Willie and Elizabeth Jamieson Testimonies

Willie Jamieson's Testimony 1

When I first started in the work, I used to feel that I would get better as I went on in the way. After ten years, I felt if there was any change it was for the worse. This selfish greedy, human nature is always cleaving to the dust, and it will until you pass away. Many make the mistake of thinking we will improve as we go on. I did, too, but I don't now. I used to look into the lives of others who were, I thought, superior to me and felt they were better than me and wonder why was I made like I was, with the nature like some of the others. Have you ever reasoned like that?

There is a religion in California. I don't know if you have it out here, also. They teach that as you go on, you gradually have your Human Nature taken from you, just like drawing a tooth from the jawbone. No, it is not like that, we have this human nature as long as we live.

My father was a good man, he had no bad habits. He brought us up as he thought was right. But at the age of 20 years, I felt I was drifting. There was a stream through our property and after the rains, that water would rise and break its banks and spread out to the right or left hand side. I used to notice how the driftwood would all be carried down the stream. I remember feeling, "Your life is like that." You are not what you were last year and if you continue drifting in the way you have this year, by the time you are 40 years of age, if you live that long, your father will be ashamed of you.

I had, as they say, sown wild oats. I used to go out with the boys and each Saturday night we used to go to the public house. I purposed I would not go with them. My pals asked me every Saturday for a month, and made me feel a weakling. I purposed I would have nothing stronger than lemonade. I remember when I was in that place, thinking, if your father and mother could see you here, what would they think of you, but I put that thought in the back of my mind, thinking, that they were over 100 miles away. Then I remember another thought, "Your Father that is in Heaven, He can see you." That went on, I got past lemonade, and started taking wine and beer. I felt disgusted with myself and at last went to my father and confessed and asked him could he show me how to become a Christian. He said, "Well, I can tell you no more than I taught you as a child, why not go to the preacher?"

So I was miserable and unhappy and I decided to go to the preacher. Can you picture, just what that meant to me? As I walked up to that great Manse, the servant girl answered the door. She took me in and the preacher came in and I told him what I had come for, and he said, "God bless you, son, you are a Christian already." I said, "Well, why am I so miserable and unhappy?" He said, "Oh, that's because you have not joined the church." So I asked what should I do and he talked to me for a while and gave me some questions to learn and he told me to come back again.

So I went again for about half an hour and answered some questions. Then I was invited to church to the Lord's Supper and there I was invited into the church. So when I went on the Sunday morning the preacher was there, and the Twelve Elders of the church, my father, one, and eleven others. I was called to the front and asked my questions, then the preacher shook me by the hand and said, "I give you the hand of fellowship." After that the twelve elders shook my hand in fellowship, and one of them was a confirmed drunkard, two others would not speak to each other. They it was, who gave me the hand of friendship. I went home very glad, but by 24 hours I found I was no different, I found it was only a religious veneer. One thing it could not do for me, and that was, it could not stop me wanting to get to know God. I was so much in earnest that I used to get up at 3 am of a Sunday morning, and feed my sheep and walk 7 miles to church and walk back, because I felt that the preacher at that church might be able to do and tell me more than the preacher over the road. This went on for three years.

I was not a Shepherd now, I was in business, when a friend came and asked me if I'd like to go to some meetings. I said, "I don't know if I would or not," for I felt like I'd just about given up trying to find God. I'd read the Bible and hadn't got very far. I said, "What is the preacher like? Do you know anything about him?" He said ,"Well, I don't know very much, only that he has had plenty of money and when he asked himself what was the right way for a preacher to go out into the Ministry and tried to compare the different men who were preaching, when reading in the New Testament of the rich young man who came and asked that question of Jesus, he said, "Does that mean I will have to sell all that I have and give it to the poor?" Then he read where Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me." He felt that if that was God's way 2000 years ago, it's right for the 20th century and I want to go in that way."

I said, "This preacher sounds like Peter and John to me and I'll go and hear him." Three weeks later he called for me. The first thing that I looked at was the hymnbook. It contained the same kind of hymns, then I thought I would get a look at the preacher. There were 7 or 8 men on the platform, but I could not see a preacher among them. In Scotland, the preachers would have their collars turned back to front. I couldn't see a preacher among them and I said to the friend, "Have you made a fool of me?" Well, one of the men stood up and gave out a hymn. I stood up with the others and I sang with all my heart. Then the man stood up and said, "I wonder how many of you played the hypocrite, when you sang that hymn. Some of you sound the words but have no desire to make it practical. Now I will ask you to read through those words and we will sing it a second time. Now will any of you be honest enough, if he feels he can't sing those words from the heart, will you remain seated. Some of the words of that hymn went like this:

"Send me forth, O, Blessed Master, Where souls in sorrow bow, Send me forth to homes of want and homes of care, And with joy I will obey Thy call, And in Thy Blessed name, I will carry the light of the blessed Gospel there."

I said to myself, "No, you will not stand up." All the others got up and sang again but I sat there. But they were not all saved that stood up. After they sat down the preacher got up and said, "What I am about to say to you will make you angry, some of you will hate me for what I am going to say to you." I listened and listened and listened. After some time I noticed it was getting dark and thought a storm must be coming. I happened to notice the time, and do you know he had been speaking for four and a half hours and we had not noticed the time getting away. After the meeting I went straight up to the preacher, and told him, "This is what I have been searching for, and that I wanted to serve God in that way." Do you know he was a big man, but tears welled up into his eyes and he wept, as I told him. He asked me to go out into the country road for a talk, and he did something, he offered me his arm and I took it and like a pair of sweethearts we went onto the side of the road to talk. He offered me love and that which I had been searching for and after talking to him for a while I asked him a question: now, you will think it a silly question for me to ask him. I said, "Do you think I could ever be a preacher like you?" He said, "How long will it take you to give up your business?" And I said I would have to give two weeks notice, so he said, "I'll have a companion for you in two weeks time." And that is how I started out to preach.

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us and if we accept that plan, God will be with us. That has kept me these 47 years that I have been preaching the Gospel. The only thing we can do with life ourselves is to make a mess of it. My nature was one that made me drift down and down, but when I got the new nature it made me feel that God had a plan for me


1 Elizabeth Jamieson testimony– Taken from longhand notes – “Auntie Elizabeth’s” reminiscences – Hayward, California 1969

After Willie [my brother] heard and accepted the Gospel (in his first meeting), he asked the worker who held that meeting if there would ever be an opportunity for him to go into the ministry. This worker asked him. “How soon could you be ready?” “In two weeks,” replied Willie. It was a little longer than this before he went, but during this time of waiting, he came to Edinburgh, where my older sister, Violet, and I were working.

One evening by my bedside I yielded my heart to God, and at the same time, offered my life for God’s great harvest field.

My sister, Violet, went out then in the work in July or August, 1905, and I followed on the 27th of October. I was nineteen, my sister older. It hurt Father and Mother to have Willie go, and then Violet, but it nearly broke their hearts when I left. Tears were streaming down their faces and mine. They were Presbyterians – Father an elder as long as I can remember. On my knees that night, for the first time I realized the meaning of those words in Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father or mother… he cannot be my disciple.” My parents were saying, too, to each other, “If what our three children are doing is right, we’re not right.”

Later, after some experience in this work in Scotland, I became ill. I had then two offers: one from my favorite brother, to come and housekeep for him. Ordinarily, I would have liked nothing better, but I got a letter just then from Willie, offering me a place in the Work in California. He and Walter Slater were at Pismo Beach, “a grand training ground for preachers,” he wrote. Later in the letter, he said, “We’re living on bread and water.” I had to answer my brother’s offer then, and turn it down. He is now in Sydney, Australia. He has never professed. I wrote to him, “No man putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So I came then to California at the age of twenty. I had been in the Work less than a year. Florence Langworthy (aged twenty-two) became my companion. We came to Paso Robles, and worked in that area. At one place, San Miguel, we had a street meeting, and people came out. We paid 25 cents a night for a room, and lived on bread and canned milk. I was young and always hungry! Florence said to me, “You can surely eat considerable!” About that time we moved to Hames Valley. People were more friendly in this country district, but as it grew near to Christmas, they cooled off, and we were feeling they might be afraid we would be with them at Christmas time. The school could hardly hold the people that night, but nobody asked us home. There was a stove in the school, but no fuel, and it was too cold to sleep there, so we wandered outdoors. We’d not gone far, when a young man caught up with us, and asked us to ride with him. He wanted to know where we were going, and almost before we could answer, he said, “You are wasting your time there. Those people are not worthy of what you are doing for them. Imagine all these people there, and not one of them asking you home. Now I’ll tell you what I’m doing: I am taking you to town (Bradley), and paying for your room and breakfast.” And that is what he did. Next day, we went out to the school again, and the first thing we noticed was a load of wood at the door, and as we crossed the yard, we found an apple that a child had bitten into. We cut out the bitten part and divided it, and that was our supper. One old man came out that night, and we slept in the school. Next morning, we walked along the road, hardly knowing where to go, too discouraged almost to speak, when a man we had never seen before, overtook us. “Where are you girls preaching now?” We said, “We have just closed in Hames Valley,” and then he asked us where we were going next, and we said we didn’t know. He said, “Why don’t you come to our place?” When I asked him where he lived, he said, “Bryson.” That was twenty-five miles out in the mountains. I had been brought up in the Lammermoor hills in Scotland, two and one half miles from town, and to go out into the mountains with a man we had barely met seemed rather doubtful. I said we would think about it. We came to a crossroads, and he said, “Ill be here at 10 o’clock tomorrow, and be ready.” I had asked him how he knew we were preachers, and he said, “As soon as I saw you, I knew who you were. You had meetings in San Miguel, and an old man came to those meetings.” I said, “Yes, and he quit coming,” and he said, “That man was my father, and we had to send for him because mother was sick, and since he came home he has never quit talking about those meetings, and wants to hear more.” It seemed as if God was opening up the way for us, but still I was doubting, and we decided to ask advice from the lady who had given us two meals when we were in Bradley before.

We went then, and told her all about it, and asked her to advise us, just as she would her own daughters. After thinking for a while, she said, “Yes, if you were my own girls, I’d say, ‘Go ahead,’ and if you want to stay with me tonight, you are welcome.” The next day, we met Dave Ray, and he took us to Bryson, to his eighty-year-old mother’s house. He was a bachelor, and it was with much surprise that she saw her son handing down two young women from the buggy. “These are the two preacher girls Dad told us about. They’re going to have meetings in the school, and stay with us here.”

Then a few decided: Aunt Dora Smith, and Hazel, her daughter, others too, until there were five. Then later, some others, and two meetings were formed: a Wednesday evening and a Sunday. Then later we moved to another district. Grandpa and Grandma Ray had another daughter and family. One relative was an infidel, Jeff Harris. His wife was Aunt Dora’s sister. He gave us an open invitation to come any time to stay, but he had two very fierce hunting dogs which he kept on his front porch. Well, one night, no one had invited us home, and we started out walking toward Harris’s. After a while, Florence fearfully said to me, “What about the dogs?” I was thinking of them too, and as we neared the house, I was sure we’d be rushed by them and attacked. We heard nothing, and continued up to the front porch where they ordinarily slept, and slipped into the house. In the morning, when Jeff discovered we were in his home, his face went white. He knew that his dogs, if they’d attacked us, could easily have killed us. I told him, “Jeff, when I preached about God closing the lion’s mouth, you didn’t believe it, but now you can see that God kept your dogs from meeting and attacking us.”

I had to learn a new language in this country. One word that was strange to me was “joiners.” “Have you got any ‘joiners’ yet?” we would be asked. In Scotland, a “joiner” is a carpenter!! What would we do with a carpenter?

One evening, in one home we were served supper, and with it, what we thought was tea.. It had a peculiar smell, so my companion didn’t drink any. One of the men at the table complained to the cook about its odd taste. A little research revealed that the “tea” had come from a shelf near the kitchen stove. This shelf held various tins of things: things such as coffee, tea and tobacco. You can guess the mistake that had been made, and I who had been enjoying such good hearty fare, had to hastily arise and go out to the back yard, where I promptly lost my supper.

Later, we were at Lockwood, and then attending Special Meetings. I met Jennie Butler. She had professed near King City, through ‘Uncle Willie.’ She then was thirty-five years old, and I was amazed that someone her age was still in the Work! Here am I, still in it, and I won’t tell you how old I am!

Then in 1907 some of us took a steamer from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon (a trip of five or six days at that time). Willie and Jack Carroll were seasick the whole time, but we girls were not at all, and how we laughed at their misery, singing to them:

“Art thou sunk in depths of sorrow, Art thou sunk so low?”

Then we came to the Willamette River, and Jack Carroll said jokingly to Willie and me, “Why don’t you take opposite sides of the river? One of you go on one side, and the other the other side?” And that’s exactly what we did! And I said to myself, “I’ll let Willie come to me, before I ever go to him!” And that is what happened. On one side of the river (my side), Charlie Konschak, a bachelor, professed in our mission. On the other side, a number of girls had professed in Willie’s mission. His companion had left him and he didn’t feel free to visit them in their homes. On my side, folks were marrying Charlie and me off! Willie said he didn’t know what to do! “I do,” I said. “I’ll go and help your girls; you come and help Charlie!” And so we traded missions.

In late 1910 my companion and I had meetings in a district some miles from Boring, a farming community near Portland, Oregon. We heard from many about the Swedish Settlement, and several strange Swedes who thought they were the only people who were right. I decided if I came back to that part after convention, I would stay away from the Swedes. Sure enough, we returned to that part, and found an opening on Sandy Ridge, about six miles from the Swedish district, but there was no real interest, so we closed. We then tried to find an opening farther away, but found no open door, either in any of the towns or country districts. Very reluctantly we decided we would have to go to the Swedish district. From the start, most were kind and friendly, and one very religious man even went around and took up a collection for us, which of course, we refused, and this gave us a chance to tell him personally what God’s way was. He had to go around again and give back the money. After we had been several weeks there, Willie came and helped us for two or three weeks. We then had the joy of seeing Carl Hanson and his wife, and two or three brothers decide, and some others. Edith decided later, and a nice little church was formed. All kept true. We were there for seventeen or eighteen weeks, and left with thankful hearts. If we had seen ahead, that several years later, conventions would be held at Carl Hanson’s place, it would have been easier to tramp through that snow and over muddy roads. However, God does not lift the curtain, as we sincerely seek to labor in faith, we can leave the results with Him.

In 1911, several weeks after the mission at Boring, I became ill. In 1912, I went to Paso Robles to the Hill’s farm. Two different doctors told me I had tuberculosis. Another had told me I was anemic, needed much rest, in fact probably wouldn’t live very long. Sending me to the Hill’s farm in Paso Robles proved to be the very best thing for me. They put up a tent for me, and gave me a dozen leghorn chickens to care for. The children also found two cats which I kept in my tent (two holes being cut through which the cats came and went).. One day while sitting on my cot, I saw a white head poke through, and it was one of my chickens! She was followed by one, and then another, and soon all dozen decided this was just the place to lay their eggs – my tent!

In Mountain Dale, I was having eight meetings a week, for six weeks. I had the local church for the evening and the afternoon, and was, as usual getting ready for the afternoon service, when the Swedish preacher came up to me and asked rudely, “Are you the woman who’s been having meetings here?” “Yes,” I replied, “I’m the LADY.” “Well,” he said, “It’s MY service!” I didn’t argue with him at all, but moved quietly to the back of the church. At this a big tall logger got up, and came back to where I was. “Aren’t you preaching this afternoon? Well, if you’re not, I’m not staying.” He stalked out and with him about ten of his friends.

In 1920, Mabel Pryor and I went to Vancouver Island. At that time, there were no friends north of Victoria. Here we discovered an man of the Plymouth Brethren sect who was going house to house, influencing people against us. His favorite salutation when he met anyone was, “Are you saved?” He accused me of being a “Cooneyite.” I pretended I didn’t know what he meant, letting on that the only coney I knew about was the little animal spoken about in the book of Proverbs. And, of course, he was against women preachers. But in spite of it all, a little church was formed at Sandwick. I’m happy to say that the children and the grandchildren are still going on in that little church.

* * * * An incident which took place not long after I professed in Edinburgh comes to mind. I had asked my parents’ permission to go to a meeting which was a little farther away than usual, and they had somewhat reluctantly agreed to let me go. Bicycling along, it was very dark the last two miles, and it was 10:00 before I reached home. Bedtime at our house was at 9:00, but I found my father still up and waiting for me. I had walked the last two miles, pushing my bicycle ahead of me in the dark. I found later that Father had watched through the window, looking at my bicycle light. When I reached the last two miles, he had come down to walk along beside me on the other side of the hedge, unbeknownst to me. Had I needed him, he would have been instantly at my side, but he kept quiet so as not to scare me. How like our heavenly Father this was, and how often I have thought of it and connected it with the words spoken by Moses:

“My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” I can truly say, throughout these early days, and even until now, I have known His presence walking by my side, and giving me protection and rest of mind and spirit as I have tried to do His will.