Longing in Wales
Wales, a small but beautiful
country on the southwest coast of Great Britain, has been called
"the land of periodic revivals." Between 1762 and 1862 (from the
time of the "first Great Awakening" until the time of the "second Great
Awakening") Wales experienced no less than fifteen outstanding revivals.
The revivals encompassing the period of the "first Great Awakening"
of the 1700s gave to Wales the Calvinistic Methodist Church and its
wonderful hymnology. It became a singing church.
The "second Great Awakening"
of 1859-1862 gave Wales its theology. David Morgan, a minister of the
Calvinistic Methodist (Presbyterian) Church of Wales, was greatly used
of God during this remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God when an
estimated 110,000 souls were added to the churches of Wales.
Additional revivals in
the last half of the 19th century contributed to Wales reputation as
the land of revivals. In particular, the ministry of Richard Owens in
North Wales in the early 1880s was greatly blessed with some 13,000
souls won for Christ under his personal ministry. When he died at the
young age of forty-eight, "Richard Owen, the Revivalist" was a household
name throughout Wales.
But like yesterday’s manna,
yesterday’s spiritual renewals were insufficient food for the Church.
By the end of the nineteenth century the spiritual condition of the
churches in Wales was on the decline. The effects of the 1859 revival
(yes, the Welsh counterpart of the 1857 - 1858 awakening in America!)
had worn off, except in the memories of old evangelists and pastors
who, like D. L. Moody, longed and prayed for another such time.
Church membership in Wales
had declined in the decade of the 1890s, with the North Wales Association
of the Calvinistic Methodists (the Presbyterian Church in Wales) reporting
a loss of 12,844 for the year 1899 alone. Sunday services were poorly
attended in both Non-conformist churches and the Anglican Church in
Wales. The declines were generally acknowledged and universally deplored.
The question confronting the church was how to combat worldliness in
the pew and powerlessness in the pulpit.
And yet there was a hunger
for God among groups of believers and leaders in the Church which was
laying the foundation for a spiritual awakening. Prayer meetings were
being held worldwide for a revival in the new century.
In 1898-1899 there were
all-night prayer meetings held at Moody Bible Institute for revival.
The same was true world-wide in such diverse places as India and Korea.
Ten thousand people were enrolled in prayer cells in Melbourne, Australia.
In the winter of 1900 the
Methodists were reporting an increasing number of conversions in evangelistic
campaigns throughout the U.S.A. They announced the Methodist Forward
Movement. They raised $20 million and planned to win two million souls
to Christ. They stated in an editorial, "It was believed that with
better knowledge of how to work and a feeling that it was a Church-wide
movement, a great religious awakening might be secured at the opening
of the twentieth century." 
One Methodist commented later that "God waited until we got our project
out of the way, then shortly afterwards He sent the revival." 
According to James A. Stewart,
"As many as 40,000 desperate believers unknown to each other in the
majority of cases, in various parts of theland had been waiting on the
Lord and were now about to see even a greater demonstration of the mighty
power of God."
By 1905 the prayed-for revival was underway.
In 1902 Dean David Howell
of Wales declared, "Take notice! If it were known that this is my
last message to my fellow countrymen before being summoned to judgment,
the chief need of my country and my dear nation at present is a spiritual
revival through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit."
Howell was summoned to judgment only one month later, two years before
his longings were to be answered in the outbreak of the greatest revival
Wales had ever known.
But the churches of Wales
were not blind to their own need. According to London journalist W.T.
Stead, there was a growing sense of longing and burden of prayer for
"For a long time past
the Welsh Christians had been moved to pray specifically for the quickening
of religious life in their midst. The impulse appears to have been sporadic
and spontaneous. In remote country hamlets, in mining villages buried
in distant valleys, one man or one woman would have it laid upon his
or her soul to pray that the Holy Spirit might be poured out upon the
cause in which they were spiritually concerned. There does not seem
to have been much organized effort. It was all individual, local, and
strictly limited to the neighborhood. But prayer circles formed by devout
persons who agree to unite together in prayer at a given hour every
day have long been a recognized form of prevailing prayer. By these
circles there are some 30,000 or 40,000 people now banded together to
pray for a world-wide Revival. All this was general. It was preparing
the way. A great longing for Revival was abroad in the land. The Churches
were conscious that there was something in the air." 
Keswick Conventions were
conferences, English in origin, which were intended to promote the deepening
of the spiritual life. In the early 1900s a number of Welsh church leaders
were praying for the beginning of Keswick Conventions in Wales. Welsh
church leaders invited noted Keswick speaker Dr. F.B. Meyers to minister
to them in Keswick-style conventions at the beautiful Welsh spa in Llandrindod
Wells. The conference was well attended by young Welsh pastors who were
greatly blessed as they devoted themselves to prayer for an awakening
Several noted pastors were
greatly touched at the Llandrindod conference and began traveling widely,
conducting missions for the deepening of the spiritual life. Later,
when the Welsh Revival was well underway many Keswick leaders would
claim that the revival could be traced directly to the effect of the
"Mary, Are You Saved?"
In the years leading up
to 1904 Wales was criss-crossed by a number of able and dedicated evangelists.
The Reverend John Pugh had begun an evangelistic ministry in the Calvinistic
Methodist Church of Wales (later known as the Presbyterian Church of
Wales) in the 1870s. It later became known as the Forward Movement and
stressed open-air evangelism. When Pugh moved to Cardiff, the capital
of Wales, in 1891, he met Seth Joshua who had been converted in a Salvation
Army meeting. Together, the evangelistic work of John Pugh and Seth
Joshua covered most of South Wales.
Seth Joshua was known for
being both forthright and studious. His wife related the following story
as an example of his forthrightness: "One day he turned to me, and
asked, ‘Mary, are you saved?’ Surprised at such a question I said, ‘Well,
you know, Seth, that I have been confirmed’. ‘Yes, my dear,’ he added,
‘and vaccinated; but are you saved?’"
Seth Joshua’s forthrightness would serve him well when the revival began
"What Does Jesus Christ Mean To
At the outset of the Welsh
Revival Joseph Jenkins was the pastor of New Quay (pronounced "key")
Church in Cardiganshire. He was deeply concerned about the spiritual
state of the young people in his church and had begun spending prolonged
times in prayer for them. He was concerned that his youth group had
become more social than Christian. One Sunday morning in February of
1904 he challenged the 60 youths in his Christian Endeavour movement.
"What does Jesus Christ mean to you?" he asked. The question
was embarrassing to them. There was a prolonged silence. One boy eventually
spoke up and said, "Jesus Christ is the hope of the world." Jenkins
responded, "Never mind the world. What does Jesus Christ mean to
you?" Finally, young Florie Evans, who had been converted by Jenkins
only two weeks before, testified to the cold youth meeting, "I love
the Lord Jesus with all my heart." This simple statement of personal
faith deeply moved the Christian Endeavour movement. The effect was
startling, and resulted in an overpowering sense of God’s presence in
the church. The fire of revival had been lit. The young people soon
began visiting other local churches carrying the fire and sharing the
"Please God, Give Me Wales"
In the 1970s a retired
Presbyterian minister lived in Port Hueneme in California. His name
was Dr. Peter Joshua. He was the son of Seth Joshua (born April 10,1859).
By 1904 Seth Joshua was an official evangelist of the Welsh Presbyterian
Church, then called the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Along with John
Pugh, Seth Joshua was also an official evangelist for the Forward Movement
in Wales. He began to pray a most unusual prayer. He was concerned with
the over-emphasis of the Presbyterian church upon the academic and educational
qualifications rather than the spiritual qualifications of its ministers.
So he had begun to ask God to raise up a lad from the mines or fields
of Wales (even as He had taken Elisha from behind the plough), not from
Cambridge or Oxford to pander to the people’s pride, but a lad from
the mines or the fields to revive his people and lead them back to God.
He could scarcely have imagined that God would use his own ministry
to anoint the very person who would fulfill this prayer!
Years later Dr. Peter Joshua
told a story about missing ("mitching") school one day and going to
a local park to play. Suddenly he spotted his father walking in the
park. Hiding in some bushes he watched as his father walked by:
"As he came near I was
frightened as I heard that he was crying (something I thought never
my Dad would ever do) and as he went by he was saying, ‘Please God,
give me Wales’, and kept saying this as long as I could hear him. After
a while I ran back home, and while I had to explain to mother that I
had mitched school, I asked her what was wrong with Dad, and told her
that I had heard him crying and saying ‘Give me Wales.’ She ruffled
her hair and said, ‘You’ll understand one day.’ God never gave Wales
to my Dad, although he gave him many souls, but one day when he was
preaching when he made an appeal Evan Roberts was the only one who stood
to his feet and trusted the Saviour. God never gave Wales to my Dad,
but he gave Wales to Evan Roberts." 
Fire In New Quay
In September of 1904 Seth
Joshua went to New Quay to visit Jenkins’ church. To his surprise he
found a real congregational awakening going on. He could not know at
the time that He was witnessing the beginning of the greatest revival
Wales had ever known. He wrote in his diary:
September) "I have never seen the power of the Holy Spirit so powerfully
manifested among the people as at this place just now . . . It was easy
to preach today."
is breaking out here in greater power. Many souls are receiving full
assurance of salvation. The spirit of prayer and of testimony is falling
in a marvelous manner. The young are receiving the greatest measure
of blessing. They break out into prayer, praise, testimony and exhortation
in a wonderful way."
"The revival goes on. I cannot leave the building . . . until 12 and
even 1 o’clock in the morning. I have closed the service several times
and yet it would break out again quite beyond control of human power."
"I am of the opinion that forty conversions took place this week. It
is as near as I can fix it. I also think that those seeking assurance
may be fairly counted as converts, for they had never received Jesus
as a personal saviour before . . . I shall thank God for this blessed
time to my own soul. I am saturated, melted and made soft as willing
clay in the hands of a potter."
Seth Joshua had an unparalleled
week of blessing. He next went to visit Newcastle-Emlyn, a preparatory
school for Trevecca College. This was a preparatory school for the Presbyterian
Ministry, but it was not a place on fire for Christ. Seth Joshua spoke
to the students for a week, telling them about the revival which was
breaking out at New Quay.
He preached 4 times on Sunday
the 25th of September, and afterwards wrote "nothing has
moved yet." He spoke again on Monday, the 26th. Afterwards
he wrote, "I find scarcely a soul here in the joy of assurance. It
is a pitiable sight to me. When I tested the meeting only a small handful
among hundreds would stand up to confess a present salvation. The witness
of the church is nothing in this state."
But Seth Joshua’s discouragement
was short-lived. On Tuesday, the 28th, a remarkable thing
happened. Fifteen of the youth from New Quay came and spoke to the students
at Newcastle Emlyn. They brought with them "the fire". Seth Joshua later
recorded, "I did not preach but allowed them to speak, pray, sing
and exhort as the Holy Spirit led them. The fire burned all before it.
Souls were melted and many cried out for salvation." 
During this week Seth Joshua
ministered at a meeting where a young man by the name of Evan Roberts
was present. Roberts was 26 years of age and a former coal miner (a
"collier"). Born on July 8, 1878 of a devout Welsh Calvinistic Methodist
family, Roberts had always had a great passion for revival. He had been
a devoted Christian for many years. He had offered himself for the ministry
in 1903 and after an extraordinary mystical experience was in the habit
of awaking nightly at 1 a.m. for communion with God. Evan Roberts had
been praying for revival. He had told one of his friends, "For ten
or eleven years I have prayed for a revival. I could sit up all night
to read or talk about revival. It was the Spirit that moved me to think
about a revival." 
While working as a collier
(coal miner) Roberts was once in an explosion when a page of his beloved
Bible was scorched by the explosion. At the time it was open to 2 Chronicles
6 where Solomon prayed for a revival. The page was permanently scorched
by the explosive tongue of fire. When Roberts later became world renown
during the revival, a picture of this Bible went around the world.
Evan Roberts was recovering
from a cold and was unable to hear Seth Joshua until Tuesday night.
When he heard Seth Joshua speak about the revival currently going on
in the New Quay congregation, he felt that the time had come. Evan Roberts
and several of the students at New Castle Emlyn petitioned the principal
of the college to be allowed to attend meetings at nearby Blaenannerch,
8 miles away, at which Seth Joshua and Joseph Jenkins would be speaking.
Principal Evan Phillips agreed and they were given permission to go
to the meetings.
"O Lord, Bend Us"
On Thursday, September 29th,
Evan Roberts and some twenty students started out at 6:00 a.m. to attend
a 7 a.m. meeting at the Blaenannerch conference. Along the way they
sang, "It is coming, it is coming, the power of the Holy Ghost; I
receive it, I receive it, the power of the Holy Ghost." As they
broke for breakfast, Seth Joshua concluded his preaching with a prayer
in Welsh, "O Arglwydd, plyg ni" "O Lord, bend us". 
Evan Roberts was deeply and visibly moved by this prayer. According
to Roberts, "‘That is what you stand in need of,’ said the Spirit
to me. And Oh! In going through the door I prayed within myself, ‘Oh!
Lord, bend us.’"
He refused to eat breakfast.
On the way into the 9 o’clock meeting Seth Joshua commented, "We
are going to have a wonderful meeting here to-day," to which Roberts
replied "I am just bursting." When the meeting resumed at 9 a.m.,
Roberts knew he must pray. As he waited for others to finish praying
he said , "I felt some living energy or force entering my bosom.
It took my breath away, and my legs trembled exceedingly." Evan
Roberts recounted the event himself, "I fell on my knees with my
arms on the seat before me, the perspiration poured down my face and
my tears streamed quickly - until I thought that the blood came out.
Soon Mrs. Davies, Mona, New Quay, came to wipe my perspiration. . .
It was awful on me for about two minutes. I cried ‘Bend me, bend me,
bend me; Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! When wiping my perspiration Mrs. Davies
said, ‘Oh wonderful grace!’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘Oh wonderful grace!’ It
was God commending His love that bent me, and I not seeing anything
in Him to commend. After I was bent, a wave of peace filled my bosom.
When I was in this feeling the audience sang heartily, ‘I am coming,
coming, Lord, to Thee!’ What came to my mind after this was, the bending
in the day of judgment. Then I was filled with sympathy for the people
who will have to bend in the judgment day, and I wept. Afterwards, the
salvation of souls weighed heavily upon me.
Seth Joshua wrote in his diary, "One young man was deeply moved".
Indeed he was. Evan Roberts would always remember this day as "Blaenanerch’s
That was the crisis experience
of Evan Roberts. When his burden lifted Roberts rose from prayer a changed
man, "I felt ablaze with a desire to go through the length and breadth
of Wales to tell of the Saviour; and had it been possible, I was willing
to pay God for doing so." 
"A Particle Of Radium In Our Midst"
Roberts returned to Newcastle
Emlyn College, but could hardly bring himself to concentrate on his
studies. He and his roommate, Sydney Evans, spent much time praying
and reading together. Roberts began to form a team of students to travel
and preach throughout Wales (he even took $1,000 from his personal savings
to finance the team).
One midnight, after Roberts
had been walking in the garden in communion with God, he went indoors,
his face shining to the point of glowing. Sidney Evans (who later married
Evan Roberts sister and went on to India as a missionary) was astonished
and asked, "Evan, what has happened to you?" "Oh, Syd,"
he replied, "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 soon, so we must get ready." 
Roberts then asked Sydney Evans directly, with a piercing look in his
eyes that Sidney Evans never forgot, "Sidney, do you believe God
could give us a hundred thousand souls?".
The vision of 100,000 souls
being won to Christ was a recurring theme for Roberts. At one time he
recorded a vision of an arm and hand holding out piece of paper with
the number 100,000 written on it. From that time onward, whenever
he prayed, Roberts had no peace of spirit until he had asked God specifically
for that number of souls.
Amazingly, the official church records show that within 6 months God
had indeed brought no less than 100,000 souls into the fellowship of
These were exciting days,
and the two men found it difficult to concentrate on their Greek studies.
Principal Evan Phillips, himself a child of the 1859 revival, described
these days, "Evan Roberts was like a particle of radium in our midst.
Its fire was consuming and felt abroad as something which took away
sleep, cleared the channels of tears, and sped the golden wheels of
prayer throughout the area . . . I did not weep much in the 1859 revival,
but I have wept now until my heart is supple. In the midst of the greatest
tearfulness I have found the greatest joy. I had felt for a year or
two that there was a sighing in the wind, and something whispered that
the storm could not be far away. Soon I felt the waters to begin to
cascade. Now the bed belongs to the river and Wales belongs to Christ."
The embers of revival fire
were now aglow, fanned by the breath of God. It was only a matter of
time before they would burst forth in unquenchable fire.
is an excellent book entitled "The Welsh Revival: Its Origin And
Development", by Thomas Phillips. It is an eyewitness account
of the 1859 revival. It is available from Banner of Truth at 3 Murrayfield
road, Edinburgh EH12 6EL, England, or P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
 Editorial, Western
Christian Advocate, July 4, 1900, quoted by J. Edwin Orr,
The Flaming Tongue: The Impact of Twentieth Century Revivals
(Moody Press: Chicago, 1973), p 66.
 J. Edwin Orr,"1981
Prayer Series," No. 1, "Prayer And Revival " Copyright
1994 Campus Crusade For Christ, International, Audio Tape Series available
from Integrated Resources, the audio tape ministry of Campus Crusade
for Christ International (800)729-4351.
James A. Stewart,
Invasion of Wales by the Spirit Through Evan Roberts (Ft.
Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1963), p. 25.
 Y Cyfaill
Eglwsig, December, 1902; cf Missionary Review of the World,
1905, pp. 163 ff, quoted by Orr, The Flaming Tongue: The Impact
of Twentieth Century Revivals (Moody Press: Chicago, 1973),
 W.T. Stead, The
Revival In The West, page 57, in The Revival of 1905
(London: "The Review of Reviews" Publishing Office, 1905).
 Jessie Penn-Lewis,
a leader in the Welsh Keswick movement was instrumental in advancing
this claim through her book The Awakening In Wales, written
during the heat of the revival. She called the Keswick movement "the
hidden springs" of the revival.
Eifion Evans, The
Welsh Revival Of 1904, Evangelical Press, 1969, 136 Rosendale
Road, London SE 21 or Box 2453, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501, page 53.
 This anecdote is
related in a letter in the possession of Mr. Meurig Thomas of Llangeler,
Dyfed. A copy is in the Evangelical Library of Wales at Bridgend, quoted
by Brynmor P. Jones, Voices From The Welsh Revival 1904-1905
(Evangelical Press of Wales: Bridgend, 1995), page 16.
 Evans, The
Welsh Revival of 1904, Page 59-60. Seth Joshua’s original diaries,
written in Welsh, are today located in the official archives of the
Calvinistic Methodist Church, National Library of Wales, in Aberystwyth,
 Ibid., page 61.
Mail, The Religious Revival in Wales, Consolidated reports
consisting of six pamphlets of collected newspaper reports issued in
1904-1905, iii, page 31, quoted by Evans, The Welsh Revival of
1904, page 64.
 David Matthews,
I Saw The Welsh Revival (Moody Press: Chicago, 1951),
page 14. Stead also records this event in The Revival In The West,
 The word "bend"
in Welsh ("plyg") is much stronger than in English. The Welsh word carries
the sense of to bend, mold or shape, like the potter shapes the clay.
 D. M. Phillips,
Evan Roberts, The Great Welsh Revivalist And His Work
(London: Marshall Brothers, 1906), page 124.
 Ibid., page 124-125.
 Ibid., page 125
 Colin Whittaker,
Great Revivals (Radiant Books: Springfield, 1984) page
 Orr, The
Flaming Tongue, page 6.
 Evans, The
Welsh Revival of 1904, page 79.
 Evans, The Welsh Revival of
1904, page 72.
When The Fire Fell -The Great Welsh
Revival of 1904 And Its Meaning For Revival Today, R. Maurice
Smith, 2001 - chapter 1, "Longing And Preparaion"