He is GEORGE JEFFREYS, arguably the most influential and most gifted preacher that the British Pentecostal Movement has ever produced.
How it all happened:
I traveled by train to London. Having some money to spare, I decided I would simply take an unguided sightseeing tour of the great city. Big Ben, the famous Parliament building, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London. I hopped from bus to bus, crisscrossing the city as if on a holiday. Which, infact, I was my first holiday.
At length, I arrived at a place called Clapham Commons, a large park in a lovely residential section of the city. With no specific destination in mind, I decided to stretch my legs. I began walking through the surrounding neighborhood totally at random. All of a sudden I stopped because I saw a blue nameplate in front of a house. On that nameplate I read, “George Jeffreys.”
I thought to myself, could this be the great George Jeffreys who had founded the Elim Pentecostal Churches in Ireland and England? I had read much about him. He had been a great firebrand evangelist who had traveled across the world preaching to overflow crowds in some of the largest venues. Miraculous signs and wonders had accompanied his preaching.
I recalled that 10,000 had been converted in his historic Birmingham crusade. 14,000 had responded during a crusade in Switzerland. He was known to many as the greatest evangelist Britain had produced after George Whitfield and John Wesley. My heart pounded with anticipation to think that of all the residences in London I might have stumbled upon, I had stumbled upon his.
I paused at the gate. Should I go in and introduce myself? I felt almost compelled to do it. But who was I to do such a thing?
I felt a spiritual and natural link with this man. As with so many other British revival leaders, Jeffreys had been born in Wales to a miner’s family. He had been a teenager during the great Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905, and for him, the fire had never gone out. What especially linked him to me was that he had also ridden the tide of the Pentecostal revival that followed from Azusa Street and onward. He had embraced both revivals.
You only live once, I decided. I walked through the front garden gate and climbed the porch, pausing at the door. There I rang the bell. A lady opened the door.
“Pardon my intrusion, ma’am. Does the George Jeffreys live here who was that famous firebrand evangelist I have heard so much about?”
“Yes, he does.”
“May I please see him?”
“No. Under no circumstances.”
She had hardly said no when I heard a deep voice from within the house say, “Let the young man come in.”
I squeezed past that lady in a heartbeat and into the house. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw him coming slowly down a staircase, holding it unsteadily as he made his way toward me. As he reached the landing, I stepped forward, took his hand, and introduced myself. I told him I had a call of God on my life to be an evangelist and to preach the gospel in Africa. That I had been to college in
Swansea and was now returning home to Germany.
What happened next was extraordinary. All of a sudden, he took me by the shoulders and fell to his knees, pulling me to the floor with him. He placed his hands on my head and began to bless me as a father blesses a son, as Abraham blessed Isaac, who blessed Jacob, and on and on. The room seemed to light up with the glory of God as he poured out his prayer over me. I was dazed by that glory. I do
not remember the words with which he blessed me, but I do remember their effect. My body felt electrified, tingling with divine energy. After about a half hour he finished. I stood up and helped him to his feet. He seemed very frail. We said goodbye.
The lady came and escorted him away. He could hardly stand. Nor could I, for different reasons. I stumbled from his house and staggered back toward Clapham Commons like a drunken man. There, with my head spinning, I waited for a bus to carry me on my way to the railway station.
What were the odds that this had happened to me? Even more, what did it mean that it had happened to me? It seemed like a dream. I had to convince myself, again and again, that it had actually happened. Why would God grant me this unexpected and unplanned meeting as a 21-year-old Bible college graduate in London on his way home to serve a practicum at the smallest church in all of Germany?
I did not know.
I kept it to myself.
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I arrived at home and began the process of serving with my father in Krempe. I had been home for just a few months when one day Father said to me, “Son, did you hear the sad news?”
“No, what news?”
“George Jeffreys died in London.”
“George Jeffreys! That’s impossible, Father. I just saw him. I met him.” And then I told him the story of my meeting with him in London.
In fact, he died on January 26, 1962.
I was still 21, three months short of my 22nd birthday. As I absorbed the news, I realized something wonderful had happened in London. I had caught Elijah’s mantel that day. God had connected me with former generations of evangelists – George Whitfield, John Wesley, Evan Roberts, George Müller, Rees Howells, George Jeffreys. The gospel is like a baton in a relay race. That day I got the baton into my hands. The fire I had already within me. The fire is always fresh. The baton of the gospel is always old, and it is passed on. I now understood that on that day in London, the baton and the flame had met.
I could not yet dream of what it would mean.
To this day, Bonnke believes that that was when he received his mighty anointing. “I now realise that was God’s true ordination for me as an evangelist.”
In the latter half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, Bonnke proved to be a world evangelist, indeed, especially in Africa, where his open-air gospel campaigns attracted crowds as large as 1.5 million and signs and wonders of the healing evangelist have followed.
And so, George Jeffreys’ mantle remains most active through the ministry of evangelist Reinhard Bonnke who spreads the powerful gospel message as Jeffreys did in the first half of the twentieth century.
On November 11, 2017 Bonnke came to Nigeria to pass that same torch to the next generation of evangelists that would emerge.
And that is how George Jeffreys is remembered today.