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Whose faith follow: John Moneypenny (1870-1950)

J G Hutchinson, Belfast

Mr John Moneypenny was born in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, where he lived with his family until, when he was fourteen years old, the family emigrated to Canada and settled in the city of Toronto. When John was nineteen he was brought under the sound of the gospel and was saved. From his conversion he showed an interest in the things of God. While other members of the family went in for business and prospered in it, he sought "the things not seen but eternal". He was baptised and received into the East End assembly and made a clean break with all of the "old life".

He sought the company of older Christians, and often sat at the feet of Mr D Munro, where he received a good grounding in fundamental truths. Experienced servants of God saw in him gift and humility, and encouraged him in the gospel. In 1892, brethren McClure and Telfer decided to work in Ontario and asked him to join them. This encouragement with the hearty commendation of the assembly was his humble beginning.

In his diary, March 2nd, 1894, he wrote, "Tonight I was sleepless, and tossed for five hours. California and Mr McClure came before me. Am much exercised and not sure what it means". He wrote to Mr McClure about his experience and received a reply to come at once. For a number of years with Mr McClure and Mr A Frazer he laboured in Los Angeles and the Pacific coast. God blessed their labours in souls being saved and God’s people established in His ways.

All over the United States and Canada he preached the gospel in tents, stores and halls, in fact anywhere an opportunity afforded itself. He was busy as long as life lasted. After his homecall, Mr Aboud, himself an earnest and much used evangelist servant of Christ in Egypt, wrote concerning him, "Mr Moneypenny was a real man of prayer; as a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ our dear brother was very conscientious in the use of his time. From early morning to night, he was distributing tracts, talking to sinners, taking a meeting or visiting some "needy saints".

He visited his native land a number of times and was greatly used in the gospel. Many were saved, some becoming pillars in the assemblies, others serving God in the gospel at home and further afield. He was a man with a broad vision, and while never for a moment deviating from sound New Testament principles, he saw world-wide need. As well as travelling extensively himself he sought to encourage others who would be helpful to do the same. Almost his last words to a young evangelist in Ulster whose meetings he attended were these: "I am glad I didn’t spend all my life in the North of Ireland; don’t you do it either".

In Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India he visited the assemblies and was a source of blessing and help to the missionaries as well as to the local Christians. He spent seven years in Egypt where his daughter was teaching, years that were a tremendous challenge to a man of his years. He taught the Christians in various small assemblies. The writer, when visiting there, heard the older believers speak of him with appreciation. His time there was during the Second World War and he sought to contact with the gospel the very many military folk who were in that region. From there he made a short visit to the Holy Land, and then in 1947 returned to Ireland.

Those who had known him in earlier days saw a great change in his appearance. The frame once so erect and firm was now bent and worn, but the interest in Divine things was as keen and active as ever. He moved around former scenes of labour, and, wherever he could, sought to minister to the saints and preach the gospel. The Lord’s people were kind to him and in their homes he found a haven of rest in closing days. His wife, the former Miss Wright, had predeceased him in 1935.

After much weakness and longing for "home" the aged servant of God passed away on 7th July, 1950. His worn out frame was tenderly laid to rest in the cemetery in Belfast after a race well run and a great life’s work well done. He had given 58 years of unbroken loyal service to Christ.


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