Pentecostal Pioneers: John H Dearing

Pentecostal Pioneers: John H Dearing
By Joyce Macbeth Morehouse

In the early 1900s, a young cowboy from Idaho heard about a revival in a nearby Baptist church, so he and his buddies decided to go and see what was taking place. His mother, praying that God would save her son, went along also.

At the end of the message, the evangelist gave the appeal and the Lord spoke to the cowboy’s heart. “John, go give your mother a kiss, then go to the altar.” And John did just that.

Born November 7, 1880, John Dearing had never become a church member. Following his repentance he joined the church where he had found the Lord. Here he first heard the Jesus Name message. A lady from Maine who was holding special services made the statement: “There is a Cornelius here and God has sent me to you with a message.” Then she told about Jesus Name baptism and the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Years later this “Cornelius” sat teaching at the Newcastle Bridge convention in New Brunswick. With his ever-present asthmatic spray in his hand, he taught in the open air in a grove, as he preferred to do due to his severe struggle with asthma. He captivated his listeners with the story of his “Cornelius” experience.

“I went back on the job the next day. That night I crawled under the wagon, where I had been sleeping on the ground, but not to sleep, for the stars were saying, ‘Glory to God! Hallelujah!’ Next morning I got up, put on my yellow pants, a khaki shirt, and my straw hat, then tucked my Bible under my arm and headed for the hills of Kentucky.”

This “Cornelius” became an outstanding leader in early Pentecost. A powerful Bible teacher, he left behind a legacy of tracts and Bible lessons still used throughout our ranks. Brother Dearing felt led of God to spread the good news, and one of the brethren from Maine asked him to come and evangelize. There he joined a group of workers who were evangelizing in Charleston. Later they moved to a hall on Water Street in Bangor. After a while the others drifted into various fields of labor, leaving Brother Dearing with the Bangor work. He remained in the general area from 1920 to 1940, but the effects of his efforts were more far-reaching than Bangor, for his ministry touched numerous ministers and communities. New Brunswick was among the major recipients of the glorious message he preached.

During one of his early visits to New Brunswick, Brother Dearing met his future wife, Anna Miller from Debec, near Woodstock. Brother Edgar L. Grant pastored in Woodstock at the time, and Brother Dearing baptized him in Jesus’ name along with Brothers Leonard Parent, Milford, Wynn, and Quincy Stairs, and several others.

After Brother Dearing had pastored Bangor for a few months, word got around that he had a “new doctrine,” and many wanted to hear what he had to say. In November 1920, he accepted an invitation from Brother Grant to speak to the Woodstock convention, a ten-day session of teaching and fellowship among the Pentecostal pioneers of New Brunswick and Maine. Several had already received the Holy Ghost, one of the first being Hubert Perkins, who received this experience in Fielding in 1912. Others who assembled were Sisters C. C. Clark, Kitty and Noreen McLellan, Brothers Billy Ellis, Charlie and Harvey Flewelling, and F. Harold Bickford, William Killam, and Moody Wright. Brother Earl Jacques, who had only been converted a few months, was in the group, as were Brothers Ralph McCloskey, Leonard Parent, and Milford and Quincy Stairs.

Brother Dearing ably expounded his biblical insight on the Jesus Name doctrine, but as he sat quietly on the platform beside Brother Grant, it was difficult to realize this humble man would have anything astounding to say. Little did the convention body realize that in a short time Brother Grant would be called home and their convention speaker would serve as his replacement in a leadership capacity.

During the next year, 1921, at the age of forty-six, Brother Grant became seriously ill and Brother Dearing sat at his bedside during the illness, notebook in hand. He took notes as Brother Grant selected three songs to be sung at his funeral, then preached his own funeral sermon from II Timothy 4:7. At the funeral Brother Dearing preached from this text, and the congregation sang the three hymns.

After the passing of Brother Grant, Brother Dearing led the young flock of Jesus Name Pentecostals in Maine and New Brunswick until 1926, when Brother Jacques took over. He did an excellent job, encouraging the work of God by letters and visits. The youthful pastors especially appreciated his wisdom.

Brother Harvey Howe wrote of his counsel: “I was about twenty when I met Brother Dearing and his wife in Bangor, Maine, in 1930. This man was a wonderful blessing in my life. Let me mention a few of
the things that he taught me a minister should or should not do….” And he went on to relate some incidents. He told how Brother Dearing, on hearing he was keeping company with a young lady, took him aside and urged him to seek God’s direction for his life as a wife could either prove to be a blessing or a hindrance to his ministry.

Between 1920 and 1940, Brother Dearing traveled and evangelized. He also taught a while at Brother Rohn’s Northwest Bible Training School in Caldwell, Idaho. During one such venture, he and his wife were making the four-thousand-mile trip back east from Lewiston, Idaho, with only $30.25 in their pockets. The fare to Star, Idaho, was $31.86. When their money had taken them as far as they could go, the conductor put them off. They spent the night in the depot. Next morning, Anna changed shoes, and there, in the toe of her other shoes, was a five-dollar bill, so they boarded the next train and went on. Brother Dearing also told of the empty flour barrel. He and Anna put their heads in the empty barrel and sang praises to God.

John and Anna Dearing had two sons, Clement and David. One incident stands out to Clement as having made a great impression on his childish mind. In the early days of Pentecost, they moved about pitching their tent wherever they felt directed of God. A group of rowdies would throw rocks at the tent each night. One night as they were throwing stones, the ringleader was in the wrong place at the
wrong time and had his eye put out with one of his own gang’s rocks.
In 1933, a group of New Brunswick brethren attended the Pea Cove convention in Maine, where Brother Dearing was the camp speaker. In the group were Brothers Stanley McConaghy, Clement Hyde, Wynn Stairs, and Earl Jacques. The speaker walked across the platform weeping as he said, “Look at these young men. I am so proud of them!” And well he could be, for he had a great part in their training. Brother McConaghy later stated, “Of all the men that ever sacrificed for this Jesus Name truth, John Dearing was the greatest.”

It was not always easy to proclaim the truth. When he first came to New Brunswick, some of the brethren were skeptical. One night Fred Keirstead had a strange dream. He thought he had piled his wood up neatly, with great care, and someone came by and pushed it over. He felt sure Brother Dearing was responsible for knocking down his well-documented and orderly doctrine.

Brother Dearing believed in God’s law and order, and he always looked for the logic in any situation. He often said that God works His wonders, but He is logical.

During Brother Dearing’s lifetime, his heart was gradually weakened by bouts of asthma, but he patiently endured this until, in the year of 1940, a doctor from Howland, Maine, felt that he might be able to treat him successfully. He went to Howland, where he stayed with Brother Howe’s in-laws. Brother Howe mentioned that he sometimes studied Bible lessons at Brother Dearing’s bedside when the latter was too sick to get up.

When the doctor had given him just three days to live, Brother Howe went to visit him. Brother Howe later said he would never forget the extreme swelling and the deteriorating state of Brother Dearing’s physical body, but likewise his anticipation as he spoke of going to be with his Lord. On December 9, 1940, John Dearing slipped away to his eternal home.

While at Brother Rohn’s Bible school, Brother Dearing helped prepare a course of study called the Pentecostal Home Study Course. It has since become well-known in our ranks in preparing individuals for the ministry. The lessons cover over one hundred subjects and several complete books of the New Testament.

The sacrifice he made for the truth was not in vain, for today there are numerous godly men and women, saints and preachers alike, who love the truth of the message he was willing to bring to a hungry people. How his heart will rejoice when we join him around God’s throne!