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Blest Be The Tie That Binds

John was just 12 years old and both parents were now gone. In the 18th century that meant finding a job, so he worked as a tailor to survive. He was a good worker but a lonely child with no family.

One day he had the incredible fortune to hear a preacher by the name of George Whitfield. His preaching changed John’s life. He gave himself to Christ and determined to become a preacher.

At the age of 25, he and his wife, Mary, took the pastorate in a church in the tiny town of Wainsgate, England. The church and community were dirt poor and could barely pay him a wage. He often found his pay in the form of potatoes and whatever else the church could come up with.

When they started a family it became clear that John and Mary would need to do something more to provide for their four kids. John was a terrific minister. He was well educated and much loved and his congregation had built an addition to the church to accommodate the increasing crowds.

Eventually, a prominent London church offered him a prestigious pulpit with better pay. John and Mary accepted the offer and told the church that they were leaving. They sold their furniture, loaded up their belongings and boarded the wagon to head to London.

They sat in the wagon, ready to go, but John hesitated. The people whom they had cared for and ministered to for six years had all gathered to say goodbye. Tears were flowing and Mary was distraught. John couldn’t make himself set the wagon in motion. He dismounted and unloaded his family. They were going to stay! This is where they belonged. This town was their family.

John ministered in Wainsgate for fifty four more years, turning down other important opportunities. On the tenth anniversary of their decision to stay, he wrote a hymn that you and I still sing today. It’s a hymn that celebrates the love and blessedness of having such a close-knit family of God’s people. Here are the lyrics to John Fawcett’s hymn:

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