George Walker - About Hugh Roberts, writer of Hymn #283 (Strong in the Strength of Gentleness) - Marysville, Kansas - October 24,1971

Eighty-one years ago last May, I came to work in the town where this boy was born. I went to work in a store in that town that was across the street from the store his father owned, who was a competitor of the one I was working in.  I have a very vivid remembrance of him. He was six years of age - I was seven years older; thirteen. I remember how he was dressed. I took notice of him.  I observed him because we went to the same Methodist church and Sunday school.  I remember his Mother.  I used to go to prayer meeting where she went. Sometimes I could notice that his mother was different from the others there, the way she prayed- it was more sincere.  But his mother died and left an orphan with four sisters.  Later on he got another Mother; she was good and very true to him.

It brings back a lot of memories when you go back 81 years, I can't think of anyone I knew so long.  Later on, I went to work in the city. He grew up and he worked in his Father's business.  He was highly thought of and just before I came across to this country, we were having a mission in that old town where we spent our teen years. We were religious and tried to be a help to others. Naturally I looked this boy up and I talked to him - he was friendly, and his Father has always been friendly.  But the newspapers put out a scourge - they said, "We had been going into the store and trying to talk to them, and they represented that we had been treated roughly by the proprietor," etc., but that was not so.
 
Later on when he met God's servants, he got the conviction that this was God's true way, and he made his choice. He was in his twenties, and it meant a lot for him to do this. He was a prominent man there and in the Sunday school. One woman met him on the street after he made his choice, and said, “What do you mean by this, that you would turn on the religion of your Mother, and take your stand now in another?” (Insinuating that he was turning against his Mother.) He said, “I had to do what my conscience (this thing that God put in us to tell us what God says is right or wrong) told me to do, and I had to do what God wants me to do.”

He got a large position in that line of business he was in, in Canada, (Eaton's) and he was getting on well when World War I came on.  The head of that store was greatly patriotic. He thought it was great to have the young fellows join up in the service, etc., but his conscience told him not to take up arms. It meant a great deal for him to take a stand like that in the store, but he went according to the voice of God that came to him.

Fifty years ago in the summer, I visited him in the prison camp for Conscientious Objectors. It was a sensible camp in that there was a great tract of land the Government wanted to clear, and they were sent up there to work.  I went to the camp and stopped at the office. There were some young officers there who heard me as I was inquiring about him.  They said, “That's a good piece away, do you want to ride with us?” They wanted to talk to me about him.  They wanted to hear of his background - they said he was different.  They had great respect for him, so much so that they asked me to dine with them.  After working in a department store, here he was now, like in a prison, at hard work out there.  They said. “This man is not like the others - he's different.” He had a different atmosphere about him. 
      
Two years later, he said he wanted to go out and preach the Gospel, but he wasn't so sure about his physical strength; whether he could do it or not.  For 52 years he has been labouring in the harvest field, seeking to get others to know the Lord. I saw him in the hospital last June.  He had no regrets for what he had done for 52 years, and he was rejoicing. They thought he would live for some time yet, but in spite of that, last Monday he began to fail. He lasted only a little while. 
      
During last year, twenty-three brothers and sister workers that I have had acquaintance with have received the home call. I would like to tell you a few things that I know about how they finished, but I won't take the time, but I'm glad that in my teen years I got the impression that the end of the road was most important. 
       
I had great ambitions and thought about different courses in life, then the thought would come to me, “Oh!, how about the end of it - how will this be when you have to go to another world?” It's good to have this before you.  I would like to appeal to the young people today - to get them to look to the end of the road, to keep the end in view. We are glad for those who have finished. They had no regrets. 
      
Many years ago I said to someone, “We have already made our fortune.” "What do you mean?" "Because of the number of people already we have seen come into God's family, that decided to live for Him, and we were with them when they were finishing - what they had fully repays us. We have made our fortune already - the privilege of helping them come in and then seeing them finish, for it is the finish that counts.” We are glad that we didn't get any ambition to build up an organization, or make some impression in the world, but the way to get a reward is to have the aim of getting people to be espoused bride of Christ - the reward will be given on that great millennium day, when we are around Him and see the number we have helped to get there - that will mean a lot on the other side.   
       
Knowing the battle, the hymn will have more meaning to you now, after hearing about the rejoicing at the end.  Our brother finished last Monday, and finished well.