I was discharged from duty in 1945, then 25 years old and all the world ahead of me. I had been a pilot in the RCAF but I was always disappointed that because of my specific training, I was assigned to the Canadian theatre of operations, rather than going overseas.
My Dad, John Hammond, was from England and was immensely proud of his heritage. I think it was in England during his youth that he learned the Israel message and his identity as an Israelite. It was important to him and when he immigrated to Canada in 1910, he looked for ways to let others know. We lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan before coming to Vancouver, myself first and Dad and the family later. It was here that Dad was able to understand the impact of the great mission God had bestowed upon Israel. He began to attend regular meetings and occasional conferences. I often recall his fond memory of a meeting at the old Denman Hall where 2,500 hundred people packed in to listen to a message on British Israel.
Yet, before the war, I was young and more interested in my friends and just having fun, rather than following his lead. I don’t think he had any more success with my brothers and sisters, any more than I did with my children. Funny, isn’t it, how many of us experience the same thing with our families? Anyway, I returned from war duty a different fellow, as most others who see service in the military forces experience. I got a job with the City of Vancouver, where I spent 36 years and retired as a traffic engineer & supervisor.
As soon as I returned from military duty, I began to take an interest in the Israel message, perhaps it was because of seeing things and listening to stories from those who returned from overseas that brought out a seriousness in me and a realization that all our answers lie deep within the Holy Scriptures. I had begun to attend weekly British Israel meetings at the old Broadway Hall, which usually attracted about 100 people. That was about 1946. I never had the opportunity to meet Lt. Col Wright, the Secretary General, or the President, Jacob Parker, but I did meet and was so impressed with British-Israel’s local manager, Alma Hetherington, whose knowledge and capability was a powerful influence with so many of us seeking the truth. She was certainly a driving force in the many branch operations throughout British Columbia.
You asked me when I felt the greatest enthusiasm for our work and I guess it had to be during the nearly twenty years when Reverend Joe Sproule was Secretary-General. He took over when Lt. Col. Wright passed on and his energy seemed boundless. He had been a machine gunner in WW2. He got involved with British-Israel-World Federation in Toronto but he came to us at a time of great need. I can’t say enough about him, he brought an enthusiasm and a knowledge that re-ignited the movement. He travelled to other branches throughout the province at least monthly, attracted a wide audience with our weekly radio program and most of all, he was a great teacher, in person or in print through his monthly articles. I fondly recall our many conversations and how each time I came away a little wiser and a whole lot more dedicated.
After Joe passed, we had some very fine leaders but none with his dynamic qualities. Mind you, the appetite for our message was declining as a result of a lack of interest in Christianity itself, as well as church and media attention depicting the Jews as Israel, rather than the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian and kindred peoples. Yet, I sense it is changing and as our Israel countries fall deeper in apostasy, debt and sin, there is a growing number of brethren around the world expressing hunger for a better way. Perhaps it won’t be long before world events encourage a great unveiling and True Israel will, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 reveals, humble ourselves, pray, seek God and turn from our wicked ways, so that God will hear and heal our lands.
Editor’s Comments: I met Don Hammond in the mid 1990’s and have been his friend ever since. He is a remarkable individual and has dedicated much of his life to spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom and news of the Israel Truth whenever the opportunity presents itself. At 92 years of age, he continues to serve as a board member of our Association and for nearly twenty years dating from 1962, was president as well. When the Association adopted its present name, he designed our logo. He also designed covers for some of the books we publish. Most of all, when the Association’s very existence was threatened in the mid 1980’s he stood up to bat with our past president, Jim Read, and two remarkable ladies, Elsie Read and Eileen Turner, and helped develop a strategy that not only rescued the organization but brought to life a new magazine, a Bookstore, Sunday meetings and a badly needed financial plan. The following are some of his recollections.