This is the day that … Lionel Bale Fletcher was born, in 1877, at Maitland, New South Wales.
“He was an evangelist,” wrote Dr F.W. Boreham. “He burned with a passion for Christ and was never so happy as when leading his fellowmen to the feet of his Lord.”
Lionel was born the eighth child of a Methodist lay preacher and was nearly named Octavius by his father, John Fletcher, but a last minute change of mind had him christened “Lionel Bale Fletcher” (“Bale” was his mother’s maiden name). All seven sons of John Fletcher ended up as preachers, three as ordained Methodist ministers.
At the age of 10 “he ran away from school and home” … and by the age of 16 he was sailing through Sydney Heads on the SS “Macquarie”. It was the beginning of “two years before the mast” which took him to England and back.
On his return to Australia … and the bush he was the “black sheep” in the devout Christian family, On his brother’s property, 250 miles from Sydney, the memories of his godly upbringing and the faithful witness of a godly minister brought him to a place of conversion. “The next morning,” says the biographer, “Lionel Fletcher made the bush ring with shouts of praise and joy” (Twelve Hours in the Day, by C. Malcolm, page 37).
On 2 February, 1898, he conducted his first church service; on 24 January, 1900, he was married to Maud Basham – and in 1905 he began to pastor Congregational churches, in NSW, South Australia, Cardiff, Wales, and Auckland, New Zealand.
Invitations came for him to speak overseas – and before long his itinerant evangelist ministry took him around the world. He led great meetings in England and South Africa.
He wrote a number of books, including his autobiography, Mighty Moments, and titles on evangelism, including The Effective Evangelist, Conquering Evangelism and Youth & Evangelism.
Lionel Fletcher died in Mosman, Sydney, after a short illness on 19 February, 1954, survived by his wife and a son and daughter.
Lionel is yet further indication of the call of God passing down through a family and empowering children to go on to greater ministry than their parents could.