The Remnant On Line History Page

   

     

George Jefferys 
Founder of Elim Church

By David Littlewood - Remnant History Editor

"Principal George Jeffreys is a wonderful evangelist. He has a full round voice that is never used for raving and large dark eyes that beget confidence. When he speaks others must listen and when he appeals he does not appeal in vain. ‘Pray,’ he says, or ‘sing,’ and his followers would do it. His hold on them is sure; they hang onto his every word, and believing implicitly, obey.

"It is the quiet convincing tone in which he speaks that gives Jeffreys much of his evangelical influence. Men sometimes speak of a powerful preacher as one who talks loudly and storms and gesticulates. But there is nothing of that about this man. He never shouts, yet there is a fervour and force in the very smoothness of his voice. Sometimes, to give emphasis, he bites off his words at the end. Sometimes he leans slightly forward, urging gently, but passionately, persistently, ‘If you want to be saved, why not be saved now?’ He is not shouting at you, but talking persuasively, as a dear friend.

"Very rarely he smiles, and the fleeting gleam that passes over his face seems to leave his dark eyes more serious, more intensely earnest than before. And even more rare is the swift, dramatic gesture of the outstretched arm and pointing forefinger. He used it once yesterday, and with it came the assurance, soft but vividly startling, ‘And you shall be saved’. His evangelical power is such that faith springs to meet it." (A description of George Jeffreys given by a reporter present at the opening of the Bournemouth Elim Church in September 1927).

by David Littlewood - Swallownest, Yourshire - England

Reckoned by such an eminent evangelical leader as Martyn Lloyd-Jones to be the most outstanding British evangelists of this century, George and Stephen Jeffreys were products of the Welsh revival. Born in Maesteg, they came to Christ in Siloh Chapel on November 20, 1904, when George was fifteen.

The brothers were very different. Whereas Stephen, who worked as a miner, was robust and fiery, George was quieter, looked frail and worked at the Co-op. His health was weak, resulting in a facial paralysis and speech impediment. However, when at prayer one Sunday morning he experienced such an inflow of the Holy Spirit that he was completely healed.

After initial training under Thomas Myerscough, George first began to work with Stephen in Wales in 1913. However, after preaching for Alexander Boddy at the Sunderland Convention, he was invited to Ireland where, together with a group of men from Monaghan, he formed the Elim Evangelistic Band which he later registered as the Elim Pentecostal Alliance.

A gifted evangelist and meticulous administrator, Jeffreys first planted churches in Ireland before turning his attention to mainland Britain. Between 1925 and 1934 he embarked on a sustained period of evangelistic activity such as this country had not seen since Moody and Sankey. Everywhere he went there were huge crowds, dozens of healings and thousands of converts. Without any real support from other churches, and with only a handful of workers at the start of a campaign, he went from place to place establishing thriving new churches.

In Southampton, Florence Munday had been a helpless cripple with a wasting disease. But after prayer she was freed from all pain and her wasted leg grew four-and-a-half inches! Florence went on to pastor an Elim church in Gosport. Glyn Thomas, who sold newspapers in Swansea, had a large hump on his back which disappeared after prayer.

Perhaps Jeffreys’ most phenomenal campaign was in Birmingham where 10,000 converts were recorded with 1,000 baptised and over 1,000 healed. Among those converted were Olive Reeve (later pastor of Hockley) and Gerald Chamberlain (founder of the Pentecostal Child Care Association). Within six years there were eleven Elim churches in Birmingham. Jeffreys also enjoyed success in mainland Europe including Switzerland where he saw 14,000 converts between 1934 and 1936.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the campaigns was not just the crowds or healings but the new churches which grew from them. The 70 churches that had been established by 1928 rose to almost 100 in 1930 and to 153 in 1933. The fruit of Jeffreys’ work proved to be lasting.

It was therefore a real tragedy that such a gifted evangelist’s final years were marred by disputes over church government. He appeared to be continually changing his mind about the right form of government and when, in 1939, the Elim Conference rejected his demands for change, he resigned and formed the Bible-Pattern Church Fellowship in Nottingham. This not only caused grief and division in the Elim fellowship but also distracted Jeffreys from his real ministry — in evangelism and church planting.

History seems to have judged Jeffreys’ move a mistake, for whereas the Elim movement has gone from strength to strength (albeit incorporating some of the changes Jeffreys envisaged), the Bible-Pattern has remained a small fellowship.

Although there were some more campaigns in the 1950’s, none remotely matched what Jeffreys had formerly achieved and we are left wondering what further impact might have been made for the kingdom had he been able to plough his full energies into what was, without doubt, the most effective evangelistic ministry this country has known since the days of Wesley and Whitefield.

However, in the year of the first combined Elim-AOG conference, we must pay tribute to this man who, along with his brother, Stephen, made an enormous contribution to the life of the fledgling Pentecostal movement. George Jeffreys died in 1962, aged 72, loved and mourned by thousands of people whose lives his ministry had changed.

THE HISTORY OF 
THE ELIM DENOMINATION

The Elim Pentecostal Church was founded in 1915 by a Welshman in Monaghan Ireland. George Jeffreys was an outstanding evangelist and church planter. He had a Welsh Congregational background, was strongly influenced by the Welsh Revival of 1904, and was introduced to Pentecost by an Anglican vicar, Rev Alexander Boddy of Sunderland.

 

(George Jeffreys)

Between 1915 and 1934, George Jeffreys conducted some tremendous evangelistic missions. This unknown preacher would commence a mission with a mere handful of people, and by the end of the week, thousands would clamour for a seat. Amazing miracles of healing had taken place. After the mission, very large churches were established.

The name 'Elim' was taken from the book of Exodus where the Israelites exhausted and dispirited en route from Egypt's cruel bondage to the freedom of Canaan came to Elim an oasis in the desert where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. Exodus 15.27.

As the Movement grew with amazing rapidity against the background of dramatic decline in the historic churches, it proved to be a fitting symbol of spiritual refreshing.

Elim continued to grow despite the ravages of World War two and other difficulties and soon established itself as a Pentecostal power in the evangelisation of the United Kingdom. Today, there are over 500 churches in the home land, and nearly 9000 world-wide.

Ministers are trained at its official residential college in Nantwich- Regents Theological College, accredited by Manchester University for the B.A. and M.A. degrees. Its global thrust is spearheaded by the International Missions Board, which operates in 35 countries, with orphanages, hospitals and schools as well as churches.It has a vibrant Home Missions policy and is committed to the evangelisation of the UK and the planting of new churches.

The winning of young people to Jesus is an important part of Elim's mission, and this is directed by its Christian Youth Ministries directed by the 'Serious4God Team'.

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