Liverpool Revival 1934
The reasons for its success
Post Mission photos
Impressions of the Crusade
Modern day recollections
Liverpool Bethel churches today
Can we see these things again?
Edward Jeffrey's testimony
Jonathan's armour bearer
The words 'Liverpool gripped by revival' are not mine but those that were used by an Anglican Minister Rev W H Maddock to describe the impression that the 1934 Liverpool Crusades taken by Edward Jeffreys had made on him, and I do not think that his words were an exaggeration. As one person commented “apart from raising the dead and turning the water into wine, the New Testament miracles were repeated in these meetings. Also on one day in June 1934, 3000 people came to know the Lord, and I think that this one event alone could well be unique in UK history.
When you read the remarkable story of these crusades and the profound effect it had on the lives of many thousands of people in Liverpool, it is perhaps even more remarkable that the details of this historical event are not generally known about today. The congregations of the two remaining Bethel Churches formed from the crusades, Bethel Baptist Church in Bootle, and Bethel Church in Tuebrook are of course familiar with this part of their history, and I have been pleased to have the support of the ministers of both these churches in writing this booklet. I feel that the time has come, however, for this great story to be shared once again not only in Liverpool and Merseyside but also to anybody else who is interested in reading of the wonderful things that God has done.
The Liverpool Crusades impacted not only Liverpool and Merseyside but also eventually other parts of the country and the world. Writing 25 years later about these crusades Edward Jeffreys said that they were the greatest in his career as an evangelist and that he had met people in various parts of the world who were either converted or healed through these crusades.
So what is the value of writing about something that happened over 70 years ago? The answer is I believe as follows-:
a) Because this was one of the greatest moves of God in the city and is very much part of Liverpool’s Christian heritage.
b) It is a good thing to remind ourselves of what God has done in the past just like the people of Israel used to tell their children of God’s miraculous deeds of their past.
c) To encourage faith and expectancy for the future i.e. if God has done this in the past he can certainly do it again.
I have heard of so many different things about the Edward Jeffreys crusades since I became a Christian many years ago. Then a few years ago my wife and I were visiting some friends of ours in Wales, Mary and Henry Walker and whilst there, when they were showing some of their wedding photos, a souvenir edition of the 25th Anniversary of the Liverpool Crusades fell out. What I did not know was that Mary was the granddaughter of one of the outstanding converts of the Bootle crusade, Mrs Medlicott, who is mentioned later on. From reading this came a fascination about the crusades and more recently an increasing desire on my part to write this booklet.
Was this really a revival? Some may argue that it was not, in the accepted sense of the word, but at the time that was certainly how it was seen by a number of God’s people. In any case the question is an academic one. What really matters is that this was an extraordinary outpouring of God’s power that stirred this city in a way that had probably not been seen before or since.
What lay behind the success of these crusades?
To what can we attribute the great success of the Liverpool crusades, and why were they so different from other large-scale crusades that were held before and after them? This is a question that I would like to try and give an answer to and would suggest the following: -
- It is undoubtedly the case that Edward Jeffreys was a man of faith, called by God to preach the Gospel and who had a great anointing on his life (see Appendix 1). He was also a very fine preacher. Writing about this some years later Mr A Mair said that ‘he was at his best when giving an expositional address. The word of God went home to the hearts of men and women like hot-pointed arrows. It was an inspiration to behold the faces as they received the word of God. His Bible studies on the second coming and the Millennium Reign brought people from near and far, and as people left the tent they would remark that they had never heard anything like that before.’
- A further factor in the great blessing poured out on the crusades was, I believe, partly due to the fact that thousands of people were praying for the crusades from the forty other Bethel churches around the country. But it was much more than that. It is evident that at least some of God’s people had already been praying for some time for God to move in their city. This was something that came to me when reading the comment of Rev W H Maddock, who, when referring to the wonderful way in which the crusade had laid hold of the untouched masses of the district said "Surely the Lord has been ever faithful in answering the long continued cry of His children ‘Wilt Thou not revive us again that Thy people may rejoice in Thee’ (Psalm 85:6) and ‘O Lord revive Thy work in the midst of the years" (Hab 3:2). This will, I trust, be an encouragement to those who are earnestly seeking God for an outpouring of His Spirit in the desperate days in which we live.
- Thirdly, I believe that obedience was also a significant factor. Edward Jeffreys came with his team to Liverpool (as with all his other crusades) as they were led by the Holy Spirit to do so. They believed that God had called them and so they came. Nobody I’m sure would undertake such a mission with a 3000 seater tent, and only a team of two people, unless they were confident that God was with them! When asked 25 years later if he would do the same again he replied O Yes! If he felt God calling him to launch out in this particular field of work again, he would do the same. This, I believe, is the same spirit of obedience that was found in the apostle Paul who only went where the Holy Spirit led him to go (Acts 16:6,7), and consequently we read of God doing such extraordinary things by his hands during the course of his ministry (Acts 19:10). As Nell Hawkins from the Bethel church in Tuebrook commented "we praise the Lord for the many miracles of grace in our midst, and all because one man was obedient to God, and launching out in simple faith commenced one of his many campaigns."
- The fourth factor, and what I feel was unique about these crusades was that there was very little dependence on human resources, but an almost total dependence on God to bring about the blessing. The team, comprising Esaiah Davies, Horace Trembath and Edward Jeffreys, came in faith believing that God had called them to Liverpool, even though they didn’t know anybody there. This is what distinguishes it I feel from the Torrey Mission that preceded it with the huge resources put into it and also the Billy Graham Crusades that were to follow it some decades later. Like the Welsh Revival of 1904/5 there was a much greater dependence on God and His resources. For example Evan Roberts, believing that God was going to use him in revival, started out with no support whatsoever simply stating that ‘God would provide, for He has plenty.’ I am reminded of what was one of the great victories in the reign of King Saul, which came about not through any action on the part of the army of Israel which was inoperative at the time, but through one man’s act of faith, Jonathan. He did not consult with anybody beforehand but distanced himself from the spirit of gloom and despair that pervaded the camp of Israel at that time (1 Samuel 13:6,7) and went forward in faith focusing his heart and mind instead on what God could do. He said to his armour bearer ‘let us go over to the garrison of the Philistines, it may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few’ (see 1 Sam 14:6, and also Appendix 2B). They trusted God alone to work that day, and as soon as they put their faith into action and made the initial strike on the garrison of the Philistines, God stepped in and a great victory was subsequently wrought. This I feel was the experience also of Edward Jeffreys and his team all those years ago. Like the army of Israel, the church at that time was also generally inoperative and in decline with a number of churches closing down, but when this team came in the same spirit that Jonathan had, God stepped in, and the ‘earth quaked’ (1 Sam 14:15), or to use Edwards Jeffreys own words "it was like the earthquake experienced by Paul and Silas with God sending a spiritual wave of power that shook the whole city." Like Jonathan, they did not consult with anybody beforehand but went forward in faith, focusing their hearts and minds instead on what God could do. As soon as the tent was pitched and the meetings commenced God began to move. Clearly when the mustard seed of faith is in operation in our lives, as with these two men, the mountains will move, situations of hopelessness and despair will turn into ones of hope and glorious possibilities and indeed nothing will be impossible to us. Similarly when we rely on the resources of heaven, as they did, rather than human or worldly resources we will accordingly receive the blessings of heaven and these are incomparably so much more worth having.
- With regard to the last point I do believe that there is an important lesson for us all to learn here because of our tendency to rely on our own resources to achieve God’s purposes, rather than trusting in Him alone. We sometimes have this mindset that if we do what we can, God will do the rest. I would like to suggest, however, that this might not always be God’s way for us. For example God would not allow Gideon to use what resources he had (i.e. his army of 32,000 troops) to carry out His directive to defeat the army of 135,000 Midianites, but required him instead to reduce it to a tiny fraction of this, lest it was perceived that they had somehow achieved the victory, and take the credit themselves (see Judges 7/7 and also Appendix 2A). Could it be, therefore, that this is a reason why God sometimes doesn’t bless our endeavours, because of the fact that He will not get the glory, as He should do? Here is a scripture for us to ponder on: -
His delight is not in the strength of the horse
Nor his pleasure in the legs of man
But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
In those who hope in his steadfast love
The following scripture may also suggest to us that the rivers of God’s blessing, as was experienced in the Liverpool crusades, will sometimes only flow where there is an absence of human involvement and effort: -
But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
A place of broad rivers and streams
Where no galley with oars can go
Nor stately ship can pass
This last scripture brings us on to the fifth and final factor that I believe was significant in the Liverpool crusades, and one that was crucial.
5. As soon as the Bootle Crusade commenced it became clear shortly afterwards that God was at work, so much so that it was He who was in control of those meetings, and that any human involvement was not so significant. This was something that Edward Jeffreys realised all too well and he made sure that he just flowed with God’s Spirit, as did his successors. Here is what he said some years later, "at times one felt such a sense of God’s presence and such a manifestation of power that our souls were filled with awe and amazement, almost to the point of being frightened at what would happen next." So confident was he that God was in control that he went on holiday part way through, no doubt for a much-needed rest, otherwise I’m sure he would have taken no such risk! * Had he tried to organise and take control of what God was doing I believe that the river would have quickly stopped flowing. By contrast, look at the situation with Jonathan. As soon as God broke in we read of extraordinary things happening. The troops, who were scattered, suddenly came together with a new and fresh confidence and the enemy was in full retreat. Similarly when God breaks in amongst us by His Spirit the powers of darkness will quickly begin to flee in panic, and all that is needed is for human control and organisation to stem the flow of God’s Spirit. This sadly is exactly what happened when King Saul took charge of the situation in Israel. He asks for the ark of God, but then, because events were moving quickly, disregards this and feels that he needs to respond to the situation by fighting rather than praying (1 Sam 14:19). This then takes him out of the realm of the Spirit and into the flesh and he utters a foolish and rash oath, which then severely limits what God wanted to do (1 Sam 14:30). This is the sort of thing that will thwart any moving of the Spirit in our midst, but we can be thankful that Edward Jeffreys and his team got this right and knew how to move with God’s Spirit and not be a hindrance in any way to what God was doing
All the above factors are important, I believe, in helping us to understand the underlying reasons for the phenomenal success of these crusades which I believe we will do well to learn from and where appropriate to apply such lessons learnt to our present day situation.
When asked by a local reporter what he attributed the success of the crusades to Edward Jeffreys simply replied that "it was due entirely to faith and prayer" and this sums up well what happened. Also when interviewed in 1960 by Richard Kayes (mentioned later) he said that the success was nothing to do with him, but God alone.
It is in Hebrews 11 that we read of such men as this whom God has set before us as examples of faith to follow in these days. They are part of that great company of saints who have done such great exploits for God in the past, who though dead, are still speaking to us today through their faith (11:4). Since we are surrounded by such a company we are accordingly exhorted in Hebrews 12:1 to set our sights on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, to lay aside every weight and sin, and to run the race that God has set before us today.
As previously stated Pastor Jeffreys arrived in Liverpool with his team, Esaiah Davies, song leader and soloist, and Horace Trembath, campaign organiser and pianist, without knowing or seeking the help of a single person. A few leaflets were distributed and one or two small advertisements placed in the local paper, and the tent was erected. As Rev J L Mair commented some years later, ‘God did what no amount of organising and advertising, canvassing and counselling could ever do. Materially the campaign was launched on a shoestring but when the heavens are rent, the mountains flow and God comes down and no more is needed.’ The crusades, he said, could be summed up in the words of Zechariah "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, say the Lord." (Zech 4:6)
As you read the account of this crusade I trust that it will inspire you as it has done me, but that it will not just be a interesting story to read but will lead to an expectancy that one day perhaps God will do the same again in our midst. This is something that I have referred to again in the concluding section "Can we see these things again?"
* The crusade was an arduous one for him and his wife, who travelled back to St Annes "in the early hours" every night of the crusade. He wrote in his father’s biography of the tremendous strain involved in hours of praying for the sick, partly due to the emotional drainage of hearing so many stories of suffering. It appears that he always prayed for each person himself, never delegating the job, although local ministers were often on the platform with him.
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-:
- A man blind in one eye for 21 years.
- A crippled woman who had had infantile paralysis since 4 years of age.
- A 6 year old boy who had never walked before.
- A 7 years old girl suffering from her nerves for 18 months and could not sleep at night, fell asleep within 10 minutes the same night.
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: -
- A man who had been a cripple for 35 years since he was 3 years old and could not walk without crutches had been healed and was acting as a steward at the tent.
- A woman who had been deaf and dumb since birth.
- A woman, who had lost the use of both legs, had a weak heart and suffered from neurasthenia, left her bath chair behind and walked home.
- A man suffering from paralysis who had been under 45 doctors.
- A woman blind in one eye for 23 years.
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: -
- A 7-year old boy suffering from curvature of the spine since he was 18 months old and for 3½ years had been in a frame.
- A 11 years old boy William Brine who had 10 years previously been stricken with paralysis in his right arm and the fingers on his hand were permanently closed.
- A deaf woman who had had 7 or 8 unsuccessful operations who heard her first church service for 30 years.
- A man who had been blind in both eyes for 19 years.
- A woman suffering from muscular atrophy for 18 years.
- Two women blind in one eye.
- A 59-year-old man wearing a leg iron following multiple fractures 18 years previously.
- A man suffering from paralysis for 17 years.
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: -
- Nell Hawkins, who is mentioned on a number of occasions in this booklet, came to the Lord at the Lister Drive Crusade in July 1934, when she was 18 years of age. Her recollection of those wonderful days in the tent meetings is given in Chapter 4. One of her friends said to her "I’ll give you six months," but many years later she was able to write her inspiring testimony, which is included at the end of this booklet (Appendix 3). This is given in poetic form, as God gave her a wonderful gift for poetry, which has blessed many people. There have been three booklets printed, containing many of her poems. Nell went to be with the Lord in December 2004, having proved the keeping power of Christ for over 70 years.
- 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).
- Another healing which was testified of many years later was supplied by a Mrs E Roberts of Strand Road who wrote "one girl who attended the same school as myself and who was always in a wheelchair was cured. I often saw Miss Wallace in later life still able to walk.
- B Webb from West Derby wrote "thank you for praying for me. The Lord restored my speech and hearing last Wednesday. I was deaf and dumb for 28 years and now my voice is getting stronger each day. I cannot explain how happy I am and I hope God will continue to bless your campaigns and bring happiness to thousands more."
- The husband of Mrs Helen Hayward of Bootle said that his wife was confined to bed for 3 years and was unable to walk without the aid of crutches. She was healed when prayed for, left her crutches behind and started doing her housework (see "Further Healing Testimonies").
- John Williams with a severe heart complaint was told by Stanley Hospital that nothing could be done for him. In one night he had 14 heart attacks and was not expected to live because of internal bleeding. On 5th July he was prayed for and immediately all pain left him. The bleeding valve that had been leaking for 18 months stopped bleeding. The flow of blood, however, affected his stomach, which caused him great pain. After further prayer he was once again healed (see Appendix 6).
- Mrs Olive Williams who had been unable to walk for 17 years and had to rely on her next door neighbour to carry her up and down stairs for 11 years, on the days that she was well enough to get up. Her doctor was so impressed that she told her that she would be sending all her so-called "incurable" patients to the tent.
- Mr J Davies from Newton-Le-Willows, who had been suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and Neuritis in his right arm for 15 years and confined to a bath chair for the previous few years, was completely healed. His wife was healed at the same service, having been blind in one eye for 30 years.
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
The Mission Continued
As mentioned at the close of the previous section, at the end of the summer 1934 with the approaching autumn and the change in the climatic conditions it really became impossible to carry on much longer under canvas. It was necessary, therefore, at both Bootle and Tuebrook to find more suitable meeting places and whereas it may reasonably have been expected that there would now be some diminution of the blessing which had been experienced, this was not at all the case. In both cases God continued to do wonderful things and each has a remarkable testimony to tell.
At the end of the summer 1934 the decision was made to construct a large wooden temporary building to hold the crowds that were still anxious to attend. This was to be on the same site as the tent had been held. In the meantime while they were waiting for planning permission from their local council the services were held in two local cinemas on Sundays and local churches were made available for the weeknight meetings. On one Sunday in October 1934 Pastor Anderson Brown conducted a service in the Commodore Theatre, Stanley Road holding over 2000 people, but it was still not big enough, so an overflow meeting was held in a chapel which had recently closed down for want of support. At this meeting which commenced at 6.30pm there were hundreds of people already waiting at 4.30pm, an hour before the doors were opened. In the afternoon service where 1200 people attended a great number of sick people was healed, including the following: -
- A woman who had been deaf for 40 years and after prayer was able to hear and sing distinctly.
- An elderly man who had suffered from Sciatica in his right leg who after prayer jumped up and down and commenced to run across the platform.
- A woman who had suffered from paralysis for six years and was withered down one side, rose from her chair, and walked along one of the passages and back again without any aid whatever.
As the Bootle Times reported on 9th November the attendance at these services remained undiminished. An advert appeared in this paper advertising a "Great Bethel Full Gospel Rally in the Commodore Theatre" taken by Edward Jeffreys, and was described as "Revival Party No.2." The next day a huge baptismal service was held at the Casino Skating Rink, Kensington. This followed a similar service for the Tuebrook church the previous week at which 5000 people attended.
In the closing days of 1934 the new pastor, A Anderson Brown wrote, "for over seven months the revival fires have been raging. In great meetings tens of thousands have surrendered to the claims of Christ."
On Tuesday afternoon on New Year’s day 1935 Bootle Bethel was opened in the new wooden building. The Wooden Cathedral, as it was known, was the largest building used for worship in the whole country and was erected on the same plot of land as the tent had been pitched, and was the only one of its kind in the country. It was a sectional building that could be made to hold 200 or 2000 people. It was supported by 200 strong pillars, was 125 feet long x 75 feet wide, and was built in three bays. The service was taken by Edward Jeffreys and the 2000 seats were insufficient for the great throng present, so many were obliged to stand and that despite inclement weather. Somebody saved during the first service of the Wooden Cathedral was a young boy 8 years of age by the name of Richard Kayes who became the well known minister of the People’s Church, Everton, Liverpool. Three of his elders were converted at the tent. He later went on to establish two other People’s Churches in Cheshire and Shropshire (see "Modern Day Recollections").
The Wooden Cathedral was intended to last 5 years, but 30 years later it was still standing. Although it was a difficult building, hard to keep the rain out, hard to keep warm in the winter or cool in the summer, it was loved and loyally supported by many.
The present church building which dates back to 1965 replaced the wooden tabernacle although there is a photo around 1975 showing part of the old building still standing at the rear, some 40 years on!
The Tuebrook church was formed from the tent meetings in Lister Drive, Tuebrook. There was a lot of difficulty in trying to find a suitable building to accommodate the great multitude who wished to enrol under the Bethel banner. They met in a cinema and dance hall, and then the Casino Skating Rink in Kensington became available that would be able to accommodate 5000 people. There was naturally a lot of concern about being able to fill such a building. However, on 8th October 1934 on the first night that it was used it was full, with a tremendous queue formed well before opening, and a large crowd gathered every night until the following Sunday when it was packed out again. Many people came to Christ during these meetings. It was the largest building ever used during the Edward Jeffreys campaign, twice as large as the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. At this meeting a reporter from the Liverpool Post and Mercury attended and in his report in the paper the following day he said that Pastor Jeffreys had invited those who had been healed in previous missions to step on to the platform. Amongst those who testified were the following: -
- The mother of a child who had suffered from rheumatic fever and valvular disease of the heart said that her daughter was brought to the mission in a dying condition, having been given up by six doctors. When Pastor Jeffreys prayed for her she was healed and her doctor had subsequently certified that her heart was sound.
- A man who was healed after being on crutches for 27 years ran across the platform.
- A pastor who had been practically blind for 28 years read a passage from a book.
- A girl, whose mother said that she had been in a spinal carriage for two years skipped backwards and forwards.
Pastor Jeffreys told the reporter that in cities and towns the churches were empty, but that these meetings proved that there was still the drawing power of the gospel.
On the last Sunday evening in October, Pastor Jeffreys preached again to 5000 people gathered and many people received Christ as Saviour at this service and during the weeknight meetings many people came for healing and several remarkable cases of healing were witnessed. As previously stated 5000 people attended an impressive floodlight baptismal service conducted by Pastor Jeffreys at the Casino in Kensington, with 120 people being baptised. Many of these being young people who sang "I must have the Saviour with me, for I dare not walk alone" before entering the water. Mid-week meetings were also held every night at the Queens Road Methodist Church with packed congregations. The church then moved to the Elizabeth Road Chapel, and then a Welsh Chapel, and in October 1936 Edward Jeffreys laid the foundation stone of the Tuebrook Bethel Temple (as it was then known). From the ranks of this church numbers of people have gone into full-time Christian service.
Post Mission Photos
Impressions of the Crusade
The Liverpool Crusades of 1934 most certainly had a profound effect not only on many of God’s people but also very much on the local community as well. This surely is the mark of any powerful move of God as in the Welsh Revival when it not only effects those who attend the meetings but it also has a very marked effect on the community as well. This we saw in the Welsh Revival in that people’s talk was different, family life was transformed, the pubs trade was affected, and prayer meetings were being held in the pits and steelworks. The effect of the Tent Mission was perhaps almost as dramatic as that in the Welsh Revival as we will see a little later, the only difference being in the scope of it. The 1934 missions were very much a localised revival (although it did affect people from many other areas also) whereas the Welsh Revival of course affected many parts of Wales and also certain parts of England as well.
What I would like to do is first of all relate some of the observations that were made of the crusades by God’s people at that time and then some further comments on how the influence of the crusades affected the life of the town.
Following on from this I have added in "Modern Day Recollections" some recollections from people that I have recently contacted who were either converted or healed during the crusades or who were just present at some of the meetings.
Some impressions of the crusade meetings
- It was noted that the atmosphere was not one of great excitement but on the contrary it was one of reverence. Frequent comments were made of the orderliness and impressiveness of the gatherings, despite the fact that so few were seated comfortably with the greater part standing outside in the open
- Even the hymn singing was anointed with a great favourite being "Nearer my God to Thee" which was sung with great earnestness and fervour.
- An elderly preacher who had been involved in the great crusades of Moody and Torrey in Liverpool remarked that whereas Torrey enjoyed the expectant and united assistance of scores of ministers and clergymen, a huge choir and hundreds of eager volunteers workers, Edward Jeffreys had only a small company of helpers, i.e. a soloist and pianist. Yet within a week Bootle was thrilled by the wonderful conversions, by the marvellous healings which daily followed the preaching of the gospel. He said that he had never before found such a readiness to hear about Jesus and His love.
- A Baptist Minister Rev W R Jones said after attending the meetings for a few weeks that he had seen the most glorious things that he had ever witnessed which had moved him to the very depth of his personality and gripped his soul. What moved him was the reverence of the huge crowd, the eagerness to hear the Word of God, and the wonderful response to the pastor’s appeal.
- Writing about this some time later Edward Jeffreys said that one felt such a sense of God’s presence and such a manifestation of power that their souls were filled with awe and amazement, almost to the point of being frightened at what would happen next. Likening the situation to the earthquake experienced by Paul and Silas at Philippi, he said that God sent a spiritual wave of power that shook the whole city. Such was the impact that it made that people came from various parts of England and Wales and even from Ireland. He went on to say that as he looked upon those wonderful days in Bootle and in other parts of Liverpool his heart went out in thankful praise to Him who confirmed His word with such mighty signs and so graciously blessed their feeble efforts.
- Nell Hawkins from Bethel Church, Tuebrook, recalled, "We can never forget the mighty "Hallelujahs" which resounded from all corners of the tent, or fail to remember the tremendous wave of joy and enthusiasm which swept over the vast crowd as they sang those simple choruses and witnessed miracles of spiritual and physical healing."
- Mrs Frostick, later from Netherton related, "I can remember the tremendous communion service on the Sunday morning. Even I took it as a young child. We went nearly every night. Whole families would walk up Marsh Lane, together." Her younger sister Mrs T Orchard, later from Litherland added "we followed the crowds from Bibby’s Lane. Everyone was talking about the healings they had seen the night before."
- Dr J A Anderson of the China Inland Mission and author of several books remarked that the meetings he attended at the Casino Skating Rink filled his heart with joy and his mouth with praise to God. It stirred up memories of the great crusades held by Moody and Sankey, Torrey and Chapman-Alexander when witnessing the great crowds gathering day by day, to hear the glorious gospel proclaimed in its fullness and freeness.
- Rev J L Mair said, "It is a wonderful sight to see the immediate response all over the huge tent and among those who are standing either inside it or outside. As many as 6 young men in one group have been seen to stand together to accept Christ, immediately the appeal was made."
- Rev D E Jones, when describing the effect that the meetings had on him said, "I have never witnessed anything like them! The spiritual and natural power of God is being revealed in an extraordinary degree in the saving of souls and the healing of bodies. The signs of the wonderful works of our Lord Jesus Christ are being re-enacted in the present generation – fulfilling the prophecy about ‘the greater works’ literally and substantially. The fetters of sin are broken, the chains of evil habits are snapped, mighty barriers are brushed aside, intense darkness and gloom are chased away by the light of the Sun of righteousness. Prophecies are being fulfilled, mighty promises are realised, and the glory of God is being revealed."
- This is how Aerona Williams described the breaking of bread service on Sunday 17th June, "We felt that we were truly in the tabernacle of God; a holy awe fell on the tent, and it seemed that we were standing on holy ground. All we could do was just bow our heads and worship the Lord." Her impression of the evening service was given as follows, "What an atmosphere! What a congregation! What singing! What testimonies! A glorious climax to a glorious weekend. The Gospel tent was again packed, and yet people streamed in from all directions to hear the story of Redeeming Love. Many, many hundreds were obliged to stand outside. At the close of Pastor Edward’s address an invitation was given for people to take Christ into their lives. Unless one was an eyewitness, it is difficult to visualise the scene. All over the tent men and women stood to their feet, and hundreds of hands were raised by those standing around. The number was far, far too many to count. What a glorious sight – multitudes coming into the Kingdom of God, probably about 1500, but it is difficult to estimate such a vast number. To God be the glory, great things He has done."
- Here is an extract from a Nellie Brown who wrote from another part of Liverpool, "I sincerely hope with God’s grace that you will be able to plant a Bethel Temple somewhere in the wilderness. Children are talking about you on their way to school in the mornings. These meetings could go on forever and we would not get tired. You have set Liverpool and Bootle tingling. You have completely cleaned the town up.
There are also some further testimonies from people who have just given their initials:-
- I am a South Wales man and my wife is from Penarth. I attended Evan Robert’s meetings when it swept the whole of Wales – also Gypsy Smith’s meetings, but I have not seen anything to equal these meetings – E.G.
- On entering the tent each evening I was deeply impressed by the pervading feeling of joyous expectancy and anticipation that seemed to fill and thrill one’s being – F.M.
- What impressed me most was the effect it had on a type of men who rarely went into a place of worship – R.P.
- How my soul rejoiced to see the shining faces of joy on these dear people. I thought of Moses shining face and at those moments it became real to me. I thought of Jesus healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind - it all because real to me there in Bootle. I saw as it were, fetters and cords being loosed, leg and arm joints being unlocked, a shining coming on the faces of many who were healed - RS
The effect on the life of the town
- Rev W R Jones when writing of the far-reaching influence that the campaign had had on the social and religious life, referred to:-
- The wonderful grip it had on men and women who rarely heard the story of Christ and His redeeming love.
- The complete and marvellous change in the conversation of men and women and young people everywhere in the trams, buses, offices and workshops. The topic of conversation was not gambling as it used to be, but of the saving power of Christ, not of the fashion of time, but of eternal realities.
- Rev W H Maddock made the remark that, "The dire need of those days was a revival which would change lives and homes and bring a blessed atmosphere of God into business places, dockside and even in the cemetery among the grave diggers and that it was such a revival that was witnessed at Bootle and Tuebrook." (How much greater is that need today!)
- The Bootle Times of 6th July 1934 in its coverage of the campaign reported that a request had been received from a group of dockworkers that Edward Jeffreys and his helpers should hold dinner-hour services at the docks. It appears that they were never held but it does show the impact that these crusades were making everywhere around. In fact it was reported that many were rebuked for swearing on the docks, and that the "Annual" for 1935 carried the following report from there -:
A foreman remarked that the men had never worked so well together as now; there was little blaspheming and the general topic of conversation was "the Tent." Men are heard singing at their work, "I fell in love with the Nazarene," and there is concord and a spirit of harmony where once there was cursing and swearing.
- One eyewitness of effects of the crusade on the life of the town made the remark that "every back yard rang with the Praise of God."
- In one of his replies to the Unitarian Minister and sceptic, Rev H Fisher Short in the Bootle Times, Pastor Hulbert referred him to something that could not be disputed. Here is what he said,"First of all men’s lives are being changed, homes are different, children are better cared for, debts are being paid, and thousands of dear people have a song in their hearts. Melody is seen and heard where once discord ruled. This is the greatest miracle and is brought about by the direct intervention of God through our Lord Jesus Christ in the affairs of men and women. Where spiritual blindness ruled, the eyes of the soul have been opened. The chains of sin have been broken and there is great joy in the city."
It is hardly surprising that an event as momentous as that experienced in the Liverpool crusades would fail to stir up at least some opposition, certainly in view of the widespread coverage given by the local press. This is something of course that we see time and again in the New Testament, and in particular in the ministry of the apostle Paul. Initially there was some opposition from other evangelical churches in the vicinity, but as Mr T Belcher of Bankhall Mission said "the Christian Community did not welcome the announcement that pastor Edward Jeffreys was to conduct a campaign in the district. He had personally tried to keep on the fence over this but this independent attitude soon became impossible, for the district had been stirred as never before in living memory."
In the Bootle Times of 29th June 1934, however, a large article appeared in the paper by a Unitarian Minister, Rev H Fisher Short headed "Are miracles being performed in Bootle? A plea for careful thinking by Rev H Fisher Short." This was a very critical article about the crusade and was very much in contrast to the vast amount of positive reporting by the paper until then. Perhaps they felt that it was right to somehow redress the balance after giving so much space to the crusade, and give an opportunity for someone to offer an opposing view, and try to keep its independence in the matter. The article ironically appeared directly above a large photograph of many of the people who had been healed during the crusade, shown elsewhere in this booklet. The letter serves to show I feel the lengths that some people will go to discredit God’s work and even in the face of such incredible miracles refuse to accept that it is the work of God. Was this not the case in Jesus’ time and did not Abraham say to the rich man in Hades that even if someone should rise from the dead some people will still not believe (Luke 16:31). I have extracted some of the main points of the letter and then followed this up with some of the replies that were received, including one from Pastor Hulbert.
Rev Fisher Short felt it was his duty as a responsible person to help his fellow citizens out of the intellectual fog in which they were groping. His concern was that a large number of serious people were disturbed and really desired a frank and reasonable explanation of the startling phenomena in their midst. His explanation of the so called "miracles" was that the cases fall into two classes, namely, functional and organic, or mental and physical. If the trouble is purely organic, that is some bodily disorder, the "apparent cure" can be but temporary. The "cure" is effected by the patient making an unusual effort to behave like a normal healthy person, but unless the physical ailment is treated, the patient will relapse, and may be worse than before. This, he said, refers to really serious cases, but in cases that are not really serious, but appear to be so, the adoption of a new, confident and hopeful spirit may result in permanent betterment. Such cases, however, are really borderline cases, in which both mind and body achieve a necessary re-adjustment. The majority of the "cures" are probably functional and mental. Owing to the mind working wrongly some parts of the body work wrongly or not at all. In these cases, all that is necessary is to get the mind acting normally, and the body will function or work properly, and the whole process is perfectly natural. Whether the operator knows what he is doing or not, whatever the external trappings of the treatment may be, if he secures the normal functioning of the mind in relation to the body, the "cure" must result. The trouble may be blindness, deafness, dumbness, or paralysis. If it is purely functional arising from mental maladjustment, it may yield to lucky or scientifically psychotherapeutic treatment, and it is no more miraculous that curing a headache with a couple of aspirins or lowering a temperature with an aperient.
Pastor Hulbert replied by suggesting that he open the doors of his church and invite the blind, deaf and lame in and put his theory into practice and making sure that he had a good supply of aspirins handy! In a more serious vein, however, he went on to refer to the many lives that had been totally changed and transformed through accepting Christ in the meetings and that these were in fact the greater miracles. He would rather see one person come to Christ than twenty bodies healed. On the subject of the lesser miracles of healing he said that it was not mind over matter, nor auto-suggestion, or indeed aspirins, but the mighty risen Christ touching blind eyes and opening them. It took more than excitement or intellectual fog to accomplish that, he said, and referred to the large number of crutches and sticks, spiral jackets, trusses and other things too numerous to mention which had been left by those who had no further use for them.
Following on from this there was a huge postbag from the paper’s readers most of whom were in support of the good work being done in the tent crusades. One reader referred to those who had been blind or on crutches for 20 or 30 years and after years with the best of doctors and in hospitals undergoing operation after operation and then instantly healed after a simple prayer is made to Jesus. Another reader who at first had been sceptical but then out of curiosity attended one of the meetings could only remark that apart from the raising of the dead and turning water into wine he saw the New Testament miracles repeated, i.e. the blind are made to see, the lame are made to walk and the deaf and dumb hear and speak. Rev H Fisher Short responded to these letters with a further very lengthy letter from which I have extracted some of his main points below: -
In this second letter Rev Fisher Short derided the many responses supporting the miracles of the campaign and referred to the fact that Shakespeare had divided his audience into "the judicious" and "the groundlings" whose ears were easily tickled. With regard to the public, he declared, that division still held good. The number of people, he said, owing to educational or inborn aptitude, who are able to think, that is to examine evidence and form sound judgements, appeared to be very small indeed. The majority of people, largely through our faulty educational system, seemed to be incapable of objective and dispassionate thinking. He referred to the support he had received from medical professionals and quoted the following findings of two eminent psychological authorities – "In mass movements of healing, the number of people and the atmosphere of expectancy produce exactly the emotional conditions necessary to suggestibility; for in such soil both faith and credulity flourish, and cures are consequently performed. He also quoted a recent article by Dr Beran Wolfe who wrote, "It is a psychological truism that a mentally mature adult is a rarity. Most of the human beings we meet in the street are still emotional infants." This expert view is confirmed by experience said Rev Fisher Short.
Not surprisingly Rev Fisher Short’s remarks didn’t go down very well with many of the readers who supported the crusade and were incensed at this deriding of their so called inferior intelligence. Pastor Hulbert in his reply informed him that the multitudes who visited his tent were not the ignorant people as he supposed, but many were in fact very well educated, some with several degrees, and came from every walk and station in life. One respondent replied that her sister had been healed at a similar type of meeting 7 years previous of a tubercular knee joint after 14 years of suffering and was still healed. Responding to this point Rev Fisher Short, obviously not impressed by this letter, suggested that what had really happened was that the tensely emotional atmosphere induced the passive condition of suggestibility and auto-suggestion did the rest! He questioned, however, whether there had been an accurate diagnosis in the first place and that the knee joint may not have been tubercular at all!
Numerous other letters followed over a period of several weeks both from Rev Fisher Short and many other readers, some for and some against the mission. In one of these Rev Fisher Short challenged pastor Hulbert to publish the complete list of cures wrought in the tent with names and addresses and for these to be investigated by a panel of six people. In reply Pastor Hulbert said that he could not publish such a list without permission, as this would be a breach of confidence. What he did offer to do though was to take with him to Rev Fisher Short’s private address 8000 witnesses from the tent with 100 healed people who would tell their own story. This challenge was not taken up!
As I have reflected on these remarks I could only think that had this minister lived at the time of Jesus he would have been equally sceptical of the miracles of Jesus, and he would no doubt have sided with the Scribes and Pharisees in judgement at what was happening. When the man blind from birth was healed (John 9) he would doubtless have been there with the Pharisees refusing to accept the hand of God in the miracle, but at least the Pharisees accepted that a miracle had taken place, which is more than the minister would have been able to accept!
Reflecting further on some of the disparaging remarks that Rev Fisher Short made about the inferior intelligence of the people attending the crusade meetings I think that we should note that in the time of Jesus that it was not the authorities or the intellectuals of the day who flocked to hear him, but the common people. The common people heard him gladly (Mark 12:37 AV). Jesus rejoiced after the disciples returned from their healing mission thanking his Father that, "He had hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes" (Luke 10:21). The apostle Paul also said, "not many of you were wise according to worldly standards…. but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:26).
So I don’t think that we should be either surprised or upset by such opposition as this, but rather accept that it is going to be inevitable because if it happened at the time of Jesus and in the early church it is certainly going to happen with us today also.
Some modern day recollections of the Crusade
Even though the Edward Jeffreys' crusades took place over 70 years ago there are still quite a number of people around whose lives were affected in some way by those crusades, or they just have reminiscences of some of the remarkable events that took place. In each case their memories of those meetings are still very much vivid in their minds today. The wonderful atmosphere and the anointed singing are something they have all commented on. I have so far contacted nine such people: -
81 year old Sally Wing from Netherton in Liverpool was a 10-year-old child at the time of the crusades. Just prior to this she had been in Alder Hey Hospital for 3 months with a TB foot, and had been in extreme pain. When she came out everybody was talking about the tent meeting in Bootle, so her mother said to her, "Come on I am going to take you to the crusade to be prayed for." When the time came for prayer she joined the long queue of people waiting to be prayed for, and when eventually it came her turn she was healed instantly. She remembers well the intensity of his prayer for her and what a really lovely man he was. Also at the meeting she received the Lord into her life. Although she only went to the tent once she will never forget the impression that it had on her young mind, which, she says had to be seen to be believed. One of the things that she remembers vividly was a really lovely smell that she could not explain, only that it was like a foretaste of heaven. She was awe-struck by the number of people there, and also the people who after prayer got up out of their wheelchairs or who threw away their crutches, some of whom danced with joy afterwards. She remembers a van having to come to take away the large number of discarded wheelchairs and crutches. During this meeting a song was sung which made such an impression on her that she remembers every word of this to this day, 71 years later: -
I fell in love with the Nazarene
The beautiful Nazarene
Whose face in glory was the light
The fairest I’ve ever seen
By his side I would abide
With never a veil between
Since I fell so deeply in love
With Jesus the Nazarene.
82 years old Sarah Spackman from Bootle in contrast to Sally went virtually every night to the crusade in Bootle, as a 11 year old child with her mother. Surprisingly neither of them was converted during the mission, but both of them came to the Lord later in their lives, Sarah first, and then later on her mother. She says that although she didn’t understand the need to be saved at the time, she really loved to be in the meetings because of the wonderful atmosphere there and the sense of the presence of God. Although they had to go there very early to join the queue to get in they so loved to go because they felt so happy there and loved to sing the choruses, which they would also sing at home. Like Sally she too remembers vividly the song "I fell in love with the Nazarene" and even today can still sing and play it on her piano. She witnessed some amazing things during the meetings. The conversion of Mrs Medlicott, known locally as "Mama Med" (mentioned elsewhere), was a talking point of the town because she was such a well-known and notorious character, who would fight people in the street. Later on she went to live somewhere near her and was so impressed by witnessing such a totally transformed person. One of the miracles that she remembers was of a lady going forward with a huge goitre on her neck, and as she was prayed for Sarah literally saw the huge big lump disappear right before her eyes. She really believes that what she witnessed there planted a seed of faith in her own life that enabled her to believe in God for amazing miracles in her life years later, many of which are contained in a booklet she has written recently entitled "Sarah’s Story."
As previously mentioned, Rev Richard Kayes was saved as a young boy of 8 years of age in the Wooden Cathedral in Bootle on New Year’s Day in 1935. His earliest recollection of the crusade was of sitting in a tent holding some 5000 people next to his mother in Bootle. It was a time of economic depression and unemployment and many of the people in the tent were poor, who received the message of the gospel with gladness. He recalls that the leadership and preaching of Edward Jeffreys was compassionate, softly spoken and sincere, and that the atmosphere in the tent was quiet and respectable. When he prayed for people who were ill or infirmed he put his arms around them and lovingly prayed for their healing. He personally knew Mrs Medlicott and Max Hesketh, mentioned elsewhere, and said that their conversions were very remarkable. They were to be of help to him personally in his future ministry. He remembers well the Bethel songs that were sung such as "Jesus is mighty to save" and "I fell in love with the Nazarene," which have lived with him for 70 years. He went to Sunday school at the Wooden Cathedral and in his teens attended the Bethel Church in Queens Road, Bootle. For 8 years he was the pastor of the Potter Street Mission, and then for 12 years the minister of The People’s Church in Everton. One of the young men at The People’s Church, Billy Kennedy went on to be the pastor of Bethel Church in Tuebrook, so he says that he was never far removed from the Bethel Church in Liverpool. In 1960 he compiled the brochure celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the crusades, and went to London to speak to Edward Jeffreys about it. They spoke about the tent and the thousands of people who attended it, and his response, which I feel is remarkable, was that it was nothing to do with him, but it was to do with God. Richard’s own book entitled, "One man and his God" recalls the impact of the Edward Jeffreys ministry in Bootle. Two years ago they had a reunion of The People’s Church in Everton, and some 100 people, now in their 60’s and 70’s who were teenagers or in their twenties when they started the church, came to celebrate the jubilee. It made him realise that perhaps none of this would have happened if his mother had not attended and made her decision for Christ in that tent crusade in 1934.
Jean Hodgson, Vera Rimmer and Marie Pritchard shown together above (left to right) at the 70th anniversary of Bethel Church, Green Lane, Tuebrook, which they all attend, all have recollections of the tent crusade at Lister Drive, Tuebrook. They are known in their church as ‘the tent pegs’ because of their association with the tent crusade.
- 82 year old Jean Hodgson from Stoneycroft, Liverpool, gave her life to the Lord as a 11-year-old child at the Lister Drive Crusade. Her mother had previously been attending the Bootle crusade going there on her bicycle, but on one Sunday in July 1934 they went together as a family, and both she and her younger sister got saved at that first meeting. She said that it was a genuine conversion, and that neither of them have looked back since then, and have gone on with the Lord till this day. The preaching, she said, was dynamic and yet very simple, so much so that she understood the message very clearly. The atmosphere was really lovely and the singing was out of this world, so anointed by the Holy Spirit, it just flowed from one chorus to another; she went home singing the choruses and sang them wherever she went. It was revival, she said, there was no doubt about that. There were so many thousands of people, both inside and outside the tent. She personally witnessed the healing of Phyllis Rimmer, mentioned previously. (see also Appendix 5).
- The conversion of 87 year old Vera Rimmer, also from Stoneycroft, Liverpool, was a lot slower coming than that of Jean. Her 10-year-old sister was the first one to attend the tent crusade at Lister Drive and got converted there and came home and told everybody about it. This aroused her curiosity, but on Sundays she always went to Southport with her friend on her bicycle. However, she determined that she would go one Sunday night and stand at the back so that nobody would see her. The message didn’t impact her at that time but she was impressed with the wonderful singing and couldn’t understand why everybody was so happy. Her mother was the next to be converted and she recalls her kneeling by the table in the living room sobbing, which caused Vera to be upset, but her father told her not to worry because, he said, she would be alright in a few days. Vera eventually got saved the next year at the Premier Cinema, her mother making the remark that, "If the Lord hadn’t saved you I don’t know where you would have ended up." Her father was the last one to be converted at the Casino Skating Rink, in Kensington. One of the outstanding testimonies of the crusade she said was that of Phyllis Rimmer, who had been given up by 6 doctors and had been told that her heart was diseased right through, and that she could not live long. She was amazed one day when she turned up at the place where she worked for an interview. She was successful and they worked together for 10 years.
- 88 years old Marian Pritchard from West Derby, Liverpool, was 17 years old when she heard glowing reports of the tent mission being held in Bootle, so she decided to go with her two friends out of curiosity. She was amazed to see such a huge crowd both inside and outside the tent and they enjoyed the singing and preaching as they stood outside. When Pastor Jeffreys appealed for those who wished to give their lives to the Lord, they along with hundreds of other people raised their hands in response. After that Pastor Jeffreys came down from the platform to pray for the long queue of people who wished to be prayed for, during which time the congregation softly sang or prayed. Many people testified afterwards to healing. They attended the meetings almost every night for six weeks and then went to the Tuebrook tent campaign, again attending each night. The atmosphere, she said, seemed to pervade each district and wherever they went people could be heard humming the tunes of the choruses and talking about the campaign. When the tents were taken down at the end of the summer she continued with the Tuebrook fellowship, which then met in halls or cinemas. In October 1934 she had to go into hospital and whilst there she received a copy of the 'Bethel Messenger’ which contained a sermon by Pastor Jeffreys on ‘The Good Shepherd.’ After reading that she realised that she had not fully committed herself to the Lord, so whilst there in the hospital she really gave her heart to the Lord and has gone on with Him ever since. She has remained a member of the Green Lane Bethel Church to this day.
Since writing this booklet I have received the following testimony from 81 years old Audrey Tomlinson (nee Cookson) now living in Esperance in Western Australia.
10 years to 81 years – still rejoicing
As a 10 years old schoolgirl I visited the tent crusade in Bootle every night for weeks. Although I had attended a local church all my life, with my parents and sisters, I suddenly realised for the first time that Christ had died for me – that He was my personal Saviour. Previously God seemed high and remote; now He was beside me all the day and night. It was a revelation and such was the impact of this knowledge that I wept for several hours. My mother was puzzled and said to me "you have read your Bible and prayed since a small child, what is so different now? Looking back down the years I feel my experience was akin to Saul’s on the road to Damascus – a sudden awakening. Over 70 years later the enthusiasm of those early days is still with me, and it began in the tent in Bootle. After the Wooden Cathedral was built in 1935 I continued to attend services nearly every night. I witnessed healing services; continued fervour and reverence; many converts and rejoicing crowds. At 15 years I was baptised by Pastor Anderson Brown. At 17 years I commenced my nursing career and worked as a district nurse/midwife in Lincolnshire. In 1952 I was recruited by St John Ambulance to work in Malaya during the communist war which lasted for 10 years. In 1967 I went to Australia and worked with tribal aborigines for 16 years. Every day I prayed for God’s help, and throughout my work I always felt His guiding hand. In June 2005 I paid a visit to Bethel Baptist Church in Bootle, and memories flooded back. The joy of the Lord revealed in 1934 to a child is still with me today. Thank you Lord.
Lily, from Aughton, Lancs, is one of the young people shown in the photograph of the first service of the Cathedral, held on New Year’s day 1935. She is standing on the front row next to her friend Lucy with the white raincoat. As with many other people, the tent meetings, which she attended nearly every night, made a big impact on Lily and her friend Lucy, and were very much part of her early Christian life. At those meetings not only was her brother healed of a severe stammer but her friend Lucy was also healed of a limp that she had, which went immediately after prayer. Because money was very scarce in those days Lily said that she, along with many others, had to walk to all the meetings, as they could not afford to go by public transport. However, those difficult days of the depression were to be a real help to her many years later, in being able to identify with the street children in Romania. When Lily was about 14 years of age she said to her mother, after a visit to her church by a missionary, that she would also be a missionary one day. Over half a century later those words were to become a reality in her life. When she was 70 years of age she astonished her son Paul, now a leading elder in a Christian fellowship down south, by telling him that she had decided to go to Romania after seeing a programme on the TV, following the fall of Ceausescu. It was to be one of several visits to that country, including initially working in a maternity hospital (she was formerly a midwife at Mill Road Maternity Hospital, Liverpool), and subsequently working with the street children there. Today, Lily is 87 years of age, and is still going on with the Lord, over 70 years after those tent meetings, and regularly attends a fellowship near to where she lives.
It was a privilege to hear from Alan Donaldson in March 2007, after he received a copy of my booklet. Alan, who lives in York, but was originally from Everton, was introduced one day by the brother of somebody who is a member of his church, also originally from Liverpool, and he asked him the question, "Do you remember the great revival in Liverpool?" His answer was that he had not only heard of it, but he was actually in it! Up until that time he had not told many people about what he had witnessed in the 1934 revival for fear that they would think that he was exaggerating, but after receiving the booklet he has spoken freely about it. Alan was 13 years of age when he was told one day by a Sunday School teacher at the church he attended, (The City Tabernacle, which was at the rear of Lime Street Station), about the tent meetings. He made it his business to go there the next night, and it was an experience that would change his whole life. There were such great crowds both inside and outside the tent, but as a young boy he managed to get inside as far as he could go. The singing, he said, was so wonderful as thousands of people raised their voices in praise to Jesus’ name. God did wonderful things. In the street where he lived, Elias Street, off Neathfield Road, he was very impressed by people coming back from the tent, healed and jumping about. In the bakery where he started working he remembers a lady by the name of Mrs Burgess who used to come to speak to the baker, who had been wonderfully saved and healed at the tent. The baker told Alan that Mrs Burgess had previously been an alcoholic and that on Saturday nights the police sometimes had a job to control her if she had caused a fight, and that it would take two policemen to take her home. Alan subsequently went to the Wooden Cathedral in Bootle, and was there until the present brick building was erected, and he said that there used to be an attendance of some 1500 people every Sunday night.
At a rally that I attended outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool, I was introduced to two sisters who had attended the crusade meetings in 1934. One testimony they shared with me of was of a young girl whom they used to see on their way to school each day. She was in a bath chair and her mother used to put her by the window so that she could see people passing their house, and she used to wave to the sisters each day as they went on their way to school. They were astonished one day when they attended one of the tent meetings to find that this young girl had been wonderfully healed and they witnessed seeing her running around the tent after having been prayed for by Edward Jeffreys.
Liverpool Bethel Churches today
Can we see these things again?
If a poll was taken on the above question there would, no doubt, be a variety of responses some positive and some negative. For example some may say that it is not possible "because of the state of the church today" or "because the days of big crusades are over." Before I go any further, however, I would firstly like to make some simple observations from the Word of God, and then to pose some questions for us to consider.
Here are some observations from the Word of God:
- God has not changed. His power is just the same as it ever was (Heb 13:8, Malachi 3:6). The same God who worked through Edward Jeffreys 70 years ago, or Evan Roberts in the Welsh Revival 100 years ago, or through Wesley and Whitfield in the Methodist Revival 300 years ago has not changed and is with us just as much today. The former text quoted (i.e. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever) was in fact Edward Jeffreys’ favourite text and quoted it in almost every sermon. (As Nell Hawkins stated "he believed it from the depths of his heart, and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit within him, he transfused the truth of it into their hearts and minds).
- There are so many promises in His word to show us His desire to do great things amongst us, such as the following :-
- See if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour out for you an overflowing blessing (Mal 3:10).
- And in the last days, God declares, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17).
- That you may know what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe (Eph 1:19).
- God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
- Greater works than these will you do, because I go to the Father (John 14:12).
- With God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37).
- These signs will follow those who believe…they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover. (Mark 16).
- Whatever you ask in prayer you will receive if you have faith (Mathew 21:22).
- If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you will say to this mountain "move from here to there and it will move and nothing will be impossible to you (Mathew 17:20).
- He is able to do for us far more abundantly than all we ask or think. (Eph 3:20).
- All things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23).
- The fields are already white unto harvest (John 4:35).
3 It is evident to me that throughout the UK and not least in Liverpool and Merseyside there is a greater desire in the hearts of God’s people to see him move in revival power in these desperate days and in our sick land than we have seen for many years.
So, on the one hand we have a situation where God wants to work and on the other one were the people are really desirous to see him move. So why isn’t it happening? Before I try to give my own response to this, I would like to pose some questions for us to consider: -
- Is there anything in the Word of God that would discourage us from expecting these things to happen again?
- Are the days of big crusade meetings over?
- Were not the needs of the 1930’s completely different to what they are today?
- Isn’t such an event a sovereign act of God, and therefore will only come in God’s time?
- Doesn’t the state of the church today negate the possibility of such a move of God?
What I would now like to do is to give a personal view on the above and then come back to the main question again.
- Is there anything in the Word of God that would discourage us from expecting these things to happen again?
In the light of the above quoted scriptures I personally can’t think of anything, at least that cannot be remedied by us.
2. Are the days of big crusade meetings over?
This may well be true, but I’m not specifically referring to a repetition of the large crusades such as those taken by Edward Jeffreys, because I don’t think that the way in which God moves is really so important. What is important, I feel, is the outpouring of the same power that turned the world upside down in the early church (Acts 17:6) that can shake our city in whatever way God wants to do this. He alone holds the keys to unlocking the outpouring of his blessing that His word indicates is being held in readiness for the time when God’s people are ready to receive it.
3. Were not the needs of the 1930’s completely different from what they are today?
Admittedly the crusades were held towards the end of the Great Depression, there was no National Health Service or any of the comforts or the amount of entertainment that we have today. But have these things made us any happier? Are we more content and fulfilled than they were then or are we appreciably healthier? I don’t believe that we are, in fact I would say that the quality of life in some respects is not as good as it was then. We only have to look at some of the people as we walk in our towns or cities to see that there are a lot of sad and hard faces and some look desperately miserable. The spiritual needs of today I would say are surely as great as they were then, if not more so.
4. Isn’t such a move of God a sovereign act of God, and therefore will only come in God’s time?
When relating this to the Edward Jeffreys crusades I don’t believe that this is true, because in many places where he went he also saw God’s blessing such as in his previous crusades and also the crusades taken after Liverpool. Please refer to Appendix 1 for further details of God’s blessing on his ministry during a period of many years.
5. Doesn’t the state of the church today negate the possibility of such a move of God?
We need to be careful here when making such a statement, for the simple reason that we are all individual members of the church. So how does this apply to us? Here are some questions to ask ourselves, and I’m including myself here.
- In saying that we really want God to move in our midst, how desperately do we want this? Do we want it at any price? The rich young ruler was earnest in his desire for eternal life, so upright and blameless was his life that he could say to Jesus "all these commandments I have observed from my youth." How many of us could say that? But Jesus wanted to draw him into following him and into service for him, but sadly he was not willing to pay the price that he asked (Mathew 19:16).
- Are we able to say to the Master "I am ready for whatever you want to do in my life?" or are we so encumbered with the cares, distractions or riches of this life? Do we have our lives so well ordered and planned that we have a placard outside our lives with the notice "do not enter!" Perhaps we have certain "no go" areas in our lives that are "non-negotiable" to any interference" As somebody recently commented "God is the ultimate interferer in our lives" and He will not accept anything less than a complete surrender to His will and purpose in our lives. So committed was Isaiah that when God asked the question "who will go" he was able to respond immediately "here I am send me" and I believe that he would have gone, there and then (Isaiah 6). Do we have this readiness in our lives? Those who will have seen "The Diary of Revival" will recall that when Evan Roberts believed that God was calling him to his hometown of Loughor, he dropped everything in obedience to God and returned home and that without any promise of support. God certainly honoured him for that and within a few weeks the great Welsh Revival had broken out.
I believe that these are important things for us to consider and that before we are quick to judge the state of the church that we need to look carefully at our own lives here.
Another point that I would like to make is that God does not always require great numbers of people through whom to work. Consider the following: -
- Elijah took on the nation of Israel single handedly (1 Kings 18:20).
- Gideon took only 300 men against 135,000 Midianites (Judges 7).
- From 120 people in prayer and one accord in the upper room the whole world was reached with the gospel (Acts 2).
- Wesley said "give me 300 men who fear nobody but God and hate nobody but the devil and I will turn the world upside down.
- The spark that ignited the Welsh Revival came from a small group of young people united in prayer at Loughor, praying until the early hours of each morning.
- God used two old ladies, Peggy and Christine Smith, both in their eighties, both disabled and housebound, to play a significant part in the Hebrides Revival of 1949-52.
- One of America's greatest spiritual awakenings in 1857/8, came about through the actions of one man Jeremiah Lanphier, who started a prayer meeting for businessmen in New York.
So, to return to the original question "can we see the extraordinary sights again in Liverpool and Merseyside, I do believe that it is possible, though not in the way that we may expect. Hence, as previously advised, the reason why I have written the booklet, not just as a historical recollection alone, but as something to remind us that what God has done in the past, He is well and truly able to do the same again. At the end of the day though it very much depends on us as individuals and we should perhaps examine ourselves to see if we are in the place where God wants us to be and if we have the willingness and readiness that he is looking for, or are we a blockage in any way to what God wants to do?
My conviction is that if each of us on a daily basis focuses our hearts and minds on the greatness of God’s power that so shook this city all those years ago and commit ourselves to God’s call and service with that same spirit that Isaiah had, then who knows what God will be able to do amongst us.
Unless otherwise stated all scriptural references are from the Revised Standard Version.
Liverpool Post & Mercury
Bethel Full Gospel Messenger
Bethel Silver Jubilee Souvenir (1960)
A life of contrasts: The extraordinary story of Edward Jeffreys by Robert Mountford
"Revivalism in Bootle" by Peter Gallagher.
Miscellaneous items of information provided by Bethel Baptist Church, Bootle, and Bethel Church, Green Lane, Tuebrook
¹ This was actually quoted in the Bethel Full Gospel Messenger, but I was unable to verify this, as it did not appear in the City Edition the only edition I had access to. I can only presume that it appeared in one or more of the other editions.
I would like to give special thanks to Rev. Dr Ian Paterson from Bethel Baptist Church in Southport Road, Bootle, for all the help that he has given to me in enabling me to write this booklet and also for all the material that has been made available to me. I would also like to thank Bill Kane from Bethel Church in Green Lane, Tuebrook for all the help and material that he has given to me which has been so much appreciated.
Edward Jeffreys' Testimony
Edward Jeffreys was born on 6 October 1899 in Maesteg, South Wales, the only son among four children born to Stephen and Elizabeth Jeffreys. Stephen was a miner, whose conversion during the Welsh Revival of 1904 revolutionised his whole family. From that time on he spent his days in the pit and his evenings in the prayer meetings and open-air services.
A few years after his conversion Stephen along with his brother George launched out into their hugely successful evangelistic campaigns. Both men were very gifted evangelists and they both preached to huge crowds over a period of many years. Through their revival crusades tens of thousands of people were converted and healed and many churches were either planted or greatly enlarged. It was George who pioneered and led what is now known today as the Elim Pentecostal Church (there are several such churches in Liverpool and the Wirral today).
As a young man Edward accompanied his father Stephen on his crusades, often singing solo in the meetings. His teenage years were spent at the Elim Church in Llanelli where God moved in an extraordinary way with hundreds being converted and the whole town affected. Whilst at this church a miraculous event took place on Sunday 2 July 1914 in the evening when as his father preached from Phil 3:10 a vision appeared on the wall behind him. It was a vision of a lamb’s head, which presently turned into the face of Jesus, with the appearance of the ‘Man of Sorrow.’ This vision lasted for 6 hours and was witnessed by hundreds of people in Llanelli. It was interpreted as a sign of impending sorrow, for within a month the First World War had begun. Edward Jeffreys who was present in the meeting also witnessed the event and it no doubt had a profound effect on his forthcoming ministry.
Edward Jeffreys was by no means a full-time preacher from his youth, however, serving in the 1914-18 war first in the Royal Flying Corps and then as a prison camp attendant in France. He later had a variety of jobs, at some time becoming an FRGS (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society). In 1921 he married Evelyn Arnold from Neath in South Wales, and they settled, firstly in Llanelli and then in London. They had 2 children, Arnold and Irona. During the 1920’s his father conducted more and larger crusades and Edward was often with him, helping with practical arrangements and supporting the meetings by leading the singing. His move into full-time Christian ministry came in 1926 when, in conjunction with his father (who had recently left Elim) he mounted a campaign in Southend-on-Sea. This gave birth to a large church, which Edward pastored for 2 years.
In 1928 an event took place which changed the course of Edward’s life. His father was leading some meetings in Bristol when the intended young leader of the new congregation pulled out, unable to cope with the size of the crowds and the responsibility involved. Stephen decided to appoint Edward as the temporary leader, a role that he faced with great trepidation. To his amazement, however, at the end of his first meeting in charge 250 people were converted.
Thereafter the Bethel Evangelistic Society was formed and within 12 months of the founding of the Society in Bristol it became possible to purchase a building in the city for £4000. Here the first Bethel Temple was established by Edward Jeffreys amid scenes of religious fervour. Some 500 people attended the Communion Services and many more the Gospel meeting each Sunday.
From Bristol he moved on to Fishponds about five miles from the city and established the first Bethel branch in an old disreputable chapel, which was then used as a warehouse. The next branch was opened at Worcester after a successful campaign. At Gloucester in 1929, he had a hard fight. After three weeks the congregation increased from six to sixty and the campaign was £119 in debt. Many advised him to close the campaign, but he was determined to carry on. His efforts were rewarded in the following days as three of the largest halls in the town were inadequate to hold the crowds. At the close of the campaign at Luton he and his colleagues founded the ‘Bethel Crusaders’ designed to link the young people in the crusades, giving them suitable training for aggressive evangelism.
One newspaper describing the scene at the Newport campaign, said at the close of the meeting that a table was laden with twisted wooden instruments, cast aside by the people who were healed, and it looked like a shop where surgical appliances were sold. A special staff had to be engaged at Birmingham to deal with the letters that poured in daily. Snowstorms did nothing to abate the enthusiasm and people waited from six in the morning to be in time for the evening service – and this in the middle of winter. Clearly when God is moving people will endure anything to be where He is at work!
Following on from this he invaded the Potteries and received a temporary setback when the local halls were closed against them, but eventually the Hanley Council removed the ban and the campaign carried on with the success met everywhere. He remarked that "the persecution we have suffered has only served to advance our cause." When the campaign concluded there were three meetings during the day and the attendance estimated at 10,000 people. In this campaign he addressed about 100,000 people. The revival tide rolled on through the cotton towns of Lancashire and in many of them Bethel churches were formed.
During this time the ‘Bethel Full Gospel Messenger’ magazine was launched and Gospel caravans were purchased for rural missions and a Bible College and Missionary Training Centre was opened in Bristol in 1931.
Sadly in the midst of all this considerable growth problems were emerging. There were many critics and opposition was being received from local authorities, which were uneasy about the removal of surgical implements from patients in the crusade meetings. The main problem, however, concerned divisions within the Bethel Movement itself that came to a head in 1932. There was unease about Edward Jeffreys’ leadership style, doctrine and perceived lack of financial accountability which led to the resignation from the Society of the entire advisory board and 12 out of the 60 Bethel churches. The Society was never the same again.
In the following year (1933) there was further split when due to doctrinal differences over the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a number of people left the Bethel churches or took their churches out of the Bethel movement, many of them joining the Assemblies of God, or the Elim Pentecostal Church.
Edward Jeffreys, however, continued to hold crusades throughout the 1930’s mainly in the Merseyside and Lancashire areas and he planted several strong evangelical churches, which continue to this day.
By the end of the 1930’s, however, large-scale evangelistic crusades had begun to decline in popularity and success, with the Second World War now occupying the public’s time and attention.
In 1939/40 his uncle George Jeffreys had resigned from the Elim movement, which he had founded, over the issue of church government and formed the Bible-Pattern Church Fellowship which was built on the philosophy of independent, self-governing assemblies, as opposed to Elim’s centralised form of government. He managed to persuade his brothers Stephen and William together with his nephew Edward to become ministers of the Bible-Pattern Church Fellowship. It was not to last, however, with Stephen dying in 1943 and William in 1945 and within a year Edward and George had parted company after Edward had sold his church building in Southport to Elim and published a biography of his father through the Elim Publishing House.
In 1948, with the Pentecostal movement, the Bethel Evangelistic Society, and the Bible-Pattern Church Fellowship all behind him he decided to enter the Anglican Ministry. He studied for a year at St Aidan’s College in Birkenhead, before being ordained to the priesthood at Chelmsford Cathedral in 1948.
His first appointment in his new ministry role was to be the first Priest-in-Charge of St Elizabeth’s, Buckhurst Hill, North East London. It was not a great success, however, and in 1953 he was instituted as vicar of Higham’s Park, a few miles away. Both the congregation and building were in a very poor condition, but he worked hard to rebuild the work from the foundations up. Still an evangelist at heart and gift he enjoyed a very successful period of ministry for a number of years. Some 12 years later he retired with a thriving congregation in place and a completely refurbished church building.
Edward and Eveline retired to Bournemouth in 1965 and he died on 6 November 1974. His wife died in May 1997 when 97 years of age. Their son Arnold who was Secretary of the University of Lancaster until 1981 died 3 years later, aged 61 years, and their daughter Irona now lives in retirement in Bath.
Adapted from "A life of contrasts: The extraordinary story of Edward Jeffreys" by Robert Mountford, City Vision Ministries (used with permission) and from an interview that Edward Jeffreys gave to the Bootle Times in June 1934. Also from "Revivalism in Bootle" by Peter Gallagher.
I believe that the example of Gideon’s Army deserves our wider consideration here. In Judges 6:6 we read that Israel was brought very low because of the hand of Midian who had prevailed over them for 7 years. They were powerless to do anything about their situation and they cried out to God to help them in their plight. God moved on a man who was from the smallest tribe of Israel, from within its weakest clan, and who was the least in his family. Hardly a promising figure through whom God would work to deliver Israel in its near hopeless situation. But as we see so many times God chooses the things that are not to bring to nought the things that are (1 Cori 1:28). As we also see he was at the time of his calling a man lacking in faith (6:36) and fearful (6:27, 7:10), in other words probably like most of us, but God saw within him someone with the potential to do great exploits for Him. Though he had fears and doubts he was, nevertheless, prepared to "take risks for God" because he was so burdened about the dominance of the enemy over his land, and was no longer content just to hear of the past deeds of the Lord which his fathers had recounted to him (6:13). God calls him first of all to bind the power of the spiritual forces of darkness by destroying the altar of Baal and Asherah, and then when the Spirit takes hold of him, he blows the trumpet, sounding forth the call to battle against the enemy. He doesn’t attempt to liaise with others over God’s calling, because if he had tried to do so by perhaps holding a national conference on the issue he would no doubt have been dismissed out of hand. The answer to the nation’s dire situation was clearly not one that could be solved by human methods and ingenuity but only by supernatural means. Initially the call was made to his fellow clan, and then as he increases in confidence to the rest of his tribe, and then to the surrounding tribes. Having further validated his call (6:36) he moves forward in faith, again without consulting anybody, and doesn’t attempt at this stage to involve any of the other tribes of Israel such as Ephraim, and doesn’t do so until the victory is secured, at least in part. It is then that he finds himself severely chided by the Ephraimites for not involving them in the initial call to battle, and he could so easily have been discouraged by this vicious attack on him. On the contrary he refuses to be drawn into this, or to be side-tracked in any way by this opposition, or by the subsequent problems at Succoth or Penuel, because he knew what God had called him to do. Instead of this he sets his sight on the ultimate victory over the enemy by seeking to capture the two kings of Midian and the remainder of the Midianite army because he knows that unless he does so freedom for his land would not be secured.
I love this story because it shows us what God can, and is only too willing to do with individuals and small groups of people, whoever they are, who are completely open to Him and willing to be used by Him in any way He directs, even if it does mean stepping out of the boat and walking on water. Edward Jeffreys and his team were one such group, who like Gideon moved forward in faith, once they were sure of their calling. From a human point of view it was completely illogical for Gideon and his army of 300 men to take on the might of the Midianite army, and it could also be said that it was unwise and foolhardy of Edward Jeffreys to embark on such a venture with a team of only 2 people. Had he tried to arrange a conference on what God had called him to do he would no doubt have been very much discouraged from doing anything. But both these men, however, were so sure of their calling and in the process of time God vindicated them in their step of faith.
Our country today is very much in the grip of the enemy and I believe that the need today is for God to raise up "Gideons" and "Gideon’s Armies" in our land, men and women with the call of God on their lives who are crying out to God over the dire spiritual need of our land and who will -:
- Take risks for God, firstly by binding the spiritual forces of darkness that are gripping and dominating our towns and cities, and who will then by faith "blow the trumpet" in order to take the land for Jesus, whatever the cost.
- Will not be discouraged by any opposition on the way but will not rest until God’s purposes are fulfilled, and their towns and cities are truly taken for Jesus.
- Will only listen to God rather than men, who will be led by the Spirit rather than be influenced by human logic and reasoning.
As with Israel at the time of Gideon the awful situation we are in today will not be solved by human methods (we have tried to do so for too long) but only by a supernatural moving of God. It is no longer sufficient just to hear and read of the revivals of the past, wonderful as they are, but we need to see these things again in our day.
Let us pray, therefore, that God will raise up such people in the desperate days in which we live, because I don’t believe that anything else will do.
Jonathan's armour bearer
The account in 1 Sam. 14 is a wonderful example of the great exploits that can be achieved through people of God stepping out in faith, as we read in this chapter. In 1 Sam. 13:5 we read of the awesome size of the Philistine army i.e. 30,000 chariots, 6000 horsemen, and troops like the sand of the seashore in multitude, but here we have this man of faith taking on this powerful army single handedly, and a great victory being wrought. But let us not forget his armour bearer, because his part was also vitally important. Hear what he says to Jonathan, "behold I am as you are. As is your mind, so is mine." He was clearly of one mind and heart with his leader, and this is the sort of accord and unity that is a powerful weapon in the hands of God. The early church was of "one heart and soul" and we read in Acts 4 of the great exploits that were achieved by them. The army of Gideon was "as one," there was no discord or differences of opinion, but a oneness of purpose in their conquest of the Midianite army. Such an army or team can be an awesome weapon in the hands of God, and almost nothing will be impossible to them. We do need men and women of faith like Gideon and Jonathan to arise in our generation, but we also need the "armour bearers" who will stand with them and support them in their venture of faith. Such people who though they are not leaders, will nevertheless: -
- Stand in faith with those who are.
- Be of one heart and mind with them.
- Take risks for God.
- Be unconcerned about personal recognition (Jonathan’s armour bearer wasn’t named).
- Be totally focused on the goal set before them.
The role of Jonathan’s armour bearer was a key element in the victory achieved over the Philistine army. Though it was Jonathan who was the initiator of the faith that brought about the victory, his armour bearer nevertheless also put his life at risk by stepping out in faith with him and moving directly into the enemy’s territory. He had no thought for his own safety as he went into a situation of great danger, but his focus was of being of one heart and mind with his leader, and on the ultimate victory over the enemy. We do not know his name, but he was known to God. Though he was only a young man, yet his qualities of courage, submission, and faithfulness were a powerful force in the situation, and without him it is unlikely that the victory would have been secured.
At the Edward Jeffrey’s crusades the wonderful move of God came about through the ministry and faith of this man of God, but the role of his two young assistants was also of great importance, and the success of the crusades could not have been achieved without them. They came with him as part of his team and stood in faith with him believing God to move in Liverpool, otherwise I’m sure that they would not have been there.
We do need people like Jonathan and Gideon and Edward Jeffreys in these days but we also need the "armour bearers." Such people of faith who are of like mind and heart with them, who will take risks for God and be totally focused with their leaders on the mission to which God has called them. Such people who will not seek to be in the limelight or be concerned for personal recognition, but who will work in the background and quietly get on with the work of the kingdom of God to which they have been called.
She was just twelve; and she was sad;
Her mum was gravely ill;
And she muttered as she walked along: -
"She MUST get well... ..she WILL!
Then, overwhelmed by sudden thoughts,
She closed her tearful eyes
And prayed:-"I couldn't bear it Lord,
If my dear mummy dies".
She stopped...and then..."Dear Lord", she said,
"I make this vow today: -
I promise, if You heal my mum,
I'll serve You every day".
The tears were gone; her eyes were bright
And I need hardly tell: -
God honoured the faith of that twelve-year-old
And made her mummy well! ..
The child was overjoyed and said.....
"That's just because I prayed".
The years went by, but she forgot
The vow that she had made.
At eighteen, she was "pleasure-mad",
Yes, life was just a whirl
Of parties and of dances,
To this pleasure-loving girl.
Then, just when she thought life was great
And she was having fun,
She heard that in a Tent Campaign,
A Revival had begun!
She was told that wonderful things
Were happening on that Field: -
Drunkards being converted
And sick folk being healed.
At first, she ridiculed these tales
And said they were romancing,
Then turned a deaf ear on them all....
And went on with her dancing.
But God was working out His plans
And you must surely see
That when the Spirit starts to work,
It leads to Victory!
A friend with whom she used to work
Gave many invitations;
But no! She wouldn't go along.....
She feared the implications!
For she had heard (quite wrongly so!)
A very silly rumour: -
That Christian folks were dull and staid
And had no sense of humour!
But one lovely summer evening,
In nineteen thirty-four,
She found herself in serious mood,
Outside the Marquee door!
As she walked across the field,
She'd been conscious of the power
With which the crowds were singing:-
"I need Thee every hour".
The promise she had made to God,
Had grown so faint and dim;
But now, her heart had softened
And she felt her need of Him.
That night, she gave her life to Christ
And claimed a full salvation;
Her outlook was so different now;
Oh, what a transformation!
Her attitudes to life were changed;
Wrong ones soon passed away;
Her desires were on a different plane
As she began to pray.
She knew her soul was truly saved,
Since trusting in His blood
And that her sins were buried now,
Deep in the crimson flood.
Whene’er young people, full of life,
With Christ come face to face
And finally accept Him
It's a miracle of grace!
She daily proved this tender grace
And felt His guiding Hand;
She revelled in this brand-new life
And everything seemed grand.
But the Christian life is a battle;
As yet, she didn't know;
For she'd discovered "mountain-tops",
But not the "valleys" low.
Although she was rejoicing
In the lovely Gospel Story,
There was the CROSS before the CROWN,
The GRIEF beside the GLORY.
Many years have passed since then
And right throughout the years,
There have been many anxious days,
There have been many tears.
But during trials, what a joy,
Her heart with Christ's to blend!
In sickness He has been her all,
In death, her Greatest Friend.
Yes, with a heart just filled with praise,
Through trials and through strife,
She testifies that though it's hard,
It's the way that leads to life!
She prays that she'll be faithful
And daily seek God's face;
She longs to win lost souls to Him,
The sinner saved by grace.
At times, she's almost gone astray,
Then.. .claimed His "keeping-power".
And always, He has clasped her hand
And kept her hour by hour.
My Story's finished now, but oh.....
I almost forgot to tell.....
Perhaps you've guessed? That sinner was
And is YOURS TRULY... ...NELL!
Rev Robert Ynys-Thomas
Welsh minister receives his sight after 24 years blindness - A testimony given in the Bethel Messenger in Julu 1934
It is with the greatest pleasure that I, Robert Ynys-Thomas, of 15, Merton Grove, Bootle, now testify to the saving and divine healing power of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I have had no sight in my left eye for 24 years
In 1910, I went to see Dr Evans, of Wrexham, and while in his surgery, the doctor asked to see my left eye; after his examination of the eye he asked me if I would go to see Dr Ross Wood, of Shrewsbury, who was a good and clever eye specialist, and who had recently operated successfully on a baronet in the Wrexham district. I said that I would go and see any specialist of the eyes.
The specialist said to me, "My dear man, you are blind in the left eye." The right eye had not given me any trouble up to then, but the doctor added, "be prepared to lose the sight of the right eye as well. You can preserve it if you will wear glasses." Although I did not care for glasses I took his advice, but the sight in the right eye grew weaker until I became nearly blind in that eye as well.
I had seen several eye specialists during that period, but nothing could be done for me, yet I feel certain that all these specialists and doctors did their best for me and they have treated me kindly. But the sight in my right eye also was going weaker, until it was difficult for me to read with eyeglasses and magnifying glasses.
However, I saw on a poster that Pastor Edward Jeffreys was holding a Mission and Divine Healing Services in Bootle, so I went to the services.
On Tuesday afternoon, May 27th 1934, I started to go on the platform, but I could not; nearly everything in the world of mind came to hinder me, such as "Why should you go on the platform?
Let God come and give you your sight in your own church or in your home, etc."
Going out of the services, I spoke to Pastor Jeffreys, and he said, "Come tonight and I will pray for you."
I went to the evening service, and when others were receiving the blessings through being Divinely healed in the name of Jesus, I wanted and tried to go with them, but pride, and self-will came in my way. I believed that Jesus still answers prayer, and that He would answer my prayer, and help me to submit to His will. This He did, and I went on the platform. Pastor Jeffreys prayed for me and praise God, in the name of Jesus I received the sight in the left eye after 24 years of blindness, and the right eye has been strengthened, as I can now see to read without glasses. And now my ambition is to serve the Lord wholly in spirit and in truth for He answers prayer if we believe and have faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. "If ye shall ask anything in my Name, I will do it." My only desire is that my Saviour will assist me to consecrate my life to His service.
DOES DIVINE HEALING LAST?
Six weeks to live: but I rose from my bath-chair and walked home - A testimony given by Phyllis Rimmer in 1960
When I was five years of age I suffered from rheumatism and chorea, which left me with a valvular heart disease. I had very little schooling and never played as other children, for most of my time was spent in hospital. When I was 13 years of age I had been in a bath-chair for over three years and my condition deteriorated so much that the specialist informed my mother that I would not live to see my 14th birthday. Praise God, however, that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
I was not aware that my days were numbered, although I did notice that everybody seemed more than anxious to please me and gave me everything I asked for, and I came to the conclusion that I was not going to get better.
It was in July 1934 that Pastor Jeffreys pitched his large tent in Lister Drive and my mother asked me if I would like to go. I said "No" at first as my feet were so swollen and I could not get my shoes on. After some persuasion, however, I agreed to go, my mother wheeling me in my chair for the whole of the 25-minute journey to the tent.
After Pastor Jeffreys gave his address, he asked those who wished to accept Christ as their Saviour to raise their hands. I raised my hand and heart to God and took Jesus as my Saviour and from that blest day he has been a faithful friend, helping me through many trials. Later on in the service Pastor Jeffreys came down to the people in bath-chairs and asked me if I believed that Jesus could heal me. I said "Yes" and he prayed for me. Immediately I found I could slip my feet into my shoes. I got up and walked on to the platform praising God for his goodness. I walked all the way home, pushing my bath-chair.
My doctor was amazed and even today the doctors who know my case sheet marvel that I am so well, after having had such a "rotten heart."
I have lived and worked normally since that day and constantly rejoice when I think of what God did for me twenty five years ago and what He has meant to me down the years.
- Through many dangers toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
HEALED OF HEART DISEASE
The following testimony was sent to Edward Jeffreys by John Williams (mentioned elsewhere), in August 1934
I have suffered for years with a very bad heart – "Myocarditis," the doctors called it. I have been in hospital twice under the best heart-specialists this city has, but although they did their utmost, in my case it was no use. Then they told me it had turned to the very worst of heart affections, namely "Angina Pectoris." Last December I had seven x-ray plates taken at the Stanley Hospital, and was told they couldn’t do anything for me. In January I had 14 heart attacks in one night, and was not expected to live very long, because of the internal bleeding. Nothing my doctor gave me could stop that. In fact he ceased giving me any medicine, saying it was only harming other organs of the body. But hearing of your campaign I went out of curiosity and was immediately convinced of the wonderful message you were broadcasting to one and all – Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. On July 5th I was prayed for my Pastor Jeffreys at the Bootle tent, and immediately all pain left me, the bleeding valve that had been leaking for 18 months stopped bleeding, and I have never seen any blood since. The flow of blood, however, had caused my stomach to be bad, which in my great pain I never mentioned. So again on August 10th I was prayed for by Pastor Hulbert at Bootle, and now thanks all be to my wonderful Lord Jesus Christ, I believe I am completely healed. I will never cease to praise Him. I must tell you that before I asked to be healed I stood and accepted Him as my Saviour. My doctor is quite puzzled. I am in the congregation if you wish me to come on the platform, and if you like you can make any use of this testimony. I will never tire of testifying to all I come in contact with, of how wonderful it feels to belong to Christ’s army.