Mrs Lily Armstrong (née Orr) of Laganvale Assembly, Belfast, aged 86, was called home on 19th November. Born in Dublin and saved as a girl of 10 while attending meetings conducted by Mr Harold Wildish, she was baptised and received into fellowship in Merrion Hall. She married William (Bill) Armstrong in 1950 and they were founder members, in 1957, of the Ranelagh Assembly (now Rathmines). In 1960 they moved to Northern Ireland and were in fellowship in the Edenderry Assembly until 1978 when they moved to the Ormeau Road Assembly (now Laganvale) where they remained until Bill's homecall in December, 1994. They had the joy of seeing all their family of 5 boys and 1 girl saved before he was called home. Lily always maintained an interest in the Lord's work, faithfully supporting her husband in his labours in the gospel as an evangelist, and seeking to encourage many others in the work over the years. Due to failing health, she moved to Faith House in 2014 and was there until her homecall. Her funeral, from Laganvale Hall, taken by J Matthews, S Graham, J Wishart, M Wishart and E Dover, was large and representative of the regard in which she and her late husband were held.
Mr Peter Brandon, one of the most gifted evangelists associated with assemblies, was called into the Lord's presence on 1st December, 2015, aged 90.
Peter was born in the East End of London in 1925. His mother and older sister were already Christians. His father did not become a believer until much later when Peter led him to the Lord. Peter came to personal faith in the Lord Jesus, when he was 12 years old, through Romans 10.13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". Not surprisingly, that text became one of Peter's favourites. He preached from it at one of his last Gospel Meetings in May, 2015 at Kennoway. Peter was privileged to see some people saved during that series.
Peter served in the Royal Navy during and immediately after the Second World War. When he was 19, he first preached at Hyde Park Corner in his Navy uniform. During a spell of duty en-route to South Africa he saw some of his shipmates saved, and on arrival he was greatly used. In the late 1940s he launched out into full time work with the whole-hearted support of his first wife Gwen. They served together, looking to the Lord for the supply of their daily needs. Peter and Gwen had two sons, Andrew and Philip, and five grandchildren. After some years as a widower, Peter married Janice in 2013 and came to live in Perth, Scotland.
Peter's early ministry was in the East Midlands where he saw an assembly planted. His gift as an evangelist soon opened doors for him throughout the UK. He had memorable meetings in many towns and cities in all four of the home countries. Later, his ministry took him to South Africa, Canada, the USA and Australia. He continued his overseas visits until 2013.
Peter was a compelling preacher. He preached with clarity and conviction, and with power and passion. On many occasions he led evangelistic teams and was a tremendous encourager of young Christians - he continued encouraging younger believers until within days of his homecall. Peter was unconventional in his personality and, sometimes, his methods of evangelism were equally unconventional. He would go to where people were, to spread the word to thousands over his life of service.
Peter's longing was to see renewal and revival. He yearned to see a return to first love. Peter's Christianity was authentic and his ministry sustained by a committed life of prayer.
Peter Brandon leaves us a rich spiritual legacy. He emphasised the preaching of a definite Biblical gospel. He stressed the need for a true experience of the power and grace of the Holy Spirit in personal and assembly life. A great theme of his ministry to believers was that we could not follow the New Testament pattern without New Testament power. May God raise up many more committed evangelists like Peter Brandon.
Mrs Sarah (Sadie) Hamilton, aged 96, was called home on 5th December. Born in Co. Fermanagh, Sadie's early years of married life were spent in Derry city. There she and her husband Tom heard the gospel preached by John Hutchinson and Sam Moore, and on one memorable evening, unknown to each other, both placed saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were baptised and received into fellowship in the East Wall hall in Derry, and after returning to Co Fermanagh became faithful members of the Enniskillen Assembly. Sadie had a difficult life, firstly in managing a small farm and caring for their two young children, while Tom was hospitalised for many months in Belfast. Later she had to come to terms, not only with the homecall of her husband, but also with the untimely death of her step-brother, murdered by terrorists. She was predeceased by her son and daughter, both dying when middle-aged. In spite of all her hardships, Sadie's faith never wavered. Her latter years were spent in the Omagh district where she enjoyed happy fellowship with the saints in the assembly there. Following her passing, her remains were laid to rest in Co. Fermanagh beside those of her late husband, to await the return of her Lord.
Mrs Eileen Lowe, aged 87, was called home on 14th November. She was born and brought up in Belfast and on leaving school went to work in the local mill. She married her husband, Billy, in 1954. Two years later, they emigrated to the USA, where they remained until returning to Northern Ireland in 1968. In 1975 they again went to North America, this time to Canada. It was in 1994 that Eileen, realising her need of salvation, put her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1996 her husband passed away. Eileen met with the believers in London, Ontario and, on her return to Northern Ireland in 2003, she was commended to the assembly at Kingsmoss where she remained until her homecall. She had a great love for the Lord, the believers and the assembly and consistently attended meetings when her health permitted. She had a broad smile which was often seen in meetings when she was listening to the gospel or ministry of the Word. She loved to encourage speakers and others engaged in the Lord's work. She spent much time in praying for believers and unsaved ones and was kind and generous to all. The funeral service was shared by M Coffey, S Jennings, P McClarty and S McGowan. Prayer is requested for her son Alan, his wife and son.
Miss Maisie Poots, in her 90th year, was called home peacefully on 12th December, having been in a care home for a few years. Our sister was saved in meetings in Dollingstown in 1945, when Harold Paisley and her father were preaching the gospel, and was thus seventy years in Christ. She was first to be saved at that series, along with many others who trusted the Saviour at that time. She was received into Lurgan Assembly shortly afterwards, and remained a very valued member. She was greatly interested in missionary work and sent many parcels to the continent of Africa. Prayer is requested for the next generation that they may know our sister's Saviour. Her funeral was from Lurgan Gospel Hall and was conducted by J Rogers and local brethren.
Mr Harold Spurgeon Paisley, evangelist, minister of the Word and servant of the Lord, went to be with Christ on 4th December, 2015, in his 92nd year, in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, in 1924, he was a veteran of World War II, serving first in the RAF during the Battle of Britain and then with the Merchant Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic. He also served briefly in the Royal Ulster Constabulary towards the end of the war.
In 1944, while in Belfast, he experienced a remarkable conversion following a road accident in which a man standing next to him was killed. Through the counsel of a friend who pointed him to the words of John 3.16, he trusted Christ as his Saviour. He soon became a powerful and compelling preacher of the gospel and in 1945, aged only 21, was commended to full time ministry by the Wellington Street Assembly in Ballymena. In 1946 he married Rosetta Hagan from Gracehill, Ballymena, who was, remarkably, born on the same day in 1924 as her husband. In 1966 the Paisley family emigrated to Canada where Harold continued his preaching ministry.
Harold was pre-eminently an evangelist and many souls were brought to Christ through his preaching, particularly in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the USA. His ministry also took him to England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Oman. For over 60 years he preached in halls and public venues, and was involved in some 70 Gospel Tent series. He was also a most acceptable Bible teacher and his ministry was a blessing to Christians around the world. He will be remembered too for his thoughtful and effective pastoral support. Throughout his travels he visited homes and hospitals to bring comfort and encouragement to those who were unwell or under pressure. He was also much in demand to conduct weddings and funerals.
In addition, Harold wrote a number of books, mainly about Bible characters, including one entitled This Jesus which encapsulated the faith that guided his life and preaching. He was also a regular contributor to Assembly magazines, particularly Truth and Tidings in North America. In 2005 his commending Assembly, now Cambridge Avenue Gospel Hall, marked the 60th anniversary of his ministry with an evening of thanksgiving, in which a number of brethren who had been greatly influenced by his preaching paid moving tributes to his impact on their lives.
Please remember Rosetta, his wife of 69 years, who never wavered in her support of her husband and is now in failing health, his sons Kenneth and Harold, his daughters Ruth and Linda, and their respective families, at this time of loss. Their sorrow is lightened by the certain hope that the parting is only "until He come".