Bruce Edison Cumming


Winter 2013
Written by Ashley Milne - Venezuala


Bruce Edison Cumming
1921 - 2014
Missionary to Venezuela

Upon hearing that Bruce Cumming was to leave Venezuela after sixty years of service there, a Christian in Caracas who had known the assemblies of God's people since the 1940s, said, "Well, of all the foreigners who have come to this country to serve the Lord, Bruce Cumming was the one who identified most with the Venezuelan people."

Bruce, with his wife Rhoda, gave spirit, soul and body to evangelize the state of Falcon, on the north-western coast of that country, and to build assemblies according to the pattern laid down in the New Testament. It took pressing circumstances, or strong persuasion by his fellow workers, to convince him to interrupt his labours where his heart was.

He visited the humblest of homes, far from populated areas; preached publicly the Word of God in his down-to-earth, earnest way; sponsored literature distribution in every hamlet; constructed many gospel halls; and counselled a people who respected him for what he was as well as what he did. Bruce Cumming was born in Squamish, near Vancouver, Canada, on July 11, 1921, into a family of six boys and three girls, and grew up in Vancouver during the Great Depression. His father was killed in a train accident when Bruce was eleven-years-old.

At age nineteen he had a desire to be right with God. Alone, he knelt down by a cattle trough and prayed, "O God, I am no good at all." There came to mind what he had learned in the Woodland Drive Gospel Hall: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses from all sin." He believed that great declaration from Holy Scripture. His soul was saved and his cigarettes were destroyed as a sign of new life.

Friends persuaded him to join the Canadian army as a noncombatant, and he was engaged as a code breaker for four years. In England, before being sent across the Channel, he longed to hear the Scriptures preached and to know God's people. Bruce found an assembly of believers and was baptized among them. Visiting David Livingstone's birthplace, he was challenged by Isaiah 6:8: "Who will go?" There he dedicated himself to the spread of the gospel.

As World War II was ending, he was severely burned in Germany while rescuing a group of people from a burning building. Treatment required months of hospitalization in London.

The promise that the Lord gave Jacob before he left Bethel, "I am with thee and will keep thee in all places," was the assurance that he received when returning to Canada in 1946. He was received into the fellowship of Christians in the Fairview assembly, where his mother and sister, Anna Jean, were members. The following year, Bruce was joined in matrimony with Miss Rhoda Alves.

Commended to full-time service in the Lord's work, they arrived in Venezuela late in 1947 and soon were engaged, along with others, in the arduous project of constructing the rudiments of a house and a gospel hall in Cumarebo, Those buildings are icons to the present day. Bruce and Rhoda later relocated to a more adequate residence in nearby Tocopero.

While it is true, many centres in Falcon are prosperous, large areas of that part of Venezuela are scorching hot, dry and cruel to man and beast, and to God's people. But many in Falcon responded to the Gospel, and some leaders in New Testament churches in other parts of the country trace their spiritual heritage to what they learned in an inauspicious childhood when "Don Bruce" arrived in the jeep.

Bruce's health failed when the couple was in Vancouver in 2007. He suffered frequent falls and was admitted to a care facility where he remained quietly with his Bible, books and prayer, until his decease. Or was he there? Rather, he was reliving unstinting service for the Lord Jesus Christ in a certain corner of the vast field, which is the world that is crying for the gospel.

 

Winter 2013
Written by Ashley Milne - Venezuala