Stauros...in the States
Coming To America
Toms Eakins from The Stauros Foundation (UK) recounts his story of visiting the U.S. and meeting John Burghauser…
“My journey to America started back in October of 1994, when I was attending a rally in Scotland along with Arthur and the group. I began to read about the life of Abraham, starting in Genesis chapter 11, then through to 12 and 13. I came to the verse in Genesis 17:8, and the Lord spoke to me, saying “I will bring you into a land in which you are a stranger…”
“So the next day I was with Arthur Williams, and said to him, “Arthur, God spoke to me last night.”
“Well, God spoke to you then,” Arthur replied, “and God will do what He says He’ll do.” Arthur took those types of things very seriously, you know.
“So time went on – October, November, December… And then in February I received a letter, personally addressed to me, from Elaine who used to come to the Stauros meeting in Belfast. I had gotten to know her; I knew that she had met a man from America (Woody Price), and had gone to Baltimore to be with him. The letter Elaine wrote to me was like the Macedonian call: ‘Come over here and help us.’ She saw a lot of people struggling with addiction; she saw a real need there. But she couldn’t find anyone helping them individually. Singularly.
“So a few months later, in May of 1995, I traveled to America. I brought Stan (Gowdy) along with me. Someone took a photograph of the two of us in front of Hillendale (now Forge Road Bible Chapel), back when it was a school. I still have it on my refrigerator at home in Ireland. I was shocked to learn that no one I spoke with seemed to understand the importance of a one-to-one relationship with those in need. And I would always say, “Jesus did it – the woman at the well, blind Bartimaeus…” I gave my usual patter – what I did, where my heart was.
“So less than a year after receiving that word from God, I found myself a stranger in a strange land. And during that first trip to America God spoke to me again: “This is the country you’re to come to, where I want you to be.” I stayed with Woody when I first started coming to the States. He had set up a ‘Stauros-type’ meeting at his place – a whole houseful of people. I spoke on behalf of Stauros, about the work I was involved with.
“But I knew that I had not come to do the work myself, but to find the person who would do the work in America. And like Samuel, I had met plenty of men who seemed very impressive, who would tell me that they loved the kind of work I was involved in. They would tell me that they could do the work. Wanted to do the work.
“But I had not found the right man, because I knew that I couldn’t do anything on my own – I needed the Lord to show me. Everywhere I went it felt like the story of Samuel, when the Lord told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse. Everybody that Samuel met, at the start, God had said, “That’s not the man.”
“So I traveled back and forth between Ireland and the United States for a long time. It wasn’t easy. I would get calls from home. My son Jeffrey had started drinking and drugging. I remember coming to the States one time and having to fly home the very next night. Then the news came that Woody and Elaine were going back to Ireland. That left me with a sense of ‘where am I going?’
“After they left and I was on my own I would just sit and pray, walk around Baltimore, in the shopping malls… Claim the land for God so to speak, as He was the one who had led me there. Into a land in which I was a stranger. My charge was the same – to find the person who would do the work of Stauros in America.
“After I had gone back and forth between Ireland and the United States the trustees asked me to come and meet with them, to give an account of my trips to America. I was told that my trips to America had come to an end. I had been going for some time, and while I had spoken of Stauros, and the importance of this type of work, I had not found the man I was looking for. Keep in mind that I was the one who received a word from God. So my reply to them was “With all due respect, God told me to go to America. And it’ll have to be God that tells me not to go.”
“Now I had brought my wife Linda to the meeting with me. After hearing this she began to cry. After all of that effort, the heartbreak of being away from my family for weeks at a time, to have it come to an end… She cried the entire way home. But I had meant what I said: I told them that I would go back on my own if I had to. Because God was the only one who could stop me from going.
“During my next trip I met a man who helped run meetings at a church in White Marsh. I wasn’t there to preach, or to do anything but present the work of Stauros. When I spoke of the work it touched this man’s heart, just as the work had touched mine. I knew from the beginning that this was the man I had been looking for. I knew what people would think: “You don’t want him. He’s just gotten out of jail, he’s quite shy, he’s introverted, etc..” But he was a man after God’s own heart. And that’s the kind of guy I had searched for.
“So the Lord spoke to me, and I told this man that I’d be back in a few months. I prayed “Lord, this is the man. He has the heart for the work. But you have to put the desire for this work inside of Him. Because I can’t.”
“I’ve been asked why I kept coming back to Baltimore, and it wasn’t to see the Harbor. The answer is simple: I had to. I was constrained by God. I always had that word from God in my heart: “I will bring you into a land in which you are a stranger.” I was a stranger in America. I didn’t know anyone. But God gave me that verse. And the strength to do the mission.
“And then the Lord led me to John Burghauser. And we did the work together from there.”