History of the Lifeboat

by Bertie Johnston


While driving through Moy District one evening in 1987, I was deeply exercised in heart over the Spirtual condition of the town and surrounding area.  Many places of worship on the Lord’s day evening were closed and most of the public houses were open.  Having been called by the Lord seven years previous to do the work of an evangelist and having a portable hall (named the Lifeboat) at my disposal, I sought men of God to pray with me concerning the burden.  From October 1987 to May 1988, four men and myself met most mornings at 6am and occasional evenings to petition The Lord for Moy, Revival and various family and community needs.

In April 1988, I went to Fermanagh for three days to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting.  Throughout those days, God gave me the assurance that something was going to happen.  Returning home to attend a funeral in Killyman, I came in contact with a local farmer who invited me back to his home for tea.  Knowing this to be the will of God I accepted.  During out conversation I informed him of my exercise and concern for Moy District and that I would be interested in a site to erect a Hall for Sunday night gospel meetings.  At my friend’s invitation we travelled to “Grange Corner” and there behind a rusty iron gate lay a site with electric and water supply suitable for the occasion.  Enquiring who the owner was, I was taken to the home of Mr & Mrs Jim Reid, Moygashel and in a short time the site was secured.  Jim and Anna Reid gave the site willingly and the following day they were found on the site clearing and cleaning it up to make ready for the hall.


On the first Lord’s Day of June 1988 at 8.30pm the meetings commenced.  My wife Pat welcomed the folk and gave out hymn books and Alan Bartley led the meeting.  The work had begun.  There were 50 people in attendance that night.


In January 1989 the first Gospel Campaign commenced with Mr. Tom Shaw, Mr Billy Kenedy and myself.  At this mission a number of people were saved.  From that period, Conferences and Gospel missions have been annually up until the present.  Many souls sought the Lord and scores went through the waters of Baptism in obedience to the Lord.  Sunday night meetings continued weekly in the Portable Hall which seated 100 people until June 1989, when people had to be turned away because there was not enough room.  It was therefore decided to purchase another Hall to be used as an extension to the existing Hall.  The Lord wonderfully provided for the extension before the task in erecting it was completed.

Interest was shown for a morning ministry meeting, so again I resorted to seeking the Lord.  I needed to know if it was God’s will.


On September 20th, Scripture from Ezra Chapter 10 verse 4 came very forcefully to me. “Arise; for this matter belongeth until thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.” Continuing on to verse 9 I read, “It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month,” that being the day and month I was presently in.  I arose with confidence and assurance that another stage of the work had begun.

The Lord’s Day of October 14th 1990 was the commencement of the Ministry of The Word and Breaking of Bread service at 11am,

Our extension to our original building was yet again unable to accommodate the number gathering on Sunday evenings, when on an occasion we turned some people away.  Recognising our need, we as a fellowship sought the Lord’s direction.  Adjacent to the Hall was a bungalow and a number of office houses including a large hen house containing 5,000 hens.  Unknown to us, the owner was planning to place his holding on the market.

After surveying the premises with others we decided to purchase. I also was again spoken to through Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 10 and 11, “For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and waterest it with thy food, as a garden of herbs: But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:” This word was a confirmation from the Lord as the peoperty had within its boundaries a hill, a valley and a river.


In January 1993 we abandoned the initial site, work having been completed by our members and friends in transforming the hen house into the new accommodation known as the “Lifeboat Center”. The initial word the Lord had given three years before the Lifeboat commenced had now come to pass.

Isaiah Chapter 58 v 12 “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt build up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

To God be all the Glory.  I have never doubted for a moment that God was in it and better still, the best has yet to be. Hallelujah!

Yours and His

Bertie Johnston (Pastor)