In remembrance of our beloved Bro. N. A. W. Greene at the memorial service held March 28, 2005, in Simi Hills, California.
I have known Bro. Arthur for over 40 years. He was always a loving and caring brother in Christ who dedicated his life to the truth.
Arthur was baptized in 1953. His introduction into the truth occurred in the dawn of a somewhat new era when ‘Christadelphianism’ picked up momentum in Guyana. It was an exciting period, punctuated with the dedicated work of stalwarts in the truth from Great Britain, namely Bro. Will Watkins, closely followed by Bro. Harry Whittaker and Bro. Alan Hayward. The last two addressed large audiences on more than one occasion at the Georgetown City Hall as well as the New Amsterdam Town Hall. Guyanese of that generation came out to hear the strange and provocative Bible doctrines for the first time by a group of people with the slogan, ‘Back to the Bible’ and calling themselves “Christadelphians” – a name incidentally they hardly ever pronounced correctly. Around that time, together with other young men in Georgetown, Arthur was tutored by brethren Alan and Harry in the rudiments of public speaking. These young brothers, including Bro. Arthur, immediately made every use of this training by speaking at street corners and market places and various country-side areas about the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.
It was a time of rigorous outreach preaching campaigns, sponsored at a later stage by the CBM. These activities were indeed ‘a shot in the arm’ that revived the truth in Guyana. As a consequence, the responsibilities of the newly formed ecclesias with their attendant problems fell squarely on the shoulders of two young brothers, namely, Hugo Mitchell (deceased) and Arthur Greene. We are here to pay our respects in honor of the latter of these two, thereby in a sense witnessing the close of a significant chapter of history of the truth in Guyana pertaining to that era.
The first time I met Bro. Arthur was in April, 1963, where he spoke at a weekend gathering at the dedication service of the opening of the New Amsterdam hall in Berbice, Guyana. It seemed from that time forward we kept closely connected for quite a long while. At that same weekend I traveled with Arthur and his wife, Sis. Doreen, along with a group of brethren and sisters who were at the gathering to Georgetown – on my part, to begin a career in the Guyana Civil Service.
During my bachelor days in Georgetown I used to ‘hang out’ occasionally at the Greenes’ with their kind hospitality, including the delicious and exotic dishes made by Sis. Doreen. It took me no time to perceive that our brother was well read, especially on biblical subjects. Arthur cherished a well-stocked library with collections of ‘Christadelphian’ and ‘non-Christadelphian’ writings. At first I was a bit puzzled with his collections of ‘non-Christadelphian’ works. However, in due course I came to appreciate the benefit of exposure to varied writings and thinking. Arthur would always emphasize the importance of reading good books – his often quote, ‘knowledge is power’. As for his academic background besides being a CPA, he had been a bright college student and, as a chief accountant in the Guyana Civil Service, topped the class of senior civil servants in training on the difficult subject of statistics.
He was a man who had a passion for the things he did — from the upbringing of his children especially in their formative years (I admired the way he personally took the time to teach them stories of the Bible and was equally involved in their recreational activities). He was also active in playing the organ or piano, singing hymns and in his hobby of swimming. Actually, Arthur was quite athletic; one time he mentioned to me that in a swimming contest he swam 14 miles along the bank of the Demerara river!
Bro. Arthur was quite an unassuming, knowledgeable brother. Notwithstanding, he was an individual with a clear-cut conviction who would stand up for his belief and would not relent on his grounds. He always entwined vacation with a preaching effort. Once, traveling to England, he utilized the time spent on the ship, after acquiring the consent of the captain, by holding daily Bible classes during the 10-day trip. I can recall over the years in Guyana we discussed, debated ecclesial issues, Bible interpretations and other matters pertaining to the truth.
He was a man of challenge – he dared to go out to work in the midst of violence and chaos while there was a general strike, including the Civil Service that lasted for 80 days. He went to work because of the job which he acknowledged as working for the Lord, but also to let his fellow civil servants be aware without any ambiguity that Christadelphians do not join in labor strikes. (This strike crippled the economy so terribly that it triggered migration, particularly to the U.S.A.)
As a senior brother in the meeting in Guyana he was always ready to give advice to his brothers and sisters in Christ about their personal problems. Bro. Arthur had a sensitive trait in his personality. Once to a young brother with an estranged wife he said, “keep sending her personal cards of love.” Within some weeks it seemed to work. The young brother was happily living with his wife – they made up! He stood very firmly on the sanctity of marriage and husband and wife relationships. I was privileged to be with him when he gave some counseling advice to an interested contact who mentioned being away from home and being alone without his wife, and that an ‘old time’ lady friend was inviting him to her home. Arthur’s words were “Run and I mean you run, you flee from it,” and from his demeanor Bro. Arthur meant every one of his words.
As it seems providence would have it, I met up with Bro. Arthur in New York in 1980. It was again he who showed me the ropes in NYC and through him I got ‘a foot in the door’ of employment in a matter of a few weeks in the ‘Big Apple.’ He was about to leave a firm where there was a vacancy and he taught me the ins and outs of the job. I recall telling him that he should have been a professor rather than an accountant. In fact, he used to refer sarcastically (sometimes jokingly to the uneasiness of Doreen) that accountants were a ‘pack of thieves and bandits’.
Bro. Arthur’s lifestyle as a dedicated husband, father and a brother in Christ is nothing short of exemplary. During his sojourn in this country, he advertised and held Bible classes in his home with whatever contacts he could gather. Moving from small meeting to small meeting in New York City, he helped out with current needs, whether it be speaking, playing the organ, leadership training or the mutual improvement of the brotherhood.
He was a brother and servant of our Lord Jesus Christ who was committed to ecclesial life and laboring in the Lord’s vineyard. His exhortations and gospel proclamation lectures were always presented with clarity and in a convincing manner, with practical lessons on everyday life. I would repeat that he was indeed a brother and servant of our Lord Jesus Christ who was committed to the truth. Last, but not least, he was a brother given to fervent prayers.
I would like to dedicate part of a poem from an unknown author and to say, we who are living may take the opportunity to reflect and to take stock of our calling. As the apostle Peter said, when referring to the dissolution of man’s world of sin and corruption, exhorted “what manner of person ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend He referred to the dates of his tombstone From the beginning – end. He noted that first came the date of his birth and spoke the second with tears, But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years For that dash represents all the time that he spent alive on the earth And now only those who loved him know what that little dash is worth.
May his be a glorious resurrection to life eternal at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Joe Badlu, New York