Words of encouragement, a personal interest, availability and time from others all converge to produce a tremendous influence on a believer’s life for God. Witness the effect of this from three godly men upon the life of our brother Matthews.
As we trace something of the character of Moses in Joshua, of Elijah in Elisha and of Paul in Timothy, we learn the solemn principle that older Christians can greatly influence the lives of those who are younger. The present writer has fragrant memories of a number of godly men who touched his life while in his late teens and early twenties. Some of these are still alive, and will not be mentioned in this article, and those to be mentioned are simply foremost amongst many, now with the Lord, whose help in early years was highly valued.
Mr. Edmund Allen 1893-1968
A short time after I was saved, in 1958, I came under the influence of Mr. Allen, through attendance at a weekly Bible Reading which was carried on by him and Mr. A. McShane, in the assembly at Lurgan, N. Ireland, where I was in fellowship. Here, the sound instruction and spiritual atmosphere was of a high order. In the late Summer of 1959, I visited Mr. Allen in his home. It must have been somewhat difficult for him to relate to the little known teenager who appeared at his door, but in his own way, he answered the Bible questions I put to him in such a way as to impress upon me that “the Word of Christ dwelt in him richly.” Within a few weeks I was back again at his home, and he talked to me on the subject of “Godliness” as understood by him. “It takes years to develop,” he said, and with great weight, enlarged on the subject on the following lines: “Very few attain to true godliness; many go on well for five or ten years, but then settle down to an easier path.” He did not use his own experience to illustrate the subject but spoke of his brother-in-law, the late Mr. Bertie Douglas of Venezuela. He related how this brother, as a young man, had the custom to attend regularly the week night meetings of the assembly, but on the other nights of the week, it was his practice to take supper on return from work, and then to go to his bedroom for Bible Study, which continued until bedtime. In this way, Mr. Allen re counted, his soul grew in an evident way. Later on he was called of God to serve Him in Venezuela. This visit to Mr. Allen will never be forgotten, nor the feelings with which I left the home that day. It was clear to me that changes were necessary in my spiritual life.
In the remaining years before leaving Ireland for Brazil, I made many visits to Mr. Allen’s home. Never did I leave that home without receiving spiritual help. I felt keenly the news of his home call, just over one year after I arrived in Brazil.
Mr. Tom McKelvey 1896-1983
Mr. McKelvey visited the assembly in Lurgan on many occasions. His reverent participation in the Lord’s supper made a lasting impression on me. He seemed to carefully choose his words as He rose to give thanks to God and would often speak as he gave thanks, of “the reverential fear of God rising in our bosom” or some similar expression. He truly led the saints into the presence of God, as few were able to do. He would often read the Scriptures before the breaking of bread, and did this in an impressive way. At times he would read in the book of Leviticus, and from those OT types would, in a few words, lead our thoughts richly to the Person of Christ and His great work. With reference to Calvary, he would say: “The Wisdom of God could conceive no greater.” On occasions, quoting another, he would say, “Eternity past knew no other future, and eternity to come will know no other past.” Later on I listened to this dear man, as he not only ministered the Word acceptably, but led large audiences at conferences into the presence of God during the time of prayer. Though personal acquaintance with him was limited, yet I shall never forget his God fearing ways.
Mr. William Trew 1902-1971
I made the acquaintance of this honored servant of Christ in the year 1965. He was a Scot by birth, but spent most of his life laboring in the Gospel in South Wales. In his later years he gave much time to the ministry of the Word of God, and it was during a series of ministry meetings that I first heard him. From the beginning, it was evident that this was a man who was different. He went into great detail in his examination of the Word of God, and seemed to carefully choose almost every word he said as he opened up the Scriptures. I was quickly able to adapt to his style, and enjoyed his rich expositions. He presented the truth that others presented, but in a language that impressed it on the mind and heart. For example, if he wanted to stress the unique character of the NT assembly he would say, “To walk in the light of our heavenly calling is to walk in separation from every earthly camp in which have been revived the principles of Judaism.” To stress the importance of not seeking service outside Scriptural assemblies, he would say, “I have settled it in my heart that I will not in any way, lend a hand to build up or perpetuate that which has no scriptural right to exist.” Perhaps an ailing body together with a deeply spiritual mind made him dwell much on future glory, and we came to expect some such outburst as: “The Lord Jesus will work on and on, until all God’s counsels have been consummated. The universe will at last be rid of every vestige of defiling sin. Every rebellious movement will be subdued and the power of the Enemy forever defeated. A new Heaven and a new Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness will be brought into being, and God shall be all in all, His glory filling the whole redeemed and reconciled universe, His pleasure served for ever, and both the new heavens and the new earth thronging with the various companies of the redeemed, every one of them active in the holy energies of life eternal, delighting in God and in His Son, by the power of His Spirit for ever, and filling the universe with their rich and fragrant worship.” To walk out of a meeting where things like these had been said, seemed almost like stepping back down to Earth from Heaven. When Mr. Trew was called home in 1971, the comment was made: “He didn’t have far to go.” To have known this prince in Divine things, and to have sat at his feet, and watched his example, is something I can only count as a blessing from God.
The memory of these three brethren continues to be fragrant. Mr. Allen was the true shepherd, who spent hours in prayer for assemblies and individual saints. Having a vast knowledge of the Scriptures, he was able to apply them appropriately for God’s people. Mr. McKelvey was a true Christian gentleman, whose spiritual life was marked by deep reverence, and who walked with dignity amongst God’s people. Mr. Trew seemed to me to be a man who dwelt in the presence of God, from whence he came out with messages for men.