I ran across an incredible interview with Doris Rusco. It's a lengthy read but well worth the time.
Russ Howells is perhaps best known as the founder of the Bible College of Wales and the Emanual Grammer school in Swansea. The head mistress of the school was Miss Doris Rusco. she is now retired but she lives here at the school. This year the school has celebrated its jubilee. Miss Rusco has celebrated her 80th birthday and she has also seen the publication of a book written by her called, The Intercession of Rees Howells. Miss Rusco is with me now.
Interviewer: Miss Rusco, I would like to ask you first of all, what was your purpose in writing the book, The Intercessions of Rees Howells?
Doris Rusco: The aim of the book was really to make clear the principles of intercession as Rees Howell taught it and practiced it. Mr. Norman Grubb who wrote the biography of Rees Howell, the book called Rees Howells, Intercessor was constantly asked for a book to sum it up because so many people, particularly in the United States of America wanted to know more about intercession and the Lord led me to do the book.
Interviewer: Now its clear from my reading the book that Rees Howells distinguished between intercession on the one hand and prayer on the other, although you point out he never undervalued prayer and never took upon his to pray for anything or anybody lightly. Would you be able to explain to us what Rees Howells meant then by intercession?
Miss Rusco: Perhaps I should say first of all with regard to prayer, it has so many aspects and Rees Howells was a master I think in everyone. Prayer is coming to the Lord; its lifting up our hearts to the Lord. We man come with requests and also prayer is communication, fellowship with God. As for as Rees Howells is concerned, prayer to him meant an answer and he would never undertake a casual prayer. He prayer when the Holy Spirit led him, but to him intercession was something even deeper.
Very many Christians do not realize the warfare that is continually going on in the heavenlies. They do not realize that God and Satan are engaged in a perpetual warfare and that each has his channels and God needs his channels on the earth. Intercession is entering into this warfare in a very real way. It means a total commitment to Gods will and purpose in a particular life and an intercessor has to make this total commitment to this intercession. On no account can it be let go or broken. The intercessor is responsible.
I think that that is one of the main differences between prayer and intercession as Rees Howells taught us. Many may feel responsible for prayer, I do myself, but the prayer and the part of intercession binds you to the will of God in every detail of your life, until the prayer is prayed through, until the Holy Spirit gives the witness that the prayer is through.
I think I should perhaps emphasize the fact that it takes the work of the Holy Spirit supremely in intercession. This is not something that we can undertake apart from him. The Holy Spirit revealed Himself to us in the college in a very real way and we committed our lives to him in a very real and definite way. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can lead us through that part of intercession which leads to total victory. Rees Howells used to say, The only witness on earth today, the atonement of the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross and his resurrection is the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit alone knows that victory and he alone can lead us in the path of intercession which is faced absolutely on the total victory of the Lord Jesus.
Interviewer: You describe that in your book as the fundamental principle of intercession and you go on to say then that the next thing the Christian must learn is that the Christian must clothe himself with the armour of God so he can fight the fight of faith.
Miss Rusco: Yes, what we found, what Rees Howells always taught was when you put yourself entirely into the hands of the Holy Spirit he will deal with everything in you which can be a hindrance to the prayer going through because, if there is weakness in you the enemy can take hold of that and hinder the intercession and so it is a life of a very close walk with God. We have to be prepared always to obey the Holy Spirit to let Him shed light on anything in us that is not in accordance with Him. Sometimes the Holy Spirt will take you through a path of weeks and even months of dealing with you. One thing for sure, you never come out of an intercession in the same way you go in.
Interviewer: But the victory has been secured by then?
Miss Rusco: But the victory is wonderful. Several times when the Holy spirit brought us through, especially say in the times of the war when the conference hall where we had our meetings and where we prayed was just filled with the glory of God.
Interviewer: May I ask you this, how did Rees Howells himself first begin to learn the secrets of intercession?
Miss Rusco: It began when as a young man Rees met the Holy Spirit in a very remarkable and almost unique way, I think, from the beginning the Holy Spirit wouldnt let him pray his own prayers. He would pray what the Holy Spirit gave him and then he would be responsible. He prayed for a young man who we would call now a down and outer. He devoted himself to that young man.
Interviewer: Is that the man in the book named Will Battrey?
Miss Rusco: It was not easy for a young man like Rees Howells for he came from a highly respectable family. He had several brothers to walk through the street with this rough looking young fellow with his beard, his clothes, and on a Sunday morning it cost Rees Howells to do this. Of course one could see he was dealing with that pride in him and that is the kind of thing the Holy Spirit deals with and the way he does it. To put one in situations where your real self is revealed and if you obey and go through, the Lord brings you into victory on that point. From that time on Rees Howells walked to a village which had never experienced the wonderful events of the great Welsh revivals of 1904 to 1906. It was a village where there was extreme poverty. There was no welfare state in those days. The people were poor and there was a great deal of drink and vice. The Holy Spirit led Rees Howells there, gathered a few friends round him and the village, and through the power of the Holy Spirit the village was really transformed.
Rees Howells not only preached the Gospel, he also lived the Gospel. It was not just his preaching it was the love of the Holy Spirit through him poured upon those people that won them. He gave his money to them. It was that, that led him to a life of faith, for though he was earning money in the mines and doing quite well, yet there were so many needs in the village and the Lord led him to supply them. When his own funds ran out his friends helped, but in the end Rees Howells had to look to the Lord. In wonderful ways the Lord supplied the needs of others. During that same time the Lord also led him in a life of prayer. He spent hours with the Lord in intercession when he came up against certain people and difficulties in the village. Somehow prayer did not seem to resolve it, and then only intercession would do.
Interviewer: There was a lady in the village who was particularly notorious.
Doris Rusco: Yes, she was known, in those days as the worst woman in the village. Rees Howells had no contact with her himself, but the Lord told him that he was to pray her through by Christmas day, and that would be quite a number of weeks off. He was to go before the Lord every night eventhough he was working in the mines during the day. He was to go before the Lord everynight for three hours and let the Holy Spirit take him through the Word of God and whatever the Lord showed him he was to obey and he was to trust the Lord for this woman. He was not to have any personal contact. Now this was the first time, that you may say that it was intercession at a distance.
He was not to have any contact with this woman and on Christmas day she came to his meeting. Rees Howells used to say it was a noisy meeting. There were mothers, children and babies and not the kind of meeting you would think would make a special impression but she was down on her knees in the middle of that meeting and accepted the Lord.
Interviewer: That incident suggests to me anyway that that was an event where the Holy Spirit Himslef gave him the intercession and gave him the pattern of intercession and required of him a certain identification with the woman concerned. Was there also a sense of victory before Christmas day?
Miss Rusco: Yes, he believed that the Holy Spirit would bring that woman through.
Interviewer: And then you come to that stage where you know your prayer is answered. Is there a response in your Spirit which indicates that to you?
Miss Rusco: Well, I know by experience that the Lord leads you through these deep paths and He seems to make you identify with the person you are praying for. And then there comes a moment when the Holy Spirit gives you the assurance of victory. We always call it praying through. I suppose every Christian work has its special vocabulary. When the Holy Spirit gave us the assurance of victory whether it was in the personal or in the meetings we called it praying through.
Interviewer: Youve touched already on the distinction which Rees Howees drew between prayer and intercession, now I believe you can recall very vividly an experience, in your own life in the college, when he came to you one day and said that he believed prayer had failed and intercession would have to be undertaken. These events, as I understand it, concerned his own vision to reach every creature with the Gospel of Christ. Do you recall?
Miss Rusco: Those of us who were there will never forget it. The Lord had given Rees Howells the vision of the Gospel to every creature...the last command of the Lord Jesus. The whole college became transformed. The Holy Spirit passed on the vision through him to us. I remember the morning he stood before us, having spent the night with God, who had challenged him on the Gospel to every creature, and as time went on two things happened. The Holy Spirit visited the college in a very remarkable way at the end of 1936 and the beginning of 1937. For weeks, for days and nights we were in the presence of the God. And we realized afterward why the Holy Spirit had revealed Himself like that. It was because Rees Howells become more and more concerned about international events.
Interviewer: Why was that?
Miss Rusco: Because of the rise of Hitler, therefore the majority of people, even statesmen seemed to be aware of the treat that this man posed to the western world. The Holy Spirit warned Rees Howells that the devil would use him (Hitler) and he would aim at dominating the world. Hitler said that he aimed to establish a Nazi empire for 1000 years and Rees Howells began to pray and we prayed with him. It was our custom to pray and fast through out lent and as Easter came near the Holy Spirit would give some revelations which would bring us right through whatever the prayer was. Easter would be a glorious time in Gods presence.
On March 29, after a week of prayer and fasting Rees Hoswlls came into the conference hall very disturbed in the Spirit, and he said he was. I can see him, I can hear him. The Holy Spirit has told me that prayer has failed. Only intercession will take us through.
We had never heard anything like that before. Could prayer fail? As the day went on and we had a meeting in the afternoon and another one in first part of the evening, the Holy Spirit began to make clear to us what was meant and then in the last meeting between 9 and midnight the Holy Spirit began to call us to become intercessors for the vision.....intercession that the Gospel might go on to every creature and that the enemy was not, through the dictators to prevent the Gospel going out. And the Holy Spirit dealt with everyone of us personally and everyone prayed as the Holy Spirit led them and fundamentally we were committed to this battle from then on.
The proof that it was the Spirit was what happened the next day on March 30. When we got down on our knees in the evening meeting we began to sing a Welch welcoming the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came on us and we sang for an hour. And I can still hear the the sound of the singing. It would start as it were at the beginning of the conference and I fell on the steps of the throne of God. Well, from that day on all through the Easter holidays everytime we came together the Holy Spirit came on us and the Lord met us in wonderful ways and from then on we were committed to this battle and that meant about 9 years of it...from 1936 until the end of the war. We began to have a meeting from 6 to 9 every night. That was not always easy for those of us in the school. But in the end we had 2 meetings every night from 7 until 9 and 10 to 12 at least.
Interviewer: You describe the role in which you played an engagement in battle. How do you access the role which prayer played in the events of the 2nd World War?
Miss Rusco: I can only say that we were well aware that prayer was being offered by thousands all over the world, but as far as we were concerned, every time events of the war took a vital stage the Holy Spirit always revealed that to Rees Howells and we prayer accordingly.
Interviewer: Can you think of certain instances?
Miss Rusco: Ill tell you one personal one. We had been fervently praying for the war to come to an end. I really believed that the Lord was going to bring about the victory and Ill never forget the night Rees Howells came into the meeting and said the Lord had told him that Russia was to come into the war, and that Holy Spirit had a purpose in doing that, that he was going to deal with both the Nazis and Russia. I was shattered, I couldnt take it. Everything seemed at an end. Always the director, as we called him, would ask someone to close the meeting with prayer. And I thought, not tonight. He called on me to pray and I could only pray what was in my heart.
After the meeting he came along to see me and then the Lord gave me the most wonderful word. I can never read these words in Proverbs without remembering that occasion. I lead in the way of Righteousness in the midst of the powers of judgment. Proverbs 8:20. The Lord gave me perfect peace then. I realized that was just personal. Take the battle for Leningrad .... it seemed certain that the Nazis who swept through Russia would take the city but we knew it was a night when the Holy Spirit brought us right through and we knew that the enemy wouldnt.
Another striking instance is the battle for Stalingrad and so much involved in these internationally, because Stalingrad would have been the key to the Middle East along with the war in North Africa. Rees Howells saw the span of the enemy directed against the Holy land. I should say that in all these spiritual battles it was on the Word of God that Rees Howells invariably got the victory. He read, for instance the story of Joshua at Jerico. Well, if God could give victory there, he could give victory today. Rees Howells, in these situations didnt pray his own thoughts, his own word, but he did pray through the Word of God. He called Bible situation plots in the Bible, and they were life to him. In all these instances it was through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit would give the victory. In Stalingrad the enemy were marching in the streets and its was the first time that that had happened. They were driven out.
I remember the picture....We were on our knees all day while Montgomery was leading the troops in North Africa. We were fighting the battle in the heavenlies. We knew there would be victory and we had proof of all these things because messages were taken down and kept for future references.
Interviewer: Do you feel the Holy Spirit required the same commitment of you in those days as intercessors as he required of the men in the field?
Miss Rusco: What Rees Howells said to us when he announced these meetings, and you can imagine it was a big slice out of our lives and at one time these meetings went on all through the week-end and holidays....7 to 9, 10 to 12 and even to 1AM. The only time we ever had a break was when the Holy Spirit brought us through in some wonderful way. And when the presence of the Lord was so manifest. Well you didnt pray then, you rejoice and give thanks and Rees Howells was never afraid to relax when the Lord gave the word and there was victory, well we relaxed from the battle, we praised, we worshiped and then as a few days time as the Holy Spirit led we would go back to the battle.
Interviewer: You mentioned earlier that he would came to the service equiped with a message from the Word.
Miss Rusco: Well, obviously then there were 5 meetings a day. There was no preparation in the normal sense of the Word, but in between the meetings Rees Howells would always get a word from the Holy Spirit which would be a guide to the next meeting and the meetings didnt always follow the same pattern. Quite often the meetings would be on a move personal level if the Holy Spirit knew He needed to deal more deeply with us and to have clearer channels, well then he would led Rees Howells to teach the life of the Spirit, the walk of the Spirit. Rees Howells really knew the life of the Holy Spirit.
I think it was that that attracted so many people those early years. He showed the life of the Holy Spirit demonstrated through him. And the way the Lord had led him so you just longed for the same life, for the same experience, the same oneness with God. It was always that that drew me on. You felt you would pay any price to come to that real living union with the Lord Jesus that only the Holy Spirit can bring us into.
Interviewer: One of the principles that you identify in your work as intercession is the principle of your indentification with the sufferer or with the work involved. I think you touched that by what you just said when you spoke of another principle.... the fellowship.... the identification with the Lord Himself.
Miss Rusco: Yes.
Interviewer: Now intercession as you see it is really an outreach of love isnt it?
Miss Rusco: Oh yes! You could never intercede unless the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Love interceded through you. It is the very love and yearning of the heart of God to win sinners to fulfill His own purpose in the lives of men and women and in the world as a whole...Oh Yes. We came to know something of the love of God in a way that is beyond words to express. I think that this is an old North Courtry saying, That is something kelch.
Interviewer: Do you believe that the work of God can be accomplished in the earth without the work of intercession?
Miss Rusco: I dont think so. I do believe that there is a movement among many Christian people today leading them into a deeper walk of intercession. The Holy Spirit needs intercessors through whom he can carry out the will of God and surely as it makes it plain in the Book of Revelation that battles will get fiercer before the end, not less and the Lord needs those who will obey Him and who will believe Him and who will pay any price to go through with Him.
Interviewer: Then is the call to intercession, a call which is made to every believer?
Miss Rusco: I dont think one can generalize in any thing like that, the Holy Spirit will take everyone as far as they let Him. There is a price to pay in intercession and the price doesnt get less. There are times when there are agonies in it. There are deprivations in it. And only the Holy Spirit can give the strength to go through, ultimately that is you seeing by faith to believe that the victory is coming. You wouldnt hold out in the path of intercession if you didnt believe that sooner or later the Holy Spirit would give the faith to believe through you that Gods purpose in intercession would be completed. There must be faith equal to the intercession.
Interviewer: That was one of the principles which Rees Howells held to, wasnt it?
Miss Rusco: Oh certainly. Undoubtedly the Lord had led him into a life of faith from the time the Holy Spirit met him and taught him in the way of faith as a preparation for the final intercession of his life.
Interviewer: Miss Rusco, Now, youve seen the publication of this book. Do you look forward to another book?
Miss Rusco: Mr. Norman Grubb, who wrote the first book on intercession has asked me to write more. It involves a good deal of research, ofcourse that means, into the messages of the past. Mr. Rees Howells never wrote anything himself but the messages were taken down by the college secretaries and they have typed copies of them all. The object was to get his own words out. The light the Holy Spirit gave him, the Holy Spirit gave such light on the lives of the men in the Bible. It just became alive and if the Holy Spirit would guide and give the strength for it there could be another book, Im not sure.
Interviewer: Thank you very much for your kindness for letting us join you in your home, and for sharing with us the secrets you have learned, giving your own life of intercession.