George Campbell Biography, Evangelist to Newfoundland - Prologue

 PROLOGUE

In the early summer of 1984, my wife called me to answer the tele­phone. At the other end of the line was Dr. Silverthorne, a Christian doctor.

He said, ?George, I am sorry, but your last C. T. Scan biopsy showed cancer cells!?

I had two C. I Scans before and two biopsies that were negative, and I thought if the third one comes out negative, I am okay. I said, ?Thank you very much, Doctor. We will be in touch for an appointment!?

I hung up the phone. Could it be that at 57 years of age, looking for­ward to a series of evangelistic meetings, that suddenly, not dreaming that anything like this would ever happen to me, I had the big C cancer? It was in the pancreas, and later I found it was also in the liver. I put my arms around my wife and we knelt and prayed.

On the nineteenth of November 1951, I had received Jesus Christ as my Savior, and had served God for over 30 years in Newfoundland and Labrador. I had proved that Christ is real in many situations. But now I was face-to-face with possible death! How real is my faith now? How real is the God I am depending on now? How real is that God that I have been preaching about and serving for over thirty years now that it was come to the place where the rubber hits the road? Well, I did some searching.

On Monday, June 25, 1984, these verses came to me, at about 5:00 a.m., after a night of sleeplessness and pain. The sun was just coming up over the Burnaby Hills as I stood by the window looking at the beau­tiful sight. I was pondering what the future held and I turned and glanced at the calendar. ?Be of good cheer!? Another verse I read that morning, ?Behold he is in thine hand; but save his life,? Job 2:6. Then it came into my mind that small passage in II Corinthians 12:7, ?A messenger of Satan to buffet me!? ?This sickness is not unto death, for the glory of God,? John 11:4. ?By life or by death,? Philippians 1:20.

As the Lord ministered to me in my need, I was comforted by His word. Rest came to my soul and I knew I was in His hands and under His con­trol no matter what would happen in the days ahead.

How was I going to break the news to David, Ruth, Elizabeth and Lois, our children, that I had cancer? That was the question my wife and I had to decide. We thought the best way was to get together and have a serious open discussion. They were devastated at first, of course, but when they understood that everything must have an ending, they en­tered in with us to the reality of life and death. Little by little we were able to talk about it freely, so they could become adjusted to the fact of my dying. Presently, we are resigned to it. We believe the Lord has caused each one individually to accept it. We are just an ordinary family, but the Lord has blessed us. We have made mistakes and have had our difficult times, but I am very thankful to say at this present time that our family is all saved, and in the fellowship of a good assembly. Their church life is meeting their spiritual needs with good fellowship, good elders and a group of young people they enjoy. We have much to thank God for.

The latest thing was when the doctor came a few nights ago and told me I only had a few weeks left. I didn?t think it was going to be that soon, but nevertheless, that was his verdict. Dr. Silverthorne is a Chris­tian and has always given me the facts, which I appreciate. You may ask, ?What is it like when you know you are going to die?? It is a mighty comfortable feeling. As I lay back on this pillow, I can say that in a few weeks or less I will see Jesus. What a comfort! It also comforts my wife, and I believe it has also comforted our children. We do not like the idea of being separated, but I believe we have accepted it, and that is what counts. I don?t want to go home until my work is finished.

One of the things I believe I must do before going home is to finish this book. It is my earnest prayer that God will use it to stimulate and challenge young people. I want to encourage older brethren to see that our younger generation needs our fellowship. I want you to see that new methods do not change our message. New ways in presenting the mes­sage can be helpful in this age in which we live. With this in mind, we have accepted the Lord?s time-table. Whether I am going to be here a long or a short time doesn?t make any difference. Things that have been on my heart are now down in print, and I trust they will be useful to the generation following.

Certain things need to be said for the help of young people coming up and for New Testament churches in general. We are living in very difficult times, and are moving away from what the New Testament teaches concerning the vitality of the local church. We have slipped into the pat­tern of practice without being practical. We have a pattern without a moti­vation and action. This compels me to speak out so that we might get back to the New Testament principles and really work with God in car­ carrying out His great commission.

My days are limited by cancer, but I feel that it is necessary to put these words on paper. My earnest prayer is that God will use them to restore His people back to the vital church life and enthusiasm in the gospel that once characterized Christians who gather in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.