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A ripple goes a long way….

7 months ago

SOMA UK’s National Director designate, Richard Moy, tells us about the remarkable work of God in the UK and beyond that traces its origins back to a prayer meeting at St Mark’s, Gillingham in 1963, and encourages us to pray with the same longing for holiness and revival

George Ingram was a former missionary at a rapidly growing London Church in the 1950s.

Ingram had been influenced by Paget Wilkes, the founder of the Japan Evangelistic Band (1871-1934). He had followed Wilkes into his rooms demanding to know the secret of Wilkes’ life as “you have got something that I have not got”. Paget opened his Bible and explained the secret to be “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy”. “Now”, he said, “you will never know peace or power until you accept that as God's standard for you. If you really mean business, get alone with God and pray for three things: first that God will give you a hunger for a greater blessing than you have ever had; secondly, that he will show you your sinful nature as he sees it; and thirdly that he will give you a vision of the cross of Calvary and what it cost him to purchase a full salvation for you.”

This led Ingram into what he described as the “blessing of sanctification, which revolutionised my whole Christian life.” It was this blessing, and what he called “dimensions of the fullness of the Holy Spirit” that he thought was lacking still in the clergy at this London church, although it was George Ingram who would wait for the young curate after his sermons, and “with a warm smile, say slowly and with great emphasis, ‘remember, you are chosen for this’”. He said it was often this old missionary’s encouragements that rescued his mind from the “pressure of preaching to the cultured congregation” and directed him towards God.

Breakthrough

But breakthrough happened a whole decade later. The curate was now a vicar leading a rapidly growing church of his own in a port town. The vicar had been wrestling with why the truths of Romans 6 (“dead to sin”) were not his own experiences and longing for more of God’s victory and power in his own life. Then his church was visited by Corrie Ten Boom who seemed to have the holiness he longed for. “She caused us to thirst after a sweeter and more gracious state than we knew. We felt that a beautiful life was crossing our path – a life of love and rest.” And then for a third and knockout blow, George Ingram began promoting ecumenical Nights of Prayer for World-Wide Revival and one landed on his doorstep as he had forgotten to politely say no when some local Pentecostals wanted to hold it in his church hall.

An extraordinary outpouring

On a snowy night in January 1963, 40 people arrived by 10pm to pray. Some had walked 4 miles as the buses had stopped. The format was simple. Each hour a new leader took over. John Hughes (father of Tim and Pete) was there, aged 18. He remembers someone confessed adultery, between 11-12am, which triggered heart-felt repentance around the room. There was then a focus on the cross and a half-hour pause for tea! At 2am the vicar spoke on Luke 11 "how much more..." with illustration of visiting young son in hospital with the promise of a teddy bear and getting the response of "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Daddy" even before he had received anything. “A few mighty prayer warriors began to ask” he recalls, “but I was struggling hard to keep awake.” Then around 2:40am an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit followed, with some present literally dancing for joy. At 3am a group of men and women arrived into a room with an astonishing presence of God. One woman was set free from addictive feelings of jealousy. Others received a special call from God. Several ended up ordained. David and Jean Smith were particularly affected. People left reluctantly at 06:45am as they had to get to the dockyard. For about three weeks they felt like they were living out the early chapters of Acts.

Ripples

The Vicar was John Collins who eventually found his way from this base in St Mark’s Gillingham, to another unlikely church (Canford, Dorset) which exploded into life over a decade of ministry – including introducing John Mumford who became UK Vineyard leader to charismatic ministry. Collins went on to HTB where he served as vicar (1980-85) and then as curate (1985-89) to Sandy Millar. Meanwhile his Gillingham curates - David Watson and David MacInnes among others - had their own journeys into renewal, and between them spread this far and wide. Watson, Collins (and returning missionary Bishop David Pytches whose church in Chorleywood went on to found New Wine and Soul Survivor) were key in bringing John Wimber to the UK

And from George Ingram’s London church another great charismatic ministry was also birthed. Michael Harper, chaplain to Oxford Street and in a second Curacy at the church, had an encounter with God reading Ephesians. He felt waves of wisdom and knowledge pouring in upon him, “prayers seemed to be answered in a new way; worship be­came vital and real; and he experienced talking in tongues, an intense awareness of Christ, and a new ability to help people.” (see Michael Harper, None Can Guess). He founded the Fountain Trust in 1964, Renewal Magazine in 1986, and SOMA in 1978 to ‘join the Holy Spirit tending to the nervous system of the body of Christ.’ Bringing together ministers like Pytches, Collins, Watson, Kissell into sponsoring and supporting renewal trips to hurting parts of the Anglican Communion.

Today

The ripples continue to spread from George Ingram’s urgent intercessions and plea for a vision of the cross, awareness of sin and a hunger for greater blessing at that London Church in the 1950s. His instigation of the Night of Prayer in the 1960s have impacted Re:Source ARM, SOMA, Alpha, Wildfires, New Wine, 24-7 Prayer and more…

What will you pray for today?

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