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A silent revival
5th July 2012
“MY PEOPLE were in spiritual darkness,” says Davey Jones, leader of the Life and Light church in Britain. “Now many of them are experiencing a personal relationship with God for the first time.” Sitting in his immaculate caravan, Mr Jones ticks off the Life and Light churches that have opened in the past few years, bringing the total to more than 30. At the end of next month the church will hold a meeting in a field near Doncaster. It is planning for 1,000 caravans and 5,000 people, although that could be an underestimate. The past few meetings of Pentecostal gypsies have attracted many more people than either the church or local residents had bargained for.
Gypsies have been evangelised before. Victorian pastors tried to save them from a nomadic lifestyle that they considered depraved. Several gypsy preachers emerged, including “Gipsy Smith”, a member of the Salvation Army. But the current revival began in continental Europe. Life and Light was founded in Brittany by Clement le Cossec, who converted Mr Jones. Although the church has more members in France, it is quickly gaining converts among the much smaller population of English gypsies and, to a lesser extent, among Irish travellers. According to an official count, there are fewer than 19,000 gypsy and traveller caravans in England.
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