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Highways for Jesus
A true story of Love.
Just as the second world was coming to an end Clifford Edwards was born into a poor working class family. They lived in an old two up two down terraced house with the toilet at the bottom of the yard and very few basic amenities. He was an only son with five sisters, three older, one younger and his twin sister Christine.
At the time of Clifford’s birth in Lancashire his dad was coming to the end of his time in the army, where he was serving in the Lancashire Fusiliers. His dad regretted the fact that he spent all his time as a soldier working as a cobbler, repairing boots for other men but never getting down to fighting for his country. He was eventually sent to France but was wounded as he landed on the beaches and was promptly sent home to hospital for treatment to a shrapnel wound . He never got the opportunity to return to active service and fight for his country. The man that came home from a war that was meant to change the world for the better was a changed man. He went away a happy person with dreams for both himself and his family’s future but he came home bitter, disillusioned, older, and well on the way to a serious drinking problem.
Living in a house full of small children was not easy, so Alfred spent his leisure time in the pub. His deepest regret was in his sport. Before the war he had achieved his ambition to become a football referee in the Lancashire combination and he had been short listed to be promoted to the football league.
Because of his time away he lost this golden opportunity.
What hurt him most was that a local younger man he had trained before the war got the position and was eventually chosen to referee a cup final at the famous Wembley stadium.
The family grew, but Clifford was a weak and often sick child. In fact before he was six weeks old he was fighting for his life with whooping cough and pneumonia. His mother fought the battle with him and due to her constant care he survived. Clifford’s memories of his childhood are of fear and constant hunger.
After the pubs shut on Saturday and Sunday afternoon the whole family would go for a long walk until father had come home and then gone to bed to sleep off his latest drinking session.
The favourite family walk was to the local cemetery. It was not too far to walk and there were plenty of places to sit or play. School was a nightmare for Clifford as he was an easy target for the bullies. It was during his school days that Clifford began to realise that the biggest bullies were not always children, but adults.
Eventually Clifford moved on to secondary school where corporal punishment became a normal part of life. Some of the teachers had developed a sadistic streak during the war. They often took advantage of weaker children with parents who would not complain about their brutality. Clifford was never a clever child, in fact he spent all of his school time at the bottom of the class.
He was always tired and found it difficult to concentrate because of his home life. He suffered constant bouts of tonsillitis and influenza caused by the bad diet his mother was forced to give her children due to lack of money. Most of the teachers in secondary school only taught because it was a job. Going home was the best part of the day for them.
Three teachers had a major influence on Clifford’s life.
The gym teacher was a real bully and when Clifford was 12 years old he caned him so hard for not moving fast enough during a lesson that he bruised the boy badly. Of course when Clifford went home for lunch his mother was horrified as she did not know of the constant abuse. She took him back to school herself and reported the abuse to the headmaster.
The teacher was removed from his position within a week, but returned to the school two years later.
The oldest teacher in the school was Mr Jones. He taught religious education and took a real loving interest in every pupil. He was jeered at in the playground yet respected by everyone because he lived everything he taught. He was a true Christian and had refused promotion to headmaster because he did not believe in corporal punishment. He tried so hard to help Clifford but could do so little.
The English teacher also taught music and became a friend to Clifford.
Clifford had been born with a good voice. This teacher used his talent at every opportunity.
Assembly and parents day would see Clifford at the front of the whole school, singing his heart out. This of course created jealousy, and increased the amount of abuse in the playground, but Clifford put up with the bullies because of the attention he was getting from the English master. Then one day his voice began to break and the friendly teacher became the biggest bully of them all.
Clifford was learning to trust no one.
At the age of seven Clifford had joined his local church choir and this had made a difference to his home life. It meant that he was often at church when father was at his worst. Alfred had become an abuser of his wife and children, not physical, but constant mental torture. The rows went on every night now, and the whole family was kept awake until the early hours of the morning.
At the age of fourteen Clifford left school and took a job labouring in a local foundry. He was not clever enough to take an apprenticeship and his mother needed her large brood to bring in as much money as possible.
For the first time ever she was able to save a little. Most of the family had now found employment in the local cotton mills. She now had to save for five girls who had begun to think about getting married in the near future.
Clifford moved from job to job but could not find happiness.
His voice had broken but returned as strong and good as before, and he was still a popular choir member.
The American evangelist Billy Graham came to Britain in the early sixties. During his tour he appeared at Maine Road football stadium. A local church hired a coach for the twenty mile journey to go and see him. Somehow, Clifford was invited to go with them. It was the first time that Clifford had heard the gospel preached properly and during the meeting he realised that,
*Jesus was truly the Son of God*
and that Jesus truly loved him. At the end of the meeting an appeal was made. Large crowds moved towards the front and onto the football field. Clifford was amongst the seekers.
It did not last long !!!!
Soon Clifford was living the same godless way he had always done.
His church did not believe in being Born Again or American evangelists. Also, the vicar had assured him he was going to heaven because he was a protestant and a church member.
At the age of nineteen Clifford began working in the local pubs and clubs as a singer.
When he passed his driving test he was able to take bookings at venues in other towns and cities. Soon he was popular enough to be able to turn professional and he started to dream of fame.
Clifford had promised himself that he would never be like his father.
He would never touch alcohol, or abuse his children if he had any.
As time passed the boy that no one wanted was on his way to stardom and venues and agents wanted to use the singer from Lancashire.
In 1971 Clifford married a young lady he met in one of the clubs.
They were both very much in love and extremely happy together.
One evening Clifford tried drink for the first time and he really enjoyed the feeling of freedom he experienced. From that evening Clifford gained a taste for alcohol and it became a vital part of his life. Within a very short time Clifford could not perform without his liquid crutch. He did not yet realise what a hold the drink had over him but Margaret his wife realised she was married to a no hoper and left.
The career of a performer lasts only as long as the booking agents want him and overnight Clifford was deemed as no longer trustworthy. He was a drunk and no longer reliable.
As the gossip rushed around the entertainment grapevine, the agents began to cancel bookings and within a short time Clifford became a has been entertainer.
His career was over
During his career Clifford had made and spent a vast amount of money. He had a circle of friends who had always been around to party with him, but they disappeared when the money ran out.
Clifford’s drinking problem was now an embarrassment to everyone - but Clifford.
Within a very short time Clifford began to realise that his life of entertaining was now over and that he was practically destitute. Only one solution came to mind, he would go to London and try to begin again.
But no one wanted to give him a second chance and he was now homeless. It was fortunate that he had arrived in London during the summer for within a very short time he was penniless and searching for somewhere to sleep. He was able to drink himself into his normal drunken state by begging off passers by as he staggered along the Thames embankment.
Throughout the summer he slept each night on park benches or on the seats along the river. The winter approached and the nights had begun to get chillier.
During his time on the streets and around the Thames, Clifford had met a group of men who also lived a similar lifestyle. Just like Clifford they had lost hope. One evening as the first frosts began to take hold, one of them approached Clifford and invited him to join them. From then on Clifford had a new home every night, a cardboard box under the arches outside Embankment station.
During the day Clifford would walk from the Houses of Parliament to Tower Bridge and back again, begging his way up and down the Thames. If he passed a pub and anyone had left a drink unattended Clifford would drink it and just keep on walking. As he walked along he would be on the lookout for cigarette ends on the pavement and stoop to pick them up.
As well as a drinking. He chain smoked his health away without realising that he had a problem. Each night, he and his friends would be wakened at regular intervals by people who offered tea and sandwiches. Most of these volunteers were of course from the church organisations. Many of them were verbally abused by the tramps like Clifford who wanted nothing to do with their charity. Free food and clothing was offered as well as the offer of prayer. But Clifford had been brought up in the church and had proved to his own satisfaction that prayer did not work.
It was many years before he admitted to himself that prayer had not worked for him. The true reason was, he had not even bothered to even talk to God.
How can God answer if He has never been asked?
If the winter was too cold, Clifford would book into a hostel and share a dormitory with up to a hundred men. The most popular one was run by The Salvation Army. It was situated in Great Peter Street and was only a five minute walk from Westminster Abbey. The basic rule in the hostel environment was to keep your clothes on in bed or they would be stolen before you woke up. Comfortable second hand shoes were hard to find so extreme care was taken that they were kept safe by putting them under the pillow. All the residents had to leave the hostel during the day but would be allowed back inside in the evening.
The winter of 1976 was a hard one and Clifford booked into a different hostel for a few weeks. He had been resident at Spa Road in Bermondsey for over a month when he heard that free clothing was being issued by the Salvation Army staff who ran the hostel. Of course like everyone else he decided to join the queue for a free handout. As he made his way to the clothing shop he was stopped by an elderly Salvationist.
When are you going to pull yourself together?
Was the greeting from the elderly officer !!
Normally Clifford would have retaliated with a mouth full of abuse, but somehow he was not insulted by this man. He could actually feel the love and concern radiating from this person in a way he had never experienced before.
Who wants a no hoper like me
was Clifford’s reply? A few moments went by as the Salvationist looked Clifford in the eye, and then he gently said.
I know someone who wants to know you,
even though you don’t seem to want know Him.
I can have you admitted to our detox clinic today and when you come back you can have a room to yourself.
Clifford made his way over Tower Bridge and headed for the east end of London and sobriety. He did not know the agony, both mental and physical he would experience during the next few days. He had never experienced delirium-tremens before. It occurs when the brain craves the alcohol that has poisoned it over the years.
He eventually arrived at Booth House and went through the process of admission. After a bath he was put to bed for twenty four hours.
How great it was to be in a room with only three more men and to be served all meals in bed. As the hours passed and the craving for alcohol began to set in, Clifford felt that he could not possibly manage to stay and he would not be able to face the hours of agony that he was now experiencing. He started to sweat and then his body began to shake. Within a few hours of the shakes beginning Clifford had his first fit, for the next few hours his body shook as he experienced one alcoholic and epileptic fit after another.
It was two days before Clifford was capable of getting out of bed and four days before he could face food.
The Salvation Army had many rules for residents but one rule they would not break was that all patients who were allowed out of bed had to go to morning service. The meeting only lasted for fifteen minutes and even though Clifford attended and enjoyed singing the old hymns it had no meaning for him. All too soon, the course of treatment came to an end. Much had to be done in those seven days of care. But because of the number of alcoholics waiting for the treatment it had to be limited to seven days.
Of course, Clifford replied with a grateful
Clifford was feeling on top of the world, the impossible had happened, he was alcohol free and full of confidence and yet he knew that he was very vulnerable. Each evening the staff would go home and leave just one staff member on duty to care for the residents.
Each Friday and Saturday evening a young Christian volunteer came on duty to give the staff a break.
He was not a Salvationist but belonged to the Methodist Church. None of the patients in residence had met this volunteer before. When he arrived and took over his duties they had a pleasant surprise. The young man came round and spoke to each resident. As the evening progressed he took an interest in each of the men and Clifford felt that he could actually trust him, but he was very careful as he spoke to him.
The residents went to bed at eleven o’clock, but this evening was different. By ten thirty the only patient still out of bed was Clifford.
Would you like a cup of tea? The volunteer enquired.
Yes please, was the delighted answer as by now Clifford felt at ease with Eric, the young well dressed volunteer. Clifford went into the office and sat down to await his hot drink, but Eric was reading!!!!!!!
*For God so Loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son,
That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have Eternal Life*. John 3 verse 16
Clifford looked at Eric and wondered what was going to happen next .
The tea eventually arrived and as the conversation progressed Clifford was able to ask questions about things he had never understood.
By the time Clifford retired for the night and Eric had gone home, a soul had given his life to his Saviour.
For the next four years Clifford followed His beloved Saviour. At times he found it difficult but he kept away from alcohol.
He became a Salvationist and was proud to wear the uniform and even went into the pubs around London selling the War Cry, “The Salvation Army newspaper,” to his old time drinking buddies. In 1980 Clifford was introduced to a family that the officer in charge visited.
Mavis had a mentally handicapped son and a young daughter.
In 1981 after a courtship of over a year Mavis and Clifford decided to get married and it was a proud bridegroom who drove from London to Lancashire with his new family. They had married in their local Salvation Army Citadel which was crowded with their Christian friends. Eric even consented to be Clifford's best man on this special day. After the ceremony they went back to Clifford’s home town for a blessing ceremony attended by his family. When it was over the newly-weds joined the family for a celebration buffet. Before they left for the trip back to London and a honeymoon in Spain, the wedding presents were opened. The time came to say goodbye. But before they left a surprise present was given to them.
A bottle of champagne.
Even though Clifford refused and explained why, one of his sisters just would not listen to him. To end the arguments Clifford accepted a glass.
The newly-weds left, Clifford was drunk, and all the years of sobriety had come to an end.
Within two years the marriage was over and the boy who had promised never to be like his father had become an evil bully. Mavis had done her very best to help her new husband but she found she could not compete with alcohol. Clifford became a different person when drunk and he had an evil temper.
It soon became evident that Mavis would have to divorce her new husband for the safety of her children. Clifford would not find work and spent every penny he could find on drink. The couple tried so hard to make their marriage work and they found hope when Mavis became pregnant.
It was not to be, and Mavis endured a number of miscarriages before the devastated couple eventually split up.
It was to take fourteen years before Clifford once again became sober. In 1992 Clifford returned home to Lancashire. He found a rented flat in the village until a council flat could be found for him.
To subsidise his drinking habit. He travelled daily to the local towns and stood on the streets busking and begging money. He met a doctor on the streets one night in Manchester city centre. Doctor Rob spent time at the side of the road talking to Clifford and Clifford realised that this man had a caring heart. If ever you need help, come and see me the doctor said as he left to keep an appointment. He gave the staggering drunk his business card and shook his hand in farewell.
A few weeks later, Clifford got out of bed feeling ill. This was normal for the desperate alcoholic and he knew a drink would put things right for him. Clifford searched through the flat but could not find any drink or even the money to purchase a can of beer. Some of his drinking buddies would mix after shave, perfume or boot polish with water and drink it to get an alcoholic lift. But Clifford was never so desperate. He had once seen a man drinking “ Brasso” metal polish diluted with water but the thought of these extremes made Clifford shudder with disgust.
He searched through the pockets of all his clothing but all could find was the business card of the doctor he had met in Manchester one dark rainy evening. He was about to throw the card into the rubbish bin but by chance he noticed the address of the kind medical gentleman.
The doctor did not have his surgery in Manchester which was twenty miles away as Clifford had assumed. His surgery was in same village Clifford lived in and he was only a ten minute walk away. He went to the surgery hoping that this man could work a miracle for a hopeless drunk.
Doctor Rob could not work miracles but,
he knew a man that could.
The doctor was a Christian and he soon had Clifford in Hospital.
For the next four years Clifford became a regular inmate in the local hospital for the drying out treatment. Like so many addicts Clifford found it nearly impossible to give up his poison. He despised himself for his own weakness yet could not beat the incessant craving. He had tried to give up his habit so many times. He had stopped drinking for periods over the years and each time he had a good reason for doing so.
He had done it for his career, for Margaret, and recently he had tried to do it for Mavis and the children. None of these reasons lasted for long and Clifford knew why. He had to face up to his problem and stop drinking because he had an alcohol problem and he could never drink for the rest of his life. The only cure for addiction is abstinence for life. But Clifford still would not or could not accept this basic fact of life.
He was screwing down the lid to his own coffin and he was still alive.
He was admitted to the detox clinic many times before he eventually gave up alcohol. The years had taken their toll of Clifford’s health and physical appearance. He looked old and ill and he was.
He now really was a has been.
Clifford had got to know and respect the consultant psychiatrist at the hospital and as he left the hospital in February 1996 Clifford was surprised to be summoned by this great man. In the privacy of the consulting room Clifford was confronted at last with the cruel truth of his self abuse.
You have irreversible brain damage and also you are in the latter stages of cirrhosis, you have only got about six months to live the doctor explained.
If Clifford had taken notice and stopped drinking just a few years earlier his liver could have healed itself. Now it was too late and he was on death row with no hope of reprieve.
Clifford stopped drinking, but it was too late.
Clifford went home to die and as the weeks passed it became evident that the doctor was correct. At first it was a constant headache, then his weight began to increase and soon jaundice reared it’s ugly head. He called out to God for help but the heavens were brass and Clifford knew he was dying without the comfort of the promise of Eternal Life. He had abandoned his faith in Jesus for a bottle of alcohol.
In the village Clifford had been brought up in a weekly prayer meeting was held by a group of men. One day Clifford was invited to join them for the evening and was made so welcome that it soon became the highlight of his week. When he had walked with Jesus, he had heard of the worldwide men’s organisation who joined together to worship and invite others to join them for a meal. Then afterwards to hear testimonies of the way individuals had met Jesus and how their lives had been changed. What amazed him was the way the men moulded together.
Even though they came from many church denominations. Each person was a successful businessman. Clifford was informed that groups of men like themselves met in the same way for united fellowship in over fifty countries throughout the world. They called themselves the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International or the F.G.B. for short.
Clifford was now totally sober for he had not touched alcohol since being given the death sentence. Although he acted a convincing part, he was very aware of the emptiness within his heart. He called out to God, but answers and peace never came. Clifford reached his fifty first birthday in late July and spent it in agony of mind and body.
As the disease progressed, his body had become bloated and it now began to shut down because of the toxins his damaged liver could not cope with.
Clifford was facing his last battle and he had already been defeated. During the second week of August 1996 he realised that the end was very close. He became aware of the smell permeating his home.
Death has an aroma of it’s own and Clifford had experienced that smell before in the presence of friends who had died.
Now it was his turn to face this dreadful enemy.
With no hope left and with tears rolling down his face, Clifford at last surrendered to the only person that truly loved him.
Heavenly Father I have turned my back on you for so long. Will you please forgive me, even though I have nothing to offer, you can have every breath I have left. Jesus I believe you died for me and rose again. Please help me to keep my promise and serve you. Amen.
It happened on Tuesday 13th August 1996 at nine thirty in the evening. That night Clifford slept like a child for the first time in many years.
When he awoke the following morning he knew that something special had happened. As he looked out of the window he realised that even the trees he could see looked different. They somehow seemed a deeper shade of green. He also found that walking was not quite so painful.
As the day progressed Clifford experienced a deep sense of peace and contentment.
He was still dying, but it no longer concerned him.
He knew that God had heard and answered his prayers at last.
As Clifford relaxed for the evening he could not resist thanking God for such a wonderful day and just telling Him how much he wanted to live for ”Jesus” his saviour.
Father I thank you for your great gift of Salvation and I know now that without doubt last night you did something very special in my life. I promised to serve you with everything I had left and now Lord, show me what you desire of me and then equip me to Glorify You and Your Son Jesus.
As Clifford waited, he felt an inner voice giving him instructions to find a book of maps.
It wasn’t a voice that was heard by his ears but by his very inner being. Even though it was an experience Clifford had never had before, he somehow recognised the voice and knew the presence of the Holy Spirit as if he was an old friend.
A book of maps was found and Clifford sat down and opened it at random. The page he turned to showed a map of Devon and Cornwall. As he looked at the page, the town of Bristol seemed to be highlighted and the name grew larger and darker. Clifford wrote it down and as he completed the name, the town of Bath appeared. This went on for a while and by the time he had finished writing he had written down twenty one different towns. They extended from Bristol to Penzance and then back to Bristol.
What now Lord?
As Clifford prayed, he once again heard that voice he would learn to know and love in the coming years.
Go and sing on the streets and tell all who speak to you that I love them and desire to know them better.
But Lord I am dying and this will take weeks to organise and save for. I have no money and this trip will cost a fortune, but I will depend upon You Lord to provide all the strength to complete this task.
Tell your friends at the prayer meeting tomorrow what has happened to you.
Lord you told me in your Word that you would confirm in your Word anything you have instructed your people to do. I will open my Bible and if what I believe you have told me is correct I will not question your instructions again.
As Clifford opened his Bible he realised what an enormous bargain he had made with God. He had given God a massive challenge. Even to come close to confirming the task that had been given to this inexperienced evangelist was virtually impossible. He opened the Bible and began to read.
Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
Luke Chapter 9 verses 1 to 9
How could Clifford argue with those words.
During the following day Clifford typed out his itinerary and a letter to be given to passers by. Then he had them photocopied. He prepared himself to go to the meeting and wondered what the reaction would be to such an improbable adventure.
At the meeting, the worship and singing took on a new dimension for Clifford. When the opportunity arose he handed out his first newsletter and
waited for the reaction from the room full of men. Nothing needed to be said, the look of joy that lit up these men’s faces as they finished reading told Clifford all he wanted to know. Then they erupted into praise as they committed themselves to helping their new brother prepare to make the trip of a lifetime. A collection was made and someone even gave Clifford a phone card so he could ring anywhere he needed. At this time mobile phones were not yet available. Clifford prepared to leave and on the morning of his departure he packed his shopping trolley with all he would need for a four week trip around the England’s West country. On the Lord’s instruction he had paid all his outstanding bills. That had taken all the money given to him by his friends.
At last the car turned up to take a very scared yet excited evangelist and he set off on his mammoth tour for Jesus.
Agnes the wife of one of his friends arrived and loaded the car. Then she drove him to the station to catch his train. All Clifford had taken in his trolley was a Bible, a change of underwear, a collecting tin and a fluffy puppet to entertain and attract the children as they passed by. The train pulled into the station and Clifford prepared to board. He had not told anyone, but he only had a one pound coin in his pocket to pay all his expenses on the trip. He didn’t even have a train ticket, but he did have a promise that his Saviour would provide all his needs.
Agnes hugged him and said goodbye then she walked away. The train was ready to go, but for some reason it was held up at the platform. Clifford then began to worry.
“Lord please help me, I’m scared”.
As Clifford uttered the words the train guard prepared to raise his flag and blow his whistle, but suddenly stopped as a lady ran onto the platform and spoke to him. Clifford leaned out of the window as Agnes rushed up and handed him a single ticket to Bristol.
Jesus really did love him and would help and protect him.
The train arrived in Bristol and a weary man climbed out.
The local F.G.B. chapter had promised to put Clifford up for the night and one of the men came to pick him up. Martin was a stranger but Clifford was wearing a coat covered in badges about Jesus to attract attention and he was easily recognised by his host. As the car pulled away from Bristol Temple Meads Station, Martin turned to Clifford and confessed that he had double booked the evening. This meant that instead of having the evening at home he would have to go to a meeting. If you like I will take you home and make you a meal, you can relax and watch TV or read.
Or you can come along to the meeting with me.
Clifford was exhausted. He had been travelling for six hours. He had a migraine, and he was actually dying and felt like it would happen soon. Now he was being given a choice of a meal and an early night or,
A Prayer Meeting.
It didn’t take much time to make up his mind and off they went to a home group and prayer meeting. During the course of the meeting Clifford was asked to tell the group a little about himself and his mission. He spoke for a few minutes and at the end of the evening a love gift was given to him. This was the way the Lord supplied his needs and each evening throughout the tour he counted his money and always had just enough to get him through the next day. On the fourth day of the trip the weary evangelist arrived in the cathedral city of Wells and began singing on the street outside the magnificent church. He had been singing for a couple of hours when it began to rain. There was nowhere to shelter so Clifford continued busking.
The rain developed into a thunder storm that soon became a downpour. Within moments he was soaked to the skin but carried on singing to the sheltering crowds of tourists. The rain continued to fall but for some strange reason Clifford felt a real desire to keep on working for Jesus. He had been there for a while when he heard someone speak to him.
Clifford turned and found he was being spoken to by a man in his early thirties. Why are you standing there singing hymns and getting soaked? The young man enquired. It appeared that he had been walking up the street and heard the gospel busker in the distance. Clifford explained what he was doing to the interested enquirer and told him what the Lord had said he must tell everyone he spoke to,
“Jesus really Loves you Monty and He desires to know you in a more personal way”
The look on Monties face (for that was how he had introduced himself) was a mixture of shock yet understanding.
The two men continued chatting, totally oblivious of the rain and crowds. Before Monty had finished enquiring, he surrendered his life into the loving arms of Jesus. They prayed together in the rain knowing that the presence of the Holy Spirit was with them. After a time they both realised that the rain was getting even heavier so the joyful evangelist suggested going for a cup of tea to get out of the downpour.
Later, as they parted, Clifford smiled and pointed out that it was unusual to see a person converted and baptised at the same time.
As Clifford continued the tour he was greeted with mixed emotions in each town, sometimes he was welcomed with open arms but he soon learned that jeering and malicious laughter would be the norm from people who did not want to understand. He stayed with F.G.B. members or found a cheap bed and breakfast.
His last day in Cornwall was spent in Bodmin and Clifford stayed once again with an F.G.B. member and his wife.
Ty and Vera made him really welcome and just could not do enough to help him. They not only made him comfortable in their home but even took him out for the evening to show him the area. It was with deep regret that he got on the train and headed for Bristol and his last day of the tour. In his shopping trolley was a lunch-box provided by Vera and in his pocket was a cheque to pay his train fare to Lancashire. Clifford is still very proud to call them his friends.
In Bristol he was invited to finish his tour by speaking at an F.G.B. breakfast meeting. Martin was at the meeting and afterwards drove him to the station to catch his train home and as the journey passed, a very contented ex vagrant snoozed the hours away. He had set off nearly four weeks earlier with only a pound in his pocket and Jesus in control. He had never missed a meal and through the Holy Spirit had led seven people into a relationship with Christ, including five children in St Just. He had spent over five hundred pounds, but had begun the tour with only one pound. He had made many friends and witnessed in song to many thousands of passers by.
Clifford could look back with joy upon the last few weeks since he had given his life to Jesus.
He was now able to rest and await his call home to Heaven.
It was two weeks later as he was reading a book and relaxing during the early evening that Clifford once again heard that familiar voice in his heart. It told him to find his book of maps and open it. This time he was sent to Scotland for a two week tour concentrating on the border towns. After this he went to Wales, then the Isle of Man and as Christmas approached he crossed the Irish Sea for a four week tour of Ireland.
For a year Clifford continued to wait for trains and buses as he spread the good news of Jesus throughout the United Kingdom. It was hard work and very tiring.
He had been to many churches and as he listened to those he met he realised that in this Christian land,
the people had moved from Truth to Tradition.
Many believed in Jesus, yet did not even know Him. Just like Clifford had been before meeting Jesus in a personal way.
They had become Church People.
The church has become bogged down in good works and the sermon on Sunday has been replaced with stories on morality instead of the Cross of Christ. In fact people are going to HELL, and it is the church that is sending them there because of their watered down weak preaching. Clifford had been travelling for over a year when he decided to buy a second hand car to make the work a little easier and to save money.
He had no income other than the generosity of the public.
He was in Bournemouth when he purchased his first vehicle. Clifford was very happy to at last be able to reach the more inaccessible places with the Gospel. He cooked his meals in the car boot and slept on the back seat.
It may not have been a comfortable bed but it was better than a cardboard box underneath the arches.
Clifford had by now realised that his twenty years as a vagrant had not been wasted years but training for his life’s vocation as an evangelist to the Highways and Byways of the United Kingdom.
After driving the car for a year Clifford was really enjoying his life of evangelism. He had great freedom and would spend a few weeks on the road and then return home for a break and let his friends know of his wonderful experiences.
He had seen individuals healed including one in Ulster who was given up by the doctors after a triple heart bypass. Many years later he is still having no problems after the Lord touched him.
Clifford had prayed for someone with serious breast cancer recovering from a mastectomy and years later you would never meet a happier healthier person.
It was at an F.G.B. meeting that Clifford was offered a camper van in exchange for his car. Clifford needed no persuading, and within days he was on his way to Ireland. It was sheer bliss to be able to lie down at night in a bed. In that twenty year old vehicle Clifford travelled over thirty thousand miles and it was only after the van finally gave up that he found out that a scrap dealer had refused to buy it before it was offered to Clifford. The van brakes failed in the Republic of Ireland and Clifford had to drive the two hundred and fifty miles with no brakes until he reached the house of a pastor who was expecting him.
Pastor Graham Logan joined Clifford in prayer asking the Lord to supply a fresh vehicle and the money to buy it. They agreed to tell no one of the problem but to wait upon the Lord.
They found a vehicle that would do the job but it was just an ordinary ex mini bus and needed converting inside. Clifford rang Pastor Logan at the end of the following day nothing had happened.
No one is aware of the problem so how do you expect them to supply over seven hundred pounds? The pastor said.
Just wait and see, replied the evangelist, with more hope than confidence!
So they waited.
Two hours later they went to pick up the vehicle with all the money required in their pockets, it had come in to the manse a little at a time over two hours.
As the Lord spoke to individuals they would call with a few pounds or go to the cash machines and withdraw money. The gifts varied from five to two hundred pounds and once again Clifford saw how much Jesus really loved him. The vehicle was stripped of all the seats inside. Then Clifford realised that he did not have the skill to do the work required. But God had gone before him and someone had already ordered the kitchen units required.
It was at this point that Clifford met someone who would have a major influence on his life and work. He had spoken to Gerald Henderson, but until now he knew nothing about him. Gerald was a bus driver but he was also the unpaid person who did all the work around the church.
As Clifford was chatting, the pastor told him that he was expected to meet Gerald the following day to let him check the vehicle over.
Gerald and his teacher son Ian began work and before the week was over Clifford was proudly driving his restored and converted camper van. From that time Gerald has worked on nearly all Clifford’s vehicles and sent them out worthy of His Saviour.
In the year 2000 Clifford was devastated when Doug. A friend from Yeovil died.
Within two weeks of his daughter‘s death from Muscular Dystrophy. Doug died of cancer. Clifford went to both services and even though he knew that Doug and Rachel had both made decisions to accept Jesus into their lives it did not lessen his feeling of loss.
Doug’s wife Marjorie was left alone, but as a Christian she knew with certainty that they would meet again. A few weeks later Clifford travelled to Yeovil to visit Marjorie. He was amazed at the way the Lord had helped her cope with such a great tragedy but he found a lady living very close to her wonderful Saviour. In the garden was a beautiful caravan that the family had used for holidays each year. The camper van had once again broken down and now Clifford was driving a car, but when he left he was towing a caravan for Jesus, given to him by Marjorie.
Every vehicle that Clifford has used for the work carries large advertisements telling of the love of Jesus. The caravan was soon emblazoned with words from the Bible. Once again Clifford heard that wonderful voice.
Go around the coastline of Ireland in Prayer and I will honour you. Clifford did what he was told and spent the summer travelling around the country.
Over a thousand people signed the visitor book in the year 2000 and many came into a closer relationship with Jesus as Clifford prayed and talked with them. The roads in County Kerry are the worst in the United Kingdom and major damage was done to the caravan as he drove around the Dingle Peninsula, but it completed the long journey before it was finally retired and given away. The loss of the caravan was a real blow to Clifford as he realised that the Lord wanted to use him as a prayer ambassador to Britain. 2001 brought a new vision and Clifford acquired a thirty foot coach. Gerald was consulted along with another friend Roy and then work began on the conversion.
Clifford still lived in Lancashire at this time and the coach was being restored in Northern Ireland. The work was going well and Clifford returned to Lancashire for a few weeks using the car to do his work.
It was during an evening at home that Clifford felt a lump in his neck that he had not noticed before. It concerned him so much that he rang his doctor at home, even though it was very late in the evening.
He drove over to see his friend to have the swelling checked and was told to go to the hospital for tests. It was a week before he saw the specialist and two weeks before he operated on Clifford to confirm his diagnosis.
When the results came through it was revealed that Clifford had cancer of the tonsil and also the lymph glands in his neck needed to be removed. It was vital that major surgery was done within days.
Two days later Clifford walked into the operating theatre for surgery and the surgeon began an eight hour operation. When Clifford awoke he had an assurance in his heart that all would be well and within hours he amazed the nursing staff by getting out of bed and acting normally. He was forced to take heavy doses of morphine to ease the pain.
It was much later before he was told that he was not expected to survive more than three months.
After the operation Clifford drove to Northern Ireland to be with his friends and await radiotherapy treatment at the cancer hospital in Manchester.
The coach was coming on well, but would Clifford ever have the strength to drive it? The coach was very old and did not have power steering. Clifford had been asked to appear on a Christian radio programme over Easter and he had given his word to be there.
Norman Somerville, the programme presenter has done much to help Clifford over the years and he did not want to let down this treasured friend.
He found it difficult to drive or concentrate because of the pain. But he arrived and kept his word to the people of the Baptist church in Limavady to broadcast and he had once again proved that,
Jesus Loves me.
The radiation treatment was over and Clifford was discharged from the cancer unit. His mouth was full of painful ulcers and he could no longer eat. He arrived back in Ireland with a tube up his nose and was fed by machine.
But he was alive.
The bus was coming on well and when Clifford arrived back in Tobermore to check on the progress he was delighted to find that it was now completely repainted and looking nearly ready to drive away. Clifford was quite worried about driving the bus. He had never driven anything so large and long and the steering was a nightmare to him. It was such an old bus. It had no power steering and was very difficult to drive. Clifford was still not well and did not stay in Ireland long but returned to Lancashire to continue with his work using the car.
A few weeks after returning Clifford had to ring his doctor to check his breathing. He was wheezing and in distress and was very worried that the evil cancer was redeveloping in a different area. It was a slight relief to find out that it was only a bad bout of bronchial pneumonia and he was rushed into hospital for treatment.
The bus was ready at last and one of the first appointments for it was with Clifford’s friend Norman in Limavady.
The bus was booked for a week in the town to evangelise late at night to the pub and club customers.
It was a great time and the bus was packed out every night with drunks and also some serious seekers of the gospel. During the day the bus was used for shoppers to call in for a cup of tea and a chat or Clifford would go and speak about his life as an alcoholic to the children in the local schools. At the end of the week decisions had been made for Christ and lives had been changed. For the next months Clifford drove his Mobile Prayer Sanctuary around England, Wales and Ireland but had to return on a regular basis for cancer check ups.
It was agreed that it was not possible to continue driving such a difficult vehicle and Clifford was able to find an old Royal Bank of Scotland display coach. It needed lots of work doing to it but Gerald as always took Clifford under his wing and the coach was repaired. It had many problems, and because the roof leaked the whole structure was rotten. It took the whole winter but eventually the coach was ready for work. Clifford still dreamed of power steering but at least this coach was only twenty seven years old and much easier to drive.
So much work was still needed to be done on the coach that it was agreed to spend each winter restoring and touring during the summer.
That summer Clifford began what became an annual drive.
For four years he had not visited Scotland but now the time had come. He had now found a home in Northern Ireland and used it as his winter quarters. As soon as the weather improved and the days grew longer Clifford headed for the ferry to Wales. He travelled through Wales and headed for Cornwall. When he got to Land’s End he began the long journey to John O Groats. On the six week trip he halted in lay byes and car parks to allow visitors into the bus. It proved even more popular than he had anticipated and many called in for a chat. He drove this journey four times!!!!
As he passed by towns he had visited in the past it was wonderful meeting old friends. The highlight of the trip was meeting Ty and Vera and sitting once again in their beautiful garden surrounded by a colourful display of shrubs. So many memories came flooding back of that first tour. Clifford had been dying of liver failure then and now it was all happening again, but this time it was cancer.
Two years after his first tour an ultra sound scan had been taken of the dying liver. The doctor wanted to find out why Clifford was still alive and working eighteen hours a day without too much distress. It came as no surprise to the man of faith when they could find no trace of cirrhosis and he had been remarkably healed.
Many have wondered why this has happened but Clifford just thanks God and gets on with the work.
*MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS SAYS THE LORD*
That is quite sufficient for me says the travelling evangelist.
At the first prayer meeting in Bristol that Clifford had attended. A well spoken gentleman approached Clifford and introduced himself. My name is John the older person had said. Clifford chatted for a while to the well spoken Christian and accepted his name and address. No more was thought about it but John had also attended the final F.G.B. meeting in Bristol .
During a later tour Clifford had been feeling very alone and rang John for a chat. He was made to feel very important to the kingdom during that encouraging conversation and a real friendship developed. It is very rare that the unlikely pair of men miss meeting when Clifford passes through Bristol.
One of them is a public school gentleman, the other one an untidy ex+vagrant with one wonderful thing in common.
During his years of service Clifford has come to realise that when a person truly walks with Jesus there are no barriers of culture or education. Christ fills an individual with His Love.
In Jesus we are all on the same team.
Clifford finally arrived at the end of his mammoth journey and wondered what the Lord had in store for him. He felt led to follow a certain road and finally halted at the picturesque town of Scrabster. What now Lord he enquired and within a couple of hours he was sailing to the Orkney Islands for a month of witness.
He met many wonderful people and was made to feel very much at home. His only complaint was that the Orkney ferry fares were the highest in the United Kingdom (Clifford fought the price structure with the council in 2005 for motor home owners and succeeded in getting them reduced to a fair price), he saw many people come into a closer relationship with Jesus during his time there. From Orkney he boarded ship for Shetland and the remoteness of these wonderful islands captured his heart for ever. It was a place that Clifford could come apart and pray for the U K with only the sound of the sea birds to disturb him.
From Shetland the tour moved on to the outer Hebrides and he even visited the village of Barrabas ( Barvas ) the centre of the Hebridean Revival on the Isle of Lewis.
The following summer as Clifford headed for the Scottish Islands he drove to the Isle of Mull and as usual called on the colourful village of Tobermory. This village has become very famous as the children’s television programme * Ballamory * and attracts thousands of visitors each year. As Clifford parked he became aware of a man crossing the car park and heading for the bus. He entered the sanctuary area and enquired. What is this all about?
All was explained to him and he appeared to be very interested in the work. Clifford gave him some literature and he went off home. The following day Archie turned up again with many questions which Clifford appeared to answer to his satisfaction. Archie works in the forest cutting down trees for the forestry commission in the surrounding area. Clifford stayed a few days and Archie was a regular and welcome visitor. On his final visit to the Sanctuary, Archie asked where Clifford was heading next and was quite excited when he heard that Clifford was heading for the Shetland Islands.
I know a pastor in Shetland but I don’t know where his church is. If you can find Vince McDougall let him know you have met me Archie requested, I haven’t seen or heard from him for over twenty years.
Clifford drove away and soon arrived on Shetland for his annual visit. He was very busy meeting people but eventually made contact with the elusive Baptist pastor.
When they met, Clifford told him about Archie’s message and during their initial conversation the story unfolded.
Vincent left Mull during the nineteen seventies. He had made a decision for Jesus and was trained as a Baptist Pastor. After training he and his wife Sadie were sent to Brazil and stayed there for a number of years planting churches. Eventually they moved to Shetland and led a church in the village of Brae. The family had been there for five years by the time Clifford met him. As the two men chatted Vincent revealed that he had prayed daily for Archie for nearly thirty years.
Eventually Clifford arrived back in Tobermory and of course his first visitor was Archie.
Did you find Vince in Shetland enquired the excited wood cutter.
He was so pleased that Brother Clifford had found his old workmate. How was he, what did he say, does he remember me? The questions ran on until Clifford spoke. Vincent told me to inform you that he has been praying for you for nearly thirty years, the evangelist told him.
Something has happened to me since you left, Archie replied.
I want to know Jesus like you and Vince.
During a short time of prayer Archie found just how simple it was to invite Jesus into his life and Clifford once again witnessed the beginning of a transformed life.
What do I do now?
Tell someone that you have become a Christian, Clifford advised him.
Can I tell Vince, Have you got his telephone number?
Thirty years of prayer had been answered and today Archie continues to follow His Saviour.
It was in the April 2002 that Clifford was invited to speak at a home group meeting in the town of Ballyclare in Northern Ireland. He had spoken to these good people before, but was surprised at how many new people attended that night. One particular man kept asking questions but pointed out that he had only come because his wife kept asking him to attend. He had come just this once to keep her happy but he was not at all interested. The evening ended and everyone went home including the man with no interest. Clifford announced during the meeting that he would be available the following morning for prayer.
He parked on a muddy lay bye not far from the meeting house and went to bed. The following morning he was surprised to see the man with no interest in the Gospel coming into the bus. My name is Brian and I am not interested was his opening statement. A couple of hours of very difficult talking went by and Clifford was ready to give up. But Brian kept asking questions and before he left the bus he had given his heart to “Jesus” and the angels rejoiced in heaven.
Brian continues to serve His lovely Saviour and goes out on the streets of Belfast to meet the crowds as they come out of the pubs. He even went on a mission to China and is a very active member of Release International.
Clifford continues to serve his beloved Saviour.
Travelling the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and the Baltic States as the Lord directs.
At the last count, Clifford has evangelised in seventeen countries and each year travels through the Tiger. The forest that borders the lands of Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Most of his time in the summer is spent meeting people beyond the Arctic circle.
He has driven over a million miles, Featured on many television programmes. Countless newspaper articles and radio programmes have carried interviews, but even after the many years of service he knows without doubt that,
Jesus is the same Yesterday Today And Forever.
Clifford has driven many vehicles during the lifetime of the ministry God has given to him. Cars, vans, coaches and even double decker buses. His largest vehicle was a converted 100 seater Neoplan double decker bus which he drove for three years.
Christmas 2008 was spent in the town of Sandviken in Sweden. During his four week stay there the heating in the bus failed and the temperature plummeted to minus 28. The bus looked like a Christmas card scene as the whole body was covered with a couple of inches of solid ice.
It was during this time that Clifford was invited to speak to a class of students at the local High School. Before he left he had spent three weeks speaking to over a thousand students of all ages in four different schools. He still speaks in many schools and normally uses the students to translate for him. Many schools in Britain and Scandinavia will not allow Christian witness in the classrooms. Clifford does not go into schools to talk about Christianity because it is not allowed. He goes in to talk about his life and teaches English or Geography, but he uses the Bible as his text book.
He now drives a mobile home and finds it a lot easier to live in.
As he has travelled he has experienced much abuse from those who do not understand. He has been physically assaulted many times including an unprovoked attack by a youth in Enniskillen who hit Clifford in the mouth as he walked out of the bus door. He broke Clifford's false teeth and caused a lot of pain to a stranger he had never even spoken to. Clifford has had stones, bricks and eggs thrown at him and during a tour of Sweden he was actually shot at from a passing car by a man with a shotgun. He has found that being a Christian is no place for a coward.
Brother Clifford now has the all clear from the doctors and there is no trace of cancer or liver problems. He continues to live in faith and has no income other than what is donated.
In the year 2009, Clifford was asked to take ten thousand gospels of John in the Russian language to Scandinavia. He did not want to do it but eventually said yes to stop the telephone calls from the man who would not take no for an answer.
William Wilson from County Armagh is even more persuasive than Clifford. Most Saturdays he joins a group of friends and together they travel to the city of Dublin where the gospel is distributed on the streets to those who desire a tract or a Gospel. William specialises in distributing the Word of God in many different languages but mostly in the Russian language. He has been instrumental in getting the gospel into many countries and felt led to recruit Clifford into the work. Eventually God used Clifford to assist other Christians and lay people who smuggle the gospel into the communist block countries.
Clifford drove through Denmark, Sweden and most of Finland before he found anyone who would take any of the booklets.
But before Clifford left Finland in October. Two twenty foot containers and six pallet loads of gospels had been smuggled into Russia.
The work goes on and now depots are open in the Finland and the Baltic States. Couriers take the gospel over the borders using normal routes. Other couriers smuggle the Word over the borders in many different ways. In rucksacks or personal luggage carried by both young and old and recently contacts have been made with ships and fishing boats . Some travel as far as Moscow, Murmansk,The Urals, Saint Petersburg, Siberia and Archangel. So many parts of Russia are reached with the word of God and Clifford hears of new areas and countries when he meets up with the saints on the Gospel trails.
Clifford and his friends have proved that ,
in Christ “All things are possible”
Clifford is now in his second decade of service and well past the official age of retirement but he continues to travel for His Saviour. He will not retire from the work until he has no alternative because of age or infirmity. Clifford promised to give every breath to Jesus in 1996 when he asked the Lord into his life and he is still breathing.
Clifford has witnessed thousands of miracles during the time he has been on the road.
He gave up his home many years ago and travels constantly as the Holy Spirit directs. He is always willing to speak about the ministry to churches and to anyone who asks for information as he passes by.
A question he is asked constantly is,
” How many people have you led to the Lord during your time in ministry”
The answer is so simple. ”I have led no one to Jesus” but I have been there when the Holy Spirit has brought many to Christ.
Clifford has found over the years that Brother Clifford has no power.
But Christ through the Holy Spirit enables him to accept the promise.
”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
I pray you have enjoyed reading my life story and that through it you have found yourself challenged to walk a closer walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have been helped or challenged please let me know. Your Emails and letters are be a real encouragement to me, so please do not hesitate to drop me a line. When on tour, letters are forwarded on but if a reply is desired, there may be a long delay.
I do my best to keep Clifford's page on my web site up to date and to keep everyone informed of my current stopping place. I update the page in each country I am travelling, as I am able.
Every few weeks I send out a newsletter to inform my readers of my needs and to tell of the great things I see as I travel.
Just drop me an Email at
If you have made a life changing decision for Jesus or you desire to contact me. I would be delighted to hear from you.
Finally would you please pray that the Lord will continue to Bless and Provide the wisdom and finance for this very exciting mission to the highways and bye ways of the Northern Hemisphere.
Brother Clifford Edwards
PO Box 1 Magherafelt County Derry Northern Ireland BT45 9AD
Mobile telephone 0044 07818230279
Or on the Web at. www.highwaysforjesus.com
Copyright Brother Clifford Edwards 2013