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by WaylandCybersmith



The story that follows is based on the testimony of Christopher Stoneham, his diaries, and other documents provided by Joshua King. I have verified these as far as possible by comparing sources from the Wild Olive Shoot Community and material from other sources.

Christopher Stoneham was born in 1925, the son of Reverend Harry Stoneham, a minister at the Sherbrooke Baptist Church in North Tibworth. Harry Stoneham had raised Christopher as a Baptist, but Christopher rebelled. He studied Law at Oxford University when he was eighteen. However, he spent a lot of time drinking, and his studies slipped. At the age of nineteen, he dropped out of university and joined the Royal Engineers.

On June 4, 1945, Stoneham was returning to his unit after a weekend pass. He had visited his father in Sherbrooke. He had hoped to make peace with his father. That is, to convince his father to see things Christopher’s way. All that happened was that they had a blazing row. Stoneham was walking down Oxford Street, still fuming with rage and indignation, when Edward Murray challenged him and planted a tract in his hand.

Stoneham was stunned. His fury vanished. Instead, he found himself reading the tract. It was not a particularly good one. It told him nothing that his father hadn’t drummed into him for as long as he could remember. Yet it made Stoneham pause and consider.

His diary entry dated August 4, 1945, written when he was in Egypt with his unit, reads, “Whenever I am not occupied, I see the face of that man in Oxford Street and remember his words. Why? What is there about him? I have made an appointment to see Father Rigsby tomorrow. I must sort this out.”

On August 19, 1945, Christopher Stoneham was baptized in the Nile.

He saw further active service in Egypt, Algeria and Palestine, and retired in1951 with the rank of Corporal.

On leaving the Royal Engineers, Stoneham studied at the Uxbridge Bible College, and then spent some time as a lecturer there, teaching prospective missionaries about the Middle East. During this time, Stoneham was reconciled with his father, who recommended him for a position at Bettel Chapel, North Tibworth. He took up that position on May 8, 1955.

Christopher Stoneham said of his first service, “I had been told that the Bettel congregation was small, but I was not prepared for this. I counted ten people, including the organist and two small children. Still, I must believe that this is where I am supposed to be. I will buckle down and get on with the job of ministering to these people.”

Stoneham began introducing himself to the people in the area. He spent the evenings in the Seven Stars pub, talking to the regulars. He offered to lead assemblies at the local school. He held

It was soon after Stoneham took up his position at Bettel that he received an invitation to Edward Murray’s memorial service. Stoneham wrote, “I am amazed at what one simple man could do. It puts my troubles in perspective. I will do what I can at Bettel, without complaint. If God blesses my faithfulness as much as He did this man, then I will be satisfied.”

In 1967, after twelve years, Stoneham was totally demoralized. The congregation stood at twenty-two. His diary of March 12 of that year reads, “I am at the point of giving up. Why did God send me here? Maybe I made a mistake. I have written a letter to Uxbridge to see if I can go back there.”


© WaylandCybersmith 2011


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