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Whose faith follow: William Hagan (1883-1947)

J G Hutchinson, Belfast

Mr Hagan was born in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim in 1883, the son of a publican, and died in Belfast in 1947, a highly espected servant of God. In his 20th year he was awakened about the reality of eternal things through hearing a hymn sung at an open air meeting. A little later, as a result of a tract being pushed under the door, he sought out a Christian man, with whom he walked about the streets and roads for a whole night before the way of salvation became clear.

In early Christian life he was in touch with, and greatly benefited from, the guidance and counsel of Mr Jardine, a well known Baptist preacher. He also received much help and encouragement from Mr David Rea, one of Ulster’s outstanding evangelists. Though still doing his daily work, for nine months he "took charge" of Carrickfergus Baptist Church. A Presbyterian minister, hearing him preach in the open air, offered to pay his way through college, that he might take up the Presbyterian ministry. Those who heard him were impressed with his gift and ability, and could see in him the makings of a successful preacher and teacher. However, he declined because of his convictions regarding New Testament principles, and, while he had a large heart and an interest in God’s people everywhere, in 1907 he severed his connections with the systems of men and associated himself with the Christians then meeting in Victoria Memorial Hall. Thereafter, for him, assemblies were the companies and gathering places of his choice.

He was an avid reader, and his preaching bore the marks of deep thought and a comprehensive view of the Word of God. He was often to be seen in the early hours of the morning in the corner of a tramcar, and while others talked on their way to work, he was deeply engrossed in a book.

In the Harland and Wolf shipyard he was respected as a fellow-worker and as a Christian. He was one of those responsible for commencing the lunchtime Bible Readings which continued for many years and at which many, who serve God at home and abroad, testify to having received help and instruction. Helped by Mr S. McCune, later a missionary in what was then called British West Indies, he built Roslyn Hall, which housed the assembly that now meets in Cregagh Street Gospel Hall. In 1924 he finally stepped out into "full time" service for the Lord, firstly in the tent in the Greyabbey area and thereafter he reached out all over the British Isles. He worked extensively in tents and on a number of occasions had charge of the large Liverpool and Cardiff tents.

Thousands heard from his lips the plain searching messages of the Word of God and in many places there are found those who were saved at his meetings. In these efforts he was mostly alone as his preaching gift and the material that he had to give demanded time. Yet at times he was happy to share with others, amongst whom was J. G. Wilson and Jack Atkinson. He was a hard worker, constantly visiting hospitals, shipyards, and prisons. Once, when he was preaching in Peterhead prison, a man who was serving a life sentence for murder was saved; another in prison for fraud, who had earlier been a happy Christian, was restored. So appreciative of the meetings was the prison governor that he wrote Mr Hagan a personal letter. Mr Hagan was widely used as a minister of the Word of God and as a conference speaker. He unfolded to the people of God the deep things of God and was particularly happy in speaking "of the things…touching the king" (Ps 45.1).

The closing years of his life were dark and trying. The Second World War with its blackout and devastation hindered many of his activities in Great Britain and this, coupled with a heart condition, caused his movements to be a good deal restricted. In Ireland, however, he found an ever-widening sphere of service. In early November, 1947 he was laid aside, and there, tenderly cared for by his beloved wife and family, he spent his last days on earth. God quietly took His servant home on November 21st. The large funeral from his home in Belfast to Carrickfergus was conducted by Dr J. Gilmour Wilson. Mr T. Rea (Africa) spoke at the grave.

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