Family and friends gathered for a burial in the country churchyard of Weston, near Southampton on this day, December 13, 1913.. The memorial service was not sad but triumphant. "Great Captain of Salvation! We bless thy glorious name..." sang the assembly. "...O grave, where is thy victory, or death, where is thy sting?" It had been the man's favorite hymn.
Although he was a wealthy English lord, Granville Waldegrave, third Baron Radstock did not seem rich. He dressed simply (to avoid undue respect), lived in second rate apartments (to cut ministry expenses), gave up shooting (because it distracted from Christ's work), and went hungry (to have more to give to Christ).
What made him act this way? He was reared in the church, it is true, but his piety had seemed average during his younger years. As a young man, his interests were ordinary: science, music, history, sport. On the Crimean battlefield, he faced death with the assurance that he was covered by Christ, but on his return to England, he realized that something was lacking when a barrister challenged him with the question, what was he doing for Christ?
Reluctantly, Radstock began reading to the sick, even going so far as to read from a Spanish gospel although he himself did not speak a word of Spanish! The Spaniard was saved. Other people were converted. This exhilarated Radstock. Overcoming his embarrassment, he passed out tracts to his fellow lords. Their response was cold, so he took his ministry to the poor, preaching in London's rough districts and channeling his wealth toward practical projects such as building hostels for women and homes for emigrants. When he prayed for the ill, he witnessed dramatic cures--and revivals of the soul.
Fluent in French, Radstock led a revival among Russia's French-speaking aristocrats. Several counts came to Christ. Alarmed by any hint of change, Russian aristocrats pleaded with Tsar Alexander II to squelch the faith. Leaders of the Orthodox Church joined the appeal, afraid of losing their grip on the nation. Consequently, Alexander arrested converts, exiling some and jailing others. One exclaimed joyfully when he heard his sentence of imprisonment, "I have been praying that God would use me among prisoners and now my prayer has been answered."
Barred from Russia, Lord Radstock found plenty else to do. He visited India and returned to England to carry on his evangelical work there. Little wonder, then, that Christians met to exalt the Lord and recall the deeds of the wealthy British Lord who, like Jesus, had moved among them as a servant.
- Trotter, A. Lord Radstock: an interpretation and a record. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914.
- Various internet articles.
Last updated May, 2007.