was born February 28, 1889, the sixth of eight sons of Thomas and Kezia
Jeffreys. The family belonged to the Welsh independent church. George,
and his brother Stephen, were converted during the Revival at Shiloh Independent
Chapel in Nantyfyllon, Wales on November 20, 1904. This was a time when
the Welsh revival was at it's peak. The family had suffered many losses.
Four brothers, their father Thomas, and one sister had died. George himself
was in poor health, suffered from a speech impediment, and showed the
beginnings of facial paralysis.
When news of the
Pentecostal experience came to Wales George was initially opposed. His
nephew Edward, however had a Pentecostal experience and began speaking
in tongues. This caused George to begin seeking to know the truth about
the experience. By 1911 he was convinced that this was a valid experience
and was baptized in the Llynfi River. He was baptized in the Spirit and
he was also healed. He immediately joined a group of Pentecostals and
started preaching. His brother, Stephen Jeffreys, was also baptized in the Spirit
and began his own work. George helped him out for a few months in the
beginning of the year.
In May of 1913
George was asked to preach at Sunderland Convention by A. A. Boddy. He
was asked to stay on and do some special meetings at the church, after
the convention was over. He was invited to Ireland to speak, but the meetings
was canceled when the building owner found out that George was a Pentecostal.
Another group tried again in 1918 and he registered his group, with the
government, as the Elim Pentecostal Church. (The name Elim was taken
from Exodus 15:27 where the Israelites came to an oasis where they were
refreshed after wandering in the desert.) By 1916 George was traveling
all over England, although he was only planting churches in Ireland. He
established his first English work in 1921 and moved to London in 1922.
In 1924 George and Stephen traveled to the US and Canada for five months.
They visited Angelus Temple where they saw Aimee Semple McPherson. They
were significantly impacted by what they saw there. When George returned
he adopted many of the Foursquare ideas for his own churches. His churches were then known as the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance well into the 1930s.
There was a growing
dissension between George and Stephen. Their personalities were radically
different. Stephen was possibly the more gifted of the two, but George
had strong administrative gifts. Stephen would often agree to meetings
at more than one place for a given date. He would let meetings run on
without taking offerings or letting others do their parts. Stephen would
say what came to his mind, no matter what the consequences. He also came
to believe that George was jealous of him. In 1926 Stephen left the Elim
movement and joined the Assembly of God of Britain and Ireland. Things
reamined strained between the brothers for the next several years.
The years between
1925 and 1934 were extremely significant for George. He began an evangelistic
campaign that swept through England. He invited Aimee Semple McPherson
to speak at Surrey Tabernacle in March of 1926. The response was so positive
that he rented Royal Albert Hall a month later and invited her to join
him again. Healings and miracles began to occur in his meetings in significant
numbers. When Aimee "disappeared" her mother actually wrote
Jeffreys and asked him to consider taking over as pastor of Angelus Temple.
E.C.W Boulton wrote a book about those early years "George Jeffreys
- The Ministry of the Miraculous". In one crusade in Birmingham
there were 10,000 converts. He also visited Switzerland, Sweden, Holland,
In Switzerland he saw 14,000 converted to Christ.
a doctrine known as British-Israelism. The principal belief was that the
British (and other anglo-saxons) were the spiritual and literal descendants
of the ancient Israelites. Not many of the churches in the Elim Movement
agreed with this belief. This doctrine had been around for some time,
but really began to become prominet for Jeffreys from 1933 on. During
the years 1936 to 1939 this was a major topic of letters between Jeffreys
and his Executive Council. George was also wanting to step aside as leader
of the movement to relieve himself of the financial and bureaucratic obligations.
His gift was evangelism and he was tired of the constant drain due to
administrative issues. He also had continually shifting ideas about church
organization. He came to believe that churches needed to be a locally led, rather
than a centrally controlled, structure. Relations became increasingly difficult
and rumors surfaced that Jeffreys was leaving the Elim Movement to start
a new work. Friendships that had lasted for years were cracking under
the strain. Jeffreys had a breakdown in 1937.
In 1939 Jeffreys
tried to resign, but was asked to stay. He eventually resigned as the
head of the Elim movement in 1940. He founded a new group called the Bible-Pattern
Church Fellowship. He asked his brother Stephen to join him, but although
he did join, Stephen's health was poor and he could not help. George continued
to preach but became increasingly isolated. He never again
had the impact of the 1925-34 years. He did have a resurgence of influence
in France and Switzerland in the 1946-1950 time period, coinciding with the rise of the healing movement out of the US. He died on January
26, 1962. He is known as one of the greatest evangelists that England
has produced, after George Whitfield and John Wesley.
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