I was raised on a farm in Southern Ontario, Canada, and was one of eleven children. My parents had, after much soul trouble, received peace in Christ, and gathered with an assembly which met in a town about five miles away.
My mother took time to school us in divine truth while we were young. She was an avid story teller and often gathered us around the kitchen table where we listened with pleasure to Bible incidents, missionary adventure, and biography. At the time, I thought nothing of my fathers stopping work to get us to the meetings, but I now see that no little conviction was present. He had put our salvation first.
In the fall of 1935, the late Charles Keller and A. P. Klabunda had six weeks of gospel meetings in Sarnia. I attended all of those meetings. I was deeply concerned about my soul, and wanted to be saved. Being brought up as I was, however, I thought that I knew how to be saved. My sister Martha (who later went as a missionary to Venezuela) was saved at that time. The meetings closed, and I was still in my sins.
In January 1936, Lorne McBain and Robert Crawford came to Sarnia, and nightly meetings began again. I learned afterwards that the brethren were very discouraged as they were entering the fourth week of the meetings and no one yet had professed to be saved. Salvation now became my chief concern. I read different gospel booklets and asked God to save me, but no light came.
On the Tuesday night of that fourth week of meetings, my closest brother, John, came home saying that he had been saved during the meeting. He told me that it was very easy, which annoyed me, as we had before agreed that it was very difficult.
Friday night at the door, Mr. Crawford gave me a tract called, “Sudden Summons.” I lay in my bed and read the tract while my two brothers slept. It said the same thing that I had heard so many times before. People seemed to suddenly see something about Jesus death that they hadnt seen before.
I stopped reading, and I thought, “Im as dark as a heathen.” Then I began to reason:
“Didnt Jesus die for the ungodly?”
“Well, isnt that me?”
“No argument at all – Im the one.”
“Did He die for my sins?”
“Well, isnt that what the text says?”
“Surely it cant be that simple. Why didnt those preachers tell me?”
After a while, I got down on my knees by the bed, and thanked God for Jesus death for me on the cross. I turned out the light and went to sleep.
In the morning, I thought, “Did I get saved, or did I dream it?” I went over Romans 5:6 again. “Christ died for the ungodly.” That was clear enough, so I went down to the kitchen, where breakfast was being made. On telling my mother that Id gotten saved, her answer was, “How?” I was somewhat nonplussed, and finally said, “I believed that Jesus died for me.”
More than sixty years have come and gone. What I got then, I still have now – that assurance from the Scripture that Jesus took my place.
Conversion does make a great change, creating in the soul a love for our Lord Jesus, a tender conscience about sin, and a desire to tell others of the Savior. Some of the elders of the Sarnia assembly influenced my life in a marked way. They accompanied a number of young men in open-air meetings, and, looking back, I can appreciate their patience with us. They would counsel us, and we felt that they were really on our side.
Having a desire to give ourselves to the work of the gospel, I looked for an opening. In 1947, I came to help Mr. G. P. Taylor for the summer in tent work in the Bay of Quinte area, in Eastern Ontario. Finding some interest in the gospel, my wife and I moved to the area and have made it our home. An assembly was formed here in Picton in 1950. It has known many ups and downs, but continues to this day.