Animal Padre's
Christians Against All Animal Abuse
"Christ’s redemption is for the whole of creation!"

From the Autumn 2005 Issue

A Prophet Passing By, As A Ship Of The Night

I don’t know as to whether he was as engrossed with animal rights as we are, but a fellow once came in to my life whom I’ll never forget. He was first publicised in the Bradford newspaper as a prophet. For like Elijah, he spent a memorable night within a cave, and began walking the streets with a shortened version of a Franciscan habit, plus a hold-all hung down his back. People often, at first, took a rise out of him, but to me – an ex Baptist minister reading electric meters – he epitomised a kindred spirit, but with a greater faith in God. Indeed, on meeting him within a park I told him of my past and how, at that time, I didn’t know what God had planned for my future. Yet he was very sure concerning his calling. “I want my lifestyle to be a sermon and also a rebuke to the selfish way folk are living today” he replied. “God is everywhere around us, and people fail to grasp the reality of His presence”.

How true were his words! We both shared the closeness of The Saviour in our lives, and he radiated Him. I invited him for tea the following Sunday, plus a visit to a local Church of which I’d been recently installed as part-time lay pastor (it was around 1958). Mother sensed that I’d actually invited Jesus in from the street. “His face glows with the light of Heaven” she said. After tea – which he literally devoured - I felt it would be embarrassing to have both him and the sedate congregation sitting together. Perhaps he sensed it and asked to be excused to go on his way, just before we reached the open door of the spacious chapel. It was a relief to ones self, coward that I was!

A year or two later I met him, head on, outside the Alhambra theatre in Bradford. It was now winter and the weather very cold. “I’ve been, up to recently, sleeping out under hedges or with the sheep and it’s been very cold” he said. “But a young couple have been very kind. They’ve given me shelter when they’d no need to. I’ve never had as much as a cold” he added; but I was feeling terribly chilly at nights”. Perhaps it was to ease my own conscience that I offered him a five-pound note. He was at first reluctant to take it. But when I insisted he accepted, and the smile that literally shone through his piercing eyes melted my heart and made me want to cry. “He doesn’t appear to preach salvation through the blood!” said a fellow believer. “Is he fright shy of getting a job?” said another. But I knew that Jesus lived in this self appointed vagrant of the Bradford streets who never ever begged or even asked for his next meal..

More than two decades were to pass before coming face to face with Bradford’s cave man prophet once more. Sadness had filled my heart for the wife of one’s youth had left me for another and I was reminiscing while driving through Apperley Bridge towards Rawdon. Yes, it was undoubtedly him; and his appearance had hardly changed except that he looked thinner and a little more drawn. He had smiled and waved as my car had slowly driven past him. But this was not unusual; he’d always waved and smiled to everyone.

Go on to Never Be Flippant On Tossing A Coin In Extremity
Return to Autumn 2005 Issue

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