George Walker's Testimony - written on February 16, 1988

This account of George Walker's early days was written February 16, 1988.
George Walker at times, often sitting around the dinner table, told of his early days when he first came to this country, and of his beginning.
 

George was raised a Methodist. He was born in Enniskillen, Ireland in a two-room house. He said that when he was about 8 years old, on a Sunday Morning, his mother prepared him and his sister to go to Sunday school. She wrote a note to the Sunday school teacher saying she was sorry that she was not able to come that morning. When George and his sister returned home, their mother had died. Some of the neighbor women came in and washed and dressed the body, and laid it out on the bed. That afternoon George sat in the bedroom door looking on his mother's form, cold in death, and wondered if he had died where would his soul be, having a fear of God.
 

When he was about 13 he joined the Methodist church and later was active in the church. The minister told him that he ought to go into the ministry, that he would not make much money, but there was honor and prestige connected with that profession and he would be called Reverend. He went to work in a large department store. Some of the men he admired there and felt he would like to be like them, and others he feared not wanting to become like them; but as time passed he saw in himself some of the same marks trying to get in that he despised.
 

A woman where he worked lived some miles from the city and told of men coming and preaching in her neighborhood, and of a number of young people leaving the church and following those men. She said some of those young Methodist preachers should go down and get those young folk straightened out and back into the church. So it was planned that one Saturday George and another young man in the church, who also was active, should go to that neighborhood and find out more about this way.

 

They took a train and went to the home of one of those young people, a young man who had one of the best farms in that part. They had a visit about the Bible, and this young man named Willie Gill, about 28 years old, told them, "While working around the farm, I thought of Jesus' words to that young man in Luke 18:18 who asked what he should do to have eternal life. Jesus' answer, 'Sell what you have and give it away and come and follow Me.' I wondered if Jesus should asked me to sell this farm and scatter the money and start out in this ministry as Jesus asked that man, would I be willing for it?"

 

The young Methodist with George said, "That is a piece of foolishness. Who ever heard of a man having to sell a farm, or all, and then start out homeless and penniless in his ministry?" George said it struck a tender spot in him as he had quite a sermon on this subject: What Lack I Yet? Times when he preached this, that there is something lacking in your life that cuts you off from heaven, perhaps some secret thing in one's life no one knew of, and they would have to cut it out or they were wrong in some way. George said that often when he preached this some of the members had patted him on the back and said, "You're going to go places in the Methodist church." But now George said, "I felt this was what I had lacked, and it was the true meaning of this passage."
 

Willie Gill lived with his mother and trained horses for the gentry to use in hunting with foxes. He would buy a horse for about $100, train it, and sell it for about $300; and he would bring $100 and place it on the table and say, "Mother, I sold a horse. Here is something for you." Soon Willie Gill sold that farm; and scattered all and went out in this ministry and continued until his death.

 

Willie invited George and his fellow Methodist lay preacher to spend the night, but the Methodist fellow had had enough and he left. George spent the night and on Sunday morning was in a meeting and stayed for dinner. After dinner he had to return to the city. They took him in a 2-wheel jaunting cart to the depot. He got on the train, and sat in one of those compartments like a small room, like they had on the trains at that time. He thought that what he heard was right, but if he went in for this, he would lose all his friends in the Methodist church; but then when he came to die, they could do nothing for you. Some people got on the train, came into his compartment, and did a lot of talking. They had been imbibing something, and that makes people talk a lot.


Finally, they arrived in the station. George got off the train and was walking across the platform, and said in his heart, "O God, I am willing." There came an assurance of the approval of God right then and there. That was April 11, 1898. It was not long until George began in this ministry in Scotland.
 

Lizzie McGregor worked in a mill about 10 hours a day and belonged to a religious group common there then. Their preacher told them, "There are two preachers going to speak on our street corner meeting tonight." It was George's first night in the work. Lizzie said, "I don't remember what was said, but I remember after the meeting our preacher said, 'Now we will have to go back to the hall and pray half the night to undo the harm those men have done. Lizzie, will you come back and pray with us?' I told them, 'I can't, I'm going to sleep. I've worked all day in the mill.'"

 

She never saw nor heard anymore for over a year. Then one day her preacher told them, "There are two of those preachers having meetings in a hall nearby. Take my advice and stay away and treat them with cool contempt." Lizzie replied, "We can go an hear them, but we don't have to swallow their doctrine." Lizzie and some other girls decided to go. The workers were John Doak and his companion. She sat in that meeting and listened and she was assured that this is the Truth, this is right, and I'm coming every chance I get. That was the beginning for Lizzie McGregor.
 

George told of his coming to this country in the early years of this century. He was in Liverpool, England and three planned to come together. There was first class passage - the most expensive, then there was second class, which was cheaper, and then steerage. The cost of a ticket from Liverpool to New York was $27.00 and they got three tickets. They left Liverpool on a Friday night and sailed across the Irish Sea to Belfast, where on Saturday they loaded cargo and passengers. About five of them left and sailed out around the north end of Ireland and into the North Atlantic Ocean. The sea was raging and rough. They tried to stay on deck but they were all sick and after awhile they went down into the lower part of the ship where they had been given bunks, and tried to rest. They were sick all day Sunday and Monday. George said, "On Tuesday I felt we have got to get up and walk around or we won't be able to walk off the ship when we get to New York.
 

There was a large room on ship where preachers and speakers could speak to the crowd. George had an opportunity to speak. Some heckled them, but a Baptist preacher from Philadelphia, PA took George's part. He gave George his address and said, "If you are ever in Philadelphia, look me up and if I can do anything to help you, I will."

 

Finally it was announced they would be arriving in New York on a Monday morning about 7 o'clock. All prepared to disembark. They let the First Class passengers off first and then the Second Class passengers. The steerage passengers were loaded into boats and taken to Ellis Island for inspection, so George and his companions went there. There were crowds of people there to meet their relatives. Finally, about 11 o'clock the customs officers had examined them, asking all their questions, and told them they could go.
 

They approached a steel partition barrier of grillwork, and as they were about to go out the gate, they heard someone calling their name. They did not know a soul, did not know there would be anyone there to meet them, but they found this man and his wife there to greet them. They were not professing, but her sister belonged to what they called, "I believe the brethren." The sister in Ireland had written to her telling her of these three men, strangers, arriving on this boat; and asked her sister in New York to meet them and take care of them.

 

At first they felt, 'We won't do it,' but then she felt, 'What will my sister think? We can meet them.' So her husband took off from work, and they rented an apartment for two weeks for these three strangers. They told them, "We will take you to our home and you can have dinner, then we will take you to this apartment since we only have a 4-room apartment and no room to keep you overnight." The name of this couple was George and Edith McIntyre, and they were the first to profess in the workers' meetings. Not long afterward, his brother Dan and wife professed out on Staten Island.
 

George Walker was born February 12, 1877 and died November 6, 1981 about 6:00 PM near Philadelphia, PA. He was 104 years old.