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Whose faith follow: Samuel W Lewis (1899-1971)

J G Hutchinson, Belfast

Mr Lewis was born in 1899 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, where his father, Mr James Lewis, was a coal-miner. He was the eldest of the family. By the time he was thirteen years old, the family had moved near to the village of Annathill. It was here in the month of March, 1912, while attending gospel meetings conducted by Mr Duncan Montgomery, that he was saved. The following year, at the age of fourteen years, he had to leave school to commence working in the coal-pits. When he was fifteen he was baptised and received into the assembly at Coatbridge.

About the year 1915, the family moved to the town of Bellshill, where, under the guidance of revered and godly elders, he and other young men were thoroughly taught the Scriptures and became involved in the work of the assembly. In their spare time these young men, after a hard day’s work, cycled to the surrounding villages, distributing gospel tracts and holding open-air meetings. They also visited Glasgow Royal Infirmary one Sunday in each month to sing to the patients. Sam was a good singer and could barely tolerate poor singing.

In November, 1922, he married Jessie McCartney, who was a native of Bellshill, and they made their home there, continuing to be of help in the assembly.

Then in 1926 came the General Strike in Britain. His brother-in-law, Mr David Craig, who was also out of work, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. When he returned to Scotland, he took with him Mr Thomas Wallace, who in turn invited Mr Lewis to pay a visit to Ireland. In time, when the strike had not ended, he obtained employment near Ahoghill. His wife then moved over to Northern Ireland and they made their home in Ahoghill for the next eight years. As before, all spare time was taken up in gospel work.

When, in 1933, he felt called of God to devote his whole time to preaching the gospel, with the full support of the assembly in Ahoghill he went to join Mr David Craig in County Fermanagh. God blessed their labours together for the next few years and assemblies were formed in Enniskillen and Ballinamallard. In 1934 he brought his wife and baby daughter to live in Ballinamallard.

For thirty-eight years, apart from two short visits to England and a few spells in his native Scotland, he spent his time preaching and visiting in the border counties of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. He preached in houses, barns, portable halls, and tents, most of the time far from the beaten track and quite often alone.

An overseer from a large assembly was holidaying in County Donegal; he thought he would try and find brother Lewis. In a lonely isolated area, he saw the portable hall; approaching it he saw a shirt on the hedge to dry and inside was the pioneer evangelist. Returning home the overseer said, "It will all come out in the morning". What revelations there will be!

He had the joy of seeing souls saved and added to assemblies, although some lived too far away to be able to attend regularly. He seldom spoke at conferences, as he did not consider that was his "line". He believed he was primarily an evangelist. But, being well taught in the Scriptures, he helped as often as possible in Bible Readings, and gave wise counsel in the homes of the saints. He seldom read books; his Bible was really his only book. He also had a world-wide interest in the work of the Lord and regularly kept in touch with many of the Lord’s servants abroad.

Those with whom he shared in the gospel included Mr D Craig, Mr John Finegan, Mr Robert Beattie, Mr Robert Peacock, Mr James G Hutchinson, Mr Reginald Jordan, and Mr Sam Patterson. It was when he and Mr Jordan were preaching in Markethill, County Armagh that he became suddenly ill in February, 1970, necessitating his removal to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where he underwent major surgery. In answer to much prayer the Lord raised him up again, and although his movements were somewhat restricted he was engaged in preaching the gospel on most Sunday evenings, and helping in Bible Readings.

Just two months after his surgery, his wife also had major surgery, from which she never fully recovered, and went to be with the Lord on 22nd November, 1970. Her funeral took place on their 48th wedding anniversary. He missed her much, but, with typical resignation, accepted this to be the Lord’s will.

In the summer of 1971 he ventured to engage in a spell of gospel meetings in a tent in the village of Convoy, County Donegal, with Mr Sam Patterson. Those meetings continued for six weeks and they had the joy of seeing two twelve year old girls trust the Saviour just as the meetings finished.

On 24th September, 1971, he had just returned home after posting some letters, when he suffered a massive coronary and passed suddenly into the presence of the Lord. His funeral from the Gospel Hall in Omagh, where he and his wife and daughter had gone to live in 1966, was very large with many being unable to get into the hall. Those who shared in the services were four of his closest friends and fellow-labourers – Mr John Grant, Mr Robert Beattie, Mr James G Hutchinson, and Mr Reginald Jordan.

Sam Lewis was a humble-minded man, who never sought recognition from men, or place of any kind. A transparent brother, he was happy to live in a simple way, a careful steward of what God entrusted to him. To a friend who said, "Why don’t you change your car?", he replied, "I could, but I think of my missionary brethren and try to help them".

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