History of Gospel Preaching in New Brunswick - 6 - St John

 Chapter 6

Saint John

Saint John is the largest of the four cities in New Brunswick with a population of over 75,000 people. It is situated at the mouth of the Saint John River. It?s main industries are the Irving Oil refinery, Saint John Ship Building which built twelve frigates for the Canadian Navy in the 1990's and also a paper mill.

Mr. Isaac McMullen went to Saint John to preach the Gospel in the 1930's. There was some interest but it was never followed up.

George Heidman was commended from Dominion Gospel Hall in Orillia, Ontario in August, 1950 and moved to New Brunswick in 1952.

George Heidman and Frances McMullen were married in Moncton in October 1952 and Frances writes:

In May 1953, we had an interest in moving to Saint John and wrote to Mr. Melvin McCavour asking him to place an ad in the local newspaper for an apartment. When we arrived in the city, Mr. McCavour took us around Saint John looking for apartments to rent but the ones we found were mostly in the slums. Mrs. Russell Morton of Moncton had asked us to visit her sister, Mrs. Murray while in Saint John as she wasn?t well. We went to visit her and she wanted to know why we were apartment hunting. When we told her we were coming to Saint John to preach the Gospel, she said she had an apartment to rent, but the people who were interested hadn?t contacted her. She asked George if we wanted to look at the apartment, and if it suited us, and if the other party wasn?t interested, we could rent it. We looked at the apartment and were pleased with it. When the apartment became available, we decided to rent it as we felt that the Lord had worked this out for us.

The first thing we did when we moved to Saint John was to go to King Square at the head of King Street and hold a street meeting. George preached and I held his hat.

A man listened and invited us to his home. He was Mr. James O?Neil who was a brother of our landlady, Mrs. Murray and of Mrs. Russell Morton of Moncton.

We visited the O?Neil?s and they wanted George to come to their home and have a Bible study on eternal security of the believer in Christ. So we went and were pleased to see a house full of invited guests.

Later, Don and Wanda Murray (son of our landlady) invited us to have a meeting in their home two nights a week. George borrowed chairs from the YMCA and took them to the Murray?s home each week and then carted them back again. There was quite a group of people attending these meetings each week.

Mrs. Freda (Lauder) Snow was then living in Saint John. She had been saved some years before in Hillsborough near Moncton, when Isaac McMullen had meetings there. When contacted, she was thrilled to come out and brought her friends.

With this meeting once a week and a street meeting every Saturday evening in Kings Square, and lots of visitation in between, we kept busy in our work for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

On Sunday mornings, George and I would travel to Moncton or Fredericton for the Remembrance meeting. After awhile, we questioned whether we should leave Saint John each Sunday, as leaving we were not wholly committed to the work we came to do in Saint John. We felt we had to stay in Saint John and start a Sunday School and a Bible class in our apartment each Sunday morning. I taught Sunday School in the kitchen while George had Bible studies in the living room. From then on, things seemed to have an added impetus. Mr. McCavour invited us to have Gospel meetings on Sunday nights in their large living room. Tract distribution was done regularly at both the City Hospital and sanatorium.

In 1954, we had our first Remembrance Meeting in our living room. On that first Lord?s day, Mr. & Mrs. Donovan, Mr. McCavour, Fred Comley and George and I met together to remember our Lord in the appointed way. Six in all.

Many more were coming to the Bible study and George and I felt that some of the people were going to watch to see how things went.

In June of 1954, Mr. Donovan gave the Assembly two lots of land next to his home on Courtney Avenue and we started the building as the Lord supplied the means. The men of the Moncton assembly were very faithful and Burton McMullen and Fred Ward would bring a carload down on Saturdays and they would work all day on the building.

George and I would pray that we would be able to gather enough material to keep these men working all day. God was so faithful in supplying our needs.

When George knew how many men had come from Moncton, he would phone me to let me know how many of them would be having dinner with us that day. One Saturday, we had nothing in the house and we were crying to the Lord for our need. When George phoned to say six men had come, I was able to say that Mrs. McCavour had just phoned to say she was preparing dinner for us all and asked George to stop by and pick it up on his way home. So our faith and dependence on the Lord was strengthened.

As things began to take shape, an assembly in Toronto, Brock Avenue, shipped us their light fixtures as they were getting new ones. Another assembly (Highfield Road) donated all the chairs we needed and shipped them to Saint John. They were taken to Mr. McCavour?s basement and repaired and painted." Mr. August Heidman gave the texts for the Courtney Avenue Gospel Hall.

Norman McNeil of Moncton, retired from the CN, went to Saint John by train the first of each week and stayed with us and worked on the hall most of the week. Also, Mr. William Buchan of Toronto went to Saint John to help with the building. Just as he arrived, a very bad hurricane hit Saint John. The hall roof was on but not closed in. After the storm was over, Mr. Buchan assessed the damages and found the foundation undermined. He was able to show the brethren how to repair the damage and so was a great help.

The Gospel Hall was opened in February 1955. Mr. Henry Fletcher of Toronto was at the opening and held Gospel Meetings afterwards and a number professed to be saved. We had contact with some Christians in Mispec area and they started to attend the meetings. The children added to the attendance at the Sunday School. Mr. & Mrs. Harold Eastwood were one of the families who came. Mrs. Elsie Eastwood was saved but Harold wasn?t saved at that time but was saved the next year. Harold Eastwood was baptized in the Saint John river in the summer of 1955 near the home of Evelyn Wallace who was also baptized at that time.

 

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Wanda Murray?s Memories

Following is Wanda Murray?s memories of her early days in the Saint John Assembly:

While we were living at mother Murray?s, we bought a house on Metcalfe Street. Just as we were moving in and getting settled, a young couple came to live at mother?s house in one of her several apartments. She invited them in for tea and so we met George and Frances Heidman. George said he was a preacher and was having street meetings in Kings Square so we went to hear him. Don?s uncle Jim was there and also Mr. McCavour.

As time went by, George needed a place in which to have meetings so he could invite the people he met in King Square. Don and I had double parlours which were perfect for meetings. George would go to the YMCA and get chairs and put them up in our house every Tuesday and Thursday night. He would have to return the chairs after every meeting which was quite a lot of work.

We heard great teaching that winter on New Testament church principles. We drank in the good Bible preaching

but it seemed to us that we couldn?t live up to all this teaching and we still attended a neighbourhood church.

George and Frances had their first breaking of bread in their little apartment. Mr. Joe Donovan offered George a piece of land on Courtenay Avenue on which to construct a building for meetings. The construction commenced on the Gospel Hall about the same time as we started building a house in the same area on Foley Court. We didn?t work too much on the hall as Don had his hands full building our house. George had time even with everything he had to do, to instruct Don on many things in our house. He was very helpful to us in many ways.

We had many people stay at our house when the hall opened. We put a big dining table up in our living room and had a wonderful time in the Lord. George?s father, Mr. August Heidman, preached the first message at the Gospel Hall. The title of it was Remember The Stranger. One person I can remember who came to help with the hall was Bill Buchan. Could he ever sing!

We started going to the conferences in Moncton and Pugwash Junction and became very interested in the meetings. The breaking of bread was most impressive to us. After awhile, we came into fellowship in the meeting. We had after-meetings at our home and everyone would come over and sing and fellowship in the things of the Lord.

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Mr. Fletcher was one of the first preachers to come and have meetings at the Gospel Hall. He preached from a chart that illustrated the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

Mr. McNeil often would come to visit and was a valuable mentor for George Heidman. Eric Adsett and Fred Ward as well as Burton McMullen and Lawrence Adsett would often come for the weekend to support the work and offer their assistance in the preaching. Clark McClelland also came to conduct series of meetings at the hall. It was at one of these meetings that my sister, Vicky Frauley, was saved. She later married Frank Adsett from Moncton and theirs was the first wedding in the hall in 1958.

The conference in Moncton was a real highlight in our lives. On one occasion, when most of the Christians went to Moncton for the conference, Mr. McCavour and I were the only ones at the morning meeting in Saint John. He said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them".. so we will break bread.

People from Mispec made up a great part of our meeting. Don was one of the men who went to Mispec to pick up children for Sunday School. Harold Eastwood?s family were always eager to come. We went to a family reunion of that family in 1986 and there were about 53 people from their seven children. The assembly grew as Christians from assemblies in Scotland came over to work in the Drydock and were a help to us in the assembly both preaching the Gospel and ministering the word of God. Two of these men were Ian Adair and Duncan Maxwell.

This concludes Wanda Murray?s memories of the work in Saint John.

 

Moncton still has an involvement in the Assembly in Saint John after 40 years as Steven and Carlene (Williams) Budd, Joan (Linden) MacFarlane, wife of Darrell MacFarlane, Beverly (Linden) C“t‚ and Roger C“t‚, Charlotte (Cairns) and Dan Fraser all were brought up in or while in Moncton were in the Moncton Assembly. Dan Fraser is a great great grandson of J. Harris Bears who was in the first assembly in New Brunswick in New Scotland in the 1890's.

Many preachers visited the Saint John Assembly through the years and were a help with the Gospel Meetings and the teaching from the Word of God as they taught them the right ways of the Lord. In 1980, Wade LeBlanc, a brother-in-law of Dennis Beaudet, heard the Gospel and was very disturbed by it. After being under conviction for some time, he trusted the Lord as his Saviour. After Wade was saved, he was so thrilled with the good news of the Gospel that he would take his noon hours from work and go to nearby Kings Square to tell the people he met about the wonderful fact that the Lord Jesus Christ died for sinners and salvation was free. While he was working for a company in Saint John, he was very exercised about going out full-time preaching the Word of God depending only upon God for his sustenance. The Saint John assembly was happy to give him a commendation to go out preaching the Gospel.

He was interested in the town of St. Stephen, which was across the border from Calais, Maine and he moved there with his family, his wife Lynne and their three children, Wade Jr, Dennis and Amy and their daughter Beth was born in St. Stephen. He has covered the town visiting each home, distributing tracts and calendars several times. He also has meetings for children and pitches a tent to preach the Gospel in the summer. Honeydale and Pleasant Ridge and the Kingston Peninsula have been places he has had his tent pitched.

 

Wade?s two sons, Wade, Jr. and Dennis, were both saved recently and have been instrumental in seeing some of their friends saved.

Testimonies

Wade LeBlanc

I was born May 13, 1949 in Saint John, NB the oldest of seven children. My parents were Zenon & Doreen LeBlanc. My dad was from Shediac and mother from Saint John. Our family moved to the village of Fairvale when I was five years old. I attended high school at Rothesay Regional and graduated in 1967.

Although my parents were not religious, they ensured that I and my siblings attend a Protestant denomination faithfully. I received several perfect attendance certificates. I did not hear the gospel but I came to believe the Bible as truth and to have respect for the name Jesus Christ.

When I was approximately 15 years old, while sitting in a service with the adults, it began to pour rain. When the service was over, I hurried outside to hitchhike a ride home with hopefully one of the members of the congregation. As the cars left the parking lot, one by one, they all pretended not to notice me and left me standing in the rain. On that day, I made a decision not to return to that particular denomination and abided by my decision.

Like the vast majority of teenagers in the 60's, I too embraced the music of rock & roll bands, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc., These bands promoted anarchy both politically and morally. Drugs, drinking and doing your own thing became a way of life for many young people including myself.

At age 17, I met and fell deeply in love with a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl named Lynne Beaudet. We courted on and off for six years, and then we married.

I began a career in Consumer Credit which lasted until 1978. During these years, God blessed us with two sons, Wade and Dennis. I was, by the world?s standards, successful in this life. I held a position of manager of a finance company, followed by Loans Manager of a bank. I was president of the Jaycees and we had many friends, a new car and owned our own home. However, I felt empty within and unsatisfied. I thought perhaps fulfillment in life may be found in Lynne?s religion. For several weeks, in 1976, I met with a priest regularly and studied Roman Catholicism. I was received into their numbers and became a most devout Catholic. I partook of the mass six mornings a week. However, I also, faithfully attended the local tavern in the evenings. I began to abhor myself and felt like a hypocrite.

One morning in the large cathedral, I looked up at the life-size statue of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and proclaimed audibly, "I don?t even know you". In December, 1976, I was transferred by the bank from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. In January, 1977, I met a drug dealer who lived on the same street. It wasn?t long until my state was like that Japanese proverb, "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes the man". Drugs, alcohol and rock music became my whole life. I began losing interest in my family and my work. My performance suffered. The bank transferred me to Wolfville, NS but things were no different there. In March 1978, I resigned from the bank and began managing rock bands. I was rather successful at this but

did not earn enough to pay the bills and support my drug habits. I sold most of our possessions. I began staying up late in the attic of the old home which we rented, reading

books on the occult. This subject and the idea of drawing near Satan fascinated me.

Then, in December, 1979, a new album by Bob Dylan caused me to consider something I had never considered before, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this same time, we heard news of Lynne?s brother, Dennis Beaudet, in Saint John, NB, getting very religious. We were informed that he was going to church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday also, to top it off. He was reading his Bible all the time. The family felt sorry for him. To me, it was a ray of hope, for I was a man most miserable. The house we were renting was sold and in January 1980, we returned to Saint John after an absence of 3« years.

I was in Dennis? presence for only five minutes when he brought out a Bible, turned to the book of Romans and explained to me the need of a new birth. It was the first time that I ever heard the gospel. I did not like it for it condemned me and it required a turning from my sin. I did not want to let go of my lifestyle. I could not envision myself being at all happy without drugs and alcohol.

I wrestled with the Gospel for about four months. I went out to a few meetings at the Courtney Avenue Gospel Hall. I came under great conviction of sin. I went to see the Roman Catholic priest with my predicament. He told me to pay no mind to my brother-in-law and that he probably was getting his information from the book of Revelation implying to me that it was not a reliable source. He again stated that no one could be sure of Heaven and that all we could do was live in the hope of going to Heaven. This is what I wanted to hear, that I could keep my sinful habits and still maybe go to Heaven in the end. However, whenever I saw the Christians, I felt condemned. Deep down in my heart, I knew I had heard the truth. I recall that whenever a Christian spoke to me, it was with God?s Word and that the Roman Catholic priest, never once quoted or read Scripture.

Decision day came on April 29, 1980. The night before, I came home to Lynne?s mother?s house with an ounce of drugs in my sock which I had purchased and, I was under the influence of alcohol. Lynne recognized my familiar condition and was most upset as she thought I might change my ways in Saint John. In the presence of her sister and her mother, I promised her I would never do drugs again. I was, of course, lying. On the afternoon of the 29th, coming back to my mother-in-law?s apartment from a walk uptown, I casually threw my leather coat over a chair in the kitchen and went into the bedroom to get ready for work which was as a security guard at the building site of the new Regional Hospital. Lynne?s sister was sitting in the kitchen talking on the phone. At the door, appeared my friend, from whom I had purchased the drugs the day before. As I began to speak with him, he asked me, "Whose joint is that?" I turned around and there on the red carpet was a gleaming white joint of marijuana. It had obviously fallen out of a hole in the pocket of my coat when I threw it over the chair. It must have fallen down through the lining and fell onto the floor through another hole. Both holes were no bigger than the size of a quarter. My sister-in-law sat red-faced, still on the phone, embarrassed for me as she had heard my solemn promise of the night before.

I sat down on a chair, astounded, staring at the bit of drugs on the floor. Although two others were present in the room, I felt all alone with God. He spoke to my heart and it was as if He said, "Wade, you?ve been searching for the truth and now you?ve found it in the message of the Gospel. If you want freedom, then come to me now. If not, then pick up your drugs and go back to your wretched life". The drugs on the floor represented my life; living for self - living for pleasure.

I felt that this may be my last opportunity to find God. I picked up the joint and went to the bedroom and retrieved the one from its hiding place and walked to the door and presented all to my friend. He, knowing my dependence on drugs, and my love of them, said, "You mean you want me to keep them for you". I replied, "No, I do not want them anymore". I could hardly believe that it was me saying them but I was sure and amazingly, I meant it.

I was set free in a moment of time on that day. Salvation surely is a miracle. I began telling others of their need of Christ. God burdened my heart for souls. The Lord saved my dear wife in October of that same year. He subsequently saved three of my five brothers, my sister and my father. In 1997, my two sons Wade and Dennis were saved.

I was baptized in June, 1980, and received into Assembly fellowship at Courtney Avenue Gospel Hall in Saint John in September.

The burden the Lord gave me for souls increased and He gave me opportunities to help in Gospel preaching. The Lord opened the door for me to again work in Consumer Credit for a large oil company. Their head office was located adjacent to King Square in Saint John. As my habit was, I enjoyed my lunch hours in the square distributing tracts and talking to souls about their need of a Saviour. My activities in the square were brought to the attention of my superiors. They commanded me to stop as I was an embarrassment to the company. I told them I could not stop and did not feel my activities embarrassed them as I kept a low profile and did this during my free time.

During this time, the Lord was definitely dealing with me in a very direct way, and I was certain He was calling me into full-time Gospel work.

I met with the oversight and expressed my desire to obey the calling of the Lord. They were not surprised and were behind me. I resigned my position with the oil company on May 31st, 1984. The Lord provided grace and opportunity for me to do the work of an evangelist. I spent a few weeks helping brother Alex Stephenson in Newfoundland with tent meetings. Upon my return in July, I was able to help brother Harold Smith with children?s meetings in Nova Scotia.

I was commended to the work of the Gospel and to the grace of God by the brethren at Courtney Avenue Gospel Hall, Saint John on August 15, 1984.

Wade LeBlanc

March 1998

 

Marion Follett

I grew up in the little village of Andover on the Saint John River, the youngest of a family of four. Mother and I attended church regularly but we did not hear the Gospel preached there.

I graduated from high school in 1943 and went to work in the nearby village of Perth. In 1945, I decided to go to Saint John to take a Business course. When I finished the course, I went home for a couple of weeks. While there, I received a call from my girlfriend telling me that there was a job opening for me with the Telephone company if I was interested.

Just before I received her call, I was asked by relatives if I would like to go with them on a trip to Texas. As much as I would have liked to go, I decided that a job should be my top priority. This was a decision that I?ve never regretted.

On arriving in Saint John, a friend of mine found a nice place for me to board. It was here that I met a young man who later became my husband in 1948. My husband and I moved into an apartment on the west side of the city where we came in contact with Don and Wanda Murray.

In September of 1953, Wanda invited me to an Evangelistic meeting where I heard the good news of the Gospel for the first time. I did not get saved that night but I did the next evening. My husband went with me to the meetings but he was not interested.

While we were at Algonquin place, George and Frances Heidman came to live in an apartment on the next floor above us. The Lord used them to plant an assembly in Saint John.

Later, we moved out of the city into the country where we built a home next to Don and Wanda. They later moved back to the city in the north end where they had meetings in their home. Later Mr. & Mrs. McCavour held meetings in their home on Chesley Drive. I wasn?t able to get to them very often. In 1954, we sold our home and moved to Rothesay where we bought a grocery store with living quarters in the back. This was to be our home for the next 45 years.

In February, 1954, a meeting was started in Heidman?s home. I was later baptized and came into the assembly where I have been in fellowship ever since.

In December, 1964, Roland, my husband, was saved and a little later came into fellowship in the meeting. This was a happy time for all. It was not too long before our son, and older daughter were saved and came into the assembly. Our youngest daughter was saved the evening the Gulf War started, and came into the assembly also. We have six grandchildren who have professed to be saved too. Our oldest granddaughter, Sharon, is looking forward to serving the Lord as a missionary nurse in Venezuela. In the will of the Lord, she plans to leave Canada on March 25, 1999.

I look back at my little journey down here and see how the Lord influenced my decisions although I did not realize the importance of the decisions at the time. What a wonderful God He is!