Man of Faith, Instrument of Revival
Looking back across church history you observe that God sometimes delights to use folk whom most people would consider “least likely to succeed” in order to showcase His wisdom and greatness. Such was the conclusion of many who knew the boy, Manley Beasley. For one thing, he had a learning disability called dyslexia that back in his day meant that people thought he was retarded. Manley was anything but retarded. Yet the frustrations he experienced, and his reactions to family difficulties resulted in serious youthful rebellion. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade, and by the age of fifteen, by lying about his age, he managed to join the Merchant Marines and was soon sailing around the world! But he couldn’t run away from God who apprehended this young rebel when he was eighteen and began to transform and tutor him.
Manley set his heart to know God and to walk with Him. Out of the depths of his own needs and longings he seemed to be rewarded with a God-given understanding of “the deep things of the Spirit.” Manley came to know God as a living, purposeful, prayer-answering God who made Himself known to those who really trust Him. Prayer was an integral part of his life and those who knew him well were sometimes amazed at the intensity with which he approached the matter.
To Manley, prayer wasn’t just a one-way conversation in which we bring our concerns to God, as he would explain: “Sometimes a preacher will say to me, ‘Bro. Manley, we had a great prayer meeting.’ I’ll then ask him: “What did you say to God?” and he will tell me. Then I’ll ask, “What did God say to you?” That usually confuses people. You see, if what you have said to God has not caused God to say something to you, there is no communication, so, have you really prayed? Prayer isn’t a time in which you do all the talking.” Manley would go on to explain, “I believe that we are to pray until we have an answer in our hand, or in our heart.”
God was to do many things through His servant. God chose to use physical suffering in his life as a major framework through which He would display Himself. Having been an active, strong, handsome evangelist with a wife and four children, suddenly in 1970 Manley, at age thirty-nine found himself in the hospital stricken with several diseases, three of them “terminal.” For the next twenty years he baffled the medical community as he trusted the Lord to sustain and use him in mighty ways.
It was in that context that Patricia and I initially met Manley in Philadelphia, PA. He was wheeled into a room where several of us had gathered to pray before the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in June, 1972. The prayer group included Jack Taylor, Miss Bertha Smith, Ron and Kaye Dunn, ourselves and several others. He had, just days before, been released from ICU in a Texas hospital and looked like death-warmed-over. He couldn’t even hold his head up. Well, like would be true many times over the next two decades, God would miraculously raise him up from his bed of affliction to continue ministering truth to thousands. The next, more personal time of our being with Manley occurred six months later, in December, 1972 at the 2nd Revival Seminar at Hotel Rosat in Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland.
Man of Faith
There were many other occasions when we were privileged to minister with Bro. Manley in subsequent years, domestically and internationally. God called Manley to a pilgrimage that not too many are called to make. We observed him, along with thousands of others who watched and followed him, as he went through trials and testing that no one would volunteer for—like a modern day Job being tried, so as by fire, and being brought “forth as gold.” While in the furnace, God taught Manley many lessons, and the study of what the “walk of faith” is became one of his life’s passions. He walked it, and as long as God gave him the strength, he taught it.
Manley: “When we get to the end of ourselves, it is then that He takes over. When we recognize our weakness, it is then that God will show Himself adequate for whatever the situation may be.”
Man of Revival
Manley was also used of God to create in His people a longing for revival. As already mentioned, he was part of the ministry team for the 2nd annual Swiss Conference on Revival held at the International Christian Center in Chateau d’Oex. He continued to be a part of that annual ministry until 1977 when the Conference Center (Hotel Rosat) was sold. After the sale of the facility, though we personally continued to have our own ministry in Europe, we had no plans to continue any kind of conference emphasis— that is, until the phone call.
The phone call: Ron Remembers
It was Bro. Manley. He wanted to talk. More than two years had passed since the last “Swiss Conference on Revival” in Chateau d’Oex. We met at the Lotus Flower, his favorite Chinese restaurant in Euless, Texas.
Before long he began sharing the burden he had been carrying since the closure of the International Christian Center. His burden was to bring the message of revival to Christian leaders both in Western and Eastern Europe. He felt that restoring the conference ministry would be the primary instrument God would use. The more I listened to Manley the more excited I got as he unfolded the vision God had given him.
He said: We will invite pastors and their wives, denominational leaders and missionaries. We will cover the cost of everyone who is not able to pay. You find the place, get the word out, make the arrangements, and God will provide.
By the time our meeting was over, plans were in the making for the first International Congress on Revival. Much of great significance occurred in our own ministry and lives in succeeding years because of the vision God gave Bro. Manley to initiate the ICR.
Other treasures from Manley’s life
But there are other important aspects of our dear brother’s life and ministry that mean much to us and many others. Perhaps something that was shared by his brother-in-law, Mike Gilchrist, at Manley’s Memorial Service held at First Baptist Church, Euless, TX, on July 13, 1990, will help to express these.
“Manley’s whole heart was set on glorifying God in his mortal flesh and his union with Jesus. It was like a marriage intimacy and relationship that was so unique it was almost mystical. And this relationship was for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, until death took him into the presence of God.
“ Manley was not just an instrument, he was a servant. There is a difference. An instrument is anyone God uses whether he is right with God or not. A servant is one whose heart is set on being obedient to his master. Manley was meticulously obedient to Jesus. Pharaoh was an instrument, Paul was a servant. Manley was a servant.
“Another characteristic of the life of Manley was that he preached, not for motivation, but for transformation. He preached for change. Most preachers preach to motivate. Motivation lasts from three to seven days. Change lasts for a lifetime. Manley did not provide information as much as he gave revelation. That is why hundreds are here today to give life-changing testimonies, not of a man, but what God did through a man who walked with Him.”
The last of the many testimonials at the memorial service was a testimony and message by Adrian Rogers in which he likened Bro. Manley’s life and death to that of the Apostle Paul.
The SOURCE of Manley’s life was Jesus (Philippians 1: 21-24).
The STANDARD of his life was Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
The SONG of his life was Jesus (Philippians 4:4).
The SATISFACTION of his life was Jesus (Philippians 4:11).
The STRENGTH of his life was Jesus (Philippians 4:13).
The SUPPLY of his life was Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
With Paul, Bro. Manley’s life and testimony was: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death. For to me to LIVE is Christ and to DIE is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
For a fuller portrait read the biography, “Manley Beasley: Man of Faith, Instrument of Revival” available in printed, e-book and audio CD versions)