Posts Tagged ‘jack hutchinson’

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

 

Thy Welcome Call… Avails for All!

February 16, 2017

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I have always admired the voices of a Welsh choir… particularly when they sing some of the lovely old hymns like “Gwahoddiad,” which is Welsh for “Welcome.” The words and music of this beautiful hymn (“I am coming Lord” or “I hear thy welcome voice”) were written by Lewis Hartsough (1828-1919) who composed it at a revival meeting in Iowa and it was subsequently published in “Guide to Holiness.” There are many stories of how it went on to be used in revival meetings and how it blessed many souls and brought many more to a place of repentance.

 

So, why am I thinking of this hymn today? Well, today is the anniversary of when my Dad (who prayed much for revival) was called Home to be with the Lord. Above is a little hall (Ballytyrone) where he used to pray with friends. I recently put a memoriam notice in the local newspaper, in remembrance of him, followed by a little verse which I composed just last week. The Lord gave me the words in an instant one morning, just after I had woken up.

 

Hutchinson, Jack, Called Home 16th February, 2011.

 

Lovingly remembered by Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families.

 

 Oh, the arms outstretched to all

 

Who gladly hear Thy welcome call!

 

Oh the joy on heaven’s shore,

 

That greets Thy saints forevermore!

 

© Elizabeth Burke

 

All sorts of people read newspapers (even local newspapers) which are left in all sorts of places and waiting rooms and somehow I believe that some simple words which we have been led to write may strike a chord with someone somewhere and will be used of the Lord to, at the very least, inspire them to think upon eternity and spiritual matters.

 

His arms are indeed still outstretched to all in this the Day of Grace; He died for all (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2v2) and it is not His will that any should perish. (2Peter 3v9)

 

Today I sing along to the words of this lovely old hymn which has blessed thousands the world over. I don’t recall Dad referring to this hymn but I know he would love it… I quote the first and last verses and chorus and share the link as a tribute to him.

 

Link to this hymn:  https://youtu.be/TlR1ot4QzP0

“I hear thy welcome voice,

 

That calls me, Lord, to Thee,

 

For cleansing in Thy precious blood

 

That flowed from Calvary.

 

I am coming, Lord,

 

Coming now to Thee:

 

Wash me, cleanse me in the blood

 

That flowed on Calvary.

 

 

All hail, atoning blood!

 

All hail, redeeming grace!

 

All hail, the gift of Christ, our Lord,

 

Our strength and righteousness!

 

Remembering My Dad Today, 15th June 2016 – On What Would Have Been His 90th Birthday!

June 15, 2016

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Today my thoughts were filled with memories of my father who was born on 15th June, 1926 and who was called home to be with the Lord on 16th February, 2011. I have lovely memories throughout life of his smiling face, his sense of humour, his generosity, his honesty… and his witness to the many souls he would come in contact with in his daily life. While Mum would sometimes worry, Dad would reassure her… “It will be o.k.” he would say, “the Lord will undertake.” Indeed they both complemented each other very well. As I have said before – theirs was a marriage made in heaven, lasting for the best part of 60 years.

I remember a youthful Dad, chasing me through the waves of the sea on a summer’s day when I was very young. I can still hear the cry of a seagull and feel the sheer happiness of the moment. In later years he would jump out from behind something to scare his many grandchildren – my children and their cousins! They loved his sense of fun and even when he was much older that didn’t change much. But most of all I remember him being a witness to the children as well; he loved them all so much and wanted them to experience the joy that he had found in serving the Lord.

Today I found his very first well-worn old Bible; the one which Mum gave him two years before they were married… “Christmas 1950,” it read, “from Ella… Best Wishes.” In very faint pencil I read something which brought a tear to my eye… “Saved 1949 by the blood of the Crucified One”… in Dad’s handwriting. In another place he had written… “There is a new name written down in glory. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” In yet another place the writing is faint… “I’m so happy and here’s the reason why…. The writing tails off and cannot be read. But I know why he was so happy…

Since this would have been Dad’s 90th birthday had he lived, I turned to Psalm 90 today and how apt it is! “The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90v10-12)

Dad must have been around 23 years old when he trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation – a very wise decision which was to set the scene for the rest of his life. “So teach us to number our days…” These days I can hardly believe how time is flying… which they say, is a sign that you are getting quite old! Nowadays many people reach four-score and ten and indeed, to reach 100 is these days not as unusual as it used to be; I have seen many “100th birthday cards” on display. Still, even the longest life is really not so very long and “we spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm 90v9)

Each of “our tales” is so very different. I can look back on a mostly very happy life, with the occasional bleak moments – but no one is immune from them, whatever their profession of faith. How wise to “number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When we repent of our sins and trust the Lord of my father for salvation, then we will have a Burden-Bearer for those bleak moments. My Dad was never famous or someone who made his mark in history but these days when I hear of the death of a famous person and I listen to all the accolade and tributes from mankind, all I wonder is… “Did that person ever trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation?” Surely nothing else in this world counts. As the little rhyme goes…  “Only one life,’ twill soon be past… only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

The last time I was ever with Dad, before he took the stroke which left him badly brain-damaged, I was sitting beside him in a little prayer meeting which he had arranged with Christian friends. This little prayer meeting was being held in the very place where he had trusted the Lord in 1949. After that I have one very special memory… One night after he had taken the stroke, I was with him in hospital and stayed with him for a very long time. There were just the two of us that night. He couldn’t speak but he held my hand tightly and the look of love in his eyes for me spoke volumes. I love Dad and I miss him but I know that he has gone to be with Jesus “which is far better.” My prayer on this beautiful June day is…. “Oh Lord, help me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom and use the time that you have given me wisely – and to your glory, for life is futile, if it is not a life well lived for the Lord. Thank you Lord for these beautiful memories and for parents who, in their young lives believed, even before I was born.”

“Little Children, let no man deceive you…”

February 16, 2016

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I wakened to the sound of a cold blustery wind this morning and pulling the curtains to my little bedroom window, viewed the effects of this invisible wind as it bent the ivy-covered trees in the garden. “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 3v8) Praise God for sending His only begotten Son into this world, that this world through Him might be saved…

As the grey morning drew on I was remembering what I was doing around five years ago. Unlike this cold and wintry day, it was a beautiful day with sunshine and a blue sky. As I write, I recall how I tearfully followed my Dad’s funeral cortege as it made its final journey down the avenue from the old country home; it was in this very dwelling place that I had trusted the Lord to save me many years previously.

This week, in order to honour his memory, I inserted a little memorial notice with a verse of scripture in the local newspaper of that area – the Ulster Gazette… “Hutchinson, Jack, called Home 16th February, 2011. Lovingly remembered by his children, Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families. Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57.”

I was thinking earlier… now how best can I honour my father’s memory today? What good memories he left behind… above is a text which he painted on one of his sheds. I know for sure that he would love me to quote the verses and uphold the great truths that he held dear, as he walked through this scene of time.

I recently attended a meeting where the sermon was based upon the words of first John chapter 1. I quote verses 8-10 in this chapter… “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

I have absolutely no problem with these verses, even taken in isolation. The truth is plain and simple… if I have sin in my life, I cannot deceive myself by saying otherwise and if this is my state… then I would be a liar to say that I have not sinned. However, “He is faithful and just” – not only to forgive me my sins, but to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. To deny that this can truly happen in an instant is to deny His infinite power.

How good it is to read on… “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1John 2v1-4)

What victory over sin and death and hell is offered to us through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Victory – not only in the next life, but in this transient and potentially troublesome one too! Note the important little word ‘if’ in 1John 2v1. The philosophy that those who have trusted the Lord to save them must then be weighed down by the chains of habitual sin for the rest of their lives is a highly dangerous one and those who preach it bear a fearful responsibility.

“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1John 4v6&7)

These were the verses (and there are many many more!) that my Dad loved.

Today as I think of him, I know in my heart that he would want me to continue to propagate that which he took a stand on in this life. Above all he would desire that loved ones and acquaintances would apply it to their own lives. For all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save them to the uttermost and to keep them in the narrow way in their daily walk with Him, there are these promises:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortality must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortality shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The final verse of this chapter, I believe, would be Dad’s message to brothers and sisters still walking in this scene of time… “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, umoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15v51-58)

Praise God!

 

 

Easter Book Launch of Novel: “Ricky the Runaway”

March 19, 2015

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Lord willing I hope to launch my fourth book “Ricky the Runaway,” which centres on the adventures of a twelve-year-old boy who runs away from home because of a well-known problem in our society: bullying at school.  The introduction to the novel reads…

“Set in the early twenty-first century, this is a story of how fervent prayer can create the winds of change in lives, blowing them safely to rest in that harbour which is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each short chapter leaves the reader in suspense as the story moves from one situation to another, exposing many problems which are well known in our world: bullying, the exploitation of migrant workers, parents who are not listening to their children and children who have become a danger to society because of neglect and lack of love, guidance and discipline.

Ricky runs from one danger to another, revealing how ‘running away’ from situations at home, work or school is rarely the answer to our pressing problems. Meanwhile, not one person in his family is left untouched by the power of prayer in the lives of ageing distant grandparents who have become estranged from the family. Even anonymous souls, like a nurse in a hospital corridor, are affected by what is happening in the lives of the family. Written against an Easter background, “Ricky the Runaway” is about finding “that which was lost” and discovering love, forgiveness and lives made new by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The venue for the launch, which will take place between 3.15pm and around 5.15pm on Monday 30th March, will be Richhill Recreation Centre, in the large committee room. (Disabled access) Parents, children and all interested parties are welcome to drop in anytime (and for as long as they wish) between those hours. Simultaneously I hope to have an Easter bookmark-making craft for anyone interested. (All materials free) Light refreshments are available for all – as well as small Easter eggs for the children while stocks last!

Normally retailing at £6.99, the book will be on special offer of £5 at the launch.

The dedication reads:

“This novel is dedicated to the memory of my beloved parents, Jack Hutchinson (1926-2011) and Ella Hutchinson (1929-2014) of Woodview, near Armagh in Northern Ireland. As parents and grandparents in a million, their gifts of love and encouragement to me are still so real, reaching even beyond the bounds of this life. I feel in my heart that they would have been overjoyed with the knowledge that young people, for whom they had a special affinity, would have been reached in this special way with the love of their Master.”

Acknowledgment: I wish to thank my daughter, Sarah, for her wonderful artwork on the covers of “Ricky the Runaway.”

May the Lord bless the proceedings on Monday 30th March next. I look forward very much, to meeting old friends – and greeting new ones!

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

December 29, 2014

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

 

I met a soul so full of grace

And as I gazed upon her face,

I found it was not hard to see

Where she would spend eternity.

And sadly I did leave her there

But in her love for God did share,

And prayed that I might be like she –

So full of grace and charity.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For My Mum

(Proverbs 31v10-31)

Born in the lovely month of May

Yours was always the blossom…

Apple, Hawthorne and Cherry

Gracing Ireland’s hedgerows and trees,

Just as you graced every house

You ever lived in, making it home –

Home for the labourer, the rambler,

 The loved one.

Your food gathered from near and far

Fed so many mouths.

Your hands, baking bread,

Clicking needles, loving gifts for all –

Or giving beauty life on canvas.

Your voice, singing choruses of praise,

Speaking words of comfort

To another soul across the ward…

And once, so long ago,

You heard a choir of angels sing,

As you wearied not in well doing –

His promise that some day you would reap

The blossom you have sown.

Many daughters have done virtuously,

But you have excelled them all.

Elizabeth Burke

Who stole my Father’s Gate?

October 28, 2011

I recently wrote a little article for a local newspaper after the disappearance of a gate which my father, the late Mr. Jack Hutchinson, had fitted to the entrance of the back lane of his farm. These gates bring back memories for me of peaceful country walks and of happy days of my closely knit family throughout the seasons. I am saddened that the gates are gone as I associate them with my father who died only a few months ago. One has been taken away by my brother, in case it is stolen too and the other… who knows where it is? The theft of the gate is only a minor one in a number of other more distressing recent events in my life. But the photograph of the gates and the poetry which they inspired me to write will live on… hopefully to touch hearts for a long time to come. Below is the poem that I wrote almost eight years ago for a baby niece’s christening, inserting a photograph of the gates…

Today, a precious baby girl,

I watch your tiny life unfurl,

Knowing not the future path of years,

You sit with smiles, and sometimes tears

At the gateway of life.

I trust you will blossom and grow,

As lovely days shall come and go –

Each joyous occasion a treasured milestone

On a path that belongs to you alone.

There may be a mountain to ascend

And often a spiralling bend,

And crossroads too – a difficult decision –

For not all roads are signed with vision.

And some may carry a heavy toll,

As the journey of life shall onward roll.

But I know a narrow little road

Where the cares of life you may unload.

Branching off from busy highways,

It leads so far from this world’s byways.

There you may rest in green pastures,

And be restored by still waters –

For its toll has once for all been paid

By one, Jesus, who died in your stead.

So, I will pray for you little niece

That you may choose this road of peace,

And take the hand of a Shepherd Friend,

Who will guide your life to journey’s end,

Until you meet that crystal river,

And dwell in the light of His presence

Forever.

 

 

Memories of “Sleepy Valley Mission Hall” – & Reflections on my Unchanging Saviour

April 9, 2011

After Mr. Ralph Loney, a dear friend of my parents recently passed away, I recalled a little article for a local newspaper, the Ulster Gazette, which I had written around 8 years ago about Sleepy Valley Mission Hall, with which he was associated…

Sleepy Valley“, as it was aptly named in bygone days, can be accessed from the main Armagh/Portadown Road or from the village of Richhill. These days, that once verdant valley, is a favourite location for new housing developments. My early memories of “Sleepy Valley” were not so much of its peaceful green fields, or of the later ‘concrete spread’, the extension of an ever-growing village – but of a little portable hall in the corner of a vast field. As a child I attended Sunday afternoon meetings there, and later, as an adult, Sunday evening meetings and that special “Day of Prayer”, held annually around Christmas and the New Year.

The little hall was not affiliated to any church, which in these days of denominationalism, is a refreshing concept. Mr. Samuel Hewitt, who once lived in Richhill castle, was responsible for the erection of the hall in the field belonging to Mr. Ralph Loney – who was to lead the Sunday evening meetings there for many years, and whose wife Maureen played the organ.  Indeed, the hall had been originally erected for the purpose of one mission. However, it stood throughout the decades in a troubled province, and who knows what encouraging influence, or how many lives were changed for eternity by the words spoken; the ministry in song, and the sincere prayer which arose within its humble walls?

Until just last year it had been in use for a Tuesday evening Bible Study and Prayer Meeting for a handful of stalwarts, including the Woodhouse family, Mr. Jack Hutchinson and Mr. Harold Irwin.  I had the privilege of being present at one of the last few meetings. Then, on Tuesday, 11th March 2003, the prayer meeting was held in Sleepy Valley for what was to be the very last time. The following week the hall could not be accessed, for that vast green field was to be the site for another new housing development.

On a recent visit to my native environs, I noticed that the little hall had gone, and the houses had been built. Consequently, I felt that I should write about Sleepy Valley Hall at this time, paying tribute to what it stood for, and never forgetting all those who ever crossed its threshold over the years – many of whom have “gone home”. In a changing world, shattered by terrorism and cankered by materialism, prayer is as vital as ever, and I have no doubt that it continues in the hearts of the afore-mentioned, as they join with others in that wonderful little cottage, belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Irwin.

Nowadays, in another time, another place, my memories often return to the pictures which lined either side of Sleepy Valley hall, and which made a strong and lasting impression on my young life. I recall one of Jesus knocking on a door … It is surely fitting that I should close with His precious words: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3v20,21).

Just today, as I thought on Sleepy Valley and all the familiar faces of those who sat in it over the years, my thoughts also dwelt on the words of Hebrews 13v8… “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Old familiar faces have left this scene of time; places of sincere worship and prayer are on the decrease… but my Saviour never changes! In this the Day of Grace, He still stands knocking on the doors of the hearts of mankind.

My prayer is that all who read would open the doors of their hearts to this loving Saviour, who is an unchanging Rock and Fortress throughout the changing scenes of time and who says to them: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matthew 7v13) May those who know Him declare with the hymnist Henry Francis Lyte …

 “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day:

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away,

Change and decay in all around I see:

O thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Link to the hymn “Abide with me:” http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/b/abidewme.htm

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)