Posts Tagged ‘county armagh’

The Testimony of Stanley Conn (1928-2007)

March 16, 2019

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“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2Corinthians 5v17)

Photos of the verdant countryside of County Armagh remind me of my father’s farm and the many people who helped him out on it over the years. Having recently found the personal testimony of an old friend of Dad’s, I decided to transcribe it and post it with other testimonies here. Stanley was saved in a mission in Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan; one of the few mission halls which still exist south of the Irish border. Mr Edmund Sandford, another old friend of my parents was speaking on the night that Stanley came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The following are Stanley’s own words, taken from his testimony tract…

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”

I was born in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh. I left school at the age of thirteen. My horizons soon broadened, as I thought, when I smoked my first cigarette at the age of fourteen. I drank my first bottle of beer at fifteen, and at the age of eighteen I drank as much as I liked.

Education was not a big emphasis in my life as all I aimed to do was to have a good time. When I reached the age of twenty eight, I realized there had to be more to life than this – my life had no meaning, ambition or satisfaction. I never attended Sunday school and rarely went to church.

In the year 1956 Mr Sandford came to conduct a Gospel Mission in Lurganearly, near Newtownhamilton. I was invited to go along. Mr Sandford spoke of Someone who could change my life – His Name was Jesus. He explained God’s way of salvation: first, I needed to repent of my sins, to turn away from them, and ask God’s forgiveness; then I needed to receive Him as my Saviour, the One could cleanse me from every sin because He took my sin on His own body when He died on the cross.

2 Corinthians, 5:21 – He became sin for us,

Who knew no sin; that we might become

The righteousness of God in Him.”

I had never heard the gospel explained in such a way as this before and realized it was of utmost importance to accept Jesus into my heart, because one day He will return for those who know Him. God spoke to me clearly through a verse of a hymn:

“Come every soul by sin oppressed,

There’s mercy with the Lord;

And He will surely give you rest

By trusting in His Word.”

That night I made a decision to follow Christ. I knew within my heart that my life would be renewed. I never smoked another cigarette, or drank another beer, as God was faithful to His promise – “Old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.” God completely delivered me from every bondage that these things had over me.

God performed a miracle of Salvation in my life and also in healing. In 1978 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour with uncertain predictions, but it was God’s will to have me fully recover to tell of His great miracle in my life. Through my years as a Christian, my life has proved meaningful with complete satisfaction and my only ambition is to tell others of God’s great love and of the urgency to respond to the Gospel Message.

Two groups of people – saved and unsaved.

When Christ returns eternal life will be:

Heaven for the saved – Hell for the unsaved.

 

 

Link to Hymn, “Come every soul by sin oppressed:” https://youtu.be/nfeSkHqd0sY

 

Does Anyone Know The Author Of This Poem: “The Holy Life?”

September 19, 2017

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I recently enjoyed a visit with Mr and Mrs Harold Irwin who are old friends of my parents, Jack and Ella Hutchinson, who are now with the Lord. I noticed while we chatted, that hanging on the wall there was a lovely poem surrounded by flowers in a frame which looked very like one of those my mother would have used for her paintings. As it turned out it was indeed given to the couple as a gift by my mother!

Entitled: “The Holy Life,” the words are rather faint now. I later discovered that my sister, who is good at calligraphy, had printed the poem for Mum but she was unable to remember its source. Upon further investigation I discovered that one source was “Gospel Banner” but the author still unknown.

If anyone knows the author of this poem, I would be delighted to hear from you! By all accounts there are at least two versions of this poem which is what happens, unfortunately, when words are without copyright. Seeing it there touched me and brought back lovely memories of the fellowship my parents once had with Mr and Mrs Irwin and other souls who would gather in to the little cottage prayer meeting in the beautiful countryside near Richhill in Northern Ireland. There, in the warmth of a real log fire, hearts were lifted to the Lord in prayer. How delighted my mother would be to know that, of all their possessions, this gift is still precious to Mr and Mrs Irwin. These are the words on my mother’s version of this lovely poem…

The Holy Life

There is a faith, unmixed with doubt,

A love all free from fear,

A walk with Jesus where is felt

His Presence always near;

There is a rest that God bestows,

Transcending pardon’s peace,

A lowly sweet simplicity,

Where inward conflicts cease.

There is a service God inspired,

A zeal that tireless grows,

Where self is crucified with Christ

And joy unceasing flows.

There is a being ‘right with God,’

That yields to His commands,

Unswerving true fidelity,

A loyalty that stands.

There is a meekness free from pride,

That feels no anger rise,

At slights, or hate or ridicule,

But counts the cross a prize.

There is a patience that endures,

Without a fret or care,

But joyful sings ‘His will be done,

My Lord’s sweet grace I share’.

There is a purity of heart,

A cleanness of desire

Wrought by the Holy Comforter,

With sanctifying fire.

There is a glory that awaits

Each blood-washed soul on high,

When Christ returns to take His Bride;

With Him beyond the sky.

Loving Memories of Mrs. Ella Hutchinson – A Lovely Lady Who Will be missed by many

January 31, 2015

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Below is a little obituary article in respect of my mum, Mrs. Ella Hutchinson, who went to be with the Lord in December 2014. Really, this is just a short synopsis of a life that was lived to the full; even in ill health and pain my mother was creative, as is evidenced by all the wonderful paintings which now hang in our home! The robin (above) which she painted once for my daughter appears in my first book: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year.” Words are somehow inadequate when it comes to trying to describe how much she loved her children and grandchildren, but most of all I would wish her testimony (see the link to this below) to continue to challenge, encourage or convict those who read. Submitted to the Ulster Gazette newspaper in Armagh; the following was kindly published by them in the edition dated Thursday 22nd January, 2015…

“Saturday 13th December last saw the passing of a beloved mother and grandmother, Mrs. Ella Hutchinson from the Woodview, Portadown Road area.

Dearly loved and missed by each of her four children, Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine, their spouses and her 12 grandchildren; Ella was also loved by many in her local community, including those in the health sector who cared for her.

Born ‘Margaret Isabella Turkington,’ to parents Richard and Anna, Ella had one sister Betty who is now deceased. She grew up in the Bannfoot and Portadown town areas of County Armagh and in 1952 married a young farmer Jack Hutchinson from near Richhill; the close couple were together for almost 59 years when Jack passed away in February 2011.

Ella had many unique characteristics and gifts for which she was widely known; as a homemaker and as an artist with an appreciation of nature, she painted many beautiful scenes in water-colour and oils which now grace the homes of loved ones and friends to whom she was always so generous.

Her hospitability, warmth, motherly and caring nature, deep interest in many aspects of life and sense of humour were also known to many, despite the fact that in later years she suffered from ill health, was disabled and endured much pain.

It must be said that Ella’s patience in the midst of trials, suffering and many hospital procedures can only be attributed to her personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a journey which began many years ago, just before her marriage to Jack who also came to put his trust in the Lord for salvation.

As with her husband Jack, Ella would want sorrowing loved ones and friends to know that although she is “absent from the body” she is joyfully “present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8) in a realm where there is “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, or pain for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21v4)

She would also want it known that for all who put their trust in her Saviour and lifelong Friend, there is this sure promise: “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30v5)

Finally, as with Jack, Ella would also desire that her testimony should live on to speak to others, long after her passing. Her testimony can be viewed here:

https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/the-testimony-of-my-mother-ella-hutchinson-nee-turkington-27th-may-1929-13th-december-2014/

Copies are freely available from her daughter Elizabeth. (Email: readywriterpublications@gmail.com)

 

 

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

Lest we Forget!

November 13, 2011

The following is a short extract from the end of one of my stories in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year.” The story entitled: Wars, Rumours of War, Three Hostages… and the Prayers of the Saints (Matt. 21v22 & Matt. 24v6-8) tells of how a young woman, Annetta Flanagan from the small village of Richhill in Northern Ireland was taken hostage by the Taliban back in 2004. Many Christians in the Richhill area prayed fervently and I thank the Lord that Annetta and her two colleagues were released unharmed some weeks later…

“The dawn of Tuesday 23rd November 2004, brought that release of Annetta and her colleagues – almost a month after they were taken hostage on Thursday 28th October. The details of the release were vague – probably because no one wanted to jeopardise those who could be involved in possible future hostage situations. One of their captors is believed to have been shot dead, but the three victims were safe and well. Only those involved in this traumatic event knew how it was for them, and are able to tell their story. But from the moment that I heard that breaking news, I wanted to tell a story – a story of the great power of our wonderful Saviour, for whom all things are possible, and I wanted that story to have a happy ending. I thank God that it did!

With tears in my eyes, I looked at all types of newspapers on display that week, depicting the smiling face of Annetta as she headed home to be re-united with loved ones. A headline in one Dublin newspaper announced: “Town rejoices as power of prayer brings Annetta home.” (Irish Independent, Wednesday 24th November 2004).  Even the secular world was acknowledging the power of prayer!

It is interesting to note that during their time in captivity, three Afghan women offered to take the place of the three hostages! What a noble gesture – and yet on hearing of this I was immediately struck by the words of Romans 5v7… “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” No doubt the Afghan ladies saw the injustice in threatening to kill people who were merely helping with democratic elections. However, who would offer his or her life for someone whom, in his or her view, was evil and even deserved death? Nevertheless we read… “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5v8) The righteous Son of God laid down His life for all (1Tim. 2v5&6) in the knowledge that nothing less than this enormous sacrifice could ever redeem the human race. 

Valiant soldiers through the ages gave their lives, so that democracy would overcome the tyrants of this world.  Annually we remember the dead of two World Wars, and the sacrifices that were made. How much more then, should we acknowledge and honour Jesus, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9v6) who gave His life for the billions of souls throughout the ages, to redeem them to Himself? I have no doubt that he has spoken to souls through this and other traumatic events, and that He will continue to speak to them in the days that lie ahead – so that they may trust Him for eternity, escaping a worse situation than they have been involved in, upon this earth. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55v8&9). A short time after the event, I wrote to a local newspaper wishing the released hostages a full recovery after their horrific ordeal. My letter concluded with the words of Ephesians 3v20&21, which I feel is an apt conclusion to a story that must give God the glory. Perhaps, too, it may have even more joyful implications than we would ever have dreamed possible… “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, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.”

Morning, noon and night our whispered anxious prayers,

Rose in silent anguish to the throne of He who cares.

Oh blessed Lord, we thank thee now, for thou hast said: “Believe…

For if ye are my servants… ye shall indeed receive!”

Fond Memories of my father, Jack Hutchinson (15th June 1926 – 16th February 2011)

March 15, 2011

The following is a little article which I submitted to the Ulster Gazette newspaper in Armagh; it was kindly published by them just recently…

“Wednesday 16th February last saw the passing of Jack Hutchinson, a local farmer and fruit-grower from the Portadown Road/Armagh area, close to the village of Richhill. Well known and loved in his own community and further afield, Jack will be sadly missed by his wife Ella (née Turkington), children Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine and Jack’s younger sister Ella, who is his only remaining sibling. Jack was loved dearly by each and every one of his 11 grandchildren for his fun-loving personality and will also be sadly missed by his daughter-in-law Jackie and sons-in-law Martin, Bruce and Colin, in addition to his sisters-in-law Rena and Freda, brother-in-law George and his many nephews, nieces and others in the extended family circle.

Friends, neighbours and acquaintances will also miss Jack, an unassuming man who encouraged others and whose life was characterised by honesty, integrity, hard work and love for his fellowman. He and his wife Ella were married for almost 59 years and their united faith and devotion to their Saviour and each other was exemplary, mirroring their commitment to the Lord in the early 1950’s. Jack came to put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in June 1950 and had a later experience of sanctification in December 1955. Prayer was of the utmost importance to him throughout the years; both his own personal prayer and the prayer meetings which he attended with others, while his well-studied Bible was his constant companion on the armchair beside him.

Above all, Jack would want sorrowing loved ones and close friends to know that although he is “absent from the body,” he is joyfully “present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8) and that for all who put their trust in his Saviour and lifelong Friend, there is this sure promise… “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30v5)

Finally, Jack would also desire that his testimony should live on to speak to others, long after his passing. Jack’s testimony can be viewed and printed from this website:

https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/jack-hutchinson-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cyou-can-be-saved-%e2%80%93-and-know-it%e2%80%9d-by-his-daughter-elizabeth-burke-nee-hutchinson/

Copies are also available from his daughter, Elizabeth. (Email: readywriterpublications@gmail.com)

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)

“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “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.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm