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Whose faith follow: Mr Thomas R McCullagh (1905-1968)

Mr McCullagh was born at Mucklagh, Drum, County Monaghan in 1905, one of a family of seven. His mother died when he was seven; his father and older sister cared for him.

On leaving school he joined the police force. One day, while he was on duty, a tea salesman asked him, "Is your soul saved? Are you a Christian?", to which Tom replied, "Of course I’m a Christian", at which the salesman said, "You are on the road to hell and don’t know it!" Tom said he wished he had never seen that man, for his words kept ringing in his ears and he could get no rest day or night.

About that time a tent was pitched about six miles from where he lived and Mr W Rodgers of Omagh and Mr G D Alexander started gospel meetings. After six weeks the tent was erected in another area and the meetings continued another seven weeks. When the last night came, Tom said he had learned he was on the way to hell and was in intense misery.

That night in his bedroom he tried to pray using the Lord’s Prayer. He confessed he only got as far as "Thy kingdom come" when God seemed to stop him, and all he could do was to cry out, "God be merciful to me a sinner". Opening his Bible, his attention was taken up with John 3.14. When telling his conversion story, he said, "For the first time in my life I saw that Christ was lifted up for me. I believed it and was saved at 9.30 pm on 25th October, 1923". Later he was baptised in the Brookeborough River.

Early in his Christian life he had a real desire to reach others with the gospel, a desire that remained as long as life lasted. He had an unsaved brother in New York so, in 1924, he crossed to the USA. He used to tell how the brethren in Ireland gave him a letter to "New York or elsewhere". Arriving in that great city he said, "This is New York, but where is elsewhere?" He walked the streets until he found a building with the text outside, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst". "This is it now", said he, "I have found elsewhere".

In 1930 he moved on to Nebraska, where he obtained employment. He worked by day and with Mr Roger Greer, another original Irishman, preached in homes and schools in the evenings. God blessed His word and souls were saved. In 1931, at the invitation of Mr Chambers, he went to Denver and joined Mr John Walden in various parts of Colorado, where again God put His seal upon the efforts and lasting results were seen.

Moving on he preached on the Kansas prairies and in Arkansas, where Miss Florence King of Sturgis, Michigan was serving the Lord. They became engaged and were married in November, 1934. In 1936, the assembly in New York known as "73rd Street" commended our brother to full-time service. It would seem a wise course to follow: to let a man prove himself and see God’s hand with him, then to encourage him and extend full and hearty commendation.

He made his home in Springfield, Missouri, where, in fellowship with John Elliott, he laboured and was greatly used of God. In 1948, he and Mr L Lindsted had a time of blessing in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Tom felt that it would be wise to move there and help the young Christians. In about a year, he saw an assembly formed. This became his home base until the end of life. For a period after the disease which led to his death was discovered, he was weak and unable to travel or preach, but his gospel zeal was unabated. The very large funeral was an indication of the esteem in which he was held.

How God’s grace works. A simple unknown Irish youth was saved and used of God so wonderfully: God’s ways are "past finding out".

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