Ministry in South & West
Radcliffe was invited to London by the Hon. Baptist Noel, having heard of the revival going on in Aberdeen and had gone there to witness it for himself. Evidence of how real the awakening was among the churches in London at that time was shown by the fact that special services were being concurrently held in places like St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Exeter Hall, St James Hall in addition to numerous others when special services were being held. On his first address in Baptist Noel’s church, John Street Chapel, in Bedford Row, Radcliffe saw God move powerfully. At the close of the service the vestry was filled with enquirers, many of whom were in tears. A similar response was seen in the evening at the Marylebone Presbyterian Church. So God continued to bless his ministry in London, also, which he would continue at intervals for the next two years.
Professional thief hiding in the pews
One evening in John Street Chapel, after the address whilst Radcliffe was walking around looking for anxious souls he found, hid in a high pew in the gallery a professional thief bowed down under the weight of his sins. The thief said that it was no use speaking to him of forgiveness, because he was bound. Radcliffe told him tenderly that Jesus had come to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound. He very soon afterwards came into liberty and some time after that he was seen standing on a chair on a street corner preaching the Gospel of deliverance. Wherever he went large crowds gathered to hear him preach. At the Marylebone Theatre, Portman Market, one Sunday night great crowds gathered including many young men and boys so that the doors had to be closed at an early hour with numbers not being able to get in. Many people waited till a late hour in order to be counselled.
Children weeping bitterly
At the Presbyterian Church in Upper George Street the schoolroom was filled with inquirers. Little children in all parts of the room were in tears, some crying very bitterly, whilst others were radiant with joy, after coming to know the Saviour. And all this was, as Jane Radcliffe reports, the result of no exciting preaching. A hymn or two, a few brief prayers and then quiet conversation, formed the order of the after service. The whole secret was that God was saving souls and that he used feeble means in order that no flesh may glory in His presence.
Young converts on the stage
One night, after meeting friends in Wentworth Street he went off rather dispirited to his meeting in the City of London Theatre, as he thought he had not seen such blessing as he expected. So after preaching there he said that it would be encouraging to faith if any one present who had found the Saviour at the meetings would come ‘behind the scenes.’ One rose, then another, then a third, until from sixty to eight people arose; and after prayer Radcliffe returned to the stage with the young converts following him. He got them singing ‘I do believe, I will believe that Jesus died for me’ which they did with some vigour. A young man nearby sat weeping in agony, but then sprang into liberty and joined them in the singing. It was such a scene that some were weeping and some were laughing for joy.
Visit to thieves lodging house
In Kate Street, Radcliffe and his wife, together with a number of others visited a thieves’ lodging house. They had to pass through a drinking bar and the manager stopped them and said that he wished to count the party, just to ensure that they all came out again. Somebody said to the thieves that a lady had come to speak to them at which all the thieves came forward "en masse" and looked at Jane Radcliffe. Somewhat taken aback she simply said to them that they had only come to shake hands and wish them well. After a time of hearty hand shaking and a kind welcome from them, they gave them the good news of the Gospel, and then departed with none of them missing!
Address to businessmen
One Sunday afternoon at the Marlborough Rooms, he addressed a large number of young businessmen. He began by saying, ‘I will speak for five minutes, and then converse with any who are in soul-anxiety.’ He did speak, literally, for five minutes, with great tenderness and power, on ‘I am the Door.’ Every word seemed to tell. When he finished, the hall was a very ‘Bochim,’ (Judges 2:5) full of men seeking, with many tears, the way of salvation. At the same place at an early ‘before breakfast’ meeting for young men, the floor of the room was literally covered with broken-hearted inquirers; and one had to step among them with holy carefulness, like a surgeon on a battlefield.
Pastor Frank White testified of his ministry in London as follows:- "Reginald Radcliffe spoke in various rooms and chapels in the West of London, always in that same earnest, impassioned way, which has characterised him to this hour – his zeal for the salvation of souls apparently consuming him. I soon got into yoke with him, only, of course, as an underling, helping to pick up the ‘slain of the Lord’ through his preaching, which were very many. Those too who fell under his piercing words were cut to the very quick. His blade, if not very richly set, and though rough and rugged of handle, had nevertheless a keen edge, and cut deep. There was a mighty power behind it. I remember he would sometimes seem on the point of breaking down; then covering his face with his hands, he would burst into tears, and in a few broken sentences, tenderly beseech his hearers to be ‘reconciled to God.’"
A correspondent from the Presbyterian Witness of Halifax, N.S. Canada testified:- "As soon as Mr Radcliffe opened his mouth, you felt as if a current of electricity were coming direct from the lips of the speaker to your very heart. He discoursed upon religion just as a merchant would do about the markets, or a lawyer about jurisprudence, or a shoemaker about shoes. No wonder he is everywhere listened to with the deepest and the warmest interest; and that Providence appears very much to be using him and his fellow evangelist as the means of causing to break out, in the metropolis at last, that revival of religion of which the signs have been so long hovering on the horizon."
Radcliffe’s last evening in London was on 27th June 1860 and they had a prayer meeting afterwards, which was attended by a number of friends including Lady Rowley and Lady Trowbridge.
Crowds of 10,000 people at Clifton Downs
The following Sunday he spoke in the Broadmead Rooms in Bristol at which the crowd was so great that he had to speak outside as well as inside. On Clifton Downs a few days later it was said that the people who came to listen numbered 10,000 people. Because God was working so powerfully he invited numbers of others to join him including John Hambleton. Lady Rowley paid all their expenses and thought that she would go herself to Bristol, but then decided not to do so, but instead to use the ten pounds that it might have cost in sending others.
At a meeting in the Chapel in George Street at which Radcliffe and Baptist Noel were to speak the chapel was soon filled long before the hour of the meeting and by the time the service commenced all available standing room was occupied. The service was opened by George Muller and was followed by Baptist Noel and then Radcliffe spoke. The preaching closed about 9.30pm and when the appeal was made nearly half the congregation responded. Groups were soon formed in every part of the Chapel; deep seriousness permeated the meeting; some were utterly inconsolable, the burden of unpardoned sin was quite oppresive. They made great efforts to restrain their feelings, but it was impossible; and the floodgates of their anguish burst forth in groans and weeping. So great was the number and earnestness of the inquirers, that the meeting was not closed until 11.30pm.
On the Thursday morning at 7.00am there was a prayer meeting at Hope Chapel, Clifton; and at 11.00am another special service in the Victoria Rooms. Baptist Noel spoke, followed by Radcliffe, at which "his burst of denunciation against hollow professors and deluded Pharisees was very startling." In the evening another special meeting was held in the Broadmead Rooms, and the numbers that responded to the appeal was even greater than the night before.
Visit to Ashley Down
A very special occasion for them was when they drove over to Ashley Down, to George Muller’s Orphan Houses, and as Radcliffe was to address the boys, Muller said that he felt at liberty to invite them to tea. He added, however, that he only offered this because Radcliffe was helping the orphans, since he considered that God sent the supply to the orphanage for them. Muller led them in, and it really seemed as if the bread had come from heaven – and so it had. They had a very precious time in the room where Muller used to meet on Sundays. After the meeting was over, he took Radcliffe’s hand in his, and said, "My young brother, above all keeping, keep thy heart; for out of it are the issues of life." This word was treasured up, and was well remembered to his last day on earth.
Together with Shuldham Henry, the barrister, he visited Exeter, Barnstable, Bideford, Stratton, Taunton, Weymouth, Bridport and Sherborne. At each place where they spoke their visits were usually very brief, seldom staying more than one night in each place, and having to refuse pressing invitations to a number of neighbouring towns and they exhorted people to cry to the Lord of the harvest to send out evangelists throughout the land.
At Lowestoft a great blessing fell on the people. The meeting was held in a railway shed this being the only place that was big enough to hold the people. They visited Lodden, Norwich, Ipswich and Barnet. At
Barnet he had the great privilege of meeting Dr David Livingstone in the place where he was staying.
On 6th March one night was given to Brighton. On that morning a young lady, worldly and careless was taking a ride, when all at once her horse became unmanageable, and bolted. Somehow it was stopped – and her life saved – just opposite the Chapel where Radcliffe and Shuldham Henry were that night to speak. After her fright, and in the excitement, she looked round to see where she was; and noticing the large placards on the Chapel announcing that evening’s meeting, said, "Here my life has been saved; and instead of going to the entertainment as I intended, I will come to this Chapel and hear these gentlemen." Thus Georgia Hodgson was gloriously saved that very night on the spot in that little Chapel. She became a great witness for the Lord and joined Radcliffe and Henry later on when they were ministering in Brussels. Another person saved that night was a Mrs Somerville and she too was much used in speaking to others.
Huge crowds at Winchester
At Winchester Radcliffe was chosen to cast the net for a draught, where 7,000 gathered to hear him in the St John’s Rooms. He first spoke at some length to believers followed by an address to the unsaved. When the message was finished numbers of people remained with many crying out to God for mercy. One abandoned woman, suddenly sprang into liberty and started singing out, her face resplendent with joy, the chorus, "I do believe, I will believe that Jesus died for me." She was led out, singing at the top of her voice the rest of the hymn, but it proved to be no hindrance to the others around because it was a time of deep reality. The woman’s soul was tuned for praise after a life of rebellion, and caught that moment to confess before all her joy at being reconciled.
At one of the places that Radcliffe and Henry spoke the curate was converted and immediately stood up and confessed Christ. Radcliffe testified, " This has been a glorious journey – a flood at every place; souls rejoining at every spot!"