“Incredible”: autobiography of John Nelson Parr — Contents
Chapter Eight: An Incredible Campaign
We could not continue indefinitely in the Town Hall so I commenced to pray for a building. I went to enquire about two or three empty churches, but they would not let us have them. Many of the churches in Manchester had warned their people against us. One famous church warned their students that if any of them attended the Pentecostal meetings they would be instantly dismissed. The more we were ostracised, condemned and victimised the more the Lord poured out Revival Power and Blessing. One night a Brother gave me an envelope and said, “That is toward building a church”; it contained a five pound note. I had not mentioned the need of buying or building a church. This came to me as a token from the Lord that we should erect a building so I went round Longsight and Levenshulme looking for a plot of land. One day I saw the land in Crowcroft Road, made enquiries and discovered the owner. We fixed the price and I gave him the five pounds as a deposit. The announcement of this purchase stirred up much enthusiasm among the people and from that day we had a glorious epidemic of gifts of five pounds for the new church.
We had a man in the congregation who claimed to be a builder and after the plans had been passed he took charge of operations and very soon we were in a hopeless state of chaos, fortunately Mr. W. Finch, of Parbold, came to our rescue. He brought a few of his own employees, joiners and bricklayers, and they very quickly lifted us from confusion and chaos and soon the first Bethshan Tabernacle was ready. The building did not possess the slightest evidence of architectural beauty.
The Stephen Jeffreys campaign finished in the Levenshulme Town Hall January, 1928, and our first meeting was held in Bethshan Tabernacle on November 7th, 1928. The Foundation Stones were laid on June 23rd, 1928 by Mr. William Finch and the late Mr. T. Myerscough of Preston and it was officially opened on December 8th, 1928, by Alderman Dearden. the Mayor of Rochdale. The official opening was a great day. We had a great procession from the Levenshulme Town Hall to Crowcroft Road and the procession was led by the Mayoral car.
Although the first Bethshan was not a monument of architectural beauty, the atmosphere was charged with Holy Ghost power and the supernatural power of God filled every meeting. The first year in the building we baptised in water over three hundred believers. Sinners were continually coming to the Saviour and during the first four years over one thousand were baptised in water and hundreds of these people were Baptised in the Spirit just as they were in the Acts of the Apostles; the Lord also confirmed His word with mighty signs, wonders and miracles. All the miracles recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (except raising the dead) were repeated in our midst. How well I remember the night when a lady was carried into the Tabernacle by four men. She had not walked for eighteen years and was paralysed from her neck to her feet but after prayer in the Name of our Risen and Exalted Saviour, she walked round the Tabernacle. I never saw men more astonished than when those men came to carry her back into the taxi and found she was walking. Many with incurable diseases were healed and soon the first Bethshan was packed to suffocation and we had to get plans and estimates for an extension. This time, having learned a bitter lesson, we placed the contract with a reliable firm of builders. The extension included classrooms for our growing Sunday school. The cost of the extension was £1,750 and our people gave so liberally we were able to pay for it before Evangelist Smith Wigglesworth came to open it on November 7th, 1931. The first Bethshan was not only extended but we had the external appearance considerably improved.
During these years from 1924 my work became very strenuous seeing I was Chairman-Secretary of Assemblies of God, Editor of “Redemption Tidings” and “The Weekly Ambassador” also full-time Pastor of Bethshan Tabernacle, however, the Lord was very gracious and gave me exceptional strength and ability. It was also my joy to conduct a campaign at Gaskell Hall, Stockport. Each night the place was crowded to its utmost capacity. Many people were saved and great signs, wonders and miracles followed the preaching of the Gospel. This campaign resulted in an Assembly of God being opened at Stockport.
The decade from 1928 to 1938 was a time of fantastic revival, blessing, conversions and signs, wonders and miracles. One would have to write another book in order to give a full account of all the mighty signs, wonders, miracles and healings which were manifest during the period from 1928 to 1958. The Power of God was in our midst and the very atmosphere was charged with the presence of God. Hardly a meeting was held without decisions for Christ being made. People were healed as they sat listening to the Word of God and others were Baptised in the Spirit in their seats. The Lord Jesus was glorified and even our enemies were confounded. Once again on Sunday nights Bethshan Tabernacle was packed to its utmost capacity. Fortunately I had purchased the land adjoining the Tabernacle. One day I heard the land had been sold to a motor engineer for a garage to be erected. After making enquiries I went to see the owner of the land. I made two discoveries… 1. The land had not been sold but a firm had made enquiries about it. 2. He was prepared to sell the land to us if we paid a deposit at once. The Tabernacle was not in a position to buy the land as we had a first and second mortgage still outstanding on the first building, however, I managed to find the money and bought the land in my name but later sold it to the Tabernacle at the same price I had paid for it.
When the war started in 1939 we had plans being prepared for the erection of a new Tabernacle to seat about 1,500.
Chapter 10: Incredible Uproars
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