I knew that God had laid His hand upon me for service overseas, but, as I said before, I did not know what to do. I decided to go to the brethren in that place where I had been blessed and ask their advice. One of the elders there was a tutor in the ‘Missionary Training Colony’ (MTC). It was not a Bible Institute, nor was it a theological seminary. It was a camp, run in army camp style, having a link with C.T. Studd. Studd had a ‘Timothy’ like Paul had and his young servant and fellow worker was called Alfred Buxton (1891 – 1940). His younger brother, B. Godfrey Buxton had a vision for a camp with practical training, as well as Bible training, for men who would be pioneers to unevangelized areas in the world. Mr. B. Godfrey Buxton was seriously injured during World War I and therefore unable to become a missionary himself. After he recovered he walked with two sticks for the rest of his life. In order to train young men to do what he could not, he founded the Missionary Training Colony in 1923. The MTC provided two years of basic training for pioneer missionary work. Each student was expected to find out from the Lord the country to which he was being called, and by what Mission he was to be sent out. Those in charge of the camp did not at all decide where their trainees should go from there. They had to find out themselves from the Lord where He wanted them to go and how they would get there. So if someone felt a burden for South America, he would find out about the missionaries or mission society’s work in South America and ask for their help to go there.
The elders at the fellowship in Honor Oak advised me to go to this camp as a preparation. I applied, but the first response from the people there was for me to learn English. My English was bad and my punctuation was hopeless. My Bible class leader, who was a good woman, helped me to polish up my English a bit. Finally, I was accepted and went there on 1 March, 1932, to begin a period of two years in the MTC.
Immediately I was tested as to my calling. I was suddenly plunged into a new atmosphere among a bunch of young men much more advanced in spiritual experience than I, and I felt I knew nothing; I was out of my depth. I found it difficult to pray.
The Bible instruction and the practical training were good. The latter included hair-cutting, shoe-mending, cooking, carpentry, gardening as well as devoting every morning to Bible reading or Bible study. A part of the training were two long marches through Scotland and England; the students would go on foot for several weeks and preach the gospel on their way.
During my first year at the MTC, in 1932, I joined a ten weeks’ march through Scotland, known as the Scottish Track. We took a boat to Aberdeen and from there we walked along the east coast to Stirling and then to Glasgow. We went up to Ayr and next back through Bathgate to Edinburgh. We spent these ten weeks preaching the gospel in many places and everywhere we were received by saints with great hospitality. We never used our tents once. The next march, under my leadership, was in 1933 in East Anglia, starting from London. On both occasions we covered around 400 miles. I am afraid we were not very efficient in our preaching and we were quite tired after the first few weeks. However, it was an excellent training for our future work.
I was praying, asking the Lord where He would send me and I thought it would be to Africa. There were two things I asked the Lord to do for me before I could go. The first was that He would give me a companion, because, during His days on earth, He sent out His disciples two by two.
The second was that He would provide a church like the one I had read about in Acts chapter 13:1-3; the church in Antioch where the elders were men of God who prayed and fasted. There, at Antioch, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” I was not against missionary organisations, but I believed that Acts 13 was the Lord’s pattern for me.
God would have to choose my companion. I would not choose myself, because I had a friend at that time who was ready to go anywhere with me. However, I was not sure if he was going to be a partner suited for the call that I had from the Lord. So the Lord must choose my partner and He must bring me into the fellowship of the church, like the one in Antioch.
From the MTC it was only walking distance to Honor Oak, the fellowship centre in London where I had been so blessed. It was about a one-hour walk and when we were free, some of us would go there for fellowship. One day, Mr. Sparks, one of the leaders, said to me, “How are you getting on, Fred?” So I said, “Oh, I am getting on well. However, I feel I belong to the church here, but I don’t know how to join.” “Oh,” he said, “there is nothing to join. If you are in, you are in; if you are not in then you are not in.” Well, I felt I was in, for this was the place where I always found blessing and refreshing. So now, I was really expecting that the church at Honor Oak would be the church from which my companion would also be. Then I would be thrust out to the work.
In 1933, another young man, who lived in Godalming, Surrey, named Raymond Golsworthy, came to the MTC. I thought he was a fine young man. He was so keen and spiritually-minded. He felt called by the Lord to go to the Eskimos in the Arctic, a people called the Inuits. I felt called by the Lord to go to the Tuaregs in the Sahara, a particular tribe of nomads. So our callings as we supposed, were a long way apart.
I had to wait three years before I found the companion God had chosen for me to go with me wherever I went. Because I was expecting to go to Africa, the brothers in Honor Oak advised me to go to Switzerland first, to learn French. So I went to Switzerland and tried to learn French, but I did not do very well at it. While I was there, one of the elders of the fellowship at Honor Oak wrote and said they had been speaking with Raymond Golsworthy and perhaps I would be hearing from him. I did not know what they had talked about, but I had a registration, “Is this the man that God is going to join to me?” I did not receive the letter from Raymond, so eventually I wrote back to the elders and said I had not heard anything from him. Still, I had a kind of registration that this was the man God was going to join to me. Two days after I posted the letter to the elders, I received a letter from Raymond in which he said that the Lord had shut the door on his going to the Eskimos. He believed that God was joining him to me. Wonderful! I could not have imagined such a partner; I could not have chosen a man that I responded to more fully, a man who really loved the Lord and knew the Word of God. He would be my partner!