What might you find if you dug up the basement of your church? If it was St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey, you’d probably find heaps of bones that once belonged to famous people. If you dug up the basement of our church, you might find the scorched and shredded remains of our marquee tent that was destroyed by lightning strike at a Soul Survivor conference!
Workmen digging up the basement of a church in West London in 1966 fell silent when they discovered dozens of discarded crutches, leg braces and wheelchairs buried under the floor - evidence of the miraculous healings that had happened in that place and a poignant testimony to one of the most amazing healing ministries ever to emerge from these shores. The church was Kensington Temple and the legacy belonged to George Jeffreys, founder of the Elim Pentecostal denomination and arguably the greatest British evangelist since John Wesley.
Jeffreys was converted in the Welsh Revival at the age of 15, and six years later received the baptism of the Holy Spirit which ignited within him a passion to preach the gospel. He wondered if he would ever be able to answer that call because of a speech impediment and bodily paralysis but the same God who baptised him in the Spirit miraculously healed him and the rest, as they say, is history.
As the young George Jeffreys set about answering God’s call to preach, he did two things: first, he gathered a “band of brothers”, a group of people earnestly committed to supporting him in prayer and interceding for revival; and second, he preached a simple four-point gospel – Jesus is Saviour, Healer, Deliverer and Coming King. And the crowds came, and thousands came to faith in Christ and hundreds upon hundreds experienced divine healing.
Cities and towns across the British Isles received the gospel and multitudes were saved and healed. Within days of starting meetings in Portsmouth Town Hall in 1926 the venue proved too small, and hundreds were being turned away hours before the meetings could even start. Next was the Liverpool Boxing Stadium where Jeffreys had to preach from inside the ring! In Leeds over 2,000 committed their lives to Christ in just over two weeks and once again hundreds were healed.
In Birmingham Jeffreys began holding meetings in a Congregational church. Within five days it was too small. They moved to the Town Hall, which within days was also too small. They then moved to the 8,000 seat Embassy Skating rink, and finally to the Bingley Hall Exhibition Centre which could seat 15,000. Jeffreys preached for 26 nights and over 10,000 came to Christ, and hundreds were miraculously healed. The pattern was repeated time after time and new churches had to be planted in city after city to pastor the thousands coming to faith, and thus the Elim church was birthed.
The verified testimonies of miraculous healings were countless, but four in particular deserve mention as they drew national attention at the time. James Gregson of Leeds was an ironmaster who had been crippled in a workplace accident that left him dragging himself along the ground to get anywhere - unable even to sit because of excruciating pain. After being carried to the front of a meeting to be prayed for he was instantly healed. Within weeks he had regained full strength and was back at work, later testifying that he never missed another day’s work after his divine healing. His story made a national morning newspaper!
Miss Edith Scarth, also of Leeds, had TB of the spine, and had to lie flat and be wheeled around in a spinal chair. After being prayed for and wonderfully healed, she said: “I felt as if someone lifted something right off me. My whole body was charged with new life and power. My head clicked back into place, I was healed! My mother looked on in amazement. I wanted to sing, to shout, to dance. When I reached home I ran up the steps, I could not take the time to walk! I was healed on April 11th 1927. My doctor could find no trace of tuberculosis. My back was perfectly straight and I was quite well”.
In Southampton Miss Florence Munday had been taken to a meeting in her wheelchair. She had been unable to walk or stand for 14 years following a leg injury. She had also suffered broken and bleeding skin since childhood. Unable to do anything to relieve the pain of her leg injury, the doctors finally decided to amputate her leg. But her sisters took her first to a Jeffreys meeting, where she was miraculously, instantly healed. She got out of the wheelchair and walked around the building three times. When she woke the next morning, her skin disease had also disappeared! Florence went on to serve for 30 years as the minister of the Elim church in Gosport!
Mrs Algernon Coffin, the wife of a Baptist minister, had struggled with cancer for ten years and finally been told she had only months to live. Doctors told her husband there was no hope whatsoever. She was prayed for by Jeffreys in a Divine Healing meeting at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton on 19th May 1927 – and miraculously healed. She later testified: “I was in utter despair. The doctors had done all they could, and I was given up to die. But, praise God, man’s extremity is God’s opportunity”.
For 12 consecutive years - from 1928 to 1939, Jeffreys hired the Royal Albert Hall to hold Easter weekend meetings. Up to 10,000 people at a time would cram into the grand old venue and sometimes up to 1,000 people would be baptised there on an Easter Sunday morning!
Later Jeffreys parted company with the movement he founded – he was always more interested in demonstrating the Spirit’s power than starting denominations - but his amazing anointing continued. He set up base in the Horbury Chapel in Kensington – later to be known as Kensington Temple – and continued to preach the gospel and pray for the sick. After his death, the building and congregation re-joined the Elim movement and that’s when the basement discovery was made – a legacy that inspired many more years of supernatural ministry in that church.
When Paul preached the gospel in Corinth he relied not on “eloquence and superior wisdom” but in weakness, fear and trembling he preached “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified….in demonstration of the Spirit’s power” so that people’s faith would rest upon God’s power rather than man’s wisdom (1 Cor 2:1-5). Likewise, George Jeffreys preached the gospel of Jesus and God confirmed with signs and wonders following.
Let’s not keep the testimonies of God’s miraculous healing and saving power buried in our basements. It’s time to shout it from the rooftops and proclaim that Jesus is Saviour, Healer, Deliverer and Coming King. “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
P.S. There’s a fascinating postscript relating to George Jeffreys’ ministry and the anointing he carried. In 1961 a young Bible student had just completed studies at a Bible College in Swansea. He had some free time before returning to Germany and was wandering around Clapham in South London when he suddenly recognised the name “George Jeffreys” posted outside a castle-like house. He knocked on the door and was about to be turned away by the housekeeper when Jeffreys himself came up the path and invited him in. As they spoke about the lost world and the widespread need of the gospel of Jesus Christ – Jeffreys suddenly reached across, laid his hands on the young man’s head and prayed for his ministry and for the empowerment of God for evangelism. That young man was Reinhard Bonnke, and the rest, as they say, is history!
A blog by Pastor Brendan munro
Welcome to my blog - thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.