How I was called to Salvation and Service

John Campbell, Perth

Part 2 of 2 of the series How I was called to Salvation and Service

I will be eternally grateful to God for giving me the privilege of having be­lieving parents, parents who sought to honour the Word of God and shield me from many of the temptations of the world. As a teenager I came to a knowledge of salvation in our own home after attending some special Gospel Meetings which were held in Newton Stewart in Wigtownshire. During the early formative years of my Christian life I showed possibly little positive evidence of spiritual life. Perhaps this is the most dangerous and difficult period in the lives of our young people. I am glad, however, that during those days my parents held on to the reins and exercised godly restraint, even though it was often to my annoyance at the time. I was blind to the dangerous influence of close friendship with worldly friends. It is only by reflection that one can appre­ciate the wisdom and discretion of parental concern. To young people I say, respect the advice of mature. Christians, even though it may appear to be irksome to you. I fear to think of where I may have been today without it.

It was when I was around nineteen years of age that I started thinking about spiritual things. While in fellow­ship in James Street Assembly in Ayr, I was introduced to an invalid brother who, because of a serious heart com­plaint was confined to his home. I owe a great deal to the wise handling by this brother in Christ. I was deeply impressed by his sincerity and con­sistency. He seemed to combine love and firmness, and was a great en­couragement to me. Others had tried to encourage me by asking me to take part at deputation meetings or to start teaching a Sunday School class, but these things proved to be of little value to me. Instead this brother gave me the Word of God. He gathered four or five younger men to his home every Saturday evening. He saw that we all needed to be shown how to study our Bibles. Many had stressed the value of Bible reading but no one had shown me before how profitably to do it. Each week a suitable section of the Word would be considered, and at the end he would say: now next Saturday we want you John (or whoever may be asked) to open up by giving ten min­utes on the following verses. Although he could easily have occupied the night himself in speaking, he did very little and drew each of us out in turn, by asking questions, etc. He wielded a strong spiritual influence, and wisely counselled me regarding many things in my life. The respect which he had gained caused me to listen carefully to his advice. He graciously pointed out deficiencies in my life. He suggested little outlines which I could develop personally in Gospel preaching or in ministry. He stressed the importance of my contribution to the local assembly both in worship and in service. Thus I began to find a joy in Bible study, and a deep longing for Christian service in the assembly.

The following five or six years were vital in my spiritual experience. I care­fully investigated the Scriptures to find out "why I believed what I believed". In this way conviction was wrought in my soul regarding scriptural principles for the gatherings of God's people. I thank God that I was regularly ex­posed to the Word of God. Each Tues­day I went to the neighbouring assem­bly of Glenburn for their week-night ministry meeting, where I received much help. I regularly attended assem­bly Conferences on Saturdays in different parts of the country. Such seasons of ministry were helpful in establishing me in the things of God. One thing for which I am grateful to God is that I learned early to balance my intake of the Word of God with what I was giving out in service.

In fellowship with my local assembly I was involved in various activities over these years. For some time another two young men and myself had the responsibility of a work in the small village of Dunure, a few miles from home. Throughout the summer we had regular open air meetings, tract visitation, and an open-air children's meeting. During the winter we had house meetings and also Gospel meetings in the village hall. For a number of years I also had responsi­bility for conducting a weekly child­ren's work and Bible Class in one of the housing estates of Ayr. A burden for lost souls began to increase. God gave me the vision of the need around me. The concern for my neighbours and those I worked beside gradually deepened, and the Lord encouraged my heart by giving me the joy of taking quite a number to Gospel meetings.

One Sunday evening when I was preaching at the Gospel meeting of a nearby assembly, God gave me my first soul—a young man from Ghana who was studying in this country. I became deeply attached to Jim Asare. The joy of his salvation greatly en­couraged me. Eventually I made en­quiries of missionary work in his own country, so as to put him in touch with someone when he returned. When I discovered the almost total absence of missionary work and the great need of that country, I became deeply dis­tressed. I wrote to a number of missionaries in neighbouring countries, and for some time I was very interested in the country of Ghana. By this time I had dealings with God regarding my life in His service. On one occasion I was laid off work for a few weeks with a back injury. God gave an op­portunity to think about my life at that time. I can remember well the occasion, lying flat on my back, wrestling with God about this decision. I had always been the kind of person who had to do everything whole-heartedly. Coming to the crossroads at that time, I re­member saying to God, "it is all or nothing", and with not another soul in the room and without any razzle dazzle missionary appeal, I handed my life over unreservedly for God to use as He pleased.

I was determined that even matri­monial affairs were not going to dampen my enthusiasm. My partner in life would of necessity have similar aspirations and be prepared to heed the call of God if that should be. God has been gracious to me in this way, and today I owe a great deal to the one whom the Lord has chosen as my partner in life.

For a good number of years before I eventually moved out in the Lord's Work, I was privileged to work with experienced evangelists throughout the country. Each year my holidays from work were spent in this way gaining experience that was later to stand me in good stead. I was willing to be a pupil, and took every opportun­ity to learn as much as I could. What I did not realize was that God was using all of these things to give me valuable experience for what He had in mind for me in the future.

In some ways my spiritual exper­ience at that time possibly resembled the young man Timothy. In 2 Timothy 1, Paul refers to the four major influ­ences that contributed to Timothy's spiritual standing.

(a) He had been given a godly parental upbringing, v. 5.

{b) He enjoyed a spiritual friendship with Paul, vv. 3-5.

(c)   He was entrusted with a spiritual endowment, v. 6, "the gift . . . which is in thee".

(d)   He must exercise personal discipline, v. 6, "stir up the gift"

A gradually deepening awareness of God's call came over quite a period. On numerous occasions ministry from various servants of the Lord was used to prod my conscience. In my personal reading God was speaking. Some of the Lord's servants approached me confidentially, and cautiously advised concerning involvement in the Lord's work. An article in one of the monthly magazines caused me to start thinking about Perthshire in particular. At work as a yarn buyer in the carpet industry, I was offered promotion. I confess that there was atemptation, with a wife and young family, to settle down to a comfortable life and accept second best in the things of God, and yet everything was pointing in the one direction.

After much waiting upon God, I eventually approached the elder breth­ren of the assembly in James Street in Ayr. When we met it was very evident that it was no surprise to them. My growing involvement both in activities locally and around the country was reaching the point where I would have to curtail either the secular or the spiritual. These brethren were a great encouragement to me, and when I contacted the assembly in Perth they viewed my exercise as the answer to their own prayers.

Commended by the assembly in Ayr, at twenty-five years of age, my wife and I moved to the city of Perth. Before the Lord I felt deeply burdened, particularly about pioneering work in an area where few assemblies exist. Although Perthshire is one of the largest counties in Scotland there are only three assemblies and at that time all three were very small.

I have never found it an easy thing to discern the Lord's will; however, after ten and a half years in Perthshire, I am more than ever convinced that I am where the Lord would have us be. I have no desire to leave the area unless God was to indicate otherwise. The county of Perth is not easy, the work has been slow, very little Gospel light has been shed over the area. However, we praise God for what has been done and seek His grace for what remains to be done.

Five and a half years ago I was joined by another young man, Jack Hay. He and his wife Lillian took up residence in Comrie, twenty-five miles from Perth with a view to eventually establishing a work in that town. For the most part of the year we work together in a portable hall which is removed from place to place, We stay normally two or three months in each place and do systematic visitation, coupled with children's meetings and Gospel meetings. Thus involved we find that we can travel home almost every night. In this way we are able to reach out with the Gospel, yet fulfil our responsibilities to our wives and families—something we could not do if we were constantly preaching round the country.

Although no new assemblies have yet been established, we do have weekly Bible teaching meetings in four different centres throughout the county. We do trust that the day will dawn when many lampstands will shine brightly throughout Perthshire.