Billy Bray's Chapel (1835)




Billy was also a man of complete faith that his ‘Father’ would supply all his needs both personally and for his ministry. The Lord told him to build three chapels; only the one at Kerley Downs still exists today. The following is an abridged version of his story of how the one near Gwennap was built; it is fairly typical of how the Lord used Billy to accomplish His purposes. ‘The Lord put it into the heart of a gentleman to grant me a piece of land; and after we had dug out the foundation, we wanted stone to build with (the ‘we’ is probably Billy and his son.) The Lord put it in my heart to go down by the railway and try to raise stone. Some one had been there before and their quarry was poor. We went to work on an untouched piece in the middle and the dear Lord helped me as He said. Some wondered to see what a lot of stone we got out. I worked in my ‘core’ at the mine all the while I was raising stone; and as I was living a great way from the place where I was building the chapel, the Lord helped me again by putting it into a gentleman’s heart to give me five shillings a month while I was raising stone for the dear Lord’s house. When the masons were set to work I had no money in hand and so I had to go again to the bank of heaven by faith. At this time the Lord sent someone to me who said, ‘You will want timber, lime and slate will you not?’ So he told me to go to his stores and have what I wanted. When the masons wanted money I went round collecting and the friends were very kind and gave me money (he went all around the west of Cornwall.) I went on to St Ives, which was a small place about the year 1838, to find a good man named Bryant. Friend Bryant told me that I had come to St Ives at a very poor time, for there was but little fish caught that year and some of the people were almost wanting bread. ‘It was poor times,’ I said, ‘with Peter when the Lord told him to let down the net on the other side of the ship.’ Brother Bryant missed, for I had come at a very good time, as the event proved. We went up to the Wesleyan Chapel; there were a great many lively members and we had a good meeting. We prayed to the dear Lord to send some fish and He did. After the meeting was over, we went into a coffee house to get a little refreshment; then we began our meeting and continued it till midnight, praying to the Lord to send in the fish. As we came out of the meeting there were the dear, poor women with pilchards on their plates and the fish were shining in the moonlight. The women were smiling and we were smiling; and no wonder, for the dear Lord put bread on many shelves that night. We asked the women what fish was taken and they told us that many boats had taken ten thousand and some twenty thousand. They rested on Sunday and left it till Monday before they went about their fish. Some of the fishermen said to me, ‘Now you shall have some money for your chapel; and if you will get a boat and come out we will give you some fish.’ A friend got a boat and rowed me to the place where the fish were. The fishermen dipped up the fish and threw them into our boat.’ He sold the fish and raised £6.75 for his chapel. The Lord intervened many times to help Billy build the three chapels.