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 Ďhe 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.í
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 Godís 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 ĎWilt Thou not revive us again that Thy people may rejoice in Theeí (Psalm 85:6) and ĎO 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 Iím 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."
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 Godís 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 Godís 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 doesnít 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 Godís 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 Godís Spirit, as did his successors. Here is what he said some years later, "at times one felt such a sense of Godís 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 Iím 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 Godís 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 Godís 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, ĎGod 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.í 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 fatherís 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.