Arthur Stace

Arthur Stace (1884 – 1967) Mr Eternity
For thirty-seven years, Arthur Stace wandered the streets of Sydney before dawn chalking an anonymous one-word sermon on the pavement. The word was ‘Eternity’ and he wrote it more than half a million times. It intrigued Sydneysiders who pondered its meaning whilst trying to identify its mysterious author.

For thirty-seven years, Arthur Stace wandered the streets of Sydney before dawn chalking an anonymous one-word sermon on the pavement. The word was ‘Eternity’ and he wrote it more than half a million times. It intrigued Sydneysiders who pondered its meaning whilst trying to identify its mysterious author.

Arthur Stace was born in a Balmain slum in 1884 to a family of alcoholics. Stace learned to fend for himself at an early age, sleeping on bags under the house to avoid his drunken parents, stealing food and assisting his sisters who ran brothels. By his 20s he was in and out of prison for housebreaking and other offences and had developed a heavy drinking habit. Left half-blind after a gas attack in WW1, he slipped further into poverty and such extreme alcoholism that he was in danger of becoming a permanent inmate of the mental asylum. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t give up the drink.

In 1930, hungry, hopeless and desperate, he stumbled into St Barnabas’ Church on Broadway where he had heard there was free food available to those who listened to the preaching. Struck by the Christians he met there, Stace got down on his knees and prayed. (on the night of August 6th, 1930 – see text below).  He gave up the drink and began to work.

Some months later, (probably a few years later on Sunday night November 14th 1942 – see text below) in a church in Darlinghurst, he heard the preacher shout, “I wish I could shout eternity through the streets of Sydney. Eternity, eternity, eternity.” Stace was powerfully struck by the words and said he felt a great call from the Lord to write the word Eternity. He had a piece of chalk in his pocket so he bent down and wrote it on the pavement. “The funny thing is I could hardly spell my own name. I had no schooling and couldn’t have spelt ‘Eternity” for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly in beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it. I still can’t.”

Arthur Stace lived with his wife in Pyrmont. His daily routine was to wake up at 4:00am, pray for an hour then head to whichever suburb he thought God was directing him to, writing ‘Eternity’ every hundred yards or so. The message could be seen on walls and footpaths, prompting people to consider eternity itself. The police very nearly arrested him 24 times for defacing the pavement. “But I had permission from a higher source,” said Stace.

Stace regarded his unique style of evangelism as a serious mission given him by God. Throughout years of speculation in Sydney, he kept his identity quiet. However, he was finally identified by a churchman in 1956. Stace gave his first interview to the Sunday Telegraph in 1956.

Writing Eternity wasn’t all Arthur Stace did to help men and women come to know Jesus. On Saturday nights he led gospel meetings, with Open Air Campaigners, at the corner of Bathurst and George Streets – just across from the Cathedral. At first he did it from the gutter but in later years he had a van with electric lighting and an amplifier. Stace eventually became a member of St. Barnabas’ Broadway, where he had first heard the gospel in 1930.

Arthur Stace died at the age of 83 in 1967. Ten years later, a plaque was dedicated to him in Sydney. The message ‘Eternity’ was spread to billions of people during the millennium festivals of 2000 as the word was written in fireworks above the Harbour Bridge.

___________________________________________

Long before the giant single word Eternity was sparkled with splendor, as it was emblazoned across on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was first written by the hand of one man. This one-word sermon was written over 500.000 times on the footpaths of its suburbs & beyond, in beautiful copperplate style. Wherever this word appeared it mystified some and fascinated others. The mystery was,” who wrote it?”

When the mystery man was finally discovered the Sydney press nicknamed him Mr. Eternity but his real name was Arthur Stace.

Where did Arthur Stace come from? How was he raised? What was so special about him? And why did God use him?

As we trace the life and pay tribute to the legacy of Mr. Eternity, let’s take his surname, STACE and tell his story of sin, salvation, surrender and sweet victory in the light of his dynamic relationship with Christ the Lord of Eternity.

SINFUL PAST – his condition before Christ.

Arthur Malcolm STACE was born in Sydney’s Balmain slums in 1884. His parents were addicted to alcohol and consequently young Arthur was brought up neglected and needy in an atmosphere of poverty. As a result much of his childhood was spent stealing bread & milk, and searching for scrap food out in garbage bins. His schooling almost non-existent, young Arthur had become a state ward by the age of 12.

Things got much worse as he entered the turbulent teenage years. He became a heavy drinker, and by the tender age of 15 he was sent to jail.  In his adolescence he worked as “a look out” for police for those who ran illegal gambling dens. Later in his twenties, he was a scout for his sisters’ brothels in the seedy inner Surry hills.

TURNING POINT- his conversion to Christ
The new birth, of turning from sin to trusting the Saviour, took place on the night of the August 6th, 1930.

The conception commenced as the Holy Spirit of God planted the seed of the word of God preached by Rev.R.D.S. Hammond the servant of God, at St Barnabas church in Broadway. The conviction continued as he heard to the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, he realized that he was a sinner before God and recognized that the saving grace is the gift of God.

His conversion was complete, shortly after, as he left the meeting in St Barnabas. He walked across the road to Victoria Park, and under an old big Morton Bay fig tree he repented of sin towards God, and received Christ Jesus, as his Lord and Saviour. He became a child of God. And immediately experienced peace with God, as he entered into a relationship with God.

ANOINTED MESSAGE -his conviction by Christ
A few years later on a Sunday night of November 14th 1942, at the Burton St Baptist Tabernacle, Darlinghurst, the Holy Spirit who had previously convicted the soul of Arthur Stace of his sin condition had another important message for him.

The message came through God’s anointed servant, the late John G Ridley M.C. as he preached that evening on “The echoes of eternity from Isaiah chapter 57 vs. 15:” “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The veteran evangelist stood with the power of scripture in his hand and the love of Christ in his heart, and stressed the word Eternity. He pointed out how the echoes of Eternity are heard not only in creation and in the Christian, but also in the cross. Then suddenly, laying his prepared notes aside and seemingly in an impromptu fashion, the highly disciplined soldier-like preacher, raised his loud voice and cried: “Eternity Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity”

CALL TO WRITE — his consecration for Christ.
Arthur Stace was one of many in the large congregation that God-ordained night. This faithful, teachable and obedient servant has been obedient and active since his conversion from an old life in crime and sin to the new life in Christ and service.

As he sat taking in the eternal word of God, preached forthrightly, from the heart and lips of Australia’s beloved evangelist, Arthur Stace was yet again, confronted with sin and it’s eternal punishing consequences. His concern, however, was not for himself because his sins had been forgiven since that blessed night, where he cried ” Lord be merciful to me a sinner”. But it was for the sake of those still without Christ. Once more his sensitive heart responded to God, this time “here am I Lord send me”.

” Eternity went ringing through my brain” was Stace’s own statement” and suddenly I begun crying & felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and outside the church I bent down right there and wrote it…. The funny thing is that before I wrote it I could hardly write my own name. I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelt Eternity for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.”

ETERNITY- your choice to receive Christ?
God has personally written to you to prepare you for Eternity. This most important message must be read and received by all from his creation in Adam to his children in Christ.

What the Eternal Almighty God did to, in and through Arthur Stace, He is willing to do for you, but first you must answer one question. “Where will you spend Eternity?” Your decision here and now on earth will determine your destiny there and then in Eternity. If you refuse and reject The Lord Jesus Christ you are choosing to spend Eternity in hell, If you receive HIM you will spend Eternity in heaven and rejoice evermore.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Jesus said…., I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Let me encourage you to bow your heart before your Maker and creator right now, and believe on The Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Saviour and become his child for time and eternity. It only requires 3 simple yet heart believed expressions
(This is a suggested prayer)
Dear God:
I am sorry that I have sinned against you and I turn away from my sins.
Please forgive me and be merciful to me a sinner.
Thank you for saving me and giving me a new life.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

With the love of Christ
Peter Rahme, January A.D.2000

Source : http://www.innerwestbaptist.org.au/mr%20eternity/englishr.htm
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Links:
Eternity at the Olympics – http://www.wesleymission.org.au/publications/eternity/eternity.htm

eternitybridge

John G. Ridley, an evangelist who is known today as the man behind Mr Eternity (Arthur Stace)   Refer  https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/john-g-ridley/ and http://www.johngridley.org.au/

The man beghind the Sydney Harbour bridge:  John Bradfield
https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/john-bradfield/

Two lives and a city intertwined for eternity
At the age of 15, Arthur Stace was arrested and jailed for being drunk. Thirty years later, in August 1930, as the Depression descended onto Sydney’s poor he walked into St Barnabas Anglican Church, Broadway, and heard the evangelist and temperance crusader Canon Robert Hammond. Stace gave up the grog that night. He also converted.”I went in to get a cup of tea and a rock cake but I met the Rock of Ages,” he was to recall. Two years later, in 1932, both men presented gifts to their home town that are still there today. Stace’s copper plate rendition of the word ”eternity” appeared on city footpaths. Hammond initiated a home ownership scheme for unemployed men and their families in an area that became the suburb of Hammondville, near Liverpool.
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/two-lives-and-a-city-intertwined-for-eternity-20130315-2g5v7.html

Further information on Arthur Stace:
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stace-arthur-malcolm-8615
and
http://www.smh.com.au/national/from-the-battlefield-to-saving-souls-20091110-i7lx.html
and
http://infobluemountains.net.au/eternity/

Making your life count for Eternity – http://www.acl.asn.au/eternity.html
and
Robert Hammond (1870 – 1946) Anglican clergyman, social reformer  https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/robert-hammond/

Sydney Morning Herald – One Word Sermon We Can’t Forget – http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/01/18/1105810905250.html

Eternity at  The National Museum of Australia
http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/now_showing/eternity/
Eternity2

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2 Responses to Arthur Stace

  1. Chris Keating says:

    Further immortalised in song by Russell Morris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLTavp1ECwY

  2. Lyn Lockrey says:

    What a lovely story of God’s grace and saving power. I’m 70 this year and can remember on one or two occasions early in the morning briefly chatting with Arthur as he wrote in beautiful copperplate, “Eternity”. He once visited our church at Springwood and spoke to a men’s meeting and had dinner at our home. A lovely, humble Christian. I penned a poem entitled, “Not in my time” inspired partly by Arthur Stace.
    God bless,
    Lyn Lockrey

    NOT IN MY TIME.
    (My apology to God)
    (Thoughts prompted by Arthur Stace, the man,
    who for many years, wrote the word “Eternity”
    on Sydney’s streets)

    I met that man,
    who walked the city streets
    in overcoat and hat,
    bent to write in copperplate, with chalk,
    the simple word, “Eternity”.
    An alcoholic, saved by grace
    from the bondages of time.
    He’d found new hope
    and on those very streets
    shared with all, his script.

    It’s one of life’s hardest lessons,
    waiting for your time.
    Instant blend, instant cash,
    phone banking, watching the clock,
    bells, buzzers, i-pods, laptops,
    emails, face-book and twitter.
    A world of the instant, 24/7,
    wanting things today, even earlier,
    so I struggle with your timing.

    My thoughts push you at times,
    prod your memory,
    hint for a smarter response,
    with a note of exasperation
    but of course,
    couched in respectful tones,

    “In the fullness of time….”
    For ages, we’ve failed
    to fully comprehend those words.
    Some spent forty wilderness years
    trying to solve the mystery,
    for there was a time to die and a time to rise
    and I missed that at first.

    I make the same mistakes time and time again,
    love to do it my way,
    usually messing things up,
    pushed by impatience, overzealous actions,
    a mind fixated on a “now” mentality.
    I keep forgetting
    you’re not interested in the clock,
    a new millennium, or Greenwich meantime.

    For whose timepiece tells the birds to fly north,
    the whales to migrate,
    the seasons to change,
    the rains to fall
    and the vast heavens to mesh?

    Help me, to throw off my schedules,
    to cast away my deadlines,
    my greed that demands things now,
    the “wristwatch looking” for answers,
    simply to wait and trust.
    For you know the beginning from the end,
    you are eternity’s author.

    Lyn Lockrey.

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