A life worth living web


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A life worth living web

  1. 1. d Go w ho r to ren. of e d ry each chil to t g s ool rld’s lin ril sch e wo th e lls a e thTh ca lis ge an ev An Autobiography by Sam Doherty
  2. 2. A WORTH LIFE WORTH LIVING Dr SAM DOHERTY, BA, EdD Published byChild Evangelism Fellowship - Specialized Book Ministry Assisting Children’s Evangelists Worldwide P O Box 308, Lisburn, BT28 2YS, Northern Ireland, UK © March 2010 All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. This book is available free of chargeIt is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you.Should you wish to make a donation to help the ongoingwork of the CEF Specialized Book Ministry that would bemuch appreciated.Donations can be sent by cheque payable to“CEF Specialized Book Ministry” toP.O. Box 308, Lisburn BT28 2YSN Ireland, UKThose living in USA can send to:CEF SBM account #0762-000CEF Inc. P.O. Box 348, Warrenton, MO 63383-0348Or by internet: www.CEFBookMinistry.com/donations
  4. 4. Table of ContentsIntroduction ………………………………….....………………..…………7Chapter 1: Childhood Days…….………………….………………..…...9Chapter 2: Teenage Years ……………………………………………...13Chapter 3: Early Stirrings ………………………….………………...…16Chapter 4: University, Love And Marriage ………………...……….18Chapter 5: God Intervenes In Two Lives……………..…….…………20Chapter 6: Teaching And Ministry in School……………..………....25Chapter 7: God’s Call To Reach Children………………………...……30Chapter 8: The Early Exciting Days Of CEF In Ireland……...….. 34Chapter 9: The Growth Of CEF In Ireland………….…………….…44Chapter 10: Two Critical And Life Changing Years………………..54Chapter 11: The Big Step………………..………………………….……61Chapter 12: Another Big Step……………………………………..……64Chapter 13: Links Across The Atlantic………………………..…….…72Chapter 14: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling…………………..…….….74
  5. 5. Chapter 15: Humour In Ireland ……..………………………………..…80Chapter 16: First Steps In Europe……………………………..…….…83Chapter 17: The Big Move………………..……….……………………..90Chapter 18: Early Travels……………………….………….………...…93Chapter 19: The Church Room In The Mountains……………..…95Chapter 20: Twenty Six Busy Missionaries……………….………106Chapter 21: Humour in Kilchzimmer………………………………113Chapter 22: Building European CEF………………….…………….. 116Chapter 23: The Reasons For Growth……………….…………..…121Chapter 24: Behind The Iron Curtain……………………….……...130Chapter 25: Pioneering in Poland…………………………………..…139Chapter 26: Adventures (And Some Humour) In The East…149Chapter 27: European Outreach……………….………………………162Chapter 28: In Journeyings Often……………….……………………..166Chapter 29: A Chapter is Closed………………….………………...…170Chapter 30: A New Chapter……………………….………….…...…..177Chapter 31: The Ministry Grows………………….………………..…186
  6. 6. Chapter 32: Some Reflections …………………….……………….…199Chapter 33: My Credo ………………………………..…....…....………203Chapter 34: God’s Solution To Our Problems……………………..208Chapter 35: God Answers Prayer ….………………….…...…….……213Chapter 36: Influences In My life…………………….………………. 216Chapter 37: Helpers to Me and My Ministry…………………........223Chapter 38: My New Hobby…………….…………………… ……… 230Chapter 39: Laugh With Me…………….………………………..……240Chapter 40: My Favourite Message……………………………...……247Chapter 41: And Finally ……………………………..…………………255Appendix ………………………………………….........………….…………267Centre Pages – Photo Album
  7. 7. I dedicate this book to my four grandchildrenMatthew, Sarah, Daniel and Beth
  8. 8. INTRODUCTIONUntil 1993 I was involved in a teaching and preaching ministry for 43years with Child Evangelism Fellowship (14 years in my native Irelandand 29 in Europe). Then God led me to write and publish trainingmanuals and visualized doctrinal lessons for children’s workers tohelp them teach Biblical truths to children. During the 17 years sincethen these materials have been distributed free of charge or at verylow cost in over 50 languages to thousands of children’s workersaround the world.Recently several people asked me to write an account of God’sdealings in my life and after praying about it I felt it was the rightthing to do. I have written this book for three reasons: Firstly, as a testimony to God’s Grace in my life and ministry. I can say with the hymn writer … “Saved by grace alone This is all my plea Jesus died for all mankind And Jesus died for me” I don’t know why God saved me and called me into His service, because I had no interest in Him and no Gospel background. But in due time He spoke to me and I responded to His voice. That was the beginning of a life worth living. Secondly, to fill in gaps concerning my life and my ministry with CEF which were not covered in my other books which had few details of my personal life and ministry. Thirdly, this book is for my grandchildren – Matthew, Sarah, Daniel and Beth, who are very special to me. They have played a vital and important part in my life and I would like them to be able to read in detail about my life and ministry. I dedicate this book to them with the prayer that, as I have, so they too will always experience the Grace of God in their lives. 7
  9. 9. I would like to underline four facts concerning this book: I never kept diaries, so much of what I write is from memory or based on excerpts from prayer letters. I trust that my memory has been reasonably clear and correct! If you have read my other books, especially “Fifty Years and Still Learning”(which looks at my ministry from a different viewpoint), you will find several items there which are repeated in this book. I have written this book from my heart, recording what God has done in my life and work. It is more of a diary than a continuous narrative. I thank you for reading it and I trust God will make it a blessing to you. I have felt very hesitant about writing so much about myself and ”my ministry”. But I suppose that this cannot be avoided in an autobiography! I want, however, to emphasize and make it absolutely clear that my over-riding purpose and goal in writing this book is to glorify God and what HE HAS DONE. This is a story of how a very extraordinary and very powerful God can work in the life and ministry of a very ordinary and very weak human being. TO HIM BE ALL THE GLORY!Lastly I would like to thank several members of the Specialized BookMinistry staff who have been of great help in the writing andpublication of this book. Isobel Metcalfe my secretary for many yearsdid the original typing of the manuscript. Irene Campbell worked onediting and making corrections. Many suggestions were made byKenneth Martin and Terry Flannigan. Terry also did all the finalpreparation for printing. My thanks and appreciation goes to all ofthem. 8
  10. 10. Chapter 1: CHILDHOOD DAYS I was born in 1927. Those were pre-war years and it was awonderful time to grow up. Unlike many children today, who arestressed and pressurized, I had a very happy, contented childhood. My Memories I remember the gas-lit streets on the Lisburn Road in Belfast and the lamplighter who lived several doors from us. He went out each evening with his long pole to turn on the gas-lights on top of tall green lamp posts. His pole was like a magic wand as he put it through each aperture and turned on the gas supply. This ignited the mantle which dispelled the darkness in the street below. The girls would tie ropes onto these lamp-posts and swing around them. The boys used them as goal posts for their football matches played with a tennis ball! I remember the farmer with the horse and cart who traversed our streets selling milk. We brought out our container and he filled it from a large churn on the back of the cart. Nobody had ever heard of pasteurization! I remember the bread-man who sold bread from his horse and cart and the fish monger who sold herrings every Friday. There were no supermarkets in those days and refrigerators were unknown in working class houses. Our mothers had to visit the shops every morning to buy daily food. I remember the shop in our street. Every street had a “corner shop” where we could buy almost anything – humbugs, gobstoppers, rhubarb rock, Highland toffee, raspberry ruffles, liquorice pipes and boot laces, macaroon bars, double sixes and lucky bags. The 21st century child knows nothing of these confectionary delights! I remember the fun we had as boys. We played on the street for hours and hours, only coming home to eat and sleep. Under compulsion we did our homework! There was no television or computer games, but we did have a radio. Every evening at 6.45 9
  11. 11. Dick Barton had exciting adventures, and once a week we would listen to a variety programme like Hi Gang or Hancock’s Half Hour. We played endless games in the street. These were really rough - like ‘Dunty Bar the Door’, where we tried to stop each other hopping on one leg from one side of the street to the other side. We played imaginary adventures as cowboys and indians or foreign legionnaires. We enjoyed quiet, but exciting, competitive games like “cheezers”, where each one had a chestnut with which we tried to smash someone else’s chestnut. We played “blowsy”, where we blew cigarette cards onto window sills to win more cigarette cards. (The cards were enclosed in packs of cigarettes). But our favourite game was marbles. We played in all kinds of weather until it became dark; then the loud voices of our mothers called us home for bed. I remember the books I read. Every week I bought boy’s magazines – the Hotspur, the Wizard, the Rover - and read them from cover to cover. Once a week I walked 2 miles to the nearest public library and borrowed several books - all the “Just William” and “Biggles” books. Later in mid-teens I “graduated” to Charles Dickens, W.M. Thackeray and Thomas Carlyle’s “French Revolution”. I was fascinated by books and they created in me a love for reading which was to play a big part in my life. I remember Saturday mornings. These were the highlight of the week when I and hundreds of other children went to the Majestic Cinema for the morning matinee. For 2 hours we were transported into the world of Flash Gordon, Cowboys & Indians and the French Foreign Legion. We cheered the “good ones”, booed the “bad ones”, then shouted and whistled when there was anything resembling a love scene. There were many serial films which ended each week at an exciting moment, so it was difficult to wait until the next week to find out what happened next! My HomeI was born and grew up in 38 Lisburn Avenue, a terrace house in aworking class street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There were 60houses in the street with small front gardens and larger ones in the 10
  12. 12. rear. One family owned a car and we regarded them with awe! Ihad many friends, or chums as we called ourselves, and years latersome of them became Christians and co-workers in CEF. JoeKennedy who lived in our street has worked for years with CEF inthe Republic of Ireland. Violet Rainey lived opposite us and laterworked full-time with CEF in South Belfast.There were four rooms in our house – 2 downstairs and 2 upstairs,plus a little washroom at the back which was converted to abathroom. A small glass-roofed room was built onto the back andused as a kitchen. We had an outside toilet. The downstairs roomswere heated by coal fires and the house was lit up by gas lamps. “The front room” downstairs was known as “the parlour”. It wascarpeted and had a beautiful chesterfield suite, but was only usedon Sundays for guests, or special occasions when the churchminister visited, or the insurance man came for his weeklypayment. My FamilyThere were six in our family. My father was a sergeant in the policeforce which patrolled the harbour area of Belfast. Like many menfrom Northern Ireland, he served in the 1st World War, waswounded in battle and spent the last 9 months as a prisoner of war.He was a quiet, honest man who taught his children to be truthful.One word of rebuke from my father was enough to correct us. Heloved his garden and was famous for his roses, dahlias andchrysanthemums. He covered the chrysanthemums with plastic toprevent them being blighted by the smoke from the steam trainswhich daily passed the end of our street. On his day off work herelaxed by cooking fish and chips for our evening meal, followed bytasty currant squares.My mother was the opposite of my father. She talked a lot, waseasily excited and not averse to giving us a smack if we needed it.She was a great cook and made wonderful vegetable broth, Irishstew, tasty potted herrings and tripe. Every Friday we had champfor lunch (mashed potatoes with lots of scallions and big knobs ofbutter). She was active in her church and in all kinds of social work.Everybody knew her, and she knew everybody. 11
  13. 13. My father’s full name was Samuel Abernethy Doherty and mymother’s name was Mary Ann Doherty. We would often joke abouttheir initials – SAD and MAD!Ruth was the firstborn; I was next; then Audrey. When they grewup both girls married men from Scotland - Tom and Ian. Johnstonwas the youngest boy and eventually he and his wife Pat emigratedto USA and became American citizens.We had only 2 bedrooms, one of which was occupied by ourparents. It was fortunate that my father’s parents lived next doorbecause Ruth slept in their house and the rest of us slept in thesecond bedroom.Although we were not wealthy yet we were a happy, contentedfamily and had everything we needed. I owe a lot to my parentsand wish I had expressed my love and appreciation to them moreoften when they were alive.I loved to visit my grandmother next door. She made beautifulpotato bread and when spread with butter it was delicious. EveryChristmas she roasted a goose in front of the coal fire. It wasattached by a rope to the mantelpiece and rotated slowly for hoursover the flames with a pan below catching the juice. The smell waswonderful!My grandmother, Elizabeth Doherty, was a beautifully dressed,quietly spoken lady with a loving personality. She was a devotedChristian. I remember her softly singing the words of that beautifulhymn “Shall we Gather at the River”, and I’m sure she often prayedfor me. I had a special relationship with her and we spent muchtime together.My grandfather, Johnston Gill Doherty, was a cobbler or shoe makerby trade, and later a caretaker at an industrial complex. He was aloyal Protestant and Orangeman who displayed a big Union Jackflag outside his house during July when the Orangemen marchedyearly on the 12th day to demonstrate their loyalty to the BritishCrown. Every evening at 10 pm, before going to bed, he would windup the clock on the sideboard and say “Six o’clock comes early in themorning”In the 1890’s my grandmother at the age of 18 sailed in a woodenvessel to the USA. She was going to look after the children of adoctor who was settling in America. My grandmother loved 12
  14. 14. America and being engaged to my grandfather in Ireland she wrotea letter inviting him to join her so they could be married there andsettle down. My grandfather declined to go and asked mygrandmother to return to Ireland, which she did.My other grandfather, John Napier - my mother’s father - came froma family where all eight brothers worked as blacksmiths. Mygrandfather worked as a blacksmith for the Windsor Bakery. Inthose days bread was delivered by horse-drawn “bread vans”. Hisjob was to shoe all these horses. I loved to visit his smithy andoperate the bellows until the coal became ‘white hot’. It wasfascinating to a young boy. My First SchoolAt the age of five I entered Fane Street Primary school, about 1½miles from home. There was no transport so I, with other children,walked to school in all kinds of weather. I remember some of myteachers - Dozy Graham and Da Daley. In those days the cane wasin frequent use!Yes, childhood years were certainly happy years. We were withouta care in the world, but what was going to happen during myteenage years – in school and elsewhere? Would those years beequally happy? Chapter 2: TEENAGE YEARS In September 1939 the United Kingdom declared war on Germany– known as World War II. I was 12 years old. So most of my teenyears were spent during wartime. A World at WarThese wartime years were different from the preceding years - There were no street lights and all the house windows had to be blacked out because of the danger of air raids. 13
  15. 15. Food was scarce so we had ration books. We were only allowed a certain amount of all the basic products each week. Sweets were rationed, which was a serious problem for teenagers like me.However despite wartime restrictions these were also happy andcontented years.My mother and we children were evacuated for the first months ofthe war to the countryside and for a while I enjoyed being a countryboy. Later in the year we returned home and the fearful air raidseventually came. Belfast was a major manufacturing city with alarge dockyard for ship building. There was also a large aircraftfactory and many industrial sites. The most serious air raid was onEaster Tuesday night in 1942 when hundreds of German planesunloaded their bombs on our city. It was a frightening experience.We huddled together in a make-shift air-raid shelter as we listenedto the explosions. That night over 1000 people were killed inBelfast, including a boy I knew in our school.My father was on police duty at the harbor where the bombs werefalling and when dawn came he did not come home at his usualtime. Eventually he arrived back worn out and completely coveredwith dust. Grammar SchoolPrimary school days were ending and a decision had to be madeabout my next step. The educational system in those days wasdifferent from today. Further education in grammar or high schoolswas for wealthy families who paid for their children’s education.Children from working class families like ours left primary school at14 and got a job.Belfast City Council awarded a very limited number of scholarshipsto enable working class children who were successful in anexamination to attend a grammar school, free of charge, for 6 years.I was the only child in our primary school to get such a scholarshipand entered the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (the bestgrammar school at that time in Northern Ireland) in September1940. I have great memories of those years at ‘Inst’ – as our schoolwas affectionately called. 14
  16. 16. One year was spent “in exile”. Because of the danger of air-raids,part of the ‘Inst’ student body was evacuated during the War to thetown of Dungannon, 40 miles from Belfast. We were sent to aboarding school and I shared a dormitory with 9 boys. It was quitean experience!The form in our school was divided into 6 classes labelled A, B, C, D,E and F. The boys from working class families were segregatedthroughout the six years which followed from the 5 classes ofchildren from wealthier families and labelled the “B class”. But,despite our ranking, we were the best class in school work, inexaminations and on the sports field and I did well as a studentduring those years. Sport and RelaxationI played Rugby football, the main sport at ‘Inst’ and in my 5th yearbecame a member of the 1st Fifteen – the No.1 team. I washonoured to be on that team and it was one of the best teams ‘Inst’ever had. I played in the N. Ireland School’s Cup Final before 15,000people, when we won the Cup on St Patrick’s Day 1945. Fifty yearslater all the survivors of that team got together to reminisce!Only 3 of that team, including myself, remained to form the basis ofthe next year’s team during my last year at ‘Inst’. I was the vicecaptain and with new recruits and lack of experience, we wereregarded as having no chance in the Schools’ Cup that year. But wewon the Schools Cup again before another packed crowd in 1946.I was also selected for the N. Ireland School’s team for their annualmatch against the School’s team from the Republic of Ireland.I always enjoyed listening to Dixieland jazz and even consideredlearning to play the clarinet so that I could join or form a jazz band,but this never materialized.Ballroom dancing was one of my pastimes during my later teenageyears and I attended classes and passed examinations to get abronze medal. I even dated the secretary of the Principal of ‘Inst’and went with her to a number of dances!My time at “Inst” ended in June 1946 and at the age of 19 I had todecide my next step. 15
  17. 17. Chapter 3: EARLY STIRRINGSNorthern Ireland is an unusual country in many ways. Peoplearound the world read about “The Troubles” - the fighting, murders,explosions and many faces of terrorism during the 60s, 70s and 80swhich portrayed a sad picture of our land.But there is another side to our country. Northern Ireland is one ofthe most religious countries in the world with over half of thepopulation Protestant and less than half Roman Catholic. In bothcommunities many people attend church.The Protestant community is sub-divided into several denomi-nations, the two largest being the Church of Ireland (EpiscopalChurch) and the Presbyterian Church. Smaller denominationsinclude Methodists, Baptists, Christian Brethren and Pentecostals.But there is a deeper twofold division in the Protestant community.On the one hand there are evangelicals who believe in salvationthrough personal faith in Jesus Christ and it is a cause forthankfulness that there are many of them in our little country.On the other hand there are liberals who believe in good works,church attendance, infant baptism and confirmation as a means ofsalvation. They also believe that living a good life in accordancewith the Sermon on the Mount will make them Christians and givethem eternal life. My ChurchMy family attended the Church of Ireland. My father did not go butmy mother was involved in all its activities. All 4 children were“christened” as babies, and recognized as Christians, or “confirmed”as teenagers. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday school inthe afternoon, and sometimes church on Sunday evening. I spenthours counting the pieces in the lovely stained glass windows!I can’t remember hearing the Gospel preached in church or Sundayschool. The minister and teachers were lovely people but I neverheard that I needed to personally trust the Lord Jesus as mySaviour. We were taught that if a person was ‘christened’ as a child, 16
  18. 18. confirmed as a teenager, attended church regularly and lived a goodlife, he was a Christian. An Early ExperienceBut I remember going to children’s meetings in an EvangelicalPresbyterian church near my home when I was young, where Iheard that I was a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for my sin and if Itrusted Him as my Saviour I would be saved. One night I waitedbehind and told the speaker I wanted to be saved. He said I shouldask the Lord Jesus to come into my heart and life, and if I did so Hewould save me. And I remember clearly doing exactly that. I wasten years old and for weeks after believed I was a Christian. Later Iforgot about this commitment and returned to being “my old self”.I often wondered if I was saved at that time or if it was just aprofession. I don’t know, I cannot be sure; however I do believe itwas possible that I was sincere and that I was saved, and that Godkept His hand upon me and when I was twenty-two He brought meback to Himself and to assurance of salvation. Windsor City Mission HallAt the bottom of our street there was a City Mission hall and Mr.Robert Anderson the man in charge of it was someone I avoided. Hewas a faithful, hard working missionary who helped many people inour area. When I was seventeen I was in hospital for several daysand one day Mr. Anderson came to see me. I was embarrassedwhen he said he would pray for me and afterwards I was glad to seehim go.But when I became a Christian several years later he wished mewell and invited me to the mission hall to give my testimony. Iconsented and when I came to the hall one Sunday evening it wasfull. Mr. Anderson had gone round the neighbourhood telling them Iwould be speaking! This was certainly a new experience for me.And later, when God called me into a ministry to children, MrAnderson invited me to take a children’s mission in his hall for 2weeks. Over 200 children came every evening and a number ofthem trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.But that all came later. In the meantime, if anyone had asked me if Iwas a Christian I would have said “I think so”. I had done all that my 17
  19. 19. church required of me. But I had no personal knowledge of JesusChrist, no assurance of sins forgiven and no clear belief in the truthsof the Bible. I am afraid that my teenage years were spent inspiritual darkness – and I confess I was happy and content in thatdarkness. Like many other teenagers I lived for the present, seekingonly to enjoy myself and to get what I could out of life.But that was all soon to change. Chapter 4: UNIVERSITY, LOVE AND MARRIAGEI was now almost nineteen years old and ready for the next stage ofmy life. University DaysIn my final year at ‘Inst’ I decided to train to be a school teacher andfor this I needed a University degree. In those days universitieswere restricted to students who could afford the fees and for methe only means of entrance was by obtaining a scholarship. I wasfortunate in being awarded two scholarships! The first one wasthrough passing an examination, and the second one I receivedbecause my father was an ex-serviceman who had served in the 1stWorld War for four years. Those scholarships covered myuniversity fees for the next three years.I studied Geography at Queen’s University, Belfast along with somesubsidiary subjects and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degreethree years later. I still continued to play rugby. When I left ‘Inst’ Iplayed as No.8 back-row forward for Instonians (one of the bestrugby clubs in the country), at times against outstanding men likethe legendary Jack Kyle. But it was impossible to combine studyingand training for rugby so, reluctantly, I gave it up.After graduating I obtained a teaching post in September 1949 atLurgan Technical College where I remained for four years. 18
  20. 20. Love at First SightOne evening two friends and I were listening to Jazz records in myhome. My sister Audrey came into the room with a friend calledSadie. Although we lived not far from each other we had never met..We chatted and that was the beginning of a loving relationship thatresulting in marriage and a united life and love for years to come.Sadie was almost 17 years old and worked in an office in Belfast. Iwas almost 18 years old and in my last year at grammar school. Itwas love at first sight and as a result we wanted to spend as muchtime together as possible.Each morning we met and traveled “downtown” together, thenseparated to go to office or school. When I started university I hadso much work each evening that I studied next door in mygrandmother’s house because I had peace and quietness there. ButSadie came and sat with my grandmother and myself mostevenings. I studied and they knitted and talked quietly. We did a lotof hiking together in the mountains during our holidays, andalthough I had little money we enjoyed every moment together. Engagement and MarriageSadie was the best looking girl on the Lisburn Road and, strangelyenough, she thought I was the best looking fellow! As soon as mystudies finished at university in the early summer of 1949 webecame engaged, and I started my profession as a school teacher inSeptember at the Technical College, Lurgan, about 20 miles west ofBelfast. We immediately started to make plans for our marriagewhich took place on March 24th 1950. Sadie was 21, I was 22 andwe were very happy.Our first home was 6 Maureen Terrace, Bleary and about four milesfrom the school where I was teaching. Our home was simple and wetraveled everywhere by bicycle. I cycled every morning to schoolwhere I taught geography, plus economics and, believe it or not,some religious instruction. I really enjoyed teaching and found mynew job a pleasure, although I had many lessons still to learn.Sadie, like myself, attended the Church of Ireland but had neverheard a clear presentation of the Gospel, even though she attendedregularly all the services. I know that the lack of evangelism andGospel presentation was not true of every Church of Ireland church, 19
  21. 21. but it was in our case. Consequently, during the years whichpreceded our marriage we had no interest in spiritual things.But we need to retrace our steps to the latter part of 1949, just afterwe were engaged to be married, when everything was going tochange. During those months something revolutionary was tohappen to both of us leading to a complete and exciting change toour lives and future. But that is for our next chapter. Chapter 5: GOD INTERVENES IN TWO LIVESSadie had been working in an insurance office in Belfast since shewas 15 years old. During her later teens she did not enjoy goodhealth although she continued to work there. A girl called Inaworked in the same office as Sadie and took a great interest in her. Fred and InaIna was a little older than Sadie. She was married and differentfrom the other girls in the office. She and her husband Fred lived ina cottage outside Lisburn and sometimes invited Sadie to come andvisit her home. Ina realized Sadie was not well and invited her tocome and live with her and Fred in the countryside to see if thatwould help her recover. By that time (1949) Sadie and I had becomeengaged to be married, so later on they invited me to come and staywith them also and I gratefully accepted their invitation. They hadonly two bedrooms in their little house – so I slept in the livingroom. I had already started my profession as a school teacher so Itravelled by bus from their home each day to Lurgan.We knew that Fred and Ina Orr were completely different from anypeople we had ever met before and we wondered with sometrepidation what was going to happen. It was the first time we hadreally come into contact with people who said they were saved!Saved from what? We didn’t know. 20
  22. 22. Fred and Ina had been Christians for years. Fred had been anoutstanding sportsman and was now in business with his father.We discovered afterwards that their goal was to becomemissionaries. And here we were in their home with no one else totalk to or listen to except them! My “Attacks”Perhaps I should explain a little more about myself at this time. Iwas now 22 years old, a university graduate, a school teacher and afairly regular church attendee. I was at that stage where I thought Iknew everything about everything! I thought I was an intellectualand believed that, somehow, I was a Christian. I did not believe thatthe Bible was completely true. That was what my minister hadtaught me; and the chaplain at university had also told me that hedid not believe everything in the Bible was true. In addition I hadstudied Geology at university as part of my degree and I believedfrom what I had learned that it was not scientifically feasible for theearth to have been created in six days or for everyone to bedescended from some “mythical people” such as Adam and Eve. Iwas a firm believer in evolution. I was also arrogant and loved agood argument.So when I discovered that Fred believed the Bible was true, that hebelieved the biblical story of creation and did not believe inevolution, I rejoiced in the opportunity for a good argument. Thiswas my chance to “attack” him and straighten out this rather oldfashioned relic from a past age. And so I tried to start argumentswith Fred based upon my study of geology and evolution, and uponthe many mistakes and contradictions which I was sure were in theBible. Fred’s ResponseBut Fred refused to argue. He just replied by opening his Bible andpointing out Bible verses which, strangely enough, answered andeven refuted my argument. It was very frustrating. In his own quietbut persuasive way he also explained the Gospel and what it meantto be saved.At the same time I was very impressed by the lives of Fred and Ina.They certainly radiated happiness and joy, and did not give me any 21
  23. 23. impression of being “kill joys”. And I was also impressed by theyoung people who came to visit them – especially on Saturdays.Usually about four other young men appeared and the result was anuproarious football match at the front of the house in which Ijoined. I certainly saw in them that being a Christian did not takeaway their joy – indeed it seemed to do the opposite.Then Fred gave me a New Testament and suggested that I read itfor myself to find out what it was saying. So every morning as Itravelled to work and every evening as I returned to their house Iread this little book for myself. It was the first time I had ever readit right through. I read it through twice and as I did so I becamemore and more convinced that it was absolutely and completelytrue and that what Fred had been telling us was also true. The First StepI remember sitting one evening on my own, thinking about theBible. I knew in my heart that no one, myself included, couldbecome a Christian if they didn’t believe the Bible to be true. In asense I wanted to believe it was true and yet my whole backgroundin church and at university told me it wasn’t. I could take you to thevery place where I was sitting at that moment because I rememberit so well. “Is the Bible true, or is it not?” I was asking myself. Andthen something happened which I cannot explain, or I can onlyexplain it by describing it as some kind of intervention by God.Suddenly into my head came the words, “It is the Word of God – soit must be true.” I almost looked around to see where the words hadcome from!And that was the solution. I said to myself, “Of course, that’s it, Idon’t have to puzzle over it and try to work out the so calledmistakes and contradictions. The Bible is God’s Word and it is true.”I had not yet become a Christian but the main problem which hadbeen holding me back from doing so had been taken away. Fromthat day until now, many years later, I have had no doubts about thetruth of the Bible as God’s Word. And, interestingly, when I laterwent back to the mistakes and contradictions which I had believedwere there, I discovered that there were simple explanations for allof them. 22
  24. 24. In the meantime Fred and Ina had been inviting us to attend churchwith them, and we went along to Castlereagh Mission Hall (nowCastlereagh Baptist Church) in Belfast. We had never heardpreaching like this before. The pastor, Mr Murphy, explained theGospel simply and with passion; he spoke about our sin, and ourneed for forgiveness, he spoke about Jesus Christ and how He haddied to take the punishment for our sin, and he spoke about how toreceive forgiveness and salvation by trusting Him personally as ourSaviour. This was all so new to us - especially when towards the endof each Sunday evening service he encouraged and invited hislisteners to trust Jesus Christ. We were quite embarrassed – butstill, in our hearts, impressed. And we had come, more and more, tobelieve that what we were hearing was true and that we needed todo something about it. What we didn’t know was that the pastorand the members of the church were praying specifically for thetwo of us – that we would trust the Lord Jesus. New LifeTheir prayers were answered soon afterwards. Several days afterwe had attended one of the services, Sadie and I were sittingchatting in Fred’s home late one evening. We were on our ownbecause Fred and Ina had already retired for the night. It wasobvious that Sadie wanted to say something to me and she wasfinding it difficult. At last she plucked up enough courage and shetold me that she had trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour. Earlierthat week she and Ina had been talking together and, as a result oftheir conversation, Sadie had expressed her desire to ask JesusChrist to be her Saviour and had trusted Him.This was a real problem for me. I was now on my own. Threeagainst one! And then Sadie encouraged me to do the same. Shesaid, “Would you not like to trust Jesus Christ?” My response was“Alright, I will. I have been thinking about it, but not tonight. I tellyou what I will do, we will go to church with Fred and Ina tomorrowevening and when Mr Murphy asks those who want to trust JesusChrist to come to the front (as he did every Sunday evening) I willgo forward. That is a promise.”But Sadie said, “No, Sam, don’t wait. If you really want to trust JesusChrist do so now. Don’t wait until tomorrow.” 23
  25. 25. I thought for a few moments and then I said, “Alright, I’ll do it.” AndI knelt down, just like a child, and asked the Lord Jesus to come intomy life and save me. And He did.The two of us rushed up to Fred and Ina’s bedroom, knocked on thedoor and went in to tell them the good news. They had both beenpraying at that very moment that this would happen and they weredelighted. It was interesting that when we went to church thefollowing evening Mr Murphy for once did not ask those whowanted to be saved to come forward! I was so glad that I hadtrusted Jesus Christ when I did. The Grace of GodGod had intervened in our lives. He had called us onto Himself. Hehad saved us and given us new and eternal life. As I look back tothat evening on November 30th 1949 I can only praise and thankGod for His grace. Why should He save me? I had had no time forHim. I had even argued against Him and His salvation and hadridiculed His Word. But I learned then, and I have since seen this somuch more clearly, that no one deserves salvation – and I certainlydidn’t. I was saved by the grace of God. Salvation is a gift of God’slove and in His grace He speaks to sinners like me through HisWord and woos us, step by step, to Himself. If you are reading thisbook and have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour I urge youto do so. He died for you and took the punishment for your sin andnow, in grace, He is willing and ready to save you, forgive you andgive you new life. Don’t wait - trust Him now!I can never thank Him and praise Him enough for that evening andHis intervention in my life.I could hardly wait until Monday morning. I went to the schoolwhere I taught and when it came time for my religious instructionclass I had something definite to share with my students. I toldthem what had happened two nights previously and encouragedthem also to trust the Saviour. It was my first testimony – less thantwo days after my conversion. That school was no longer just aplace where I worked - it was now a place of ministry.And that was the beginning of a new life – A LIFE WORTH LIVING. 24
  26. 26. Chapter 6: TEACHING AND MINISTERING IN SCHOOLI always enjoyed my school teaching even though there were manylessons I needed to learn. Telling is not teaching – I needed to learnhow to really teach, but in the course of time all I learned in theclassroom was to stand me in good stead in my future ministry.But my classroom was now not just a place to teach geography but aplace where God had placed me so that I could be of spiritual helpto the many hundreds of young people who would pass through myhands. Teaching (and Evangelizing) in Lurgan TechIn September 1949 I joined the staff at Lurgan Technical Collegewhere I remained for the next 4 years. My main subject wasgeography but I also taught some economics. I also had to teachReligious Instruction, an obligatory subject for teachers andstudents.Some may think it is a real blessing that Religious Instruction (RI)should be an essential part of our school system in NorthernIreland. It would be if the teachers were Christians, but themajority was not. I believe teaching RI often did more harm thangood because I knew teachers who were critical of spiritual thingsand gave a completely wrong impression to the students.I had only been teaching 2½ months when I became a Christian, so Ireally enjoyed the RI classes because I could teach the Word of Godfrom my heart. I also believed in taking a clear stand before thestudents and teachers. It was my conviction that I should not go tothe cinema, so when the students were required to see some filmrelated to their studies, I asked the Principal if I could refrain fromgoing and he said ‘yes’. Other students from Christian families whodid not want to go, were allowed to remain in school under mysupervision!In the RI classes I stated my complete belief in the Bible and thecreation story, telling the students why I disagreed with the theoryof evolution. This led to many good-natured discussions with bothstudents and teachers who differed from me. 25
  27. 27. Soon after my conversion I started a Scripture Union meeting oncea week after school and a number of young people attendedregularly. Some weeks later a new teacher joined the staff and I sawhim reading the notice board about the Scripture Union meeting. Iintroduced myself and, to my joy, discovered he was a Christian. Iinvited him to help me in S.U. and he did so willingly. His name wasDavid McQuilken. From that moment we became the dearest offriends and later co-workers in the work to which God would latercall us.In March 1950 Sadie and I were married and set up home threemiles outside Lurgan. We invited David to come and live with usuntil his marriage six months later. Teaching (and Evangelizing) in Newtownards TechI enjoyed my teaching at Lurgan, but had an inner conviction that Ishould move, though I still felt God wanted me to be a schoolteacher. I replied to an advertisement for a teaching post inNewtownards Technical College and was successful. Severalmonths later I began teaching there and remained for 11 years. Wecould not find a house near the school, so I travelled daily by trainand bus to Newtownards.The first day I took this long journey I wondered if I had made amistake and was out of God’s will! Then I did something I had neverdone before, nor ever did since. I asked God for a specific sign!While walking past the City Hall in Belfast I stopped and said, “DearGod, I want to ask You if I have done the right thing or if I havemade a mistake. If I have done the right thing please give me a sign.Here is the sign. The Scripture Union is meeting today in my oldschool and David McQuilken is in charge. You know that for monthsno one has been saved. If I have done the right thing in movingplease save someone today.”When I arrived home that evening I went straight to David’s homeand casually asked him how the meeting had gone that day, thenwaited anxiously for his answer. “Sam”, he said, “You’ll neverbelieve what happened, two of the students trusted Jesus Christtoday.” In my heart I thanked God for giving me the sign I asked for.God is so gracious - He overlooked my impudence and graciously 26
  28. 28. gave me the assurance that I had made the right decision. But Inever again asked God for a sign!On the train journey to Belfast I discovered there was a Bible classin one of the compartments, where 9 men from differentdenominations studied the Bible. I joined in, participating everymorning. As a young Christian I was spiritually hungry and greatlyenjoyed the teaching of these mature men.There were times when someone would come into ourcompartment who was not a member of the group. It wasinteresting to see his face when we all produced our Bibles.After one year of travelling God gave us a home close to my newschool and I settled into my job and ministry there. The elevenyears which followed were going to be very special because of themany ministry opportunities I would have. God’s Blessing in Newtownards TechI taught geography to all classes and also had the opportunity toteach Religious Instruction for several hours each week. Afterschool on Friday afternoon I started a Scripture Union meetingwhen 60-80 students attended, mostly boys between ages 13 & 17.God blessed these meetings and a number trusted Jesus Christ. Ialso began regular lunch time prayer meetings and Bible studies forthose students who were already Christians and these were alsowell attended.But still greater opportunities lay ahead. One day the principalasked me to organize and lead R.I. for the whole school. Five otherChristian teachers and I arranged a Biblically based programme forover 600 students. Later on he asked me if I would take the wholeschool for 30 minutes of religious instruction each afternoon andgave me freedom to teach what I wanted and how I wanted. Whatan opportunity!As a result a number of students trusted the Lord Jesus as theirSaviour and several have since gone into full-time Christian work: David came to me after school one day and said he would like to be a Christian. I had the great joy of leading him to the Lord. Today he is the Rev. David McIlveen, minister of one of the largest Free Presbyterian churches in Northern Ireland and one of the leaders of that denomination. 27
  29. 29. Vincent came early one morning to see me before classes began and I had the joy of leading him to the Saviour. Today Vincent Price is the North American Director of the European Christian Mission. He writes “Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, no person has impacted my life more than Sam Doherty. It was Sam who led me to Christ as a 14-year old boy in a classroom in Northern Ireland. He imparted to me his vision, burden and passion for souls, and for that I will be eternally grateful. He introduced me to the greatest blessing in the world – following Christ and faithfully growing in Him.” Nancy Gill trusted the Saviour in my classroom and she has served the Lord for many years as a missionary in Indonesia.And there were many others.I also had the privilege to help a number of the students who werealready Christians to find their feet spiritually and a number ofthese like John Keefe, David Coe and Malcolm Hill have been in full-time Christian ministry for many years.“Out of the blue” I received recently a letter from one of mystudents who wrote as follows: “I have just recently retired. Nowthat I have got off the merry-go-round of working, eating, sleeping,planning, shopping etc. I have the chance to sit and think andremember things in my childhood. One of my earliest memories wasof a big man who came to where we lived in the summer evenings andset up a board and easel on the grass. Before long a group of childrengathered and he began to tell stories from the Bible illustrating themwith felt figures which he stuck on the board. Incidentally, when Ireached the age of twelve, I was transferred to the Ards TechnicalCollege and “Big Sam” took us for geography. That was over 50 yearsago and I thought I would write this note to thank you for your helpand guidance when I was growing up. Better late than never.Warmest regards, Raymond.”These eleven years were blessed years and I was in many ways sadwhen they drew to a close. But God had another step for us to takeand to do so I had to leave Newtownards Tech and the teachingprofession.The day I left the school was very special. The whole schoolassembled in the gymnasium for my farewell. I was given a specialgift and one last opportunity to give my testimony and deliver a 28
  30. 30. brief Gospel message. I praise God for those years and for all thatHe did when I was there. Humour in SchoolTeaching also had its lighter moments: I was supervising an exam in Newtownards for one of the English teachers. Sitting for 3 hours can be quite boring so I decided to complete one of the exam papers myself. I wrote a name at the top “Ivor Clue”, then answered all the questions giving the wrong answers! I thought the teacher would see it as a joke and enjoy my answers. The next day I was supervising the same class when the door burst open and this teacher, who was a rather flamboyant person, rushed in, marched to the front of the classroom and said loudly, “Would Ivor Clue please stand up.” Of course no-one moved. He repeated his demand several times with no response. Then he stomped out. After the exam I went to see him, put my arm around his shoulder and said, “John I am Ivor Clue.” He looked at me for a moment and then, to my relief, burst out laughing! The principal in Lurgan had what we might call “a bee in the bonnet”. He loved to set off the fire alarm from time to time. When that happened all teachers and students where required to leave the school and line up on the pavement of the street outside. We teachers dreaded to hear it – because it upset our teaching programme so much. One day the fire alarm went off yet again and we dutifully lined up outside. Then the principal walked alongside the pavement inspecting us. At that moment a boy on a bicycle came down the hill and passed so close that the principal fell onto the road spread-eagled out before the whole school. That was the last time we had a fire alarm!The 14 years I spent as a school teacher were very enjoyable andvery rewarding.But throughout all those years I was also doing something elsewhich took up as much time as that which I was spending at schoolteaching. I really had two “jobs”. The next chapter describes mysecond “job” which would prove even more important and valuablethan my work as a school teacher. 29
  31. 31. Chapter 7: GOD’S CALL TO REACH CHILDRENIn this chapter we jump back again to the year 1949, before I hadstarted my work as a school teacher and before we were married. Iwas then 22 years old and Sadie 21.During the 12 month period between the autumns of 1949 and1950 five very special experiences occurred in my life. Teaching, Conversion and MarriageThe first three experiences I have already dealt with in previouschapters.First I started my profession as a school teacher in September 1949where I taught for over 14 years.Secondly in late November Sadie and I both trusted the Lord Jesusas our Saviour and began our new lives with Him.Thirdly in March 1950 we were married and set up our first homeoutside Lurgan where I began teaching. A New Church Home and BaptismFourthly, we decided to leave the Church of Ireland denominationbecause we could not sit under the teaching of a minister who didnot believe that the Bible was true. This was confirmed to us whenone Sunday morning the minister preached on the book of Genesis.He said the Bible contained myths and legends and could not beaccepted as factually true. He spoke to me afterwards and askedwhat I thought of his sermon. When I said I believed the Bible to becompletely true he patted me on the arm and replied, “Well, you’realright anyway” and walked away.We looked for a church where the Bible was really believed and theGospel preached. For some months we worshipped with theChristian Brethren in the Gospel Hall near our home. The preachingwas excellent but when it came to the Breaking of Bread we wereasked to sit in the back seats along with the children. Because wewere not Brethren we could not join in this service, nor were wewere allowed to give an offering. This made us feel uneasy and weknew this was not the place for us. 30
  32. 32. We would have been happy joining Fred and Ina Orr’s church but itwas too far away. Eventually we found a good spiritual home inLurgan Baptist Church, where later we were baptized and receivedinto membership. Our Call to Evangelize ChildrenThe fifth experience during that year took place in Autumn 1950 – achange which would impact our whole future.Fred Orr, who with his wife Ina were our spiritual parents andthrough whom we had come to the Saviour, had always told me:“Sam, when God saves you, He has a work for you to do and youneed to ask Him what that work is.”He even told me this before I trusted Jesus Christ.And so one of the very first prayers I ever prayed as a Christian was“Dear Lord, I love You and want to serve You, please show me whatI should do.”In my mind I could see myself working with and evangelizingathletes and especially sturdy rugby players like myself. But Godhad other plans for me and over a period of time He answered myprayer by showing me that my ministry should be to children. Tochildren? Me? Impossible! How could I possibly do that? But I wasto discover that this was God’s will for me.God had begun immediately to guide me in a number of ways: Someone in church would speak about the need of children. In my newspaper I would read about the problems faced by children. In the Bible I kept reading verses about children.More and more I became convinced that my future ministry shouldfocus on children and their needs. But I was just saved and had notheological background or knowledge. I knew very little about theBible and had no training. What should I do? Our Call to Child Evangelism FellowshipBy this time Fred and Ina were at Bible school in Scotland preparingfor their future as missionaries. So I decided to write to Fred tellinghim I believed God wanted me to work with children and ask himwhat I should do. 31
  33. 33. The day after Fred received my letter a man called Rev. Art Nickelcame to speak at their Bible College. He was from USA and heworked with a Mission called Child Evangelism Fellowship. Hespoke to the students about children and their needs challengingthem to reach the children with the Gospel. At lunch he was sittingbeside Fred and when he heard that he came from Ireland he toldFred that he had been praying that someone would start the workof Child Evangelism Fellowship in Ireland. He invited Fred to bethat someone, but Fred declined and said that he and his wife weregoing to Brazil as missionaries. Then Fred said, “I have justreceived this letter yesterday from a young couple who have beenrecently saved and who feel God is leading them to work withchildren. Why don’t you contact them?” And he did.Several weeks later he visited our home bringing his flannelgraph,visuals and Bible. He set up his flannelgraph in our living room,showed some visuals, spoke about Child Evangelism Fellowship andhow they reached children through Good News Clubs and open-airmeetings.We listened intently and knew immediately that this was theMission and ministry in which God wanted us to work. When hefinished speaking he was surprised when we told him we wereready to go; then we asked him what we should do. He told us tostart a Good News Club in our home and invite the local children tocome every week for a meeting – to sing, learn Bible verses andhear a Bible story. He gave us a flannelboard and some lessons, andthen returned to Scotland. Our First Good News ClubWe started that Good News Club in our home in Calvertstown,outside Lurgan. I probably knew less about the Bible than thechildren who came, but I learned as I went along. I knew nochoruses, so each week I went to a girl we knew who taught me onechorus, which I then taught to the children. In my preparation forthose meetings I learned more about the Bible and singing than Ilearned anywhere else. That was my first “Bible school” and Godreally blessed that Good News Club.I just followed the outlines in the lesson book Art had given me.When it said “Do this” I did it; and when it said, “Do that”, I did it. 32
  34. 34. Then the book said “Tell the children that if any of them would liketo be saved they should wait behind and you would show themwhat to do.” The book said it and I did it. Then one evening afterthe meeting I saw 5 children waiting to speak to me about how tobe saved. I looked at Sadie and she looked at me. I didn’t know whatto do next for I hadn’t got to that page of the book yet! Our First “Converts”I sat down with the children, and as best as I knew how, showedthem how to trust the Lord Jesus. Then all of them prayed andasked the Lord Jesus to save them. It was the first time I had everled anyone to the Lord, and it was a very special experience for me.Two of those children were 6 years old and two were 7. The otherone, Jackson England, was 10. About 10 years later I went back tothat area and found they were all going on with the Lord.Sometime after that visit I read in my newspaper of a young manwho had been killed on his motorbike in collision with a car – hisname was Jackson England - the 10-year old I led to the Lord in thatfirst Good News Club. I visited Jackson’s parents and after talkingand praying with them Mr England said, “Sam, there is one thing wecan hold on to; Jackson trusted the Lord Jesus in your Good NewsClub and went on trusting Him, so we know where he is to-day.Thank you for starting that Good News Club.”As I drove away I was sad because of Jackson’s death, but happybecause he was in Heaven, and he was there because of that firstGood News Club.That was our first Good News Club in 1950 and the first one inIreland. It is still going today sixty years later.That was just the beginning of a ministry to children which wasgoing to occupy us for the rest of our lives! 33
  35. 35. Chapter 8: THE EARLY EXCITING DAYS OF CEF IN IRELANDAs I taught that first Good News Club I became more and moreexcited about the ministry into which God had led me, and I wantedto do what I could to reach more children. More Good News ClubsAs I read CEF literature I saw that my goal should be to start asmany Good News Clubs as possible so I began to look for otherplaces in and around Lurgan where we could start more of theseclubs.David McQuilken was very interested in what I was doing and Iasked him if he would teach a Good News Club. When he agreed wefound a hall 2 miles from where I lived, and every week the localchildren came and we taught them the Word of God. A number ofthese children trusted the Lord Jesus. Then David took over themeeting and taught it himself.Evelyn was one of the children who faithfully attended that GNC.She listened intently but gave no indication that she had trusted theLord Jesus. One evening, as David and I were leaving the children totheir homes, we asked Evelyn if she had ever trusted the Lord Jesus.She told us she would like to but her parents, while allowing her tocome to the meetings, told her she must not trust the Lord Jesus!We said that while she ought to obey her parents she must, first ofall, obey God, and if she really wanted to trust the Saviour sheshould do so. As we stood on that country road, under a full moon,Evelyn prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to save her.We advised her at this stage not to tell her parents but first show byher life that she was a new person in Christ. She took our advice andit was great to hear the outcome. One day her parents asked thereason for the change in her life. Nervously she said she had trustedthe Lord Jesus and He had helped her to live for Him. As a result herparents started to attend the local Baptist church and months laterthey too trusted the Saviour!I wanted to see more Good News Clubs established, so I cycledaround looking for suitable places. Very soon there were eight in 34
  36. 36. the Lurgan area. David and I taught most of them, then found otherswho were willing to teach. A New Home in LurganIn 1952 we moved house to a housing estate in Lurgan and startedtwo Good News Clubs in our new home – one for younger childrenand one for older children. There were about 30 in each group. Godblessed both clubs in a special way and children were saved.We transformed one of our bedrooms into a permanent GNC roomwith forms for the children to sit on.I visited the parents in the estate asking if they would allow theirchildren to come to our GNC. Most of them agreed. But in the houseright opposite ours there were three children whose father washostile to the Gospel. I nervously knocked on his door. He openedit, glared at me and asked gruffly “Well?” I told him about our GNCand gave him an invitation for the children. He glared at me,crumpled up the invitation, threw it on the ground and stompedback into the house without speaking.“Well, that’s that”, I thought to myself. “At least I tried.”Can you imagine my surprise when the GNC opened the followingweek to see these three children listening eagerly to the gospel.And they, along with around 60 other children, continued to comeevery week.One Friday afternoon, after the senior GNC was over in our house,there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there stood the grufffather of the three children. He barked at me, “My children havebeen coming to your meeting; you know I don’t approve of it but Iallow them to come anyway: and now they’re talking aboutbecoming Christians, or something. They want to talk to you aboutit and I’ve told them they can.” Then he stomped away.The children came back into our home. I had the joy of leadingthem to Jesus Christ, and it was a special joy some months later tohear that their mother, Mrs. Hopwood, had trusted the Saviour andwas attending a local evangelical church. I don’t know whathappened in Mr. Hopwood’s heart, or if he ever trusted Christhimself, but I was so thankful that God had used our GNC, and myvisits to the homes, to lead these children and their mother to 35
  37. 37. Christ. We knew of other children from that GNC who had aspiritual influence on their parents.One mother told me she had trusted the Saviour and I expressed myjoy. She said God spoke to her through the choruses her little fiveyear old daughter had learned in our GNC and which she sang overand over again in their home.What a JOY to see God at work – especially in situations which seemdifficult, or even impossible. CEF Local Directors for North ArmaghI was thrilled with what was happening and I wrote to Rev. Nickel,the man from America who was leader of CEF in the UnitedKingdom. I gave him a full report of all the work. He responded andsaid he was appointing me local director of CEF for North Armaghincorporating Lurgan, Portadown and the surrounding areas!!!But my eyes were also on Belfast, the capital city of NorthernIreland, with a population then of half a million. My vision was tosee the work of CEF started and established there. So I organized apublic meeting in Belfast informing the Christian public about CEF. Iinvited a well known pastor to be the speaker, advertised it in thelocal press and about 70 people turned up.We had a good meeting and at the end I asked if anyone had anysuggestions about what we could do to help them reach children.One man stood up immediately and suggested we start a teachertraining class in Belfast to help children’s workers in their ministry.I didn’t know how to respond. I thought it was a good idea but I hadno idea who could teach such a class. I certainly couldn’t - I had notraining myself and had never attended a training class of any kind,although I knew that the training of teachers was, or should be, animportant part of the ministry of CEF.Before I could say anything, a lady stood up and said that if wewould organize a training class she would be glad to teach itbecause she had been trained to do so. We all wholeheartedlyagreed that this would be a good idea and a great step for us to take.I was especially glad because I myself was a young Christian andfelt my need of training and was looking forward to receiving it atthese classes. 36
  38. 38. I organized the place and the dates. The classes would be held onMonday evenings for ten weeks. But imagine my dismay when justa week before the classes were to start I received a letter from thelady who had volunteered to teach them informing me that herMission was sending her away to another area and anotherministry and she could not now teach the classes. She was verysorry, but not as sorry as I was! What should I do? I could not cancelor change the classes because they had already been advertised.There was only one possible solution. I would have to teach theclasses myself! My First Training ClassI spent many hours reading books written by children’s workers,making reams of notes, then producing a series of outlines to followwhen I was teaching. I still have these outlines in my possession!The first class commenced and over 30 people attended regularlyeach week. I had learned my outlines by heart so I taught the best Iknew how and tried to look and sound as if I really knew what I wastalking about. But one thing I did not allow was questions after-wards! The classes went well and God blessed in spite of me.Everyone listened well including myself - I learned so muchlistening to myself! The first training class I ever attended was one Itaught. Perhaps that is a record.One couple who attended that first series of training classes were toplay a major part in the development of CEF in Ireland, and eventoday the Specialized Book Ministry which I had the privilege offounding, owes so much to the continued help, encouragement andinvestment of that couple - Jim and Helen Cairns. My First Open-air Meeting for ChildrenMost of what I learned about CEF in those days, and what I shoulddo, I found in the CEF magazine which I received every month. I hadno other contact with or help from CEF in USA. One day I read in themagazine that CEF workers (and especially local directors of whomI was now one) were expected to go out into the open-air work andshare the Gospel with boys and girls. For me that was a step too far.How could I do this? 37
  39. 39. Then I received a letter from Mr. Nickel to tell me that CEF in GreatBritain were holding a conference in Wales and part of thatconference would be to do open-air work with children. I thought tomyself “That’s my opportunity, I’ll go to Wales and do my firstopen-air meetings with children in an area where no one knows meand none of my acquaintances can laugh at me.” I went to theconference with this in mind but can you imagine what happened?It rained solidly for the four days and there was no open-air work!It was as if God was saying to me, “I want you to start your open-airwork right there in your own area where everyone knows you.” Sothat is what happened.I chose an open space near the center of Lurgan and ventured out oneafternoon with my flannel-board, plus a canvas sheet on which thechildren could sit. I was really nervous – I did not know anyone whohad done this before. What if the Principal of my school walked pastwhen I was conducting the meeting! I spread the canvas sheet on theground, set up my flannelboard and invited all the children I could seeto come. Soon over 30 children were sitting down listening to me.They sang choruses, learned Bible verses and listened to a Biblelesson. My nervousness disappeared and I enjoyed the thrill ofevangelizing children in the open-air! This was to be repeated manyhundreds of times in the future. My First Children’s MissionMy first venture into the open air was followed soon afterwards bymy first children’s mission. I was invited by the Salvation Army inLurgan to conduct a series of evangelistic meetings for childrenevery evening for one week. And God blessed those meetings in aspecial way. Soon after that Mr. Anderson invited me to conduct achildren’s mission for two weeks in Windsor City Mission hall andGod really blessed there with around 200 children present eachevening. Other children’s missions were to follow.In the years which followed I would lead and conduct many morechildren’s missions in towns around our province – Ballymena,Ballymoney, Newtownards, Lurgan and Belfast.A most interesting mission was held in a large church in Belfast. Theminister was not an evangelical, but his assistant was, and it was hewho invited me to come for a week’s mission. There were many 38
  40. 40. children in their locality and a team of workers invited them tocome and hundreds came. They were led to the church in a series ofprocessions. Quite a number of these children trusted the LordJesus.One evening a man came to the mission and sat in the back seat. Hewas the leader of the Sunday School Association for one of the largedenominations in Northern Ireland to which this church belonged.Previously this man and I had been invited by one of the churches ofthat denomination to share in a public discussion on the evangelismof children, and he had criticized me openly for the work I wasdoing. In that discussion he said “I do not know anyone in ourcountry who is doing more harm to our children than this man” –and he pointed to me! And here he was in one of my evangelisticmeetings with children!My lesson that evening was based on the Passover story with themain theme “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” I prayed forGod’s help to be faithful to His Word and the Gospel and, despite thepresence of this man, God really helped me. After the meeting anumber of children waited behind to be counseled for salvation –but the man had already left.In the next edition of the denominational magazine he wrote a verycritical article against me and my evangelistic work with children!Actually, the assistant minister of that church, and I became closefriends and he said he would like to do open-air work with children.Later I took him with me to a large housing estate in Ballyclare andasked him to stand in the center of the housing estate and play hismelodeon (a musical instrument). Since this was his first time hewas embarrassed. I rounded up the children, he led them in thesinging and then I spoke to them. After that he participated in manychildren’s open-air meetings. My First 5-Day ClubSoon after that I read in the CEF magazine about 5-Day clubs. Thesewere open-air meetings conducted for one week on a daily basis. SoI took my flannelboard and easel over to a housing estate in aneighbouring town, found a patch of grass, spread out my canvassheet and invited the children to come and listen. Every morningduring that holiday week 30 to 40 children came and listened 39
  41. 41. attentively. I presented the Gospel as clearly and as forcefully as Icould and told the children that if any of them would like to besaved and wanted to talk to me about it I would be glad to helpthem after the meeting was over. But nothing happened! And bythe end of the week I was a tired and disappointed children’sevangelist.Years later I was back in that same town speaking at the Sunday-school anniversary services in a local church. One of the leadersinvited me to his home for dinner. He lived in the housing estatewhere I had conducted that first 5-Day club over ten yearspreviously, but I didn’t say anything about it. During lunch he toldme about a young lady in the estate who had just died at the age of18. She had suffered from leukemia for many years. I asked if shewas a Christian and he said “Yes, she was a fine Christian.” Then hetold me the interesting story of how a number of years agosomeone came to this estate every morning for five days andconducted meetings for the children. “This little girl was sick andcouldn’t attend the meetings but she asked her mother to open thewindow so she could hear what the man was saying and during theweek, as she lay in her bed she trusted the Lord Jesus as herSaviour. Since that day she grew in the Lord and in her faith.”“Isn’t that a wonderful story?” he asked.“You have no idea how wonderful it is”, I replied, “I was that manand I was so disappointed that nothing had happened that week!” My First Holiday Bible SchoolMy next challenge was when I read about Daily Vacation BibleSchools or Holiday Bible Schools which were conducted in USA. Ihad never heard about such schools in Ireland. They had, I believe,never been introduced into our land. But it seemed a good andexciting way to reach children – by bringing them together eachmorning during their summer holidays for two and a half hours fortwo weeks. So I decided to have our first DVBS in the dock and portarea of Belfast our capital city – at that time the toughest and mostdifficult part of the city. We had a staff of 12 volunteer workers,mostly school teachers.Around 125 children came each morning, a number of them fromdifficult backgrounds and broken homes. On the first morning I saw 40
  42. 42. two boys entering the hall where the DVBS was held. My heartdropped because I knew they would cause problems – and they didevery morning. They were about 11 years old with short hair(except for one long tuft at the front), and wore big boots. We wouldcall them "punks" today. Each morning they fought each other, andothers, and caused more trouble than the rest of the childrentogether. One morning as they fought I had to separate them– withone boy under one arm and the second under my other arm, withfour feet and heavy boots flying furiously behind.They tried to provoke the teachers in every way possible.“See us”, they would say boastfully, “We go to the pictures (thecinema) five nights every week”. Two mornings before the end ofthe two weeks they came to me laughing loudly and making fun.“We want to be saved”, they said, “Ha, ha, ha.”I felt this was another way to provoke us, but I spoke with themseriously about what salvation meant, told them that I felt theywere not serious and were not ready to trust Christ until theyunderstood this. I prayed with them and encouraged them to comeback and talk with me if they were really sincere.The next morning they came back – really quiet and serious - andtold me they did want to be saved. I had the joy of leading both ofthem to Christ. They came back to the DVBS each summer in theyears that followed and showed every evidence of spiritual growth.Incidentally, several weeks after that first DVBS was over, when Iwas visiting the homes of the children who had trusted the Lord, Imet those two boys. “Hello, Uncle Sam”, they cried. “See us? Do youremember we told you that we went to the pictures five nightsevery week? We are Christians now and we don’t do that anymore.Now we just go one night each week!”I praised the Lord for this simple, if naïve, desire to do somethingwhich they felt would please God. It’s that desire to please God thatwe want to see in the children who have trusted Christ – in what-ever way they express it. A TributeSoon after we started to work with CEF, and became local Directorsfor North Armagh, I decided to do something rather unusual in anattempt to find people who would teach Good News Clubs. I put an 41
  43. 43. advertisement in the local newspaper inviting Christians whowanted to reach children with the Gospel to contact me! Naïve andinexperienced as I was, I expected an avalanche of replies, but I onlyreceived one. It was a short note, not very well written and withspelling mistakes, but the writer said he would like to reachchildren with the Gospel. I visited the writer, and if the style of hisletter was rather discouraging, he himself was, at first, even morediscouraging. He had a pronounced limp and did not speak tooclearly, but it was obvious that Jimmy Walker had a burden forchildren and wanted with all his heart to evangelize them.So I invited him to come with me and be my assistant at two of theGood News Clubs. He came and little by little he took part in them.He also started to go out on the streets of Lurgan with his WordlessBook to evangelize the children.Jimmy became a really fruitful children’s evangelist – despite his“disabilities” and God used him to lead many boys and girls to JesusChrist. We have a saying in Ireland which describes him well – “Hisheart was in the right place!”For example, one day he came to one of our Good News Club with abeautiful selection of flannelgraph backgrounds which he used inhis lesson. I was surprised because I knew he did not have muchmoney. And after persistent enquiry I learned that he had beensaving up for his annual holiday, but when he thought of thechildren and their needs he decided to buy the flannelgraphbackgrounds instead.Another example of this young man’s simplicity and devotion tookplace sometime after he had taken over the teaching of my firstGood News club in Calvertstown. He travelled over three miles onhis bicycle each week to teach that club. One week he had influenza,and was unable to teach, so he got out of bed, peddled his bicyclethree miles to the club, told the children he was ill and not able toleave his bed and teach the club and then pedalled three miles backhome and returned to bed!Jimmy is now with His Lord and has received his well deserved“Well done, good and faithful servant.” 42
  44. 44. National Directors of Irish CEFI was really excited by the doors that were opening and the childrenwho were being reached. Earlier, when all these excitingdevelopments were starting to bear fruit, I had written to Mr. Nickeland told him of what was happening in my local area and also ofnew opportunities and what was happening in other parts of thecountry. He wrote back and appointed Sadie and myself as NationalDirectors of CEF for the whole of Ireland and this was to be ourministry, as national directors of CEF work in Ireland, for the next13 years.But try to imagine the situation. I was 24 years old and a very youngChristian with no evangelical background. I had no Bible training,knew comparatively little about the Bible, and had little experiencein working with children. I had no CEF training nor had I attendedany official training classes. Here we were, Sadie and I, now theleaders of a mission for the whole of Ireland! But I knew this waswhat God wanted me to do and I tried to do it as best I could. AndGod blessed us both and our new ministry. Family UpdateSadie and I lived for two years at 6 Maureen Terrace, Calvertstown,Bleary, in one of six rented houses which were the first to be builtby Calvert Brothers. In the years that followed they became one ofthe biggest building firms in the country. All the Calvert childrencame to the Good News Club which we started in that house. I waspreaching recently in a church in Lurgan and one of the memberstold me he was one of the Calvert children who had trusted theLord Jesus in the Good News Club in our home.We moved into 17 Ardboe Drive, Lurgan in 1952 and lived there forthe next two and a half years. In August 1952 our son Stephen wasborn. He is our only child, although we did lose our first child (aboy) through a miscarriage the year before Stephen was born.Stephen has been a great joy to us and we have always been a veryclose knit family. One year after I began teaching in NewtownardsTechnical College we moved to 70 Cumberland Road, Dundonald,Belfast where we lived for 13 years.This was a quite large semi-detached house and ideally situated. Itwas close to Belfast and to the school where I taught. Later on 43
  45. 45. Stephen started at the local primary school and at the age of 12 hecommenced studies at my old grammar school – Royal BelfastAcademical Institute (R.B.A.I). But he moved with us to Switzerlandthree years later and continued his education at the InternationalSchool in Geneva. When he finished his education there he returnedto Northern Ireland and graduated from Queens University with anhonours degree in history.Later Stephen obtained got his Doctorate in history and started toteach that subject at Victoria College, one of Northern Ireland’s bestgrammar schools. He was appointed head of the historydepartment in that school and was very highly regarded andesteemed both personally and as a teacher. But no one esteems himhigher than we his parents! We are very thankful for him and theclose ties we have always enjoyed together. Chapter 9: THE GROWTH OF CEF IN IRELANDI was just over 24 years old. I had founded the work of CEF inIreland in 1950, had started 8 Good News clubs in my local NorthArmagh area and been appointed Local Director. Then in 1951Sadie and I were appointed National Directors of CEF for the wholeof Ireland! Everything had moved very quickly. This was to be ourministry for the 13 years which followed. Two Full-time JobsAs National Director of Irish CEF my life was going to beexceptionally busy for those next 13 years. And especially so, –because I continued in my profession as a school teacher for threereasons: Firstly, I had a ministry in my school which was touching the lives of many young people and I wanted to continue with that ministry. 44
  46. 46. Secondly, the experience I was gaining all the time in my teaching profession was a help to the teaching aspect of my CEF work. Thirdly my teaching salary paid all my CEF work expenses. During those 13 years I was financially self-supporting (even though it was extremely difficult at times to make ends meet). I never took any money for CEF work or claimed for any expenses involved. Any gifts I received were passed on to CEF.I was really therefore doing two full time jobs. I was teaching 30-35hours each week in school (plus the preparation time needed forteaching and the travel time needed to and from school), then I wasspending at least another 35 hours in my CEF ministry. I taughtGood News Clubs and Training Classes. Sometimes I had 7, 8 or 9meetings each week. There was really no time for much else and Islept only a few hours each night.At the same time I felt that the quality of my school teaching shouldnot suffer or deteriorate. So I endeavoured to prepare and teach aswell as I could, even though there were times when I even had towalk while teaching, to keep myself alert and awake. At the back ofmy classroom there was a wash-hand basin and as I walked past it Iwould often put my wrists under the cold water tap to refresh meand keep me alert and awake.I could never have carried on such a ministry, nor could I have livedsuch a busy life, if it had not been for the support of my wife Sadie.God had called us both into the ministry and, while I travelled somuch and was engaged so much in CEF work, she looked after ourhome as well as me. In many ways the sacrifice was greater for herand I pay tribute to the major part she played in the ministry.I would also like to pay tribute to our son Stephen. He is our onlychild and was born three years after we were married. He hasgiven us much joy and pleasure ever since. We are a very happy andunited family. Both Sadie and Steve were willing to accept thefrequent absence of husband and father. But I tried to make up formy absences and busyness when I was at home and we did enjoymany good times together. 45
  47. 47. Thirteen Busy YearsThe 13 years which followed my appointment as National Directorof Irish CEF were indeed very busy but blessed years, and the workof CEF in Ireland really grew. Eventually it was to become thebiggest and strongest CEF in the world in proportion to thepopulation of the country.Mr Nickel left the development of the work to us and seemed tohave complete trust in us and what we were doing. He only cameover twice from his Headquarters in Great Britain during the yearswhich followed. But I sent our reports to him. He started a“competition” to see which part of the United Kingdom had thefastest growing CEF work – England, Scotland, Wales or NorthernIreland, and he awarded a special banner to the winning country.But after Northern Ireland had won it four times in a row hedecided to stop the competition!I continued to receive most of my help and guidance from the CEFmagazines which I received each month from CEF in USA, andgleaned many of my ideas concerning the work from thosemagazines. I had no other contact with, or help from, CEF in USA,apart from the flannelgraph material which we received. Ourministry became a truly indigenous one which would, throughoutthe future, stand on its own feet. Looking back on those years, Icertainly appreciated the freedom we were given to develop thework the way we wanted – although there were mistakes in plenty.But God overruled the mistakes, blessed the work and gave ussteady and, even at times, spectacular growth.I introduced the work of CEF to local churches and wrote to manypastors telling them of our work, but there was little response inthose early days. But I, and others whom God was bringing into thework, continued teaching GNC’s, children’s missions, and open-airmeetings. We also conducted a number of training classes andconferences throughout the country. Many Open-air MeetingsThe idea of open-air meetings for children in built-up areas wasunknown in Ireland until this time. The Children’s Special ServiceMission (CSSM) had for many years held open-air meetings forchildren at seaside locations, but meetings in the open-air for the 46
  48. 48. children in our cities, towns, villages and housing estates wereunknown.We counted it a privilege to pioneer such meetings, and everysummer when I had my 2 months holiday from school teaching, Iwas fully occupied with such meetings. I would choose 5 keylocations each summer, then go weekly to each one for those 8weeks. The areas selected were some of the most populous and, insome cases, the most difficult housing estates in the country. Theyincluded Highfield and Mount Vernon in the city of Belfast, bothareas with much lawlessness and crime. In addition to Belfast Iconducted open-air meetings in different parts of Northern Ireland- towns like Holywood, Newtownards, Moygashel, Dungannon andBangor.All these meetings were well attended. In those days children hadfewer alternative attractions and enjoyed coming to our meetings.The average attendance was between 100 and 120, but in theHighfield Housing Estate we had over 300 children each week.We had many adventures and wonderful experiences: Highfield was the most difficult location. Tommy (my co-worker) and I went there once each week throughout each summer. At first no one knew us. We invited the children to come and hundreds came. This was completely new for them. They had never attended meetings like this. They didn’t understand that they were supposed to be quiet and it was weeks before we could get a reasonable amount of silence. When one of us was speaking the other one patrolled and circled the outside of the group – ready to sit with, or to remove, anyone who was causing trouble. But God blessed these meetings and a number of children trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour. A Baptist church was started in the area as the result of the meetings and they developed a good Sunday school. One of the girls who attended those meetings trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour and when she grew up she and her husband became full-time workers with CEF for that whole area. The meetings in Holywood attracted over 150 children each week. Most of the children listened well. However two boys were a real problem and each week they did all they could to upset the 47
  49. 49. meeting (and me). I then hit on an interesting strategy. After oneof the meetings I called the 2 boys over to me and told them Ineeded their help. I explained that there were children in themeeting who were causing trouble (without of course namingthem!) and that I wanted to appoint them to be my assistants andhelp me deal with anyone who was a problem.“Would you help me?” I asked them.“We would love to”, they replied, standing with their chests puffedout and their shoulders back.The next week they appeared, each with a big stick in his hand.“We will make sure no one upsets you, Uncle Sam,” they shouted,waving their sticks!I thought it better to discreetly put their sticks to the one side.“Boys you don’t need these,” I said.And for the rest of the summer we had no problem.The meetings in Bangor were well attended – over 100 childreneach week. I went there every summer for several years to a largehousing estate called the White City. Then some of the local peopleasked if they could start a Sunday School as a follow-up to theopen-air meetings and I agreed. That Sunday School later be-came a Baptist church – one of the largest in Northern Ireland.David McFarland attended my open-air meetings as a child everyweek in Moygashel, near Dungannon. He had already trusted theLord Jesus as his Saviour and later became the full-time CEFworker for that area. Later on he became a Baptist pastor.I went to one housing estate in Dungannon to conduct open-airsand had a most unusual experience. About 50 children assembledready for the meeting to begin. I started to teach some Gospelsongs and then out of the side of my eye I saw a number of adultsapproaching the meeting. They said nothing but in 2 minutes theytook all the children away and I was alone. I didn’t know I was ina Roman Catholic area, and they did not appreciate my presence!Well, you cannot win them all!One of the most exciting series of open-air meetings I had was inthe Ards Peninsula. I had no transport at the time, so once a weeka friend took me on the pillion of his motor cycle on a tour of thatarea. One day each week we went to a series of towns – Grey-abbey, Portavogie, Cloughey and Donaghadee, and had open-air 48
  50. 50. meetings for children. God really blessed those meetings. One of the most regular attenders at one of the venues was a rather non- descript dog. As soon as we arrived he came to where we were, lay down, and then slept right through the meeting. One day another dog arrived and objected to his presence, so the result was a noisy fight and I had to separate the two of them!As I was writing this book I received letters from two seniorcitizens concerning those early open-air meetings. One wrote, “Ihave often thought of you and give thanks for your coming into my lifeover 50 years ago. You used to come to the “green” in front of myhouse and taught Bible stories to those who would listen. I was gladto listen and really enjoyed singing the choruses you led week by week.I remember, in particular, that you had a tiny book and the pages haddifferent colours – black was our sin, red the blood Jesus shed for us onthe cross, white was how my heart would be if I received Jesus andgold represented the streets in heaven. Boy did I ever want to walkthose streets of gold and be free from all my sin. So I followed whatyou said ‘Come into my heart Lord Jesus, come in today, come in tostay, come into my heart Lord Jesus.’ I have often told others aboutyou coming and how it changed my life. Again I want to thank you foryour commitment, for your enthusiasm, and the love you showed to allus children, and I want you to know that if I was the only lost sheepthen I am no longer lost but safe in the arms of our Almighty God.With love, Frances.” Sharing the VisionBut, while I was personally very busy conducting open-air meetingsin the summer, and Good News Clubs and children’s missions in thewinter, I knew I could not do everything myself. So one of my firstgoals was to “share the vision” and recruit others with the sameburden that I had to reach children. And it pleased God to call manyvolunteer workers into the different ministries of CEF and as aresult the work continued to grow and expand. Steps Taken to Bring GrowthThere were a number of definite steps I took to establish the workall over the country: 49