Title: So This is Boreham!
Author: Jeffrey S. Cranston
“For all of his life, he was a person apart. His Saviour was all important to him.” So runs the descriptive phrase of a son about his father. The son is Frank Boreham, Jr. and his father is the man I wish for you to meet. Frank William Boreham was a prolific author, penning more than 45 books, the composer of numerous booklets and approximately 2,000 newspaper articles. He served as pastor to three Baptist congregations in Mosgiel, New Zealand, Hobart, Tasmania and Armadale, Australia. His name is still spoken of with reverence in these locales today. As a minister, there is much to learn from him. As a writer, he leaves few equals in his wake. He was a consummate story-teller and every preacher can garner useful illustrations and acquire the knowledge on how to tell a good story simply be sitting at his feet and observing. He is a favorite of Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham, Warren Wiersbe, and Ravi Zacharias, along with countless others through the years.
F. W. Boreham was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England on March 3, 1871. He says of that day, “Salvoes of artillery and peals of bells echoed across Europe on the morning of my birth.” He was speaking, of course, not about his advent, but about the culmination of the Franco-Prussian War “that self-same day.” It was the days of Victorian England and a wonderful setting in which a boy could grow up. “Wroxton Lodge,” as his childhood home was called, held within its walls Frank and his nine brothers and sisters. He often recalled one of his favorite childhood memories: those Sunday nights when his mother would gather her brood around the fireplace and read a chapter or two from a classical book and then tell a personal story. Their perennial favorite was of their mother when she was a young girl visiting Canterbury Cathedral. She was to tour the grand old cathedral with her cousin, but her cousin failed to materialize. His mother was turning away, “disgusted and dejected,” when a kindly gentleman, “with a short, pointed beard, brown hair going gray, a very fine forehead and wonderfully lustrous eyes,” approached and offered to personally guide her through the Cathedral. She received a delightful tour and was later embarrassed to find out, upon receiving her escort’s card as they departed, that her tour guide had been none other than Charles Dickens! Years later, Boreham related that perhaps the greatest developments in his heart and mind took place at that fireside, “…and, of all the stories that I have ever heard or read, none ever moved me like those stories that, in the flickering firelight, mother told!”
One day in Tunbridge Wells, it was announced that the American evangelist, D.L. Moody, would be preaching that Sunday afternoon at the Village Green. Young Frank and his siblings were escorted to the village center by their aunt, she with strong evangelical leanings, and no doubt hoping for the salvation of her nieces and nephews. Upon arrival, they discovered the Green packed with people. There was no hope of getting close enough to the portly preacher to hear him. As they were resigning themselves to this fact, there was a sudden commotion behind them. The wind had shifted and a makeshift platform was being erected. Frank had a front row spot from which to listen to Mr. Moody! Frank learned a great deal about preaching that day. It is a lesson every preacher must learn and of which he should be constantly reminded. Boreham writes, “…the astonishment of that afternoon lay in the circumstance that I could understand every word! I had somehow assumed that preachers of eminence must be very abstruse, recondite, and difficult to follow. I had hoped that, by intense concentration, I might occasionally catch the drift of the speaker’s argument. But Mr. Moody took a text in which there was no word containing more than one syllable: The Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost. He used the simplest and most homely speech: he told stories that interested and affected me: he became sometimes impassioned and sometimes pathetic: he held my attention spellbound until the last syllable had died away. I could scarcely believe my ears. It was all so different – so delightfully different – from what I had expected the utterance of a world-renowned preacher to be.” Moody was not the only great man of God used to mold Boreham’s life.
Taking leave of home and moving to London for work at age 16, Frank was first employed in a clerical capacity. He later found a better paying job with a railway company. While working there, he suffered a serious accident that almost cost him his life and affected him through his remaining years. Living in a boarding house introduced him to many temptations only a metropolis like London could offer. Frank decided he needed to join a church and seek further spiritual training and teaching. The great Bible teacher, Dr. F.B. Meyer, pastored a church in London and offered a Saturday afternoon Bible class for young men. As Frank sat under Dr. Meyer’s expository teaching week after week, he sensed God’s call to the ministry. In order that he might test this tugging at his heart, he joined a group of young men from C. H. Spurgeon’s Preacher’s College and assisted them in evangelistic street meetings. Soon he found himself standing on a London street corner preaching the gospel.
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 fianc