Millions of people around the world tuned in on Monday morning to watch the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And hundreds of thousands gathered in-person throughout the U.K. to watch a live TV feed on large screens set up in London’s Hyde Park and on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The late queen herself planned the details of her funeral as one final message to be shared with her people. The message was built around Her Majesty’s faith in God and the hope that can be found in Him alone.
With a continuous reverent silence in the crowd, eyes and ears were locked on what was being shared during the funeral.
“The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in his sermon during the service. “The pattern for all who serve God—famous or obscure, respected or ignored—is that death is the door to glory. … Jesus, Who in our reading does not tell His disciples how to follow but Who to follow, said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed.”
Whom she followed was Jesus Christ.
Chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) shared the Good News of Jesus Christ before the funeral—and after its end. Though people came to Hyde Park and Windsor Castle with the intention of paying their final respects, many left forever changed as they surrendered to the same God the queen served during her life on earth.
A Life Changed in the Early Morning
Shortly after sunrise, Caroline* noticed the BG-RRT chaplain uniforms from a distance and approached Jason Scalzi, a chaplain, to ask for directions of where to watch the queen’s procession. Having come to London from Holland to pay her respects to Her Majesty, she was anxious to be in the right location for the start of the funeral.
After Scalzi shared the directions, the two began to talk about the queen’s life. As the conversation continued, Scalzi told Caroline about God and His love for her. That’s when James King, another chaplain, walked over and joined the conversation.
When Caroline mentioned to the two chaplains that her life was a bit of a mess, King shared the story of Nicodemus from John 3. “Would you like to ask Jesus into your heart?” King asked. Caroline said, “Yes.”
Standing in Hyde Park, Caroline prayed aloud with King to put her faith in Jesus Christ, mere hours before the queen’s funeral. And before leaving to see the queen’s procession, she told the chaplains, “I feel wonderful.”
A Ministry of Presence
As the funeral began, the BG-RRT chaplains stood in the back of Hyde Park and watched along with the crowd, while silently praying for God to minister to hearts as the Gospel was proclaimed during the service.
Laura* was standing near Anne Hyams, a chaplain. Laura was by herself and visibly moved by the service and in tears. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Hyams came alongside her and put her hand on her shoulder as she wept. Not a single word was spoken, but Laura knew she wasn’t alone anymore. As the funeral ended, Laura looked Hyams in the eyes and simply said, “Thank you.”
Hyams prayed for Laura before she left the park that God would comfort her and show her His love.
Muslim Man Finds Faith in Jesus Christ
As thousands began leaving Hyde Park after the funeral, Ruby Edmondson, a chaplain, was standing near Ahmad* and the two began to talk.
They spoke about the queen and what was said during the funeral service about God’s love. Ahmad shared with Edmondson that he was a Muslim, so she began to explain the Gospel to him using “Steps to Peace With God.” As they went through the booklet, page by page, Ahmad listened closely and became more excited at each page turn.
“For us to be in Heaven with God—as the queen is—we have to accept Jesus as our personal Savior,” Edmondson told him. “And it’s not because of our works, because we cannot be good enough on our own. We have to ask God to help us, just as the queen asked God to help her.”
When Edmondson asked if he’d like to accept Jesus Christ into his life, Ahmad was more than ready and excitedly said, “Yes!”
The two prayed aloud together in Jesus’ Name as Ahmad committed his life to Jesus Christ.
It’s Never Too Late
Timothy* was leaving Hyde Park after the funeral when he connected with James King, a chaplain. The 84-year-old told the chaplain that since the death of the queen, he’s been thinking of his own mortality. King talked about the queen’s faith in Jesus Christ and then simply asked Timothy, “What about your faith?”
Not sure of what would happen when he dies, Timothy didn’t know how to respond. King then carefully shared the Gospel with Timothy and asked if he’d like to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
After praying to commit his life to Jesus, Timothy thanked the chaplain, told him he was glad they met, and walked away from Hyde Park full of peace and with a smile on his face.
Alone No More
In the sea of tens of thousands of people, Edward* happened to be standing next to Reuben Morley and Cate Oxenham, two BG-RRT chaplains.
Noticing the 67-year-old man was rundown and hungry, Oxenham offered him food and a drink, which he was very thankful for. As the three began to talk, Edward shared that he’d taken the bus to Windsor Castle, wanting to pay his respects to the queen. He made the journey alone, as he’s been struggling with depression and hasn’t spoken to his family for some time. Having no one else to talk to, the chaplains made sure the man felt loved and cared for, and they told him they would be honored to stand with him for the day.
As the conversation continued, Morley asked if Edward would like them to pray for him, and he accepted. After they finished praying, Morley then asked if he had a personal relationship with Jesus. Edward was unsure, so the chaplains walked through “Steps To Peace With God,” explaining how Jesus was inviting Edward to put his faith and hope in Him.
Without hesitation, he said he wanted to do just that.
Edward then prayed aloud with Oxenham and Morley to commit his life to Jesus Christ. And as soon as they finished praying, Edward was visibly full of joy and couldn’t stop saying how glad he was that he left his home to make the trip to the funeral. It’s a journey he will never forget.
As the deployment has come to an end, will you pray for the many individuals our chaplains ministered to, and for those who made commitments to Jesus Christ? Please pray that they will find a local, Bible-believing church where they can grow in their faith.
*Names changed to protect privacy.