The Wales Revival

The Wales Revival 1904-05
(Full text from “The Herald of His Coming” .org website)
Edited by Tim White

[Most of this revival story is from a transcribed and edited account of a taped message delivered to a group of young people in 1975 by Peter Joshua. Peter Joshua is the son of Seth Joshua, a prominent Welsh minister and evangelist before, during, and after the Welsh Revival of 1904-05. Seth Joshua had a direct influence on Evan Roberts, one young person whom God mightily used in the Welsh Revival. I edited the length but kept most of the original language.]

In 1904, Germany was in destructive biblical criticism; France was enveloped in pleasure; Italy was bogged down in ecclesiastical trappings; England, Scotland, and Ireland were religiously stagnant, and Wales was on its back – dark. Everywhere were football entertainments, national cock fighting, and prize fighting; gambling reigned supreme; the moral level had touched zero. It was filth in action. And the churches? Many of them were as empty as last year’s birds’ nests.

Young Peter would play hooky from school and sometimes go down the river bank. However, he would have to be watchful, for his dad, Seth Joshua, would visit the river banks often. Peter would climb into a hawthorn tree so his father would not see him. Surprisingly, as his father passed under the tree, he could hear a sob in his voice as he walked along the river bank. 

What Peter did not realize was that his father was crying out for God to raise up a young person in the spirit of Elisha “who will confound the wise and the mighty – not from Oxford, lest he appeal only to the intellectualists, not from Cambridge, lest he appeal only to the socially enlightened, but from the grassroots. Put the hand of the Holy Spirit upon a young man in the field, one of our kind, to confound the wise.”

    God went one better: He reached down under the field to a young man (Evan Roberts) in the coal pits to lead that mighty awakening in Wales. For two years that young man had prayed, “O God, if You want me, I surrender myself now to the Holy Spirit, whatever the cost.” In that country’s first three months of revival, that young man saw tens of thousands of souls turn from darkness to light. The revival was on!

    The thousands of people who transformed in this revival carried their transformation into their daily lives and places of employment. [However, let me (Tim White) point out the role of prevailing and travailing prayers from surrendered souls that preceded this revival].

One such story of transformation was in the coal mines. These mines were a mile deep, and “ponies” (mules/donkeys) were used to carry the oar. It is said that the coal miners were “blasphemous and drunk…and kicked, prodded, and flogged and cursed” the ponies – until the revival, that is. The miners changed so much that the mules did not understand their curse-less commands and how to respond when the miners petted them and sang the hymns of the great revival there in the pits. 

But that was just the beginning – Within a short time, the saloons and gambling games (casinos) were closed. Places of entertainment were shut up. Filthy literature disappeared. Blasphemy, cursing, and pornography went out. Drunkenness, violence, and crime disappeared. That is revival!

In Wales, they had a custom in the court. The judge came down to southern Wales twice a year from London, and if there was no crime to be judged or no crime on the calendar, it was customary to present the judge with a pair of white gloves. They ran out of white gloves because there was no crime to be tried. The revival reached even the Buddhist and Confucian areas, and those people began to ask for New Testaments. It was indescribable.

[My summation] History reveals that transforming revivals have little to do with grandiose halls, star-power worship bands, and celebrity preachers. They have always begun with the humble and broken hearts of the“faceless” few who approached God on His terms (2 Chron. 7:14). Their travailing and prevailing prayers moved the heart and hand of God, and their communities were never the same again. 

Instead of the Church waiting for God to show up, could it be that God is waiting for His Church – some portion of her – to approach Him in a similar fashion? No doubt He is. Let us pray – “For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers His righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12b).