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Whose faith follow: Frederick Bingham (1898-1954)

J G Hutchinson, Belfast

Mr Bingham was born in an industrial area of Belfast, the youngest of a large family. His parents, Mr and Mrs Samuel John Bingham, came from farming stock in Co. Down. They were Presbyterians of the old order, who strictly observed the Lord’s Day, attended their place of worship, and lived their simple lives in the fear of God; this they hoped would be sufficient to fit them for heaven. Soon after their marriage they attended meetings conducted by the Irish Evangelisation Society. At these meetings they discovered their condition before God and their need of salvation, and ere the meetings closed both were saved. Later, at meetings conducted by Dr W J Matthews and Mr D Oliver they were taught New Testament church truths. As a result they, with others, were brought together and the Shanagan assembly was formed, in which they continued in happy fellowship until they went to reside in Belfast, where they enjoyed fellowship in Mourne Street assembly for thirty years.

Fred was saved as a boy of eleven years of age as he was on his way home from the Sunday evening meeting. He, as he so often told in later life, stopped on the Connswater Bridge, and there he trusted Christ and the "great transaction" was done. He was of a most serious and guileless nature, and from the days of boyhood took a decided interest in the things of God. He was baptised and received into the Mourne Street assembly, thus commencing a life of association with the Lord’s people in assembly testimony. In this he was firm and consistent until the Lord called him home.

He found employment in the jewellery firm of McDowell & Co, Belfast where he was highly successful and greatly respected by his employers and the general public. But during all the time he handled the precious metals of earth, his heart went out to the souls of men, more valuable than the world. In the summer of 1923 he was asked to share in gospel meetings with Mr James Megaw. The meetings were arranged by his assembly, and were quite convenient to his home. The preaching was fruitful, and this deepened our brother’s exercise to step out into full time service. This he did in 1924, with the full and hearty commendation of his brethren. For the following thirty years he was tireless and earnest in his efforts to reach and win souls for Christ. God crowned his efforts with much success and many in various parts thank God for being saved under his ministry.

He was a most sincere man and in every way a perfect Christian gentleman. This made him a welcome guest in the homes of the Christians and a popular figure at conference meetings and other gatherings. He laboured with quite a number of esteemed servants of God, many of whom, like himself, now rest from their labours. For a number of years he took charge of the open air work in Newcastle, where he lived in the closing years of his life. This work, while at times not easy or very encouraging, was undertaken with his usual thorough manner and everything put into it to commend the gospel and adorn the doctrine. Many Irish people and visitors from overseas heard the gospel in warmth and simplicity and our brother, with his brethren in the Newcastle assembly, heard of souls being saved.

Like Paul in Acts 15.36, he always loved to pay a short visit to former scenes of labour and by visitation and ministry, comfort, exhort, and teach the saints with a view to strengthening their faith and building up the assemblies. He never had a very robust constitution, but up until 1953 he kept very busy and active. In that year symptoms began to develop which indicated to his friends and family that Fred had not long to live. He suffered a good deal and grew very weak, and despite all that could be done for him and the loving care of his wife and family, he departed this life in August, 1954. The esteem in which he was held by the townspeople as well as in assembly circles in general, was evidenced by his large funeral; the local newspaper commenting on it said that it was "one of the largest and most striking funerals seen in the town for years".

The services in the home were shared by T H McCabe, T McKelvey, and John Hutchinson and at the graveside by J G Hutchinson, H Baillie, and J Hamill. Just as his life in every department "adorned the doctrine of God our Saviour", so did his large and representative funeral.

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