The Welsh Revival
By: Donna J. Kazenske
As a Church History teacher, I thoroughly enjoy studying the lives of the great men and women of God who changed communities, cities and nations as a result of their persevering faith and determination to make a difference in their world. One such individual that I would like to focus on today is a man by the name of Evan Roberts.
Evan Roberts was a young man who prayed for revival for eleven years before he saw the fulfillment of it in his own church – Moriah Chapel - in 1904. Moriah Chapel was located in Loughor. After asking his pastor for permission to hold a meeting for the young people in their fellowship, permission was granted and several showed up to hear Evan give his testimony. The next evening, more people showed up and God began to move in mighty ways.
Even though Evan had very little theological training, his heart burned for souls.
Working in a coal mine at the age of twelve, Evan was continually witnessing to the men who worked with him in the mine. Every morning, he would arrive at the mine before the other workers so he could meet them at the entrance with a Scripture verse for them to meditate on during the day. At the end of the day, Evan would meet the workers as they came out of the mine asking them if the Lord had spoken anything to them regarding the Scripture given them in the morning.
Once the revival was started at Moriah Chapel, the coal miners were getting saved and could frequently be heard singing hymns and praising God in the mine.
As a result of the miners’ salvation experiences, the pit ponies (ponies that carried coal out of the mine in carts) no longer understood the commands of the miners because they were only used to obeying curse word commands. Since the coal miners no longer used bad language, the pit ponies were no longer responding to their commands as they were not used to anything but curse words. The coal mine owner was forced to buy new pit ponies so they could be trained to respond properly to the coal miners’ new language. That’s revival!
The effects of the revival were awesome. There was a dramatic decline in drunkenness and bars were deserted each night while the churches were packed with worshippers. Dance halls, theaters and football games also saw a dramatic decline in attendance as a result of the revival meetings. The courts and jails were deserted and many policemen found themselves without work.
The sale of Bibles increased so dramatically that shopkeepers were not able to keep them on their shelves. The printers were not able to print Bibles fast enough to keep up with the sales!
Meetings were held every night with large crowds attending every service. The services would go well into the early hours of the next morning.
Evan was not known for preaching full length sermons. Instead, he prayed and gave short exhortations which brought down the glory of God. Many in the congregation would end up in soul travail as Evan continued to pray and intercede on their behalf. Men and women alike would cry out to God for mercy as the power of God would fall upon them. Others would shake under the power of God, while others fell out of their seats.
Evan could often be seen walking up and down the aisles of the church with an open Bible in his hand, exhorting and encouraging the people. He operated in the gift of the word of knowledge and frequently gave these words to different individuals within the congregation. At other times, he would question certain individuals about their salvation. If they were not saved, he would often be given the opportunity to lead them to Christ as he knelt beside them in prayer.
During services, some individuals would feel free to lead out with a hymn as the Spirit of God moved over the congregation. While each song was being sung, many people would drop down in their seats as if they had been struck by lightning, while others would cry out for forgiveness.
Many times Evan would just sit in the front row of the church waiting for the unction of the Holy Spirit to come upon him before he would get behind the pulpit. Sometimes, after proceeding to the pulpit, all he could do was pray and weep for souls. His prayer, Bend us O Lord, was constantly heard as Evan cried out to God for souls and transformation.
Evan Roberts has been called the John Wesley of Wales. He was a man used mightily by God in his own nation. The spirit of revival was not only upon Evan Roberts and Moriah Chapel, but upon the entire nation of Wales. It was as if the very atmosphere was filled with the spirit of revival.
As a result of a continual drive to save souls and see revival, Evan suffered many emotional breakdowns during his lifetime. He would often work day and night without eating properly and getting enough rest. This eventually took its toll on Evan and he suffered eight emotional breakdowns.
It was after one of these breakdowns that Evan Roberts met a lady by the name of Jessie Penn-Lewis. She was a very wealthy woman from England as well as a minister. She and her husband invited Evan to come to their home to rest and recover from his sickness. Evan accepted their invitation and ended up staying in their home for eight long years.
Jessie Penn-Lewis was not a very good influence on the young revivalist. As a matter of fact, I believe she was partially to blame for the sudden ending of the Welsh Revival.
Jessie Penn-Lewis denounced the gifts of the Holy Spirit that had been operating through Evan Roberts. She ministered much condemnation to him and told him that the supernatural operations that he was experiencing were not from God. She eventually caused him to believe her lies and Evan was never able to minister revival meetings again. He spent the remainder of his life praying and writing. A man who was a carrier of revival fire was deceived by one woman operating under the power of another spirit.
We must never allow those of another spirit to deceive us and destroy what God has called us to do. We must be accountable to more than just one man or one woman of God. There is safety in the midst of many counselors.
The enemy desires to “take out” many great men and women of God, but we must learn to remain watchmen on the walls, watching and praying for God’s divine protection and intervention in our lives.
Revival comes with a price tag. Are we willing to pay the price to have real revival?
© 2003 Donna J. Kazenske