This Week in AG History -- August 25, 1928
Stephen Jeffreys (1876-1943) was considered by many to be the greatest British evangelist since John Wesley and George Whitefield. He was affiliated with the Assemblies of God in Great Britain, but his ministry extended across the world. Jeffreys came to the headquarters city of the American Assemblies of God — Springfield, Missouri — for a 22-day revival in July of 1928. His message was plain and simple: “It is one thing to be religious. It is another thing to know the Lord Jesus.”
Before his conversion, Jeffreys was a coal miner in Maesteg, Wales. His interest in religion was limited to playing the flute in the church band. When the Welsh Revival broke out under the preaching of Evan Roberts in 1904, hundreds of coal miners experienced life-changing salvation. The pubs were deserted as men went straight from the mines to the chapels. After seeing the change in his coworkers’ lives, Jeffreys felt convicted for his own sinfulness. After a week of heavy conviction, he responded to the call of God and was gloriously converted on Nov. 17, 1904. In 1907, he received his own personal Pentecost and baptism in the Holy Spirit. This experience gave Jeffreys power to be a witness for his Savior.
In the divinely -charged atmosphere of revival, Jeffreys and his little brother, George, started to preach. They began sharing the message of Christ on the streets and their gifts soon led to invitations to fill the pulpits of many churches in Wales and England. Like the Wesley brothers of 150 years before, they also began to fill the greatest halls in Britain.
Jeffreys expected his converts to become new creatures in Christ. Many of his hearers, although already church members, became convicted of sin and experienced conversion. Hearkening back to his career in the coal mines, he would teach the people to sing “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.” This song could be heard late into the night as people were encouraged to live a life of total consecration to Christ. The response was so great that Jeffreys experienced opposition from both priest and pub owner alike, as he converted the religious and the irreligious to his brand of Pentecostal Christianity.
On a preaching tour in the United States in 1928, Jeffreys was invited to hold meetings at Gospel Tabernacle, a large auditorium used by Christians of various denominational backgrounds and located at the corner of Boonville and Lynn Street, in Springfield, Missouri. Reports of healings and conversions were soon reported by the Springfield Leader (now the Springfield News-Leader) as crowds thronged to hear the fiery preacher with the Welsh brogue. Crowds were estimated at three thousand in the daily meetings with seekers lining up as early as 5 a.m. for the 3 p.m. service.
The Aug. 25, 1928, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel reported that the messages were often addressed to “religious sinners” — church members who had not been born again. One woman who testified of salvation had been an active church member for fifty years before knowing the power of relationship with Christ. Jeffreys encouraged the converts to find a church where the Pentecostal message was preached, exhorting them, “I don’t believe in putting live chickens under a dead hen.”
A few weeks after the revival, the Pentecostal Evangel noted, “the membership is agreed that great and lasting benefit has been realized by the City of Springfield.”
After leaving Springfield, Jeffreys traveled to Los Angeles where the crowds grew to seven thousand in attendance. After a preaching tour of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, and Norway, Jeffreys returned home to Wales where his health suddenly began to fail. By the mid-1930s, arthritis had crippled his abilities to travel. He died on Nov. 17, 1943, the 39th anniversary of his conversion, only a few days after preaching his last sermon in Llanelly, Wales, on the theme of “the glory of God.”
Read a report of “Revival at Springfield, Mo.” on page 13 of the Aug. 25, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• "The Land of the Bible in the Last Days," by the Evangel editorial staff
• "How to Obtain the Gifts," by Donald Gee of Melbourne, Australia
• "Fearing or Trusting," by William Luff
And many more!Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.