By Dr. Alvin L. Reid
THE POWER OF EVANGELISM IN THE WELSH REVIVALI believe the world is upon the threshold of a great religious revival, and I pray that I may be allowed to help bring this about. I beseech all those who confess Christ to ask Him today, upon their knees, if He has not some work for them to do now. He will lead them all as He has led us. He will make them pillars of smoke by day and pillars of fire by night to guide all men to Him.” -Evan Roberts
One of the first revival movements I ever heard of was the Welsh Revival of 1904-05. Wales has duly been called the “Land of Revival” and the “Land of Song.” Griffith Jones, Howell Harris, Daniel Rowlands, William Williams, and Christmas Evans led earlier awakenings. The 1859 awakening was reported around the world. The land was set ablaze by the Moody-Sankey meetings in the late 19th Century.
In 1904 God again visited this small but significant locale. One of the earliest signs of a growing awakening came in the ministry of pastor Joseph Jenkins at New Quay, Cardiganshire. In November, 1903, he began a Young People’s Meeting to battle their growing worldliness. Jenkins was visited by a shy young girl following an evening service in January, 1904. The following week, the first Sunday in February, Jenkins asked for testimonies during the Young People’s Meeting following the morning service. Then, he asked for responses to the question, “What does Jesus mean to you?”
Her sincere, earnest confession had the effect of a lightning strike of the Spirit in the congregation. Person after person arose and made full surrender to Christ. An early eyewitness of the revival said: “It was the beginning of the visible manifestation of the Spirit breaking out in life-streams which afterwards would touch thousands of souls.”(2) The news of the service spread throughout the area as young people testified in other churches.
Evan Roberts (1878-1951) was the person most recognized in the Welsh Revival. He came from a humble, religious family. As a child, the devout lad took a Bible with him everywhere. Early in his life, he dreamed of revival. While a young coal miner, a page of the Bible was scorched, the page at II Chronicles 6 where Solomon prayed for revival. Perhaps Evan saw this as prophetic, for when he became world-known, the Bible was displayed in photographs around the world.
Roberts heard an evangelist named Seth Joshua speak at Blaednnannerch. The Thursday morning service closed with Joshua praying, “Lord…Bend us.” Roberts went to the front, knelt, and with great anguish cried, “Lord, bend me.” Reflecting on that prayer, he later said that the impact of his commitment had this effect: “I felt ablaze with a desire to go through the length and breadth of Wales to tell of my Savior; and had that been possible, I was willing to pay God for doing so.”(3)
Roberts began to go to various towns to speak of his changed life. “Oh, Syd,” he said to his best friend, Sydney Evans, in late 1904, “We are going to see the mightiest revival that Wales has ever known – the Holy Spirit is coming just now.” In great anticipation, he added, “We must get ready. We must get a little band and go all over the country preaching.” Suddenly Roberts stopped, looked at Sydney, and said, “Do you believe that God can give us 100,000 now?”(4)
Within six months, 100,000 souls were converted in Wales.
Social impact was similarly reported. Judges were presented with white gloves signifying no cases to be tried. Alcoholism was halved. At times hundreds of people would stand to declare their surrender to Christ as Lord. Restitution was made, gamblers and others normally untouched by the ministry of the church came to Christ. In fact, esteemed G. Campbell Morgan recalled a conversation with a mine manager about profanity. The manager told him, “The haulers are some of the very lowest. They have driven their horses by obscenity and kicks. Now they can hardly persuade their horses to start working, because they have no obscenity and kicks.”(5)
Do you long to see God move like that in our day? What if, one hundred years later, God so moved in our nation that hundreds of thousands of people, even millions, flooded the churches? If so, remember there is never great, widespread revival without personal revival. Do you seek a personal, deep, Spirit-led movement of God in your life? Then consider these aspects of personal revival taught by Evan Roberts, known as the Four Points