One coalminer to another

by John McCrindle

This is the text of an undated pamphlet written by my maternal grandfather, John Cree McCrindle (1897-1982), probably around the time of his wife Lily’s death in 1956, to commend and share his Christian faith with fellow workers in the coal mines in Ipswich, Queensland.

Dear Comrades,

For the past thirty-four years I have been with you in the many dangers of the coal mine to gain the necessities of life, and with you in the struggle for better conditions.

I came to the coalfields from Brisbane where I had lived as a pleasure loving man, following it in the sporting fields and the theatres. There were many set-backs in these forms of pleasure in which I indulged to alleviate the strain in the battle of life. I proved the truth of that verse in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4:8, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” This is true of the forms of amusement found in the world. The more you see and hear, the more you want to see and have. Once you have enjoyed them you are looking for tomorrow to see what it holds.

Another set-back was that there were times when I had not the means to procure that for which I longed, and times when illness hindered. Days like Good Friday and Sundays, when entertainments were restricted, were days that seemed to be without end, and if every day were like those days. I would rather have been dead, if death were the end. I have found since from the Bible that this craving of my soul which I sought to satisfy with the pleasures of the world could only be satisfied by God.

The Psalmist in Psalm 42 expresses it thus: “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” And because the Creator made us like Himself, we cannot be satisfied until satisfied with Him. This I have proved these thirty-four years.

Death is an experience that all must face, and while it is the end of the road here, it is not the end of our existence, but the door into the great eternal state. The Bible makes it clear for Heaven or Hell. It lies in our power to determine which it shall be, and we are each responsible to prepare to meet our God. Because we do not know what a day may bring forth, I exhort you to prepare now.

There are some mistakes that you might make in doing so. Turning over a new leaf will not do, or trying to reason the matter out in your own mind, for God requires that which is past. God gave us intelligence and the power to reason, but this has been affected by the fall of the first man, and the Bible says in Ephesians 4:18 that our understanding has been darkened.

So all our reasoning gets us nowhere and that is why I have been quoting to you so much from the Bible for it is God’s revelation of Himself and His purposes with man. My reason for referring continually to the Bible is because Christ is the central character of the Bible. The New Testament is His direct teaching and in His teaching He continually quoted from the books of the Old Testament. Thus the old and new are coupled together and are inseparable.

I want you to consider Him as the central character of the world. Compare Him with all the characters of history. He is unique. The civilised world date their time to and from Christ and we celebrate His birth, and death, and resurrection annually. No one else shares this honour with Him. And yet in His birth there was no room for Him at the inn and His first bed was a manger. Later He said that He had nowhere to lay His head.

New Chum coal mine head, Bundamba, Queensland.

Although He worked as a carpenter He acquired no personal estate. His teaching that He set forth and left to us in the Bible is the highest order. He gained a number of followers in every walk of life, but in His death all forsook Him and fled. And so He died alone upon a cross of shame. But He rose again. And since that day men and women of every colour and in every sphere of society have loved Him, followed Him, and many have died for His cause.

Considering these facts, what is your conclusion in comparing Him with any or all other characters of history? There is only one conclusion and that is — This man is what He claimed to be. He was God manifest in flesh, a man who was God. God became man to suffer in a body like man, for man His creature’s sins.

If He was what He claimed to be, and these facts verify His statements, then you are bound to read carefully and accept humbly the teaching of the Bible as I did to my profit thirty-four years ago. I gained from it a knowledge of God, finding that while He was holy and could not pass over sin, but must punish the transgressors with the severest punishment, man was the object of His love.

I also gained a greater understanding of myself, revealing to me my insufficiency because of the weakness of human nature to conduct my own affairs, and that God was prepared to undertake for me in all things as a loving Heavenly Father, if I would but put my case in His hands.

My greatest concern at that time was how I could get right with God and know it. I found that what I could not do, Christ had done for me. In Colossians 1:20, “He made peace by the blood of His cross,” and in Romans 4:25, “He was delivered for my offences and raised again for my justification.”

Believing this brought me peace with God as the first verse of Romans 5 declares. And so my worries about meeting God in my sins ended. Christ became my Saviour and I could go free because His sacrifice avails for me.

But then there was life’s unknown road ahead with its many turns, its joys and sorrows, trials and temptations. In these He has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” and this I have proved to be real, though unseen. And so day by day in my weakness I commit my way to my Father in Heaven by prayer.

Sometimes He grants my requests in the manner in which I desire, sometimes in a different way, and sometimes not at all. If He does not do as I request, I do not grieve, for the daily tokens of His love to me teach me that in love and wisdom He has denied. So I cling the closer to Him by my faith and, whatever the day holds, whether pleasant or otherwise, I know all is well for I have put my case in His hands and He cannot err.

Because of what He is to me, I seek to do the things that please Him. These things are found in the Bible. In this I make many mistakes but find when I confess them to Him, He forgives.

My pleasures now come from a different source. I have no interest now in the King of sports or the sport of Kings, nor any of the codes of football, cricket, etc. The theatres, casket or wireless have no appeal, yet I have a peace and joy that is not found in these things but found only in God and the things of God.

In the trials of life, by prayer, I receive, in a way that cannot be expressed, a comfort and courage to lift up the chin and go on. In the temptations which at times have been severe, I have gained the victory by His power, who, when on earth, was tempted in all points and sinned not.

On the day of my conversion to Christ I received an appetite to read the Bible daily, a desire as strong as the desire to eat my daily food. This daily reading, coupled with daily experiences, strengthens these convictions of my weakness and insufficiency and the all-sufficiency of God my Father. It keeps these joys fresh day by day, strengthens my faith, and makes life’s checkered path a heaven below.

This has been a tower of strength to me at all times, not only on the surface but below when the going is tough. When I come to the end of the road here, it will be but to meet Him face to face and understand more fully why He loved me and died for me.

This is written to men with whom I have worked shoulder to shoulder, men whom I highly esteem for the qualities I find in them. This is with the desire that they might enjoy with me these spiritual blessings here, and when this life is over, join me in God’s home above, and enjoy the best of conditions for ever.

I am, your fellow labourer and companion in the struggle of life on the coal fields.

J. C. McCrindle

12 Barclay St [now renumbered as 94]

Bergin’s Hill, Bundamba, Queensland.


Posted by Rod Benson, Sydney, 18 July 2022. Images from file, queenslandplaces.com.au

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