As Paul states in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
From what I know of him personally, I feel that this summation aptly applies to our brother Albert Hull. My father (Mr. L. K. McIlwaine), during one of his visits to Ireland, saw this young man and heard him preach. This convinced him that Albert would be a real help in his gospel labors. After returning home, he wrote Albert and asked him to join him in Nova Scotia. In 1963, he and his young wife, Mae, left Ireland for Nova Scotia. Albert served his apprenticeship working with my father. I know personally that that would not be easy. My father, being a pioneer and a very hard worker, just expected the same from others that worked with him. Albert learned his lessons well. He learned to trust God, to preach the simple, plain gospel, to minister to the saints in the fear of God, and to teach his new converts assembly truths, emphasizing what the Bible teaches
I was honored to share in a number of gospel series with him on Prince Edward Island (once when my youngest daughter was saved), Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Iowa. When preaching about judgment, Albert spoke with compassion and tears. During more recent years, he focused on Christ in both ministry and gospel, with evident devotion, power, and reverence. He was always an approachable, personal worker, and he attracted people with his kindly manner.
In all of his labors, his wife, Mae, was a true helper, giving encouragement, sharing advice when needed, and standing by his side through times of discouragement. His ambition was to see all of his family ready for heaven, and to be a blessing to others. In earlier years, during the gospel series we shared, we wept and prayed together that our families would be saved.
My father and mother looked on Albert and Mae as a son and a daughter. When he was preaching, my father would listen intently to every word and think to himself, “That’s my boy up there.” It would not go well for a person who said something negative about Albert to my father.
I feel I’ve lost my best friend, and wonder why he was taken when he was 11 years younger than I am. He was such a blessing to the saints to his last breath. We cannot, however, question the purposes of our God, especially when we expect that soon we will gather around the wounded feet of the Savior. United in bodies immortal, we’ll praise Him forever.
“Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel … God is witness. We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives also, because you had become very dear to us” (1Thes 2:8). These words, written by Paul, were truly echoed in the life of our dear brother Albert Hull, not only for me as his son in-law, but also for the many sinners who became saints under his gospel, and for those his ministry challenged to live for God.
Albert was born in Northern Ireland in 1936. His father was a gospel preacher and his mother was a praying woman. He was saved in 1957, “between two pillars on the Doagh Rd.” In his own words “as a bankrupt sinner, I struck gold when I received Christ as my Savior.” He was a thankful son to a godly mother who prayed for the prodigal, and to His Heavenly Father, who welcomed him joyously into the family of God.
Five years later, he was consecrated to God and gospel work became his passion and focus. He was married to Mae Torrens, who became a true and faithful helpmate, and in July 1963 they took their honeymoon trip to serve the Lord in Nova Scotia, Canada. Here they proved God’s faithfulness as they worked with Mr. and Mrs. L. K. McIlwaine. His zeal and passion for the “glorious gospel of the Blessed God,” had an impact on many lives. He spoke with faithfulness and fervor as he used many superlatives to describe the Savior of Sinners.
As a truthful shepherd, he often reminded believers of the price the Good Shepherd had paid for them. He faithfully taught us the truth of “ Gathering unto His Name alone,” as he quoted: “He called me out … “ And he exhorted us again and again to lay our all on the altar for the Blessed Man of Calvary! He had no greater joy than to see his spiritual children and his natural children walking in truth. The Lord blessed his challenges for consecration by many choosing to focus their lives on eternal goals over the temporal.
A timely steward gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. This motto marked his life with a generosity that abounded. God of Wonder CD’s by the hundreds, tracts, Tim Horton’s cards, and practical gifts were constantly passed from his hand on to others. This action flowed freely from a heart that always remembered what he had been given.
He was a transparent servant. Those who knew him well will know he was very quick to admit his own weaknesses and share his dependence on his God for his own preservation. He also lived with a deep consciousness of the Lord’s final evaluation, and in his study were the words “the day shall declare it.” He told us many times, “you know that a man can preach and give ministry without God, but a man cannot get along in life without God. In order to get power with God and for God we need to be consciously living in the presence of God. The result of living in God’s presence will produce holy lives that are sensitive to our own sinfulness and our dependence upon God for every moment. Only then can we be useful for God. “
His love and his passion for souls, and his power for preaching on the plight of sinners and the love of God, came from time in the sanctuary and from being in the presence of his God.
As a tender servant, he enjoyed playing with little children as much as he enjoyed conversing with his learned brethren. He genuinely loved people from every walk of life, and wanted to leave each one better then he found them. He was not a hard and condemning man, but one who was always seeing the best in people and in his brethren
As a trusting student, he lived with cancer during the last 18 months of life. Wondrously, there was no hint of doubt or despair in his pathway home to Glory. The Scripture tells us that “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). As weakness descended on his physical life, we saw this verse lived out increasingly, even as his life ebbed away. His final expression to the family in the final hours of life was, “I am going to my Savior.“ Those words are very precious to us. What a pattern and encouragement for all of us, who will eventually cross the Jordan, if our Lord be not come.
He continued to live and learn about his Savior daily. He thanked God for His goodness in spite of frailty of body, tirelessly worked on gospel messages for the local paper, encouraged Christians in truths of living for eternity, and talked continually to the Lord about everything. Just nine days prior to his passing, he shared this devotion with brother Gaius Goff: “Recently I have sought grace to have the mind to concentrate: 1) Listening for the Shepherd’s voice; 2)Leaning on the Shepherd’s bosom; 3)Learning from the Shepherd’s path; 4) Leaving ALL in the Shepherd’s care 5)Living for the Shepherd’s glory; 6) Loving the Shepherd more and more; 7) Looking for the Shepherd’s return.
He chose a life that had a tremendous spiritual impact. At times, he must have felt that his efforts for God were going nowhere, yet in his Bible, we found notes of appreciation from people that his gospel and ministry had touched and impacted for the better.
The first lesson that each reader should quietly ask in the presence of God is: Looking back, who was it that impacted my life for God? Am I thankful for their efforts on my behalf? Have I ever thanked them? If the answer is no, don’t you think it is time to send each of them a quick email or note today telling them this? It will encourage them as they seek to motivate others to follow Christ. In doing so, you will be like the Lord Jesus, Who will tell each of us in a soon coming day, “well done, good and faithful servant.“
The second lesson is to ask the Lord today, “Lord what do You want me to do? I want my life to have impact for You.” As we listen to the answer through His Word and hear it in the quietness of our own souls, our response needs to be again, “Thy will be done in my life.“ We may not all be called to be preachers, but we are all called to give our lives for the furtherance of His kingdom and His glory.
May we all be motivated by a life lived in view of eternity, and realize with freshness that, “Only one life, it will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.”