The Revival Everywhere
Before we introduce you to a typical revival meeting, it’s necessary for all who pray for revival to know the principles that govern the Spirit’s working and how He will work when He is allowed to in your own local church, town and country. The awakening in Wales teaches us many outstanding lessons, one of which is that while God uses human instruments such as Evan Roberts, He’s in no way limited to the personality of one man. When Christians and the unsaved alike follow a popular preacher instead of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, then we know that it’s not a true revival.
Again, when a spiritual harvest depends almost entirely upon one personality, we know that there’s no true revival. The glorious fact and outstanding feature of the mighty awakening in Wales was that the sense of the Lord’s presence was everywhere throughout the entire nation, altogether apart from the young revivalist. Glory to God!
It wasn’t the presence of Evan Roberts that was felt but the mighty presence of God. Evan Roberts was only one of the broken instruments which the Spirit of God was using. As we have already mentioned, there were crowds of pastors and evangelists reaping mighty harvests simultaneous with the ministry of Evan and Dan Roberts, Sydney Evans, Sam Jenkins and “The Singing Sisters.” For example, R.B. Jones was conducting meetings in Amlych, in the Isle of Anglesey in the north of Wales, in January 1905, and found that revival had even then reached the northernmost point in Wales, although young Roberts had never been there.
The effects of the revival in Wales were astonishing. For example, the correspondent for The Liverpool Daily Post reported in December 1904 that there had been no arrests for drunkenness in Rhos since the revival had started. The earnings of the workmen, instead of being squandered in drink and vice, were now bringing great joy to their families. Outstanding debts were being paid by thousands of young converts. Restitution was the order of the day.
The gambling and alcohol businesses lost their trade, and the theaters closed down from lack of patronage. Football during this time was forgotten by both players and fans, though nothing was mentioned from the pulpits about the evils of football. In this country which had the general reputation of being “football mad,” the train for taking the crowds to the international trial match was found to be almost empty! The people had a new life and new interests.
The famous singing festivals of Welsh culture, which were always so popular in the land, somehow in these wonderful days sickened and died. The trained professional vocalists of Wales became singing “Sankeys” and “Alexanders” who came forth now with such hymns as “Throw out the Lifeline” while the glory of God filled their souls. Even the few concerts which remained usually closed with both singers and audience singing together the songs which had become popular during the revival, such as: “Tell Mother I will Be There,” “Ride in Triumph, Blessed Jesus,” “Who is a Pardoning God Like Thee,” etc.
Political meetings were cancelled or abandoned. They seemed completely out of the question since nobody was interested. The political leaders, even from the parliament in London, abandoned themselves to the revival meetings. Even the most powerful politicians, statesmen, intellectuals and rival religious leaders had difficulty denying the impact of the revival on the entire principality of Wales. Debts were paid, stolen goods returned, and the taverns were forsaken and closed. A serious problem developed at the mines because the horses had been trained to respond to the curses of the drivers, and since drivers did not curse anymore, the horses could not understand their commands.
Theatrical companies quit going to Wales because no one would attend their shows. Magistrates were presented with white gloves in many towns to signify that there were no arrests. The prisons were emptied. Revival scenes swept the universities day after day for months. Over 70000 names of new converts were reported in the papers in just two months.
William T. Stead, the editor of the famous Pall Mall Gazette was thought by some to be the most powerful man in Britain at the time. He made a personal visit to the revival and the London Methodist Times recorded the following interview with him upon his return (published in the Great Revival in Wales, Shaw, page 56):
“Well, Mr Stead, you’ve been to the revival. What do you think of it?” “Sir.” Mr Stead replied, “the question is not what I think of it, but it thinks of me, of you, and all the rest of us. For it is a very real thing, this revival, a live thing which seems to have a power and a grip which may get hold of a good many of us who at present are mere spectators.”
“Do you think it is on the march then?”
“A revival is something like a revolution; it is apt to be wonderfully catching”
“You speak as if you dreaded the revival coming your way.”
“No, that is not so. Dread is not the right word. Awe expresses my sentiment better. For you are in the presence of the unknown…..There is something there from another world. You cannot say whence it came or whither it is going, but it moves and lives and reaches for you all the time. You see men and women go down in sobbing agony before your eyes as the invisible Hand clutches at their heart. And you shudder. It is pretty grim I tell you, if you are afraid of strong emotions, you’d better give the revival a wide berth.”
“But is it all emotion? Is there no teaching?”
“Precious little. Do you think teaching is what people want in a revival? These people, all the people in a land like ours are taught to death, preached to insensibility. They all know the essential truths. They know they are not living as they ought to live, and no amount of teaching will add anything to that conviction.
“Then I take it your net impressions have been favorable?”
“How could they be otherwise? Did I not feel the pull of that unseen Hand? Have I not heard the glad outburst of melody that hailed the confession of some who in a very truth had found salvation? Of course it is all very much like what I have seen in the Salvation Army. And I was delighted to see that at last the Welsh churches are recognizing the equal ministry of men and women… There is a wonderful spontaneity about all, and so far its fruits have been good and only good.”
“Will it last?”
“Nothing lasts forever in this mutable world…But if the analogy of all previous revivals holds good, this religious awakening will be influencing for good the lives if numberless men and women who will be living and toiling and carrying on with this God’s world of ours long after you and I have been gathered to our fathers.”
One of the most significant results was that the old church prejudices were broken down. The man-made denominational barriers completely collapsed as believers and pastors of all denominations worshipped their majestic Lord together. The quarrels of local Christians were healed. One of the outstanding features of the revival was the confession of sin, not among the unsaved alone, but among the saved. All were broken down and melted before the Cross of Christ.
The revival and the effects which followed in its wake could not be kept local. Revival is like a prairie fire which carries all before it. It breaks out here and there in the most unexpected places, to the amazement of everyone. It’s not surprising then that the mighty fire which engulfed the nation of Wales soon spread to different parts of the earth. Visiting preachers and ordinary believers who had come to see the sight of “the burning bush” returned home to start fires in their own church, mission field and city. God’s people all over the world began to shout for joy.
As was to be expected, the first to feel the fire of revival were the Welsh-speaking colonies in America and elsewhere. In far-off India, the fire swept through the Welsh mission fields. All of Britain, as well as the Continent, began to be invaded for Christ by scores of evangelists, pastors, Bible teachers, and even laymen who had either been converted or had “caught the fire” in Wales during the revival. I, myself, have labored with some of these blessed men of God and know that even to this day the work still stands.
One preacher, for example, whose life was revolutionized, took the revival fire to a Scandinavian country, where today there are at least 100 churches flourishing as a direct outcome of his ministry. Rev. and Mrs. Rees Howells are examples of evangelists who took the fire of God to the mission field. They saw God work in an amazing way in South Africa and returned later to found the Bible College of South Wales in Swansea from which missionaries would go to the ends of the earth.
A young Latvian student from Spurgeon’s College in London broke away from his classes on hearing of the fire of God in Wales and made a bell-line to Swansea. There he caught the flame. The Spirit of God came upon him mightily so that when he returned to his beloved Russia, he carried the flame of revival to that land. As I labored with this man for many years, I was conscious of the lasting effect of the Welsh revival upon his ministry. Not only did he lead tens of thousands to Christ, but he was instrumental in building some 200 churches in Eastern Europe.
The year 1905 will never be forgotten in the history of the English Keswick Convention. It came to be known as “The Welsh Week” as many young pastors came from Wales to tell what God had done in their churches. In one meeting of three hours, there wasn’t a break in spontaneous praise, confession and worship. Friday night was an outstanding occasion when E. W. Moore was giving a message from I Corinthians 3:11-15 on “The Ordeal of Fire,” dwelling on the necessity of building upon the right foundation with purified materials – the possibility of the Christian himself being saved while his works are burnt up by the fire of God.
If it be asked why the fire of God fell on Wales, the answer is simple: fire falls where it’s likely to catch and spread. As one has said, “Wales provided the necessary tinder.” Here were thousands of believers unknown to each other, in small towns and villages and great cities, crying to God day after day for the fire of God to fall. This wasn’t merely a “little talk with Jesus,” but daily agonizing intercession.
Why the Fire Fell
They had also placed the wood upon the altar and fully surrendered to the claims of their Redeemer. They had a holy jealousy for the name of their God and wept sorely because of the fact that Satan was being glorified all around them. They constantly reminded God of what He had done in the past – in 1859.
“Oh, Lord, Thou are the same,” they cried, “and Thou canst do it again – even in this industrious, luxurious age.”
It’s good also to remember that the theme of the young prophet of Loughor, “Bend the church and save the world,” is the secret of every true awakening. Christians must humble themselves and get right with God, so the Spirit can break through in converting power upon the unsaved.
There must be no hypocrisy; the Christian must bend to all the will of God for His life in perfect obedience before the Spirit of God is released.The Holy Spirit was recognized and honored as a divine Person. They obeyed Him immediately without any reservation. Thus they received holy anointings and swept on as a conquering army.