By Gene Tope
“One of life’s greatest privileges has been my friendship with Steve and Cora Kearney. This fine couple have been “my joy” from the time of their conversion. Now they have decided upon a difficult task: to return back to Ireland to live, work, and teach. They will not be going as strangers, but will be returning home-to parents, loved ones and neighbours. Steve Kearney is not a novice as a gospel preacher. For seven years he has laboured with me in the gospel: studying, preaching and teaching. He has unusual ability in the pulpit and a great zeal for the salvation of lost souls. His life matches what he teaches. History has shown Ireland to be a difficult field. The Kearneys know what it is all about. They are to be commended for their dedication, sacrifice and zeal. I commend Steve’s article to you. Read it. It will do you good.-Gene Tope”
Ireland is much in the news today, unfortunately though, for the most part it is bad news. I suppose, the majority of Irish Catholics, would class our returning home to preach the gospel, in the same category. But be that as it may, it is for us the fulfilment of a long cherished hope. In 3 short months we will leave the shores of South Africa to bring the gospel to our own people.
“Seven years ago I was converted to Christ here in Pretoria. Brother Wayne Sullivan was working with the Church at the time. A few months after my baptism, my wife obeyed the gospel. Since renouncing Catholicism I have earnestly studied the scriptures, preaching whenever I got the opportunity. All my formal training and instruction can be accredited to Brother Gene Tope, who over a period of six years has arranged special classes for preacher training, and has given me much practical guidance in and out of the pulpit. May the brethren who have continued to support such men be richly blessed! The highlight of my career, from an experience stand point, was our 3 years of work with the Krugersdorp congregation. The rugged nature of the work here, with all its disappointments and discouragements has, I feel sure, prepared me for the long, arduous task ahead in Ireland.
“I plan, if the Lord wills, to support myself in the work. I am a Display Artist and have been employed all the time I have preached regularly. I realise the shortcomings of this arrangement. The extra hours, which under normal circumstances would be given to one’s family, are devoted to the Lord. This burden my wife has to bear, and I appreciate her willingness and unselfishness. The lack of time for study, personal work, prayer, et. al. – all of this is offset by the advantage which I will have with the common people as a window dresser rather than a preacher. Knowing the barriers raised against all, outside of the Catholic faith (especially a preacher), this will help me meet the people on an equal footing and subdue this prejudice.
“Before leaving in December we will take a round trip to Cape Town, where we get the boat. First to Durban to spend a week with Brother Jim Lovell and his family. Then to Port Elizabeth to visit Brother Ron Chaffin and his family. When we arrive in England we hope to spend a week with the brethren there. Incidentally, these will be our closest neighbours. Then on to Dublin in Southern Ireland about the 17th of January, 1975. We desire to make Ireland our life-time work. If you are interested in the Irish work, I would be glad to hear from you.
Yours In Christ,
Truth Magazine, XVIII:46, p. 9
September 26, 1974