Labrador History - 4.3 THE PREACHER

Mary Taylor4.3 THE PREACHER
The winter of 1956-57 was remarkable. The gospel went forth on the Labrador coast in an amazing way, making an impact on virtually everyone, one way or the other, and God saved many souls. God also worked in the medical field.
Towards the end of October 1956, I received a telegram from George Campbell; “Coming back to Labrador for the winter Can you find me a place to stay?” I asked the Lord to show me whom to ask and He brought to my mind the couple who seemed interested, “Uncle” Joe and his wife - the couple I had visited earlier that fall. I went over to see them and, at first, they were not sure about it because they had a large family, with several of the boys still at home. Finally they agreed to take him, for the time being at least, and I sent a telegram to George.
George arrived in Forteau one cold night in early November off the Northern Ranger, as it made its way north from Corner Brook. “Uncle Joe” met him and took him to his little house, where George settled in and started witnessing to the family about the Lord.
In the days following he got a mixed reception in the community as he went from house to house distributing tracts and selling Bibles. Even in those early days, however, he had the joy of leading a number of souls to Christ, and how well I remember the night he sent me a note which read simply, “Praise the Lord! Uncle Joe got saved tonight.” I rejoiced too! “Uncle” Joe was the first of many.
George had services each night in the church, but some did not like his plain preaching of the Gospel and he was unable to continue The Lord had better plans however for we came up with a room in a building behind the nursing station. Part of the original Grenfell Mission station built in the early 1900’s, this old structure was now used for storage and, when I first came to Forteau, I used one of the upstairs rooms for the children’s Friday night Bible Club. T ‘r we removed some dividing partitions to make one large room where my teacher friend and I showed educational films. There was an old wood and coal stove in the building, and a rickety staircase led up to this room from the door on the main floor.
I told George that he was welcome to hold meetings in this building, if he wished, and he promptly started preaching every night. God moved and a number were saved over the next couple of months. Since this was an upper room in a literal sense and reminded us of the room where the Lord Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples, we called our room the “Upper room.” We had some very precious times there.
What a thrilling time! The entire community, it seemed, was taken up with the gospel. Not all wanted it, for many did not understand the love of God, but it was the topic of almost every conversation nevertheless. It was wonderful to see so many people coming to Christ - a real answer to my prayers. I felt a heavy burden for the souls of these dear people, whom I had come to love and, as I walked along the path through the village, often I felt as if there was a heavy load on my chest. As I walked from one home to another I would pray that the Lord would continue the work which He had begun.
Everywhere I went the conversation led naturally to the new preacher and it was easy to talk about the Saviour we served. In the waiting room I put up a little rack in which I placed some tracts, and patients would read them while they were waiting to see “the nurse”, as I was called. There was an atmosphere of curiosity and concern everywhere and people continued to get saved.
One of these was my nurses’ aide, Olive. A pretty girl with wavy auburn hair, she had been with me for about two years at the time, having replaced the cook when she first came. She was one of many girls that I had had to train myself over the years and, like the rest, learnt very quickly. Olive had become very efficient and was a great help to me.
I had noticed before that Olive seemed interested in spiritual things and a patient, who was in at the time and recently saved herself, confirmed this, so I was looking for an opportunity to have a talk with her. The opportunity came one Friday when she came into the living room to pick up her pay envelope. I asked her if she would like to be saved and to my delight she replied that she would.
I suggested that she come back before she went off duty and we could talk about it.
“Olive would like to be saved. Will you have a talk with her?” I said to George, when he came to see me that afternoon, thinking this was the obvious thing to do.
“No! You point her to Christ yourself,” he replied.
This gave me a start, for I expected George to do the talking. Nevertheless, he handed to me the unspeakable joy of leading a soul to Christ, even if I was very nervous, only having led one other person to the Saviour. George gave me a few scripture verses to show her and left. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me what to say.
“Olive,” I said, when she came back, “I’m going to tell you a story from the Bible to explain what it means to be saved.” I told her about the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed instead of the firstborn son when the children of Israel left Egypt.
“The verse I want you to remember is this, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you,” reading this to her from Exodus 12:13. “In the same way, Jesus Christ died for you on the cross, as a sacrifice for your sin and all you have to do is to put your trust in Him.”
“I see,” Olive said slowly.
She left, went upstairs to her room, and asked the Lord to save her, and He did. I suggested to her that now she was a child of : God, she should read her Bible and pray to have communion with the Lord. I also told her that she should tell her family what had happened.
Olive shared her new-found faith with others, including the other girl with whom she was working at the time, Phyllis the cook. Later she had the joy of leading her sister, Betty, to the Lord and another friend also. She endured quite a bit of teasing too, so found out what it was like to suffer reproach for the name of Christ.
After she was saved, Olive and I had many times of fellowship together, and for me it was wonderful to have a young believer to disciple and see grow in her new found faith. Sharing a short time every day in prayer, after lunch before the afternoon clinic started, we asked the Lord for others to be saved. It was a matter of joy to us that we saw many of our prayers answered.
One day, walking back from the far end of the settlement where I had been doing a home visit, I noticed a man, Don, out by his woodpile. He was a man who loved to go “in the country” on hunting and trapping trips, but had been in the nursing station a number of times for treatment of a sore back. He and Dorothy, his wife, had three children, and she had been diagnosed as a diabetic when their youngest child was born. She sewed for the nursing station, making curtains, etc., but in later years developed rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to continue. Nevertheless, she crocheted many lovely doilies, and knitted socks and mitts for her family and later her grandchildren.
Don had been attending the meetings in the “upper room” and he and I had had many conversations about the Lord. I spoke to him again now, asking him how he enjoyed the meetings and if he had thought about his own need of a Saviour. We talked for a while and I went into the house with him, hoping to lead him to Christ too, but he did not get saved at that time. Later that week I was called to see a man at L’Anse-Amour, the little fishing settlement near the lighthouse, and stayed overnight. When I returned to Forteau I was met with the news that Don had trusted Christ when out in the woods.
Among those who accepted Christ in those early days was “Uncle” Joe’s son, James, one of my Sunday School teachers. He attended the little Bible study I had held for the previous few years. Being the only young fellow saved at the time he found it rather lonely, so would come over to talk to Olive and me when we were not too busy, and we had times of prayer and fellowship together. Later other members of his family were saved, so he had more to share with.
Amidst all this excitement, the routine of the nursing station continued. We had four deliveries in November and eight in December, as well as other inpatients and outpatients. I had five mothers and babies in for Christmas which kept me very busy, but it was fun bathing and dressing all the little ones on Christmas morning, making them look pretty for the special day. Then, in addition, a baby showed up on Christmas Eve and another on New Year’s day.
That Christmas was a hard one for me personally. My teacher friend had not responded favourably to the message of the Gospel and, in fact, seemed to turn away. I saw that our relationship could not continue unless he was willing to accept Christ as his Saviour too, and a verse from the Bible kept coming into my mind, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” No doubt it was the Lord talking to me and, one day shortly after Christmas, I told him so. It was a very hard decision to make and yet I knew it was the right one.
The Lord gave me peace, even in the midst of my distress and He became even more precious to me, giving me a verse of scripture that was an encouragement at that time. It was, “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” [I Samuel 2:301 It was the first part of the verse that was a help to me. I felt that our relationship might be a hindrance to others and I did not want that to happen. Another verse which was a great help to me when I felt sad about our broken relationship was in Psalm 42, verse 11, “Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul. Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him.”
Early in the New Year George went to L’Anse-au-Loup, staying in the home of “Uncle” Will, whose sons Spoffard and Ralph I had met earlier. He had received an invitation to hold meetings in the old schoolhouse there and remained for most of the winter, preaching the gospel every night; every night that weather permitted, that is - always a consideration on the Labrador. Many more people came to the Lord in those winter months, including a group of young girls who in turn met every night to pray for their unsaved loved ones. Many of their prayers were answered in the years to come. There is a danger these days of underestimating the power of prayer, I feel.
It was a remarkable time, and the gospel went forth in power.