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SPF Members in England

LONDON- SPF members crossed the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, November 5th landing in London’s Heathrow Airport for the beginning of a nine day preaching circuit of the United Kingdom, including Wales and Scotland. SPF Director McRae, Assistant Directors Jim Grove and Daniel Gowen, along with Stephen McRae and Bruce Perrault walked up the tarmac ramp at London’s Heathrow airport and in the midst of the massed crowd of people standing to welcome loved ones with name signs, stood Brother Dean Moore, S.D. of North Carolina holding up his large sign, “Trust Jesus”; and they knew immediately they had found the will of God over seas. A few hour later, came Assistant Director Ruben Israel up the tarmac, along with two men presently visiting his California church, Michael Horton and Jeremy Caronado from Huntington Beach. Later in the afternoon Robert Ephrata from Washington State arrived in country. And Dr. Dennis Meador, the Iowa Statewide Director arrived the following morning. Exchanging their American dollars to British pounds, they located their reserved lodging North of London in St. Albans, and the next day, they began their tour heading north into the city of Bedford. The week was extremely filled with the good things of God, as the street preachers traveled over 10,000 miles and preached to almost 5 million people in 9 days. God opened the door into every city they entered, establishing contacts and locating soon-to-be-chapters of the SPF throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Time and space will not permit a full accounting of all Jesus Christ did in those preaching packed nine days. The men existed on about 3 hours of sleep a night, and were physically exhausted at the end of the circuit. Though they were not able to visit all the cities originally planned, and “the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:7) to cross into Ireland, their hearts were to the man moved above expectation at the hundreds of thousands of souls set before them wherever they went, with literally millions of souls passing in front of them as they preached in London, Edinburgh and Liverpool. They encountered a kingdom thirty years behind the United States in cultural and technological progress, but thirty years ahead in rejecting the God of the Bible. England has “forgotten God days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32). They also returned to the States thoroughly convinced that the American missionaries in England are near worthless to the man, in reaching the multitudes with the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Where ever they went, they discovered a famine of hearing the words of God in the streets of the very Kingdom that gave the world the King James Bible. In the words of one elderly Scottish woman in Glasgow, with tears flowing down her cheeks, “O, this is absolutely a wonderful answer to my prayers. I did not think street preaching would ever return to Scotland. O, praise God, this is so wonderful! We have not seen open air preaching in many years.” The following is taken from the Director’s Journal of the events throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

“Therefore said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few:
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into the harvest.”
- Luke 10:2

Friday, November 7- Arose at 5 a.m. and with Br. Gowen, traveled to London Heathrow and picking up Dr. Meador, returning to St. Albans by 9 a.m. to join the brethren. Traveled north into Old Bedford, where we unfurled banners, and assembled along the downtown walkway across from a large closed stone cathedral. Unlike in the states, all of England is for the most part laid out the same in each city, where the Kingdom has been able to maintain their past into the future, where each city has an enormous inner life. The ancient lime stone buildings remain the focal point, with a multitude of small shops lining the sidewalks, with each city having its own main City Centre, where the cobble stone street has been closed to vehicular traffic, and is an enormous pedestrian walkway, where literally hundreds of thousands of people walk by you in a throng each day. R. Israel began preaching and exhorting several thousand of the Queen’s subjects to repentance toward God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bruce Perrault Preaching in Bedford Square
Ruben Israel and Stephen McRae
“In the name of our God we will set up our banners.” –Psalm 20:5

It was abundantly clear that the citizens of Bedford had not changed, but rather grew worse than they were when John Bunyan preached here 400 years ago. Less than 50 tracts were accepted among over 15,000 Bedford villagers walking past, and it was seen in the countenances of their faces why Bunyan called this place, “The City of Destruction”. Separating into two groups, S. McRae, D. Gowen, B. Perrault and R. McRae held forth from further south of the square, standing upon an elevated stone wall. Director McRae preaching upon these words, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21, 22).

Director McRae Preaching in Bedford, England

The hardness of their hearts was so manifest upon their faces, that every preacher repeatedly expressed it, “Bedford has forsaken God days without number!” Daniel Gowen held forth upon these words, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Stretching the length of the stone walk way, O how they preached with the heart felt memory that in this very place, John Bunyan lay in prison over twelve years for doing this very thing: preaching Jesus Christ in the open without a license. Cried Robert Ephrata, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), but none did answer.

Daniel Gowen Preaching in Bedford, England

It was astounding to see the people of the place of which Bunyan wrote, and find them still as they were. Though Bunyan’s character Christian fled this City of Destruction for the Celestial City, with his wife Christiana following, all the other characters were still strangely present, walking to and fro through the square as the SPF ministers preached where John Guilford and Bunyan had likewise spoken the words of life. There was Obstinate and Pliable returned as Bunyan wrote. And before the preaching ceased this day, Mrs. Bat’s eyes showed up, and stood behind the wall in front of where Ruben Israel preached. With her was a small little boy of about 4 years old, whose eyes were black like his mother’s. The child was tormented beyond words, and repeatedly cried aloud like a cat in the night, glaring at the preachers. Slowly walking around the stone wall, the small boy faced Director McRae and screeched like owl, with his shirt torn open revealing a multitude of red claw marks upon his little chest, where he had been repeatedly tearing at himself. His face was marked with the same, revealing where his little fingers had clawed at his eyes in torment. The boy screeched again, and Director McRae spoke softly to him once, and he ceased, only to have his mother, ‘Mrs. Bat’s Eyes’ take him by the hand and lead him away from the preachers and out of the square. Throughout the day, Bunyan’s characters passed before the American street preachers in an almost mystic display that nothing had changed in 400 years in the City of Destruction. There was Timorous and her lady friends Mrs. Inconsiderate, Mrs. Light-mind who repeatedly refused gospel tracts. Passing through the square came Mr. Lechery along with two daughters of Mrs. Love-the-flesh who spoke at length with SPF Editor Stephen McRae.

Stephen McRae in Bedford Square reproving the daughters
Of Mrs. Love-the-Flesh of Bunyan’s Day

Taking the short walk east of the square, the SPF ministers visited John Bunyan’s Church. Though the original barn in which Bunyan preached is gone, there stands an ancient stone church upon the spot where the small band of Anabaptists met and worshipped Jesus Christ. Inside the church, the SPF ministers met with the present Baptist pastor, who refused them entrance into the small museum of Bunyan’s life and work, saying, “We have locked the doors and cannot open them.” His head deacon was a kind man, and repeatedly insisted that the American preachers be allowed inside, but to no avail. “Parson Two Tongues” clearly had more paramount interests than the ministry of Jesus Christ, and thought it no grave concern to lie about small things. Showing his heart felt dismay over his pastor’s rudeness, the elderly deacon treated us kindly, personally touring us through the chapel, and telling the story of John Guilford (The ‘Evangelist’ of Pilgrim’s Progress) and John Bunyan’s ministration for the kingdom of God in Bedford. Before the existing elevated pulpit, after the Anglican manner, stood the original mortised and tennoned communion table where Bunyan was oft want to preach behind and hold communion with his small flock of Christians, the only light within Bedford during his lifetime. SPF Director and several of the men quietly knelt their and prayed, “Father, whatever you put into John Bunyan that made him love you so, grant unto us a double portion thereof in these last tragic days in which we live”.

Stained Glass Picture of Evangelist Showing Christian
The Way to The Wicket Gate

Returning to the square, the SPF ministers preached again, and spoke personally with numerous souls that stopped to inquire of the “American Ministers” come to Bedford. Just as they began to roll up their banners, two police officers arrived and spoke with Director McRae, saying “Ye cannot offend people with your preaching in Bedford, for we have a law forbidding you to offend anyone.” Before Director McRae could respond, a tall, very stern Englishman cried out, “Leave them be Officer! Leave them be! They’ve done no wrong!” When the young British policeman advised him to stay out of it, that it did not concern him, the man left his bicycle and came immediately over, crying aloud, “It does too concern me! They’ve done no wrong! I have been here for over an hour, and listened to them preach. They’ve said nothing wrong. They have the right in England to preach the gospel in the open, and we have the right to hear them preach!” Then said he to the Director, “Stand your ground, Mate! Don’ta let them bluff ya!” And so, those early words of admonishment were taken to heart as from God, and throughout the trip, the SPF stood the ground in numerous encounters with the “English Bobbie”, and preached as God bade them time and again. Said the Officers to Director McRae, “Have ye a license for this?” Truly, nothing had changed in Bedford since John Bunyan was jailed for preaching without one! When the Officers saw their purpose frustrated, they walked away, and the preaching ended for a season in the village of Bedford, England.

“Away with such fantastical fools from the town;
a good riddance, for my part, I say...should they stay…
and retain this mind, who could live quietly by; for they will either be
dumpish or unneighbourly, or talk of such matters as no wise body can abide;
Wherefore, for my part, I shall never be sorry for their departure;
Let them go, and let better come in their room;
‘twas never a good world since these whimsical fools dwelt in it.”
-Mrs. Inconsiderate, of Christiana and Mercy
(Pilgrim’s Progress, The Second Part)

Traveling to London, the preachers entered Croydon, and met with their counter parts, Patrick and James Battel, who had invited the SPF to England for to preach. Gathering at a certain residence in Croydon, the SPF ministers found “a certain woman which believed” (Acts 15:1, 2), but her husband was a professed agnostic after the order of Caiphas who said, “Ye know nothing at all” (John 11:49). Both accepted all the preachers very warmly, and had them into their home, serving the traditional Londonderry Fish and Chips, with ‘mushy peas’, with very good conversation after a godly sort. Sister Vivian gave testimony of her conversion and walk with Jesus Christ, and how she searched from childhood speaking oft with God, that she might “know Him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Laboring much in prayer for days, she testified that God finally spoke peace to her heart while walking in the park, and the love of God was so filling to her once cold heart, that she cried out to a man who had passed by walking his dogs, “Come back, you must have some of this!” Having labored much every way that her dear husband might find peace with God, she frankly turned the conversation to him, and he kindly and affectionately inquired of God and the work of Jesus Christ in each of the preacher’s lives. And thus began the testimony of Jesus Christ, as each minister took his turn to “magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46, 47), and forthwith not a few tears did fall, as the prophet Perrault told the wonderful words of life and how this amazing grace of Jesus Christ could “save a wretch like me”. Making plans for the morning, in preaching outside the witch festival, the preachers departed at midnight, to return the next morning.

Next Day