George Campbell Biography, Evangelist to Newfoundland - 1 - No Water in the Well


hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water??

Jeremiah 2:13

On the flyleaf of the New Testament given to Mr. Campbell by his grand­father:

?Believe it to be saved, read it to

be wise, practice it to be happy??

The crisis came in Portland, Oregon, when I met my good friend, Gib­by Williams. We got a room down in the lower side of Portland in a cheap hotel, and were quite excited because we were on our way to India.

Gibby?s father was a deep sea captain and because of this, we had a guaranteed job aboard a ship that was carrying grain to India. To our dismay, we had trouble getting our necessary papers. We thought sure they would come along soon, and in the meantime went down each day to see the ship and make other preparations to go. Finally, the day came when the big ship left the dock at Portland, and as she left, two dis­couraged young men were still standing on the dock.

?Well? I said, ?There she goes, Gibby. What are you going to do??

?I guess I will go back home:? Gibby replied. ?What are you going to do??

?I don?t know:? I answered, ?let?s go down and get a glass of beer and talk about it??

I told my buddy as we walked along, ?I have a religious uncle who lives in Vancouver, B.C., and a grandmother up there, too. But this religious thing never appealed to me??

I had been living a pretty fast life. The pleasures of sin had unwound themselves and there didn?t seem to be anything else new to try. I thought, ?Maybe I will go up and see my uncle?? The more I thought about it, the more I was determined to go. I phoned and asked if I could spend a little time with him.

?Oh yes, come right away. We will be glad to see you:? he told me. ?We will pick you up at the Vancouver bus station??

When I got off the bus, we drove to the White Spot restaurant, and they served us a hamburger in the car. I was just about ready to dig in when my uncle said, ?We generally give thanks for the food before we eat it, if you don?t mind?? He took off his hat and began to pray. I was trapped and hardly knew what to do. Actually, there wasn?t much I could do.

Later at his house, he said, ?You know, we are having some special Gospel meetings here in the city. We would like to see you come along. It would be a great thing if you got saved??

That word seemed strange to me. I couldn?t figure out what it meant. ?Saved? I thought to myself, and right away I changed the subject.

I found out that the two evangelists who were conducting the meet­ings were staying in the same house. If anybody ever felt trapped, I did. I had no money, no where to go, even if I wanted to go. Another thing I thought strange was that the Bible was read after supper, and then they all got down on their knees (I had to join them, of course), and someone prayed. My name was mentioned! I felt so strange, and yet it seemed very real. I thought to myself, ?These people really believe there is a God, and they speak to Him??

After the prayer, Uncle George said, ?We would like you to come to the meeting with us??

I hadn?t been in church for years and really wasn1t too interested, so answered, ?No??

(Hospitality is a real important thing in the Christian home. Unknown to me when I called my Uncle George from Portland, Oregon, my Aunt Ruth was keeping two preachers in her home besides caring for her own two daughters and her mother who lived there. Her own mother had to go somewhere else to stay in order to make room for me when I came in November 1951.

I never realized then how great a sacrifice my aunt had made. But what if she hadn?t been willing to open her home to me or the preachers, for that matter? How thankful I am that she was willing to use her gift of hospitality.)

One day after I had been there for a few days, I picked up a book titled ?Satan?, in my uncle?s library. In it, I began to read about the fall of Sa­tan and his intrusion into the Garden of Eden. Also, I read how Adam and Eve fell and how the whole human race was cut off from God, and in darkness under his control and power. The book told how man was a sinner and needed a Savior, and that was why Jesus Christ came and died on the cross. Suddenly, I was awakened and my interest aroused.

My uncle said to me a little later that day, ?We sure would like you to come to a meeting. If it doesn?t do you any good, it won?t do you any harm??

When I went out to hear the message of the Gospel from the Bible, I was almost ashamed to go in. There was a large number of people. I wanted to go up in the balcony, as far away from that pulpit as I could.

The men got up and preached from the Bible. They preached about sin, about hell and how the world was in darkness and needed a Savior. They told us that?s why Jesus died on the cross. I became very interested.

There was a hush of reverence and respect for what was being preached. I began to consider what I was hearing and on the fourth night I heard the Gospel preached, one of the speakers spoke about ?Jesus of Nazareth passes by?? He told the audience that this man, Bartimaeus in Mark 10 was blind, reminding us that we were blind in sin and darkness. When the Savior came by, this man in his darkness wanted light. He wanted to see, and he knew that Jesus could give him sight.

He cried out and said, ?Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me?? The Bible says that he threw off his garment and came to Jesus.

The preacher said this man cried at the right time; when Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He not only cried at the right time, but he cried to the right person, that is, he cried to Jesus and Jesus Christ is the only One who can save sinners. He also cried for the right thing, mercy. None of us deserve the mercy of God. It flows to us because the justice of God has been satisfied through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I was convicted of my sin. As I sat on the bed that night with the Bible opened to the Gospels, it suddenly dawned on me that this man, Jesus Christ, was really here. Everything He said and everything He did was really true. I was aware of the reality of Christ. I must do something with Him. I began to reflect on my former days.

My father had been brought up in a Christian home, but rejected the gospel. As a young man, he busied himself making money and seeking to enjoy the pleasures of the world. My brother and I were born in Van­couver, B.C. When I was three years old, we moved to San Francisco.

When I was 17, the war was on, and I was determined to enlist. I knew that others were dying and as an able-bodied young man, I should be willing to go, too. After my parents granted permission, I enlisted in the United States Marines, went to boot camp, and then over seas. I never had a thought about my soul, but just enjoyed whatever came along. My philosophy was ?eat, drink and be merry, because tomorrow you die??

One day, in Guam, a brown package came to me addressed in shaky ­handwriting. It was a New Testament. I hardly knew what to do with it. It was from my grandfather in Vancouver, and he had written on the fly leaf, ?Believe it to be saved, read it to be wise, and practice it to be happy?? The words hit me, but instead of reading this wonderful book, I took everything out of my duffle bag and put it right down at the bot­tom, placed all my belongings on top and forgot it.

God spared me through World War II. We were preparing to go to Japan when President Truman decided to drop the atom bomb. Soon the war was over. I was offered a promotion to sergeant if I would stay in the Marines. But I had had enough, and I wanted to go back home. When the big Liberty ship came in the Golden Gate Bridge loaded with thou­sands of Marines, I could seed different places I knew as landmarks when I was a boy. Finally, at Treasure Island, we were given our leave papers and were honorably discharged.

After we were given our campaign buttons, I got my suit pressed and took a taxi to Oakland where we lived. Bursting through the door, I called out for Mom and Dad, but they weren?t there. It wasn?t long before they came. They could hardly believe it. Their son was home safe and sound. My brother had come home a few months earlier unharmed, but we never thought about giving God thanks. We were just happy that no one was wounded or killed.

I started business with my father, but became restless and decided I wanted to see a little more of the world. I worked for a gambler at Lake Tahoe as a breakfast cook in his big hotel, and then would gamble my money in his casino. What a life! That?s where I met Gibby.

At the end of the summer season, someone suggested going to Palm Springs. I worked there behind the bar of the very exclusive Shadow Mountain Club. I watched the movie stars come and go. Spencer Tracey was one, drinking milk because of ulcers.

One evening another bartender said to me, ?See that girl down at the end of the bar??

?Yes,? I answered. ?She is a very pretty girl??

?She is not only pretty; she is also very wealthy??

I thought, ?That?s what life is; good looks, good health, and lots of money??

As I worked my way toward that end of the bar, I happened to hear her say, ?I am bored with life; I?m just fed up with it??

?Man, if she is bored with life, where is happiness found anyway?? I wondered.

I left that job and with two other young fellows went down to Miami, Florida where we worked in a Howard Johnson?s restaurant. We worked late, sometimes to two o?clock in the morning, and then we went out drinking. During the day, we would go to the racetrack. I was getting tired of searching for something I couldn?t find.

One night I noticed a man preaching on the street corner. I had to stop. He was preaching with great earnestness about God, and I was im­pressed. Something seemed to click with me that there was something real about God, even though I didn?t know very much about Him.

One day I looked in the paper and saw a job offer for a young-man to go on a sailing vessel down to the Bahamas. That appealed to me. Captain Pawn of Kathleen II said he took three or four men at a time from the northern states on fishing cruises during the winter. He needed a young man to help him with the sails and do the general work. I really wanted that job.

?I?ll tell you what I?ll do. I?m going out for three days, but I have a young fellow coming who has a lot of experience with sail boats. It?s not likely that you will get the job, but you are welcome to come along:? Cap­tain Pawn said.

?I?ll be there:? I answered, and went back, packed my bags, told the boss I was quitting and joined Kathleen II. After three days I found out I didn?t know anything about sailing. The other fellow seemed to know everything, so I figured I would never get the job. It was a windy night when we came into Miami and we had trouble with the sails. As I was helping, the other fellow took out his knife and cut the lines.

When we docked, the skipper came up and asked, ?Who cut the lines? You??

?Not me:? I replied.

He looked at the other fellow, ?You cut the lines??

?Yes, I cut the lines:? he explained. ?It was the only way that we could free them??

The Captain responded, ?Okay, I wouldn?t have a man aboard my boat that cut the lines?? Looking at me, he said, ?You have the job??

Captain Pawn was an atheist. He had been steeped in a large religion where he saw so much unreality that he decided there was no God.

One night we were sailing along and he said, ?When you die, you die like the fish in the sea, and that?s the end of you??

I listened and thought about it. The night was warm as we were sailing through the Caribbean, so I lay out on the deck to sleep. I locked my hands behind my head, looked up into the sky and saw those millions of stars. As I looked, I thought, ?Well, Skipper, you can believe what you like, but Somebody made all that??

Related scriptures: John 4:13-14; John 3 7-38; Luke 18:35-43; John 16:8-11; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Ecciesiastes 11:9.