Gwennap Pit, this is very close to where I grew up and where I would like to think that my journey of faith and truth began.
Little did I know what influence this place would have on my life.
Gwennap Pit is a large circular depression, probably a partial collapse of an underground mine, about two and a half miles from Redruth. John Wesley a Methodist minister preached to the miners and fishermen at Gwennap Pit many times when he was in Cornwall.
The congregation sat or stood on the inclined sides of this pit which was described by Wesley in his journal as being about fifty feet deep and two hundred by three hundred feet across the top.
In his 1781 visit to Gwennap Pit, John Wesley estimated that he had preached to “20,000 people and, the evening being calm, they all could hear,” he said.
This is where my mother gave her heart to Jesus when she was a little girl. Her auntie was the caretaker, at that time.
Many times when my mother was a little girl she would run from the top to the bottom and back again, she said I would pretend to preach the Gospel to the people there. It was my Godly mother who planted seeds of faith in me. When I was a boy she would take me to the Whit Monday services which are still held every year at this pit by the Methodist church.
In Cornwall visions and dreams and words of knowledge are common among the Cornish Christians. Many will testify of God’s speaking to them and showing them visions just like the early church experienced.
In my own family this was very prominent, my mother would tell me how she would hear angels singing praises to God as she walked in the fields, and my grandmother saw a vision of Jesus, walking down the corridor in hospital when she was very poorly. She soon began to recover after seeing Jesus.
When I was about twelve years of age, I experienced God in a very powerful way. I was coming home from school, it was about a mile walk to my farmhouse, and the clouds became very dark, then a hailstorm started to fall, stinging my face, lightening tore across the sky, it was like being on a battlefield.
I hid myself behind a garage wall for shelter, but then things became much worse. I saw in the sky a huge ball of fire with lightening coming out of it, and it was heading straight for me. I cried to God, “Oh God, Oh God, save me,” and then there was a huge explosion, as God blew it out of the sky before it could kill me.
I was very surprised to find that there was no hole in the ground, or any damage to the garage. I could hardly believe it, even though I had experienced it with my own eyes.
So, I asked the children who were on the bus with me, “did you see a ball of fire coming out of the sky last night when I got off the bus?” “Yes,” they replied, and also my mother saw the same ball of fire streaking across the sky.
How true is God’s Word when He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.”
Also when I was about twelve years of age, I saw a vision of an angel, which glowed with a light which was brighter than the very sun itself. The light did not hurt my eyes, and the angel just stood there smiling at me. It appeared to me one night after I was very distraught, for I heard my mother and father saying that my sister was having an operation and they could loose her.
Well, my sister made a full recovery and now when I look back I can see that God sent one of His angels to reassure me. So you see, if it is needed God will send one of His angels to reassure you as well.
I will never forget the time of the Cornish Revival which happened in 1986, it lasted for about 4 years. The churches in Redruth were filled, and many hundreds of people came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
This is the year that I got saved, for I was seeking the Lord after loosing my father and sister. I was praying to God asking Him, what was the purpose of life. I did not attend any church, but I believed in Jesus and God, but my life in no way reflected it.
I began to read the Bible in those early years, but I could not find peace. One day I was driving past Redruth Baptist Church, when I noticed cars parked outside the church and all the way up Station Hill. So many people were going to the church which I found very strange.
I said to my wife, “I am going to find out why they are going in there.” So one Sunday night I parked my car and prayed to God and said, “ Lord, the only church that I have ever been to is Lanner Methodist Sunday school, and I didn’t like that, but this Baptist church troubles me, but it is your church as well so I will go and see what they are doing .”
When I went in, there was no room, so I had to stand at the back. I had never seen so many people singing and praising God in this way before, the music and singing was so good, and the people’s faces were smiling, they were so happy and friendly. So, I went home and I couldn’t wait to tell Diane what I had experienced that night.
We went back many nights together, it was so good. Then one night Colin Salter the Pastor preached, “Do you know Jesus, have you repented for all the bad things that you have done, and asked Christ into your heart to save you?” Well, I always thought that He was my Saviour, I always believed in Him, but like I said before my life certainly did not reflect Christianity in any way.
You see, every other word that I spoke at that time was a swear word, and my childhood was spent in countless fights, and in my early twenties I borrowed over an hundred thousand pounds from a bank to build a bungalow estate in Fourlanes, the equivalent to a million pounds in today’s money, some of the practices in dealing with banks managers and solicitors were very devious to say the least. The building trade was a very bad influence on my life, It left me broke and hopeless, I needed Jesus to save my soul. So, that night after church I went out into the fields to pray, I said, “Lord Jesus I am sorry for all the bad things that I have done, come into my life take control, I give my life to you.”
Over the next two weeks I was very troubled, I was sending our children to Lanner Methodist Sunday school for their Sunday school lessons, but Diane and I were going to theBaptistChurch. Well, I thought we had better go with our children.
The MethodistChurchwas very traditional in their worship, but it wasn’t long before revival broke out there as well, and twenty seven members of our family came to know the Lord, and that church became full. This gave great concern to the nearby landlord of the pub as the overflow from the church encroached on his premises. There was not enough parking spaces for his customers. One Sunday morning the local preacher gave the alter call, he said, “Anyone can come to the front to receive God’s blessing.” Well, the Spirit of the Lord moved on me and said, “Go” Then I heard another voice saying, “You are not good enough, you are a sinner.”
But I had read my Bible, and I knew that it said that Christ came to save sinners, and I was a sinner, and Jesus would save me. It was so hard to stand up. But I did, and as I went to the front of the church my eyes went into tunnel vision, I knew that I had to get down on my knee’s by the communion rail, tears of repentance filled my eyes, as I felt God’s presence so strongly, and it was there where He baptised me with the Holy Ghost and fire.
Then the preacher said, “What do you want to do for the Lord,” I said, “I want to preach.” I don’t know why I said that, because I had never spoken publicly before and my reading was very poor, but God soon changed that.
I preached my first sermon in Crofthandy Methodist Chapel, which is between Gwennap pit and Billy Bray’s Chapel, which is in Gwennap Parish, it was filled with elderly Methodist ministers and local preachers, who at that time were Godly men who attended prayer meetings and prayed for revival. Well, I preached in many churches in the Redruth circuit for two years, and was then led by the Lord to preach in the Pentecostal Churches, which has taken me to churches fromPenzancetoBournemouthand many parts of the U.K.
I am redeemed, oh, praise the Lord! My soul from bondage free, Has found at last a resting place In Him who died for me! I looked, and lo, from Calvary’s Cross A healing fountain streamed; It cleansed my heart and now I sing, praise God, I am redeemed! The debt is paid, my soul is free And by His mighty power, the blood that washed my sins away, Still cleanseth every hour. All glory be to Jesus name I know that He is mine! For on my heart the Spirit seals His pledge of love Divine, And when I reach that world more bright Then mortal ever dreamed, I will cast my crown at Jesus feet And cry, Redeemed, redeemed!