This Summer’s evangelistic trip to England was a highly successful and busy four weeks during July and early August. I left America behind on the fourth of July for the overnight flight to London, and after a day to rest enjoyed taking the Sunday pulpit of the historic Orange Street Congregational Church in Leicester Square. This church was founded in 1693 by Huguenot refugees from France, and I always enjoy encountering the happy faces and warm welcome given by the congregation there. It is always a delight to stand at the pulpit where the favorite hymn, Rock of Ages, was first sung, having been written by a former pastor there, Rev. Augustus Toplady.
On Monday, after a morning spent reading at the British Library, a forty-five minute train ride north brought me to the lovely town of Broxbourne and the annual Covenant People’s Fellowship convention at the High Leigh convention center. This is a week-long Bible conference with wonderful speakers including Rev. Robert Phillips and his wife Lynn, Rev. Tony Martlew, Cora Birch, Rev. Ken Kemble, Colin Farquhar, Martin Lightfoot, Ann Knight, Brenda Clements and myself. We were sorry to hear of Lynn Phillips health problems which required a hospital stay after the conference, and want to ask our readers to keep her in prayer for a full recovery.
Shortly before the conference ended, I was whisked off by car to northeastern England and the university town of Durham. This is a very ancient city and very beautiful, with winding old streets intersected by the River Wear. I spoke at the monthly gathering of the Durham British-Israel Fellowship, headed by Colin Farquhar, and there was also time for a tour of Durham Castle to learn of its interesting past history. On Sunday afternoon, we visited the large, majestic old Durham Cathedral, built upon the order of William the Conqueror shortly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Good seats were obtained in the Cathedral for the Evensong on Sunday afternoon, up near the High Altar and close to the choir. The music and singing was so angelic and beautiful that I was sorry when the service ended! Durham Cathedral is the shrine of famous early Celtic saints such as Aidan, Bede and Cuthbert.
Of special note is the beautiful large Royal Air Force stain-glass window in the northwest corner of the nave, above the cathedral’s war memorial. It depicts an eagle with his wings spread wide above the city of Durham, with the caption beneath from Isaiah 31:5, “As birds flying, so shall the Lord of Hosts protect Jerusalem.” Connecting England with a prophecy about Jerusalem would be peculiar, unless the artist understood England as the modern land of God’s true Israel!
On the Monday following, I continued on my journey by train to Buxton, Derbyshire, and the Palace Hotel for the British-Israel-World Federation summer convention for another week-long time of fellowship and inspiration. Here some excellent speakers from around the world delighted the audience, including two pastors from South Africa. Of special note was the excellent illustrated lectures presented by Dr. Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship in Cape Town, South Africa (website: frontline.org.za). He produces an overwhelming amount of good literature including numerous excellent books, Christian Action newsletter, and daily email updates. I have finished reading his “Church History Manual” (133 large size pages) and highly recommend it. Other speakers included Ernest and Kathleen Gage, Ken Brack, Martin Lightfoot, Norman Pearson, Frank Tebbutt, Philip Benwell of Australia, Margery Dowling, Edward Spalton, Michael Clark, Pastor David McLure of Scotland, Pastor David Aimer, Pastor Brenton Boshoff of South Africa, Dr. Clifford Smyth of Northern Ireland and myself.
The following week was spent visiting the various branches of Bible Truth Fellowship in cities and towns across southern England, including Gravesend in Kent, Newbury in Berkshire, Plymouth in Devon, and in Somerset near Glastonbury. The meetings and fellowship were warm and friendly and my hosts were wonderful. I also enjoyed some touring of the countryside and a medieval church in Gravesend, and a visit to Highclere Castle and Egyptian Exhibition near Newbury. Highclere was built by Lord Carnarvon, who provided the funding for the archaeological expedition that discovered King Tutankhamen in 1922. In addition, the television serial “Downton Abbey” is filmed there. The crowds were unbelievable, with thousands of people visiting each day.
After another enjoyable worship and preaching visit to Orange Street on Sunday, my final fourth week was spent in London doing some interesting new research at the British Library, of which more on that will be forthcoming. However, Friday afternoon was spent in conversation in the basement “crypt” at “St. Martin In The Fields” church cathedral near Trafalgar Square, where I had a discussion with a Methodist minister who expressed an interest in our message.
Although the meetings went very well and my talks were received with enthusiasm, I have a sense of sadness about the Spiritual state of the nation as a whole. The situation in the churches in England is quite bleak today, as this formerly godly nation famous for evangelistic work throughout the world is in dire need of Spiritual revival herself. The young people I met on walks around London have seemingly slipped into a miasma of agnosticism and worldly pleasures. Let us pray that revival comes, and that the British-Israel message of heritage, hope, and purpose may take hold among the youth. Without knowledge of their birthright and responsibilities under God, our people are left without Spiritual direction or goals. May God send revival and use us in furthering His work upon this earth!