It seems odd to me that after decades of fascination with local and world-wide evangelists, I have not known of Henry Grattan Guinness. There were three branches of the Guinness tree. We know the brewers. The economic world knows of the bankers and politicians. I did not know how pervasive into my world the missionary-preacher branch of the family reached. I have the books of Os Guinness and have spoken often of his thinking and teaching. That branch is known as the Grattan branch.
Henry Grattan Guinness preached to crowds numbering in the tens of thousands in England, Wales, Ireland, Norway and America. His peers included Spurgeon, Sankey, Moody, Semple-McPherson. He was offered the pastorate of the church that had been the home base of Whitefield. I believe Henry Grattan Guinness received the mantle of George Whitefield. He was in his early twenties as he toured and preached as many as thirteen times a week to tens of thousands of people in the streets of major world cities such as New York.
Perhaps had Os Guinness not had such an impact on my thinking, Guinness would have been just one more beer I do not drink. I heard an interview with Stephen Mansfield about his biography of God and Guinness—the beer that changed the world. I’m into the second book about the family written by the wife of a great, great, great grandson of Arthur. God has used this adventure to stimulate my soul and mold pieces of a fresh vision.
The third family branch birthed spiritual explorers and pioneers. Henry Grattan began with his world-wide reputation as an evangelist. His middle years turned toward missions when one of his children married the son of J. Hudson Taylor. The Guinness’ trained hundreds of missionaries sent to China. In 1888, Henry wrote a book about biblical prophecy which is still in print. You may buy a new paperback or hardcover copy of that book today from Amazon.
Mansfield lists accomplishments and impact of the Guinness apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors and how their faith changed the world and then he asks the prime question that has pushed me and tormented me since my second year of Bible college: Where did this extraordinary anointing and favor come from? Upon reading that question, I thought of John Adams who tried to answer the question about himself. He came from uneducated parents without academic or religious curiosity. Mansfield answers the question with a “…perhaps it was as Arthur was listening or contemplating the message of John Wesley that a fire was ignited.”
My vision may be informed by God’s working through Guinness, Cadbury and Lever—beer, chocolate and soap—but the vision leans forward. What do we need to declare the full gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom? What declaration? What curriculum?
Michelle Guinness, the wife of Peter Guinness, a descendent of the oldest Arthur and a member of the third branch, wrote “Genius of Guinness.” She gives us insight into the source and power of those who continue to influence the world with their preaching, teaching and witness. I quote her:
“One of my favorite family characters has always been Jane Lucretia Guinness, Henry Grattan’s mother and my husband’s great-grandmother. Os Guinness, another of Jane’s descendants, maintains that she prayed that at least, and further, seven generations of Guinness would be totally committed to Jesus Christ.”
The impact of one woman’s prayers.
I suspect the high point of this Holy season for me has been the conversations—often filled with silliness and laughter—about what kind of prayer changes world history and most importantly, the trajectory of individual’s lives as it did Jane’s sons.
The second component in this mysterious life-building is…
“One of the major strengths of the Guinness men was the exceptional spouses they picked—women whose vision and courage….” (Michelle Guinness)
So, I’m lifting my unopened bottle of Guinness Draught to celebrate single mothers who are pouring into their daughters foundational experiences and truth that will produce godly results for generations and to the moms and dads who make it habit of teaching their sons to treat their sisters and female peers with respect. And to husbands who measure success by what they see in their wives eyes and on their faces.
That makes the current manure-slinging on the campaign trail about another man’s wife more important and insightful than the candidate’s foreign policy.
©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer