History of Gospel Preaching in New Brunswick - 10 - Newfoundland

 Chapter 10

Itinerating in Newfoundland

by Mr. William Brennan

Brother I. McMullen and I left Carbonear on a Friday afternoon for Grate?s Cove, the terminus of that branch of the railway. Arrived there that night and inquired for a hotel, were told there was no hotel and that the village was about half a mile distant. We had to walk there and carry our baggage along in the dark, there being no street lights. Some men kindly offered to escort us to the only stopping place for travellers. When we reached it, the proprietor and family were asleep. However, we were soon inside and were shown to our room without supper. We had a nice clean bed and in the morning, could say with the psalmist, "I laid me down and slept, I awakened for the Lord sustained me." We were rested and refreshed.

We made inquiries at once for a place in which to have some Gospel meetings. We procured the "Bethel" hall used by the wives of the fishermen for their meetings. We spent the day putting tracts in the homes of the people and inviting them to the meeting that night. The hall was filled to overflowing and God gave help to preach His word. At the close, several men told us we should have the fishermen?s hall for Sunday night as it was much larger but they said it needed to be cleaned as it had had an ice cream social in it a short time before and they promised to clean it for us in time for the meeting and have oil put in the lamps.

About an hour before meeting time, we thought we would see how they were getting on with the cleaning and to our dismay, not a thing had been done and the door was not open. We then had to find the janitor and get the place cleaned before the people began to come. Tables and dirty dishes had to be removed and the floor looked as if

it had not been swept for months. Bundles of shingles were piled up inside preparatory to shingling the roof and there was no oil in the lamps. By this time, some of the fishermen began to arrive and one of them procured the oil. There was not sufficient seats so to make up the deficiency, we used bundles of shingles to support a long ladder. On this a row of men sitting close together facing us and a row sat on it with their backs toward us. The clergyman was present too but the only seat left for him was a bundle of shingles.

The hall was well filled and God was pleased to give us a good meeting. At the close, several old men and women came to us and said, "We have not heard the plain simple Gospel like that for 30 years. We had an old minister then who preached just like that." There were groups of men and women in the hall talking about the meeting and we could hear them saying, "Praise God for the Gospel". Several of these older ones seemed to be really saved. We remained for ten nights and enjoyed being there very much. There were about 200 in the hall at our last meeting and a number could not get in. They told us if we ever came back to Grate?s Cove, we would get a welcome.

Before leaving there, we heard that the minister in the next village, Old Perlican, had said he would not allow us to get in to that place. We got an early train on a Monday morning to this village, found a boarding house, then got permission to preach in the Orange Hall and were around almost every house with tracts and announcing our meeting before the minister knew we were there.

Mr. B, the man with whom we boarded was very hard of hearing. He told us there was no use in him going to our meeting as he could never hear anything the minister said in his sermon, but we persuaded him to come once as we thought he could hear us. He came and heard every word and we had no trouble to get him out afterward.

One day, he met the minister on the street and told him he had two preachers staying with him and they "preached without leaves" and I could hear every word. He meant that the minister read all his sermons and we did not. The minister was very mich displeased and did not come to one of our meetings. The people came well and gave the best of attention to the Word and the hall was filled every night.

The Orangemen had some sort of Bible reading among themselves on Lord?s day afternoon in their hall. We were invited to attend. We were plied with questions by them which we tried to answer from the Word of God. Before leaving there, we walked four miles to Caplin Cove and put tracts in every home.

The morning we left Old Perlican, when breakfast was over, although the bank manager and his clerk were present at the table (they were boarding there) Mr. B. said, "Before you go, let us stand and sing the Doxology" and asked one of us to start it so we all stood around the table and sang,

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

We hope to meet old Mr. B. in heaven as he seemed to know the Son of God as his Saviour.

When we arrived at the next village, Island Cove, we found a place to stay with an old widow and her daughter, Mrs. J. L . We called to see the worshipful Master of the Orange Society who gave us permission to preach in their hall. It was packed every night we were there. Those who could not get seats were standing in the hall and also on the platform and as close as they could stand around us. We enjoyed preaching the Gospel to them. This widow and her daughter were exceedingly kind to us but could not say they were saved.

At Western Bay, the next village, we inquired about a hall and were told the only one there was the Orange Hall and it was $5. a night. We refused to pay that and told we were preaching the Gospel freely. Then they reduced the price to $3. a night if it was for preaching the Gospel. We told them we would consider it and let them know in the morning.

When we called to see them the next day, we were told that they had had a meeting the night before and the minister was present and it was decided not to let us have the hall at any price. We then went around and put tracts

at every house until it began to rain. We were sorry to have to leave them sitting in darkness.

We left our baggage in the boarding house and walked to Black Head, the next village, four miles distant as there was no train till afternoon and we wanted to have a meeting that night if possible. We called upon the Worshipful Master there to inquire about a hall to preach in. He seemed very friendly and told us we could have the Orange hall for a month free of charge. This was quite encouraging after the experience we had at Western Bay. We found later he did not have as much authority as he thought he had. We walked back the four miles for our baggage, got the train in the afternoon to Black Head where we were to have a meeting that night. We called at about a dozen places to find a lodging house but no one would take us in. By this time, we were quite tired walking so much and carrying our heavy bags. When we had almost given up hope, God opened the hearts of a couple and we were well entertained there.

Like every other place where pioneer work is done, there will be opposition from man and the devil. It has always been so and will be to the end. There will be discouragements but God can make up for all that and a few souls won for Christ will far more than compensate for any little trials or discomforts. There are many open doors in Newfoundland and a readiness to listen to the Word of God. It requires a person to go and live there. Spending a few weeks in the summertime does not accomplish very much. Although we have seen a few souls saved as a result of our meetings.

May the Lord of the harvest cause a real exercise among young men who have a love for Christ and love for souls about this needy colony. I often have a longing to go back again but am not able to climb the hills now as I once did. Young men who preach only in assemblies know nothing of the joy of breaking up new ground and sowing the "good seed" in places for the first time looking to God alone for their support. If God sends a man to work for Him, He will take care of him for the Lord is the God of Elijah.

The city of St. John?s is the capital with a population of about 50,000. It seems such a pity that there is no assembly there. Brother McMullen and I had our tent pitched there for two seasons. We also had meetings in Harbour Grace, Fresh Water and Cornerbrook.

W. N. Brennan