Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

So This Is Boreham: Part Three

Believing God was indeed calling him to ministry of some sort, Boreham enrolled at Spurgeon's College. He was among the last students personally accepted by C. H. Spurgeon himself. In 1894, Thomas Spurgeon, who had been ministering in New Zealand but was returning to London to assume some of his father's responsibilities, issued a call for men to immigrate to New Zealand. There was a need for pastors in this newly opened Dominion, especially for someone to minister in the South Island, who would assume the pastorate of the Mosgiel Baptist Church. After conferring with his parents, Frank declared that he would go.

He set sail in January 1895, not even 24 years old and with a full year of school yet to complete. While en route, he cabled back to the little country village, Theydon Bois, where he had served a student pastorate. He asked for the hand of a young lady to whom he had become rather attached. Her father gave his approval and Frank's teen-age fiancé arrived in New Zealand later that year. They were married by their close friend, Rev. J. J. Doke, who later was instrumental in saving the life of Mahatmas Ghandi while both were in South Africa.

Mosgiel was settled primarily by Scots who had left the Old Country not many years prior. Within a matter of months they had built a manse for their new minister and his wife. It stands there still today. Oh, the stories that poured out of the lives of those to whom he ministered! Read his essays and learn of Tammas the church treasurer. Boreham writes, "The man who got Church money out of Tammas was regarded in the light of a genius." You will get to know Gavin and Wullie, Saddle Hill, and the engaging love story of Seth and Emily. Boreham himself played match-maker--partnering with a pressed nasturtium!

It was in Mosgiel that Boreham's pen started to make its presence known. He began to write on the many ordinary things in life that he observed, peculiarly different from others. He wrote as few others have. His command of language is impressive but the truths behind the words are what really capture the reader. Most of his writings are of the "devotional essay" style; they are engrossing and moving. He often enjoyed telling of the old gypsy crone who told his nanny, while she was taking him for a stroll one day, "Put a pen in his hand and he'll never want for a living." From childhood, he began his "scribbling," sending in submissions to children's magazines. In his later years he would be a household name among the Christian community of the British Commonwealth and North America.

Jeff Cranston

Image: Photo taken in 1898 of some of the members of the church at Mosgiel. F W Boreham is standing on the left holding his first-born baby. His wife Stella is in the back row, second from the right (with her eyes on her husband and child!). Unfortunately the Mosgiel Baptist church declined in vitality and about two to three years ago, wound up as a church. (GP)