Safely Home: David O. Kember (3)

The word “unique” best describes David Kember. He was unique as an individual, as a brother in the assembly, and as a winner of souls. His approach to gospel work was his own, not always understood, but the results are undeniable. I would hardly know a man in my time that was used more of God in the winning of souls.

He wasn’t a man for numbers. He played no political games, boasted to no one; he labored for souls. John Bunyan said, “If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, and if it’s fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me.” Whether during the years in secular employment as he testified to fellow workers or later years as a commended worker, nothing changed. He lived to see the souls reached for the coming Kingdom.

Laboring for souls wasn’t just a matter of preaching for twenty minutes. If laboring for souls meant putting on coveralls at 70 years of age and helping an unsaved man pour a foundation for a house, David Kember was there. If it meant personally buying storm doors and installing them on houses for people that needed them, he did it. That door became an entrance to that home with the gospel.

I was honored to have been associated with such a man as his fellow laborer and as his nephew.

Paul Kember called me and asked if I would consider coming up to Ailsa Craig, Ontario, just north of London, and helping him and Uncle Dave with some gospel meetings in a rented building. I hesitantly agreed, then found myself driving there three nights a week to help in the gospel. Paul Kember, Jim Jarvis, and I took turns helping him in those meetings. He insisted that he was not closing the meeting every night and would say, “You young men have to learn how to take the latter part of the meeting.”

In 1973, he agreed to go with me to Sussex, New Brunswick for gospel meetings. He, with the help of other brethren, built a portable hall that was towed to Sussex, and thus the work began. God graciously gave us a number of souls that summer, including my own mother-in-law. My father-in-law, Mr. Howard Godsoe, was saved earlier in the year when Paul Kember joined David Kember for gospel meetings in St.Thomas, Ontario.

In the next four years, Mr. Timothy Kember, Paul Kember, and I joined in labor and preached in the Sussex area. After being commended to the work in 1977, my wife and I moved to Sussex. The assembly was planted in 1979.

David Kember lost a true help meet when his first wife Phyllis (nee Gratton) died. In those early years, Phyllis worked tirelessly in very limited circumstances to provide meals and lunches for people she just knew were coming home for supper!

After the death of Phyllis, David married Thelma Jarvis who equally shared in gospel work. David and Thelma worked hard in the northern area of New Brunswick in later years, and it wasn’t easy, but their reward awaits them in that coming day.

We would do well to emulate Uncle Dave. He spent his time and energy on that which lasts. What a tragedy to be a winner here for this blink of an eye and be a loser there for all eternity!