A 1922 photo of Jim Parr (driver) and other workers in a Gospel car, in front of the Apostolic Faith mission in Mount Vernon, Washington.

“Jesus Rescued My Hell-Deserving Soul”

April 01, 2014

This miner hardened his heart throughout the Welsh revival, but God did not forget him.

By James Parr

Thank God for the old-time religion. I am glad His arm is outstretched to save the “whosoever will” and that one dark December night many years ago, He reached out to me.

My life had been spent in sin, burning the candle at both ends and sewing my wild oats. The Bible says the way of the transgressor is hard. It also says that when our fathers and mothers forsake us, the Lord will take us up. That was my case. I was the black sheep of our family, and my folks turned me away because I brought shame and disgrace on the home. I was a bound slave to a life of sin for years—a vile sinner, a drunken miner in England, Scotland, and Wales, and the terror of the community where I was brought up. Jail bars failed to reform me. Many times I meditated upon committing suicide, but fear of Hell, death, and judgment stopped me from taking my own life. As I would go down in the old mines, I would wish the mine would blow up. Every sin in the book was in my heart.

The devil was a hard master. Many times I nearly went into a devil’s hell. In the old mines, God spared my life when the roof would fall in, but I would just blaspheme His name. On Sundays you would find me gambling and drinking, trying to numb the pain inside.

I was right in the midst of the big Welsh revival from 1904 to 1906, where one hundred thousand people were converted in about two years. I saw the handiwork of God, witnessed people being converted all around me—in the mines and out of the mines. Some of them had been my drinking companions. They used to have prayer meetings down in the mines, fifteen hundred feet deep, at seven o’clock in the morning. I would be there cursing and swearing, and would have nothing to do with it. At the same time, there was something in my heart that was hungering for reality.

One Sunday night I decided to attend a little church where a Welshman, Evan Roberts, was holding a revival. The church was packed so I went across the street into a Salvation Army service. God was talking to me, and He put life and death before me. I said to myself, “Shall I yield my heart to God tonight?” Conviction was upon me and I listened, but then I deliberately stepped out of that place without yielding my heart to God.

The next day, three of us went shooting in the Welsh mountains. As I was shooting off a gun, the gun broke apart and my hand was shot all to pieces. It was only the mercy of God that I was not killed, but I was in awful shape for about three months. I figured it was God’s judgment upon me because I did not yield my heart to Him. I made a vow to God during that time, saying, “God, if You will spare my life, I will surrender to You.”

After three months, I went back to the valley where the revival was still going on. I had a praying brother, and he would say, “Why won’t you be a Christian? Why don’t you give your heart to God?” He pled with me to go to church with him, but instead of doing so, I went deeper in sin. I was afraid if I went to church and didn’t get converted, the judgment of God Almighty would come on me.

After a couple of years, I decided to come to America. I quit a good job and became a “hot-footer,” moving about in search of something that was real. I landed down in West Virginia, in the mines, among a bunch of drunken miners. God was still dealing with me, and I promised that if I ever got out of that place, I would surrender my life to Him. God in His goodness and mercy permitted me to go to another coal mining camp in Harrisburg, Illinois. How I thank God that there He brought me to my senses and uncovered my heart, took off the mask, and showed me my condition.

One evening I came out of the mines and met a couple of men who said, “Jim, come up to the revival.” I went to the boarding house and washed up, and then went to church. As I sat in the back of that Baptist meeting hall, God Almighty was speaking to my soul. I was polluted by the powers of Hell, and diseased from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and that night my eyes were opened—I realized I was lost and going to Hell. Thank God, a lifeline was thrown out. I heard people tell that Jesus could save me from my sins.

It may not mean much to the world that this drunkard found Jesus, but from the bottom of my heart I thank Him that He transformed my life

At the close of that service, I stepped from the back of the church, walked up the aisle, and dropped on my knees. Lots of times I had prayed while in a drunken stupor, but I would get up the next day and go out and live the same debauched life. However, that night was different. I made an unconditional surrender, and the Blood of Jesus, God’s remedy for sin, reached my soul. God, for Jesus’ sake, blotted out my sins and came into my life. He rescued my Hell-deserving soul from a life of defeat, healed my body, and made me a man. It may not mean much to the world that this drunkard found Jesus, but from the bottom of my heart I thank Him that He transformed my life and made me a new creature. Through these many years, I have never wanted another drink.

In 1906, I came to San Francisco after the earthquake and met the Apostolic Faith people. One meeting convinced me this work was of God, and I threw my lot in with them. From that time to this, I have been part of this work. In San Francisco God sanctified my soul. For days I walked the streets, my cup of joy running over. In 1908 at the Mt. Tabor camp meeting in Portland, God in His goodness and mercy poured out the Holy Ghost and fire upon me, baptizing my soul.

I had the privilege to go back to the old country of Wales and tell my people what God had done for me in the United States. They acknowledged that something had happened in my life. I stood outside the old saloon, the public house where I had once debauched my life, telling the story of Jesus and His love. A man I had known before came out and shook hands with me and said, “I marvel at the change that has taken place in you.”

For more than forty years now, I have been in the Christian warfare. I have found that it pays to serve God. The Lord saved me to lift up Jesus. He planted His love in my heart and told me to go and testify of what God has done for me. I am only sorry, as I look back to the pit that God digged me from, that I did not surrender my life to Him long before I did.

I am a witness that Jesus can save and keep a man—keep him from compromising, keep him from backsliding, and put mettle in him that will stand up for God. I am glad that I am a soldier of the Cross. I do not know how much longer I will live on this earth, but one thing is sure: I am going to make Heaven by the grace of God.

About the author

Jim Parr was a pioneer worker and minister in the Apostolic Faith organization from shortly after its founding in 1906. He was pastor of the St. Louis, Missouri, branch church during the 1920s, and then moved back to the West Coast, where he served until his death in 1949.