"Hall of Fame/Faith"
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. (Hebrews 11:1-2, ESV)
Sam’s sermon a couple Sundays ago was a powerful reminder of how important faith is for all of us. Much of what we know of faith we learn from the Bible, but also from the example and teaching of our parents.
In Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) we read: Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Moms, Dads and other relatives have a major role to play in the lives of little ones.
Looking back on your walk of faith, who are those in your personal Hall of Fame?
I love to do genealogy and have done it now for many years. I love to root out the personal stories from the facts I discover. My maternal grandfather lived most of his life in a mining valley in South Wales. While I have lived most of my life in Canada, I saw my grandpa, William for the last time when I was just three years old. He died when I was eleven. Imagine my joy many years ago now, when I discovered that he was born again in one of the last of the great Welsh Revivals. I knew for many years that he had been active in the Anglican Church and was considered by the family to be very religious and a good person. It wasn’t until I connected that to the Welsh Revivals, that I realized I would get the opportunity to sit beside him in Heaven. How special that thought is to me!
This year, I have been writing the story of my paternal great-grandfather, John Willoughby and his parents, Thomas and Mary Willoughby. Thomas and Mary homesteaded north of the Durham Road in Grey County, Ontario in the 1850s. They were both refugees from the Great Famine in Ireland. They came to Canada as members of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and by the time they showed up in Canadian records, they were attending the Wesleyan Methodist Church. They probably changed denominations because of a Methodist circuit rider, although I do not know this for a fact. At least one of their children married a Mennonite.
The story about their son John, my great-grandfather also came as a revelation to me recently. Researching his life, I discovered a bunch of records about life in Sundridge in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I found reports from the church he and his family attended in the 1890s in Sundridge, Ontario. He too was a Methodist.
John Willoughby died in 1938 so I didn’t know him at all. I did know that he and the family suffered a number of tragedies that occurred before and during WWI that were difficult to bear. John homesteaded along the Muskoka Road where he met and married his wife, Margaret. They were among the founding families of Sundridge. John eked out a living there for the rest of his life. He lost his first grandchild, his thirteen-year-old son, and his wife within one month in 1914. Then in 1918 he took in and raised an orphaned niece and nephew and saw their six siblings safely settled with other family members.
As a young child, my paternal grandmother would regularly read to us from the Bible when we visited with her or stayed over on weekends. She shared the gospel at a moment’s notice and we grandchildren always knew she was praying for us. I also had at least two Sunday school teachers who touched my life in similar ways.
My mother, my favourite aunt, and a dear uncle also have very specials spots in my Hall of Faith along with a small number of Bible study friends and a special older couple from the church family who mentored me for many years. I could go on at length, but the main point is, where would I be without their examples?
The other day I decided to look at the WWI war record for the family member of a friend of mine. Just a little something I thought she might enjoy. She is a cousin of Reverend Reynolds Herman James of Kingston. I researched and wrote a short piece about the life and war record of his father, Delmer Stewart James of Stittsville. Delmer’s parents were both born in Ontario with Irish roots. They were living in Goulbourn, Carleton County from the 1860s and were part of the Holiness Movement Church. Delmer had four brothers and four sisters who all grew up with that influence in their background.
Delmer, in his turn, continued in the Holiness Movement throughout WWI when he served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps and later returned with his new wife, Grace Susan, to raise his own family of six in Stittsville, Ontario. His oldest son, Reynolds Herman James carried on the family tradition and his recent obituary gives awesome witness to the results of a life lived by faith. He served in WWII in the air force, and it was through his time there that he came to know Christ personally and realized his calling to be a pastor.
James, Rev. Reynolds Herman - WWII - RCAF Went to be with the Lord, peacefully at the Kingston General Hospital on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at age 96.
Born on a farm 4 miles south-east of Stittsville, Ontario on June 17, 1920. He was the son of the late Delmer James of Stittsville, Ontario and Susan Reynolds of Folkestone, England and the eldest of 6 children. He attended the local county school until grade 8 and worked with his dad on the farm and alongside the neighbouring farmers. During the first year of WWII he worked in the flax mill. The fibre was important for airplane wings. On his 21st birthday, Reynolds joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served in Quebec, Newfoundland, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for 4 years and 4 months. While serving in Windsor, Nova Scotia, he attended the Nazarene Church where he was born again on October 14, 1944. Reynolds served as a Pastor for 42 years in the Holiness Movement Church, which joined the Free Methodist Church in 1959. Reynolds loved his family and they all were very special to him. He often remarked how thankful he was that his children loved and were faithful to the Lord. He was proud that they were all active in their church and that his grandchildren attended church.
Reynolds is predeceased by his beloved wife of 64 years, Eliza-Jane (née Hodgins) and by his dear son, Stewart James. Loving father of William (Marilyn), Bonny Chapman (Peter) and Anne Kenny (Vernon).
Cherished grandfather to 10 grandchildren, Rachel Spink (Derek), Natalie Baker (Justin), Laura Thompson (Corwin), Nicole Chapman, Melissa Kenny, Julianna James, Jennifer Chapman, Victoria Edwards (Zach), Lindsay Chapman and Aaron Chapman and great-grandfather of Hailey and Lily Baker and Isabel Spink. Survived by his sisters Lillian and Lena and brother Lorne. Predeceased by his brother Gerald and sister Lola.
Fondly remembered by many nieces and nephews and their families.
“Be ye steadfast unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord for ye know your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)
When I reflect on the legacy of faith these folks have produced, I can only hope to have had a similar effect on the lives of those I know and love.
How about you?
by Lynne Willoughby
Photo 1: John Willoughby (supplied by Lynne Willoughby)
Photo 2: Delmer, his wife Grace with their children, far left Reynolds, Lorne, Lola, Gerald, Lillian, Lena. Photo 3: Reynolds at a Remembrance Day Ceremony in Wilton where he would lay a wreath annually for his dad, four uncles, and himself. Photo 4: Reynolds & Eliza-Jane (Photos 2-4 supplied by Reynolds’ granddaughter, Victoria Edwards)