Tribute: Leslie S. Wells

On January 13, 2019, at the age of 82, our beloved brother Mr. Leslie Wells departed to be with his Saviour and Lord. He leaves behind his wife, Mrs. Louise Wells, and his brother Stanley, and their family to whom we extend our sincere condolences. We feel his passing very much. But for him, oh what a blessing! He passed from sufferings to splendor, from a hospital bed to the very heaven of bliss! He is now rejoicing in the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. John and Isabel Wells, he was born in San Felipe, Venezuela on October 31, 1936. He was blessed with an excellent memory and related to us some of Mr. William Williams’ messages he heard as a child. When he was nine years old his parents moved back to N. Ireland due to Mrs. Wells’ health.

Over the years I often heard him tell with joy in his heart how God saved him by His grace. He loved the Gospel message, for it was shortly after attending a Gospel series by Tom Campbell and Harold Paisley that he trusted the Saviour. His younger brother Stanley was saved during the last meeting, and the next day Leslie heard the disturbing news that a young man he knew was killed in a motorcycle accident. He had waved at him the previous Lord’s Day when he drove his mother to meeting. He was convicted that God might be speaking to him for the last time. A few days later, alone in his bedroom, he was on his knees reading John chapter one. Stopping at verse ten, he looked on the other side of the page and his eyes fell on verse 29: “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” I can still hear him say with emotion, “I understood why Christ died on the cross; it was for sin, it was for me! I took it in and received Him as my Saviour at that moment!”  His heart went up to God in worship for the first time. It was June 10, 1957.

Majoring in French, he finished his university studies the following year and became a school teacher. From 1958 and through the 60s and 70s, he often visited France during his summer vacation, helping first Mr. William Taylor and then Mr. Denis O’Hare in tract distribution. He told us how these two brethren and others encouraged him to give himself totally to the Lord’s work in France. He was attracted to France and made it a matter of prayer but he never received a confirmation from the Lord. However, 1980 was a turning point in his life. He heard from Mr. James Walmsley in a visit in N. Ireland about the Lord working among the French speaking people in New Brunswick. He spoke to Mr. Wells about the need and told him to seriously consider it.  Thinking about the harsh weather conditions in our part of Canada, it was the last place he wanted to go. But in his reading the next day the words of 2 Corinthians 3:5 caught his attention: “our sufficiency is of God.” He was willing to act upon what God says and he told his brethren about his exercise. The following summer he came to New Brunswick for the first time and shared in Gospel meetings with Murray McCandless in a tent pitched just outside the village of Green River.

His application for a visa to move to NB was turned down by Canadian Immigration, but he came back the following summer until God removed all the obstacles, and in November 1985 he arrived to stay. He spent his first six months in Green River where he was initiated to our winters, and then made his home in Tracadie. He laboured in the Gospel throughout the French speaking parts of New Brunswick, and some parts of Quebec. He preached the Gospel of God in rented buildings, tents, halls, and in house meetings, often amid strong opposition. During Gospel meetings in Pigeon Hill before the assembly was formed, a large and angry crowd gathered just outside the tent determined to stop the meetings. Our brother suffered a severe physical attack which left its mark on him for a long time.

He excelled in teaching and was a great blessing to the French speaking assemblies and was much appreciated at the different conferences in the Maritimes. He also contributed valuable articles to the French magazine La Bannière de la Vérité.

From the very first time we heard him in 1981, it was evident that he was an imitator of Ezra, having given himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures. His Bible knowledge was not on a mere intellectual level; it was clear that he had bought the truth for himself. He was a man of deep conviction, and God used him like Apollos to water us with His Word. But what impressed us the most from the beginning was his humble spirit. During his life he often warned us about the danger of pride. He was easy to approach and he delighted to discuss the Scriptures with the youngest and simplest believer. He truly served the Lord among us with humility of mind (Act 20:19).

His public prayers were real and his worship fresh and often moving, giving evidence that he was in touch with God. Having him in our home was a blessing for our family. Praying together, visiting, and sharing different types of meetings with him was not only a great privilege but a spiritual education. As a steward of God’s truth he was faithful. He taught us what he had learned directly from God’s book as well as what he had learned from others. He was a genuine and sincere brother who said what he believed and believed what he said. He feared God more than men and resembled Nathanael in whom there was no guile. He was a very close and trustworthy friend in whom we could confide.

The French speaking believers always called him “Mr. Wells,” not merely because he was older than most of us but mainly because we highly esteemed him; “a faithful man who can find” (Pro 20:6). There is no doubt that he was sent of God, and his departure is a great loss to the French speaking assemblies and the whole work in the Maritimes. But his godly example is part of the great legacy he left us. May God be pleased to fit others and call them to His work.