Tribute: Oswald MacLeod (5)

David Oliver

Mr. Oswald L. MacLeod was an outstanding servant of Christ for more reasons than his considerable height, his life span of nearly 100 years, and his record of over 70 years of active service. He had a remarkable physique, a winning manner, a noble character, and admirable capabilities.

Having known him for over half his life and having had the privilege of working with him in the gospel for a quarter of his life, I have never met a man more worthy of my highest respect. Ever a gentleman, he had a sense of humor that was typically self-deprecating.

In his mid-seventies we had our first series of gospel tent meetings. He was nearly 95 in the last of about ten series of tent meetings we had together. On all of these occasions, he insisted on being present to work both in erecting the tent and in taking it down. He knew what had to be done and kept busy with useful work while others drove in the stakes or moved the heavy materials.

Those whose only acquaintance with him was listening to his preaching pictured him as aloof and quite serious. Those who knew him better were drawn by his warm smile, his gentle humor, his unswerving loyalty, his kindness, his touching liberality, and his evident godliness. He bridged the distance from his age even to the youngest, who often thought of him as a special friend. The Lord used him in the salvation of many over the years. He had a deep interest in those he contacted and gave wise, gentle guidance to the lost. In his unassuming way, he spoke about salvation to acquaintances and strangers alike, even to the last days of life.

In his service to the Lord and his people, he knew deprivation and exhausting labor, but the assembly in Hickory he planted and nourished through the years is his most fitting legacy. Around the time he was commended to the grace of God to fulfill his service, he also had a part in the forming of the assembly in Hatboro, PA.

Crisscrossing the continent many times, he was well-known and beloved among assembly believers from coast to coast. He regularly visited eastern Canada, particularly his boyhood home in Pugwash Junction, NS, where he was saved in July of 1915 during John Ferguson’s first visit to those parts. At 89, Mr. MacLeod’s heartfelt enjoyment of his one visit to Northern Ireland was fully matched by the love and respect he received from the believers there.

He will perhaps be best remembered for his conference ministry. Although he claimed he was not a student, he loved to read. With a ready recall, he drew from the varied subjects in which he was interested. His acquaintance with ancient history seemed especially reflected in his love of the Old Testament prophets, particularly Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. With practical applications, he gave helpful, encouraging, timely, Christ-exalting, and instructive teaching. His love for the assembly was evident and his faithful course over many years gave great weight to his life and teaching.

Many of us will greatly miss the warmth of his friendship and the wisdom of his words; the work of God will greatly miss his steadying influence. With some understanding of Elisha’s estimate of Elijah’s worth to himself and to Israel, we borrow his words as Elijah was taken from him, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof" (2 Kings 2:12).