The year is 1904 and teenager Florrie Evans stood up in a youth meeting in Newquay, Cardiganshire and declared publicly that she loved the Lord Jesus with all her heart. As she spoke those words, the spirit of God seemed to visibly fall on the meeting and the excitement and enthusiasm for the Christian gospel spread life fire to other young people across Cardiganshire.
In September of the same year Evan Roberts, a faithful member of Moriah Calvanistic Methodist Church became a pupil of Newcastle Emlyn Grammar School, to prepare for Trefecca Theological College. After two weeks he had an experience of faith which sent him back to his own church at Moriah to share his own experience and encourage the people there to be open to God’s spirit.
Within two weeks the Welsh Revival was national news and before long Evan and his brother Dan and their best friend Sydney Evans were travelling the country conducting Revival Meetings and they were meetings with a difference, for they broke the conventional and bi-passed the traditional. So much so that ministers sat down, unable to preach or even understand what had hit their usually sedate Welsh temples.
This was a revival with youth on fire - young men and even, in this day and age, young women. A storm had hit the churches and it was a storm of love and power which completely transformed lives and continued in the same way from 1904 to 1906.
People were changed in so many ways. The crime rate dropped, drunkards were reformed, pubs reported losses in trade and many were forced to close. Bad language disappeared and in some areas never returned, it was reported that pit ponies failed to understand their born again colliers who seemed to speak a different language - without curse and blasphemy. We’re told by one writer that “even rugby became uninteresting in the light of new joy and direction of the converts.” Colliers and tin-men, the working classes, prayed out loud and in new, refreshing and original ways.
It was estimated at the time that there were 100,000 new converts and in the dying months of 1904 the movement spread across the world - to France, Turkey, the United States and even the Khasia Hills of India. It also led to a rush of church building and it was estimated that between 1904 and 1906 there was a new chapel in Wales every 8 days.
In the late 1990’s one elderly Revival convert was asked whether she felt the revival stopped in 1906, she answered, “No, it’s still burning within my heart now - it’s never been extinguished - it has burned in the same way for over 70 years.”
At Pentecost we again wait on that same spirit of God, that came like a rushing wind to the early followers of Christ, as well as to those who prayed for revival in the Welsh valleys, because as St Luke says to us in the Acts of the Apostles, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The arrival of God’s spirit brings with it the revival of God’s people.
A recording of “Here is Love, vast as the ocean”, a hymn of the Welsh Revival, sung first in Welsh and then in English:
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.