WILL & FLORENCE BURNHAM

                        

                                                          

                                                                  Prayer Card for Will & Flo Burnham when they were in Africa

 

Will Burnham was my first pastor and he was by far the most influential person in my early Christian life and whose life and teaching have stayed with me to the present day. There have been many times in my Christian life when I wished he was still here with us because I would have so much valued his godly counsel and advice. Though he wasn't appreciated as much as he should have been when he was the pastor of the Assembly of God church in Birkenhead I somehow think that if he were a pastor today he would now have a full church because his godly life and his anointed teaching I'm sure they would have been an inspiration to many people. Though he was such a good bible teacher and pastor he hardly received any education and when leaving school at 14 years of age he was fairly illiterate. He then emigrated to Canada, where after a couple of years he became a Christian. He shortly afterwards desired to go to Bible College and when he went there his pastor wrote to the principal warning him that Will was so backward that he would have a really difficult time with him. He wrote to Will at the same time but unfortunately got the letters mixed up and Will got the letter intended for the principal which when he read it caused him to be very angry. However in it all he cried out to God to give him wisdom, a prayer that was answered because God was to use him in years to come in a number of different countries around the world with his gifted bible teaching ministry.

I do wish that there were more people around today like Will and Flo Burnham whose only motive was to serve God and see Him uplifted and glorified in their lives and who truly sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Their house was an "open house" and you really could call on them day or night and they would welcome you. They also knew how to trust God in a way that many people know little of today. During the great depression, for example, in the 1930's when life was really hard, they once had a delivery of coal at the beginning of winter, and because of their financial hardship they prayed over it and like Elijah's cruse of oil it didn't run out, but lasted them the whole of the winter. Many times in their Christian lives they proved God to be very real to them. In the 1930's they applied to become missionaries but because of Florence's medical history they were turned down. Florence as a four year old girl had lost her mother to TB and her father not wishing to look after her took her to a home and then left the country and never saw her again. A few years later she also contracted the deadly disease and this was to be her dread companion for many years. However she was healed of the disease as a young woman when she was near death's door, the TB being in an advanced stage. She shortly afterwards married Will Burnham. During the war Florence again became seriously ill and developed severe heart trouble which kept her in bed for 7 years, and was in hospital for six months of that period having oxygen, her husband never knowing the moment when he would lose her through her many heart attacks. However, God once again raised her up and when I came to know her in the 1960's nobody would have known there had been anything wrong with her, God had certainly done a complete job. Will and Flo never had any children but they did at one time adopt a little girl who became very precious to them. After 2/3 years, however, she was taken back by her mother (the adoption procedure wasn't properly formalised) who then emigrated to Tasmania, as I recall. They never saw the little girl again which caused them much heartache. 

In 1970 both Will and Flo went to Africa to be missionaries. Flo was 62 years of age and Will 58 years old. They worked in a number of African countries for the next 18 years seeing God doing extraordinary things through their ministry. When Flo was a young girl she once had a vision of going into an African village and meeting an elderly gentleman and asking him his name and he told her. I believe the country was Congo. Many years later when they went into that country they came in their travels to a little village and she instantly recognised it as the village she saw in her vision some 50 years previously. As they entered the village she also saw the elderly gentleman she had seen and she said to him "your name is ..... (I don't recall the name) isn't it?" and he answered that it was. Will and Flo went on itinerary around USA and Canada on two separate occasions lasting up to 9 months and they were very well received. I used to be thrilled to hear of their many wonderful testimonies and adventures including at least two encounters with angels. The reason they came back was not because of Flo's health but because Will had Alzheimer's disease from which he died in 1996. Flo lived to be 93 years of age and died in 2001.

Both Will and Flo served God well during their lives and I have no doubt that the words "well done good and faithful servants" will be their heavenly welcome because of  their many years faithful service. They are both buried together in Frankby Cemetery in the Wirral, Merseyside and the epitaph on their grave reads "here lies the faithful servants of God, Will and Flo Burnham.

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