Donald Charles Edward Wheatley, a member of the church at Zoar Chapel, Dicker, for 30 years and deacon for 26 years, passed peacefully away on December 16th, 2010, aged 82. He was born on September 18th, 1928. He was the first child of godly parents, Benjamin and Ivy Wheatley, who put up many prayers for him and their other children. Our dear friend from an early age feared the great God of heaven, who can see us at all times. He was determined to join the army but the Lord hedged up his way and frustrated all his attempts to join up.
At the age of 19 he was struck down with an appendix abscess which burst before he was rushed into hospital. Being dangerously ill, the words from the hymn dropped in,
When rolling worlds depart on fire
They were brought powerfully to his mind and the solemn issues of eternity. The Lord wonderfully spared his life, and after five weeks in hospital he came home with thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. He was told that he would have to return to hospital for another operation after two months, which he greatly feared. After three months he had peritonitis and spent another five weeks in hospital. He said, 'The dear Lord weakened my strength in the way but spared my life.' At that time he had such a desire to be right in the sight of Almighty God.
And thousands sink to hell.
When he was stronger, the flesh wanted to have its way, and he went to the theatre on Saturdays, but he still had the dread that Almighty God could see him. One Saturday while he was waiting for the film to start he said that a voice said to him, 'Where will you be if the roof caves in? Where will you go?' He came out of the place, never to return. He often was confessing his sin and begging for mercy. He had a real love to Mr. Jabez Field, the pastor at Blackboys Chapel where he attended, and the Lord blessed the Word preached to his soul. When Mr. Field died he felt that the Lord led him to Zoar Chapel, Dicker. He prayed that the Lord would provide him with a dear wife, which the Lord did, and they were married on May 5th, 1956. The dear Lord has favoured them with 54 years of happy married life and blessed them with six children.
The Lord wonderfully led them about in providence and supplied their every need. They had some remarkable answers to prayer and remarkable deliverances. They lived at Plumpton for eight-and-a-half years and they travelled seventeen-and-a-half miles to the Dicker Chapel and felt this was their home. The Lord fed his soul under the ministry of his late pastor, Mr. J. W. Sperling-Tyler.
The Lord mercifully preserved his life as he had several tractor accidents; he felt the Lord was teaching and correcting him. While he was on the Plumpton Downs, he felt they were some of the most sacred times of his life. When he had an operation the Lord spoke to him, 'They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.'
His dear wife was constrained to join the church and was baptized at Zoar Chapel, Dicker on April 18th, 1965. He was very rebellious that she had ventured without him, but the night after her baptism, the Lord so drew near to him and so blessed him that he woke his wife and said, 'The dear Lord has come and looked on me. I feel I want to climb out on the roof and shout his great and holy name for all the world to hear. It was such a blessed time I could have flown away to be with the Lord.'
His pastor's (Mr. Sperling-Tyler's) ministry was life and power to him. He preached him out of Plumpton to Hailsham. One sermon that he often spoke about was from Exodus 14:13: 'Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.'
One day while on the Downs, the Lord spoke these words to him: 'Ye shall serve God in this mountain.' He wondered if this meant the ministry or being elected as a deacon. He said from that day his proud nature contrived to steer clear from joining the church so he would not have to be appointed, but the Lord by terrible things in righteousness made him willing and he was baptized on March 6th, 1980. The word that his pastor gave him after he had given his testimony to the church was Deuteronomy 33:24, 25: 'And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.' At the pool before baptizing him, Mr. Sperling-Tyler spoke the following:
My beloved brother, it is my holy joy and delight (and I certainly am not worthy of it) to take you through the waters of baptism. Think of the dear ones in heaven who prayed for their dear children, and what is the issue. So we pray you will long be spared to this honoured church to be a pillar in it when some of us are with the Lord. I am persuaded you will. Pleading with the Lord for a word, he gave me this: 'Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.' And remember the Lord said, 'Thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, verily, verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.'
The dear Lord wonderfully blessed him while he was working at East Hoathly with the pardon of all his sins. He was so burdened about his sins and the Lord came, and took all of his sins away; he looked for his sins and they were all gone. He was appointed deacon, March 27th, 1984. When he was appointed deacon, he said what Gideon said: 'Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.' This office he faithfully carried out unto the day of his death.
Our dear friend was a well-exercised man for his own soul and the souls of others. After his pastor was taken home, he was so exercised that the Lord would provide the flock with another pastor, which the Lord brought to pass. The Lord wonderfully blessed him under our present pastor's ministry, especially when he preached from, 'I will make all my mountains a way.' His prayers were so real; they were brief and to the point. How he wrestled for his own soul, for his family and for others, and that the Lord would prosper Zoar Chapel! He prayed earnestly for this dear church; we shall miss his prayers so much. He often praised the Lord that 'He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities,' yet he praised the Lord for his great mercy.
He fell off a ladder a few years ago and since then he has held the things of time with a very loose hand. When lying on his back after falling, this came to him, 'He causeth it to come.' Of late he has often given out hymn 934 in Gadsby’s:
Jerusalem, my happy home!
When questioned why, he said, 'That's where I long to be.'
Name ever dear to me;
When shall my labours have an end
In joy, and peace, and thee?"
The last hymn that he chose to give out at chapel was 607. This was four days before he passed away:
Rejoice, ye saints, rejoice,
We as a church have lost a pillar, but we believe that our loss is his eternal gain. His pastor was much helped to take the funeral on December 30th, 2010, in the presence of a large congregation, and his mortal remains were laid to rest in the chapel graveyard awaiting the glorious resurrection morn.
In Christ, your glorious Head;
With heart, and soul, and voice,
His matchless honours spread;
Exalt His love, proclaim His name,
And sweetly sing the Lamb once slain.
His widow writes:
As a family we have lost a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His fervent prayers are greatly missed, but,
Their faith and patience, love and zeal,
Should make their memory dear;
And, Lord, do Thou the prayers fulfil
They offered for us here!
Taken with permission from The Gospel Standard, August 2011.