Memorial - John Frith


Neal Thomson

A Tribute to John Frith

The death of John Frith on Nov. 23 brought to a close a life devoted to God, of which a half century was spent in connection with the Lord’s work in Venezuela He is one of the great pioneers of assembly testimony here. Though history records the names of 21 other laborers here before the last world war only Messrs. Williams, Saword and Fairfield had spent over 40 years here. Four new male workers arrived in 1947-1948, of which two survive. John and Elizabeth were commended from the assembly which now meets in Victoria Drive, Vancouver, and arrived in Venezuela on November 11, 1948, with their first two children. Later, God gave them four more, and all have professed to be saved. In March 1949 they moved to Duaca where they lived until May 13, 1992. After over 40 years of service here, they had to return to Vancouver due to John’s infirmity, and for 7 years, through nephritis, John had to receive renal machine dialysis three times weekly until he died. But his heart was still in Venezuela, and he longed to return. We made every effort to arrange for dialysis here so that he could return for a visit at least, but the medical profession would not accept the responsibility.

John reached the heart of the Venezuelans; they loved him. He was a man of peace, but a man of truth. His sincerity in plain gospel preaching brought its fruit after patient sowing of the seed. He was no sensationalist. He had a care for the flock, and was a shepherd to many. He taught them to observe all things that the Lord has commanded us. So he was associated with the planting of many assemblies. He was not a lone worker, but a yoke-servant with many others, chiefly with a Venezuelan, Jose Linares. Duaca was the only assembly in the State of Lara when the Friths arrived. Now there are five others, and John was related to the formation of each. But he labored with others in all the country, from east to west, and was the first to preach (with Joe Turkington) in the Apure State to the south. This opened the door, and now there are two assemblies there where the Samuel Usshers, father and son labor much.

We lived at first 220 miles away to the west, but John helped us there in the new works in Zulia and Trujillo States. When we moved to the Andes, John helped us in the new work in Merida nearly 300 miles away. He was with us at the formation of the assembly there, and also in the advance on the western Plains. He also labored with others in the east, so that he was loved in almost every assembly in Venezuela. His character made him easy to work with.

John was a practical man, and labored in the material work also. Having been a builder in Canada, he applied his knowledge to the building of Gospel Halls for many assemblies. His greatest task was in the planning and construction of the Home for Aged Christians in Puerto Cabello, over 30 years ago. He had a big team of Christians working under him, and they completed the three story building without having to employ any unsaved in the work. So in both a spiritual and material sense his works follow him.