Ernest Lloyd 1913-2010
On Wednesday 23 December 2010, in his 98th year, Ernest Lloyd passed suddenly, quickly and peacefully into the presence of the Lord he had trusted, loved and served for almost eighty years.
By any standard, the life of Ernest Lloyd was remarkable, spanning, as it did, almost the entire twentieth century. He lived through the reigns of five monarchs and under the leadership of more than twenty different Prime Ministers; he experienced the trauma of two World Wars and saw the gradual decline of the British Empire as well as the establishment and survival of the state of Israel.
Ernest never owned his own home, never learned to drive, never learned another language and never sent an email. At the age of 98, he had a better memory than some men half his age. He was an avid and wide reader, a lover of music and an indefatigable writer of letters, almost all of which were bashed out with remarkable inaccuracy on a series of manual typewriters, each of which he has worn out.
The mission Ernest actively served for seventy years changed its name twice – in 1965 the British Society for the Evangelization of the Jews became the International Society for the Evangelization of the Jews and, after uniting with the Barbican Mission to the Jews in 1976, became Christian Witness to Israel – and he outlived five of its directors. In his three score years and ten of missionary service Ernest travelled more than a million miles by land, sea and air and preached more than 200,000 times in some twenty countries to countless multitudes. Although his pace of life in the last two decades of his life was nowhere near as hectic as it was when he was a missionary, in the 1990s, Ernest was regularly away from home for three months each year on preaching tours that took him to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He also served on the councils of Christian Witness to Israel (in an honorary capacity), the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, the British Messianic Jewish Alliance and the Spanish Gospel Mission.
He was an evangelist, a teacher, a preacher, an advocate of mission to the Jewish people and a spokesman for the international Messianic movement. In spite of frequent bouts of ill health, Ernest Lloyd single-handedly laid the foundations for the work of missions to the Jewish people in South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Though not all remained affiliated to Christian Witness to Israel, almost all those branches continue to present a vibrant witness to the Jewish communities in their countries.
The number of Jews and gentiles who have been saved through his ministry, either directly or indirectly, is incalculable. In many cases he led them to the Messiah himself but at other times his role was to break down prejudices and lay a foundation on which others could build or, to change the biblical metaphor, he broke up the fallow ground allowing others to sow and reap. The number of lives Ernest touched for good by preaching, teaching, encouragement, advice, kind words and actions, example and precept cannot be counted.
It was in his role as an evangelist that one of Ernest’s outstanding qualities was seen most clearly: an almost infinite patience enabled him to suffer being rebuffed time after time in his efforts to lead his “kinsmen according to the flesh” to the Messiah.
Ernest was the last of a generation of Hebrew Christian spiritual giants that included men of the calibre of Mark Kagan, Victor Buksbazen, Herman Newmark and the Bendor-Samuels. Another generation of Jewish believers has arisen, many of them learned in rabbinic literature and zealous for the cause of Messianic Judaism. It should be our prayer that the new generation will feel the same deep love for their people and be willing to sacrifice as much for their salvation as Ernest did. Nevertheless, it may be that other generations of Jewish believers will come and go before another appears who will play a role in the purposes of God as significant and important as that played by Ernest Lloyd.
“So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.” (John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress)