By Tom Shanklin
We are home from England, but part of our heart is still there. This was a trip that not only touched lives there but also changed us. England captured our hearts for its people and caused us to cry out for awakening and salvation for the masses.
We had read that the land of John Wesley, George Whitefield, William Carey and Smith Wigglesworth has become a mission field. But now, we have seen with our own eyes that England is a land of many people far away from God.
The English are living in a post-Christian culture. It is a nation of people who have lost their way, and have abandoned their foundation. It is a picture of what the United States is fast becoming. Much of the Church is weak, anemic and unable to impact society. The infiltration of humanistic thinking and the resulting blindness have undermined its power. Many churches have closed, and the once-majestic buildings have been sold to Muslims. The churches are empty, and mosques are full.
According to Operation World, The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation, the population of the United Kingdom is 8.8 evangelical (believes in salvation through a personal experience with Jesus Christ), but only one-third of that number practice their faith by church attendance. The mainstream protestant churches (Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed, Brethren and others) are in deep decline.
*See United Kingdom Facts at the end of the this article.
And yet there is hope! Much hope! There are saints who are hungry for God … hungry for revival. England has seen spiritual decline before and has awakened. As the Scripture says, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:2, KJV. The Church shall arise in this hour!
In several places, I shared a message on “Re-digging the Wells of Revival,” based on Gen. 26 where Isaac re-dug the wells which his father had previously dug, These wells had been plugged up by the Philistines, just as wellsprings of revival in the Church have been plugged up by secular humanism, compromise, apathy, strife, and worldliness. We cannot lose that great things that God has brought forth in the body of Christ in the past years. It’s a new day, however, and God is moving in a fresh way.
In London, we saw the teeming masses, people from every corner of the globe—the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and a declining population of native British. A bustling city full of historic sites, London is the face of humanity—homeless people huddled in blankets on the sidewalks, wealthy business people in the financial district, and countless immigrants working in shops, restaurants and hotels. They are all going somewhere. Only God knows their eternal destiny. Pray! Pray! Pray for the masses in England.
In Northallerton, Yorkshire, northern England, we participated in a missions conference which had a powerful impact on both Susan and me. The theme was “Feet on the Ground,” based on the scripture, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15, KJV. Interestingly, our friend, Pastor Bob Holmbeck of Gaylord Assembly of God had given us the exact same scripture before we left as a theme for our mission to England. We knew we were in step with God’s plan.
The conference was co-sponsored by New Life Baptist Church and International Gospel Outreach (IGO). In a very welcoming atmosphere, we were loved and accepted by people of the church and the ministers in attendance. There seemed to be no big chiefs and little Indians. We were all in it for the love of Jesus and a desire to reach the world. So refreshing!
I had an opportunity to speak at the conference and encourage them in their spiritual heritage and talk about the spiritual link between the United States and Great Britain. Many of the people told us they were blessed when I shared with the conference that Susan and I had been praying for the UK for years. God used this conference to forge a bond of partnership between us and Jesus’ Church in Great Britain.
Pastor Kelton Black of Gospel Tabernacle in Highbridge Somerset, near Bristol in southern England, was our host for the first part of our trip. Kelton is the son of American missionaries to England and now leads the ministry which his parents began. Gospel Tabernacle is known as “A Local Church with a World-Wide Vision” and is fulfilling that vision through a loving congregation, local outreaches, and missionary endeavors in various parts of England, Europe and India and more. This gregarious fun-loving leader was a joy to us and his knowledge of both American and English culture helped us to understand the land we were visiting in a greater way. At one meeting he jokingly asked the people if he should interpret for his American guests. I guess we needed to learn proper English … or is it the other way around?
In the Gospel Tabernacle in Highbridge, I spoke at a community outreach, where I shared my testimony and the Gospel message. We also shared at a delightful home group meeting which is a part of the church. Susan shared a message on “Get Out of the Boat,” and I shared a Bible Study on revival.
At Weston-super-Mare on the Bristol Channel in the south of England, we ministered at the Oasis, a lodge and ministry center led by Pastor Ronnie Griffin. A man with severe pain in his knee was healed. People from several churches came together for a healing service and received ministry for the total person—spirit, soul, and body.
We ministered among the Roma People (also known as Gypsies) in Derby in the Midlands of England, a place which is considered the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Today the factories are closed, and unemployment is high. Like many cities in England, it is home to many immigrants. Very liberal immigration laws and the UK’s connection with the European Union has literally changed the face of England.
Our work with the Roma people was facilitated by Stan Strunc, a church planter and member of an apostolic team working in Europe. Stan also served as our driver and interpreter, since the Roma are not conversant in English. He spoke in his native tongue, Czech. The Roma have their own language, but also are conversant in Czech, having migrated from that part of the world in recent years. We encouraged them to learn English, which has the potential to open doors for both ministry and commerce.
Stan shared many spiritual truths he has learned in over 20 years of ministry and gave us great insight also into life in the United Kingdom and Europe. Stan has a missionary spirit and has great insight into the plan of God for the church in these days. You can find more about Stan and Sarah Strunc’s ministry at InHisLoveMinistries.net.
Historically, the Roma people have been some of the most downtrodden and persecuted people on the face of the earth. Migrating from India 1400 years ago after being defeated in war, they escaped to Europe where they were largely rejected and forced into the lowest economic strata. In Nazi Germany, they were victims of genocide and 220,000 to 500,000 lost their lives in the gas chambers. Because of the extreme difficulties they have faced, it is natural for them to have a victim mentality. But I believe that God sees them as champions for Christ, lights in the midst of a dark and corrupt world. They must shake off the past and arise in the brightness of the Lord to possess their inheritance.
We had a long and fruitful night of house-to-house ministry in two homes in Derby and one home in Nottingham with the Slovak Roma Fellowship. Two men received Jesus as Lord.
Susan and I shared the pulpit in our meetings in England, and her ministry was very well received. Her unique style caught them off guard, and they opened their hearts to receive the word that was being preached. She also ministered the love of Jesus to many individuals, sometimes with tender compassion and sometimes with audacious holy boldness. At a seminar in Derby, Susan shared a message on “A Dwelling Place for God” Ephesians 3:14-20 in which she gave an analogy about inviting Jesus into the various rooms of your house. Perhaps most notable was the bathroom, where you get rid of unwanted toxins. “Repent and flush!” she told them. She also spoke of the bedroom, quoting the scripture, “Marriage is to be honored among everyone, and the bed undefiled. But God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers” Hebrews 13:4, MEV.
In Rotherham, we had powerful meetings with the Logos Christian Center. On Saturday, we held a seminar at the Unity Center in that city. It’s a place where Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and people from all types of national backgrounds meet. We perceived a dark, oppressive spirit in the building, but after prayer and praise we had great freedom to minister.
I then preached a message on “Keep Your Eyes on the Harvest,” based on Jesus’ statement, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35, KJV. Then Susan shared a dramatized sermon on David and Goliath and challenging the people to trust in the living God to conquer the enemy and to live in victory.
On Sunday, we met at the church building where the church normally meets, and the atmosphere was much better. The church recently moved their Sunday services from the Unity Center to this facility. Ever since, they have had visitors and have seen people come to the Lord each week. I preached on “Financial Prosperity under the New Covenant” and presented a biblically balanced view from the Word of God. There are some extremes concerning this subject, but the Word of God is clear that God wants His people to prosper.
I presented the subject as “a part” of the Gospel blessing, not the entire picture, saying that the most important aspect of our salvation is eternal life in heaven. But we also see that Jesus preached the Gospel (Good News) to the poor. And at the cross, He redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13-15, Deut. 28) which includes poverty, sickness, family problems and more. Yes, God wants to bless His people and I don’t believe we should be ashamed of saying so. There was great joy as the message was preached. The pastor said the message was exactly what the people needed to hear. My sermon outline was:
- God Blesses through Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-18)
- God Blesses through Favor (Genesis 38:1-4)
- God Blesses through Work (Ephesians 4:28, Proverbs 10:4)
- God Blesses through Giving (Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, Malachi 3:10-12)
I presented the Gospel message both at the beginning and the end of my message and gave an invitation. Two women came forward to make first-time decisions to receive Jesus as Lord. We then prayed for the sick. One lady was totally healed of severe pain in her shoulder and wrist. The video of her testimony is on our website.
The Roma people often live in neighborhoods and cities dominated by Muslim people. We encouraged them to pray for their Muslim neighbors and reach out to them. At the present time, the Muslim population in England is over 3 million and is growing by 75 percent every 10 years. This means by 2050, should the Lord tarry, there will be 26 million Muslims in the UK. A number of Muslim families practice polygamy, their birthrate is extremely high, and their adherence to their religion among the young people is also extremely high. In contrast, the birthrate among the English people is quite low, and adherence to the Christian faith among their young people is almost nil. This is setting up a dark scenario for Christianity in the United Kingdom. Already some city councils are dominated by Muslim people and Muslim values. As a result, persecution of the Christian “minority” is becoming more and more of a reality.
Great Britain is losing its Christian identity. The British monarch has been sworn to be the “defender of the faith.” The current queen has been very outspoken about her dependence on Jesus Christ. In contrast, Prince Charles, next in line to the throne, has indicated his desire to be “defender of the faiths (plural), with a more “progressive” view promoting the unity of all religions.
We can easily be overwhelmed by the circumstances of our world, but remember the battle is not yours, it is God’s. We must remember, too, that our battle is not against flesh and blood. The Muslim people, for example, are not our enemies. Neither are those bound in atheistic/humanistic thinking. It is the spiritual forces and the resulting spiritual blindness that we are battling. We must continue, like Jesus, to love those who oppose us, and to not depreciate them in any way.
I believe God sent Susan and I to England, in part, for our education, to broaden our perspective in the things of God and the ways of man, to give us a greater understanding in the battle of the ages, and to prepare us for the ministry He has for us in the days to come.
We are called to ignite and fuel revival fires. We have received invitations to return for a “Fire Within” conference in July in southern England and an evangelistic outreach to Wales. Please pray with us concerning our next trip to this land where the fields are white unto harvest.
Thank you for your part in this ministry. You are very precious to Susan and me. You are in our hearts and prayers every day.
*United Kingdom Facts
- United Kingdom—includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
- England—a country that is part of the United Kingdom
- Great Britain—the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales. The name is also loosely applied to the United Kingdom.
- Republic of Ireland—a separate nation which is located on the Island of Ireland, which it shares with Northern Ireland.