A sign-attested ministry



In 1913 I went for a holiday with a friend, to the little Staffordshire village of G. I did not know at the time of a lonely woman who was giving much of her time to prayer for revival in the place. It was apparently dead. In the two rival Methodist chapels on opposite sides of the street, they had not seen a soul saved for eleven years and those who ‘took communion’ together at the Lord’s table would not speak to each other in the street.

I was a perfect stranger there. One morning I went into the butcher’s shop to get some meat for my hostess, and there happened to be a deaf customer in the shop, trying to hear and be heard. As I look back on the incident now it seems that I acted with shocking rashness, but I can only believe that the Holy Spirit directed me, for almost before I knew what I was doing, I put my hands on those deaf ears in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and prayed for the woman’s hearing to be restored. There and then she found that she could hear, and of course the news went round the whole village for the healed woman and butcher, together with the customers, spread the report far and near.

Later in the day the same woman sent to ask if we would visit another woman some miles away in the country. She was dying of cancer and the doctor had said he could do no more. They must send to him when the time came for the death certificate. We found her and placed our hands on her head in the Name of the Lord Jesus. A few days later when the doctor examined her he was dumbfounded and remarked, ‘In all my 70 years I have not seen such a thing before. The cancer is drying up’. That same afternoon the vicar’s wife called on the poor woman to try to persuade her to resign herself to death, since we were false teachers and it was impossible for cancer to be healed. Miracles, she said, were not for today. The silly woman was a couple of hours too late for the doctor had admitted that they were for today.

The Methodist churches however were eager to hear more about it, and we preached in both chapels on alternate nights. First, quarrels were made up, long-standing debts paid, forgiveness asked for unkind scandal, and then, Praise God, souls came forward to the ‘communion rail’ seeking salvation in both chapels. All this was the direct outcome of the incident in the butcher’s shop, and Christ was glorified in a ministry confirmed by signs following.


W. F. P. Burton


From: W. F. P. Burton, Signs following, pages 28-29