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
one, Edward , who later became a successful divine healing
campaigner and was founder of the Bethel Evangelistic Society.
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.
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”:-
‘A remarkable experience is related
by those who attend 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 out on
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.”
Stephen continued a successful ministry there
until 1920 when he pioneered a a new church, becoming it’s
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.
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 remembered 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
Bibliography: Donald Gee, 'These Men I Knew'
1965; Desmond Cartwright art. 'International Dictionary of
Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements' 2002.