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The Gate Seldom Found

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Gate Seldom Found.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Raymond A. Reid(Author)

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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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Book details

  • PDF | 631 pages
  • Raymond A. Reid(Author)
  • Harvest House Pub (March 1, 2004)
  • English
  • 9
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Martha Knight on August 9, 2008

    The writer of this book claims it is a historical novel. I would have to say his idea of history is a novel one; in no other sense is his claim true.Raymond A. Reid is or was a B&R Truther--a born-and-raised member of a little known cult its members often call The Truth, or Friends and Workers. They claim this sect is God's "one, true way," and refer to other Christian groups as "false churches." They also like to say their way goes back to the New Testament, and that it is in fact the true church of God as read of in the Bible. They assert that their non-ordained, poorly prepared, itinerant ministers are God's true servants, because they travel continually in pairs and do not have their own homes--which, they say, is the only way God's true servants can follow Christ's instructions. In most places these "two-by-twos," as many call them, are careful not to mention that they, too, have an "earthly founder," one William Irvine, who launched this ministry in 1897, in northern Ireland.The record shows that at first Irvine seems to have advocated that all converts to the "true way" should become itinerant evangelists and go forth as the disciples did when Jesus paired them off in Matthew 10 (actually for a short-term mission, not a perpetual style of ministry). These 2X2 "workers" are the apostles of their day, in every generation, so the claim goes. But when some former members researched old newspaper files and discovered the relatively recent origin of the group, the Truthers were at some pains to explain how their sect goes back to the New Testament, if it was founded in Northern Ireland in 1897. A number of fanciful theories and fables have been tried.Comments by thewriter in this paperback book tell how Reid heard essentially the tale he sets forth in "The Gate Seldom Found" from the lips of some of those itinerant preachers, members of this sect, when he was a boy and the "homeless" preachers would be staying with his family for a time. He based the book on their stories, he says. This secretive group has no literature and no headquarters, they declare, so there would be no definitive account of how the group started and spread--until this book.I call it Seldomgate. It is a cover-up! Reid has the group starting not in northern Ireland but near Guelph, Ontario. He has it summoned into being not by a demagogue such as William Irvine, but by a farmer and his wife, who saw the movement as comprised of laity, who would meet in homes because they believed that's what the New Testament shows as a requirement. They were rejecting the terrible apostasy of the churches of their community, and all churches that have names, stationed clergy, paid preachers, church buildings, organizational structure, offerings, ritual, etc. As the book has it, after these lay persons had organized their house-church approach to Christianity, they began to send preachers from their number. This turns the chronology of the development of the 2X2 on its head.It's revisionist "history" all the way, and the geography is just as warped, with the origin of the 2X2 having been moved from northern Ireland to southern Canada. It's as if Charles Dickens had written "A Tale of Two Cities" about the French Revolution, but had set the French Revolution in the American colonies--and claimed that it was historically authentic. But then, the cult is far less than candid about many things besides its history: its methods, its financial practices, its doctrine and its operations.If you don't read Seldomgate for a true-to-history account of the founding of a the 2X2 cult, you might think to read it for its literary value. But here you will be disappointed, since it is more fakery than Thackeray, more dollop than Trollope. Think of it as a holy Harlequin. There's some romance (but if there is erotic love, it is unrequited--no bodice ripping here!). There's a bit of violence, and of course the workers are much misunderstood and put upon, what with the prejudice of the unsaved people all about, especially clergy.As first written, Reid's plodding polemic ran on for about 400 pages. A publishing house that finally agreed to produce it wanted it fleshed out and livened up, so another Truther helped pad it out some 200 extra pages. It appears to me this same co-writer supplied a glowing foreword, extolling the result of this collaboration, modestly refraining from mentioning her 33.3 percent contribution. The extra verbiage added more romance novel touches, and made them hackneyed enough to blend with the rest.In spite of the book's claims to be about the founding of this sect, the very sect in which the author was reared (and we know that to be the "nameless church," the 2X2s, the Friends and Workers), Seldomgate does not tell us anything at all about the actual origin of the sect. But perhaps that tells us something about the sect itself, which refuses to own a name because, after all, they are the only Christians! That sect, which insiders refer to among themselves as The Truth, plays fast and loose with the truth at every level, and has done so throughout its history. The writing, publication (initially privately) and distribution of this book is yet another way in which it has been misrepresented by its supporters.It appears that Reid intended this book to serve as a sales tool, or a polemic, to promote the idea that the 2X2 "fellowship" is the pure essence of Christian practice, hewing faithfully to the New Testament account of the early church, eschewing all the error and corruption of other churches. That premise is as wildly false as the book's take on history. As to doctrine, theology and practice, the 2X2 cult is diametrically opposite to the teachings and accounts of the New Testament.If Snopes investigated books, it would label this one False. Google for "2X2" or "Friends and Workers" and you will find the real skinny on the sect Reid "imported" to Ontario, to site this unintentionally cautionary fable.

  • By Joshua Lawson on December 28, 2014

    One evening, my wife and I were having dinner with some friends of ours. In the course of our conversation they began telling me about a book they had picked up at the local library.“You have to read it,” they said. “Listen to this part,” they said. And so on. When I found out it was a work of historical fiction, I yawned. The historical part may have appealed to me, but fiction isn’t normally my thing. Yet they persisted in their effort to get me to read it, and finally I gave in.I picked up the same copy from the same library. The drab yellow cover was forgettable to say the least, while the book description on the back cover didn’t exactly grab my attention, either. In fact, it looked just like every other piece of Christian fiction I’d ever seen. Little did I know how different it would prove to be.That was roughly seven years ago. Presently I am re-reading the book for about the fifth time, which is something I hardly ever do with any book, no matter how much I enjoyed it the first time around. I just don’t have the time.But this book is just that good. No, check that. It’s not that it’s that good. In fact, for a novel it’s probably only mediocre at best. The author’s writing style is dry at times and his use of metaphor a bit redundant. But the story that comes alive in its pages is rich beyond all measure.The Gate Seldom Found is that book. It is a dramatized account based on the true story of “a little known Christian fellowship that flowered late in the 19th century” in rural Canada. The author, Raymond Reid, says the characters and plot of the book are drawn from his own childhood memories of stories told over the dinner table by itinerant preachers who would lodge with his family from time to time."As early as 1906, my grandparents had embraced the simplicity of this time-honored fellowship of love. My parents, too, became profoundly involved in the house church movement, affording me childhood opportunities to meet and respect the itinerant preachers of whom I write" (taken from the Author’s Note).I have no first-hand knowledge of this fellowship. A quick Internet search will turn up negative reviews of what some people call the “Friends & Workers” or the “2X2″ movement. I exchanged a few emails with Mr. Reid after reading his book the first time, and he told me the movement has departed somewhat from the vision held by the original saints (which is always to be expected, unfortunately). Other sources seem to indicate that Mr. Reid is no longer directly involved with whatever remains of this “time-honored fellowship of love.”The history interests me, of course, but ultimately none of it matters for good or ill in my reading of The Gate Seldom Found. The book stands alone for its ground-breaking presentation of Christ and the Church. In fact, I’ve yet to read any book, fiction or otherwise, that so magnificently sets forth the Way of life and faith in Jesus Christ as does Mr. Reid’s novel. The characters are warm and inviting, the story-line is provocative, and the content is rich in spiritual reality. The further you read the more you are surprised at the depth and scope of Reid’s vision.From the first page, Alistair Stanhope steps forward as the novel’s central character. Alistair is a simple farmer who is stirred to repentance by the death of his life-long friend, an event that causes him to question his relationship with God and ultimately the entire foundation of organized Christianity. Alistair shares his spiritual hunger with a small circle of friends and eventually they begin meeting around the Lord for fellowship in the parlor of the Stanhope farm house. From that point on the story reads like a re-telling of the book of Acts set in the context of rural 19th century Canada. No doubt the tale is an idealized account of what really took place, but if the true story is even remotely close to the way Reid presents it in his novel, I would have loved to have been part of it.The Gate Seldom Found is roughly 600 pages long and spans about fourteen years. While reading I came to relate with so many of the characters in different ways and was often brought to tears as their story unfolded. My own longing to follow Christ was re-kindled and my fledgling commitment to Him challenged on almost every page. Many times I was awed by the simple clarity of the gospel as it was set forth in the dialogue of the characters, and the “amen” of the Spirit was continually on my lips.I can hardly do justice to the entire book in this short review, but believe me: To the person who is searching for that City not built with human hands, The Gate Seldom Found is dynamic from beginning to end.From the epilogue:"The stirring in Alistair Stanhope’s heart to know God after the death of his friend… had been instrumental in drawing many into a new and simple faith in Jesus."Over the years the Holy Spirit continued to move and speak through the ministry of the friends and workers. The simple way of Jesus grew and eventually spread across Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States. All this was accomplished without a hierarchy, a head office, or a human leader as each person kept in touch with Christ, the head of his church."So if I could entice you in any other way to read this book I would do it. As I already noted, it is not the best book I have read from a literary standpoint. But regarding the testimony of Christ and of a people who actually gave their all to follow Him in life, The Gate Seldom Found is unmatched in modern Christian literature. This may explain why it is so little known and already out of print, for the masses of Christendom seldom go in for anything of such stunning spiritual depth.Read this book, and read it well. On the fifth time around I am still drawing nourishment from its deep well of truth. You can obtain a copy on Amazon or by emailing the author directly at [email protected] From what I know, all proceeds from its sale go to benefit the poor.

  • By A customer on November 2, 2001

    Primitive Biblical Christianity comes alive in a practical way in this book. Its characters find a living faith through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and exemplify the simple, joyful life that His indwelling presence produces. In a short time, this book has impacted so many people for good, creating a burning desire to reach out and share our faith with others as effectively as the believers in the book do. The focus is on Christ to the degree that it makes us want to experience Him in a deeper way than ever before.Admittedly, it's not hard to identify with these characters, since I've lived my life in the context of the fellowship of believers portrayed here. Yet I think all the believers who have read the book find themselves inspired to lay aside human thinking in its many forms and get closer to the living Christ than ever before. Thank God for that!

  • By Brad on April 1, 2009

    How ironic to see such a twisted lie of the beginnings of the 2x2 cult movement. I was raised (should I say razed) in this group and suffered many things such as slander, libel, false accusations, broken contracts, verbal abuse from it's members when I left. I'm so glad I got out. I would recommend instead you read the book "Changes that Heal" to learn how to recover from cult abuse. Another good book to read instead would be "The Secret Sect" by Doug and Helen Parker and learn about the cult's founder William Irvine who started the movement in Ireland.


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