13 Engagement and Wedding

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I was twelve years in India before I was married. That came about in this way. It was reported to me that if I were married, the Indian sisters could talk to me more freely. That was quite understandable, because the men and the women in India had little communication with each other, unless they were husband and wife. However, although I was unmarried at that time, I had been asking the Lord for a wife of His choosing. In fact I had been asking the Lord for His choice for about sixteen years.

After the war, Meg and her friend Hilda were invited to a place called Honor Oak Christian Fellowship Centre, in Forest Hill, London. They went, but Meg did not understand a word. She could not gather what the speaker was talking about. So she thought, “I will never come here again.” But the friends, who had taken her the first time, persuaded her, “Come again, try once more.” So they went the second time. And this time it was so different. It was like heaven opened to them.

Mr. T. Austin-Sparks was preaching on the ‘Lamb in the midst of the Throne,’ from the book of Revelation. Meg was spellbound and she did not notice when the meeting had ended; she was just sitting there. Mr. Sparks came down from the platform to meet her and said, “It is finished.”

There and then she learned that, truly, if she was a Christian, she was a member of the body of Christ; that every member would have a gift, just as our physical body has different members, with different gifts suitable to their position. Fingers will do the work of the fingers and the toes the work of the toes. Meg realised that if she was a member “baptized by one Spirit into one body,” then she should have a gift. So she prayed, “Lord, what is my gift?” In her prayers the only answer she could get was, “Help meet, help meet.” That was what God told her. That was what Eve was to be to Adam, for it is not good for man to be alone. He should have a help meet. This is why Eve was given to Adam. This is all the answer that Meg could get from the Lord. However, she did not want to be a help meet; she did not want to be married. She had had a miserable childhood and she could not imagine being married. Yet, she could not get any other answer to her question.

One day, she heard there was to be a Bible Study with some of her friends in Scotland. Meg wanted to go, but she was told, “No, you must get a job.” So she went down to Malvern School, which was for missionaries’ children.  She was going to be a matron or something like that. It was all new to her and she felt miserable not having been allowed to go for this Bible Study. So when she was unpacking, she got down on her knees again and said, “Lord what is my gift?” And He said, “A help meet.” “Alright, Lord,” she eventually agreed. Intending to go into a dining-room, she went into the wrong room, where there was a text on the wall, “I have heard your prayer.” That settled the whole matter once and for all. She knew for sure that she had to marry. “Well,” she wondered, “who is going to look at me?” Nobody looked at her for two years; yet she was always mindful of her commitment and wondering who was going to be her husband.

Sometime later Hilda and Meg were in charge of a house in Glasgow, connected to a meeting place there. One day in 1948, they received a phone message from London that a certain Mr. Flack, home from India, would be coming up to Glasgow. They were asked if they had accommodation for him as he would be there for a period of ministry to those who met in that house. Of course, they had accommodation and so they were now expecting Mr. Flack.

It was a dirty, foggy night in Glasgow. The bell rang, so they said, “That must be Mr. Flack.” Meg went down to open the door. “Oh, no, not him, Lord!” was her first reaction. I was not wonderfully dressed. I had a worn-out suitcase more cardboard than leather. I stayed there for three months, taking the ministry for those who gathered there.

In the course of time, it seemed to me that Meg was the choice of the Lord for me, and I was ready to ask her to become my wife. Meg and some others were asked by the elders at Honor Oak to go to the house on the Clyde in Scotland, called Kilcreggan, to go down and open it up and get it ready for the summer season conferences and other meetings. So they said, “Shouldn’t we take Fred?” They decided to take me with them and so we went together, to Kilcreggan. They did the jobs to be done and we had a picnic lunch. Since there was an ice-cream shop in the village, it was suggested that one of us should go to get some ice-cream. When Meg was about to go I said, “I will come with you.” I thought that this was my opportunity. So we went down and purchased the ice-cream and coming up the hill back to the house, I said, “I suppose you would not marry me?” She said, “Yes, I will.” I said, “Don’t you want to pray about it?” She said, “I have already prayed.” So, there was our engagement: no palm trees, no moonlight, nothing dramatic at all. It all seemed to be a matter of fact. But that was where the step was taken. She had prayed about it and the Lord had spoken to her, so she immediately could say yes when I asked her.

She had read in Genesis twenty the incident of Abraham saying of Sarah that she was his sister, not his wife, because he was afraid. Sarah was beautiful and he might be killed by a heathen king, who might want to take Sarah. But, Abimelech the king was a virtuous man and he had no intercourse with Sarah. He discovered that she was not Abraham’s sister, but his wife. So Abimelech came back to Sarah and he rebuked her and said, “He (referring to Abraham) is your covering!” Well, this was the Lord’s word to Meg regarding me, and that is why she could say she had already prayed and was willing to say yes so easily at that time.

I was supposed to return to India in a few days and we agreed that she would follow me six months later, and there we would be married in Madras. And thus it was arranged. I have to admit to my shame it was not the right time to ask her to come to India as it was then the hottest part of the year. It should have been later on in October, November or December. That would have been a better time, but I suppose I was in a hurry. We had the wedding in Madras on June 23rd, 1949. Bakht Singh solemnized our wedding.

The wedding service lasted for three hours and everything was in Indian style. Poor Meg! I had purchased for her a lovely silk sari and a satin petticoat. Of course that was the last thing in the world that I should have done. But I did not know what women should wear, especially in the heat and, poor Meg, she was not perspiring properly, so all body heat built up inside; she did not have a safety-valve. The wedding day was a disaster for her. In addition to that, she wore a lovely pair of sandals for the wedding. But in India our brothers and sisters did not take sandals into the meeting; they would leave them outside, because everybody was sitting on the floor. After the meeting we discovered that her sandals were stolen! So that was another experience on our wedding day.

We had eight hundred guests. They all sat on the floor, eating rice and curry from banana leaves. We all ate the same food, all the sisters kissed Meg on both cheeks and most of the wedding presents were wrapped up in newspaper. It was all a little bit different, but anyway, we were married.

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