"It was in 1904. All Wales was aflame. The nation had drifted far from God. The spiritual conditions were low indeed. Church attendance was poor, and sin abounded on every side," writes Oswald J. Smith.
"Suddenly, like an unexpected tornado, the Spirit of God swept over the land. The churches were crowded. Multitudes were unable to get in. The meetings ran day and night. Evan Roberts was the human instrument God was using. Singing, testimony and prayer were the chief features. Nothing had ever come over Wales with such far-reaching results. Infidels were converted, drunkards, thieves and gamblers saved, and thousands reclaimed to respectability. Confessions of awful sins were heard on every side. Old debts were paid. The theater had to close for want of patronage. In five weeks 20,000 conversions were recorded."
A correspondent of an English paper writing of the revival says: "If I had been asked a month ago whether a revival was probable in Wales, I should have answered, ‘No.’ It seemed to me that higher criticism had wrecked the ordinary machinery of revival and nothing could be done to disturb the prevailing apathy."
The Fire of God Breaking Out
Years before, God had breathed in the heart of a collier lad in the coal mines of Loughor, a prayer for a spiritual awakening. For thirteen unwearying, unflagging years Evan Roberts prayed and pleaded for the Spirit’s outpouring, alone and with others, until his petitions became a consuming flame. Then it was the fire of God broke out at Loughor and spread like a blazing prairie fire the world around. The revival began among Christians confessing to their lack of assurance of salvation, powerlessness, etc. In one week seventy Christians sought the Lord for the removal of hindrances in their Christian life and made a full surrender of themselves to Christ.
After this the fire of the Holy Ghost fell upon the meetings. The congregations grew until places of worship were unable to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Thousands were eager to testify to what the Lord had done for them. The revival for which Evan Roberts and others had prayed for years, had come!
Papers reporting the awakening wrote, "The whole district is in the grip of an extraordinary spiritual awakening which shows no signs of relaxing."
Day and night the meetings went on. From the lips of the humblest and lowliest poured forth passionate appeals in prayer which quickened the whole being. Men and women rose more than one at a time and prayed with a fervor which was inspired. Everywhere the Spirit of the Lord was felt – in the street, in the stores, in the trains….
Visitors came from far and near and the prayer meetings were attended by crowds. Prizefighters and the most besotted of drunkards were lifted from the depths of degradation and their hearts set aflame with the Savior’s love of souls.
Seth Joshua relates that many years before the revival broke out in Evan Roberts’ meetings, that he had it laid on his heart to ask the Lord definitely to take a lad from the coal mines or from the field even as He took Elisha, to revive His work in Wales. He asked the Lord to raise up an instrument whereby human pride might be humbled – not one from Cambridge, lest it minister to people’s pride, nor one from Oxford lest it feed the intellectuals in the church….
Under the constraint of the Holy Spirit, people thronged to hear the Spirit-baptized young miner. Churches were filled all hours of the day. "Ye are My witnesses," was the burden of the message as in the days of Pentecost. Prayer, testimony and singing would sweep over the congregation in torrents and hundreds of souls would surrender to God, the congregations bursting into joyous thanksgiving and hymns of gladness. The Holy Spirit bore witness by "signs and wonders" wrought amongst the thronging multitudes. Indescribable scenes took place.
At certain times in the services Evan Roberts would "test" the meeting and give four definite steps necessary to full salvation:
1. The past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God, and everything wrong to man put right.
2. Every doubtful thing in the life must be put away.
3. There must be prompt and implicit obedience to the Holy Spirit.
4. There must be public confession of Christ.
Bend the Church, Save the World!
The burden of Evan Roberts was for the church. His cry was, "Bend the church and save the world!" In the Welsh, the word "bend" conveys the meaning of submission to God and removing resistance to His will. Roberts’ one aim was to get Christians right with God so that the Spirit might come with converting power upon the unsaved.
CALVARY was his theme. He would break down in heart-anguish when he spoke of Calvary. "You would not be cold toward God," he would sob, "if you come to Calvary."
Many prayers were simply thanksgiving to God for Calvary. The hymns rang with Calvary, one of the favorites being, "The Mount of Calvary," an exultant song of triumph, recording Christ’s victory over death and hell at the Cross. Souls were sung to Christ, and exulted over in song when won. The spirit of joy and gladness filled all hearts as thousands rejoiced in the salvation wrought by Calvary’s Lamb.
The world bore testimony to the practical, ethical and spiritual fruit of the revival. Students were known to return their medals because unfairly won. The post office’s supply of money order blanks was exhausted as people sought to pay their debts and make restitution. People such as harlots and gamblers – rarely touched by ordinary means – were won to Christ. Magistrates were presented with "white gloves" because there were no court cases. Saloons and theaters closed. Oaths were not heard. Shops were sold out of Bibles and Testaments. Bible reading became the order of the day. Prayer meetings were held in the mines underground, in trains and in all kinds of places.
Far and wide the influence spread. Heads of industry bore witness that the amount of work turned out by their men since the revival began, had been greater than they had known for years. Members of Parliament, busy attending revival services, postponed their political meetings. Theatrical companies coming into the district, found no audiences. It seemed to some that "All the world was praying!" Football teams disbanded because their members became converted and Christ became the only attraction. Young and old put away "drink" and temperance workers saw the Spirit of God accomplish more in three months than they had accomplished in forty years.
A tidal wave of revival rolled over the cities of Wales. Two months after the revival broke, 70,000 names of converts were recorded. Visitors flocked from all parts of the world to see God breaking forth on the sons of men.
Today’s Deepest Need Is a Revival of Righteousness!
The awful problems of crime, immorality, political corruption, mammon-madness, pleasure-worship, etc., are now eating like destructive termites at the foundations of our nation. Today America is facing the supreme crisis of her history! We are seeing the breakdown of modern civilization. Only one thing can save America, and that is to get back to her spiritual undergirdings, and return to the faith of her forefathers. Only a visitation from on high will turn the tide, and save the day.
The responsibility of securing this spiritual revival rests entirely with praying men and women. Prayer groups and companies, whole churches and assemblies should be organized to intercede for a national revival.
There is no revival where there is no prayer. What America – and every nation – needs today more than anything else is men and women to get desperately determined and in earnest to have God work in revival power, and to take hold of God in an agony of importunate prayer (Isa. 64:1-7; 66:8). Let the people of God everywhere recognize the tremendous power of prayer, and mobilize and organize their forces at this strategical point, that our generation will be swept out of the present crisis and into a great religious revival!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon