Monday, 16 November 2009

'I yelled, they prayed, God worked!'

150 years ago the Ulster Revival had an impact not only in the Province but around the world. I'm continuing today with some stories from this great breakthrough which came almost 50 years before Asuza. Here you will find a few insights that don't make the headlines, but which any would be preachers may understand.

Jeremiah Meneely was one of the original gang of four from the prayer meeting in the Old Schoolhouse. As the revival grew, these four became reluctant leaders of an increasing band of converts. No one was more surprised about this than Meneely himself.

Whilst travelling to one of their first meetings, they argued about who should preach. Eventually, after all had expressed their reluctance, Jerry stepped forward & said that he would on the condition that they pray. Describing the meeting afterwards, Meneely reported, 'I yelled, they prayed, God worked!' In this unassuming way they had inadvertantly hit upon a successful formula!

Meneely took his zealous preaching to Ballymena, where one story characterises his approach. I'll leave biographer Ian Paisley to tell you in his own words (imagine his voice as a rising angry growl being hawked & spat through a mouth full of gravel)

'The whole day he was kept busy for the Lord, & finding himself late had to run part of the 5 miles to the meeting place. When he arrived the place was literally crammed with a teeming multitude.
Jerry preached with his usual ardour & when he had finished the people refused to leave. He then preached a second time & attempted to dismiss the gathering. They again refused to go.
After 4 or 5 such attempts he left the platform, & going aside, took off his coat & waistcoat, removing his shirt & wrung out a stream of sweat. Attiring himself, he re-entered the hall & preached for another hour, after which he walked the 5 miles home.'

These snapshots serve to give us an insiders view on the pace of the revival, & the constant readiness these men lived under. A few minutes after returning, his door was knocked on by a man seeking the way of salvation. Jerry immediately went to call on his next door neighbour to see if he would help in counselling this seeker. By now it was late into the night & the neighbour was in bed. Undaunted, Jerry hammered on his door all the harder, yelling, 'Get up! Lying in your bed whilst there are souls seeking Christ!'

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