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 Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival

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[b]Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival[/b]

O Jehovah, revive Your work in the midst of the years (Habakkuk 3:2b).

100-Year Anniversary of the Welsh Revival

The greatest revival in church history began 100 years ago this month. On October 31, 1904, 26-year-old Evan Roberts returned home from a ministry training program. The former miner had just quit Bible school at the urging of the Spirit. That evening he and 16 young people gathered at the village chapel. From this small nucleus, a revival sprang which swept through the hills and valleys of Wales. During the next nine months Evan Roberts led a whirlwind revival campaign through the coal-mining valleys of South Wales and the slate quarries of North Wales. Thousands were swept into God's kingdom. Welsh society was profoundly affected. According to Watchman Nee, this was the "greatest known revival in church history" (Collected Works, 43:698). At the height of the revival the news media reported Roberts' every move. Thousands attended his meetings. Suddenly, Evan Roberts vanished from the public's gaze. He reappeared 20 years later. What became of him? What did the Lord recover through him?

Evan Roberts: A Vessel of Revival

As the twentieth century dawned, religious ritualism and formality characterized the church in Wales. Doctrines had replaced devotion to Christ. In Welsh chapels, theological teachings stirred people's minds, but left their hearts cold. Biblical exposition substituted for spiritual experience. The pulpits were monopolized by ordained ministers. In the pews, the majority of church members - the miners, farmers, fishermen, women, and young people - were confined to passive roles. Then God raised up a vessel for revival - Evan Roberts (1878-1951). Roberts was born into a God-fearing, coal-mining family in South Wales. After only six or seven years of school he went to work in the mines. As a teenager, Evan Roberts confessed his sins and trusted in Christ as his Savior. Now the coal mine and cottage became his training ground. He witnessed as he worked in the mine; at home, he memorized verses and prayed. Roberts experienced periods of intense communion with God.

Finally, at the age of 26, Roberts began training to be a minister. However, he stayed only six weeks at Bible school because he felt the training frustrated the Spirit's move. Moreover, the Lord burdened him for Wales. Evan began to pray, "Lord, bend me. Bend the church and save the world." He received a vision of his native land lifted up to the heavens and began to pray for 100,000 people to be saved. Roberts offered all his savings and formed gospel teams of fellow students. "Roberts was able to bring in such a great revival because he was a fully consecrated person. He was willing to give up everything and spare nothing," observes Watchman Nee (Collected Works, 61:223). At the Spirit's urging, Roberts quit Bible college. He returned home, unordained and unappreciated, a prophet without honor. Guided by his vision, Evan Roberts gathered 16 young people at the village chapel to pray for the Holy Spirit's filling. Over the next two weeks a revival dawned - the "greatest spiritual awakening of all time" (Towns and Porter, 21).

The Moving of the Spirit versus Formality

Through Evan Roberts, the Lord broke through the barriers of formality. Meetings were open. "No one is to lead the meeting, but each one is to take part as moved by the Spirit," Roberts charged. He preached few sermons, but sought the Spirit's leading. Evan's exhortations were practical, not theological. He taught four basic points: people must confess all known sins, renounce doubtful habits, obey the Spirit's prompting, and confess Christ publicly. The revival meetings developed spontaneously with prayer, hymn singing, exhortation, confession, intercession, and thanksgiving. Ordinary folk, including women and young people, were released to sing, pray, and testify. Outwardly, meetings seemed chaotic with people coming and going, mothers tending infants, and babies crying. While some people sang, others prayed, and still others wept tears of joy or repentance. Yet the Holy Spirit presided, sinners were saved, lives were changed, and people were filled with the Spirit. Midnight meetings became common. Many left in the early morning hours either weeping or singing.

The Impact

For nine months, Evan Roberts traveled throughout Wales visiting mining towns. Often he toured with a group of "singing sisters," young people like himself. Newspapers reported his every move, and thousands flocked to his meetings. Alcoholism and family abuse all but disappeared. Nightclubs, bars, and theaters closed down for lack of clientele. Attendance at political campaigns and union halls declined. Many souls were swept into God's kingdom. Later, conversions declined because everyone was already saved. Chapels were filled. Prayer and praise echoed in Welsh homes. Hymn singing filled the streets.

Suddenly, Evan Roberts vanished from the public's gaze. Exhausted from his intense labor, he had suffered an emotional breakdown. He retired abruptly from the revival in July 1905, leaving its leadership in the hands of others. He did not reappear publicly in Wales for 20 years.

Spiritual Warfare and Kingdom Prayer

The breakdown in Evan Roberts' health ended his role as the revival leader. He was severely criticized for forsaking the revival. Yet, while "restricted in pursuing" and "laid aside as planned," Roberts entered a new phase in the Lord's service. A spiritual couple, Mr. and Mrs. Penn-Lewis, received Evan Roberts into their home. He stayed with them for eight years. Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927) is well-known for her ministry on the cross. Together with this older sister, Evan Roberts produced the book, War on the Saints. This manual for Christian workers was based on Roberts' revival experiences. It sought to expose Satan's activities and advise believers how to overcome the enemy. This work recovered the matter of spiritual warfare. "Prior to [Evan Roberts], no one knew anything about the spiritual warfare spoken of in Ephesians 6," writes Watchman Nee (Collected Works, 41:29). From 1907 to 1914, Evan Roberts also served with Jessie Penn-Lewis as co-editor of The Overcomer magazine. This publication was distributed to over 5,000 Christian workers in many countries. It reached Watchman Nee in China. Roberts' revival mission affected the whole of Wales and brought him fame. His later ministry was deeper and hidden. Yet, through his writing and workshops for Christian workers, Evan Roberts exercised a worldwide influence.

Watchman Nee attributes the recovery of the truth concerning God's kingdom to Evan Roberts. He recounts, "Evan Roberts was sick for a long time. Later he began to realize the truth concerning the kingdom….Before him, there were people who had spoken about the truth of the kingdom, but the reality was not there" (Resumption, 233).

During this period Roberts also exercised a personal prayer ministry. During these hidden years, his major occupation was worldwide intercession. Brother Nee writes, "His prayers were profound. Later he did not engage in any public work for seven or eight years. When a brother met him, the brother asked, 'What have you been doing all these years?' He answered with one short sentence, 'I have been praying the prayer of the kingdom'" (Collected Works, 22:167). Only eternity will reveal the value of this prayer ministry.

Conclusion

The war years were a difficult period for Roberts. Many "children of the revival," converted during the Welsh revival, perished on the battlefields of Europe. Evan Roberts remained reclusive, away from public view, taking refuge in prayer and poetry. His return to Wales in 1928-31 ushered in a brief revival in the mining regions of South Wales. Thereafter he again retired into obscurity until he passed away, virtually unknown, in 1951. Evan Roberts should be remembered not only as a vessel of revival, but also as God's workman who recovered spiritual warfare and prevailing kingdom prayer.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2006/10/22 0:24Profile
HeartSong
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Joined: 2006/9/13
Posts: 3165


 Re: Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival

Quote:
The revival meetings developed spontaneously with prayer, hymn singing, exhortation, confession, intercession, and thanksgiving. Ordinary folk, including women and young people, were released to sing, pray, and testify.


Notice that they were taking delight in the LORD?
It is difficult to find people that do this.

Quote:
He taught four basic points: people must confess all known sins, renounce doubtful habits, obey the Spirit's prompting, and confess Christ publicly.



So why do we not all do this?

 2006/10/22 1:08Profile
kdbutton
Member



Joined: 2006/9/28
Posts: 108


 Re:

Quote:

HeartSong wrote:


Quote:
He taught four basic points: people must confess all known sins, renounce doubtful habits, obey the Spirit's prompting, and confess Christ publicly.



So why do we not all do this?



There is no reason not to do this. Just start... as the Spirit gives opportunity. Just do it.

 2006/10/22 8:09Profile









 Re: Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival

contrast the Lord calling Evan into a private prayer intercessory ministry after the revival with those who today who achieve "traction" in the Body of Believers and parlay this "traction" into a "healthy and wealthy" business of church exhaltation, selling tapes and books, counting the "numbers they run" thru a building on Sunday.

The three modern era men of the faith I admire, Evan Roberts, John Sung and David Brainerd all had one thing in common. Their private intercessory ministry was intense, and heart rending before the Throne.

Much to my own grief, I must confess, my own private prayer ministry has truly truly degenerated into nothing, "a mere paddling of my hands on the water" as Brainerd once confessed.

Lord have mercy on me, and annoint me once again.

Grieved, humbled and broken-hearted,
bartle

 2006/10/22 14:46
kdbutton
Member



Joined: 2006/9/28
Posts: 108


 Re:


Quote: The three modern era men of the faith I admire, Evan Roberts, John Sung and David Brainerd all had one thing in common. Their private intercessory ministry was intense, and heart rending before the Throne.



Add Mueller and Nash.

Their examples in under-the-radar prayer are tutorials for us.

Prayer itself is a school indeed, as some have labeled it.

We students cannot help but be taught more and more by prayer, about prayer, and in prayer each time we enter the Prayer Closet classroom.

Brokeness, humilty,and teachability are excellent qualities for any student in such a school as that...

because it is there where the School Master best imparts to His students not only knowledge but even Himself.

Though we may be drop-outs for a semester or two, I don't think it is possible or even desirable to graduate from such a school!!!!

I think I hear the school bell ringing, let's go in!

 2006/10/22 17:05Profile
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7497
Mississippi

 Re: Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival

I love to read stories of revival, of how God moved among people and their response. IT evokes within me a heart of praise and gratitude to our heavenly Father.

However, in studyng revivals of the past, one thing becomes quite clear, they do not last. Certainly, people did get on fire for God. But I am told the community where Evan Roberts preached and was revived is as worldly as ever. Very little remains to remind one of of this event.

My maternal family was at the center of a great revival in their community in the 40s & 50s. What has happened to them? They are in sore need of another revival: divorce is no longer rare (not on the national level, fortunately), jealously and anger is common, as is greed....nominal Christianity rules...So what happened? in this family things got easy, so easy...perhaps others outside the family could decern it better. Or maybe, people wanted to be part of the status quo and they joined in the crowd and flowed right along with it, without repenting of their sins...Yup, I think this happened..no, I am sure it did!

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2006/10/23 11:36Profile
kdbutton
Member



Joined: 2006/9/28
Posts: 108


 Re:

Ginnyrose, check out the article posted on this site, "The Revival We Need" by Louis L. King.

Quotes from this article:

"The term revival points to a kind of recurrent activity."

The law of progress. "Revivals (are) part of the divine method of operation in human history," Burns says. "In no sphere whatsoever is progress uniform and unbrokenly continuous. Progress in the world is affected, not by a steady, onward march like the march of an army, but by an oscillating movement like that of an incoming tide.

"Each wave is a revival; it rushes forward with impetuous haste and with exultant joy; it carries everything before it and then, having spent its strength, recedes only to be succeeded by another wave, and yet another."




There is more in this article that speaks to the "oscillating movement" of revivals in the history of the church.

This was a matter that concerned me at first too until I realized that it is God's wisdom and mercy that rescues us from our own tendency to recede with the out-going tide and I am confident He will again. Oh come quickly divine tide revive us again! :)

 2006/10/23 16:52Profile





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