On February 23, 1895, John Lee, a laborer in the village of Babbacombe in England, was accused of killing a Mrs. Keyes, an old woman who was found murdered in her bed. The evidence against Lee was very strong, but the prisoner repeatedly said to his guards, “I did not do it. And they can never hang me for it.” When the judge sentenced him to be hanged, Lee said, “The Lord knows I am innocent. He will never permit me to be executed. He has told me not to be afraid.”

On the day of the execution, Lee was led from his cell in Exeter prison to be hanged. Scores of witnesses stood by, strained and silent in the immanency of violent death. Guards placed the hangman’s noose around Lee’s neck and led him to the trapdoor of the scaffold. The rope was tested. The sheriff of Exeter gave the required signal by waving his hand. The trapdoor failed to fall. It was annoying, embarrassing, unreasonable! They tinkered with the bolt and investigated the trapdoor. Everything was in perfect order. Once more the sheriff waved his hand. The bolt was drawn, and again, John Lee stood unharmed on the immovable trapdoor. The sheriff ordered him back into his cell.

Angry at the disorder, the sheriff called upon the warden to stand upon the trapdoor–not, of course, with the noose around his neck. The bolt was drawn, and down dropped the warden as Lee should have dropped. The warden, in the fall, broke his leg.

Again they led John Lee from his cell to the bleak, stark scaffold. For the third time the sheriff waved his hand as a signal for the bolt securing the trapdoor to be withdrawn. The bolt was drawn easily and smoothly, but the trapdoor did not fall.

The frightened official telegraphed an official for instructions. The reply came “Proceed with the execution.” Lee was put on the trapdoor for the fourth time, and the sheriff, himself, pulled the bolt. He pulled it again and again and nothing happened. Lee was taken back to his cell. Later a message came from the official, “The death sentence of John Lee is commuted.” His sentence was changed to life in prison but later he was released. John Lee then became an evangelist and went about the country preaching the gospel of repentance and faith in God.
(From “John Three Sixteen” March 1, 2015)

This is a true story of the power of God, a power that is available yet today to those who possess unquestioned faith in the God of all creation.

From Him I help obtained,
And now my voice I raise;
And while my heart exults with joy,
My heart is turned to praise… (Oh Lord, to Thee I Cry)

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