THE TENT CRUSADE
The Revival Party - Esaiah Davies, Edward Jeffreys, & Horace Trembath
The Bootle Crusade commenced on Monday 28th May 1934. On the first night people came from other Bethel churches in other towns to support the crusade, but after that Edward Jeffreys was left alone with his team. The campaign opened in a very quiet way and writing some years later he said that there was nothing to suggest at that time that God was going to open such a flood-gate of blessing on the City of Liverpool. By the end of the first week, however, the local newspaper The Bootle Times started to report that remarkable things were happening in the tent. On its front page was the headline "Woman’s sight restored - surprise at a Revivalist meeting." It reported that on the second night of the crusade Tuesday 29th May Richard Thomas, a former Welsh minister, who had to give up work through losing the sight of one eye, was able to see after he had been prayed for. " Now I can go about my duties as before" said Mr Thomas. On the third night Wednesday 30th May, Mrs Maclaren of Orrell, a blind person had been prayed for and in full view of the congregation received her sight (this was reported in a national newspaper "The People."
For the next two weeks there were no newspaper reports, nor can I find any other reports of what was happening, apart from one or two healings that took place. It was clear, however, that God was certainly moving and that the cumulative effect of what God was doing was reverberating around Liverpool and that the people attending was growing rapidly each day.
By the middle of June, the reports of what God was doing came to the attention of the Liverpool Echo and Evening Express, which covered a wider area of Liverpool and Merseyside. The amazing scenes that were being witnessed were now being reported upon on an almost daily basis, which continued for several weeks, with the postbag continuing beyond that in the Bootle Times, as we will read of later.
Tuesday 12th June - reporters from both the Liverpool Echo and Evening Express were present in the meeting and both reported the event in the following night’s papers. The Liverpool Echo¹ carried the headline "Amazing scenes at faith healing mission, Bootle; Women in tears; Invalids state they have been cured." The reporter stated that "a crowd of 4000, singing hymns in a marquee, had seen cripples throw away their crutches and heard them state that they had been cured. The marquee was crowded, with hundreds outside. After the pastor had preached, some of the women were so overcome that they had to be assisted outside with tears streaming down their faces. Cripples on crutches, paralytics in bath chairs and pallid invalids formed a solid rank down the side of the tent." At this meeting a young girl, who had never been able to walk, was healed and walked across the platform to the cries of "hallelujah" from the congregation. Also healed at this meeting, as also reported in the Evening Express, was a Welsh Congregational minister, Rev Ynys-Thomas. After being blind in his left eye for 24 years his sight was instantaneously restored after prayer. Realising that his right eye was also failing he was contemplating learning Braille, but after prayer he read before the congregation without wearing glasses and could see clearly in both eyes (see Appendix 4).
Thursday 14th June - an Evening Express reporter again attended and reported that 6000 persons of all ages had sang hymns and prayed in and around the marquee for about 3 hours and that a number of "faith cures" had been witnessed. The crowd was so large that the sides of the marquee were lowered and the people thronged along the sides. At this meeting, which was reported in the Evening Express the following week a 69-year-old Martha Wynne who had been completely blind for 12 months was healed and was able to see her 8-month-old great nephew for the first time.
Saturday 16th June - every seat was occupied 1½ hours before the service began and by 7.30pm many hundreds were standing outside. At the close of the meeting 700-800 people accepted Christ and there were many healings.
Sunday 17th June - the closing day of the third week of the campaign and a queue had formed up at the tent at 8 o’clock in the morning for the Breaking of Bread service, the first of the campaign. Some people had been waiting since 4 o’clock in the morning. By 10 o’clock it had swelled to 1500 people and when the service commenced at 11 o’clock there were 3000 persons present. At this service alone 140 people accepted Christ. The afternoon saw a still greater number present, with 250 accepting Christ. By the time the evening service came there were 8000 present with 1000 people receiving Christ as Saviour from people inside and outside the tent. All over the tent there were young men and women, young couples, husbands and wives, old and young, making a commitment to the Lord. At this service there was a feeling as though Jesus was in the midst of them, with a holy quiet and awe upon the service. After this service an old saint who had been in the Welsh Revival commented that he had never experienced anything like this, exclaiming "Oh the sanctity of it!"
Monday 18th June – there was an even greater crowd around the tent and the inside densely packed with several hundred, others sitting or standing together in groups in the vicinity viewing the crowd. Again 1000 people stood to their feet or held up their hands in response to the appeal made.
Tuesday 19th June – surely the highlight of the crusade with the attendance now swelling to 10,000 people, with 1000 accepting Christ in the afternoon service, and 2000 persons accepting Christ as Saviour in the evening service, making 3000 decisions in one day. Truly an Acts of the Apostles experience! (Acts 2:41). This was how the news reached thousands of praying people all over the country.
A GLORIOUS REVIVAL
3000 SOULS SAVED IN ONE DAY
BOOTLE MOVED FOR GOD
Wednesday 20th June – it is now stated that the number of people receiving Christ since the commencement of the crusade had already come to over 10,000 persons. At this meeting a reporter from the Bootle Times was present and in the Friday edition of the paper the headlines in large print on the front page read "Amazing Scenes at Faith Healing Tent. Fifty cures a day! Ten thousand people attend services. Waiting all night." He reported that 10,000 people were present that evening and that people were coming from not only from all parts of Liverpool, but also from North Wales and as far afield as Scarborough. From the early hours of the morning people were waiting to gain admittance to the services, and one person was waiting at 10pm in order to attend the afternoon service the next day. In his report he said that "it is an extremely moving spectacle to see the maimed and blind people, some in great pain, hobble or grope their way up the few steps, and in a few minutes testify to the onlooking thousands that they have been cured." At this service there were many remarkable healings including the following-:
Thursday 21st June – there was already a queue of 60 people waiting at 5.00am. When the service began the tent was full despite the rain and near the platform was a group of people some in bath chairs, some with crutches, some blind or partially blind.
Friday 22nd June – the tent was blown down, the first of many such occurrences and a temporary one was erected on the Saturday afternoon.
Wednesday 27th June – B Webb from West Derby having been deaf and dumb for 28 years was healed at this service.
Friday 29th June – the headlines on the Bootle Times was "A SEA OF FACES AT THE FAITH HEALING TENT" with a photograph the full width of the paper of part of the huge crowd in attendance. The sub-heading read "Great crowds continue to attend revival meetings" The paper reports that the wet weather does not have any effect on the congregation but on the contrary large numbers sometimes greater than 10,000 people are maintained consistently. Further remarkable healings were reported: -
The reported writes, "the collection of discarded crutches and bathchairs is growing every week. They are eloquent testimony of the ‘miracles’ which have taken place at the huge ‘canvas cathedral.’ "
Tuesday 3rd July – a blind man John Moss of Anfield who had made a number of visits to the tent and had been for prayer several times, but did not give up and was full of faith that he would be healed, received his sight this night.
Wednesday 4th July – A new marquee accommodating 5,000 people is erected, but even that is not enough to accommodate the crowds to whom the service is relayed through amplifiers. This tent was described as the biggest evangelical tent in the country. It was erected in a very short time through the offers of hundreds of unemployed men and women, to assist in the work. The evening service, to which hundreds of people failed to gain admission was regarded as a thank offering service, which was marked by a deep fervency of spirit and remarkable healings.
Thursday 5th July - Mrs Craig from Walton suffering from the worst form of hernia, the size of a quart jug, and who had been going about in agony went on to the platform suffering dreadful pain, but after prayer left the platform completely free from pain, discarded her support, and walked home to Liverpool.
Friday 6th July – The Bootle Times reports that 300,000 people four times the population of Bootle had attended the services. Edward Jeffreys is reported as saying that the success of the campaign had been beyond their greatest expectations and exceeded anything they had ever experienced. It stated that the collection of discarded crutches and bath chairs was growing every week. The story was told of a woman, although suffering herself reserved a place for her friend who was in business and could not attend until the Wednesday night, waited from Monday until Wednesday and stayed continuously from 5.30am on Tuesday to be sure of a place. Once sure that her friend was certain of a place, she began the vigil all over again on her own behalf. Many other remarkable healings included the following: -
Friday 13th July – The Bootle Times reports that Edward Jeffreys had left the crusade to go on a holiday, and that within 2 weeks the big tent was to be taken down and moved to Lister Drive, Tuebrook. In its place a previous tent which had been blown down and was being overhauled would take its place until a decision was made regarding the establishment of a permanent building in Bootle. During his absence Pastor Hulbert took over and he was to continue in Bootle when the evangelistic team moved to Tuebrook.
Saturday 14th July – the meeting was given over to people willing to testify of their healings. The previous testimony service was so crowded with those wishing to testify that it was found difficult to close the service.
The newspaper reports now became sporadic apart from the postbag in the Bootle Times, but on Friday 24th August there is a report of 4000 people taking part in a march of witness through the town, and thousands of people lining the streets to see the procession. It reports that after 13 weeks the congregation at the Bootle tent was still averaging 7000 people each night.
Even on August Bank Holiday there were 3 meetings being held at the tent in Lister Drive, Tuebrook, morning, afternoon, and evening. The tent was specially enlarged to accommodate the congregation expected to attend. Well over 2000 people were present at the 10.30am meeting, with the tent being full for the afternoon session and it overflowed at the evening gathering.
On 24th September, the Bethel Messenger reported that the work at Liverpool was still going on apace. Some 17 weeks after the first meetings were held a congregation of between 3000 and 6000 people were still gathering every night in Bootle. People were still being converted at every service, and healings were also still taking place. One lady from the Isle of Man who was blind in both eyes, having lost her sight through saving a child from a fire 10 years previously, was healed and was able to tell the time by Pastor Anderson’s watch. At Tuebrook, now under the ministry of Pastor Hulbert the huge marquee was filled every night with people visiting the tent from all over the country. Since the campaign started in July thousands of people had been converted, particularly in North Wales. One such party came from Dinas in Wales, 128 miles away. One could say that this was a reversal of the position 30 years previously, when similar coaches were going in the opposite direction to the Welsh Revival!
In an interview with a reporter from the Liverpool Post and Mercury, later in the year, Pastor Jeffreys informed him that they had seen 15000 people inside and outside the marquee in Bootle one night.
Many more remarkable testimonies and healings took place which have not been referred to above, so here are some of these: -
A lady by the name of Mrs Medlicott was an outstanding convert of the crusade. Before the Lord saved her in the tent she was a notorious character in Bootle, drinking and fighting more fiercely than many a man. Her husband, a self-confessed chronic drunkard was also converted during the crusade. Her granddaughter, Mary, who is a friend of ours has told us that the police were actually afraid of her, and that the local priest was so terrified of her that if he saw her coming he would cross over to the other side of the road. Mary has also told us about some amazing things that subsequently took place in her life. On one such occasion she had some unexpected visitors who had come to see her, but she had nothing to give them to eat. All that she had was a bone, which she had intended to give to the dog. However, when prompted by the Holy Spirit she put the bone on the table and then in faith started to cut slices of meat from the bone. The end result of it was that she was able to make enough sandwiches to feed her visitors!
Another notable conversion was that of Maxi Hesketh, a well known street fighter and drunkard, who was afraid of nobody, who specifically went into one of the tent meetings with a friend in order to disrupt it. However, because the tent was so packed they were unable to find two seats together, so they became separated, with Maxi standing at the back of the tent. As the meeting progressed he became so captivated by what was happening that he got converted and subsequently became an outstanding witness for Christ. His conversion was in answer to his mother’s prayers. On one occasion he went to the Docks in order to apply for a job vacancy only to find that a number of others were also applying, so he prayed before them all that they would all be taken on, a prayer that did not impress them. However, not only were they all taken on, but he also became their foreman! He went on to become a very respected figure in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. Rev Richard Kayes later testified that when he was in his teens he was restored to the Lord by the kind words of this faithful servant of God.
13 years old Phyllis Rimmer who had heart disease and only had weeks to live was taken to the tent in her bath chair. After prayer she got up and walked on to the platform and then walked all the way home pushing her bath chair (see "Further Healing Testimonies"). Her testimony, given 25 years later is included at the end of the booklet (appendix 5).
As the summer of 1934 drew to its close it became clear that the meetings at both Bootle and Tuebrook could no longer be held in tents, but that was not the end of what God was doing, but on the contrary the remarkable story continued for a long time to come.
¹ See References Section