Bethel Tabernacle / Elgin, Ontario

What courage and faith it took to invite me to come all the way to Elgin, Ontario and this little congregation of some forty or so people. Pastor Crump and his Board (Brian, Bonnie and Mickey) stepped up and stepped out to present the gospel to a community and region where nominal Christianity and traditional churchianity prevail. Many people have what the scriptures call, “the form of godliness without the power thereof.”  People will go to church as long as they are not expected to go to Christ. Jesus said, “But you will not come to ME that you might have life.” Life is found nowhere else but in him and that’s why He is called the Redeemer, Ransom and Rescue. Religious attendance and observance can never give life. This is what it means to be lost.

THE OLD HIMS

A Surprise Package, The Old Hims

Well, they got their heads together and thought,”What will bring people out?” It seemed to them that most traditional church members have always enjoyed the old hymns of the Church and especially when sung by a local musical group called, “The Old Hims.”

I arrived at the church around two in the afternoon and was met by Pastor Bob who gave me the basic layout of how the weekend would go. Following this, we went over to his house where I met his wife, Susan and their two children. Susan had made two things that I really like, Lasagna and Apple Crisp. After supper went over to the church to await the arrival of “The Old Hims,”  and to my surprise, that’s just what they were. It appeared to me that the youngest was around seventy-five and we were told that the oldest member was eighty-two years of age. As they began to empty their van and set up the platform I thought to myself, “Man, this is a lot of stuff for these old guys to tote around.” It was! They had the stage filled with guitars, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, steel guitar, electric piano and I wondered how four fellows in one hour would get around to playing all of this stuff.” They did, and was it ever good. You’ve heard it said, “Never judge a book by its cover.” These guys knew how to play southern gospel like they were from Boone, North Carolina. They did it all and did it well.

Pastor Bob and Raja, a church member, went about setting up extra chairs expecting at least double the regular Sunday morning attendance. Sadly, it just didn’t happen as we had all hoped. When 7pm and start time came there were perhaps only forty people in the sanctuary. Still, there were a few visitors from surrounding villages so we just went on and declared the gospel as clearly as we could. When I called for decisions at the end, two people raised their hands in response. One in particular caught my attention. She was a well dressed lady in her fifties. As I preached, I could tell from the corner of my eye that she was intently listening to every word so I wasn’t surprised when she seemed to “Get it.”

After all, how do we know what God is doing inside the human heart? This is not our’s to figure out and though we can assume, I have given up figuring out “who’s up and who’s in.” He promises to sort it all out in the end. Nevertheless, even with what appears to be a rather small turn out and small response I must remember that this was my story. I was saved in a small livingroom in Merrickville with only about a dozen people in the room and half of them children. Yet, through God’s abundant grace I have seen hundreds (perhaps thousands saved through my ministry). We do our best and leave to Him the rest.

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