It will be eighty years ago next January since I was born into this world, and sixty-two years next April since I was born again. I am thankful to God for praying parents, as well as other friends who were concerned for my spiritual welfare. My father, John Knox McEwen, was a preacher for almost seventy years, and served the Lord in many lands, pioneering for several years in Nova Scotia.
Until my early teens, I turned to my own way, and then there came a period of deep conviction. I feared the punishment I deserved, and was disturbed lest I should be left behind when the Lord returned for His own.
One Sunday night, sitting in the old Fore Street Gospel Hall Exeter, which was destroyed in the blitz during the second world war, as the preacher was closing the meeting in prayer, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Later in the year, I was baptized and received into the assembly.
Not long after being converted, Mr. E. J. Harris, who later went as a missionary to Mexico, with myself started to have open-air meetings in Exeter. This led to preaching in various parts, which included Northern Ireland.
In 1920, whilst in business in Exeter, and living in my parents’ home, a missionary, Mr. Walter Drake of the Argentine home on furlough, told me of a visit he had paid to Tavistock. A brother in the assembly there, Mr. Charles M. Bond, told him that he had recently acquired a second business, and wanted someone to help him, who could at the same time help in preaching in the small gatherings around. Mr. Drake said he knew a young man who would meet the need, and asked me to consider it. After prayer, and visiting Tavistock in 1920, I later went there where I remained for several years, and look back with thankfulness for the leading of God, brought about by no seeking of my own.
Living close to the border of Cornwall, a few of us were interested in the work in that county; a Gospel Caravan was purchased for that purpose. Mr. David Ward of Bishops Waltham was invited to undertake the work which he did for some time.
Brethren from the assemblies around Plymouth used to meet periodically in that town for prayer and discussion about meeting the needs of the various gatherings in the district, and also the work in Cornwall. At one of these meetings early in 1927, it was suggested by the brethren that I should join Mr. Ward, and the text was given to me by an elder brother, “Go in this thy might… have not I sent thee?” Jud. 6. 14.
Whether this suggestion was known to Mr. Ward I am not sure, but soon afterwards I received a letter from him, asking me to join him. Another circumstance also seemed to point the way for me to go. Like the call to Tavistock, the call to Cornwall came through others of the Lord’s servants; compare Paul’s call to Antioch, Acts 11. 25-26.
Mr. Ward and I set off together in the caravan, and after a few days, Mr. Ward took ill, went home, and never returned to the county. I was left alone with the caravan, but later had the valued help of many brethren until I was married in 1933, when my wife, who has been a loyal helper, accompanied me. Since then I have been too busy to return to business! Open-air meetings were held in various towns and villages, and much literature was distributed, including several thousand copies of The Traveller’s Guide.
When the war started in 1939, it was impossible to continue the work in Cornwall, but other spheres of work opened up. On Sunday evenings we had meetings for soldiers in the Gospel Hall in Exeter; also with my father and two other servants of the Lord we visited military camps, distributing copies of the service New Testament. For several seasons, I had tent meetings in Somerset, and was joined by a number of helpers.
In 1948 I was asked to conduct tent services in Exeter and Mr. James G. Hutchinson of Dundonald, Northern Ireland, joined me. another tent effort on the same spot.
For several years after this, Mr Hutchinson and I laboured together in Newcastle, Co. Down, having open-air meetings daily on the promenade in the summer. We have also had meetings together in other parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.
Over the years one has sought to preach the Word, making known the Gospel and New Testament church principles. Conscious of physical limitations, I am thankful to be able still to preach the Gospel and to visit the sick. I can testify to the faithfulness of God all through the years, and can say “not one thing hath failed”, Josh. 23. 14.
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