If this is the first post you are reading about Harold Griffiths, or if you want to remind yourself about his life and ministry up to and through World War 2, then please take the time to read these older blogs. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9
An earlier post also provides a music sheet for hymn music he re-wrote and published.
The reason I'm breaking with chronology is because the other week someone left a comment on a blog post from three or four years ago. It read as follows:
"Dear Michael. I have a friend who attends the Penralt Baptist Church in Bangor. I have just listened to a sermon(preached on Sunday 28th January) by a man called Donald Poirot who attends that church. In his sermon he mentions your relative Harold and that as a baby Harold took Donald in his arms and blessed him. You can listen to the sermon for yourself. Jan Kelson-Martin ( Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent)"
This is a major reason I am a big proponent of family history blogging. It brings in comments by all kinds of people, from all kinds of places. These comments then lead to information that would otherwise be lost.
I responded to the comment, but also did a search for the church and sermon in question. Sure enough, the sermon is online and Harold's story appears from 11 minutes and 32 seconds, continuing to 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
I've transcribed it in case the link is moved in the future.
There was a man in south Wales. He was a miner. Big fellow. He’d come home and he’d be covered in coal dust, and he found the LORD for himself, this big burly man. He found the Lord. And fell in love with Him. This big man when he got over his shifts he wanted to go to the meetings, and if his shifts didn’t coincide just right he’d be seen at the back of the church before he would have taken his shower, because he didn’t want to dirty anywhere up. He wanted, he wanted to serve the LORD and understand about the Lord. He witnessed at work, and the men would scoff at him. They would often actually physically hurt him. On one occasion they pinned him down and they wanted to make him swear. But he just loved the LORD. Years later he went into ministry. He went from village green to village green. And then he had a building he found. He just loved to preach. He loved to sing, and he sang at the piano and I was thinking about him the other day, and there was a chorus that was around at that time. And he penned another tune to it. And it’s absolutely lovely, and he composed this tune, it goes like this.
“I fell in love with the Nazarene, the beautiful Nazarene, who’s face with glory was alight, the fairest I’ve ever seen. Near his side I would abide, when ne’er a vale between. Since I fell so deep in love with Jesus the Nazarene.”
Can you imagine a coal miner, singing that and loving that. You know in 1947 a couple, a christian couple brought their little baby to him to be dedicated. And his name was Harold and he held this baby and he prayed for this baby and he said, “Lord would you bless this baby, we thank you for the life of this baby. We pray that in the years to come he will fall in love with Jesus too. That baby is me. Me. Me. And it’s so lovely to tell you I love Jesus Christ.”
-- Donald Poirot, speaking at Penrallt Baptist Church, Bangor on Sunday 28th January 2018. --
The church contact information was present on the website, so I emailed to see if they could put me in contact with Donald. It appeared that he knew something of my great grandfathers ministry and I wanted to know more. The church responded and forwarded my request to Donald. Donald emailed me with the following response:"As a miner he was persecuted for his faith - verbally and I believe physically. There was one man - a fellow miner who particularly hated him.
One day there was a serious roof collapse down in the mine. This miner was trapped and they could only shout through to him. He shouted back fetch Harold! Harold was called and this man asked Harold to pray for him - amazing. I can’t remember the outcome of that story.
You already know that in 1947 I was born and was dedicated to the Lord by my parents. They took me to Bethel in Milton where Harold Griffiths prayed for me. When my mum had come to Christ through the ministry of one of the Jeffreys brothers (Stoke-On-Trent Town Hall.) she had been introduced to Harold Griffiths. My mum came to Christ as a teenager. Harold Griffiths encouraged my mum in the things of God and asked her to speak. He advertised something along the lines - come and hear this teenage preacher! My mum would tell me stories of Harold’s evangelical work - village green services - a caravan. She told me of his zeal and love for the Lord. It was my mum who often sang the chorus you heard me sing. (In fact my mum went on to be an Assemblies of God minister - which was unusual in those days for a woman.) So we would often visit Harold in Milton and his assembly.
One incident which has stuck in my mind - the date I’m not so sure. I think I would be around 11 - so that would be approx 1958. We had been visiting Harold Griffiths and was staying for the evening service. As I climbed the steps to go into the building I started with a nose bleed. Harold who arrived ready to take the service - immediately stopped and bent down to me and prayed for me. He had the responsibility of the service ahead of him - but all that was put aside in that moment as he prayed for me.
Years later I found the Lord for myself and I wanted to tell him. I was going out with a young lady called Glenys - she found the Lord at the same time as me.(We married and Glenys is by my side right now - we both love the Lord.) I told her about Harold Griffiths and we went to visit him and his wife several times. He was then living at Woodhead Road not far from Milton. It was a retirement bungalow which looked over trees and green grass - a lovely outlook. (It actually was and still is Carmountside Cemetery & Crematorium.) He would laugh and smile with us and said jokingly - they have put us here so that they can cut down on the expense of funeral travel costs when we die. This would be in the mid sixties.
I ask myself if this email can also be a vehicle for greater blessing to you and your family. It would be my prayer that the life, testimony, and voice of Harold Griffiths reached over to you and your family and all who consider this man Harold Griffiths to see that his heart was for the Lord. Harold’s message was simply put. If Harold would speak to you right now I believe this is what he would say to you:
The Bible is the Word of God.
We are all sinners.
There is eternal judgement coming for all who reject Christ.
There is eternal bliss in heaven for those who put their trust in Christ.
That Christ died on the cross and shed his blood for our sins - for my sins.
That Christ rose the 3rd day from the dead & he lives for evermore.
The Bible message has not changed - man cannot save himself.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
God bless you Michael - you have a pedigree second to none!
Donald. 7th. February 2018"
I have just a couple of observations from this.
1. The story of the roof collapse is something I had never heard before, and fascinating. It's one of those things that would be lost to history if not for the recollection of someone who had heard it told.
2. I've already documented how the Assemblies of God in the U.K gave opportunities for women to preach and lead churches. I am gratified to find that my great-grandfather was one of those who encouraged a woman to preach and advertised it. That she then went on to become an Assemblies of God minister is very encouraging.
3. The story of the nosebleed and the comments he made while in the retirement bungalow are yet more tidbits that I could not have known without contacting Donald. They are once again those stories which give more insight into his character and condition.
4. It's reminded me once again to contact the gentlemen in my grandfather's old bowling league who knew him, and see if there's still any chance he might email me the testimonial he had considered writing.
That's all for now, and I'll continue Harold's story again in the next blog.