The Gate Seldom Found
by Raymond Reid
This historical novel, drawn from actual incidents and real people, dramatizes the true story of a little-known house church fellowship that flowered late in the 19th century. The saga opens in southern Ontario during the blizzard of January 1898.
Resolute men and articulate women play out challenging roles in a world of candlelight and kerosene lamps, of weather prediction by signs in the heavens, of cures by poultices and plasters. Tramps are invited to the table and the hired man takes his place among family festivities as the novel interweaves the textures of farm and village life, showing portraits of marriage, birth and death, youth and age in a rural society before the mechanization of agriculture.
Alistair Stanhope, one of the main characters, is shaken by the finality of his friend's untimely death after a desperate battle with galloping consumption. The pain of this sudden loss causes Alistair to question his own faith. Unable to find the depth of spirituality that he is seeking within his church, he and his wife, Priscilla, turn to a close circle of friends for support.
Disenchantment with organized religion and a thirst for more intimate fellowship inspire them to worship in their own parlours. Realizing that God doesn't live in structures of stone, they jettison former rituals in their quest for a deeper Christian life. As time passes, a few of these friends choose voluntary poverty, sell all of their possessions and give the money to the poor. When they travel to various settlements as itinerant preachers, they encounter violence and opposition to their simple message.
This historical novel engages the reader in 504 pages of challenging reading. A glossary of historical terms and a map circa 1898 round out the saga. A Reference section details nearly 500 biblical passages that guided the group as it matured and developed.
"I enjoyed your book immensely! It was very imaginatively done, with an ending that was unexpected and surprising." -- Keith Carter, South Carolina"I laughed, cried, and thanked God for the biblical insights woven through the text and the experiences of the characters." -- Ian Knight, Ontario"The farther I read, the more amazed I became at the depth and scope of the book!" -- Marion Kingman, Washington --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Raymond Reid has been meeting in a home church for most of his life. A professing Christian, he offers the completed novel with the conviction that it speaks of genuine faith freshly and honestly felt. His grandparents were profoundly involved in the house church movement as early as 1906, giving him many opportunities to meet and respect the itinerant preachers of whom he writes. As a boy he often sat wide-eyed across the breakfast table regaled by anecdotes of their rich and colourful experiences. In later years, the author noted the similarity between their stories and those of the house church movement founded in China by Watchman Nee early in the 1900s.The author has lived his entire 53 years in the area of Guelph, Ontario, the core and focus of the novel's events. After graduation from school, he designed and built custom homes and later developed subdivisions, specializing in affordable homes. His building career extended over 25 years until the early 1990s, but he felt restless for something beyond the having and the getting. After struggling with one of the most difficult decisions he had ever made, he wound up his business and travelled extensively with his wife, Gretchen, and their two young people. In his travels he visited home churches and itinerant preachers in many parts of Europe and climbed high into the Italian Alps searching out the remote valleys where the primitive Waldensians took refuge prior to the Reformation.But still he needed something more, something that has been satisfied by the writing of this book and by a desire to help people suffering deprivation and extreme poverty in the Third World. All of the income from The Gate Seldom Found will be donated to buy food and to assist the poor.Throughout the three years of working on the novel, the author regularly invited input from the public at large and took the innovative approach of advertising in local newspapers and delivering flyers door to door to find readers with whom to share the manuscript. Hundreds of men and women from ages 16 to 86 and from all walks of life read the work-in-progress and shared their feelings. The result is a book that truly reflects the yearnings in the hearts of many ordinary men and women.This historical novel speaks to the contemporary reader seeking a deeper connection to God and a simpler expression of Christian life. It is particularly relevant in light of a recent documentary which describes a rapid increase in the number of people desiring to worship in home churches today. Indisputably, The Gate Seldom Found is the only novel inspired by a unique fellowship which emerged at a time of spiritual re-awakening and revival across the western world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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