I was raised in a home where God was feared, the Scriptures were read daily, and the need of God’s salvation was taught consistently. At the age of twelve, while our family was living at Esk, SK, I attended a meeting in a nearby schoolhouse where two local farmers were preaching from the Bible. Listening to them, I became quite disturbed. The text under consideration was found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter twenty-five. I was impacted by the fact that the five foolish virgins found the door to heaven shut because they had neglected to make preparation to enter through the door. I stayed behind after the meeting to talk to the preachers. They quoted the well-known verse from Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The speakers emphasized the word “believe.” I reasoned that salvation is like a formula. In the same way that two plus two equals four, belief equals salvation from sins. My father was not at the meeting and feared I had been talked into something that I really didn’t understand. In hindsight, his fears were well founded, for the days and weeks that followed my profession proved to be unhappy ones. The second coming of the Lord was not a welcome thought. Instead, it instilled fear in my heart.
My misery continued for two years. I longed for the assurance of God’s salvation, but at the same time I feared another empty profession. An Irish preacher, Mr. Chawner, came along for meetings and again I heard “believing” equated with salvation. I had serious problems with belief: did I believe enough? Or did I believe in the right way? At the end of this gospel series I was still not saved.
One day my father sent me to town with a team of horses and a wagon loaded with grain. As I came out of the elevator with the empty wagon, a bolt of lightning struck nearby. The frightened horses bolted out of control, overturned the wagon, and dragged me unconscious for some distance. It was no small mercy that I survived this episode. This experience caused me to again consider my need for God’s salvation.
In 1927, a year after our family moved to Portage la Prairie, MB, Mr. William Bunting came for a series of gospel meetings. I was 16 years old at the time. During those meetings I came to an end of my own resources; I felt all hope of salvation was gone. Mr. Bunting’s preaching emphasized that there was nothing an individual could do for himself. He focused on the fact that salvation was found in Christ who is the source of eternal life. Alone in my bedroom one night reading Romans 5:6, I humbly admitted in my heart that if salvation depended on me, I was hopelessly lost. It was then I realized the truth that Christ had died for me. On my keens I gave thanks to God, acknowledging that Christ’s work was sufficient to save me.
The tributes to our dear brother Ronald describe a man of genuine godliness and a man who labored with great zeal to win lost souls. I have seldom known a man with a greater heart or a greater ability for door to door work. I learned this from sharing meetings with him. He was also a lover of assembly truth.
N. W. Crawford