- Parent Category: History
- Category: Golden Lampstands of Iowa
- Published on Thursday, 22 June 2006 19:54
One of the earliest gospel pioneers to come to the state of Iowa, of whom we find any record, was John Blair, a man sent by God. He came to the area of Dunkerton, not only to fulfill his duty to "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), but, also, because of his love and compassion for his own dear sister. He desired for her the greatest blessing on earth for man, the salvation of her soul. So, he came from Northern Ireland, across ocean and land, to spread the gospel.
John Blair was brought up in a religious home, trusting in a strict life and good works to take him ultimately to heaven. He was unaware of the need of the new birth until he heard the plain gospel presented in meetings held by James Campbell and William Matthews. He was greatly disturbed by the discovery that he was a lost, guilty sinner, having exhausted every effort to obtain salvation by good works and prayer. At last, on the morning of July 12, 1880, while reading his Bible, he came to Romans 5:6, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Taking God at His word, he found Christ as his Savior. So great was his conviction that, in his preaching in later years, he laid much emphasis on man's lost condition by nature, and the need of definite personal faith in the finished work of Christ.
Who Stopped The Train?
By Esbond Dunkerton
On January 5th, 1923, I left Minneapolis on Chicago Great Western train No. 3 on a business trip to Waterloo, Iowa. I had planned on stopping over at Dunkerton, a small town a few miles from Waterloo to spend the night with my father on his farm and then drive his car into Waterloo the next morning. I was informed, however, that this was a fast train and would not stop at Dunkerton. I knew if I wanted to lie about it I could get on that train with a ticket for Dunkerton and then they would have to stop, but the Holy Spirit reminded me at this point that lying is an abomination in the sight of God and that God could stop the train at Dunkerton if He wanted to.
So, I boarded the train with a ticket for Waterloo and as I sat in the coach I removed my hat, and shutting my eyes, asked God to stop the train at Dunkerton as my lonely father lived there and I earnestly desired to spend the evening with him. I felt at once that the matter was in the hands of the God of Heaven and earth, who ordereth all things according to the counsel of His own will and does all things for the best. I settled down in my seat and spent an enjoyable afternoon reading God's Word and humming songs of praise to Him who loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood.
After we left Oelwein, there was a new conductor in charge of the train, and we were then only a few miles from Dunkerton. I looked at him rather anxiously as he came in the door, to see what kind of a man he was. He was a pleasant looking middle-aged man that knew his business well. He arrived at my seat and I said, "I am very anxious to get off at Dunkerton tonight and you are the only one who can do anything for me." He answered pleasantly, "Not I, but the Superintendent." So, I settled back rather disappointed, but anderneath this disappointment I felt quiet and at rest, believing that some way God was going to stop that train and let me off at Dunkerton.
I looked out of the window into the dark night to see if I could see the lights of the town. My father's house is just one-half mile the other side of the station. We finally whizzed through a small town; I could not tell if It was Dunkerton or not, but we hadn't gone much farther when the train came to a sudden stop. I did not know where we were, but I walked up to the car door and the conductor stepped in and said, "Are you the man that wanted to get off at Dunkerton?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Well, we are here, and you can get off. I don't know what we are stopped for, but we are stopped." I climbed off and found myself at my father's front door.
That night I looked up into that clear cold winter sky and on beyond the moon and stars to God, and I said, "0 Lord, Thou Who runs the moon, the stars, the universe and the trains on the C.G.W. Ry., I thank Thw for this act of kindness for me. Amen."
I learned later, that after we passed through Dunkerton, some rod dropped down under one of the coaches and dragged along the ground until it came to the road crossing in front of my father's house, where it caught the plank, and in some way, put on the air brakes so that it took the engineer ten minutes to get the brakes loose.
I was twenty-three years of age before I came to know the God and Creator of this universe and I met Him first at the foot of the Cross of Calvary, and learned there that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). I saw there that He Who knew no sin, and therefore upon Whom death had no power, was made sin for me, that I "might be made the righteousness of God in Him." I have also come to know Him not only as my Creator, but also as my Redeemer, and that there is salvation in no other name but in the name of Jesus.
THE MAN WHO DIED FOR ME
Some speak to me of heaven, and its bright and boundless store;
Of great exceeding glory, and its pleasures evermore.
But sweeter-far, far sweeter-is the thought that I shall see
The Man who stood in Pilate's hall - the Man who died for me.
They tell me of its pearly gates, all gleaming, pure and fair;
And the crowns of glory, and the robes the ransomed wear.
But ah! what beauty, or what joy, could all these glories be
If I looked in vain for Christ, my Lord -the Man who died for me?
The Man who wore the crown of thorns, and bore for me the Cross;
For Him - the one who's won my heart -I count the world but loss.
And through my darkest hours a gleam of gold 'I ever see
Tis the hope that, by and by, I'll see - the Man who died for me.