Spurgeon’s Greatest Evangelist

Spurgeon’s Greatest Evangelist

She was a woman in constant demand. Pastors from the US praised her for her importance to Spurgeon’s church. Women from across the world wrote to her for advice in their own endeavours. Even in semi-retirement, men begged her to speak to women at their churches.

The streets of London were at a standstill.

Thousands crowded the streets to say goodbye to a dearly loved teacher. The Metropolitan Tabernacle was too full to hold the mourners.

Charles Spurgeon the following Sunday said this: “I have this day lost from my side one of the most faithful fervent, and efficient of my helpers, and the Church has lost one of her most useful members.”

Who was this faithful helper?

Mrs. Lavinia Strickland Bartlett.

Who was Lavinia? And what made her such a valued fellow servant of the great Charles Spurgeon?

Frequently, in history women’s stories remain untold. But such was her fame that Lavinia’s story was recorded by her son Edward H. Bartlett. It’s hard to find today but in this article I will give a quick overview of her life.

So set aside a few minutes to read a brief summary of her amazing story and what we can learn from her life.

Even at an early age, Lavinia showed the heart of an evangelist.

  • She read hymns to her her younger brothers before bed.
  • In her teens, she taught the “preaching, praying class” at Sunday school.
  • She even set up a school for girls.

But in her town, she was best known as “the praying girl.”

Their local parson failed to care for his flock. So for a time, a dissenting deacon “Pattern Wade” was called to death beds to support those in need.

However, eventually Pattern Wade was called home. He was soon replaced by Lavinia. Her son describes how she prayed with “harlots, poachers, burglars and prizefighters…at all hours of the day and night.” She walked miles and miles to visit those in need.

One story demonstrates her character. In the town was a horse breaker, the father of one of the members of her Sunday School. He was opposed to Christianity and boasted that he’d entered church twice in his life: when his mother took him to be Christened and when his wife took him to be married.

On his death bed, he refused to see any clergyman, even shouting them out of the house. A butcher friend encouraged him to see “the praying girl.”

Lavinia arrived and gave “a simple appeal to the love of Christ”. Amazingly, the man was soon in tears. He trusted Jesus and was soon ushered into eternal life.

The Praying Mother

But as a result of this, the “praying girl” became the “praying mother”. She devoted herself to her sons. Their father died when the boys were teenagers but she took upon herself to raise them in the Lord.

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