Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival

Evan Roberts

Published August 4, 2012 by MyQuest in Diaries of Revival


Evan Roberts (1878-1951)

Though only 26 years old, Evan Roberts had no time for youthful entertainment and pleasure. More than anything else, Evan Roberts was a man of prayer. The extent of his public influence was a direct result of his personal commitment to prayer. More than 100,000 Welsh people came to Christ during an unprecedented nine months of intense revival that closed bars and cancelled sporting events. It triggered revival around the world, including the famous Azusa Street revival of 1906 which forever changed the landscape of Twentieth Century Christianity. As with all great heroes of the faith, a deep hunger for the Word of God and an unquenchable thirst for more of the Spirit of God began at an early age.

A Devoted Life
Of his early years, he later wrote ““For thirteen years I had prayed for the Spirit, and this is the way I was led to pray. William Davies, the deacon, said one night in the society: “Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you absent? Remember Thomas! What a loss he had!”

“I said then to myself: ‘I will have the Spirit.’ And through all weather, and in spite of all difficulties, I went to the meetings. Many times, on seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was tempted to turn back and join them. But, no. Then I said to myself: ‘Remember your resolve to be faithful,’ and on I went. Prayer meeting Monday evening at the chapel; prayer meeting Tuesday evening at Pisgah (Sunday School branch); Church meeting Wednesday evening; Band of Hope Thursday; class Friday evening-to these I went faithfully throughout the years. For ten or eleven years I have prayed for a revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit that moved me to think about a revival.”

Paying the Price for Revival
Because of his unique desire for the Lord, Evan gave himself to fervent prayer and intercession. He would awaken every night at 1:00 a.m. to be “taken up into divine fellowship” and would proceed to pray until 5:00 a.m. when he would fall back to sleep for four hours before waking again at 9:00 a.m. continuing in prayer until noon.

By December 1903, Evan knew in his heart that God had planned a great revival for the Welsh community. Although he had been accepted to Bible college, he could not continue his studies because of his desire to preach and pray. Throughout that year Evan wrestled over what was expected of him and what he felt the Lord calling him to do. ‘I have only to wait for the fire. I have built the altar, and laid the wood in order, and have prepared the offering; I have only to wait for the fire.’

The Fire That Started The Fire
Evan writes: “The seven o’clock meeting was devoted to asking and answering questions. The Rev. W. W. Lewis conducted. At the close the Rev. Seth Joshua prayed, and said, during his prayer, ‘Lord, do this, and this, and this, &c., and bend us.’ He did not say, ‘O Lord, bend us.’ It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need,’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed, ‘O Lord, bend me.’

“At the breakfast table at the Rev. M. P. Morgan’s house Mag Phillips offered me bread and butter. I refused, as I was satisfied. At the same moment the Rev. Seth Joshua was putting out his hand to take the bread and butter, and the thought struck me: “‘It is possible that God is offering me the Spirit, and that I am unprepared to receive Him; that others are ready to receive, but are not offered?’ Now my bosom was quite full-tight.

‘On the way to the nine o’clock meeting the Rev. Seth Joshua remarked, ‘We are going to have a wonderful meeting to-day.’ To this I replied, ‘I feel myself almost bursting.’

“The meeting, having been opened, was handed over to the Spirit. I was conscious that I would have to pray. As one and the other prayed I put the question to the Spirit, ‘Shall I pray now?’ ‘Wait a while,’ said He. When others prayed I felt a living force come into my bosom. It held my breath, and my legs shivered, and after every prayer I asked, ‘Shall I now?’ The living force grew and grew, and I was almost bursting. And instantly someone ended his prayer-my bosom boiling. I would have burst if I had not prayed. What boiled me was that verse, ‘God commending His Love.’ I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, and the tears and perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth. Mrs. Davies, Mona, New Quay, came to wipe my face. On my right was Mag Phillips, and on my left Maud Davies. For about two minutes it was fearful. I cried, ‘Bend me! Bend me! Bend us!’ Then, ‘Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!’ and Mrs Davies said, ‘O wonderful Grace!’ What bent me was God commending His Love, and I not seeing anything in it to commend.

A Burden Is Born
After I was bent a wave of peace came over me, and the audience sang, ‘I hear Thy welcome Voice.’ And as they sang I thought of the bending at the Judgement Day, and I was filled with compassion for those who would be bent on that day, and I wept.

Henceforth the salvation of souls became the burden of my heart. From that time I was on fire with a desire to go through all Wales, and, if it were possible, I was willing to pay God for allowing me to go.

Visions of Revival
Following this burden for souls, Evan began praying for a hundred thousand souls and had two visions which encouraged him to believe it would happen. He saw a lighted candle and behind it the rising sun. He felt the interpretation was that the present blessings were only as a lighted candle compared with the blazing glory of the sun. Later all Wales would be flooded with revival glory.

In the other vision, Evan looked up to see what seemed to be an arm outstretched from the moon, reaching down into Wales. He later told a friend, “I have wonderful news for you. I had a vision of all Wales being lifted up to heaven. 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.”

Preparations for Revival
He obtained approval to begin a small series of meetings that began on October 31 at a small church. This quickly grew into a major revival that lasted two weeks. During those meetings the Holy Spirit gave Evan four requirements that were later to be used throughout the coming revival:
1. Confession of all known sin
2. Repentance and restitution
3. Obedience and surrender to the Holy Spirit
4. Public confession of Christ

The Dawn of Revival
The Spirit began to be outpoured. There was weeping, shouting, crying out, joy and brokeness. Some would shout out, “No more, Lord Jesus, or I’ll die”. This was the beginning of the Welsh Revival. Soon, entire communities were transformed as the meetings increased in fervor, strong moves of intercession flooding the services, often lasting well into the night. Evan led the congregations and teams of intercessors in prayer sometimes until morning when crowds would already be gathered outside ready to begin another day of services. Nine months later, Wales was in the midst of a sweeping revival that ushered in a worldwide hunger for God that would change the course of modern Christianity.

The Effect of Revival
One eye-witness of the revival said that what drew people to Evan “perhaps more than any other thing, was the unfeigned humility in all his actions.” His services were marked with laughing, crying, dancing, joy, and brokenness. Soon, the newspapers began covering them, and the revival became a national story. Political meetings were cancelled, theaters were closed down, and bars and casinos lost their customers. Most wonderfully, Christians from all denominations worshipped together as doctrinal differences fell by the wayside. Some of the reporters themselves were converted at the meetings.

The revival spread with such fervor throughout the nation, that former prostitutes started holding Bible studies, while delinquent, bar-going husbands became a great joy and support to their families. Debtors paid their debts. Denominational barriers were broken, and eventually, national and racial barriers began to crumble. Women were welcome to participate in a public role for the first time in the history of Wales. They opened the meetings by leading in song and stirring testimonies; and continued to prayer, sing, and minister without restraint.

A Message to the World by Evan Roberts

THE Power of the revival in South Wales is not of men, but of God. He has been close to us and has shown us the way.

There is no question of creed or of dogma in this movement. The work that is being done has the support, I believe, of all Christian people and Christian churches in our country. I have merely preached the religion of Jesus Christ as I myself have experienced it.

God has “made me glad,” and I am showing others the great joy of serving Him, a joy so great and so wonderful that I shall never be able to express it in its completeness. We are teaching no sectarian doctrine, only the wonder and the beauty of Christ’s love, the love of man for Him, and the love of man for man.

I have been asked concerning my methods. I have none. I never prepare the words I shall speak. I leave all that to Him. I am not the source of this revival. I am only one agent in what is growing to be a multitude. I am not moving men’s hearts and changing men’s lives; not I, but “God worketh in me.” I have found what is, in my belief, the highest kind of Christianity. I desire to give my life, which is all I have to give, to helping others to find it also. Many have already found it, thank God, and many more are finding it through them.

This is my work as He has pointed it out to me. His Spirit came to me one night, when upon my knees I asked Him for guidance, and five months later I was baptized with the Spirit. He has led me as He will lead all those who, conscious of their human weakness, lean upon Him as children upon a father. I know that the work which has been done through me is not due to any human ability that I possess. It is His work and to His Glory. “I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou should’st lead me on. I loved to choose and see my path, but now lead Thou me on.”

I desire nothing but to be allowed to continue this work that has begun. “The Lord is my Shepherd. I fear no want.” All things necessary He has provided, and will provide. I wish no personal following, only the world for Christ.

Some things have been said about our meetings, and about me which are not true; but God’s truth has not been hurt by these misstatements, and they, therefore, matter little. I believe, too, that He has put it into the hearts of those who have written of the revival to say helpful things, for some of the papers have carried our message to many whom we have not personally reached.

I believe that the world is upon the threshold of a great religious revival, and I pray daily 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.

Wonderful things have happened in Wales in a few weeks, but these are only a beginning. The world will be swept by His Spirit as by a rushing, mighty wind. Many who are now silent Christians, negative Christians, Christians whose belief means little to them and nothing to anyone else, will lead in the movement. Groping, hesitating, half-hearted Christians will see a great Light and will reflect this Light to thousands of those in utter darkness. The whole world will hear His message of “peace, good-will toward men,” and listening, will be blessed. Thousands upon thousands will do more than we have accomplished, as God gives them power. This is my earnest faith, if the churches will but learn the great lesson of obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Obedience! Obedience!! Obedience!!!

Sources:
1. God’s General’s
2. The Revival Library
3. Pentecostal Pioneers

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