In our daily meditations at groupbiblestudy.com, we continue to think about the Holy Spirit's revival work and how revivals start. Today we look at the beginning of the Spirit's stirring of the people of Wales on the western side of the UK. The Welsh Revival in 1904-1906 started with young people thirsty for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God. Evan Roberts, the prime catalyst used by God in this revival, was virtually unknown when this great work of the Holy Spirit started. His education was limited due to leaving school at 11 to work in the coal mine with his father. Upon his conversion to Christ at 13, he began to pray that God would visit his country of Wales in revival. At 26, he began training to be a minister, but God interrupted his formal training when revival came to a small church in South Wales.
The revival began during the main Sunday morning service among some young people in New Quay, South Wales. Young Florrie Evans was just a teenager at a youth meeting in February 1904. Florrie publicly declared that she loved the Lord Jesus with all her heart, and with that, the Holy Spirit descended on the meeting and reduced the young people to tears. After this meeting, the convicting work of the Spirit of God quickly spread to other young people in the Cardiganshire area. Young people 16-18 years old began traveling with an evangelist, Seth Joshua, who had been praying for revival for some time. He prayed that the Lord would call a person not from the university or college but from the working classes.
Evan Roberts was the answer to his prayer. In the Spring of 1904, Evan experienced a great awareness of God's presence. One night he was awakened from his sleep and was led into deep communion with God for hours. This experience continued every evening for the next few months until he went away to a preparatory school for the ministry at Newcastle Emlyn. He was there 2½ weeks before he heard of the Holy Spirit descending on the youth in New Quay. He had to return and receive something himself. In a meeting Evan attended, Seth Joshua, the evangelist, challenged the congregation to allow the Spirit of God to "bend" all who were listening. Evan had been prepared by his evenings of prayer; the Holy Spirit descended on him and filled him. It was a life-changing experience for Evan Roberts. Oswald J. Smith, in his book, The Passion for Souls, records Evan Roberts as writing the following words:
“For eleven years, I had prayed for the Spirit, and this was the way I was led to pray. William Davies, the deacon at the church where he grew up in Christ, said one night in the society: 'Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you were absent? Remember Thomas, Jesus' disciple, what a loss he had by not being there when Jesus turned up after the resurrection!" "I said to myself: I will have the Spirit, and through every kind of weather and despite difficulties, I went to the meetings. On seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was often tempted to turn back and join them. But, no, I said to myself: 'Remember your resolve,' and on I went. I went faithfully to the meetings for prayer throughout the ten to eleven years I prayed for a Revival. It was the Spirit that moved me thus to think." At a certain morning meeting that Evan Roberts attended, the evangelist, in one of his petitions, prayed that the Lord would "bend us." The Spirit seemed to say to Roberts: "That's what you need, to be bent." And thus, he describes his experience: "I felt a living force coming into my bosom. This leading of the Spirit grew and grew, and I was almost bursting. I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me; the tears and perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth." Certain friends approached to wipe his face.
Meanwhile, he was crying out, "O Lord, bend me! Bend me!" Then suddenly, the glory broke. Mr. Roberts adds: "After I was bent, a wave of peace came over me, and the audience sang, 'I hear your welcome voice.' And as they sang, I thought about the bending at the Judgment Day, and I was filled with compassion for those that would have to bend on that day, and I wept.”
These revival experiences are from a series I wrote: On Fire with the Holy Spirit. It is found on the All Studies page. Scroll down until you come to the series, click on it, and the study is Revival Comes to the Thirsty Keith Thomas.