Personal Stories: Paul Archer's story
I Knew Something Very Deep Had Happened
Throughout his young life Paul Archer felt the arm of Jesus nudging him as if to say ‘Hey, wake up, I’m here!’ Eventually the culminating wake up call came when it was least expected. Brought to a conclusion in this story of a Sussex spiritual session Christ’s tenacious drive to save a soul has profoundly paid dividends in terms of his evangelistic abilities.
“It all finally happened in November 1976 at the age of 29 in Eastbourne. Having been pursued by God through my life I guess I could not ignore His rather dramatic call any longer.”
“My previous encounters with Christians did not alter my view that it was good and helpful for them to believe in God, but He was really a crutch for them and I didn’t need to dream up such a support as me and my life were doing pretty good.”
The events of that November evening were quite unusual. The weather was appallingly bad, the rain was pouring, the night was dark and the road to Eastbourne was largely unlit, and Paul, who had had no intention of going, was not prepared to let his wife drive all that way through East Sussex.
“It was a filthy night and I would not let my wife and mum go over the coast road to Eastbourne, (My wife was getting serious about Christian stuff by that time.) So I said I would drive.”
They were on their way to a small meeting about Christianity being held in a public library and in those days libraries did not have the comforts that are often afforded them today.
“We arrived at the library in Eastbourne to a rather sparse room with a wooden floor to hear an evangelist named Peter Scothen, very different from the big events these days. I sat on a radiator spectating, no more than that, or so I thought. A few songs were played on the keyboard, he spoke and to my surprise over half the people responded to his challenge and went forward for prayer, mum and wife Jane included. I was pleased for them all.”
All those who responded for prayer went into a side room, then at that moment Peter asked for a monetary collection in the main room. But as so many had gone through to the other room there weren’t many left to take up the offering.
“Peter then said something that struck me, that he observed that the offering would be small but nevertheless there was a great harvest for heaven.”
To Paul, an accountant, this was quite profound. The fact that Peter had put the saving of souls far above the important necessity of recuperating some of his expenses.
“I should mention that as people were being prayed for they were falling over, but I didn’t find that strange. Previous experiences through a séance at university made me aware of a spiritual realm – deeply evil in that case, but not to be elaborated on here. I knew therefore that there were good experiences from books I had read, and I was witnessing now what I had learned.”
Paul, just a mere bystander at the back of the meeting thought that was it when it drew to a close but he was in for a pleasantly surprising shock.
“Well, the meeting came to an end and Peter and the musician were clearing up when someone from Jane’s church asked me if I’d been blessed. The most extraordinary experience then followed. As I recall, my body uncontrollably moved towards Peter and I must have asked him to pray for me, which he did.”
“I didn’t fall over, but I knew something very deep had happened.”
“Driving home I had an inexplicable sense of peace, the weather had cleared to leave a beautiful star-lit night and it was like I was smiling deep inside, appreciating as I’d never done before, the wonder of creation.”
“I had become a Christian.”
“Soon after, a Good News Bible crept into our house, it was a new version then, and I read and liked it, but had so many questions. Answers came when I wasn’t expecting them, walking round the town, first thing in the morning, when I was driving and so on.”
“No-one could tell me there was no God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
“Since that time of Peter’s evangelical meeting at Eastbourne life has been rich, not always easy though, and the thought of life without my faith is quite frightening. I am so thankful that God hangs on to me so tightly and puts up with my weaknesses. Praise be to Him.”
Paul was baptised in the sea on 18th September 1983 and became an Elder of URC. He and Jane are now Deacons of New Life Church, Durrington.