Chapter 5 – The Call of God – Pastor Lawrie Cottam: Farmer, Sailor, Preacher
Immediately after being saved by grace, I threw myself into the work of God, assisted by my dear wife, Nancy. Whatever Pastor Tom Morgan asked me to do, I would do it. He never exploited me or abused my trust in him. He was kind, honest, faithful and loving. He was the one who encouraged a semi-illiterate young man, who had very limited talent, to try and do something worthwhile for Jesus.
He always said there is no such thing as an insignificant member of the body of Christ and that no Christian should have a superiority or inferiority complex, but should endeavour to be Christ like at all times. It’s absolutely amazing what the Lord can do with a person who is surrendered to His will; who is obedient to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. We should never say that we cannot do anything for God. The hymn writer is true when he declared, “There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.”
The call of God does not always come like a sudden flash of light, but gradually as you are involved in the church, busy in the work of God, as you sit listening to the various speakers relating their various experiences, as you see the needs, there rises within you a quiet definite desire to be involved, to play a part, to be used in some way by the Lord. In my case, this was very prominent when I was listening to a preacher, who was lacking in passion or faith, or the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
My job, working at Partington coaling basin, was based on peace work. We only got paid for the work we did loading the ships with coal, coke and pitch. When there were no ships, we were paid a small retaining fee, but this meant that some times we had a lot of time on our hands.
During these slack times I used to go straight to Mrs. Westbrook’s house. I nearly drove her crazy.
I would ask her all sorts of questions, such as, “What is the difference between the Calvinists and the Armenians?” or, “Tell me about the pre-tribulation rapture or the post-tribulation rapture.” Or, “What does the mark of the beast mean?” I used to bombard her with all kinds of enquiries. Mrs. Westbrook and Pastor Morgan taught me to read and understand the meaning of words and certainly grounded me in the scriptures. I also did a bible correspondence course under the guidance of Mr. Gee, who was the Principal of Kenley Bible College. I also learned a lot from Elisha Thompson; both were good men of God.
Now at the ripe old age of 86, I would just love to be able to tell of great crusades of thousands getting saved and healed, but each of us must travel the road that God has planned for us and my ministry has been as follows. Yes I have seen people saved and healed. I have been used in the gifts of the spirit. I have built churches. I have been healed myself and I know what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is all about, but I have never been the Pastor of a great congregation. I have never attained prominence as a leader in Assemblies of God. I have been primarily a local church pastor.
I have always felt very comfortable encouraging a small congregation and preaching in both Kirkham and Strangeways prisons. I have been happy actually working with bricks and mortar, building and restoring churches. In recent weeks I have been thrilled at the wonderful work John O’Conner has done on the church that I helped to build in Cadishead. Why have I laboured this point? Simply to encourage you, by saying Jesus knows exactly what each of us does in our lifetime.
He will reward us according to the deeds done in the body, so I think it appropriate to present you with this poem at this point. It’s called, Behind the Scenes.
Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes there are workers,
Oft hidden from public gaze.
No dazzling rays of limelight,
No constant streams of praise.
But the ministry of the workplace
Is true evidence of Christian Grace.
Behind the scenes, which many shirk
The mundane tasks to do
Hidden, thankless, essential work
Oft in numbers just a few.
This work that’s done in the hidden place
Is true evidence of Christian Grace.
Behind the scenes is the prayer place,
Not overcrowded you know,
But indispensable to every saint
Who has a desire to grow.
For the work that’s done in the prayer place
Is evidence of God’s wondrous Grace.
Behind the scenes stands a woman;
Frail, yet tough as steel.
Poor, yet rich beyond measure,
Willing to help and to heal.
There in the daily family place
Is where you will find true Christian Grace.
Behind the scenes your works unknown
No, no, this is not true.
For Hebrews chapter ten declares
That God remembers you.
Of all the works in every place,
He sees most clearly works of Grace.
One day the curtain will be drawn
And every truth revealed.
Your hidden ministry, my friend,
Will no longer be concealed.
And when you see your Saviour’s smile
Behind the scenes will be worthwhile.