Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a man who goes out and sows seed. This is the incredible story of Frank Jenner and how God used him in George Street, Sydney, to spread the good news of Jesus around the world. God bless you and empower you to be a bold and unembarrassed witness of Jesus Christ This updated version of the story of Frank Jenner is produced by www.personaltract.com and is based on the book "Jenner of George Street" by Dr Raymond Wilson.
This story started many years ago in a Baptist church in Bournemouth, England. One night the pastor, Dr. Francis Dixon asked a man named Peter to share his testimony.
Peter got up and said, “This is how I was saved. I was in the Royal Navy. I was walking down George Street in Sydney, Australia and out of nowhere stepped a gentleman and he said to me, ‘excuse me, sir, but could I ask you a question? I hope that it won’t offend you, but if you were to die today, where would you spend eternity? The Bible says that it will either be in heaven or in hell. Would you think about that, please? Thank you. God bless you!” Then the man left. I had never been confronted with that question – I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I got back to England and met someone who took me to a mission and that’s where I became a Christian”.
Some while later they had a youth meeting in the same church in Bournemouth and Noel, one of the visiting team shared his testimony. “This is how I came to know Jesus Christ. I was in the Royal Navy and my ship was stationed in Sydney. One evening I was walking down George Street when out of nowhere stepped a man. He said to me, “Young man, I have a question to ask you. If you should die tonight where would you go? Would it be heaven or hell? Now don’t try to evade the question, it must be one or the other.” What he said bothered me for many months. I sought out a Christian, he helped me, and I gave my life to Christ.” My … Baptists love testimonies like that!
The Baptist pastor from England was now very puzzled! Not long afterwards, he was preaching in Adelaide, South Australia, when he decided to tell the story of Peter and Noel’s separate encounters with the man in George Street. As he did so a man jumped up excitedly and said “I’m another! I’m another!” I was drawn to receive Christ the same way by the same man on George Street.
This was Corporal Murray Wilkes, who had been in a hurry to catch his tram on George Street when a voice behind him called “Hey – Wait!” Murray stopped and turned around. The stranger in front of him asked “Soldier, if you were to die tonight, where would you go? Would it be Heaven or Hell?” “I hope I’d go to Heaven,” replied Murray. “Hoping isn’t good enough” said the stranger. “You can know!”
The stranger’s question had exposed a raw nerve in Murray’s life. Although he was a good living, church going, married man he also knew he was a hypocrite and had never faced the question of eternal destiny. Two weeks later, Murray knelt in the army barracks and gave his life to Christ.
Dr. Francis Dixon continued his tour, and when preaching in Perth he once again shared the stories. Afterwards, a young man came up to him and told how he too had been in the Navy, had visited George Street and had become a Christian after meeting the stranger with his compelling question.
When Dr. Dixon finally arrived in Sydney, he was eager to find out more about this urban missionary, and he asked a Christian worker “who’s this man in George Street”, “I know him well”, “His name is Frank Jenner”.
Francis Dixon was taken to a humble little house, where he was introduced to Frank Jenner. As Francis related the story of the four young service men who had come to Christ through his simple question, Frank began to weep; “I’ve never heard that anyone I had spoken to had gone on for the Lord”. Some made the decision when I talked to them at a Saturday night of witnessing, and then came home for breakfast on a Sunday morning (sometimes 30 people came home with me), but I never knew any more than that.”
Frank had carried on this work for sixteen years and this was the first time he had heard of any lasting results. I would say he really had to be committed to show that sort of gratitude and love for Jesus, to do that for so many years and not hear of any results.
Over the next few years Francis Dixon preached around the world and he told the Frank Jenner story from time to time.
In the UK – at an evangelical convention where pastors came to him saying they’d been arrested by this stranger with his startling question.
In India – at a missionary convention where an Indian man had come to Sydney on one visit and been confronted by Frank’s question. He had received Christ and eventually gone into Christian ministry.
In Jamaica – at a missionary conference where a couple of missionaries had come to Jesus years before at Frank Jenner’s witness.
In the United States – at a naval chaplains’ conference he shared about the man of George Street and his witness. A chaplain stood and shared that he too had come to Christ as a result of Frank Jenner’s arresting question.
It is impossible to know how many lives were touched by that one line sermon, but it is safe to say Frank Jenner’s legacy is measured in terms more lasting than simple numbers can convey.
Frank recounted his own journey of faith which is every bit as remarkable as the lives of those he touched. “Before I knew Jesus” he said, “I lived the wild life of a sailor to the full and had become addicted to gambling. Then, in 1937, I met my Savior for the first time and my life was transformed – the addiction to gambling gone forever. In gratitude for his second chance at life, he pledged to serve God to the best of his ability. He said “Each day my aim was to speak to 10 people about Jesus, and I did so for 28 years until Parkinson’s disease took its toll. In wartime and in peace, good times and bad, I continued with the work that I had promised to do”. It has been estimated that over the years Frank talked to more than one hundred thousand people. Actually more than most pastors would address in their lifetime.
In later years, Frank’s health deteriorated and during his last days he prayed, “Lord, please take me home on a Sunday night”. His last request was granted. He died at a quarter to midnight just at the end of a Sunday night. The next morning a ray of sunlight shone through the open window; it fell upon his beloved well-worn bible and the solitary rose resting on it.
No-one except a little group of Christians in Sydney knew Frank Jenner, but I tell you his name was famous in Heaven. Heaven knew him, and you can imagine the welcome he received when he went home to Glory.
Jesus said, “If you confess me before men I’ll confess you before my Father in heaven”. Personally, I think Jesus confessed Frank’s name very often to His Father in Heaven. (And conversely Jesus said, “If you don’t confess me before men, I won’t confess you before my Father in heaven”.)
Actually, that’s where it’s best to be recognized, you know – in heaven, by your Heavenly Father, rather than on earth, because that’s where our reward is too.
Personally, I don’t think Frank Jenner’s face would ever have been published on the cover of any prestigious Christian publication or his story carry more than a few paragraphs in a Christian magazine, but God has made sure that his story has been told to honour this man who honoured Jesus so much.
God bless you and empower you to be a bold and unembarrassed witness for Jesus Christ.