Do the Work of an Evangelist
For Bert Grainger, Second Timothy 4, verse 5, best summarizes over 60 years of service: “Do the work of an evangelist.”
Just as Dad heard and responded to the call of God as a sinner, he heard and responded to the call of God to serve in the gospel. He was commended by the brethren of the Brock Avenue, Toronto, assembly on November 1, 1946.
The work of an evangelist took him from Toronto to northern Quebec. There he learned the French language from textbooks and practiced it on the streets. Later, some told him that he spoke better French than they did.
I was starting kindergarten when we moved to Montreal North. While we attended the Breaking of Bread with the French assembly in Montreal, Dad was concerned about his family. He wanted us to hear the gospel in English, so every Sunday night we went to Ogilvy Ave. Gospel Hall. When Dad was away, Mom took us there by streetcar and bus.
God alone knows the blessing that resulted from his preaching with Noah Gratton and Vincent Davey in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Granby, Shawinigan, La Tuque, Chicoutimi, Thetford Mines, Rouyn-Noranda, Drummonville, Farnham, and Valleyfield. The last two places were dear to his heart.
Before the assembly was formed in Valleyfield, I can still remember a full house after the Breaking of Bread at the Rosemount French assembly. Mom would cook enough for the 8 of us plus the 12 or more guests. It was always a hot meal with pie for dessert. God provided the funds for this part of the work of God even though Dad knew what it meant to be poor. Once Dad showed me a letter from a sister in the Lord. There was a two-dollar bill with the letter.
Assemblies were formed in Valleyfield and Farnham. Dad was instrumental in purchasing property and supervising the building of a hall at Farnham.
While in Montreal, occasionally Dad ventured off quite a distance. In 1958, Dad invited Mr. Albert Ramsay to help him with gospel meetings in Arnstein. At first Mr. Ramsay was reluctant to come such a distance, but a sister in PEI pleaded with him, “Aren’t you going to go and help poor Bert in Arnstein?” When Mr. Ramsey learned that about 30 unsaved were coming nightly, he was on the next train. Mr. Ramsay said those meetings with Dad were his most fruitful series.
Although away a lot, Dad valued family time and purchased a small property in the Laurentians, beside a small river and rapids – “Dogs Rapids.” One of my memories is the day he cooked sausages and somehow dropped a few out of the pan onto the sand. I hear him say, true to form, “Oh, just brush it off. A little sand won’t hurt you.”
We moved to Huntsville in 1961. From there, he worked with a good number of other evangelists. Murray McLeod, Tim Kember, Gene Badgley, Frank Pearcey, Ed Doherty, Jim Beattie, Shad Kember, Bill Metcalf, Stan Simms, Larry Steers, and Murray Pratt are some that I recall.
Sometimes he worked alone and sometimes he worked with local brethren. He had two series in Deer Lake. Perhaps they were the most fruitful of all his meetings. This past January he commented on these times, “They were good times. The best part was in knowing God was with us.”
Dad preached with passion. His love for sinners was obvious, as was his love for the Lord. He wanted all who heard him to know these things were real.
Yes, he did the work of an evangelist. Lives from Newfoundland to Vancouver, down through the USA, and even to the island of St. Lucia have been touched by God through his preaching. In St. Lucia, he worked with Jack Nesbitt, Jack Gould, Brian Owen, and Steve Kember.
My father was a student of the Word, surrounding himself with good books when studying his Newberry Bible. But ultimately he went back to the Scriptures for interpretation. I can still hear him say to me, “But what does the text say?”
In New Brunswick, I know he worked with Vincent Davey, Leslie Wells, Larry Buote, Gerard Roy, and many local brethren. Dad enjoyed this work: “It’s like being in the days of the Acts of the Apostles.”
Bert Grainger was my father, brother in Christ, and best friend. His reward is with His Lord, Whom he loved and served.