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Father

Father was of an altogether different disposition. He, too, was a loyal churchman, strict and impetuous in the training of his children, but little concerned with that which kept Mother in constant anxiety. He certainly became wrathful if the sons came home late on Sunday, but for different reasons. He was intent on keeping the children firmly in hand and saving the church from threatening decay. He was also set on preserving the honour of the family – something which, alas, was shattered in later years.

Up to within a few weeks of his death my father had been a hard man. On one occasion, when Jacob asked him for spiritual advice he was told curtly to go to the pastor. However, a fortnight before my father’s sudden passing, Jacob felt a strong compulsion, one weekend, to visit him.

To his amazement he found the old man – he was already seventy seven years old – radically altered. Gone was the hardness, the churlish spirit and the tension. Unaccountably, the lion had become a lamb. How astounded my brother was when suddenly he said ‘Jacob let us pray.’ Not waiting for a reply he fell on his knees and prayed fervently to God. How different was this from the recitative words he used to repeat in family prayers. His manner had become gentle and kindly. During the rest of the weekend he spoke patiently and lovingly, giving Jacob (as yet unconverted) advice for daily living.

At the time Jacob was at a loss to explain the extraordinary change. However, five years later, after he himself had come to the Lord, Jacob met the Pastor and learnt for the first time how, on a previous visit he had found my father deeply stirred and anxious to pour put his heart in confession. He told him how, before he left, my father had surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and had become converted.

We children all grew up, one after another, into an atmosphere of correct church life as did all the other young people pf our district. From time to time there came to light some ‘great sins’ which had been committed by church members; some cases of fornication, soothsaying and drunkenness, but the New Year’s report which the pastor read before the congregation sounded ‘on the whole’ favourable.