James Joseph Keep – God’s Promises Held Strong

James Joseph Keep 3The fog settled over the immigrant ship American Congress off the shores of Newfoundland. The sun did not shine, nor provide navigational reference for the crew. James Keep and his wife Ann, three daughters, and one grand-baby were sailing for Zion with 350 Saints. While on deck, James looked forward for a time, then aft, reflecting on the hopeful journey yet ahead, and then on his life back in England. He was five years old when his father died, was raised a few more years by family members, but mostly, with little schooling, made his own way keeping sheep, cows, horses, or any work he could find. The heavy fog bore down a second day on the ship. James thought back on his apprenticeship as a brick layer and his nine years with his first wife Elizabeth. Sometime after her death, James married Ann Miller, and he began to seek religion. He attended the Wesleyan’s, and later the Baptist’s, and then the Independent’s, each for a number of years, but still felt alone. “I could never tell what the Kingdom of God was,” he wrote. The thick fog prevailed a third day; their location and direction, unknown. James recalled the two young men who brought the restored gospel to his home. Encouraged by his wife, he listened. “I never knew what God was until I came into this church.” He and his family were baptized and accepted callings. He traveled extensively to preach the gospel for twenty years. Now at age 60, on a ship in the Atlantic, Johns faith in God’s promises held strong. “Captain,” a man yelled, “what is that?” The man on the quarter deck pointed anxiously forward. The fog [had] lifted from the surface of the sea, as if a veil or scroll had been raised. The tall powerful captain looked, then sprang to the wheelhouse like a tiger, knocked the helmsman down, grabbed the wheel, and with full presence of mind and moment, turned it about. Sailors sprang to their posts at his commands, as the ship swayed and turned avoiding rocks, breakers, and a watery grave. Many thanks were given to God for lifting the fog, and protecting the saints.

(by Kenneth R. Hardman, based on accounts in Hardman Biographies – Ancestors of Sidney Glenn Hardman and Dorothy Mae Griffin, personal writings of James Joseph Keep, writings of Sarah Keep Buttars, and account Saved by Providence by J. Nicholson) #AncestorClips

About Kenneth Richard Hardman

AncestorClips are very short stories about very real people. Each clip nurtures awareness of a time, a place, and the character of a man or woman who cultivated a path for our life. The reader feels the good, the obstacles, the happiness, the sadness, and the overcoming. They cheer us, make us resilient when challenged, give us purpose, and connect us to our multi-generational family. Each story is followed by reflections from the author and readers sharing how the story strengthened or inspired them. Ken Hardman is a son, a brother, a grandson, a great-grandson… He is also a husband, father and grand-father. Ken is a professional engineer, engineering mentor, technical writer, and associate technical fellow at a major aerospace company. He is a writer of engineering and family history stories. Please join Ken in reading, reflecting upon, or writing #AncestorClips
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