Whose faith follow: Mr A T Stewart (1885-1977)
Mr Stewart was born in November, 1885 in an area known as Plumbridge, County Tyrone. He was the youngest of thirteen. His family was of the old strict Presbyterian type, who feared God and reverenced His Word, it being read daily in the home. Sad to say this kind of home is becoming rare in this careless ungodly age. Despite such an environment, he was for years unaware of his condition before God and his need of salvation.
Conditions generally in those days were far from good; employment was difficult to obtain and money was scarce. To many the United States of America appeared as a "land of corn and wine"; it certainly was good to many, and some of the immigrants contributed greatly to its progress. This being so there was a large measure of gospel and assembly activity. Many gospellers and assembly leaders had their origins in "the Emerald Isle"; Archie was one of them.
He was eighteen when he arrived in Philadelphia, and it was while he was there that he read a gospel pamphlet, entitled "Good tidings to the anxious". God used it to his salvation. For a while he was in Chicago and during that time he was baptised in the Moody Memorial Church; later he moved to Detroit. Whilst happy in salvation and having obeyed the Lord in the matter of baptism, he was not at rest. He was seeking a spiritual home, realising that God never envisaged "nomadic" believers. Searching the Scriptures and looking around, he became convinced that he should identify himself with the saints who met in the Central Hall. While knowing they were not perfect as a people, nevertheless he was quite sure they were endeavouring to carry out New Testament Church principles.
He was employed for a time as a motorman on a street car in Detroit. After his marriage to Miss Anna Meinhart, the young couple took up farming near to Merlin, Ontario. While farming he was active in the areas around preaching the gospel he so dearly loved. In 1922 the assembly in Merlin commended him to the work of the Lord, in which he laboured diligently from coast to coast of North America for fifty-five years.
He was a strong and healthy man, well-suited for the rigours of pioneer work, of which he did a good deal in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan. His plain, hearty preaching reached many and, while he had no natural children, he had many spiritual children, as God blessed his preaching.
The home in Detroit was renowned for its hospitality; many of Gods people found cheer and refreshment from the kind hearts and hands of "Uncle Archie and Aunt Anna".
Mr Stewart was a faithful steward; a young evangelist who called to see him in Longport had a gift ready for him, but was forestalled. After prayer in Mr Stewarts room, before the young man could say anything, Mr. Stewart said, "Here, take that! I had it ready for you". He would in that practical way, encourage younger men to do what he had been doing for so long.
It was possibly due to the fact that God used a tract in his own conversion that he was fond of writing and distributing them. No doubt some, saved as a result of reading his tracts, he never heard of in this life but will meet in heaven. As well as being a successful evangelist, he had a shepherds heart and sought to care for and help the saints. Having found out Gods ways for himself, he sought to teach them to others. He could do so with freshness and power; his sense of wit and humour often enlivened a conference meeting.
The writer recalls hearing him speak at Bryn Mawr conference on Romans 13.11. He described what some people did in their sleep; they snored, talked, and walked. In his own inimitable way, he applied this in his message and, while it certainly was humorous, it was also effective.
Late in life he made a visit to his native land, arriving almost unannounced. While the Christians in the Omagh, Plumbridge area welcomed him and arranged meetings, he was not really happy. All the family connections were scattered and not amongst assemblies, and with the passage of so many years all was changed. Mr Robert Beattie, himself an earnest and highly-esteemed evangelist, showed him much kindness and took him to a few conferences where he took part, but in a short time he returned to the United States of America.
Soon after Mrs Stewart died, he moved to the Gospel Home for the aged in Longport, from which he continued to help the east coast assemblies. He left there and for a few years lived in the West, in California, and Washington, where he again gave help, returning to Longport, from which he was called to his heavenly home on December 4th, 1977.
In the event of his death taking place, he had made arrangements for his funeral, like Joseph "who gave commandment concerning his bones". The funeral took place in Stark Road Gospel Hall, Detroit. Mr O McLeod and Mr R Surgenor were responsible for the service in the hall and Mr G Graham at the graveside.
Mr McLeod aptly said, "In the homecall of Mr A Stewart the world has lost a faithful witness, the church has lost a devoted and faithful minister of the Word, and we all have lost a beloved brother and friend".