Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Churches Were Packed

Leslie Basham: Do you start getting nervous when a church service runs a little long, especially when your kids are in the nursery or class, and you wonder if they're getting cranky?

Well, what if there wasn't a nursery and the services lasted all night? That's what Dr. Merathan Lewis experienced when he was a seven-year-old boy. His friend, J. Edwin Orr, recounted the story.

J. Edwin Orr: His father was a coal miner, came home from the morning shift at three o'clock in the afternoon, took a bath to wash off the coal dust and put on his Sunday clothes and said to Mrs. Lewis, "Come, Mother, we're going to the meeting."

Leslie Basham: It was 1904 and Wales was in the middle of a nationwide revival.

J. Edwin Orr: So they took the three children. When they got to the big church at four in the afternoon, it was packed. There wasn't any room, but when they saw a mother with little children, they made room for her.

Leslie Basham: The revival had begun with a series of meetings led by Evan Roberts. We heard about that yesterday. No one knew when or where Roberts would speak. There might be a thousand different revival services on a typical night, so it was rare to be at one that he led. But on this night, the revivalist, showed up.

J. Edwin Orr: Evan Roberts arrived unexpectedly at seven. They were glad to see him. They didn't expect him, but the church was so crowded that he had to walk on the shoulders of the men in the crowd and climb up over the front of the pulpit to get in because the whole surrounding of the pulpit was full of people. He got up and he said just one word in Welsh, three words in English, "Let us pray."

That's the last they heard from him because all 1,800 people began to pray aloud, simultaneously.

Leslie Basham: Why would parents take three kids to a service with no nursery, no video screens and no engaging sermon? They did it because God was doing something special.

J. Edwin Orr: One man was praying, "O, God, give me another chance, and I'll put things right." And some mother was praying, "Lord, my boy, since he's gone to Liverpool, I never hear from him," and somebody else was promising to serve God in the mission field. One man took his elbow and hit Mr. Lewis and said, "Would you stop praying and tell me how I can become a Christian?"

At 10 o'clock, Evan Roberts left the meeting. The family with whom he stayed said he prayed all night, but at 2 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Lewis said, "Come, mother, we must get the children to bed."

One child had fallen asleep; one was toppled over. They walked home in the drizzle, got the children to bed by three. It was so close to daybreak that Mr. Lewis slept in his clothes in the rocking chair by the kitchen fire.

[He] Went back to the mines, came back at three in the afternoon, took a bath, put on his Sunday best and said, "Come, mother, let's go back to the church." [They] Went back to the same meeting, still going full tilt.

But could you imagine that happening over a whole country? Well, that was Wales during the Welsh Revival.

Song: *"Here Is Love"

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Thursday, November 18th.

Song: *"Here Is Love"

Leslie Basham: Yesterday, we heard about this song. It's called "Here is Love." We're hearing Fernando Ortega's version, but 100 years ago, night after night, it was being sung in the Welsh language.

It was sort of an anthem of the Welsh Revival in 1904. All this week, we've been learning about this amazing move of God. Nancy, I can see why you've been so excited about this series.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, Leslie, I've always loved hearing the stories of revival. I can remember when I was a little girl, maybe 12 years of age, and I first was exposed to,[and] began to read, some of the accounts of how God moved in past revivals. I can remember just being so moved and thinking, If God did this before, surely God could do this again.

It was really as a young girl that God planted in my heart the seeds of hunger and longing and burden to see Him do it again, and those seeds are what have become, today, Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie Basham: It's hard to believe, but there are some people just as passionate about revival as you are. We've been hearing from Kevin Adams this week. Now, there's one passionate guy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: He sure is, and that's what I enjoyed so much about the two-hour phone call, where we listened to Kevin tell story after story about the Welsh Revival. Kevin is going to start things off today, talking about why prayer was so important to Evan Roberts.

Evan was one of the main instruments that God used during the Welsh Revival. He was a blacksmith's apprentice who had just entered seminary when he realized that God wanted to do something great among his generation.

Just before the revival broke out, Evan Roberts wrote a friend asking for prayer. Here's Kevin Adams reading from that letter.

Kevin Adams: "Pray, pray, pray. Pray for me." He realized that the strength he was going to have was going to come through prayer. There is much evidence that throughout the world, previous to the Welsh Revival, there were prayer meetings set-up in order to call on God for a worldwide revival.

Prayer, which was so central to Evan Roberts himself, became central to so many of the churches. Prayer meetings would go on and on and on, for hours and hours. Some meetings were held every night, week after week, after week, after week. Very often, someone would stand up in the congregation and say, "Tomorrow night, we must all come together and we must pray." And that would happen.

Because Evan Roberts wasn't a professional, and he just spoke as"¦he wasn't trained yet. He couldn't have been a professional.

God was using a sort-of David instead of Saul to slay Goliath. It was as if Saul wanted to pass on to David his own armor but no, no, no, no. God -- for this time, and I don't know why, God is God -- uses the unprofessional David, the unprofessional Evan Roberts, with his spiritual sling to do something special in the nation.

As a result of that, many of the ministers sit down, and the congregations take part. They're the ones, now, who begin to pray.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Can you tell a story or two about -- assuming they're true - what I've read about Evan Roberts coming into a meeting and either not speaking or leaving so that the meeting didn't center around him even when he was there.

Kevin Adams: This was the thing that made him so different from the others. He would sometimes come to a meeting, and as the months went on, he began to realize that some people, for instance, would come to a meeting, and they would come just for the singing.

I can understand that. The singing, the atmosphere, must have been fantastic. People were coming just for the atmosphere. That happens. But for Evan Roberts, he couldn't deal with that. A revival meeting is a time where you come face-to-face with God. This is not a time just to enjoy the singing. His spiritual experience was far too deep for "something as shallow," as he said, "as that."

So, very often, he would stop the singing. He would say, "Stop it. You're not singing from your hearts. Please don't." He was very much aware of his own pride. He realized he was getting lots of the attention from the media. He tried his best; he didn't succeed in this, to take the attention away from himself.

One of the things he did was, in many of the meetings, he would go into the pulpit, and he would say nothing at all. He would sit there. The meeting would be carrying on, but sometimes he would say nothing. There was one newspaper report which spoke of him as "The Silent Evangelist."

What he was trying to do was trying to give the glory to God, not to himself. He didn't want to be a superstar. That's the last thing he wanted. His only passion was to see the Gospel spread and the faith deepened in people's lives.

Song

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: How I pray that we would have the same passion today, to see God glorified and to see God's people walking in the reality of their relationship with Him.

We've been hearing from pastor and historian Kevin Adams about the exciting events in Wales in 1904. Today, we've looked quite a bit at the style and the personality of the Welsh Revival. We've been getting a picture of how God worked in that day.

I have in my heart a deep desire for God to work in our day. Here's one way I can imagine that revival spreading. What if, every day, God's people were studying His Word and seeking Him personally with all their hearts?

What if they were delving into the most personal aspects of personal revival? And then what if they came together in groups, at church or in their homes, in their communities, sharing what they were learning, and seeking God together?

The ministry that I've been a part of for over twenty-five years, Life Action Ministries, has a burden for God's people to seek Him together in this way. That's why we've developed a new resource for individuals and churches to experience the joy of personal revival. This workbook is called Seeking Him.

If you feel spiritually dry, perhaps like you're going through all the motions, doing all the right things but not experiencing the intimacy with God that you once experienced or you know is possible, then Seeking Him could transform your life.

Leslie Basham: To get a copy of Nancy's new workbook Seeking Him, you can call us at 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959, or get information on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, our series on the Welsh Revival has been pretty different from what we normally do. Would you write and tell us what you think? Tomorrow, we'll hear why revival caused horses to disregard their master's commands. Hope you can be here. To end our time, let's listen to Mark Bearden reflect on the Welsh Revival.

Mark Bearden: Virden Higham, he said in the south of Wales There are long valleys, finger-like valleys, that run down north and south. They say it was said during the revival that, as you climbed the mountain out of a valley, you could hear the singing from the church below.

And as you reached the top of the mountain, and the singing faded away. As you topped the mountain and began to come down, you would hear the singing from the next valley. And it was said that you could cross the whole of Wales, across it, and never lose the sound of the Church singing.

You know, there's a sense in which revival is the Church singing, not just singing, but the Church with a song. When we get so tired that we can't fight any more, that we're tired of programs, we're tired of being explainable, we're tired of religion that hunkers down and tries to survive in a culture that will never change apart from revival, when we come to that point where we cry out, that's when God gives us our song back.

Song

One day, God's going to send revival again, and the Church will have her song back.

*Here Is Love, Traditional/Robert Lowry, Arrangement copyright 1991 Vi Ray Publishing, BMI, from the album Night of Your Return.

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul," National Philharmonic Orchestra of London and the National Philharmonic Choir, from the album Hymns Triumphant, Volumes 1-2.

"Bryn Calfaria," from the album Psalms of the Trinity Psalter

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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