The Welsh Revival:“The chief need of
“The revival in
“The scene is almost indescribable. Tier upon tier of men and women filled every inch of space. Those who could not gain admittance stood outside and listened at the doors. Others rushed to the windows where almost every word was audible. When at 7:00 the service began quite 2,000 people must have been present.” Local newspaper report
" If you go to South Wales and watch the revival you will feel ...like there is something there from another world. You cannot say from 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...If you are afraid of strong emotions, you have better give the revival a wide berth." William T. Stead, editor Pall Mall Gazette
"I found the flame of Welsh religious enthusiasm as smokeless as the region's coal. There are no advertisements, no brass bands, no posters. All the paraphernalia of the got-up job (typical meetings) are conspicuous by their absence. There is no instrumental music. The pipe organs lie unused. There is no need for instruments for in and around and beneath surge the all-prevailing thrill and throb of a multitude praying, and singing as they pray...You feel that the thousand or fifteen hundred persons before you have become merged into one myriad-headed but single-souled personality. You can watch what they call ‘the influence of the power of the Spirit' playing over the congregation as an ebbing wind plays over the surface of the pond... And all this vast quivering, throbbing, singing, praying, exultant multitude is intensely conscious of the all-pervading influence of some invisible reality...they call it THE SPIRIT OF GOD." The London Daily
The Welsh revival was revival God's way. The entire country of Wales was engulfed in an all consuming consciousness of the manifestation of the presence of God. One hundred and fifty thousand people or one in twenty of the Welsh population were converted in less than a year. The fire of this revival was so intense that when letters or newspaper stories about it were read in other parts of the world, revival would break out there also. Whole cities were converted on a scale that had not been seen before or since. The entire country of Wales was covered with this Glory cloud. In a short time it would spread from this small principality of the British Isles to England, Ireland, Europe, and the United States where it erupted into the Great Pentecostal Revival that was to directly impact hundreds of millions of lives.
Soon the news of the revival was spreading around the world. The entire press in Wales was devoted to almost exclusive coverage of the revival. A short article that appeared in The Western Mail of Cardiff, Wales led with this headline:
Great Crowds of People Drawn to Loughor, Congregations Stay Til Half-Past Two in the Morning
"A remarkable religious revival is now taking place at Loughor. For some days a young man named Evan Roberts...has been causing great surprise at the Moriah Chapel. The place has been besieged by dense crowds of people unable to obtain admission. Such excitement has prevailed that the road on which the chapel is situated has been lined with people from end to end. The congregation remained praying and singing until two-thirty in the morning! Shopkeepers are closing early in order to get a place in the chapel, and the tin and steel workers throng the place in their working clothes."
The revival was unstoppable. Prayer meetings had so overflowed the chapel that people were opening their homes for meetings throughout Wales. Wagons and carts were pouring into the towns from all over the countryside. Before long even the home prayer meetings were overflowing as crowds stood outside many of the homes straining to hear what was going on inside. The evangelists were running from chapel to chapel and house to house. The Spirit of the Holy Ghost was flowing down the streets like a great flood.
The Lord continued to move through the younger generation of that day. Evan Roberts was only twenty-six years of age when the revival broke out. His sister, Mary who was such an important part of the work, was sixteen. Their brother Dan and Sydney Evans, Mary's future husband, were both twenty. The "Singing Sisters', who were greatly used, were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Many great preachers and spiritual leaders from around the world came thinking they could give direction and leadership to this new unorganized movement. There was a concern that this revival was run by teenagers and children. World renowned ministers like G. Campbell Morgan, F.B. Meyer, Gypsy Rodney Smith, and General William Booth marveled at this great visitation. They sat quietly in the meetings while the young people prayed, sang, and testified in the Spirit. Many of these leaders were so consumed by the presence of the Holy Spirit that they sat dumb and mute before Him and the children He had chosen. The Lord Himself was in control.
From the very beginning of this revival, Evan Roberts was totally convinced that he was not needed to fuel the flames. He would move from chapel to chapel and stick his head in to discern the Spirit and say go at it and leave. Thirty years later a women living on the island of Anglesey off the west coast of Wales remembered that before Evan Roberts crossed the Telford's famous bridge into Anglesey, there were already open manifestations of the operation of the Holy Spirit in at least five different chapels. When Roberts came to these places, in some cases he looked into the church and "sensed" that God was there, and simply said, "Obey God." She went on to say, that to those places he never came again during the duration of the Welsh Revival. Roberts was just a yielded vessel that the Lord could use. There were also a multitude of pastors and evangelists who were also used. The revival spread to the outermost parts of Wales even though Evan Roberts never visited there. E. Douglas Shields called Roberts one of the "most humble and self-effacing men in the country." There is a story of a man who went looking for Roberts to meet him. The meeting was crowded. After much effort he found himself a place. Three hours seemed to pass in a moment. The visitor turned to the one seated near him and asked if anything had been seen of Evan Roberts in this Spirit-filled meeting. The man then replied,"I am Evan Roberts." Seeing the astonishment on the visitors face, he added smilingly,"You see they do not need me."
Barnabas Harper tells of another incident:
At another of the revival services, Evan put the following questions to the people, with answers coming back in a chorus: ‘You all believe in God, do you not?" "Yes." "You believe in Christ's promises?" "Yes." Then he opened his Bible and read, "Lo, I am with you always," and asked " Then you believe that he is here?" Once more the answer came, "Yes." "Then," he said, quietly and naturally, as he closed the book, "I am not needed here." He then turned and left the hall."
The meeting lasted until five the next morning.
Often he would simply lead the people in prayer or read the scriptures. At other times he just remained silent, while one after another different people confessed their sins and gave testimonies. There were also times of glorious worship which lasted hours. Roberts just gave humble instruction from time to time and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. A controlling spirit could not grip him. He was a constant example not how to preach, but of how to be led by the Spirit.
One historian said that the "Welsh Revival was a mighty invasion of the Spirit; God's kingdom radically manifested on earth." Groups of people, praying and singing, would leave one town to travel to another and before they would cross the next city limits revival would break out in that town also. While the revival was spreading throughout the country, Evan Roberts' ministry was mostly confined to just one of twelve counties. The fire of the Holy Spirit burned in towns he did not even visit. And as he traveled to many places he found that the fire of revival was already there. He then would fan the flame a little and then go back to his home county. As was said earlier, Roberts knew from the beginning that he was neither the source nor the perpetuator of what was going on. He simply tried to stay yielded to the Spirit.
According to Roberts Liardon the revival meetings held by Evan were unlike any Wales had ever seen:
"One such service began with two girls standing in the pulpit. One pleaded and prayed for the people to surrender to the Holy Spirit. Then the other gave her testimony in song before bursting into tears. They called this, "warming the atmosphere." If the congregation wondered why Evan Roberts didn't take the platform after the two girls finished, they only needed to look at him. He was on his knees, weeping and pleading with God. Many said it was not the eloquence of Evan Roberts that broke men-it was his tears." Frank Bartleman quotes an eyewitness as saying, "Roberts in the intensity of his agony would fall in the pulpit, while many in the crown fainted." Liardon continues, "It was common in Evan's meetings for members in the congregation to suddenly fall on their knees and pray aloud. Waves of joy and sorrow would flood the congregation. Women fell to their knees and men laid in the aisles weeping, laughing, and praying. All the while, there was no sermon or instrument playing...It was even said the congregation was so caught up in God that they forgot to go home for Sunday dinner. This was unheard of in southern Wales in those days. As the day progressed, the evening service would become a continual prayer meeting. Evan could be seen walking up and down the aisles swinging his arms, clapping his hands, and jumping up and down."
David Matthews describes one of the meetings where he met Evan Roberts:
"There came a sudden calm. Hearing a movement in the pulpit behind me, I looked up. Evan Roberts was on his feet. Our eyes met for a few seconds. I solemnly avow that those eyes searched me through and through. They burned like coals of fire. In a split second, my innermost soul was laid bare. I feared and shook...Had there been a cover nearby, I most assuredly would have sought it."
Matthews relates that one of the most extraordinary gifts was Roberts' ability to discern what was going on in the revival services:
"Wherever he felt the perfect liberty of the Spirit in a service, his eyes glistened, his face became almost transformed and his smile radiant...Sensitive to these changing moods of the Spirit, Mr. Roberts would reflect them in his face."
Barnabas Harper writes that Roberts developed a habit of confronting those who, in the meetings, would resist the Holy Spirit. D. M. Phillips explained: "It is a fire to his soul to hear a deceitful man..."
If one could see the country of Wales before and then after the revival it would be hard to believe that it was the same place. Local stores throughout Wales could not keep Bibles in stock. Because of the revival, men in the coal mining industry had a serious problem. Their workhorses had so been trained to respond to instructions that were so full of profanity would not now respond to their born again masters. They all had to be retrained because the animals didn't know how to respond to commands without a curse word in it. The earnings of the workmen, instead of being wasted on drink and gambling and vice, were now being brought home with great joy to the families. Outstanding debts were being paid by the thousands of young converts. The gambling and alcohol establishments lost the business and closed down by the hundreds. Many of the owners, being converted, refused to do that kind of business ever again. The theaters in the cities closed down for lack of patronage. Political meetings were cancelled or abandoned, it seemed nobody was interested any longer in that type of activity. The political leaders from Parliament in London left the meetings and went to the revival gatherings. Wave after wave of the Holy Spirit was passing over the land. At the time the revival broke out the whole nation was in a frenzy over the favorite Welsh sport, football (soccer). All anyone could think or talk about was this one obsession. Gambling on the games was rampant. Then the star players were converted and joined the revival meetings to testify of the glorious things that the Lord had down for them. Soon the players were so captivated by the Lord that they lost interest in the games, the teams disbanded and the stadiums were empty. Rick Joyner explains it this way:
"This miracle could only be compared to turning on your television set one Sunday afternoon to watch a National Football League game, only to hear the announcers trying to explain that none of the players had shown up because they were out evangelizing the city, and none of the fans had shown up because they were out there too! No one preached against sport or football-the people had simply become so passionate for the Lord that , for a season, such games just could no longer interest either the players or the people...even letters and telegrams from Wales seemed to carry the fire-as they were read souls would be saved and revival would break out."
William Seymour, a one-eyed black man, an unknown preacher who were ministering in a tiny little mission (an old barn) on a side street in Los Angeles heard about the revival and wrote Evan Roberts for more information. Evan sent him 5,000 pamphlets titled "The Revival in Wales, which Seymour distributed to various churches. Shortly thereafter the Azusa Street Revival erupted and birthed the Pentecostal Movement in America.
Soon word of the revival spread to other nations. People from South Africa, Russia, India, Ireland, Norway, Canada, and Holland were all visitors at one meeting. Many carried the fire of this revival back to their own nations. The biggest and most influential newspapers in Wales were soon completely dominated by news of the revival. Since there was no crime, violence, and scandal to report the headlines told of conversion counts, news from the meetings, the words of new hymns and revival maps detailing where the Spirit was moving with the greatest intensity.
By 1906 Evan Roberts' participation in the revival was coming to an end. Due to his inexperience he pushed his body to the limit. Evan was operating around the clock without rest. He replied to those concerned, "Tired? Not once. God has made me strong and manly. I can face thousands. My body is full of electricity day and night and I have no sleep before I am back in meetings again." But as Charles Finney had said, "No revival can last if the workers do not learn to rest." It is documented that Roberts slept and ate very little during the revival. In fact, when he did take time to sleep, he would only allow himself two to three hours. In order to continually walk in the Spirit one of the laws instituted by God is to take care of our physical body. Even Jesus took time to escape to the mountain and rest. God the Father rested on the seventh day. Evan was showing signs of emotional and physical strain but continued to go from town to town. Soon Evan suffered a physical and emotional breakdown. It took a while but Roberts recovered and began to devote the rest of his life to solitary prayer and intercession. His part and influence on the revival was over. Even after his breakdown and recovery he always dreamed that God's kingdom was about to appear and that the fullness of God's purpose for his church would be manifested. His hunger for revival never abated even into his latter years.
On January 29, 1951, Evan Roberts entered the greatest revival ever...in eternity!
2 Chronicles 5:14..."The priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God."
JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church