Faith On The Line: The Story of James Pratt

I was given a copy of Faith on the Line (Onwards and Upwards, 2021) by the author, John Mollitt. John is no stranger to us at Salem Chapel, and we have appreciated his ministry for some years. The book is a biographical sketch of his grandfather, James Pratt (1880-1968). Christian biography is particularly helpful at the best of times, but this little book of 83 pages was certainly a means of blessing, for the following reasons.

Old Mr Pratt was evidently a genuine man of God. A faithful Methodist preacher, who lived long enough to see that denomination’s slide into compromise, he stood for gospel truth when it was decreasingly fashionable to do so. Though a farmer and railway signalman by day, he was also an evangelist, a visitor, a preacher and a pray-er. This was all in addition to his duties for the local authority and Petty Sessions. 
He was a good preacher. The penultimate chapter gives examples of his sermon notes, some of which were written on the back of shop receipts and orders of services. Though simple in their structure, they offer valuable insights; I would be pleased if I could deliver such points to my own congregation. Indeed, I may have to offer apology to Mr Pratt in glory for having stolen some of his ideas. I suspect he won’t mind. 
He was an ordinary man. In one sense, no Christian is ordinary. Called and chosen by God, ordained into royal priesthood awaiting a glory greater than angels’, even the humblest of God’s folk are extraordinary. Yet he was not university educated, having supported his family through honest, manual work. But for having an articulate grandson with a sufficient stock of memories and sources, Pratt was an unlikely man to have his life retold. And so with most of us. No one shall ever enquire into my life and times when I am gone. Few who deign to read this blog will be mourned by those outside their current circles. Had a man of his calibre been about today, he would doubtless have been invited to the Palace to have his services acknowledged be an MBE pinned to his lapel. Back then, few ordinary folk were so recognised, yet the Lord Himself will have recompensed Mr Pratt when before Him he was called. 
It was also rather endearing to read of places which I love and am known to visit: Lunds, Garsdale, Hawes, Caton, Brookhouse, Morecambe. The places where we live are not remarkable or celebrated, but through them God’s saints have trod. 
So be encouraged. The great God of heaven looks not for the powerful and the noble, but for the mundane, the ordinary and the regular. Them He calls to lives of quiet service, that one day He might share His glorious splendour and unimaginable riches. When the Lord calls me home, you will find me in the long queue to shake old Mr Pratt’s hand. He, being dead, still encourages.
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10