John was the first person from Venezuela that I ever met. The Friths were on furlough from Venezuela in June of 1956 when I passed through Vancouver on my way to Venezuela. John took me to visit assemblies as far south as Forest Grove. From that day we formed an intimate friendship. Later, we shared much in testimony and service, as well as in building Gospel Halls. We lived 300 kms. apart, but often labored together, mainly in the west of the country.
John was a builder by trade, and in spiritual things he applied himself to building up a work for God. His great object was to lay a good foundation in some new part, and continue until an assembly was formed. He was a plain gospel preacher, but reached the hearts of his hearers with his sincerity, so that he saw much fruit in the gospel. The Venezuelans learned to love him, and a godly life and a humble example brought weight to his ministry.
John was not dominant, yet he stood firmly for right principles and maintained the truth of God. He was not a writer, yet has a five page article on Priesthood, in the 350 page Symposium in Spanish that we produced on Local Assembly Principles. The 5,000 copies have sold out, so John’s words live on.
For 43 years he lived in Duaca, but the assembly never depended upon him. He visited most of the assemblies in Venezuela, and was a pioneer to distant parts. His chief yoke-service was with Jos Linares. With Joe Turkington, he initiated the work in the southern plains at San Fernando de A-pure, and shared with Sr. Rodriguez in the first work in the western plains at Barinas.
John labored much with Mr. Williams, sharing with him in the ministry. During the final months of Mr. Williams’ life, John never left his side, until finally the Lord took that great pioneer Home. Then he was a prime mover in developing further the work of a Home for Aged Christians. He planned and directed the construction of the three level building in Puerto Cabello which now houses about 35 aged Christians.
The life of John and Elizabeth was one of great sacrifice for both of them. A valiant man needs a valiant wife. She sought to “hold the fort” while he went forth in battle. When the difficulties of the education of the family necessitated their return to Canada, both suffered greater trials. It was no easy task for either of them to make the decision for John to spend long months away in Venezuela alone, while she cared for the family in Vancouver.
After the family became independent, Elizabeth was able to accompany John again in his service. But after over 40 years of labors here, their activities were cut short by his kidney disease, and he had to retire to Canada. He left a good testimony, having been loved by all. He is remembered as one of the great pioneers of this country.