This year we did something special in that Theo, Craig and Susan put together a very special presentation based on the story of Arthur Stace who was known by many in Sydney Australia as “Mr Eternity.”
- He was born in 1884, Sydney Australia. His mother and father, his two brothers and two sisters were alcoholics. He grew very poor, looking after himself and stealing as needed.
- At fourteen he found his first job, in a coalmine, and at fifteen he was in jail for the first of many visits.
- He had no education – couldn’t write his own name
- He was in World War One. He served in France, returning partially blinded in one eye, and suffering the effects of poison gas. He was drinking methylated spirits at sixpence a bottle, and living on handouts.
- On August 6th, 1930, he attended a meeting for men at St Barnabas’ Church. Noticing six tidily dressed people near the front, he asked the man sitting next to him “Who are they?”
“I’d reckon they’d be Christians”, he replied.
Stace said: “Well look at them and look at us. I’m having a go at what they have got,”
— and he slipped down on his knees and prayed.
- This changed his life!!! He sobered up, got a job and was regular in church.
- Two years later he heard a sermon: by the Rev. John Ridley who said
“I wish I could shout ETERNITY through all the streets of Sydney!”
Stace, recalling the day, said: “He repeated himself and kept shouting ‘ETERNITY, ETERNITY’ and his words were ringing through my brain as I left the church. Suddenly I began crying and I felt a powerful call from the Lord to write “ETERNITY”. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and I bent down there and wrote it.”
- From that moment on Arthur would get up early every morning and go to whichever part of Sydney he felt God was prompting him to go and he would write his one-word sermon wherever he could.
- He did it in secret for 26 years before someone finally spotted him!
It is conservatively estimated that in 37 years he wrote the word ETERNITY half a million times… (That’s nearly 40 times a day!)
- He was just a simple uneducated man, but his one word message reminded everyone to think about the fact that we live for every – that God has put eternity in our hearts.
- He died in 1967 and one would have thought that that was the end. But “his word” was the grand finale of the Sydney fireworks show for the turn of the Milennium and then at the 2004 Olympics and the entire world watched one television.
- I wonder if God patted him on the back and said “Well done good and faithful servant”
In preparation for the service, which was repeated at Grace and then two weeks later at the Evening Service. We prepared a blackboard “road” for people to write on and we wrote and spraypainted the “Eternity” word all over the building. Craig put together a Powerpoint slideshow to accompany a song written by Nathan Tasker that tells Stace’s Story. You can listen to it HERE.
People found the service very very moving and challenging. The good news is that over R80,000 was raised by the Day of Giving and God’s People were encouraged to serve God faithfully like Arthur Stace did.