Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dr John Edgar Ennals

Dr John Edgar Ennals was a remarkable man physically. Born in 1868, he came out to this country at the age of twenty-seven, broken in health and hopeful that an escape from the rigours of the English climate would prolong his life, then hanging in the balance, by at least a few years. In this new field of service, he found a renewed full life-span.
John was also a remarkable man intellectually. His learning came the hard way, by the light of a candle burning late into the night, after the business of the day had been accomplished. Degrees in Arts and Divinity at St Andrew’s College, Scotland, were fittingly capped with an honorary doctorate at McMaster University in Canada.
He was a remarkable man spiritually. A foundation member of the Rosebank Union, where he ministered for nearly a quarter of a century, said of his ministry : "It was Christo-centric". Too transparently honest to subscribe to tenets which he could not unreservedly believe, he sometimes perplexed his companions in the ministry. Nevertheless, in all his preaching, the Lord Jesus Christ was given the pre-eminence and, with the passing of the years, controversy gave place to compassion and concern for the welfare and progress of those who were following after him in Christian service.
He was remarkable too for his concern for the denomination. The thorough intellectual equipment of its ministry and its outreach and establishment in the land of his adoption mattered greatly to him. Twice in 1919 and again in 1933, he was accorded the honour of the presidential chair, and apart from the twelve years spent in England after his recovery in health, he served churches of the Union from 1895 to 1961. Thereafter, in retirement, he ministered to his fellow-residents in the home where he had found sanctuary in East London until he decided to remove to Port Elizabeth. His last public service was conducted in the Church-on-Wheels, Forest Hill, Port Elizabeth in his ninety-seventh year.
Finally, his was a great missionary concern. He lost a brother in the infamous Boxer Rebellion in China but his own missionary zeal never flagged. For twelve-and-a-half years he was honorary secretary of the Southern African Baptist Missionary Society. Of his own means he contributed regularly and liberally to the work of the society and his talented brush produced many beautiful pictures which were sold to augment its funds.
Up and down our country – in cities where he ministered in his prime; in the villages where he spent the closing years of his pastoral service; among the aged people (considerably younger than himself) to whom he brought the consolation of the Gospel in his retirement, he will be remembered. He will be remembered not least of all by a host of men and women whose devotion to one or other form of Christian service has been enriched because of his wise counsel and his affectionate encouragement as well as his example.
As a young man Dr John Edgar Ennals excelled in Athletics. He put every last bit of energy into the race, and in the long race of life with its 70 years of service for Christ it was the same. Whatever he did he did with all his strength, pressing forward towards the mark for the prize of his high calling.
Written by: Syd Hudson-Reed

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