On 9th March 1966 The Blind Beggar pub in East London witnessed a brutal murder of gangster George Cornell in a gangland shooting by the now infamous Ronnie Kray, one half of the notorious Kray Twins, both violent criminals who terrorised London during the 1960's.
In 1968 both were sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 30 years for the murders of Cornell and Jack McVitie (another gangster) this was the longest sentence ever passed at the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court, London) for murder
Over 50 years later this pub is still famous as the site of this brutal murder, but there is another lesser known claim to fame of this pub.
William Booth founder of the Salvation Army preached his first open-air sermon 101 years before this murder outside the pub in 1865, which led to him forming the East London Christian Mission, which later became the Salvation Army. A statue of Booth still stands on this spot in memory of this man who was unafraid to stand out from the crowd, to dedicate his life to serving and rescuing his fellow man.
So we have two men, two defining events separated by 100 years; one an act of hate, the other an act of faith...but both events defined each man in their own ways. The Krays sunk deeper into violence and criminal activities and as above paid for it with 30 years in prison. Booth however, when faced with the poverty and need of London's East End found inspiration.
In his own words:
'When I saw those masses of poor people, so many of them evidently without God or hope in the world, and found that they so readily and eagerly listened to me, following from Open-Air Meeting to tent, and accepting, in many instances, my invitation to kneel at the Saviour’s feet there and then, my whole heart went out to them. I walked back to our West-End home and said to my wife:
‘O Kate, I have found my destiny! These are the people for whose Salvation I have been longing all these years. As I passed by the doors of the flaming gin-palaces tonight I seemed to hear a voice sounding in my ears, “Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labours?”
And there and then in my soul I offered myself and you and the children up to this great work. Those people shall be our people, and they shall have our God for their God.’
I suppose all this is the point... What kind of legacy do you want to leave on the World?
Do you want to be like the Kray Twins...leaving an infamous legacy of violent crimes and cruelty.
Or be like Booth and leave a legacy of service and faith that now spans over 150 years and 127 countries.
Most of us will never know the effect our actions will have the long run, or the lasting legacy we will leave. But it is incredible to think how far the gospel has travelled, how many have been reached directly on indirectly by men and women who listen to God and give their lives to serve Him. People like Booth, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, John & Charles Wesley...the list goes on, and each of these people simply serve others and preach/preached God's word, safe in the knowledge that He will take their ministries and their efforts and use them as He sees fit.
All we can do is make the most of the time given to us, and decide wether we want to serve or be served. To search and struggle for our own selfish ends, or serve God and each other.
We are part of an ongoing legacy, going all the way back to Jesus Himself... We are walking in His footsteps by spreading His Word and Love, by passing on what we have learned. Let's not be the ones to drop the ball here, let's keep this legacy rolling on, who knows what fruit our small simple acts of faith and obedience will bear, who will be reached that without us may not be. A simple act of faith and kindness could inspire the next William Booth or Billy Graham without us ever knowing.
I would love to hear your feedback and comments on this blog, and of course feel free to sign up with your email address below. (This may only be visible in Desktop view)
For those using social media please follow on Twitter and like on Facebook.