Was he one of the rich and famous? No.
Arthur Stace was an illiterate drunkard.
Born in Sydney, Australia in 1884, to alcohol addicted, poverty-stricken parents, Arthur was neglected. He spent his time stealing milk and bread and searching for food in garbage cans. His schooling was almost non-existent. He could not read or write. He became a state ward at 12. He was sent to jail at 15. In his 20s he was a scout for his sister’s brothels.
On the night of 6th August 1930, Arthur Stace stumbled into St Barnabas’ Church and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He realised he was a sinner and that saving grace was the gift of God through His Son. He repented of his sin and received Christ as Saviour. He experienced peace with God and immediately his whole life changed.
A few years later at the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle in Darlinghurst he heard John G Ridley preach on “The echoes of eternity” from Isaiah 57:15.
John Ridley constantly used the word “Eternity” in his message, and at one stage he laid aside his notes and out of character for this disciplined speaker, he raised his voice and cried out “Eternity! Eternity! I wish I could shout out that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. Everyone has to meet eternity. Where will you spend eternity?”
Arthur Stace had been a teachable, active and obedient servant since his conversion. His heart responded to the message and he cried to the Lord, “Here am I. Send me.”
In his own words, Arthur Stace said,
“Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying. I 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 that word I could hardly write my own name. I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelt “Eternity” for a hundred quid. But there it was. It came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.”
Arthur Stace spent the rest of his life writing Eternity over the pavements of Sydney, estimated to be at least 500,000 times. He was dubbed Mr Eternity by the Sydney press. Testimonies of how this word affected people have been heard ever since.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the centre of a great fireworks display on New Year’s Eve each year. For the 2000 event, an extra spectacular display was seen and it finished with the word Eternity blazing its span. Images of this spread throughout the world via the internet.
Arthur Stace, an illiterate drunkard, a petty thief, a pimp, a “no-hoper”
in an instant became a new creation in Christ
and lived the rest of his life
seeking to tell others of the free salvation
available only through Jesus Christ.
For the penalty of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father, except by Me.