of Eric and Sheila Munday with all the Elders

To the Ministry of John Metcalfe

Compiled by Sheila Munday, greatly respected wife of our beloved elder Eric Munday, on behalf of the whole congregation, and endorsed by all the congregations at home and abroad, that, being saved, seek the Lord in penitence for the recovery of the unity of the one body of Christ, so to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, withal as pilgrims and strangers looking for a better country, that is, an heavenly, and for that heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.

JOHN METCALFE is a man raised up of God with a vital ministry to the whole church. Since God saved him and put him into this ministry, Mr. Metcalfe’s life has been poured out in the faithful service of God, in love and gratitude to the Saviour and in ardent zeal for the salvation of his fellow men. He is a man of faith, to whom God has given a vision for this generation. By the grace of God, Mr. Metcalfe has kept the vision, has held and defended the faith and has preached the evangel, in season and out of season.

The memory of some among one of the congregations in the United Kingdom reaches back almost to the beginning of Mr. Metcalfe’s ministry when they were saved under the powerful preaching of the evangel in 1955. They have been under this ministry ever since. These men and women know and do testify what manner of man he is among us all. They have seen the work of God through more than five decades and the sure marks of a true minister of Christ, in a man who has walked in his integrity and the truth, despite many sore trials, troubles, and persecutions.

These older brethren and sisters have been kept by the power of God and have witnessed his outward dealings with his servant. They have also observed the consequence of those inward dealings in the secret place, where none may enter. These first heard Mr. Metcalfe preach in the fourth month of 1955 and felt for the first time in their experience the power of the Holy Ghost under the anointing of the Spirit of God. As the fifth chapter of the evangel of John was opened and Christ was preached, their hearts burned within them. All were gripped by a deep conviction as the Spirit applied the truth that this was the word of the Lord. None had heard it on this wise before: the deep impressions of those times have remained until this day and all that has happened since then has but served to strengthen the depth of that first love. To God be the glory and praise.

Early Years

Mr. Metcalfe was then a young man who had been saved only three years before. God had already given him a wisdom in the ways of the Lord beyond his years, and his knowledge of God’s word and his exposition of the scriptures were outstanding. From the day of his conversion he had found within himself a deep hunger and thirst which had caused him to cry out, ‘as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.’ The bible, which he had 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, bathe every page with tears, and cover every word and sentence with prayer. After only three years his profiting appeared to all and it was plain that God had his hand on this man.

Before 1955, Mr. Metcalfe had been blessed in his preaching in small country chapels in Warwickshire. After this he served as an evangelist with a well known organisation. At the leading of the Holy Spirit–because of so much error in modern evangelism, both as to method and matter– he left this movement at a time when he was becoming well known, was preaching to hundreds, and souls were being saved. The Lord showed his servant from the scriptures that the steady preaching and teaching of the word was the apostolic way in which souls were called and built up in the faith. After a series of providences, Mr. Metcalfe was asked to preach in a Congregational church as a pulpit supply on one occasion. This was where some among us first heard him preach with such great power. Three months later, after remarkable providences, signs, and direct answers to prayer, he was called to minister in that place.

Revival followed the preaching of the evangel in the power of the Holy Ghost. All were convicted of their sin, some so strongly that they could not find strength to stand, so convinced were they of that great and terrible day of the Lord, when all shall be required to render an account of every deed done in the body and of every idle word spoken. How every word from the Lord struck home, causing much fallow ground to be broken up, so that many hard hearts were pierced and melted. Many cast away their empty, false professions, vain hopes, and dead works. The brittle joy and all the over-confidence and zeal of youth were dissolved in the sight of a Holy God before whom nothing stood but the work of his own hands.

Souls were driven out of their refuges of lies and hiding places, the barriers of years were broken down, and many fled to Christ for salvation. There was a tremendous sense of the imminence of the Lord’s return–‘behold the Judge’ stood ‘at the door’– and there was an earnest looking for and longing after the world to come at the return of Christ.

Indescribable Atmosphere

At the close of the meetings the atmosphere was indescribable, no one daring to move for the great power that filled the place. All consciousness of time was lost, only the sense of eternity was present. The fear of God came upon all the people; man, woman, and young child alike, and that not just in the meetings. What tears were shed in prayer, what answers to prayer were given and how the Lord was praised for his goodness and mercy in raising up his word and work at that time. Nothing would ever be the same again for the hearers, whether they would hear or forbear. Truly, this was a savour of life unto life and of death unto death.

The love of Christ was manifest in the preaching and the King set forth in his beauty. The world was forgotten and the Saviour longed for. All was so vivid and the freshness of this time of the Lord’s visitation abides until this moment in the hearts of those that remain; a number who were saved then have already gone to be with Christ.

There were other marks of a work of God. Nothing was allowed to come between one and another; nothing was left in the ground lest it should spring up to grieve the Spirit and spoil the unity. Truly it could be said ‘see how they love one another’. And they loved the Lord’s servant, who brought the living word to those dead in trespasses and sins. That this work might spread, all took cheerfully the spoiling of their goods, and no one looked upon anything as their own– all was for Christ.

Walking in the Spirit

It soon became plain, under the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit, that it was not only a revival of religion that was needed in these last days but a reformation also, and that not back to the reformers, godly men though they were, nor to some past work once raised up of God, nor to man’s books however edifying, but right back to the beginning, to the new testament and then not to copy the letter but to seek the grace of life, to walk in the same light and power and to worship God in the same spirit and truth as those under the apostles in the beginning.

When the Lord revealed to his servant the need for a reformation, Mr. Metcalfe pursued this vision with his whole heart. Not all obeyed the evangel and although the building was filled with hearers both on the first day of the week and in the mid-week meetings, nevertheless at the sound and practice of a thorough reformation of the church many began to turn away from Christ and reject his servant. What then appeared to be the hurtful rejection by man, was in reality the work of God. The Lord’s servant, together with some of the converts who followed him as he followed Christ, was cast on him who said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ and ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’

Wilderness Years

Other sure marks of the true, sent ministry appeared. Afflictions and persecutions were seen to be the portion of the Lord’s servant, as they are, in a measure, the lot of all who would live godly in Christ Jesus. The Spirit led Mr. Metcalfe by a lonely path to partake of the afflictions of the evangel, in obscurity, ostracization, the ridicule of some and much misunderstanding from others, to say nothing of the inward pressures, the loneliness, and the more patent outward burdens of poverty and at some times the loss of all things. This was surely the sowing in tears.

Mr. Metcalfe was homeless at first and dependent on friends and relatives for a roof for himself and his family. Later God in his kind providence provided a home for his servant. Throughout this whole period he was enabled to continue studying, even when living in one room, and to minister to no less than six congregations gathered in houses or at one time in a rented meeting room, over the next twelve years.

Some souls were saved and added even during this time and these are standing to this day.

There have been two specific periods in the course of Mr. Metcalfe’s ministry when he has been shut up alone to seek God in watching and prayer, and in the diligent study of the word of God. The first of these periods lasted seven years. The Lord had burdened his servant with many questions about the doctrine of Christ and with the pressing need to search out the truth from the scriptures alone.

During these years when he was shut up to this work, God gave his servant great insight into the word of God, on his knees, or more often on his face, crying to the Lord to open the book. He studied long hours by day and often by night, to the detriment of his health and eyes, determined ‘to know the doctrine’ and having grasped it, to hold it fast lest at any time it should be let slip. These years have borne abundant fruit and God has since enabled Mr. Metcalfe to preach these essential and precious truths and to publish them abroad by means of his books.

Great Fruitfulness

After this long period of solitary study, in obedience to the Lord’s leading by signs and providences afforded to his servant, a door was opened for Mr. Metcalfe to render a testimony to thousands both in the U.K. and in Europe. He became well known as an evangelist and teacher and many sought to have him preach in their pulpits and on their platforms. A great number of souls were saved at this time and these are still standing, although some have departed to be with Christ.

Those whose hearts were touched remember every detail of the meetings and above all the messages. There are many letters and testimonies to the way in which the word of life was received. The preaching ‘breathed the very spirit of the new testament’. ‘We have been thrilled beyond words at what our ears have heard and at what our eyes have seen.’ ‘Our church will never be the same again.’ ‘How he presented the messages with thoroughness and truth!’ ‘His words remain in our hearts.’

But the Lord had given Mr. Metcalfe a great burden for the church, so he returned to solitude for a second period, this time of three years, wrestling in prayer and studying the scriptures, completely giving himself to the work. The cost was literally heart-breaking. Through these periods of lonely vigil, first seven years and then three, besides other periods, there was also the search for others like-minded, who had in some measure walked the same path, met on the same principles, or had some sympathy with the way of suffering walked by all the true servants of God. There was the consciousness of the years racing past, ‘swifter than a post’ and the cry from the heart, ‘How long Lord?’; ‘Remember how short my time is.’

There was also the joy and blessing of having openings into the word, answers to prayer, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and signs afforded to the Lord’s servant that God was with him. Those who met together over these years remember them with joy. What a privilege to be among those who feared the Lord, who spake often one to another. Many meetings are recalled as times of heaven on earth and all wanted to hold on to the moment and not part or go home.

A Man in Christ

Although Mr. Metcalfe spent so many years shut up to the continuous study of God’s word with such single-minded devotion, he is not like some dull academic or religious recluse. He is intolerant of evil, hypocrisy, or cant and impatient with time-wasting trivialities and slipshod service especially in the things of God. He has a kindly sense of humour and is a good friend who ‘loveth at all times’. All who meet him are immediately made at ease by his warmth and friendliness and his interest in others. There is nothing remote or hard about him and his sufferings for the sake of the evangel have not made him bitter or narrow-minded. He is transparently open and willing to share his wide experience, very approachable and ready to help all who need his counsel in spiritual things or in practical matters. Mr. Metcalfe never ‘talks down’ to anyone even to the youngest, and is always eager to profit from the experience of another. He is beloved of us all.

The path of the true minister of the evangel is always marked by prayer, and prayer that is answered. This has been abundantly evident during the years that are past and is still so in the Lord’s dealings with his servant. In 1968, Mr. Metcalfe was moved to ask the Lord for a small Methodist chapel in Tylers Green where he lived, although there was no question of its being on the market. Some time later he heard that it was going to be sold. He again sought the Lord to provide the means to buy it: he was heard and answered. Although a number of other interested people bid for the building, Mr. Metcalfe’s offer for the place was accepted. This building is now Bethlehem Meeting Hall which was opened after extensive renovation in first month of 1969 and is the meeting place of the largest of the congregations gathered in the United Kingdom.

Bethlehem Meeting Hall

However, there were only a few saints there in 1969, five men and a few women. God has blessed the work greatly and it has increased until this day when the place is filled. Many have been born again in this Meeting Hall by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the word of God. Others, who were saved under Mr. Metcalfe’s preaching earlier in his ministry, have moved from other parts of the country to be among the congregation gathered at ‘Bethlehem’. Since then, many young men and women from all over the U.K. have moved their homes and changed their jobs, to be found among the saints. Others have sought the Lord where they are as a direct result of being awakened by reading Mr. Metcalfe’s books, and, receiving the testimony of the word of Christ, continue to bear witness in their turn to others.

There has also been a steady growth in Christ amongst the saints, and brethren have come forward able to edify those gathered. Worship has been very blessed and prayer has been answered. Other congregations have been formed both in the U.K. and in Singapore and Malaysia. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.

The Publishing Trust

In 1971 the Publishing Trust was set up for the printing and publishing of the evangel. This was in answer to the prayer and spiritual exercise of many years. It is recalled by some that this was one among many of the earliest spiritual exercises in 1955-6. It was felt then that there was a need to have the truth set down plainly for all to read, and to pass on to succeeding generations, should the Lord delay his coming.

For some six years prior to publication, Mr. Metcalfe was wholly engaged in writing in metre The Psalms of the Old Testament (published the first month 1985), Spiritual Songs from the Four Evangelists (published the third month 1985) and The Hymns of the New Testament (published the ninth month 1985). Thus scripture itself is sung, not error and sentiment contrary to the word of Christ. Mr. Metcalfe’s back suffered so much from the long hours spent in the strained and intense posture brought on by such concentration in writing, that had he not received prompt and expert treatment in the Far East he would have become completely immobile. Out of such pain and so prolonged a time of great travail came this inspired work, in the will of God enabling the true worshippers at last to obey Christ and the apostles in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

In 1984, before Mr. Metcalfe had completed the Psalms, Hymns, and Songs, he was called to preach for several weeks in South-East Asia. The Lord blessed the word preached as many among his hearers have testified. Mr. Metcalfe returned to England in the first month of 1985, physically exhausted, having burnt himself out in labouring for the salvation of souls in that climate, amidst the opposition and persecutions which always accompany the faithful preaching of the word. On more than one occasion when he was back in England, he fainted from sheer exhaustion.

Overseas Ministry

However, many in Asia pressed him to return to minister among them and the Lord’s mind was sought both privately and in the congregations, beseeching him that his will should be made plain. At the same time Mr. Metcalfe was working day and night to finish The Hymns of the New Testament, as well as to fulfil other cares which came upon him. Characteristically the Lord’s servant spent all his strength in faithful service.

Mr. Metcalfe left England to begin his labours in preaching and teaching the evangel in Singapore and Malaysia on the 17th of the seventh month, 1985. The Lord gave to his servant a very remarkable sign and vision–which was privately communicated to two or three in great sadness at the time–immediately before he left, showing him how the Adversary would attempt to work devastation in his absence, and revealing to him the persons through whom this work would be wrought. Those in whom Mr. Metcalfe confided can testify that exactly as he foretold to them the vision, so it came to pass.

Nevertheless the Lord wrought deliverance, scattering the adversaries, blessing the work, and prospering the evangel even more than at the beginning and far more widely.

Glorying in the Cross

The work of God in Mr. Metcalfe’s ministry has been traced over more than fifty years in this testimony. John Metcalfe, by the grace of God, having put his hand to the plough has not turned back, though the lonely furrow lay through many sore tribulations and heart-rending trials. Mr. Metcalfe has denied himself considerable rewards which, undoubtedly, he would have gained in this world. However, like Moses, he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. Coming from a wealthy and influential family and being possessed with outstanding natural gifts, drive, and abilities, coupled with an enormous capacity for hard work, Mr. Metcalfe could have excelled in virtually any chosen field but his life has been one of uncompromising obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit, ‘this is the way, walk ye in it’. From his remarkable conversion onwards it has been, and still is, all or nothing for the Lord and nothing but the very best in his service, no matter how lonely the pathway of conscience, or how few he served.

The Lord has given remarkable signs to his servant in the course of his prophetic ministry and has shown him things granted only to a few. Mr. Metcalfe has great insight into conditions and situations and the power to discern states in people. Many have also seen and bear witness that the things he has spoken beforehand have come to pass afterwards. These gifts are not of man, cannot be inherited, learned, or studied but come from above and are given by God to his servants whom he sends. Not that Mr. Metcalfe ever draws attention–or would wish attention drawn–to such gifts. Nevertheless in our witness we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Fellowship of His Sufferings

Over many years we have seen the true minister of Christ ‘pressed out of measure, above strength’ and yet mightily blessed both here and in South-East Asia where the evil Adversary also attempted to bring God’s work into jeopardy. The calamities which have been brought on the Lord’s servant, and the anguish which he has suffered: who can tell of these things? There seem to be no words to describe the pain which, from time to time, we have glimpsed behind a countenance kept cheerful. These things are written up, however, and will be read in that day ‘when the books are opened’.

At the same time there have been mighty deliverances from furious attacks on the Trust and on the congregations in England, Scotland, and in South-East Asia. Many tokens for good have been sent by God to his servant. What fruitful years these have been! This is true in the continued salvation of sinners, as it is in the writing, and also in the growth of the Publishing Trust. The congregations in England have been very blessed in hearing the tapes of the ministry in the Far East, where the evangel has been preached with great power. We have also been greatly encouraged by the occasional visits Mr. Metcalfe has been able to make to us, and by the letters and accounts of the work from many brethren and sisters, especially from those in South-East Asia.

By Many Witnesses

Over the past twenty-five years the growth of the work of The John Metcalfe Publishing Trust has been very marked, both in the U.K. and abroad, where others have taken up the work. Turnover which doubled in 1986, doubled again the next year, and has continued to maintain a steady annual increase. The quarterly magazine, The Ministry of the New Testament, acknowledged to be an outstanding publication on every hand, was sent forth in the Spring of 1986 and has appeared regularly ever since to the great profit of many.

However, in order to illustrate the benefit of Mr. Metcalfe’s ministry as a whole we have chosen some quotations from a large number of reviews of Mr. Metcalfe’s books and from the many letters of appreciation in our possession:

‘John Metcalfe is to be classed amongst the foremost expositors of our age and his writings have about them that quality of timelessness that makes me sure they will one day take their place among the heritage of truly great Christian works.’

‘The fire of an ancient Hebrew prophet .... Metcalfe has spiritual and expository potentials of a high order.’

‘Doctrine on fire.’

‘Could your books be translated into Chinese? O that the Lord might enable that to come to pass!’

‘We were delivered from the legal yoke of bondage into the free, sovereign, electing grace of God. If we should not say this and more also then we would be liars before God.’

‘From the moment we heard him preach, we knew that John Metcalfe was different. Here was preaching in the great apostolic tradition. It breathed the very spirit of the new testament.’

‘There was authority in every utterance: the sheer immensity of the truths he portrayed filled us with a sense of awe.’

‘The people of Portugal have loved his manner ... How he presented the messages with thoroughness and truth ... One felt a straight man and this, together with the preaching, gives strength to bible truths, expounding God’s holy and inspired word: a blessed and joyful event. His words remain in our hearts.’‘We sensed we were in the presence of a man of God.’

‘The effect of such evangelism surpasses anything I have before experienced.’

‘Our church will never be the same again. We can only say ... ‘There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.’

Love Never Faileth

As an ordained Congregational minister Mr. Metcalfe was sought by the Moderator to continue in that denomination, however he accepted with reluctance Mr. Metcalfe’s resignation on the ground that he would not baptize unknowing infants.

Accepted as a minister by the Assembled Council of the Baptists, Mr. Metcalfe looked the chiefest of them, Dr. Payne, in the eye, before turning his back on this august body, flatly refusing to take their required examinations, knowing, as they themselves had to acknowledge, that his own study and attainment had taken him far beyond their set curriculum.

John Metcalfe was likewise solicited by the Bishop of Oxford, who endeavouring to satisfy Mr. Metcalfe’s conscience was prepared to remove as many obstacles as possible in order to secure Mr. Metcalfe’s ministry for the Church of England.

Although preaching in Presbyterian, Strict Baptist, Church of England, Methodist, Brethren, Congregational, Baptist, and Independent Churches, he would not confine himself to any one of these, nor, in faithfulness to the Lord, be called ‘their’ minister, or a minister of their denomination or division.

He steadfastly refused the many opportunities and honours offered to him, rather than compromise that ministry which he had received of the Lord, and which he freely exercised to all, being the paid servant of none, but stood in broken-hearted faithful devotion to Christ alone; continuing to this very day in true fidelity to the Head of the body, by whom he had been called and anointed, the Spirit bearing witness in him and to his preaching of the evangel of Christ wheresoever led or called.

Compiled and written by Sheila Munday
from the united witness of all the brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus

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