Chapter 66

The Life of a Minister Among the Miners


When I returned home from my missionary work in Central Africa in 1929, body racked with malaria, I was desperately ill. The long journey from Livingstonia to Scotland was a nightmare. It lasted thirty-two days. On the ship I was too weak and ill to assist in caring for my wife, daughter Margaret and the ten-month-old twins. Our homecoming was marred by my constant malarial attacks in Miss Little's Nursing Home, Perth Road, Dundee.

I knew I was very ill as a nurse never left my bedside. It was just on midnight when Professor Price and two other specialists examined me. Without moving me much, they went through the routine of examination.

I remember the words, 'The malaria is bedded in the spleen.' Then, after a pause, the Professor said, 'Poor chap, he has a killer germ. What's his age?' On being told thirty-two, he stroked my face with his handkerchief, saying sadly, 'Thirty two, how unkind. He'll not see the light of morning.'

The words seem to cut deep. I replied, 'I've too much of the devil in me to give way, I'll see the morning!'

The noted surgeon was taken aback. He bent down, his cheek touched mine and proudly he whispered, 'Good man, you'll make it, that's the spirit.' (The poor Professor and both specialists died a few years later!)

For a number of years I was desperately ill. Many types of injections, medicine and rest treatment were tried, all with indifferent results. Doctors said work was out of the question, I must resign myself to poor health. I wouldn't accept this. I knew my faith would triumph.

Within three years I was minister of a busy parish. I had recurring attacks of malaria, suffered from severe headaches, collapsed once or twice from overwork, but I worked and enjoyed my duties. Between bouts of malaria I was taken by car to conduct services in many churches.

On one pulpit engagement in Denbeath, Fife, I noted an elderly minister in the congregation. After the service he called on me in the vestry. He liked my sermon, but did not approve of the manner I came to church.

'Why,' I said, 'for once I travelled in a bus and it was comfortable.'

'Bus indeed,' quipped the old man, 'I saw you get off and I also saw nearly a dozen golfers in the bus. Was that the way to come to The Lord's House to preach - mixing with golfers?'

I'm afraid I smiled at his narrow-mindedness, which riled him. 'Wrong to travel in a bus with Sunday golfers?' I replied. 'Do you think that is evil? Why I'd ride on the back of the devil himself, weekday or Sunday, to do the Lord's work.'



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This work, Going With God, is copywrited by Ronald R. Caseby, 1993.   All rights reserved.  Used here by express permission.