SOME MODERN DAY RECOLLECTIONS OF THE CRUSADES
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 Iíve ever seen
By his side I would abide
With never a veil between
Since I fell so deeply in love
With Jesus the Nazarene.
Sarah Spackman82 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 didnít 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 "Sarahís Story."
Rev Richard Kayes
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 Yearís 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 Peopleís Church in Everton. One of the young men at The Peopleís 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. Richardís 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 Peopleís Church in Everton, and some 100 people, now in their 60ís and 70ís 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
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 Ďthe tent pegsí because of their association with the tent crusade.
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 didnít impact her at that time but she was impressed with the wonderful singing and couldnít 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 hadnít saved you I donít 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 Messengerí which contained a sermon by Pastor Jeffreys on ĎThe Good Shepherd.í 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.
Audrey Tomlinson with Australian aborigines in 1978
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 Ė 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 Ė 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 Saulís on the road to Damascus Ė 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 Godís 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 Yearís 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.
Alan Donaldson at the Pier Head
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 Jesusí 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 Georgeís 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.