The Primitive Methodist movement has many stories of people who were radically transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. This movement amongst the working classes of England in the early 1800s resulted in a moral change in many individuals, families and communities. Many men and women were transformed from lives of violence, profligacy, blasphemy and drunkenness into radical followers of Christ.
One story of radical change was that of old Jenny Hall of Harriseahead. William Clowes records that “such was the condition of this poor woman, that occasionally she would curse and swear, and throw herself into the most violent paroxysms. On many occasions it was very dangerous to be in the house with her; at one time such was her violence that her husband narrowly escaped with his life.” Four of them “entered into this matter by fasting and secret prayer”. When they went to pray for her “the woman … became agitated in a remarkable manner; her body appeared singularly convulsed, as if some internal power was rending her in pieces; her face was absolutely black, her throat rattled, and she foamed at the mouth, and appeared as if she would choke”. As they continued “faith now began to rise … Then one began to adjure the devil in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to come out of the woman; immediately there was a sudden alteration, - her deliverance came, and she shouted for glory”.
This was a lasting change. Clowes records that “about eighteen years subsequent to this event taking place … I visited Jenny Hall, and found her living in the same place, happy in the Lord, and shouting glory. She told me she had never lost her faith, but lived constantly in the light of God’s countenance.”
Note: this story is taken from the journals of William Clowes (1780-1851), one of the founding fathers of the Primitive Methodist Movement. Known as apostolic Clowes, he was the missionary apostle of the movement, similar to the apostle Paul, establishing churches and chapels in many towns of England. The movement grew rapidly from 1807 to nearly 200,000 members and 6000 chapels by 1888.
“The Journals of William Clowes”, p77-79 originally published in 1844 and republished 2002 by Tentmaker Publications 121 Hartshill Rd, Stoke-on-Trent (www.tentmaker.org.uk)