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Whose faith follow: Mr Lewis Henry Tranter (1881-1976)

Lewis Henry Tranter was born in a small village near Ammanford in West Wales - a Welsh speaking part of the Principality. His father was stationmaster at Tirydial. When he left school he was apprenticed to an ironmonger in the Rhondda Valley but soon moved on to work in a large department store in Swansea.

As early as the beginning of his working life young Tranter heard the gospel, but it took him some time to accept it in all its simplicity. He was a regular chapel-goer and attended a young men's prayer meeting on Sunday mornings, but he was not saved. It was probably three years after he was first awakened that he actually trusted the Saviour. He was standing behind the counter in the drapery department of the store when the question occurred to him, "Where would you go if God called you into eternity?". He answered himself, "Well, I hope to go to heaven". "But", he thought, "If you are only hoping, you are going to hell, for all who are on the road to heaven know it". That led him to confess, "I am going to hell and deserve to be there". As soon as he said that God spoke to him through, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11.28). Young Tranter replied, "No, I am too vile; I am not worthy to come to Thee". To this God replied, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn 6.37). Tranter responded, "If that is so, I will come". He walked down into a dark corner of a cellar, fell on his knees and said, "O God, I am a poor, guilty, and lost sinner, but I thank Thee that Thou hast loved me and given Thy Son to die for me on Calvary's cross. Thou dost say in Thy word that if I believe now, Thou wilt wash me in the precious blood of Jesus from all my sins. O God, I believe, and I thank Thee that Thou hast blotted out all my sins. I thank Thee for salvation. Give me grace to live for Thee".

When still under twenty he left Wales for London to take a job and serve the Lord among the down-and-outs. The night before his journey he spent in prayer that God would supply money for the following night's lodging. A letter in the post in the morning provided him with more than enough - £4 - and off he went.

While in London he became burdened about his family back home. He left his employment and returned to Ammanford and saw his parents and three sisters won for the Lord. He even saw the minister of the local chapel, Natlais Williams, and his wife brought into the assurance of salvation.

For the next 72 years Lewis Tranter evangelised mostly in his beloved Wales whose language he spoke fluently. He worked in a Bible carriage and a tent in many parts. Those first years were years of revival but he worked faithfully in the leaner years that followed. Mr. Tranter, speaking of the revival years, often spoke of sitting in meetings and feeling the wind of the Spirit sweeping through the company present. He saw a number of assemblies planted.

In the 1920s he moved to West Buckland, Somerset for a short time and saw some blessing, but his heart was in Wales. Relative to agricultural Somerset he said, "Cabbages and carrots don't have souls". From Somerset he arrived at Hengoed and saw the Lord's hand in salvation to such an extent that an assembly was planted. It began in the stable belonging to the local doctor, but later transferred to a hall built by the brethren.

From Hengoed he turned to Cardiff and then to the Welsh Valleys, preaching in Welsh or English in accordance with the appropriateness of each. His was a direct preacher and he himself was a character. He would say, "You are either going to hell on Welsh religion or to heaven by the blood of Christ". But he still believed in being kindly, remarking that "If you make a friend of a man you have got half of him". He would conclude a meeting by praying, "Let's give the devil a smack in the eye by singing 'Praise God from all blessings flow'". His love for souls has hardly been surpassed.

He was a man of the Book. It was after his homecall that the record was found that between 1904 and 1951 he had read the entire Bible through fifty times. All of this came out in his own preaching. His advice to those who would minister the Word was, "Keep the food low. The Lord's people are sheep not giraffes".

He was a man of prayer. He gave the impression of being completely at home in the Lord's presence. He talked about entering into the presence of God without knocking the door or turning the knob. He constantly said, "Prayer changes things".

His later years were spent in the Welsh Valleys supporting the smaller assemblies, many of which he had helped at their commencement. He was also adept at contacting those whom he met while travelling by bus or train. Out walking he gave out gospel tracts. His desire was to finish with his boots on.

In all he spent over seventy years in the Lord's service. He shunned publicity, and shortly before he died he instructed his wife to destroy all the records he had kept of his life. This explains the scantiness of our story.

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