Tribute: Oswald MacLeod (1)

BORN: AUGUST 16, 1902

Norman Crawford

With the homecall of Mr. Oswald MacLeod, an era has passed in the experience of assemblies in North America. Oswald MacLeod, Lorne McBain, Oliver Smith, Herb Harris, Fred Watson, William Warke, Albert Joyce, John Govan, Archie Stewart, George Gould, Albert Klabunda and James McCullough, to name only a few, were men who epitomized for us, all that is involved in the work of an evangelist. There were many other very valuable men in the past history of assemblies on this continent, but these men were close to the same age and were fellow-workers in the gospel. We loved to hear them preach Christ, and we tried in our own limited way to follow their example. When Mr. McBain first took me with him for a gospel series and we went door to door, he told the people that we were two young men having gospel meetings. This shocked me. I was young and knew it, but I thought of him as an older man. Lorne McBain was 45 then and Oswald MacLeod was two years younger. All of these men are in heaven and we miss them, none more than dear Oswald, our friend and mentor.

He had been saved for more than 84 years, but his conversion experience was always fresh in his mind and heart. How many times he took us back to the farm home in Pugwash Junction, Nova Scotia, and told us how, as a boy of fifteen, God revealed the Lord Jesus to him as the One who died for him! "The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah" (Psalm 87:6).

It is not possible to think of Mr. MacLeod without thinking of his spirituality. The words of Nehemiah about his brother must be honestly applied to our brother, "He was a faithful man, and he feared God above many" (Nehemiah 7:2). He was a Christian gentleman and an example of godliness in his home, in other homes, on the platform or as a careful listener to his brethren. His love for Godís Son, Godís Word, precious souls, Godís people and Godís assembly were evident in all he did and said. There is no doubt that he was a special instrument in the hand of the Lord. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isaiah 66:2).

In 1928, the assembly at Bryn Mawr, PA commended Mr. MacLeod to the work of the Lord. For 72 years his service for the Lord was done with his whole heart. He was used of God in the salvation of many souls and in the planting of assemblies. As a laborer, he was at home with a trowel or hammer in his hand, as well as an open Bible. In 1934, he first went to Hickory, NC and labored there consistently for many years until on March 19, 1950, the assembly was formed that continues with evident blessing from God to this day.

It is true that he diligently did the work of an evangelist, but he was also an able teacher and a kind shepherd. I was often amazed to hear him recount from memory the histories of the kings of Israel and Judah and draw deep spiritual lessons from them. In 1942, I heard him teach that the measure of the greatness of any man or woman in all the days of testimony for God in this world is their likeness to the Lord Jesus. His words remain in my heart to this day. The words written about Apollos are appropriate, "This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord." (Acts 18:25). He firmly believed that the work of the Lord was not only to point souls to the Lord Jesus, but also to see them baptized and gathered in a local assembly; "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt 29:20).

It was difficult to see him in his final sickness, unable to actively engage in the work of the Lord, but his heart was still in it and he prayed for his brethren by name wherever they were laboring. His beloved wife, Gertrude, a skilful nurse, was a very great blessing to him during these days of weakness. He spoke to me many times about taking part in his funeral. It is my deep regret that bad weather made it impossible for me to be there. The funeral service in Hickory on January 31 was taken by David Oliver, Bob MacLeod as representing the family, and Fred Dancy and John Setzer, speaking on behalf of the Hickory assembly. In Bryn Mawr on February 2, David Oliver, William Oliver, Jim Smith, Brent MacLeod and Gene Higgins shared the services. "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away," we will sorely miss our beloved friend and brother.