Harold Spurgeon Paisley, servant of Jesus Christ, passed into the presence of his Lord and Master on December 4, 2015, in his 92nd year. His mother named him after C. H. Spurgeon, the preacher, with the prayerful desire that he would be a soul winner!
He was born in Lurgan, a privileged area of Scriptural enlightenment. He served in the RAF (Royal Air Force) during World War II, and was saved by the grace of God on March 24,1944, in Belfast N. Ireland. His testimonial messages repeatedly went back to Peter’s words of Christ bearing our sins in his own body on the tree; the personal application being made for all of Harold Paisley’s sins. The simplicity and beauty of substitution is exemplified in his own conversion and subsequent gospel preaching over the next 65 years, with fruitful results. During the period in which he preached, people had a greater ear for the gospel than they do during this technological age dominated by computer type attractions of all sorts. He was commended to full time service by the Wellington Assembly in Ballymena N. Ireland in 1945. Since that time brother Paisley continued steadfastly in “The Faith” with spiritual zeal to win souls for Christ, even in the closing days of his sojourn.
How do we characterize this servant of God? Like Apollos, he was mighty in the Scriptures and expressed the power of the Word in his gospel preaching and ministry to the saints in many countries. Numerous souls were won to Christ, many of whom went on to serve in the mission field. He often liked to say, ”He that winneth souls is wise.”
Brother Paisley followed the pattern of Abraham as a pilgrim and a stranger, literally residing in many different locations for the sake of the gospel. Every summer, without fail, he pitched his gospel tent in a new location, beginning with his first tent at Five Mile Town in 1945 (N.Ireland) and continuing every year until his last tent, in 1999 in Midland, Ontario. He would often muse upon his love of preaching the gospel under canvas! Perhaps he saw a connection with the apostle Paul who was a tent maker. The family would often ask him how he knew where to pitch his next tent. His reply was always, “I being in the way the Lord led me.” It turned out to be true! He reaped a harvest of souls in his tent work, reaping where others had sown.
Brother Paisley spoke often of the heavenly city whose Architect and Master Builder is God, following in the footsteps of the faithful patriarchs. He enjoyed talking about Abraham the friend of God and the father of all those who are in Christ. What wonderful truth! The focus was on heavenly realities yet he believed he had an earthly calling to preach the glorious gospel.
He was characterized by practicality, a very important trait in a servant of Christ. He taught his children at an early age that something needs to work if it is going to be useful. He liked to tell us when a soul got saved that God’s salvation works with great results. He would say, “Let’s rejoice and sing together.” He loved to sing, read the Scriptures, and pray with the family when he was home from his preaching engagements. He would tell us lots of stories about his meetings around the open fire after supper. Those were delightful days with a great father who rejoiced in showing love to his children; he loved to play games of all sorts and always ended up as the winner. This is something that we have never been able to figure out to this day! As a father he liked to make his children happy and see them laugh with joy. As a family, these recollections are most enjoyable and worthy of being shared. They illustrate his rich human qualities which are seen in his day-to-day spiritual work in winning souls.
Brother Paisley’s earthly legacy lives on in the books he wrote, some of which are named after his offspring: This Joseph, This Ruth, andThis Daniel. He wrote concerning the gospel of Mark, in the seriesWhat the Bible Teaches, which elucidates the nature and character of the true Servant of Jehovah. As a result, he adopted the servant character of Christ as a gold standard to be followed in his own service. When asked about the key aspects of Bible study, he did not respond with an outlined methodology. Rather, he said to study the Word prayerfully with the touch of the Master’s hand. We are still pondering those words. He liked to make you think independently.
How do you summarize the life of this man of God? Can it be done? Yes! I believe the answer is found in the flyleaf of his study Bible where the following words are engraved in bold letters to vividly remind him of the servant’s ultimate goal: “To GOD Be The Glory.”
He had a true Shepherd’s heart filled with love and compassion for God’s people. Like Daniel of old, he was greatly beloved by all. His presence will be sadly missed among the assemblies, at annual conferences, and by his cherished wife who has consistently supported his ministry and gospel preaching since 1945. It is reminiscent of the words in Genesis: “I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Please pray for the family: his wife Etta, two sons, Ken and Harold, and his daughters, Ruth and Linda, and their respective families at this difficult time of mourning. However, our sorrow is seasoned with the glorious hope of the imminent return of our Lord when all the family will be united again. What a glorious day that will be for us all.