Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What A Layman Can Accomplish: T.S. Mooney

I first heard about T.S. Mooney several years ago from Alistair Begg. What's stood out most to me about Mooney is how he died, a topic I wrote about earlier this year. Something else about him that stands out in my mind is how much he accomplished relative to his low status in the church and society.

I recently read a book about Mooney, written shortly after his death by several men who knew him. The book is titled Mission Completed (T.S.M. Books, 1986). Here are some excerpts, and be sure to read my post linked above about Mooney's death as well:

When I became a student at Magee University College, Londonderry in 1944 I quickly discovered that there were certain associations by which one's theology was identified either as 'evangelical' or otherwise. 'Evangelicals' were to be found, amongst other places, at the Crusader Class which met on Sunday afternoons in the Presbyterian Working Men's Institute in the Diamond under the leadership of a gentleman called Mr. T.S. Mooney, of whom hitherto I had not heard. I was soon to discover, however, that to know this spiritual giant of a man and to share his godly influence, wisdom, counsel, encouragement and friendship was a rare and profound privilege….

Why did he have such a profound influence on successive generations of Crusaders for more than half a century?...Why was it that all these generations were represented at his graveside on that icy cold January afternoon - one will long remember one of the "original nine" who met in November 1930 standing side by side with two first year students who had returned from England especially for his funeral.

Surely the real secret of T.S.'s "success" as a Crusader leader was his prayer life. Being basically a shy man, he did not talk much about this but those who shared rooms with him at various Crusader functions recall how he was up each morning at 6.00 a.m. with his various prayer lists stretched out before him on his open Bible. He once advised a young Crusader leader to "pray for every one of the boys in your class with the roll book open in front of you". He certainly practised what he preached and only eternity will reveal how many hours he spent in prayer for the boys in his class….

he did not make the Christian life an easy option for anyone. His appeals for decision for Christ did not hide the sternness of the upward climb involved, and the amazing thing was that all that was manly arose in them as they committed themselves for life to the Saviour Who died for them….

As a businessman in the city he won the respect of a wide circle of commercial leaders. It was an open secret that he could easily have risen to a high position in his profession if he had wanted to leave Londonderry with all its Church and Crusaders interests but this he did not want to do….

He brought not only truth but also grace and loveliness of character with it. There was an atmosphere when he was around that came from a very close walk with God. The prophet Malachi prophesied to a decadent leadership among the people of Israel and he reminded them that the original covenant which God made was with a different type of man altogether. It is so like the slim, sharp, saintly figure of T.S. Mooney of Londonderry who kept a whole community wholesome, proud to be a Derry man and prouder still to be a humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the portrait in words simple and plain like himself: "He feared Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and no wrong was found in his life. He walked with Me in peace and uprightness and he turned many from iniquity". (Mal. 2:5-6)….

T.S. would say to every Gospel preacher, "Don't make it easy, but by every means make it plain."

This is not to suggest that T.S. ever over-simplified the Gospel and made it a diluted "Come-to-Jesus" affair….He stood for "the breadth and sweep of the essential Gospel. By it he lived and all his days were lyrical in its joy and fruitful in its power."…

Who that ever heard him will forget how he explained 'faith' as a five-fingered exercise, Forsaking All I Take Him, and then he backed it up by quoting that magnificent answer in the Shorter Cathechism, "Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel."…

Above all, he was not ashamed of the Gospel as popular speakers are sometimes tempted to be. He knew that there is an offence about the Cross but he was prepared in this respect to bear the shame and obloquy of being a follower of a crucified Saviour, and to endure hardness as a good soldier of the Young Prince of glory Who died for him….

It is no trite abuse of language to say that only eternity will reveal how much the Presbyterian Church owed and owes to an all-wise Divine strategy that placed such an evangelical layman with unusual qualities of wisdom, wit and warmth, in the very city where students for the ministry were trained….

When Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965 Sir Robert Menzies was in London for the funeral. This great Australian Prime Minister and Commonwealth leader broadcast on the B.B.C. a memorable tribute to Sir Winston:

"'With warmth in our hearts and in our recollections many of us will be able to say, 'I lived in Churchill's time'. Some will be able to say 'I knew him. I talked with him. I was his friend.'"

That historic event involving the greatest political figure of the twentieth century certainly warranted those noble words, but for a host of men and boys, and many more besides, they are just as true and just as worthy of T.S. Mooney….

In the driving snow of Altnagelvin Cemetery we laid all that was mortal of T.S. to rest, thankful, as someone else put it elsewhere, that there was so much that could never be buried or forgotten.

(v, 13, 30-2, 42-3, 52, 67, 76)

If you haven't read my post about Mooney's death, you can read it here.

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