Mr Albert McAuley, Home Mission Work (1977-2006)

A Tribute to Mr. Albert McAuley

By Rev. David Park

Esteemed Elder and Beloved Brother in Christ

Serving the Lord in The Home Mission (1977 – 2006) Albert was a founder member of the Free Presbyterian Church in Cabra which was officially constituted on Saturday, 23rd June, 1951.  No man, perhaps, was more involved in Church life, serving his Lord and Saviour, than this dear man of God.  Faithful elder, door-to-door evangelist, open air preacher, Mission Board member, Bible Class leader and Sabbath School Superintendent for 50 years – Albert was all this, and much more. He was one of the most godly men I have ever met in my entire ministry.  An elder among elders, many sought his wise and invaluable counsel, and looked up to him as a lovely servant of God.  As a personal worker, he had the privilege of pointing many souls to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many will meet him at God’s right hand as a result of his faithful and fervent endeavours.  We salute him highly in the Lord for his work’s sake. When Albert went to be with the Lord on 14th April 2006, after his trying illness, I had the privilege of preaching at his funeral service.  The Lord laid upon my heart a lovely verse of Scripture which was so fitting for Albert McAuley – ‘Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?’ (2 Samuel 3:38).  The question was put to the people of Israel by King David concerning Abner, the former commander-in-chief of Saul’s army.  The situation and conditions were different, but there are striking parallels which can be made, which reminded us why Albert was indeed ‘a great man.’

He was a great man, first of all, because he was SAVED.  What are great men?  Men of power? Or position? Or influence? Or wealth?  No!  Those whom God makes great through His Son.  There is not a greater standing in the whole world than that standing which brings a man into Christ, and causes him to ‘sit together in Heavenly places;’ that standing which unites a son of Adam’s race to the Son of God, the second Adam.  Albert had this standing.  There was a day when he was converted to Jesus Christ and saved by sovereign grace

Albert was great because he was a SOUL-WINNING man.  He lived to this end.  He longed to see the lives of others transformed by the mighty power of the Gospel.  What took him to the Diamond in Ballymoney for over 50 years?  What brought him around the coast on a day of open airs annually, when ten gospel services were conducted?  What led him to the doors of our town and district to reach the lost for the Saviour? – It was an intense burden and throbbing passion for those who were in their sins, without God and hope in this world, and in the world to come.  God was pleased to grant him his heart’s desire.  Many souls will meet him on the Fair Shores of the Heavenly Canaan because of his faithful witness.  They will thank God for that day when Albert McAuley knocked their door and introduced them to Christ.

He was also great because he was a SUPPLICATING man.  Albert was a man of prayer!  He knew God.  The secret to Albert’s life was his communion with God.  ‘The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.’  He was a man of the closet, shutting himself alone with God in the secret place.  No wonder God used him in such a remarkable way.  The Prayer Meeting of the Church was a chief concern of this dear man.  He never missed a Prayer Meeting; he never failed to pray.  I am glad that Albert prayed for this preacher – I often felt the benefit of his intercessions.

Furthermore, Albert was great due to the fact that he was a SPIRIT-FILLED man.  He believed in the power of the Holy Spirit.  He believed in the promise of the Father.  He believed in what Jesus said: ‘Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…’  He claimed the promise of God and went forth to serve God with this holy anointing from above.  None can deny the reality of this spirit-filled man who lived a life of godliness and holiness, and who had the divine unction of God permeating every part of his being. Finally, he was a great man because he was a SUBMISSIVE man.  Albert submitted himself to the will of God in everything.  There are many experiences and situations that I could mention through which Albert passed during the 75 years of his life – troubles, trials and tribulations.  Some we know about, others he wrestled with alone.  But, I suppose, the one great affliction that stepped into his life unexpectedly and inexplicably, was the bodily affliction and disease that eventually claimed his life, Motor Neurone.  He battled with this illness for a year.  It eventually led to him being deprived of a gift that he used to the utmost in God’s service – his voice, the ability to speak.  Not one of us could understand the dark shadow which cast itself over Albert’s life, but it was indeed a dark shadow of divine providence.  The true Christian understands that nothing happens in this life by chance.  ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.’  God is sovereign in all His doings.  He sends and permits things that we do not fully understand – and chronic disease is one of them.  What do we do in such times?  We do what Jesus did – ‘Not my will, but Thine be done’ He said.  We recognise that God’s ways are higher than our ways; His ways are wise and perfect.  We seek by the grace of God to get to that place where the patriarch Job got to, when he said: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’  Only a great man, a good man, a godly man, could utter such words of absolute submission.  This was Albert McAuley.  Never once did He question why God allowed his illness.  Never once did he have wrong thoughts about God, or point the finger at the Lord in blame.  No, he submitted in humble resignation.

Now he has gone; this great man, this loved one and friend that we have been privileged to know.  We thank God for him; every precious memory that we have, those thoughts which will live on in our memories till the end of our journey here on earth.  That journey will end one day for us all.  The great question that remains is: ‘Will you meet Albert again?  Will you join him in that great throng in Glory where all is bliss for evermore on that happy, golden shore?’

The following is an article taken from our history book ‘From Vision to Victory’ which gives an account of the ministry of our dear brother Albert McAuley who laboured for almost 30 years as a door-to-door evangelist and open air preacher in the local congregation.

"Sure Albert could talk to anyone."

These are the words commonly used by many people in the Ballymoney district and further afield to emphasize the gift Mr. Albert McAuley has for engaging people in conversation easily.

One of Mr. McAuley's earliest converts was Miss Patsy Torrens (now Mrs. Wesley McDowell). Patsy and her friend accepted a lift from Mr. McAuley at Ballymena. Soon the conversation turned to the things of God and the need to be saved. From that time onwards the Holy Spirit began to work in Miss Torrens' life and in April 1970 she accepted Christ.

Mr. McAuley traces his call to door-to-door work to a Harvest Thanksgiving service in Ballymoney Free Presbyterian Church in 1976 where Dr. Bob Jones (Junior) was the preacher. He was sitting in the creche of the church minding his son, Nigel.

As Dr. Jones talked, he told the story of a convicted murderer facing execution. He was visited by the prison chaplain, who told him how Christ had died for him and how he could have his sins forgiven. The convict said, "If I believed what you say you believe, I would spend the rest of my life crawling over broken glass to tell men and women about Jesus." Through these words God spoke to Mr. McAuley about the great need of spreading the Gospel. A mission conducted by Rev. Kenneth Elliott followed the Harvest weekend. At the conclusion of the mission Rev. Cairns met the Church session to discuss the possibility of someone doing visitation and door-to-door work. Mr. McAuley recalls that the moment this was mentioned, his heart began to thump so loudly that he thought someone would hear it. A decision was made to pray about the matter and then meet again in a month's time. At the next meeting there were no firm resolutions but Mr. Norman Taylor spoke, suggesting that "maybe there is someone here who could do the work."

Mr. McAuley continued to be burdened for the unsaved. One day, while working in a field near Limavady, he told the Lord that, if He wanted him to leave the contracting business to go to talk to people about their soul's salvation, then he was willing to go. At that moment he experienced great peace and sought the Lord for guidance. The problem he faced was that he was in partnership with his brother, Samuel. Having decided to go to talk to Rev. Cairns about the difficulty, the thought came to his mind of doing two days a week. Mr. Cairns was very happy with this arrangement. Mr. McAuley sought the Lord for further guidance and found it in Jeremiah Chapter 1, verses 17-19: "Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee." When the matter was brought to the Session, they were in full agreement with the door-to-door visitation taking place twice weekly.

Mr. McAuley commenced the work on 1st February,1977. When the devil tried to discourage him, God's Word from II Corinthians Chapter 4 verse 7 was a real comfort: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us."

He recalls that his first visit was to the home of a Christian lady whose daughter was unsaved. While he talked he invited them to the Sunday evening Gospel service, and they came, as did others from that housing estate. Some of them came to know the Lord.

In the early months the work was mainly centred in Ballymoney. Mr. McAuley visited every house, irrespective of religion and this included the ministers and priests. He also visited many sick people of all denominations in hospital and had the joy of pointing many to the Saviour.

Another aspect of his ministry was to encourage people, whose children did not normally attend Sunday School, to send their little ones along. As a result of this, the Sunday School increased greatly.

Mr. McAuley continued to go out two days a week for eleven years until God spoke to him about full-time service through Philippians Chapter 3 verse 13: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind.." and Luke Chapter 9 verse 60: "But go thou and preach the kingdom of God." He wound up the business and commenced full-time on 1st February,1988.

One of the first calls was to a man who was ill. As he was in the contracting business, a conversation was soon started. The man testified to having listened to Mr. McAuley preaching in the open-air meeting at the Diamond in Ballymoney on the subject of Hell. As they talked the man acknowledged that he was not saved, that he lived a rough life and had no time for church attendance. After explaining the way of salvation, Mr. McAuley had the joy of pointing him to Christ.

Later in that year, at the September Presbytery meeting, Mr. McAuley was appointed as a representative to serve on the Free Presbyterian Church Mission Board, a position he still holds to the present day.

On occasions Mr. McAuley has been asked to meet Jehovah's Witnesses and has spent hours refuting their doctrines. It has been a source of great joy to him when those who were adherents to this teaching have turned to accept Christ.

He has also spent a lot of time in evangelism in Mosside, Ballycastle and Rathlin Island . The visits to Rathlin have been fairly frequent. The Lord has given him favour with the people and they have welcomed him into their homes. Children's Bibles have been placed in many homes and Mr. McAuley has built up a unique relationship with the residents of the Island .

When asked if his work is difficult, Mr. McAuley says that humanly speaking it is, but when the Lord goes before, that makes all the difference. His zeal for the Lord's work is evident.

"I wish I could convince young people that no pleasure in the world can be compared with the joy of the Lord's presence. The secret of this is to give your life fully to the Lord."

May the Lord spare him for many more years so that he can go forth and lift up Jesus to the gaze of a perishing world.