“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, beseeching him, and saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us'” (Acts 16:9).
Europe was reached with the gospel through the vision of one man. Newfoundland and Labrador were reached by the vision of one man as well: Herb Harris.
The fate of many would be in one little boat. Herb could not run the boat, but another preacher of the gospel could do it. God gave that preacher a vision as well. Visions come only when we obey and Mr. Harris had a vision for Newfoundland and Labrador.
When we hold our own plans very lightly and are ready to yield them up to God, if need be, this is when we reach our Troas and get a vision of a larger service of which we had never dreamed. The vision must be followed by immediate endeavor. There is one great word in the vocabulary of the Bible that would make an excellent study. It is the word “immediately.” There were no laggards when Mr. Harris got the vision. There were men who were eager to help in the work. In spite of his obedience, the task was hard.
I have often wondered if Paul was disappointed. The work was so utterly different from the dream. He had seen in his vision the hands of Macedonia stretched out; now they were indeed stretched out, but only to lead him to the inner prison at Philippi. “Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (Acts 16:24). It was a strange and startling contradiction. A weakling would have been tempted to deny the vision.
Mr. Harris and others dug wells – wells of truth in fortifying the work. Proverbs 23:23 is the ideal joyous pattern for the foundation of gospel work: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” From this foundation principle comes the assurance for new believers to live out what the Bible teaches, and to not be turned aside by unregenerate advice, criticism, or rejection.
It was the summer of 1961 when I started on the boat. After visiting a number of fishing villages it seemed there was an ear for the gospel in Rocky Harbour. Mr. Harris asked me if I would move with my family to Rocky Harbour for a year to help in the work. My wife Olive, our 14-month-old daughter Debbie, and I moved to a house Mr. Harris rented. During the five years we lived there we had two more children – Lois and Tim. Added to this, our house was constantly open to other preachers who came frequently to help with gospel work. Olive cooked, washed, and did the housework for us all. Her reward will be great.
In 1962 the assembly was planted and in 1965 we moved to Flowers Cove with our children. Before we moved to Flowers Cove we helped in the building of the gospel halls in Rocky Harbour and Parsons Pond. After moving to Flowers Cove we built two halls, having outgrown the first one. Frank Procopio and some brethren came from the USA and did the framing for the new hall in Flowers Cove. There were other brethren who came from Nova Scotia and did the cement work for the basement.
Years later, in 1983, we moved to Goose Bay, Labrador. Between the time we moved from Flowers Cove to Goose Bay we were in Corner Brook for a year helping in the building of their new hall.
As I think of the work that yet needs to be done today, where are the younger men who will go in to new places? The Bible does not say to go into all the gospel halls and preach the gospel; it tells us to go into all the world.
There are so many places in Labrador that have not yet been visited. I can think of many places in Labrador such as Lodge Bay, Mary Harbour, Fox Harbour, Port Hope Simpson, Cartwright, and Black Tickle where the roads have opened up villages which now can be visited. Many of those places have been visited once a year with calendars, but the villages that have seen assemblies built were places where men went in and stayed with the work. They could not make their calling and “collection” sure, but for 53 years God has met our need, even though there were times when we were fed by the ravens (1Kings 17:4). A man may leave his field of labor to help other assemblies with the gospel or ministry. I believe this pattern is Scriptural. But the basic point is this: When a preacher is asked, “Where is your field of labor?” he should be able to tell you of a definite area in which he works on a regular basis.
Thinking of the island of Newfoundland, there are also many places that have never been tried with a tent or a building. The men I worked with went into places and spent months, sometimes years, and saw souls saved. I can think of many of them who are now home with the Lord, but in some of those places there never was an assembly planted. Many of them did have assemblies planted and are going on to this day.
As we think of the Quebec north shore, a field for someone who has a desire to see souls saved, there has been gospel preaching on that coast and souls have been saved and have lived to prove it. A number of us spent years visiting and had gospel meetings in Chevery, Harrington, La Tabatiere, Old Fort Bay, and Kegashka; all of these places are English speaking. Souls were saved, but never enough for an assembly and some of those who were saved are already home with the Lord.