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Whose faith follow: Mr G Harold German (1904-1990)

M Brown

Harold German was born at Bridford, a village in Devon, on 10th February, 1904. He was the youngest of a family of ten boys and two girls and was converted at the age of ten. His mother died when he was only eighteen months old and his father was left to bring up that large family. He worked hard in the fields, and his earnings in the early part of the century were meagre. He was nevertheless a stalwart Christian who had a remarkable conversion and was a living testimony to what salvation can do in rescuing people from the gutter of sin. In the evenings, exhausted though he was after a day’s toil, he was never too tired or too busy to conduct family worship. As a result of the prayers of both parents, the whole family was converted.

Throughout his long life, Harold German never lost his lovely Devonshire accent. When he first left school, he worked in the fields like his father for a time, then at 16 he moved to Exeter where he worked in a transport business founded by some of his brothers. Here he continued for the next four years.

An evangelist arrived on the Exeter scene with a large tent in the early summer of 1924. The tent seated 2,000 and young Harold helped in this gospel campaign. Up till then he had little or no experience of preaching, but he came to be a considerable asset in personal work and was instrumental in pointing many souls to Christ. The tent was packed every night and great blessing resulted.

When the campaign was over, the evangelist suggested to Harold that he might like to accompany him as he moved on for the rest of the summer season, this time at Derby. Harold asked his brothers for leave of absence from his employment and was told to go on to Derby. He was assured that his job, driving a steam wagon, would be kept open for him. The evangelist next invited Harold to labour with him during the winter months, which he also did. As a result, he never went back to his steam lorry in Exeter. Harold had begun to preach and found he was able to communicate with audiences. This was but the beginning of days for him because, as the years rolled onward, he was to undertake the role of preacher responsible for gospel tent campaigns in many different towns and villages up and down the land during more than forty summer seasons.

In many parts of the country, the name of Harold German was inextricably linked with that of Fred Whitmore, an evangelist of the same age group. They were co-workers in a number of gospel campaigns over the next few years, and their labours were greatly blessed. They were instrumental in planting a chain of assemblies at that time, particularly in Yorkshire. The two young men first met at St Albans in 1925. Harold had been praying for a fellow-worker to accompany him in Yorkshire. Fred Whitmore wrote to say that he would be happy to join him in the Yorkshire tent. They joined forces at Ossett in 1926. It was apparently a lovely summer; crowds thronged the tent and there were many conversions. There was a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit, and on the last Saturday of the campaign, when a baptismal service was held in a hall in Bradford, two special coaches were reserved on the train and these were packed to capacity. For the next few years they laboured in various parts of the country, including Yorkshire again, which seems to have been a favoured field of service.

In 1929, they bought a motor caravan to facilitate travel, provide them with ready-made accommodation, and enable them to engage more readily in open-air preaching. This vehicle proved to be a useful resource, taking them to Wales and Northern England. Eventually, they made it to Scotland, campaigning first in Central Scotland in the slums of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Then, in 1930, they conducted a series of gospel meetings in a tent in Aberdeen and, eventually, found their way to Inverurie, sixteen miles north of Aberdeen, for a further six weeks of gospel meetings.

At Inverurie they met two young ladies who were close friends. Each preacher married one of them in 1932 and each evangelist conducted the marriage ceremony of the other. For the first three years of their marriage, Mrs German accompanied her husband on his many journeys throughout the country. Harold became increasingly well known as an evangelist and spearheaded many series of gospel meetings in different parts of the land, as far apart as Aberdeen, London, and Devon. In the course of his many labours, he saw much blessing.

At the outbreak of World Ward II Mr & Mrs German settled for a time in Kinross in order to be nearer to the central belt of Scotland where there were many assemblies, large and small. In 1943, they lived for a while in Port Glasgow. A facet of his many labours was a period when he worked among troops in the south of England before they embarked for Normandy. His family back in Scotland saw little of him at that time as security was very tight and he had to live in the staging camps. He was allowed home only between the departure of one group and the arrival of the next.

At the end of hostilities, Harold and his family moved back to Inverurie and then in 1956 to Aberdeen. He continued to be very active until well past the normal age of retirement and in his later years kept busy in the Lord’s service both in the homeland and in Canada and America. He used to say in gratitude that in over half a century of active service he had never once had to cancel a meeting because of illness, a remarkable testimony to the enabling power of God.

Mr & Mrs German’s last home was just outside Inverurie and even from there, in his seventies, he would travel the best part of 100 miles each way to take meetings on a Sunday. Eventually, failing health on the part of both led to their taking up residence in Summerhill Eventide Home, Aberdeen. Mrs German passed away in 1988, and Harold two years later. On 13th June, 1990, he entered the Lord’s near presence. He showed what God could do in a life committed to His service and left a challenge and stimulus for those who followed.

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