I have been deeply moved as I have reviewed the life and labors of our beloved brother and friend, Douglas C. Howard. We honor his memory and feel deep sympathy for Mrs. Howard and the family in their great loss. The loss is also very great for all of us. Few men have labored more diligently and consistently in pioneer gospel work and assembly planting. It is not necessary to add to what Mr. Joyce has already written, but the following brief account of brother Howard’s work will act as a model and incentive for us.
I was a young man in Toronto in 1941 and can remember Douglas Howard’s commendation from the Bracondale assembly. As with other young brethren, Doug left a deep impression on me as for Christ’s sake he went to preach the gospel at the age of 26.
Mr. and Mrs. Howard published a book entitled, “Early Glimpses of Pioneering in Newfoundland and Labrador.” From it and other records of our brother’s life and labors, we have
drawn the following record. At the time, the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island assembly was formed, Ernie Sprunt and Doug Howard were staying in Albert Ramsay’s home and preaching in the little portable hall in which the assembly first met. Brother Howard never lost his exercise for P.E.I. and through many years often preached there with other workers and saw souls saved.
When, with deep exercise of heart, Herb Harris went to Newfoundland in 1944, he was directed to Carbonear, 72 miles from St. John’s. He found a place for the tent within three miles of the home of Aunt Jessie Snow, a dear godly woman who had been saved when Mr. Win. Brennan and Isaac McMullen preached there in 1930. Within a few days, Doug Howard joined Mr. Harris. The first meeting was held in the tent on July 17, 1944. Every seat was filled and people stood outside to hear the gospel. God worked and saved precious souls. Chapters could be written about the many hardships, opposition and difficulties these dear men encountered. The British customs authorities required them to leave Newfoundland for a time, but within a few months they returned with an additional worker, Frank Pearcy. Shortly afterward, Frank and Beth Pearcy with their two children moved to Carbonear. In 1946, the first assembly in Newfoundland was formed at Carbonear.
About the same time, Albert Ramsay of P.E.I. joined Mr. Harris and the workers in this area, and Russell Harris, Herb’s brother, laid much of the groundwork by his patient door to door work.
Herb Harris still had a deep exercise for the city of St. John’s. He urged Doug to join him, and, when a lot was located, the tent was pitched. The first soul saved was Albert Barbour. His wife was saved a few days later. Ephraim and Pearl Freake had been saved some ten years earlier. When they heard the preaching of the gospel, they immediately recognized that these men were sent from God and gave their whole-hearted support to the work. Numbers of others were saved and after the new believers obeyed the Lord in baptism, an assembly was formed at St. John’s in 1948. About this time, Stanley Simms and his wife moved to St. John’s.
At the end of 1954, the Howards moved to St. John’s with their three children. The twenty or more believers of the St. John’s assembly warmly received them. Within a short time, the family moved temporarily to Corner Brook, to live in the basement of the hall while a house was being built for them at St. John’s. At this time, Doug joined George Campbell for gospel meetings at Corner Brook. The little assembly was small and weak with about seven in fellowship. God blessed His Word and that fall Doug and George built a portable hall. It was first used in McIvers and then in many locations throughout Newfoundland. In 1958, St. John’s held its first two-day conference. Those who ministered were Herb Harris, Doug Howard, Bert Joyce and Ernie Delandrea.
The difficulty of reaching many of the coastal towns and villages had often been a burden to Mr. Harris and his fellow workers. By the summer of 1956, a boat had been purchased from Scotland. It was named the Missionary Gospel Messenger, the M.G.M. With Herb Harris as skipper, Bert Joyce as navigator and George Campbell as deck hand, it was left to Doug Howard to be the cook. That summer, the boat stopped at 35 towns and villages along 1000 miles of Newfoundland and Labrador coastline. The banner over the boat read, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” On the Newfoundland coast, at Carbonear, Burnt Point, Old Perlican, Valleyfields, Newtown, Wesleyville, Seldom-Come-By, Twillingate and Lewisporte, over a public address system, the gospel was preached by the four evangelists. On the Labrador coast, the boat stopped at Red Bay, L’Anse au Loup and Forteau. George Campbell felt a deep burden for Labrador, so that at the end of that summer, he went on the last boat from Corner Brook to Labrador to spend the winter alone without any way of return until the spring. George’s deep commitment to the work and the way God used him until his home call is a story that touches our hearts. That winter in Labrador, Wallace Buckle was saved.
The second year the M.G.M. was used saw Doug Howard and his fellow crew members, with the addition of Ernie Delandrea, working along the Labrador coast. Bert Joyce and Doug Howard had gospel meetings in L’Anse au Loup accompanied by rich blessing from God. At L’Anse au Clair, while Doug was preaching, a man with a rifle shot holes through the speaker horn and then began to take accurate shots at the waterline of the boat. This was but one of many incidents of opposition, but God worked and many souls were saved. Frequently in following years, brother Howard joined the M.G.M. for gospel work.
Let us never forget that no matter what amount of blessing there is in a new work, it is one by one that people are saved, and these individual stories give a personal touch that a mere accounting of numbers of meetings can never do. For this reason, I urge a reading or a re-reading of “Early Glimpses of Pioneering.” In 1958, Doug came down with a serious case of infectious hepatitis. This was but one of many trials that are faced in this kind of pioneer work.
In 1954, Doug and Fred Holder had seen God working in Oxford Nova Scotia. Heil and Margaret Patterson were among those who were saved and when the preachers left, the Pattersons continued to hold gospel and children’s meetings. In 1958, Doug and Muriel with their family moved to Oxford to be able to work more closely in that area. On January 31, 1960, nineteen believers remembered the Lord for the first time in Oxford. With the help of Fred Holder, Doug then reached out to Millbrook near Tatamagouche and among those who were reached was the Swan family. Floyd Stewart had been saved in P.E.I. when Doug was preaching with Albert Ramsay in 1945. Commended to the work of the Lord, Floyd and Edith Stewart moved to Nova Scotia and labored for years in the Amherst area, seeing an assembly formed there.
Through the years, Doug often returned to Newfoundland and Labrador to preach the gospel with his fellow workers of the earlier days and with Gaius Goff at Buchans, Peter Matthews at Rockey Harbour, Arnold Gratton and others.
Later, Doug and Muriel moved to Salem, Oregon where, along with their son, Stephen and his wife Donita, and Mr. and Mrs. Albert Irwin and some new believers, a new assembly was planted that continues with God’s blessing until the present time.
Through many years we have known and loved our dear brother and fellow servant. His spiritual stature, his cheerful disposition and his deeply held convictions have been a rich blessing to us.
It is impossible to fully describe the many experiences and the constant labors of such a man. Let us be sure that the true record is written above, but we do know that the Lord Jesus received much glory from the life and work of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Howard.