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Evan Roberts | Pt 1

May I hope that the God who came in power to eleven defeated men on the day of Pentecost, and by their means turned the world upside down, will come in power in this dark generation and do again His mighty works.”  Dr. William Edwin Sangster

In today’s church spiritual revival is not an alternative….it is imperative. Here in America alone church attendance is falling rapidly. Godliness is no longer sought after; spiritual fervency is at its lowest. Instead of being a house of prayer, worship, and healing, most churches have become gathering places for friends and family, social clubs or a form of country club for those who are not elite enough to belong to one. Humanism is replacing true doctrine. Large churches across America are preaching to “itchy ears” a form of social freedom; salvation without accountability for our life styles, a form of conversion without true repentance. If God loves us just the way we are why did he send His Son to die a humiliating terrible death for our sins. Did not Jesus say: “Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5:14) In many denominations, ministers who are leading lives that are an abomination to God, are being elected to high offices. If anyone speaks out against them they are called intolerant. Paul had a word for all that is happening now:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

Where is the presence of God in the Church today. His Spirit cannot abide with us when the Church is no different than the world. Where is the fire, the conviction, the former glory of the Church. Are we to hang our harps on the willow trees? ( Psalm 137) EDITORS NOTE: SEE "Do we really want revival?" by Stephen Smith at www.canecreekchurch.org.

The other day I felt a groaning in my spirit when I read these poignant words of Leonard Ravenhill:

" The Salvationists can scarcely read of their flaming evangelical history without tears. Has the glory of the evangelical revival under Wesley ever gripped the hearts of the Methodists of today? Have the Holiness people set a guard at the door of the beauty parlors lest any sister should enter to get her hair curled, while a block away there is a string of prostitutes trying to sell their sin-wracked bodies with none to tell them of eternal love? Do the Pentecostals look back with shame as they remember when they dwelt across the theological tracks, but with the glory of the Lord in their midst? When they had a normal church life, which meant nights of prayers, followed by signs and wonders, and diverse miracles and genuine gifts of the Holy Ghost? When they were not clock watchers, and their meetings lasted for hours, saturated with holy power? Are these day's gone forever? Have we no tears for revival?"

Revival; the complacent cringe at that word. Revival is not just three days and nights of longer and better meetings but an awakening of Spiritual Life. Revival is God coming to the aid of His sick church. A true revival changes the moral climate of an area, town, or nation. Charles Finney said: " God is one pent up revival."

That type of revival was on the heart of Evan Roberts who for twelve years cried out to God for a revival to change the condition of his country, Wales. Many Church historians liken Wales to the condition of America today. Evan looked around him and saw that the country was, "as in the days of Noah." It seemed to him that the minds of the people were constantly on evil. Drunkenness, gambling, adultery, murder and theft were rampant. The moral decline of the land was on a downward cycle. And it was in the heart of this humble man that God imparted a burning vision for spiritual revival.

Evan Roberts was born June 8, 1878. One of seven sons his mother said, "I have another son to serve God now." Born to a humble and religious family, as a child, Evan took a Bible with him everywhere. His mother remembers that even early in his life he dreamed of revival. While he was a young coal miner, during breaks he would read 2 Chronicles 6 where Solomon prayed for revival. When he wasn't in the mines, he would be at home studying the Scriptures and praying. A historian J.T. Rees once asked his mother, "Did he pray much at home." She replied, "Oh yes! He used to spend hours in his room alone with God. Sometimes, I believe he spent whole nights in prayer." At times he would not come down to eat meals, telling his mother, "prayer was more important than food."

Roberts Biographer, Barnabas Harper, tells of a night in the spring of 1904 when Evan was praying by his bedside. He had an experience that shook him to the core. Writing in his diary he recalls the incident:

"I was taken up to a great expanse -without space and time- to communion with God. Before that I had a far-off God. I was frightened that night, but never since...After that experience I was awakened every night a little after one o'clock...From that hour I was taken up into Divine fellowship for about four hours..." Harper then tells us that it was during that time God told him that he was to take part in a great revival. Evan kept that secret to himself.

Throughout the history of Wales small spiritual awakenings occurred over the years, like tremors before an earthquake, calling the people back to a relationship with God. But the people would always go back to their old ways. In the early 1900's most people in Wales attended church as a moral commitment instead of a spiritual one. Except Evan, who in desperation gave himself to fervent prayer and intercession. Though only in his twenties, Roberts had no time for worldly entertainment and pleasure. One close friend remembers, "Day and night without ceasing, he prayed, wept and sighed for a great awakening." In his diary, Roberts writes, "for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read and talk about revivals."

Roberts Liardon writes:

"...he was known by some as a ‘mystical lunatic'...there were rumors of him standing trance-like beside the road while uttering deep sighs as his lips moved without any sound of words...several concerned ministers approached Evan regarding his unusual behavior. He simply answered them, ‘But the Spirit moved me.'

His friends introduced him to an American specialist, Dr. Hughes, who said it was "religious mania" that he was suffering from. In Brynmor Pierce Jones's biography, An Instrument of Revival: The Complete Life of Evan Roberts 1878-1951, he writes of the reminiscences of a Christian man who spent some time with Evan:

"We usually had a reading and prayer together before we put out the lamp. Then I could hear Evan calling and groaning in the Spirit. I could not understand what was his message to God again, and some holy fear kept me from asking."

At one place where he was staying he would be in his room spending hours praying and preaching that his landlady became afraid of him and asked him to leave. She thought that in his enthusiasm he was "possessed or somewhat mad."

Many thought him strange but the Spiritual power he portrayed was unmistakable. At a prayer meeting in Builith Wells he was asked to pray. The peoples "hearts were melted within them at the power in the prayer." He told the minister that he knew God was ready to "rend the heavens and come down." He said, "I have reached out my hand and touched the flame. I am burning and waiting for a sign."

It was now 1904 and Evan Roberts was 26 years old. He traveled throughout Wales with a burning flame for God's presence in his spirit. His fire was spreading. During this time almost every denomination in Wales was praying for revival. Evan had been accepted into a Bible college, but he couldn't complete his studies because of his burning desire to preach and pray. He was already well trained in the doctrine of " man, sin, and salvation."

Evan's secret to what would be a most powerful ministry was his willingness to bow to God's Sovereign purpose for his life. This did include being a teacher of a great revival but first it meant being willing to let God have his Divine way in Evan's life. At this time Roberts had entered the preparatory school at Newcastle Emlyn to prepare himself for the Trevecca Bible College entrance examination. Evan was determined to do all he could and to trust in God to do the rest. As mentioned earlier he would never finish school. The Lord did not need Evan's knowledge, He only needed a willing vessel.

In August of that year Seth Joshua, an evangelist, held a "God Meeting" at Blaenanerch a few miles from the school. Roberts and nineteen other young people, including his friend Sydney Evans, attended the meeting. During the seven o'clock meeting Evan was deeply moved and he broke down completely at the close of the service. When Seth Joshua used the words " BEND US, OH LORD," Evan entered into such travail that he heard nothing more. At the nine o'clock meeting the spirit of intercession was moving on the congregation in great power. Evan was bursting to pray and the Spirit of the Lord told him to do so publicly. He did! With tears streaming down his face Evan just began to cry: "BEND ME! BEND ME! BEND ME! BEND US, OH LORD." Then the Holy Spirit came upon the congregation with power that shook the place with a mighty baptism. Historians would refer to the night as "BLAENANERCH'S GREAT MEETING." From that night on Evan Roberts could focus on only one thought...the salvation of souls.

Not long after that Evans roommate and closest friend, Sydney Evans, came into the room to find Evan's face shining with a holy light. Astonished, he asked him what had happened. I'll let Rick Joyner tell us the rest:

"Evan replied that he had just seen in a vision the whole of Wales being lifted up to heaven. He then prophesied: ‘we are going to see the mightiest revival that Wales has ever known...and the Holy Spirit is coming just now. We must get ready...and go all over the country preaching.' Suddenly he stopped and with piercing eyes he cried: ‘Do you believe that God can give us 100,000 souls, NOW?' The presence of the Lord so gripped Sydney that he could not help but believe."

A few days later, Evan was in the school chapel praying " bend me oh Lord" when he says:

"I fell to my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, and the tears and perspiration freely flowed. I thought blood was gushing forth. It was fearful for about two minutes. I cried: ‘Bend me! Bend me! Bend us...!' What bent me was God commending his love, and I not seeing anything in it to commend. After I was bent a wave of peace came over me...the salvation of souls became the burden of my heart. From that time I was on fire with a desire to go through Wales..."
Then he saw a vision of his home town of Loughor and his old companions and many other young people with the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Go to these people."

Evan left the school never to return. It was not an easy trip back to his home town. Wrestling with the Lord he would pray, "I will go willingly among strangers, Lord, but it will be so hard to work among my own people. Never the less Lord if it is your will I will go."

Barnabas Harper continues the story:

"When he got home, as was expected, the ground was hard, but this made Roberts even more determined. Though they offered him little encouragement, his deacons granted him permission to hold some meetings. One deacon said, ‘The ground is stony, and you will have a hard task.'

Roberts persisted and asked for and was granted permission to hold services for young people. That night after the adult prayer meeting he asked all the young people to stay behind as he wanted to speak to them. Sixteen adults and only one little girl stayed. After the disappointment wore off, Evan began to explain his reason for coming home. He said that according to the Holy Spirit that here at the Moriah Chapel large numbers of young people were going to be saved. And above all, a mighty revival was coming to Wales. Everyone politely thanked him for sharing his vision and then left.

After that disappointing service, the next day, he held services at Pisgah, a small chapel nearby. This was a Tuesday night and strangely the audience had significantly increased...that meeting lasted until 10pm. The next day he was back at Moriah and he spoke on The Four Great Tenets. They were:

  1. Confess all known sin.
  2. Deal with and get rid of all unforgiveness in everyone's lives.
  3. Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly.
  4. Confess Christ publicly.

The next meeting he held lasted until midnight. It was announced that the next night the meeting would be for young people, but that evening just as many adults crowded into the chapel. There was a strange expectation in the air that God was going to do something marvelous and no one could bear to stay away. Many of the children began to have wonderful conversions, astonishing their parents. Again the meeting lasted past midnight. Rick Joyner in his book, THE WORLD AFLAME, relates what was going on:

"In less than a week the meetings had gone from being cold and powerless to a level that neither the young preacher nor the people had witnessed before. Days before it seemed that Evan's words just fell to the floor. Now his words had the power to penetrate even the hardest heart and genuine repentance was rolling over the people like waves. Evan's vision was being fulfilled before his eyes."

News of these meetings were spreading throughout Loughor. The spirit of the people had gone from unbelief to hope, to expectation, to awe. At the Moriah Chapel the Monday evening prayer meeting was not considered among the congregation as a highlight. Like most of the prayer meetings in the church today, only a handful of regulars attended. On Monday, November 7, the chapel was packed all the way back to the door. This had never happened before in the history of the chapel. Almost everyone in attendance that night were moved to tears; many crying in agony. Witnesses say that by midnight the presence of the Lord was so intense that it could hardly be contained. Those crying in remorse for their sins could not be distinguished from those crying in ecstasy at the nearness of God. It was after 3am before an attempt to close the meeting was possible.

Throughout the city everyone was talking about a Great Awakening. The next evening the people crowded into the chapel early just to be able to get seats. But that night the meeting was cold and lifeless. Evan and a few faithful stayed and prayed until the early morning but most of the people were gone before midnight or sooner. The question on Evan's mind as he went home was ‘why had the Lord departed so quickly?" The lesson they were about to learn is that sometimes God does not want to speak to us as much as He wants us to just wait on Him. Listen to what happened then:

" Just as Evan was about to fall asleep he was awakened by a strange noise in the streets. It was just 6:00am but the streets were noisy with crowds on their way to the early morning prayer services! The entire population of the town had responded in repentance and was being transformed into a praying multitude who would never fall asleep in the presence of the Lord again."

The underlying fervor in this move of God was actually coming from the children just as Evan prophesied. The children had so boldly grabbed hold of what the Lord was doing that they were the ones who were equipping their parents and teaching the adults the ways of the Lord. Little children were having their own prayer meetings and witnessed boldly to the most hardened sinners. Thousands of young people were converted and immediately sent throughout the land testifying to the Glory of God.

The kindling was now ready and the spark was about to ignite the world with what many call the greatest revival in modern time. In a Sunday morning worship meeting a young girl by the name of Florrie Evans, who had been gloriously converted just a few days before, stood and with a trembling voice said: "I LOVE JESUS CHRIST WITH ALL MY HEART!" With that the heavens were rent and the Glory of God fell among His people...The hearts of the people burst in a consuming fire and the great Welsh revival that would eventually touch the whole world had begun.

Joel 2:28..."And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out
My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy..."

To be continued...

JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church
http://www.canecreekchurch.org