THE EDWARD JEFFREYS' CRUSADES

                                     (A condensed version of The 1934 Revival)

                                  

                                     

Of all the moves of God that have taken place in Liverpool, the crusades taken by Edward Jeffreys and his team were probably the most spectacular. They impacted Liverpool in a way that had probably not been seen before and has certainly not been seen since then. On one day in June 1934, 3000 people came to know the Lord and I do believe that this one event alone could well be unique in UK history. Multitudes of people were drawn into the kingdom and many outstanding healings took place with the blind, deaf, and crippled experiencing God’s miraculous power. The team comprising Edward Jeffreys and his two helpers Esaiah Davies and Horace Trembath came in faith with virtually no advance publicity, and just a few leaflets and a 3000 seater tent. Their dependence was on God with little or no recourse to material or human resources. God certainly blessed them for within a couple of weeks God’s tremendous power was being manifested in a way, which had rarely been seen before even during the Welsh Revival.

The crusade commenced on 28th May 1934. On the first night people came from other Bethel churches (the movement started by him) in other towns to support the crusade, but after that he was left alone with his team. The campaign opened in a very quiet way and writing about it some time later Edward Jeffreys 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. Within a couple of weeks, however, it became clear that God was certainly moving and the cumulative effect of what God was doing was reverberating around Liverpool and that the people attending was growing rapidly every day. By the middle of June the report of what God was doing came to the attention of the local press and the amazing scenes that were being witnessed were reported on an almost daily basis. Here is a report from the Liverpool Echo on 12th June 1934, with the following 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."

Five days later there was a crowd of 8000 people at the evening service with 1000 people receiving Christ as their Saviour. On the 19th June the crowds had swollen to 10,000 people (with many more people outside the tent than inside) with 3000 decisions recorded that day, from the afternoon and evening services.

Here is a report from another local newspaper on Friday 22 June 1934 with the following headline: -

"Amazing Scenes at Faith Healing Tent. Fifty cures a day! Ten thousand people attend services. Waiting all night."

The reporter stated 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."

A week later the same newspaper carried the following headline:

"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.

In early July a new marquee accommodating 5000 people is erected, but even this 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. Following on from this another tent was erected in Tuebrook, another part of Liverpool and the same phenomenal successes were seen there, with a multitude of healings taking place.

On 24 September it was reported that some 17 weeks after the first meetings were held a congregation of between 3000 and 6000 people were still gathering every night in Bootle, with people still being converted and healed at every service.

The crusades of 1934 had a profound effect not only on many of God’s people but also very much on the local community as well. This of course is what is expected during times of revival, and parts of Liverpool were certainly no exception.

Here are 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: -

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 became 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 – R.S.

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:-

1. The wonderful grip it had on men and women who rarely heard the story of Christ and His redeeming love.

2. 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."

  • In one of his replies to a 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."

At the end of 1934 a permanent purpose built dwelling to accommodate 2000 people was constructed to hold the crowds that were still anxious to attend at Bootle. Here is a photograph of that first service: -

                                         

For those converted at the Tuebrook crusade meetings it was a while before they were able to find a suitable meeting place, so they met in a cinema and dance hall, and then in the Casino Skating Rink in Kensington which could accommodate 5000 people. Underneath is a photograph of part of the congregation during a baptismal service held there. Eventually they built their own church building in Green Lane, Tuebrook: -

                                          

Both churches are still continuing today some 70 years later.

A full account of these amazing crusades with modern day testimonies of people whose lives were transformed as a result of those meetings when they were youngsters is given in my booklet "Liverpool Gripped by Revival."

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