Arthur Stace: Mr Eternity. Arthur Stace had a tragic childhood and early adult life. Born in Redfern, a ‘down town’ inner Sydney suburb, in February 1885, to alcoholic and abusive parents, he never knew the meaning of “love”. He was brought up in abject poverty and fear of being beaten by his father. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. By the age of 12, with virtually no formal schooling, and working in a coal mine, he was made a ward of the state and put into a state home, then foster care. As a teenager he became an alcoholic and was frequently locked up. In his 20s he ‘graduated’ to working in the underworld. In March 1916, at the age of 32, he enlisted for WWI with the AIF and spent 3 years in France. He was a survivor. Just as he had survived a horrific childhood, he survived the horror of war, and later the poverty of the depression.
When all seemed lost – a serious alcoholic, lonely, virtually homeless, a frequent inmate of the local jail, – one night in August 1930, he found himself listening to a sermon by the evangelist, RB Hammond. That night he made a commitment to try life with Christ. By the love of God he was given “New Life”. Two years later, he was listening to another preacher delivering a sermon on “Eternity”. In Stace’s words, “Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write “Eternity”. Even though he was illiterate, he spent the next 35 years of his life, writing the word “Eternity” in beautiful copperplate script, daily starting at 5.00 am and writing it perhaps 40 times a day. His chalk written “Eternity” adorned footpaths and walls, and was in lights on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in the early hours of 1/1/2000. He was “born again” and spent the rest of his life serving his Lord in the local church, serving in shelters for the homeless and challenging people to consider their “Eternity”.
Our life and faith story may not be as dramatic and colourful as Arthur’s, but by the Grace of God, we too can experience the gift of Life ‘Eternal’, assured of the presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ.