Sir Lionel A. Luckhoo

LionelFull Gospel Business Men? I thought skeptically, looking at the invitation in my hand. My reaction was almost totally negative. The name was long and involved, and I’d never heard of such an organization.

 

   “Another church and a Yankee one at that.” I grumbled, “What do they want in Guyana?”

   According to the invitation, this group would be meeting at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, November 7, 1978. I decided they would need to meet without Lionel Luckhoo.

   But three hours before the dinner, I received a phone call asking if I was planning to attend. I had every intention of saying no, but ended up saying yes – for reasons I did not understand.

   On my way to the dinner my skepticism continued. What would this new group possibly have to offer me? I considered myself to be a Christian. I seldom read the Bible; when I did it was more or less the way a lawyer such as myself would review facts of any case. Quietly religious, I used my reason to decide that Jesus, who lived on the earth some 2000 years ago, was God. The evidence of this was overwhelming, the proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  However, I did not consider him the only way to salvation.

   I had even written a little booklet on the subject, pointing out that if I had to conjure up a God coming into this world as man, He would have had to fit in with all the requirements which Jesus clearly filled.

   But despite my keen appreciation for the Man called Jesus, I was actually a “head Christian” rather than a “heart Christian” – a Sunday believer moving comfortably along in my deep rut.

   Certainly God had permitted receive a degree of recognition, and the world’s honors. I was grateful to Him for that. As an attorney I’d successfully defended 245 murder cases, which prompted the Guinness Book of World Records to dub me “Most Successful Criminal Advocate.” I had attained two degrees of knighthood (which people refer to as being knighted twice) by Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. I'd served as ambassador for Guyana and Barbados in London, Paris, Bonn and The Hague, and had been elected mayor of Georgetown. All this and much more God had given me. Overall, I was reasonably content       life with my life. What could this new group of “full-gospel” Yankees do for me?

   I met Full Gospel representative Newman Peyton and Glen Norwood, both from Houston, Texas, and West Indians Holmes Williams and Kyffin Simpson, as well as a small group of Guyanese.  Peyton explained that FGBMF was in Guyana to set up a chapter in Georgetown. He told us about the Fellowship; that it was not a church or a cult, and that the only purpose was to “lift up Jesus” though its worldwide organization of chapters.

   Idealistic, but not very practical,” I thought. But when I heard the messages delivered by these sincere, loving men something within me responded. They were experiencing a new dimension of life, a peace and joy I had searched for in vain.

   When the altar call was given I looked around at the people, many of whom I knew personally, and mentally debated whether I should respond. But it seemed as though Jesus was knocking at the door of my heart, bidding me open to Him. I stood and accepted Jesus by faith. That was the beginning of a complete change, a total transformation of my life. I was born again.

   A week after this wonderful meeting a letter was written by the prime minister of Guyana, inviting him and other dignitaries to a special dinner hosted by FGBMF. The very next day after the letter went out, more than 900 people died in the tragic suicide/mass murder at Jonestown. Because of that fatal affair we all thought there was not a chance that the Prime Minister Forbes Burnham would accept the invitation, but he did, quite readily.

   As for myself, I was overwhelmed with awe at what I could see the Lord had done for me. Had I yielded to the pressure by Jim Jones for me as his attorney to be with him when Congressman Leo Ryan arrived on his ill-fated trip, I would be in hell today. Something in me - the Holy Spirit, I now believes-had kept saying, "Don't Sir- Don't go!"

   The Full Gospel airlift to Guyana was a resounding success. The prime minister himself told me how impressed he was with this group of Christian businessmen. In meeting after meeting we saw people committing their lives to Christ, being baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving healing. Yielding to my characteristic attorney's need for evidence, I recorded names and addresses of those who claimed healings. I counted 47 who stated God had healed them, including a deaf-and-dumb man whose ears were opened and who left the platform saying his first words: I love God. I love Jesus.

   This new insight con­tributed to an insatiable hunger for the word of God. But I didn't dive into the Bible pell-mell. True to my personality and training, I began to study it like a brief. I would read long passages, underscoring portions that spoke especially clearly to me. I was fascinated! I had no more interest in doing anything but reading the Bible. Although I was a member of several gaming clubs and even owned racehorses, I resigned from all my past social associations. They simply didn't interest me anymore. Jesus was all in all to me!

   One of the great miracles of my own salvation experience was that my heart was opened to two crucial facts. First, I realized that my spiritual knowledge was nil, in spite of my legal knowledge. The second thing I realized that I had been anesthetized to sin. Satan had lulled me into a state of apathy (ignorance, really) about the awful reality of sin.

  This new insight contributed to an insatiable hunger for the word of God. But I didn’t dive into the Bible pell-mell. True to my personality and training, I began to study it like a brief. I would read long passages, underscoring portions that spoke especially clearly to me. I was fascinated! I had no more interest in doing anything but reading the Bible. Although I was a member of several gaming clubs and evened owned racehorses, I resigned from all my past social associations. They simply didn’t interest me anymore. Jesus was all in all to me!

   I was invited to speak at a Full Gospel chapter in Barbados, and there some­ thing else happened which changed my life even further.

   By nature I am not an overly emotional person; I don't shed tears easily. But as I stood there telling those 99 businessmen my story I had to fight to keep tears from flowing. Inside, I felt as though the "fallow ground" of my spirit was just yielding to the Master's plow. I began weeping openly, and would have fallen down if someone hadn't pushed a chair under me. Newman Peyton, who happened to be there, asked, "Do you know what is happening to you?"

"No," I said, my body shaking.

"You are receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit!" he exclaimed.

Many men raised their hands to accept Jesus at the meeting. And from that moment I can’t explain what happened but I became almost a lion for Jesus. I was emboldened with a supernatural boldness.

   The next day I went to speak at a church and the pastor told me, “God has given you a new ministry. Because of your legal background you can present the case for Christianity in a new way, almost like an apologist for Jesus.” Since that time I have been privileged to go to many parts of the world to proclaim Jesus as the Light of the world.

    In everything I do I try to make Jesus the focal point. I do not want my name or "my" accomplishments-God has given it all-to diminish the central message: Jesus is Lord. My only purpose in life today is the winning of souls. I weep with joy when I see souls coming to Jesus.

   For instance, in one nation when I spoke before 800 people, many of them judges and lawyers, I correlated aspects of secular and spiritual laws, such as the doctrine of “vicarious liability,” wherein an insurance company will assume the liability for the “sins” of the policyholder. That is what Jesus has done for us: assumed the liability for our unrighteousness. In their strongly Muslim country, the Holy Spirited me to point out that although there are 27 Bibles in the world, only one, the Holy Bible, withstands the test of time and scrutiny. Only one religious leader’s tomb, the tomb of Jesus is empty, while the others still contain the bones of mortal men.

   Because of my past government contacts I have been able to speak about Jesus to the ambassadors and world leaders. For example, after much prayer FGBMF was allowed by the government of New Zealand to hold a banquet in the parliament building, with me as their speaker. This was unheard of, but I was able to give my full testimony to many of those government leaders.

   It has been that way all over the world. People are so hungry for the Gospel. I have seen literally thousands of men and women stand to accept Jesus during these last few years. To the world, Guyana stands for a country where religion became so perverse that hundreds were willing to take their own lives for a false messiah. But I see my country as a launching point for the true Gospel in South America. It is not a country of religious despair; thank God, but one where tremendous spiritual rebirth is taking place.

   I am devoting my time to traveling for Jesus. By the grace of God, I have traveled close to a million miles to preach the precious Gospel.

   It is the greatest case I have ever pleaded and I am confident, because all the evidence is on our side. The verdict must be that Jesus is Lord, and that He is coming back soon to proclaim His people “not guilty” and to take us to be with Him forever.

   I want only two things in life: to go and give witness to my faith, and to preach, to do some little work in winning people to the cross of Jesus. To me, this would be a great climax to my life, a means of thanking God for His many kindnesses to me, by seeking to give others the opportunity of the happiness and peace of mind I now enjoy because of my abiding faith.

   One day in Georgetown, I met Eric Williams, an old schoolmate of mine. We had not seen each other for years. He recalled a time when we were ten years old, and had gone to the backdam, looking for birds’ nests – not to steal eggs, but to interchange eggs between nests, to see what would eventuate. Deep in the backdam reaches, we became lost. I turned to my friend Eric, and said, “You kneel down and pray. I’ll look around to find a way out of the woods.”

   At ten years of age, I believed in prayer; but I also knew that God best helps those who help themselves and my instinct was to choose the more active part. Today, I find joy in preaching. I speak for churches of many different denominations, and in this find my greatest reward.

Knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

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