Stephen Jeffreys 1876-1943
Stephen Jeffreys was a great British evangelist and older brother to the eloquent George Jeffreys. They were converted together on Nov. 20 1904 during the Welsh revival when Stephen was 28 and George just 15 years old. Stephen married Elizabeth Lewis and they had three daughters and one son, Edward , who later became a successful divine healing campaigner and was founder of the Bethel Evangelistic Society.
Stephen’s early ministry
Stephen was a coal miner for 24 years until 1912 when George asked him to preach at Cwmtwrch near Swansea. A further visit in December extended to a seven-week mission reaping 130 converts from the small village. He joined George holding missions in Central Wales and also in London. In 1913 he preached in Island Place Mission in Llanelly where he accepted an invitation to become its Pastor.
Miraculous appearance of Christ’s face while he preached
It was here that a miraculous appearance of the face of a lamb appeared on the wall of the mission while he was preaching, changing into the face of the Man of Sorrows. In the July 1916 edition of Confidence, Alexander Boddy reported that he had made enquiries and endorsed the story. This is part of his report:
“Bro. Every said that he went up to the wall and was close to the picture. It was the size of a man’s face. The eyes were remarkable; they seemed to be alive and moving. (He drew as it were with his finger on the wall where we were standing the shape and size of the picture.) I asked Bro. Every if he could send me any account which had appeared in one of the local papers. He has sent me the following cutting from the Llanelly “Star”:-
Local Newspaper report
‘A remarkable experience is related by those who at tend the mission services now being held at the Island Place Gospel Hall. For some months past Mr. Stephen Jeffreys, an earnest mission worker, has been conducting services here among a section of the community to whom the churches and chapels seem to make no appeal. During the service on Sunday night the congregation were startled to see a vision appearing on the wall behind where the preacher was standing. The outlines appeared to be blurred at first, but by-and-by the congregation recognised the head and face of the Man of Sorrows, with the Crown of Thorns upon His head. Speaking to a “Star” representative to-day, Mr. Jeffreys gave a thrilling account of what he described as
The Vision of the Master
“We have had many conversions,” he said, “but what occurred on Sunday night transcends all that one could have hoped for. My back was turned to the portion of the wall where the vision appeared, and my attention was drawn to it by some of the congregation who were spell-bound to see the face of our Blessed Lord standing boldly outon the wall. There was no mistaking the appearance – it was the Man of Sorrows looking on us with ineffable love and compassion shining out of His wonderful eyes.
The effect upon us all was one that will never be forgotten by any who were privileged to behold it. Some of my congregation saw the head crowned with thorns, but I cannot speak as to this, as I did not see it. The face, however, was not to be mistaken, and it still haunts me. It remained on the wall for hours after the service closed, and we kept the building open in order that all should have the opportunity of witnessing this wonderful revelation.
Many unbelievers came in and it was a proof to us that the Lord is with us in our work, and it will inspire us to more wholehearted consecration to His service.”
A member of the congregation told our representative that to him the vision appeared as that of the Lord appearing out of a great cloud. “I went early on Monday morning,” he added, “ but by that time the vision had disappeared.”
Growing evangelistic success
Stephen continued a successful ministry there until 1920 when he pioneered another new church, becoming it’s first pastor.
For a few years after that Stephen joined his brother George in his Elim Evangelistic Band and in 1924 the two brothers went on a five-month tour of Canada and the U.S. On his return Stephen became a full-time itinerant evangelist, mostly with the British Assemblies of God from 1926.
These were his the most fruitful years of all his ministry. T. D. Darling took charge of his engagements, Stephen would have two campaigns booked for the same dates! He had no gift for organisation, and was happy to do nothing but preach. That was all he wanted, But what preaching! Campaign followed campaign in the providence of God, and he was the Lord’s gift to the burgeoning Fellowship of Assemblies of God. They were stirring years. Scores of young men were catching the heavenly breeze and starting out to pioneer new works for God. Not all were equally successful, but it was a time of visitation. Outstanding miracles of healing occurred and a constant flow of converts were won to Christ. At Sunderland mounted police were employed to control the crowds.
Later ministry and ill-health
In 1928, after he became the object of an unjustified attack from the press, he began a world tour visiting USA, New Zealand, Australia and New Zealand.
His health began sadly to fail. At only fifty-nine he became crippled with arthritis. The closing years were spent back in his native South Wales in Porthcawl. His wife died in 1941 and he preached his last message at Pontardulais on October 27, 1943. He lived his last years in seclusion and died on November 17 1943.
Donald Gee’s eulogy
Donald Gee remember him thus, ‘Stephen Jeffreys was inimitable. That blending of humour and pathos, of unpolished eloquence with passionate evangelism was mighty in God. The repetition of many of his favourite messages never seemed to dull their intensity. He was Christ’s gift of an evangelist (Eph. 4:11). One of the most far-reaching effects of his ministry was the way he seemed to trigger off so many others to follow suit, and the whole character of the British Pentecostal Movement changed. To many the Jeffrey’s campaigns marked its beginning. For all his irrepressible wit and humour he was reminiscent of one of the old Hebrew prophets. He could be terrible. At Whitsuntide Convention meetings in Kingsway Hall, London he proclaimed doom on an unrepentant city. Fourteen years later it burned in my memory as I walked through the charred and ruined streets of the City after the great raids of 1941.’
Bibliography: Donald Gee, ‘These Men I Knew’ 1965; Desmond Cartwright art. ‘International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’ 2002.