Clive Tyler’s Letter



    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,Clive Tyler portrait 2016

    Lilian and I had hoped to be with you this morning remembering 50 years ago. “Man proposes but God disposes”. As I begin writing this we are in Xi’an the ancient capital of China, the end of the ancient Silk Road.

    You will have heard that Lilian suffered a stroke three weeks ago and that God willing we will arrive in Johannesburg at Matthews home the morning of the 22nd. I wish to tell you of the Lord’s doing in these weeks. It reinforces what I had hoped to tell you in person, observations on the history of the South African Church over the 50 years since we arrived, in what I believe now to be the end of a genuine spiritual awakening in the early sixties.

    These days in Xi’an have been the most stressful of my life and the lesson of the Lord for me has been “Stop trusting in man”.

    All the supports I rely on were taken away, the local church, family and friends, ones own home and culture the communications we rely upon. An unknown language, all my personal information which remained unreachable in the cloud as I have had no access to Google or email.

    Then all my credit cards refused to work, with hotel and hospital bills requiring payment. The Chinese friend who had helped us in ways beyond all expectations had to return to Thailand. All this together with different scares about Lilian’s condition and my strength brought home my helplessness and need of the Lord’s strength as never before. Was it Hudson Taylor? “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity”. So prayer after prayer has been answered!  It was not my credit cards that failed but the China banks that day.

    The love and care of the hospital staff have been wonderful, an English speaking nurse found us and “adopted” us bringing food and  communication and I discovered  WhatsApp works in China!  A carer was found to do all the things the family must do in a Chinese hospital, and she is a real Christian the only one we have met in this great city. A flight from Xi’an via Hong Kong to Johannesburg has been found though problems of lifting Lilian remain and her strength for the long journey.

    Today within 20 minutes of leaving we heard all flights cancelled for some days because of a typhoon. So God willing we fly on the 26th and then Matthew may be able to help on the difficult transfer in Hong Kong. The blessing is that Lilian has more days to recover.Today would have been terrible. God is good.  I realise now that it would have been almost impossible for me to have coped with the challenges. Stop Trusting in Man.

    50 years ago I gave a paper on Evangelicalism and Presbyterianism. The increasing doubt about the truth of the Bible as Divine Revelation and with it the rejection of its Authority must lead inevitably to a rejection of the churches’ Confession of Faith and the gospel. The increasing powerlessness of the church over the last 50 years is proof enough and its man-centredness is evident. I think every denomination has been similarly effected far and wide. A few days ago a report said the Anglican Church in England is increasingly irrelevant. Their remedy? Better management training. Once again, in man we trust!

    So I commend to you an online sermon by Dr Lloyd Jones, “True History” Genesis 3:15 at There are only two kinds of people in this world, those who believe the Bible’s teaching is truth, and those who do not. I write this in a Buddhist city but the uncertainty about truth is evident even in the churches in South Africa. You will remember what you were taught by Murdo and the Bible Institute THE FAITH delivered to the saints which God honoured in those days with true and lasting conversions. There is a devil who is still working, and only the power of God himself, through Jesus’ work on the cross, is sufficient to defeat him. All the schemes, projects and plans of men come to nothing in that regard. A man-centred social gospel cannot defeat the “strong man who keeps his goods in peace”.

    Enough of my rambling. May the Lord bless you and all your service for Him. Lilian and I send our love and this testimony to God’s Goodness, Grace and Mercy in trials.

    Clive and Lilian Tyler.