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Whose faith follow: Mr Robert Love (1885-1979)

J G Hutchinson, Belfast

Robert Love was born into a farming family in County Armagh. All his life he had many of the characteristics of a "son of the soil", characteristics which he never tried to lose. He was saved when he was nineteen years of age. He often told how, standing in a field, he took it in that Christ had died for his sins. Then and there he entered his "place of worship" and thanked God for the death of Christ. When ministering to the saints regarding Church position, he would say, "They tell you to stay where you get the blessing". (By that he meant whatever denomination his listeners were in.) He would go on, "If I had, I would have been standing in the field yet!!"

He was baptised and received into the assembly, and early showed a real love for the gospel and the salvation of others. After a good deal of preaching in his spare time, at twenty-nine years of age he stepped out into full-time gospel ministry. Dr W J Matthews and Mr J R Diack both took a keen interest in him, and frequently in later years he warmly testified to the great help these men had been to him.

Many of his earlier years were spent in pioneer work in the Irish Republic and in the border areas of Ulster. This could be a lonely occupation. He knew what it was to endure hardness, living in the tent and doing all his own cooking etc. An esteemed elder in a County Down assembly, travelling in the South, looked into the tent and found the young man cooking an egg on an upturned bucket. There were no conveniences, very little money, and few to encourage, but he was happy and God blessed his earnest labours.

A very fruitful season of meetings at Newtownhamilton deserves special mention. Such was the weakness and lack of blessing, the few saints were considering closing the hall, when, uninvited and unknown, Mr Love arrived. He commenced meetings, and God worked in a wonderful way, saving souls and building up the assembly.
Sixty-five years of full time preaching took him over very many parts of his island home and repeatedly God guided, used and blessed His servant. Many were saved and established in divine things, some going on to be assembly leaders in Ireland and elsewhere. He was a unique man, original in thought and expression, very intelligent and well taught in the Scriptures, strong in his convictions and with a very high degree of integrity.
He was a big man physically, and with a kind, sincere attitude sought to promote peace and unity amongst God's people. Decidedly clear as to his assembly position, he had no time for division, or "the cutting off" of assemblies. He was friendly and kind to all.

In gospel preaching he excelled at making "Man's way of Salvation" appear ridiculous, such as, when he described Jeremiah in the pit and the efforts to get him out: "Wait, Jeremiah, I will sprinkle you; now say the Lord's prayer after me. Here Jeremiah, is the Communion, take that and you will be all right". In ministry he often described a little man coming out of Corinth with case and coat in hand. "Where are you going, Paul?". "I've left the brethren; they are not doing well". Then, applying the lesson, he showed that Paul did not leave, but sought to correct and in large measure was successful. This he believed was the mind of God.

For many years he lived in Bangor and was in fellowship in the Central Hall Assembly. It was in this hall that his large funeral service was conducted, when his fellow labourers T McKelvey and J G Hutchinson gave suitable messages, with D L Craig and S Jennings taking part in prayer. The large hall was filled to overflowing. Many from all over the province came to pay respects to a loved and loyal servant of the Lord.

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