The Prophecy of an Indian Chief
Our Spiritual Heritage and Triumphs of the Gospel in Manitoba
Last updated 4/9/2020 at 3:58pm
Along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg is a community of people of mixed nationality. At one time they knew nothing of the true gospel, nor had they any knowledge whatever of the Persons of the Godhead. Many years ago the writer, Robert McClurkin, was staying in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry George Thomas of Stoney Point, when Mr. Thomas told him the following story:
In the days of grandfather, there was an old Indian Chief who lived some distance to the north. He was greatly concerned about the moral and spiritual welfare of his people. He was one who feared God above many and lived a morally upright life.
At times he would gather his people together around a bonfire and would exhort them not to worship any part of God's creation, for there was a Creator behind it all who is alone to be worshiped. He pleaded with them to live uprightly and not to sin against the One who made them. He told them that God was a personal God. At present this God was the unknown God to them but he was firmly convinced that someday, someone would come into the district and tell them about this unknown God.
The old chief died. His faith was in the living God and he lived up to the light he had of God's revelation in creation (Psalm 19) and the human conscience, that monitor of right and wrong that God has placed in every human being. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).
Some time later, one of the locals, Willie Monkman, was going into the town of Selkirk to get two gallons of whisky to celebrate his fifth wedding anniversary. While he was in Selkirk, he heard about two preachers who were there preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He went to hear them and made their acquaintance. He invited them to go back with him to Balsam Bay, where he lived, to tell the people about the unknown God. The preachers, a Mr. Gough and Mr. Henry Varder, gathering that God had opened the door, went back with the man.
So instead of Willie Monkman returning with two gallons of whisky, he returned with two preachers!
God worked mightily in Balsam Bay and many turned to the Savior. Among the notable converts at that time were a Mr. and Mrs. Alec Anderson, their son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Henry George Thomas, and three Monkman brothers and their wives. Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson had the joy of seeing all their twelve children brought to the Lord! Later, Mr. and Mrs. Henry George Thomas had the joy of seeing eleven of their twelve children trust the Savior. These all became noble witnesses for God.
The Indian Chief's prophecy came true, that someone would come into the district and tell the people about the unknown God, the God of the Bible. At this time the writer was once again in the district, engaged in a gospel effort with David McCartney from Victoria, BC. We were staying in the old Thomas home at Stoney Point where their daughter, Florence (Mrs. Felix Paulson), with her good husband, have carried on the tradition of father and mother of entertaining people of God. Out in the fields nearby, flat stones still lie where Mrs. Thomas had placed them to kneel upon to pray while herding cows. Holy ground indeed where God heard and communed with a devoted soul.
Since then, the number of those who have been saved would run into the hundreds.
A Sequel by J.B.N.
In the 1970's we were back up in the same district in Manitoba, where Mr. McClurkin had been laboring, that place so rich in the memories of God's work and the faithfulness of those mothers and fathers who had prayed so earnestly for their children. We were visiting a few of the family members in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Pete Paulson (nee Thomas) and Mrs. Paulson related this story:
When they were young people, some of the cousins were out on the lake in a small sailboat. They were all saved except one cousin, Alan, who was an unbeliever. The small boat was becalmed on the lake and there was not a ripple of wind to fill the sail and take them back to shore.
Someone suggested they pray and ask God to send a wind to take them in.
"Oh," laughed cousin Alan, "I'll get your wind for you," and reaching into his pocket pulled out a penny, tossed it into the lake and called out to the devil to send a penny's worth of wind! Then he threw in another penny and laughed, "Make it two cents' worth."
Within fifteen minutes, related Mrs. Paulson, who was in the boat that day, a storm broke out over the lake and they were all terrified with the fierceness of the wind and felt sure they would perish. Mercifully, the Lord overruled, and they reached the shore-shaken but safe at last.
Many years passed and Alan, who had lived as an infidel all his life, was old and dying of lung cancer in Winnipeg. The family with whom we were visiting asked if I would visit him on our way through the city and try to speak with him about the Lord Jesus and his soul's deep need.
At last we found the home where he was living. The family in the north had committed themselves to pray while I was visiting him. My wife and friends stayed out in the car to pray also.
It was a sad sight, indeed. Old Alan gasped for every breath, and as I spoke to him about his urgent need and God's great provision for him, made available by faith in the Lord Jesus, his distress only seemed to increase, and I didn't know if he was really hearing me.
I reminded him of the "penny's worth of wind" incident, on the lake those many years ago.
"Yes," he gasped out, "I remember it well, and since that day my heart has been like a piece of wood." In obvious distress, he added, "Now I cannot believe."
The room seemed filled with such a sense of evil opposition I actually had to stop speaking. I said, "Alan, I'm going to have to pray and call on God to help us."
As I cried to God, in the Lord's Name for help, into my mind with utter clarity flashed the golden text: John 3:16.
Finishing my prayer, I said, "Alan, listen to this: listen as for eternity. I spoke each word slowly and deliberately, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
As I quoted those glorious words, they seemed to slice through the darkness like a sword and the opposition instantly fled.
Alan sat back in his chair, even his breathing seemed to be easier. "Well," he said, "if that's really what it means-I believe." He spoke out those words with surprising force, and added, "-and I am saved!"
After a few more words, and some prayer, I told Alan about his family praying for him up north at that very moment. I helped the old man to the telephone on the wall. I dialed the number. The ringing of the phone, they told me, broke into their prayers. Phyllis Paulson answered, I handed Alan the instrument, "I'm saved at last," he gasped into the phone.
What joy, what amazement, what tears of gratitude! The infidel cousin, "bound by Satan's captive chain," was free at last! The prayers, those many years ago, of his mother and father, now in the glory, the ongoing intercessions of loved ones and, oh! that wonderful, matchless love of God at last had come together in this miracle of grace. The gift of everlasting life for even such as Alan Thomas!
Yet he was no more lost than the most respectable unbeliever in the city. The Scriptures declare it, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Dear reader, is Alan's Savior, your Savior? If not, your need is as urgent and as desperate as was his. Even now, hear the words of that golden text, and as Alan did, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep His promise, "Thou shalt be saved."
Well, Alan's body was buried ten days later. That was close! But he lived long enough to witness some of his lost and unbelieving friends about the love of God that would not let him go, and the prayers of godly loved ones who would not give him up; prayers that followed him down the darkest realms of the prodigal's far country.
O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life, I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
From Counsel-November-December 1996
Robert McClurkin spent many years doing pioneer gospel preaching in northern Manitoba. He spread the gospel in the mining towns of Flin, Flon, Sheridan, and Gore Bay, Ontario. As he worked with Robert Booth in 1948, a number were saved in Gore Bay and the believers there formed Gore Bay Gospel Hall which still continues. He wrote numerous articles which were published in Uplook Magazine, Counsel Magazine (which he founded), The Word and Work, Precious Seed, Ministry in Focus, and Food for the Flock. He authored several books. McClurkin's ministry still lives on through the lives of those he led to Christ.