Posts Tagged ‘faith mission’

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” (St. Luke 11v35)

August 27, 2015

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Having recently attended the annual Faith Mission Conference near Durrow in County Laois, I was reflecting today on all the different types of people that we’d met – both at the conference and around that locality. Somehow we found ourselves seated beside someone who had never attended the conference before. He had travelled a distance – out of curiosity. The fact that this person had sat beside us, I felt, was no accident because of the conversation which ensued after the meeting. How good it is to be able to witness to those we come in contact with in this way; I felt a great sense of the Lord’s Presence while we were conversing with this man and also a sense that he was genuinely seeking something more in his life.

There are others who may attend a meeting where the gospel is preached for many years but for some reason it never touches their hearts. Often I pray quietly within my own heart while a sermon is being preached, in the knowledge that there may be someone present who needs to be awakened to see his own need.

Others, still, perhaps young people, have just gone along to please someone – or even under duress. They are ‘anti’ everything that is said and bored with it all… and they show it!

There may also be deceivers; they mingle with Christians and they use the same terminology as Christians, but they have never been truly born again of the Spirit of God; I believe that the Lord gives discernment in this regard too.

Deceivers populate much of the ‘religious’ world. Not only do they deceive – but they are deceived. Very often of deceivers who are deceived it may be said that they are… “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Timothy 3v7)

We stayed on after the conference, to visit the round tower and the relatively new heritage centre in the picturesque village of Timahoe. Situated in an old Church of Ireland, we discovered much of historical interest in this heritage centre, where we were kindly shown around by a lady who lives in the area.

Models of several austere looking monks caught my eye – but especially one who sat at a writing desk. On viewing the photograph later, somehow that “ever learning” verse came to mind.

Surely “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)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6)

He gave Himself a ransom for all: seeking souls shall find Him if they seek for Him with all their hearts; the scorner will be forgiven and the backslider restored if they truly repent – and even the deceiver can break through, when he allows the Lord to show him that the light that he thought he had is but darkness.

Ultimately we can only serve one Master, whose will is that our eye is “single.” Friendship with the world is surely enmity with God. (James 4v4) It is totally His will that our eyes are focussed on Him alone and on the eternal values that count.

In the lovely words of Jesus: “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” (Luke 11v34-36)

Lay up Treasure in Abundant Measure… for the Great Accounting Day

February 11, 2015

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Just recently I discovered a very interesting old book: “Ways to Wealth – the Cust Family of Eighteenth Century Armagh,” by L.A. Clarkson & E.M. Crawford. The back page of the book declares: “This book gives a unique insight into the lifestyle and activities of an eighteenth century county family. It centres round Miss Annaritta Cust of Market Street, Armagh who died in 1797 aged well over eighty.” Apparently Miss Cust “left behind a house filled with an extraordinary collection of clutter ranging from valuable silver, elegant furniture, clothes in profusion and books in abundance, to useless scraps of rags and rubbish!” A list was drawn up by the executors of every single item possessed by this lady – what a nightmare to have to go through this lot!

I find the book interesting, from spiritual point of view, given that I have experienced the loss of two loved ones in recent years and have known something of the nature of the personal effects that they have left behind.  Certainly I have been especially touched by their little hand-written notes of a spiritual nature. My mother, by little notes she has written has made it clear that she loves me very much and I was moved to tears on reading these; it means so much to me to know in whom she had put her trust, when I read her references to her Lord and Saviour. In the end she was closer to Him than she ever had been in the rest of her life.

To hold my father’s Bible, studying the pieces of scripture that he had underlined and his handwritten references to how certain verses had touched him personally also means so much to me.

Being something of a sentimental hoarder I suppose that my personal effects could be a bit of a nightmare to go through too – so perhaps I should start tidying up now! However, I sincerely do want to leave behind those things which touch the hearts of those who find them.

With these thoughts in mind, I was recently reminded of the little choruses which were sung at the start of the Sunday night meeting in Sleepy Valley Mission Hall near Richhill; little choruses in the old “Songs of Victory” book, such as this one…

“Lay up treasure in Heaven,

Life will pass away;

Lay up treasure in abundant measure,

For the great accounting day;

Lay up treasure in Heaven!

Though men count thee poor,

Thou shalt reign with the sons of God

For evermore.”

William Drake Pennick (1884-1944)

We live in an incredibly materialistic world – materialism which would make the personal effects of Miss Cust pale into insignificance. Sadly there are many who appear totally oblivious to that fact that someday they will leave their possessions behind for others to sift through. We sojourn here for just a very little while.

Jesus said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6v19&20)

What gladdens my heart most? The knowledge that someone has given me gold or silver – or the knowledge that a soul has repented and put his trust in the Lord for salvation? The joy that I have inherited gold and silver would be immediately robbed from me if I returned home to find those material things had been stolen. But no one can rob me of the incomparable joy that I would feel on hearing that a soul had put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6v24)

“Today,” the book tells me “the Custs are forgotten in Armagh, the name unpreserved even as the name of a street, as in the case of their contemporaries, Ogle or Jenny or Dobbin.” “The ‘great house’ has been totally obliterated.”

And so it will be one day with our own homes, if this world continues. Our material possessions will some day pass away – but those unseen attributes: that love for our fellowmen, that burning desire to see souls saved and our love, witness and work for the Lord will endure for ever. These are the only treasures which should hold any meaning for those who serve Him and these treasures can only be the inheritance of those who have denied themselves and taken up the cross to follow Him. (Mark 10v21)

 

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

A Bitterly Cold Day in the Workhouse and Thoughts on John Byrne

March 28, 2014

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Some weeks ago we attended the Prayer and Fellowship event at the Faith Mission Centre in Durrow, but before travelling home we spent an interesting time in the Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum, County Laois. Renovations are still being carried out here but I have to say that I found it a most comprehensive and fascinating guided tour, giving an insight into how life must have been for those who were unfortunate enough to have to live there at the time. It was so icy in that gloomy place, to the point that I could imagine very vividly indeed what it must have been like to be confined within its cold grey walls all those years ago. In the mid 19th century, Ireland, like the rest of the British Isles, was dotted all over with these workhouses which supposedly were a superior alternative to starvation on the outside.
In reality terrible hardship and disease awaited those who entered the workhouse. Standing in the infirmary, I looked for a moment at the bars on the windows and suddenly shivered when I thought about how whole families were brought so low. To be ill at all within a workhouse would almost certainly have meant death in those days.
The tour also took in a wide variety of antique agricultural implements from the time when the building was used as a co-operative from the 1920’s – a different era but still there were many hardships for people.
While we were given the tour and commentary about the building in its workhouse era, we had to climb some wooden steps to get to another level where I saw what I thought was a young boy lying on the floor. For a moment I stopped in shock but then realised that this was just a model, showing how the inmates would have gone to sleep on the hard floor at night, on a sack filled with oaten straw. Somehow I suspect that they got little sleep under those overcrowded, cold and uncomfortable conditions.
The Lord never intended that families be segregated like this and that children, especially, should live under such inhumane conditions. If life here offered no dignity, death offered even less. There were many deaths in this particular workhouse – and a communal grave into which bodies were emptied from a cart without ceremony. This great pit is still in evidence today; the person who gave us the tour told us that this grave was to be properly marked, in respect for those who had been buried here.
According to records, one poor soul (John Byrne) who was ‘retarded,’ soiled himself and was subsequently ‘washed’ in a nearby cold river as a punishment, with the result that he ended his days in the infirmary, having caught pneumonia. I can only imagine how he must have felt in those icy cold waters on a February day all those years ago.
In all, three eras are represented within the confines of the great grey buildings: the workhouse era of poverty and famine; the age of the co-operative society, and also the era when it was occupied by British soldiers (the ‘Black and Tans’) during Ireland’s war of independence. Graffiti is still in evidence on the walls from the time it was occupied by the latter.
As I followed our guide (we were his only customers that cold day) I thought about how much misery those cold grey walls had been witness to – and how many injustices had been perpetrated within this terrible place and the heartbreaking stories of the many souls who had lived here. I especially thought again about young John Byrne and how he had suffered so cruelly.
Even in this modern age life can be cruel – very often children and elderly people are the victims of neglect and abuse and other vulnerable sections of our own communities can be open to abuse too. In recent times I have encountered a lack of compassion for those who really need it; many people in this world are self-seeking and self-centred, caring little for the deep troubles of others.
Somehow the lovely hymn “Sing we the King Who is Coming to Reign” came to mind when all these thoughts were going through my mind.
As this world with all its turmoil draws to a conclusion, the people of God should not be surprised to find more and more opposition and hostility towards them especially. Society may have advanced in technological terms but the current state of the world we live in could be described in these words:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection….” (see: 2Timothy 3v1-5)
Jesus said: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10v22)
And praise God injustice and cruelty shall be no more for…“Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King!”
Sing we the King who is coming to reign;
Glory to Jesus the Lamb that was slain;
Life and salvation His empire shall bring,
Joy to the nations, when Jesus is King.

Chorus
Come, let us sing praise to our King,
Jesus, our King, Jesus, our King;
This is our song, who to Jesus belong
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.

Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin,
Doubts shall not darkness the witness within,
Hell hath no terror, and death hath no sting,
Love is victorious when Jesus is King.

All men shall dwell in His marvellous light,
Races long severed His love shall unite,
Justice and truth from His sceptre shall spring,
Wrong shall be ended, when Jesus is King.

Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray;
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day,
When this new song Thy creation shall sing
Satan is vanquished, and Jesus is King!

C. Silvester Horne

Links to this hymn: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/i/singking.htm

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The Faith Mission Midlands Convention – Sunshine & Encouragement!

August 24, 2012

On the weekend of 17th – 19th August last I received much personal encouragement on attending the 30th Annual Faith Mission Irish Midlands Convention, held for the first time in the lovely Durrow area. Sometimes our private conversations with other souls attending such conventions can be every bit as challenging and encouraging as the words we hear from the pulpit and I can honestly say that I was touched by both on this occasion.

It was impressed upon me more than ever that I am not the only person in the world with problems (health or otherwise) and it is good to know that there are those who pray for us and who genuinely care for both our spiritual and physical welfare.

I discovered another source of encouragement when we visited the public library in the little town of Abbeyleix. On climbing a winding staircase I viewed copies of my books: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and “Singing on the Journey Home” on the shelves and was pleased to see that both books had been borrowed multiple times. This discovery, I believe, came from the Lord to give me encouragement at a time when I most needed it. In that little library, on a sunny Saturday morning I could see clearly that my work and distribution had not been in vain and that the Lord’s Word would not return unto Him void.

The Lord was reminding me that seeking souls in little libraries in many Irish towns and villages and in the larger libraries in Dublin city may be reached in this way. Many libraries have previously purchased books from me, but unfortunately libraries are also now victims of our lingering ‘economic downturn.’ Yet, despite this, I believe that the Lord will provide as I now endeavour to donate books to libraries which no longer have funding.

How good it is to know that the words He instructs us to write can live on to inspire, convict, challenge or comfort others with His love long after we have been called Home!

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)