The remarkable true life story of Peter Newman (Part 12)
I Ignored What God Was Saying
God was calling me into the villages of England to preach the gospel,
and the man who had just so kindly given Barbara and me some tea was
going to help that vision come to pass. "This is the man," the Spirit
said to me, "who is going to provide you with the necessary money. I
have told him to give you five hundred pounds." I needed to buy a
tent, a couple of caravans, a van and some chairs; and the chap who
was sitting opposite me was going to foot the bill, even though he was
struggling to say yes to God about it.
"The type of life you lead isn't particularly good for your wife and children," he said to me while his wife and mine went into the kitchen to wash the pots after tea. "You should be offering them something more secure. You've told me about your tent mission; now how on earth is someone in your position going to finance something like that?"
He wasn't getting hot under the collar with me; he was in the wrestling ring with God, and I knew who was going to win in the end.
I just sat there and listened to him rant and rave for a further ten
minutes. Then, all of a sudden he stopped in mid-flow and said: "I'll
give you three hundred and fifty pounds."
Now, he knew and I knew and God knew that that just wasn't enough. So I challenged him. "How much?" I asked indignantly. "Oh, very well then," he said, talking not so much to me as to God, "I'll give you five hundred pounds."
So once again Barbara and I saw the hand of God move on our behalf and I was thrilled that He was making the crooked places straight for us.
The week before, God had shown me the caravan I was to buy for the mission. I'd been driving past a garage when I saw it. I stopped the car, and a woman, probably the owner's wife, walked over to ask me what I wanted. "That caravan," I said simply. "Oh, I'm sorry sir," she said, "It's already sold."
"Oh," I said, "has it been paid for?" She told me that it hadn't, but that the man who was buying it had promised to call for it the following week and that he would be paying for it then. I felt sure that he never would collect it because God had it earmarked for other uses. So I told the woman that I'd ring the following week and that if the man hadn't come up with the cash, I'd have it. So, with my five hundred pounds safely in my possession, I rang her and ended up buying two caravans.
God provided more money for us too. I remember Him telling me to go and stand on a certain street corner, and within minutes a man appeared, an evangelist I'd known for some years. "Oh, it's you," he said, and handed me ten pounds. He later told me that God had just spoken to him and told him He wanted to give him a hundred pounds but that he first had to give his last ten pounds to the first person he met as he rounded the corner. After handing me the cash he walked on, and someone stopped him and handed him a cheque for the needed amount.
So it was with great excitement that Barbara, myself, our children and our small evangelistic team set off. We were to hold our first mission in Cornwall; exactly where, I wasn't sure, so I asked God to lead us by His Spirit. We stopped at a hill, called Kit Hill, well known for its views of the area. I got out of the van and was having a quiet word with the Lord when suddenly I saw a ball of fire descending from the skies just above a small village. At first I thought it was a plane on fire and then I realized that God was showing me where to hold the first revival tent meetings. God even showed me a picture of the field where we were to pitch our tent. Two of the girls in the team went off on their scooters to ask the farmer if we could use his land. He said yes.
So we put the tent up and then blitzed the whole area with leaflets announcing our arrival. I couldn't wait for the first meeting and at seven in the evening, half an hour before we were due to start, I was anxiously pacing up and down outside the tent waiting for the crowds to arrive. They didn't. The adult population of this village weren't very interested in this band of non-denominational "odd bods" who had arrived in their village to preach some sort of strange gospel. But the children in the area thought differently: they arrived in the tent in clusters of threes and fours, so we had our "revival meetings" as planned.
On the third night a little girl came up to me before the meeting and said to me, "Uncle Peter, my mummy says my brother is dying and would you go to the house to pray for him?" I stood silently for a minute. Now, I knew that God had healed the sick in Bible times, and I'd prayed for Barbara once or twice when she'd been ill, but I'd never publicly prayed for the sick. I'm not even sure if I believed that God would answer my prayer of faith because I didn't feel that I had much faith for healing. But here I was in a dilemma: I had to go and pray for that little boy or the mission would lose all credibility.
"Yes, I'll come and pray for your brother," I heard myself saying to the little girl who was gazing so hopefully at me.
She took me by the hand and off we went. We arrived at her house and her mother opened the door to us. She looked terrified of me and, looking back, I can't blame her because I think I must have looked half scared to death myself.
She took me over to the cot where her two-year-old son was lying. He was very ill and had been having six epileptic fits a day. I took a deep breath, prayed over him and made my exit as quickly as possible. That night I told the team that if that little boy died, then we would have to pack our tent up as quickly as possible and make a hasty retreat. I hardly slept a wink. I kept thinking of all the people we'd witnessed to on the streets of that little village and how they'd all be laughing at us if the boy died.