Many of you will have heard of the writer and often controversial TV broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge, but perhaps not many will know that his eldest son Len was converted to Christ as a young man and had a long and active life in service to God.
Compared to his famous father, Len (10/10/28–1/3/17) was a humble, unassuming man, who did not draw attention to himself, but, through his godly life and cheerful witness, had a lasting impact on many people’s lives. This is his story and a testimony to God’s grace in his life.
Len was born in 1928 in Cairo, where his father was teaching. He was the eldest of four children. While his father and mother travelled and worked all over the world, he grew up in boarding schools in East Sussex and then went on to do National Service.
It was during his time in the army that he came into contact with Army Scripture Readers, who spoke to him about Jesus. This was to change his life forever. Although he had been a churchgoer throughout his childhood, it was only in the army that he had heard the message of the cross for the first time: that Jesus had died to pay the penalty of his sin. He came to a personal faith in Jesus and followed him wholeheartedly for the rest of his life.
After National Service, Len gave up a place at Cambridge University to go instead to London Bible College. His eyes were on the mission field and, after a period of theological and language study, he was sent with the Brethren Assemblies to live in the Tyrol, Austria.
He often spoke of the spiritual darkness he encountered in the villages there, as he sought to talk to people about Christ. He spent several years faithfully preaching, teaching, befriending and witnessing to the truth to local people. In his late 30s he met and fell in love with a young student, Sylvia, who was on a summer placement in Austria. They later married and settled in Dunstable, where they raised their four children.
Len remained a missionary at heart and anyone who knew him could not fail to hear about his hope and trust in the Lord. He became a primary school teacher. One of his former students remembers that as a punishment for misbehaviour he gave them Psalms to learn by heart!
In the 1980s, having suffered a breakdown from teaching, he became a factory cleaner for the rest of his working life. He always said this was his happiest job, as while cleaning he could talk to people about his faith and this is what he loved doing. Despite suffering a personal tragedy with the early loss of Sylvia to cancer in 1986, he didn’t retreat into himself, but continued to reach out to others and talk to them about Jesus.
During his 50-plus years in Dunstable he was actively involved in Langdale church, leading the Sunday school and also becoming an elder and local preacher. His deep faith and trust in God were at the centre of everything he did.
Over the years, he got to know so many people and could often be found in town giving a friendly word here, a smile there, offering meals and cups of tea to the lonely, helping people with their problems, getting involved in the day-to-day joys and sorrows of people’s lives, and being there for them. Always friendly and willing to give his time to others, he reached out to all, no matter who they were or where they came from. He always said, it is not the job that you do in life that matters, it is the person you are.
He was a follower of Christ, who put others before himself in every way. His life can be summed up by a verse in the Bible: ‘For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21). He lived for Christ in this life and is now with him forever more.
Finally, this is Len’s diary entry, dated 29 January 2008: ‘This year I shall reach the age of 80. It’s time to look back and rejoice in all that God has done for me. All the good things he has prepared for them that love him…
‘Yes, there have been mistakes and also regrets. But the blessings far outweigh the regrets and disappointments. Above all, a glorious future awaits me and all those who have trusted Jesus and it is on this great hope that I want to concentrate above all’.
This great hope that Len waited for is based upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is that which every Christian longs to see fulfilled. Christians are people who, like Len, have turned from their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
Their hope is to see and be with their living Saviour in heaven forever, along with all God’s people, and to be given a glorified, resurrected body. Do you have this hope?
This testimony was submitted by Len’s daughter, Katie Setchell