Andy’s conversation with David Kingdon

Andy’s conversation with David Kingdon

I’m now sat in Starbucks at Cardiff Gate having spent a fascinating morning with Rev David Kingdon, his wife Sue and their son Stephen. David is held in high esteem by many and remembered fondly as a godly preacher and teacher of God’s word. In recent months he has known declining health but it is wonderful to see his steadfast faith in action during times of adversity and to see the diligent, faithful support of his wife.

The following article is based on conversation during my visit and is a summary of David’s experiences as a child evacuee during World War II.

Born in 1934 in Streatham South London, David was the oldest of three children. At the outbreak of the war, David (5), Peter(4) and baby Margaret left London with their mother and went to stay with the maternal grandma in Sussex. Dad stayed on in London working for the ministry of food under Stafford Cripps. Prior to the war dad Kingdon had been a business developer and had done much work in designing Streatham High Street ( known at the time as Kingdon’s kingdom!) During the early days of the blitz, the family home took a direct hit from an Luftwaffe bomb and David’s father was killed.

Clearly London was no place for the family to return to, whilst mum and baby stayed in Sussex, David and his brother were evacuated – Peter going to Wales and David to Islip in Northamptonshire.

“A trainload of evacuee children arrived in the parish hall in Islip” David tells me, “people from the area came and chose which children they would give a home to … until there was only me left!”

Eventually granny Caswell arrived, looked at David and said “I’ll take him!”

So began 4 immensely happy and safe years with granny  Caswell; her own children were all grown and had left home, so it was just she and David. Times there were peaceful and contented – David enjoyed his time at the village school and spent his free time wandering the fields with the many friends he made.

“The closest the war came to Islip was a stray “doodlebug” that landed nearby and shook granny Caswells feet off the stool she was resting them on!”

Mrs.  Caswell was cleaner at the local Parish Church and David would often help her – on one such occasion, David announced to her that one day he would be a preacher. (It seems young David was a prophet!) The Parish Church was “high church” and to his knowledge David never heard the gospel there.

However, God’s hand was clearly on this situation! Out of dark circumstance of time, The Lord was working out His eternal purposes! Amongst David’s friends was young Jeremy Clarke, whose parents, Claude and Molly, were believers. They took David under their wing and often took him to meetings at their chapel in nearby Raunds. The Clarkes would regularly offer hospitality to American believers who were in the area helping with the war effort. For these men and other local believers, they organised a monthly fellowship meeting in the Parish Hall. David remembers the song they sang at the end of each meeting:

“God be with you till we meet again” – the words of course were full of meaning in those dangerous days!

With the threat of invasion now passed, David went back to family in Sussex and from there he joined his brother Peter in Spurgeon’s orphanage. It was there that David came to faith, as the wonderful things David had learned in Islip were built upon through morning and evening prayers, visits to Redhill Baptist Church and visiting student preachers from  Spurgeon’s college.

Although the war years were dark and difficult for the Kingdon family, the loss of his father, the evacuation, the orphanage – David looks back with grateful thanks that Almighty God used those circumstances to lead to the salvation of his soul.

Now in his latter years David can look back with joy and know that the same God who led him through difficulties then is leading him now!

“How good is the God we adore, our faithful, up changeable friend, His love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end.

‘Tis Jesus, the first and the last, whose Spirit shall guide us safe home, we’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come”! (Joseph Hart hymn)

Starbucks tall filter finished, I go on my way encouraged by an elderly saint with a Great Saviour!

… is Jesus your Saviour?

 

Written by: Dr. Andrew Christofides, Pastor of St. Mellons Baptist Church

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