Steve Lee's Blog Posts

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The Lidless Coffin
Many have asked me over the years what first inspired me to use unusual props and visual aids to illustrate the message of Jesus. The answer is a story I read when I was 20 of an outrageous 19th century Salvation Army evangelist called ‘Mad’ Harry Munn. I have prayed many times that God would use me in the way he used him. Here are some of the things he got up to!

In 1896 he set up a courtroom scene on the street in Belfast, complete with a judge in costume, a jury and a public gallery and he put the Devil in the dock and tried him for mass deception! On another occasion he led the Salvation band into the local bar and out the other side. Those who left their drinks to follow him were amazed to see the same procedure enacted all the way to the Salvation Army Hall. Every pub was emptied of its customers who, shocked out of their complacency, followed the march inside the building, filling it to capacity and providing Harry with his ideal congregation. Some were very drunk, others disruptive, but many were emotional with a deepening sense of their need of God and Harry Munn loved them all. Many responded to the Gospel that night falling on their knees and weeping at the front of the meeting. One man shouted, “I’m a hopeless drunk, I bet you cant save me!” Harry took him by the hand and prayed, “O God, make this chap’s heart as soft as his head appears to be!”

Harry Munn would use all kinds of methods to draw a crowd but his most famous prop was a coffin. During his spectacular ministry Harry Munn preached from that coffin in different towns and cities to draw larger and larger crowds. The last time he used it nearly three thousand people crowded the Belfast Ulster Hall. Framed in the lidless casket, he had stood on the platform with his booming voice reaching the crowd with no amplification. The procession of people coming to the front proved that God had used the coffin again.

Harry Munn died after contracting smallpox during an epidemic that hit Belfast. He refused many times to follow medical advice and stay away from the poor and the destitute of the slum areas. Many thousands came to his funeral in 1904 and he was buried in the coffin he preached from!

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