. Just recently Dad has been subjected to some traumatic health problems concerning his heart. One lovely afternoon while he rested in his chair after a recent spell in hospital, He and I sat talking about his testimony and his later wonderful experience of sanctification. As he talked and I jotted down quick notes, I felt emotional in the knowledge that some day in this life all of our hearts (as we now know them) will no longer function, but if our spiritual hearts are in the right place, we will receive a new perfect body which will serve us, not for eighty, ninety or even a hundred years – but for ever and ever in the joy of the Lord’s Presence! The following is my father’s testimony, as related to me on the afternoon of Wednesday 31st March, 2010, when he was in still in his eighty-fourth year…

“I was born into this world in the month of June 1926, but I was born again in the month of June 1950. In 1926, as a baby, I was baptised into the Church of Ireland and around eleven or twelve years later I was confirmed as a member of that church. Throughout my childhood and youth I was a regular church-goer; every Sunday my presence would have been seen in the pew and I would have faithfully taken communion at the appointed times. However these ordinances of the church, my church going and my respectability in the eyes of the community did nothing either to rejuvenate me spiritually, or to change my old life in any way.

To those who were acquainted with me I appeared to be a respectable, honest, hard-working young person, but I was not aware of the fact that I needed to be “saved” or “born again.” Sadly in all my years of church going I had never heard such terms used from the pulpit, although the Bible tells us that it is a requirement for going to Heaven. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v3&5-8)

It must be said at this point that there were moments in my life, when I would have been in the middle of one of my daily tasks on the farm, and I would wonder about eternity. Supposing something happened to me and I died? Would I go to Heaven or Hell? These solemn thoughts would enter my head at times and I knew that I had no certain assurance about my eternal destiny.

Although my purpose in life was to be a ‘good religious person,’ I really needed to be born again, as it says in 1Peter 1v23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Peter 1v23). Being ‘born again’ is not brought about by infant baptism or even confirmation. It happens after conviction, admission and repentance of sin and as a consequence of asking the Lord Jesus Christ to come into our lives to make us new people. However, I had never been made aware of my need in this respect and so my life continued in this way: living, working, trying to be as good possible… until one day a mission came to the rural area in County Armagh where I lived.

In the early summer of 1950, the Faith Mission was given permission to have a mission in Cloughan, in a little hall in a rural setting around four miles out the Portadown Road from Armagh. This was something new for me and I was curious about it, as I had never attended anything of this nature before. A middle-aged lady, a Mrs. Rachel Troughton who lived locally invited me to come along to this mission. “If your grandfather was alive, he would go,” she told me. I was interested by this remark and so, being curious to find out the nature of what it was that would have attracted my paternal grandfather to such an event, I decided to go along.

Well, I must say that this meeting (the first of its kind that I ever recall attending) was very different to the church services that I would have been used to! One thing I noted was that the word ‘saved’ was used a lot during the meeting and it was this word ‘saved’ that spoke to my heart. Was it possible, I thought, ‘to be saved and to know it?’ How marvellous if I could have an assurance in my heart that I was definitely going to Heaven! After the meeting was over I discussed this matter with a Methodist minister, Rev. George Fennel, who was also at the mission that night. He assured me that I most definitely could have this assurance in my heart; this knowledge of sins forgiven and of a certain home in Heaven. As I walked home that night with a friend (who was a professing Christian) I pondered these things in my heart and in my conversation with him. Before going home he and I went into an old shed which was close to my home and we had a time of prayer together. That old shed, like many other landmarks, is long since gone but the memories linger on.

That night I went to sleep still thinking about all that I had heard earlier in the meeting, but I knew that I was still not right with God. The next evening I went along to that mission with one sole intent – to get saved and have an assurance in my heart that I was saved. I can remember that night well. The hall was quite packed, since not so many people had television then. All the neighbours were gathered in and I was anxiously waiting for the appeal at its conclusion. As the meeting drew to a close, this appeal was made for those who wanted to get right with the Lord to raise their hands. I raised my hand and at the end of the meeting when everyone was filing out, I waited behind. To the best of my knowledge I was the only person who came to the Lord that night, and as I sat waiting there while others walked out past me, I felt very conspicuous indeed. However, I knew that I was doing the right thing and that somehow my life would never ever be the same again. As the people in the meeting continued to pass, I recollect that one person stopped with me. This person nodded at me with a gesture that indicated that he wanted me to come along, not to wait behind – but to go outside after the meeting. I thank the Lord that I was firm in my resolve to stay in my seat and to get right with Him that night.

After everyone had left the meeting, I went up to meet the Faith Mission pilgrim, Miss Cordner. She asked me how she could help and I told her that I wanted to get saved; to get right with God. I was asked did I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to which I replied that I did. In fact there had never been a time in my life when I didn’t believe. Apart from attending church regularly, I also read my Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress, but none of this could give me the peace that I needed, for the Bible says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) That night I repented as a sinner. I told the Lord that I needed to be saved and having done this I knew in my heart that I was saved. Miss Cordner asked me to tell the first person I met that I had got saved. She also asked me to go and tell my acquaintances and loved ones about what had happened to me that night, quoting Romans 10v9&10 which says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

That night as I walked home the first person I met was a neighbour of ours who was on a bicycle and I stopped him to tell him that I had got saved. His reaction was not so encouraging, as he just ‘didn’t want to know.’ Then on arrival at my old home, I shall always remember the scene as I walked in that night… My father and a friend of his were sitting on either side of the fire, both of them smoking pipes. I frankly told them that I had got saved that night. “We’ll see how it works out,” my father said. His friend’s response was: “That’s good… you couldn’t have done a better thing!” I later discovered that this man had made a profession at one time and was now backslidden, but perhaps my words on that decisive night spoke to this man’s heart too.

Not long after my conversion I was invited to a Farmer’s Club social evening where two others and I had won first prize for sheep judging. Before going to this event I had promised the Lord that if He gave me the opportunity to speak, I would do so, testifying of what He had done for me. When the cup winners were asked to speak from the platform, my two colleagues did not want to – and so I could see the Lord’s hand in this. Evidently He wanted me to testify! As I used this opportunity to tell the audience of my experience, you could have ‘heard a pin drop.’ After my speech, the chairman’s words were most encouraging… “It would be well for others, if they did what Mr. Hutchinson has done,” he said. I found his words to be most encouraging, like the “cup of cold water” mentioned in Matthew 10v42.

In the next few years I was to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” and it wasn’t long after my conversion that I began to hear the message of sanctification preached. Unfortunately, the latter is something which is rarely heard in today’s pulpits, but I thank God that I came under such teaching in those days. The message “this is the will of God, even your sanctification” was expounded to me and at that time my Bible reading, as well as my witness for the Lord intensified. Deep within my heart was the desire to be “holy as He is holy.”

Then, one early morning, at around 7a.m., in the week before Christmas, in the year 1955, I was going out to milk the cattle when the Lord came suddenly upon me and I was filled with His Presence. Just as with my conversion, I do not have an exact date for that moment when I was sanctified – but I recall the place (the corner of the house) and the instant that it happened so well! Wonderful words from the Lord accompanied this experience…

“the Lord, whom ye seek, shall come suddenly to his temple…” (Mal. 3v1)

“Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15v3)

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”(1John 3v3)

My life at that moment was flooded with the Lord’s Presence and for a time (as the old hymn goes) I was “living on the mountain top.” Yet this was only the beginning in my closer walk with the Lord, for there is always new land to be possessed and praise God, we can possess it in the strength of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has “by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10v14)

After this experience of sanctification, the Lord used me to witness for Him in ‘Open Air Meetings.’ I recall dangerous times when those of us who took a stand for the Lord in this way could have been attacked – but thank God, He always protected us under all circumstances and who knows how many souls were touched by His Word in those meetings!

When I look back over my life, there have been rough and smooth paths to traverse since those early days, when as a young man I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to save and sanctify me, but I thank Him for those “great and precious promises” which are spoken of in 2Peter 1v4… “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The following verses in this chapter are God’s will for His children… “And beside this, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 1v5-8)

As the years go by, I see the Lord’s guiding hand in all my life. Naturally as we grow older, even the Lord’s people are subject on occasions to ill health, but I have that joy in serving a living Saviour who will take care of me whatever the future holds for me. I thank God that I can still be used of Him to reach others and that (even when we are going through low times) He will use our presence to speak to needy souls. Just recently when I was in hospital, I had occasion to meet a man whose father was a Christian who once spoke at meetings in our area. Unfortunately this man, as he admitted himself, had never trusted the Saviour even though his father had witnessed to him ‘a thousand times,’ as he put it. I believe that the Lord was now using me, an old acquaintance of his father, to speak to this person and that the fact that I was in the same ward, at the same time as him was amazing and certainly no accident.

Praise God for His continuing Presence in my life to this day! I have a longing for all my loved ones and the people I know or come in contact with, to find this Saviour who has done so much for me. I am very conscious that the terrible signs of the times show us that we are living in the last days and that the Lord’s coming may be imminent. I thank Him that I am ready, by faith, to meet Him and that my Risen Saviour has made provision for every living person in this world today to have abundant life in Him. Yes, there is no limit to what the Lord can do in, and through, the life of a saved and sanctified soul – and today, as always, I praise Him for His great love to me.”

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14v12)

“I Have a Friend!” The Testimony of George Cooper

May 22, 2010

The Testimony of George Cooper, Late, of Balbriggan, County Dublin. Born Monday 23rd May, 1910 – Died Monday 9th November, 2009 in his 100th year 

On this, the eve of what would have been my old friend’s 100th birthday, I remember his testimony which he related to me some years ago. I had the privilege of giving the following out in tract form on the day of George’s funeral and later to his neighbours in Balbriggan…

One day many years ago a barefoot little boy in Dublin city was sent down Townsend Street for groceries. Turning a corner, he suddenly stopped in his tracks, terrified at the sight of a line of policemen before him.  In his own words he says: “I turned and ran as fast as I could home.” The year was 1916. Later he can recall his father pushing a mattress against a bedroom window, in case of stray bullets. Such were just some of George Cooper’s many early fascinating memories, during those turbulent and defining moments in our Irish history.

In the late 1980’s my husband and I were living in Balbriggan, in that area of north County Dublin known as “Fingal.” Balbriggan, then a little harbour town has mushroomed in population in recent years, as people migrate further from the city for affordable housing. This is where we bought our very first home, and this is where, too, my own memories of George begin.

One fine day I went from door to door giving out free copies of a Christian magazine, “Lifeline.” As I walked pushing my first baby daughter in the pram, I felt very much a stranger, an outsider in this small town. Then something caught my eye… “Mizpah.” ‘A strange name for a house,’ I thought. ‘Could it be that a Christian lives here?’ I walked up the little garden path between well kept gardens, rang the doorbell – and an elderly man opened the door. Somehow there was a twinkle in George’s eyes that lifted my spirits on that day! His wife also came out to greet me, and I can recall her lovely kind face and hospitality, but I could see that she looked so unwell. Sadly I was never to see her again, for she died with cancer a short time later. Somehow, though, that day shall always stand out in my mind, for in this town of very few believers, I felt as though I had discovered a ‘well in a desert.’

Some time after that brief encounter and after his wife passed away, George appeared at our Christian fellowship one Sunday morning. Although devastated and lonely after the death of his wife, George maintained that ‘he had a Friend!’ Throughout all those years George’s faith never waned through personal illness and all the ups and downs of life. One dark November evening, I called to see my old friend (then in his 97th year) and George told me the story of how he found this “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) 

There are not so many people living in Ireland today who can remember when it was part of the British Empire – but George could! Born in Buckingham Place, (not Palace!) in Dublin on 23rd May 1910, he had vivid memories of the G.P.O. in flames after the 1916 rising, and of the narrow escapes sustained by him and his family in those dangerous days. Prior to this George can recall singing: “We are little Britons…” in National School! It was seven years after the ‘Easter Rising,’ in the year 1923, that George at the tender age of thirteen made a decision which would ensure that his future years of life would be fruitful and healthy ones.

On the evening in question he was attending the Tuesday ‘boys and girls night’ in the Merrion Hall, Dublin. That night Hudson Pope (the renowned preacher and hymn-writer) spoke on the text:  “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Little George, overcome with conviction, sought the Saviour and came forward in that meeting, and so began his long and faithful walk with the Lord. Although a thirteen-year old has had little opportunity to commit major sins, especially in that era, George had reached that age of understanding where he realised that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3v23) and therefore all need a Saviour. “I clearly remember after the meeting,” he said, “finding a few pence in my pocket. I bought my mother an apple with it on the way home.” George believed that this small gesture in itself spoke to his mother and showed her that some wonderful change had been wrought in her young son’s life.

At a very young age George started work, only retiring at the age of seventy-two! Spiritually, there were to be many testing times over the years. As a young apprentice in the printing trade, George was asked by a foreman to go across the road and ‘put bets on for him.’ He obeyed his boss just once, but after George’s witness to him on such matters, the foreman never ever asked George again! Clearly “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5v29) George worked his way up from being a ‘reader’s boy’ to the post of supervisor in Smurfits, a well known firm in Dublin. Throughout all the changing scenes of time, including those lean times of the Second World War, George’s Friend was always there for him, to protect, guide and comfort. He, his wife, their daughter and two sons regularly attended all the Sunday services in Dublin’s Merrion Hall. In those days Christians always carried Bibles to church, and in later years George’s Bible remained closer to his side than ever, as he sat in his little living room surrounded by family photographs and happy memories.

Until recently, although confined mostly to his own home, he was still very independent. As well as his own personal Bible study, he wrote letters of encouragement, ensured that copies of the “Daily Bread” were distributed in Mountjoy Prison, gave financial support to many worthy causes and last (but not least) he told those with whom he had daily contact, of the Source of his strength and the love of his Saviour who was his “Guide, even unto death” (Psalm 48v14)

Sometimes in my busy daily life, when I got a chance to ‘stop the world and get off for a while,’ I would call with George. As I sat in that little living room, talking to him while some quiet classical music or hymns played in the background, I felt that I had left the loud fast world of the 21st century, and gone back in time to a more elegant, relaxed era. Then, in those later days, surrounded by the memorabilia of more than a century, he sat smiling at me with the same lovely twinkle in his eyes that I remembered when I first met him nearly twenty years ago. Although frail in recent years, and suffering from diabetes, there was a joy in his face which came from walking with the Saviour for well over eighty years. “You know,” he told me, as I was about to leave one day, “I spoke to someone recently, and I believe that she has trusted the Lord.”

“How wonderful!” I exclaimed, and I thought… ‘George Cooper, still reaching souls in his little ‘vineyard’ as he approaches the century mark!’ His body, frail on that day, and his hand shaking, he smiled as he pointed upwards to where Jesus, his Friend throughout his long life’s journey, was preparing a place for him.

Dear friends and loved ones who mourn his loss, George loved these verses from the Bible…

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1Thess. 4v13&14)

 “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12v40)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2v8&9). 

George also loved (and often quoted) this verse, because it spoke to his young heart all those years ago… “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)

To all who read:  George’s faithful Friend throughout his long life wants to be your friend today… and forever! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

 My prayer is that you will repent and put your trust in George’s never-failing, lifelong Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and died that each one of us might go to Heaven. May the Lord bless you and guide you, as you ponder these things.