31. ENGLISH EXPERIENCE
After being in England about three weeks, I was invited to speak at the Festival of Light in Hyde Park, London. It was a gathering of about 60,000 people seeking spiritual awakening in Britain. Many of the greatest spiritual leaders in England spoke. I was the last speaker. Cliff Richards, the top pop singer and a committed believer, sang, and then I stepped to the platform. In front of me was a sea of faces. The sun was setting, and there I was! Only three weeks earlier I had arrived, not knowing anyone in Britain, now I stood before 60,000.
“We want all of England and the world to know that Jesus is alive and real!” I began. “This is not a revolution that is soon to pass, just as it is not a revolution that has just begun. Our leader is Jesus Christ. He is Lord.”
The crowd’s agreement rolled like thunder through the growing darkness.
“The problems of this nation, even of the world, like war, hate, crime, loneliness, drug addiction, alcoholism, pornography and poverty are but outward symbols of a deep spiritual emptiness. There is only one thing that can fill that emptiness. It is Jesus Christ! There is no other solution to the problems of our day. Tonight could be one of the most important in modern British history.
“You have come, now go. Go into the world and preach the gospel to every person. It is good to see all of these of thousands gathered here in the name of Jesus, but there on the job, in your school, there is going to be only you. Will you be committed to Him there? This is not to be a one day stand. It is to be from now on.”
The fire of the Holy Spirit burned in my soul.
“Give your life to Christ. Love Him. Proclaim Him. Love with Him. Let Him be your Lord and Savior.”
At the end of my message I said, “I want to ask all of you to get on your knees with me right now. Don’t worry about your dress or pants, get on your knees and pray. Christians repent and ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Those of you without Him as your Savior, ask Him into your heart right now.”
Then I asked everyone to lift their hands heavenward and join me in singing the Lord’s Prayer. My voice was very poor and off-key, but it didn’t matter. No one could hear me as all the voices in the crowd swelled up in song.
“Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen”
I heard later from those outside the compound facing the raised platform that they saw strange shafts of light fall through the darkening park so that nothing could he seen but the light playing on thousands of up-raised hands. The worshipers were in darkness with their hands spotlighted and the stately melody lifting skyward. I’m sure that angels sang with us that night and lifted their voices, too, in that great moment of praise.
Then a brooding silence fell over the crowd. Policemen knelt with us aware, as we were, of God’s presence. The Holy Spirit was at work in the stillness, breaking and melting hearts, wooing and whispering to the people. People were changed that night. You could almost see the difference as they began rising to their feet and moving off slowly toward buses and trains, restaurants and streets, back to homes in London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. As they prayed and stood and moved away, you could hear them sharing with one another and the name of Jesus Christ echoed through the now dark park in the distant night. I could imagine what true awakening could be. It was an unforgettable feeling.
The cross I carried across America had broken and the steel to hold it together made it too heavy for the walk around the world. Two people at a time had carried it in the United States during 1969 and 1970. But the roads in England and Europe were too narrow to carry it sideways. I had to build another cross.
I went to a lumber yard in London and stood looking at the pieces of timber. I chose another four by four the exact same size as the cross I had made in America. I took the wood and made a 12-foot long by six feet wide cross. I put a wheel on it to keep the pavement from wearing the wood away. This is the cross that I have carried around the world. The first cross was retired to Los Angeles and this one has become my road companion. I don’t know what kind of wood it is made of, but I know the impact of the cross. I know the Christ of the cross and He is not dead.
Two friends were accompanying me as I carried the cross along the road when a news reporter and photographer stopped me. They wanted to do an interview, and after the interview the photographer wanted to take a photograph. He said, “Would you please stand with your cross and two disciples on either side?”
“Oh, they aren’t my disciples,” I said. “They are the Lord’s.”
“Oh, pardon me,” he said with his British accent. “Would you have your two lords stand beside you?”
Westminster Chapel on April 15, 1982 – I preached at Westminster Chapel which is located between Buckingham Palace and the British Parliament. It is the historic church of G. Campbell Morgan and Dr. Lloyd Martin Jones. The present pastor is Dr. R. T. Kendall, a brilliant theologian and true man of God.
Before the meeting I said something about the invitation, and he said, “You’re not going to do that, are you? That’s not done here.”
Then he said, “Well, if you feel led, go ahead.”
I replied, “I can tell you right now, I feel led.”
Westminster Chapel has never been the same since.
A few days later, Dr. Kendall asked me if I would stay and preach to the church again on April 25th. I agreed.
Before the meeting he said, “Would you consider remaining in London for the next few weeks and preach at Westminster Chapel every Sunday night in May?”
“If I agree to stay, are you going to handcuff me or let me be myself?”
He replied, “You are free.”
God led me to stay there and I preached for six consecutive Sunday nights. I gave public invitations at meetings, preached in my regular way in blue jeans, excited about the Lord Jesus.
We began singing gospel choruses as well as hymns. I taught the “Arthur Blessitt Street University” plan witnessing to others about Jesus. It was a wonderful time in the heart of London, and Dr. Kendall and I have become the best of’ friends. Our commitments are the same. Our hearts beat in the same path. Theologically we flow together. He will be a lifelong intimate brother with an unchanging relationship. At Westminster Chapel, an invitation to confess Jesus Christ is given every Sunday night. Gospel choruses are sung on Sunday nights. Outreach with witnessing groups called, “The Pilot Lights” continue weekly in front of the Chapel as they share Christ. Dr. Kendall continues the awakening!
Lord Reading – I met the Marquess and Marchioness of Reading following the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. We spent a day together in Florida. Lord and Lady Reading then invited me to their home in the Gloucester area. of England. They also invited guests to hear me speak in the drawing room of their estate. There were 93 people in attendance. Lord and Lady Reading are among the finest people, so full of the love of Jesus, unashamed of their relationship with God.
“I am with you always,” I explained to the guests as I illustrated the presence of Christ. Jesus is alive today and He is real. As I closed my talk I felt led to have the people receive Christ openly. However, I felt a sudden pressure not to give an open call to stand up in this setting with everyone’s head up and eyes open…. I looked about at the immaculately dressed guests, many from the highest professions in England, including one or two from the House of Lords.
I was tempted to give a less obvious invitation, like asking the guests to close their eyes and bow their heads, then raise their hands. But, “No,” the Lord was saying, “have them stand up in front of everyone. These people must come out in the open. It cannot be a secret call.”
I thought of my dear friend, Dr. Kendall at Westminister Chapel, and how he must have felt when he finally offered a public invitation in his historic church. I announced, “All of you who really want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, I ask you to stand up after I pray. I will only ask one time.”
Then I prayed. While I was praying I felt the Lord burden me to lay face down on the floor. “If you will lie down they will stand up,” God spoke.
I was was struggling with God.
“Lord, I’m here in this huge house with all these fine people. I’m in blue jeans and don’t even have a suit and I’m going to ask them to stand openly for You. Now You want me to lay down face first on the floor? Isn’t there one chord of dignity left? Or do I have to lose it all? How about if I kneel? Okay, Jesus, I’ll lay on the floor of Lord Reading’s drawing room, face down, flat out.”
As I lay down I was at the feet of the people in the front row. My long time friend and companion Graham Lacey as at the meeting. Later he told me that he thought this was a disaster. That I had gone too far this time.
Lord Reading saw me on his floor and almost died. He later said, “It shook me rigid.”
When I rose from the floor after my prayer I said, I’m going to ask you to make this commitment with every head up and every eye open seeing who is committing their life to Jesus. I don’t see any shame in confessing Jesus Christ. You drive down the street with the name of your car displayed…Volvo, Rolls Royce…you have a British passport, you are identified. Some of you have the name of Lord and none should be ashamed of being identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am going to follow Christ whether any of you do or not, but if you want to get in on His life and salvation, in the name of Jesus, stand up.”
Eleven people stood. The glory of God filled this house. I led all of them in prayer out loud.
“God, I need you. I confess I have sinned. Have mercy on me, forgive my sins, I repent. I believe Jesus is Lord, Jesus come into my heart. Forgive my sins. I give my life to you. I welcome the Holy spirit. Fill me with the Holy spirit, I am not ashamed of you, in Jesus’ name, I pray.”
I asked the eleven to come with me to another room and there I shared with them more and we had further prayer. Outside others were queuing up at the door, wanting to come in to see me; to talk and to pray. One man walked over to Graham Lacey and said, “I’ve sinned tonight.”
“What have you done?” Graham asked.
“I’ve sinned greatly tonight. I didn’t stand, but I did say the prayer and toward the end I did say it out loud. Do you think that will do?”
I remained with the Readings for three glorious days.
(The original Lord Reading was the Viceroy of India and had Mahatma Ghandi imprisoned. My friend, Simon Reading, is his great-grandson and now carries the title. He is going with me to carry the cross through India for two weeks. It will be his first visit to India. What a witness that will be!)