The first section of the book consists largely of extracts from a biography of John Ashworth published in 1875 by A. L. Calman who was a close friend and successor of Mr. Ashworth. Following this biographical section there is a selection of John Ashworth’s ‘Strange Tales’ which have particular bearing on his life and work. These were published by the author in five series containing twelve stories in each book and they first appeared during the years 1865 to 1874. Great pains were taken by the author to ensure that all the accounts were perfectly true since this was questioned in his own lifetime.
“Reading this book proved to be one of the most heart-warming experiences I have enjoyed for a long time. Praise God it is back in print and that it is now in your hands. John Ashworth is a largely forgotten figure, but his exploits in the gospel were wonderfully owned of God. Born into poverty, saved by grace and then with a mighty burden for the poor, he began his evangelism in the Lodging Houses of his home town.
“Whoever heard of a place of worship being called ‘The Chapel for the Destitute,’ but such was the name given by Ashworth to describe his new work. The conversions were many and lasting, so much so, a bigger ‘Chapel for the Destitute’ had to be built. Some of these astonishing stories are told here for our encouragement and spiritual delight. You will not find any difficult theological terms, nor even mention of any denominational affiliation, but just amazing works of God’s good grace in saving those whom many considered to be impossible cases. The book is so very easy and straightforward to read, it was, in another age, used in churches as a Sunday School prize. It will prove a joy, an inspiration and a challenge to all who love God’s work in saving sinners.” — From the Foreword by Alun McNabb
“This is a book for weeping over. There will be tears of shame, that we are not more persuaded of and act upon the saving mercies of God; tears of pity, for the fearful condition of the lost; and, tears of joy, for God’s goodness in bringing those under the power of darkness into his Son’s kingdom.
“A brief biography of Ashworth, founder of the ‘Chapel for the Destitute’ gives way to his records of God’s gracious dealings with needy sinners. While all conversions are amazing, Ashworth—not neglecting to tell of difficulties and disappointments—nevertheless focuses on some of the more distinctive and unlikely (humanly speaking) regenerations he saw, accomplished by ordinary means, applied faithfully, prayerfully, winsomely and patiently. This is a book to stir the soul, give confidence in God, and set the Christian, and especially the preacher, about his regular business with zeal and hope. I commend it vigorously.”—Jeremy Walker in The Banner of Truth Magazine, December 2010
“These biographical testimonies are truly amazing, showing what gifts John Ashworth had, despite being born in poverty, and the evident blessing of God upon his witness and ministry. As the sacred song says, ‘It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others He can do for you.’ Preachers, do read this encouraging book relating how very wicked men became convicted, then converted and who joined the Church which most unusually was called ‘the Chapel for the Destitute!’ What a title! Such were the numbers attending that the building had to be enlarged. Fellow Christians, in these discouraging days you will find this book a most encouraging stimulant. It would be a very acceptable present to give for all ages.
“We need to remember that the God of John Ashworth is the same God today. Let us pray for conversions and for all of us to hear in the present of trophies of grace and to know there are less going to hell and more going to Heaven than we had thought in this our very sinful but beloved country.” Joseph Hewitt in The English Churchman