Walking Humbly with his God

The Scripture that comes to mind when I think of Ernest Lloyd is the direction given in Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

That, it seems to me, speaks very much of what Ernest was. To say that Ernest made a significant contribution to the work of the gospel among the Jewish people seems almost an understatement. His extensive ministry in the Church seeking to raise prayerful concern for the work among the Jewish people touched many lives, and I believe that not a few of those who have ministered among the Jewish people in recent years were first awakened to the need of the Jews through the ministry of Ernest. He was, after all, one of the best known speakers for Jewish mission for some fifty years. Ernest was also responsible for the development of the work in South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But Ernest also made a significant contribution to the work in his ministry to his own colleagues. He was an Encourager and I believe a most faithful Intercessor but, above all, he was a Great Example to us all.

Over many years in the mission house in Glasgow, we had the blessing of giving hospitality to many of our missionaries but Ernest was special! He had a great rapport with the children. I can still see him sitting with us at the breakfast table when the children were quite small, a serviette ring in his eye, pulling faces and having the boys in fits of laughter. They loved him and it’s a love they have retained over the years, though they are now grown men. It spoke volumes to me of the kind of person Ernest really was.

He had a great interest in people and established a quite remarkable network of contacts. Of course, it had a lot to do with the letters he wrote to the people he met. And what letters they were. No one ever forgets Ernest’s letters! It is said that he wore out many typewriters and, having seen Ernest at work, I can believe that. I can see him sitting at our dining room table, the poor typewriter seeming to bounce under his big hands and in apparent fright spilling letters across the page; not always in the right place and not always the right letter. But the best thing about those letters was that there was no attempt at correction. The letter was sent as it was and we loved him for this further indication of his humble character.

I have no doubt that what we found attractive in Ernest had its source in what took place in his early teens when his eyes were opened to the wonder of Messiah bearing the punishment for his sin and he was brought to exercised faith in that great sacrifice as the means of his reconciliation with God. It is there surely that natural pride is broken, true humility is born and genuine concern for others is engendered and those traits were evident in Ernest.

In 1934, while still a student, he began working at the Gilead Medical Mission in Spitalfields in the East End of London. I know something of what Ernest would have experienced for that is where my wife and I started with the Mission in 1960. Nothing can really prepare you for the peculiar difficulties of witness to the Jewish people, a people who have suffered centuries of bitter persecution in so-called Christian countries and have developed a deep and emotional opposition to the Christian message. For me, after three months in Gilead, the difficulties were very real and the prospect of a life of ministry to the Jewish people bleak but, in the providence of God, at a meeting in Gilead I found myself sitting alongside a Jewish businessman who had recently been brought to faith in Messiah and as he sought to convey what that meant to him, he was in tears. I was reminded of the Apostle Paul who was ready to lose all that he might gain Christ.

We are greatly indebted to Mike Moore for getting alongside Ernest to produce the book The Importance of being Ernest. If you have not yet read that book, may I encourage you to do so. Ernest experienced many rebuffs in those early days, as Mike’s book makes clear, but he knew the preciousness of “walking with God” and he was compelled to share that truth with others.

On one occasion in Glasgow, Ernest joined me in visiting a Jewish couple to whom I had been ministering for some time and with whom we had made some progress. The man warmly welcomed us but I was soon aware that the woman was eying Ernest intently. Before long she said accusingly, “You are Jewish!” And when Ernest admitted his Jewishness she launched into a bitter attack upon him, accusing him of turning traitor to the faith of his fathers. Ernest remained calm, and quietly testified to his faith in Jesus as the Messiah. As we walked from the house Ernest said, “That confirms what I have often felt, that the ideal is to work together – Jew and Gentile.” Their response to my witness had been: “We respect your faith; indeed we envy you your faith, but we are Jewish.” Meeting Ernest was a direct challenge to their defence and ultimately, I believe, an invaluable contribution to our witness.

I am so thankful that my wife and I were able to spend time with Ernest ten days before the Lord called him home. We were somewhat taken aback to see his physical frailty but delighted to find his mental faculties apparently undiminished. His mind was so clear, his memory of people and their families remarkable and his concern for them so evident.

Our final memory was of Ernest in prayer. We had prayed together during that day but Ernest wanted to pray before we parted. Once again we heard that deep resonant voice as he addressed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in terms that confirmed that he stood in awe of the Most High and yet was so confident of His covenant mercy and grace. Ernest, I believe, sought to fulfil what the Most High requires of each one of us. In love toward others to seek to emulate what we see in our God, who always acts justly and has shown us in His covenant mercy what love really is. He walked with God. He walked humbly with God and he walked with the One he knew to be his God.

This article first appeared in the Spring issue of the Herald 2011

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