Another interesting account of how the Lord molded a life for His service.
The principle of influence is clearly seen in the Scriptures where individuals are either an influence for good or for evil. We can trace both sides throughout the Scriptures, but in this article we are occupied with those who have influenced the writer for good: spiritual encouragement, development and blessing. One can recall, with gratitude, a number of spiritual men and women who have touched the writer’s life “for God”. They are all known to God, and their influence for good has been recorded and will be recompensed by Him. Among that number, four stand out as having had a marked affect upon me.
In the summer of 1952 Mr. Walter Norris and Mr. William Trew brought a gospel tent to Aberavon, South Wales, the writer’s home town. Because of being fully occupied with a group of believers in Pyle, six miles away, I only visited the tent on two occasions. However that was sufficient for me to appreciate that these were godly men who showed a deep interest in me. The following summer (1953), they brought the tent to Pyle, where I had the privilege of not only listening to their clear and solemn gospel preaching and their instructive challenging ministry, but also benefiting from their personal interest and encouragement. Both these men were marked by deep reverence and seemed to carry with them the presence of God. It was through them that my wife and I saw the truth of being gathered to the Lord’s Name and consequently left the religious systems of men.
Mr. Walter Norris was the older of the two and a true Christian gentleman. He was always gentle and tender in his preaching and personal dealings with us. I can recall the tears in his eyes as he reminded sinners of the reality of hell, and his gentle pleading as he exhorted saints to tread the path of obedience to the Word of God. His very demeanor spoke of Christ and was an example to all. He would often say, “Keep close to God” and showed by his life the result of being close to God. It was evident to me that I needed a closer walk with God. He was a most gracious man and yet a man of deep conviction. He was always thoughtful, considerate and understanding when approached on any matter. I recall Mr. Trew telling me that he considered that he was the most privileged young man because he labored with Mr. Norris. Mr. Norris encouraged us in the things of God and lived out before us his own exhortations. He had a true shepherd’s heart. I recall visiting him on a few occasions, not long before he was called Home to encourage him. However, it was I who came away encouraged and enriched by this man of God. Mr Norris left a lasting impression upon me of Christlikeness.
Mr. William Trew was an able teacher, as well as an excellent gospel preacher, who chose carefully every word in order to convey accurately the truth of the Word of God.
I never recall a time when I was not challenged by his ministry or thrilled by his gospel preaching. After his challenging ministry, one realized the need for changes in one’s life. In his teaching he would emphasize things in such a way that they were embedded upon the heart and mind. He exercised the art of repetition in his ministry and this riveted a statement upon the mind. In speaking on the sanctity of the assembly and the need for holiness of life, he would turn to Psalm 84:10 and say, “The contrast is striking – it is between the place of divine rule and the place where that rule is set aside, between the place of holiness and the place of sin. The Psalmist is so appreciative of the house of God that he finds complete delight in the pathway of separation.”
He would often say, “The highest dignity on earth is to be gathered to the Lord’s Name.” I recall the first time hearing of the preciousness of the local assembly when Mr. Trew ministering on Acts 20:28, said, “The most precious possession God has in any locality is the assembly, seeing He has paid the highest possible price to make it His own. The value of the local assembly to the heart of God can only be measured by the infinite price He has paid for it. That price is the blood of His Own, so near and so dear to His heart.”
His ministry on the Person of Christ was heart warming. When we made the decision to engage fully in the Lord’s work, he wrote, “Always remember that God is not looking for great men, He is looking for little men who know that they have a great God”. I am grateful to God for his encouragement in the study of the Word of God. He would say, “Study THE BOOK, and occasionally refer to other books; don’t study other books and occasionally refer to THE BOOK”.
I came into contact with Mr. Rowland Rees at the time of the tent mentioned previously. He was one of the elders in the assembly at Port Talbot. I have been thankful to God that the first assembly He directed our footsteps to was that assembly in Port Talbot. It was there, in the weekly Bible Readings, that I was grounded in assembly principles. Since I had recently come into the assembly, there were many things that I needed to unlearn and many more things I needed to learn. Mr. Rees was also a great help personally in answering my many questions by opening up the Scriptures to me. I have never forgotten him saying, “The assembly does not revolve around your life, but your life should revolve around the assembly”. He taught the importance of the assembly gatherings and encouraged me to study the Word of God systematically.
Time and time again he would emphasize allegiance to Christ, pointing out that we were no
longer our own. I soon realized that Christ should have the first place in my life.
I became acquainted with Mr. Reg Bryant in 1961 at a series of Bible Readings. He was from Llanelli, and in fellowship in the Trimsaran assembly. He took an interest in me and encouraged me in service for the Lord. He would often ask me to accompany him to various assemblies, some distance away, and these times were a source of blessing to me. His conversation would be on the Scriptures and would either be on the Tabernacle as a picture of Christ, on the Gospels, the Person of Christ or on the assembly. He had a good appreciation of Christ and a good grasp of assembly principles. It was a joy to listen to him in worship at the Lord’s Supper and to hear him minister on the Person of Christ. He would often say, “Have something fresh in your basket when you come to remember the Lord.” When we took the step into full time service, he greatly encouraged us.
The memory of these brethren is sweet, and I am deeply grateful to God for their example and influence. Older men, who are spiritual, will feel their responsibility to encourage younger men and seek to influence them for good. Oh, for older believers who will be spiritual examples and influence younger believers to be something for God in this world!