John Metcalfe’s father was a business magnate of very considerable property and substance in Great Britain and the Continent, director of several household-name companies, co-director of Odeon cinemas, latterly joint managing director with Lord Rank under the General Electric group chaired by Lord Chandos.

Hence John was born into opulent circumstances and family background, favoured with much privilege, but nevertheless devoid of the least vestige of religious or church influence. After preparatory school, John Metcalfe went to Dulwich College, but the school evacuating because of the blitz during the war, transferred to the Lower School of John Lyon, Harrow.

Yearning to break from parental restrictions, Metcalfe opted for pre-sea training, thence to Naval College. At last going to sea, John Metcalfe travelled the world for the next four years as an apprentice cadet, then Junior Officer in the Merchant Navy. By this time estranged from both parents, already finding life quite pointless, having no desire for a career at sea, John Metcalfe turned his back on his previous course and background as an Officer–not to say as a son–and signed on before the mast as an Able Seaman on the first ship sailing out of Victoria Docks, London, joining the crew of the M.V. Gambia Palm, bound for West Africa.

This proved to be no escape, and Metcalfe at 20 years old was embittered, disillusioned, and divorced in his own soul from God and man. He became so smitten and afflicted by despair that existence itself ceased to have meaning. Up river at Sapele he cast away the torment of his own life. However at the point of no return, when far above the concrete wharf he hung suspended between life and death, time and eternity, he could do nothing but hang on till his strength gave out, thence to drop to certain death.

By now, holding on, the skin had torn from the inside of his arms and legs, his body shaking in weakness as his strength ebbed, his vision a mist of red. Men were shouting from the ship, and, all work having stopped, the wharf was massed with those waiting to see the end. But in the passing seconds, as in a flash of light, John was brought face to face with his Maker: he cried out to the unknown God for the first time in his life: ‘If thou wilt save me, I am thine.’ In all sobriety no other word than miracle ought properly to describe the supernatural strength in that instant given to John, his vision a mist of blood, the inside of his arms and legs both skinless and bleeding, yet nevertheless a strength from above flooded within, enabling him, inch by inch, to reach the seemingly endless distance to safety.

Picked up from the river by a dug-out, Metcalfe was ferried to the far steps of the wharf. So dense was the crowd, that room could hardly be made for him to stagger and stumble the considerable distance back to the ship. But something had happened: the Spirit and intervening providence of God had supernaturally strengthened and delivered him, miraculously causing him to escape from inevitable destruction.

After so remarkable a saving of his life, still at sea, Metcalfe began to pass under the convictions of the law of God, and to call upon his Name whom he had not known. Returning to London convicted of sin, and under the fear of the wrath to come, he found that the providence of God had anticipated him, for as he stepped off the gangway, circumstances met him so as to cause him straightway to hear Christ preached for the first time in his life.

Immediately the mercy of God, made known in compassion as a Father, whispered forgiveness within, and the unspeakable love of a crucified Saviour was revealed not merely through the hearing of the ear, but by the resounding witness of the Spirit within his heart. Thus Christ Jesus was manifested inwardly in a view of unutterable love to the loveless and destitute, to one whose own conduct to his fellows had made an outcast. But not an outcast to a Saviour God, nor to the love of Christ.

The rocky heart of unbelief was broken up, the fountain of the deep was opened, Christ Jesus himself was revealed within him, and in an instant by the Spirit of the Lord John Metcalfe saw and entered the kingdom of God. Straightway he was washed, purged, and redeemed; renewed, saved, and justified; as in a new creation to experience life, light, and joy; peace, union, and communion; faith, hope, and love, all bathed in the inshining light and presence of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

After so wonderful a conversion, John Metcalfe sat at the Lord’s feet to learn of him in his holy word. The bible, never opened before, straightway became ‘meat and drink’ to him, and esteemed above his necessary food. Day after day he would read alone on his knees for hours, bathing every page with tears, and covering every word and sentence with prayer. After only a short time his profiting appeared to all and it was plain that God had his hand on this man. Truly it could be said of him ‘That the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.’

Burning with a zeal and love for souls that they might likewise come to know this same Jesus, and so great a salvation in him, John Metcalfe was accepted–rather, sought–as an Evangelist with the ‘Youth for Christ’ movement. Indeed already, preaching in Warwickshire and in the country chapels about Stratford-on-Avon, many testified of Revival that followed Mr. Metcalfe’s early preaching.

Evangelizing throughout Great Britain, very many were soundly converted through this ministry. Nevertheless he became increasingly distressed by the worldly-wise expediency and methods used in modern Evangelism, feeling this to be grieving to the Spirit of the Lord. After much soul-searching and waiting on the Lord, Metcalfe resigned, that he might keep a clear conscience void of offence before God.

However by now he was well-known throughout the British Isles, and, but three years after his remarkable conversion, despite his refusal to submit to the standard divinity training and examinations of the schools and universities required by all the denominations, seeing these as foreign to the New Testament, and contrary to the Lord’s way of teaching, nevertheless John Metcalfe was ordained under Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Dr. Gilbert Kirby– Principal of the London Bible College–and the then Moderator of the Congregational Union. Now designated ‘Reverend’ John Metcalfe, he began to exercise the Pastorate to which he had been called. Many, many people from all quarters witnessed the true Revival that followed in that place of worship.

But just as was the case with the compromising methods of Evangelism, so with equally great sadness Mr. Metcalfe experienced increasingly the departure of the churches from the doctrine, ordinances, discipline, and blessing so clearly set forth in the New Testament. And not a departure only: but–manifest every part as much in the church to which he had been called–a universal refusal to admit that a departure had taken place, much less to come to a confession and heartfelt repentance that the Lord might bring about a return to his good pleasure.

Deeply burdened by the vision for the need not only of a revival, but of a reformation of the church to that which was in the beginning, Mr. Metcalfe withdrew for seven years of solitary prayer and painstaking study of the scriptures. Upon his return, he was prevailed upon to teach and preach the Evangel of Christ in Great Britain and Europe and became well-known in this connection with the Movement for World Evangelization. Under his ministry many souls were saved and quickened throughout the churches of the U.K. and Europe.

Though now sought as a Minister by several of the most well-known churches in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, feeling that he had so much yet to learn from the Lord, being sorely burdened for a deeper, more far-reaching repentance in both the church and the ministry than that yet experienced, Mr. Metcalfe returned to yet another three years of solitary prayer, and profound spiritual study and exercise, seeking now in the original languages of both the old and the new testaments.

The fruits of this painstaking Spirit-led discipline are evident in books of surpassing spiritual value, and not least in the unique ‘Apostolic Foundation of the Christian Church’ series, and in the unprecedented Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, besides the clear opening of the New Testament from the Greek into a faithful rendering in English, following the manner and method of his peerless but much persecuted and reviled predecessor, the martyr William Tyndale.

Mr. Metcalfe is at present not accessible, even to the Trustees, being given to writing an immense undertaking now reaching into its 14th year. This means that in addition to his rising as usual for hours of prayer from 3.00 a.m., continuing–often with fasting–through a 17 hour working day: every day, every week, every month, and every year, alone in the secret place of the most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty, being separated to the Lord without intermission or interruption, until the work be completed in the will of God.

As is his usual custom when writing, Mr. Metcalfe is not available at the home where he lives a solitary and celibate life of prayer, devotion, and intense and long hours of labour in the doctrine and word of truth, with the exception only of the times away preaching and teaching both at home and abroad. The keeping and cleaning of the house, with the provision of what meals this holy man of God does take, are both under the due care of the Dutch housekeeper appointed–herself a devout and chaste servant of Christ in her 60’s–domiciled in the next county, and living some miles distant.

The Trustees and their Advisors, among whom are legal authorities of distinguished eminence, together with highly respected senior consultants in the medical profession, besides brethren who have followed Mr. Metcalfe’s blameless life of self-sacrifice for Christ and his evangel at close quarters for over 50 years, wish to express their unbroken and unstinted confidence in the integrity, purity, and unequalled devotion of Mr. Metcalfe, whom they commend without reserve as a true–and indeed unique–servant of Christ.

Were it not so, they would neither be Trustees, nor would they agree to belong to the body of Advisors to the Trustees of The John Metcalfe Publishing Trust. And, we would add, this confidence is shared and echoed by the thousands upon thousands of sound converts brought to Christ worldwide over so long a ministry of this dearly beloved servant and faithful minister of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

This Statement has been compiled
by the Trustees and their Advisors,
The John Metcalfe Publishing Trust