One Father’s Timely Word

G. Campbell Morgan, who was one of the greatest Bible teachers who ever lived, preached his first sermon when he was just twelve years old. Once he reached adult age, however, his preaching was forced to take a secondary role after he accepted a job as a teacher in order to help his family’s financial situation. He did keep preaching, though, preaching whenever and wherever he could, and eventually he was fortunate enough to be asked to speak at his area’s follow-up services that took place in the aftermath of popular evangelist Gipsy Smith’s evangelistic campaign. Those follow-up services drew hundreds of people, and Morgan did a good job of preaching to those crowds.

The success of those services instilled in Morgan a fresh burden to forego his job as a teacher and enter into the ministry as a full-time occupation. His problem was that despite his natural abilities as a preacher he had no formal education for the role. To gain that education, he applied for enrollment in the Methodist/Wesleyan path of ordination. The year was 1888 and Morgan was one of 150 candidates for enrollment that year.

Initially, things went well as Morgan passed his doctrinal examinations, but then came his trial sermon. Logically speaking he shouldn’t have had any trouble preaching such a sermon, but the logistics of the site threw him off his game. Whereas he had recently been accustomed to preaching to crowds in the hundreds with hardly an empty seat to be found, his trial sermon was conducted in a massive auditorium that seated over 1,000 but that day only had seventy-five in attendance to accompany the three ministers who served as the council of judges. Consequently, those three ministers were unimpressed by Morgan’s sermon and two weeks later when their list of those whom they were rejecting as candidates was displayed, his name was one of the 105 on it.

Shortly after reading his name on the list, Morgan sent a telegram to inform his father of the news. The telegram consisted of one word: “Rejected.” Morgan then sat down and wrote in his diary: “Very dark, everything seems. Still, He knoweth best.” His spirits were lifted, however, when his father, who was a preacher himself of the Independent Baptist variety, sent a return telegram. It read: “Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven. Dad.”

Three months following Morgan’s rejection by the Methodist/Wesleyan council, he married his girlfriend Annie (better known as “Nancy”) and settled into the life of an itinerant evangelist. For a full year he preached whenever and wherever he could until finally there came a time when the Congregational church in the little town of Stone in England’s Staffordshire county appointed him as pastor. He still didn’t have any formal schooling for the ministry, but the Congregationalist denomination was not as demanding as the Methodist/Wesleyan denomination in regards to their requirements for ordination, and Morgan was ordained as a Congregationalist minister soon after becoming pastor. From those humble beginnings he went on to become internationally known as “the prince of expository preachers” throughout the English-speaking world. Among his many pastorates, he served two separate tenures for a total of twenty-three years as the pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel, one of the Congregationalist denominations greatest churches.

My point in providing all this information is to show that at the lowest point of G. Campbell Morgan’s life his father was there with an encouraging word. What an awesome responsibility a father has to provide such a word when he senses that his child is sorely in need of it. This Father’s Day may I commit myself to being such a father to my two sons, and if you yourself have such a father or had one count yourself among the blessed. Could it be that we’d produce more Christians on the spiritual level of G. Campbell Morgans if we had more fathers like his? You never know. You just never know.

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