Arthur Stace was a loser, a no-hoper, an alcoholic and
completely illiterate. He lived in the streets of Sydney, regarded by
many who saw him as a lost cause.
One Sunday night in 1932 he entered St Barnabas'
Anglican Church on Broadway, Sydney, and heard the Reverend T. C.
Hammond preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Banner of Truth has
published a paperback biography of T. C. Hammond. Arthur was convicted
by the Spirit of God. He left the church, crossed the road, and sat
under a tree in Victoria Park where he committed his life to Jesus
Christ. He had become a new creation.
Later that year he was at the Burton Street Baptist
Tabernacle on the corner of Palmer Street, Darlinghurst when he heard
the evangelist John G Ridley preaching.
In his urgent, commanding voice, John Ridley cried,
"Eternity! Eternity! Oh, that this word could be emblazoned across
the streets of Sydney!"
Arthur Stace the little man who still could not read
or write left that church, took some yellow chalk, bent down and wrote
one word on the footpath. And throughout the night for the next 40
years, while Sydney slept, Arthur would take his chalk and write in
immaculate copperplate handwriting the word "eternity" on
footpaths, entrances to the train station, and anywhere else he thought
it would catch people's attention.
Sydneysiders would alight from their commuter trains
of a morning and see this word as they walked to work.
In Sydney today, you can still see the word in three
1) On his gravestone in Waverley Cemetery,
commemorating the life of Arthur Stace who had become known as 'Mr
2) Inside the huge bell in the GPO clock tower which
had been dismantled during the second world war. When the clock tower
was rebuilt in the 1960s, the bell was brought out of storage and as the
workmen were installing the bell they noticed, inside, the word
"eternity" in Arthur Stace's chalk. (No one ever found out how
Stace had been able to get to the bell, which had been sealed up, to add
this mysterious entry to Sydney's folklore.)
3) In Town Hall Square, between St Andrew's Cathedral
and the Sydney Town Hall. When the area was redeveloped in the 1970s, a
solid brass replica of the word in Stace's original copperplate
handwriting was embedded in the footpath near a fountain as an eternal
memorial to Arthur Stace.
As the year 2000 was welcomed, the word
"eternity" in Stace's handwriting, was emblazoned NOT across
the streets of Sydney as John Ridley had wished, but across the face of
the Sydney Harbour Bridge and, thanks to modern technology, was seen
around the world.
Of all the words that have been spoken during the
first two millennia, the one chosen by otherwise-godless people to be
featured on the Harbour Bridge at the dawn of the year 2000, is the one
that was used to remind so many busy Sydneysiders of their impending
appointment with their Creator.
Because Sydney's fireworks display was the first of
the international celebrations to be telecast around the globe, people
in every continent witnessed the miracle that God performed when he
touched the life of one little, 'insignificant' man - Arthur Stace - a
man who heard the voice of God and responded by committing his life to
'preaching' his one-word sermon.
Heaven only knows how God will continue to speak to
the hearts of so many people around the globe, using the work He started
back in the 1930s through Arthur Stace and his piece of yellow chalk.
Maroubra Baptist Church, Sydney.