Redigging the Wells
I recently returned from the United Kingdom after an amazing ministry trip arranged by Rose Sambrook, a powerful and vibrant leader who pastors with her husband, Kevin, in Northern Ireland. She sacrificed greatly to put this journey together, and I am thankful to both of them.
My friend, Kathryn Van Sinderen, made the trip with me. I know why Jesus sent his disciples out two by two—you need the strength and joy that comes from shared experiences in God. And it helps to have someone carry the physical load as well (i.e. baggage!). Mike says he is my camel, and Kathryn teases that she is the "camelette." (Thank God for that!)
We spent our first evening in London with our drivers, Roy and Vanessa, who would also be our hosts in Wales. They are a fun couple that loves the Lord, and we had a good time with them.
In the morning we drove into Burton-on-Trent, about 100 miles northwest of London, arriving just in time for a quick bite before it was time to preach. The place was rocking when we got there. I taught on “The Year of the Whirlwinds”; I was not aware at the time that they had experienced an unusual tornado that had blown through the city two days prior!
New Quay and Blaenannerch
The next day we went with our friend Michael a Marcel who has documented some 3,000 revival sites in the United Kingdom and visited these “spiritual wells” to pray. In fact, his website is called ukwells.org.
He had asked me before the trip if I would like to visit a few of the sites from the 1904 move of God known as the Welsh Revival, for which Evan Roberts is noted. Of course, I was excited to go as these sites were in the same direction as the church in which I would preach that night.
We had a beautiful, but blustery day with intermittent rain showers. The countryside is absolutely lovely—eye-popping green, rolling hills filled with sheep and hedgerows. Michael took us down small-country lanes that wound through the countryside. I now understand what books mean when they talk about these lanes. At one point, a ruddy-faced woman asked us to wait, and a few moments later we spied the reason why when a herd of black and white cows ambled around the corner!
Our journey took us through England into Wales. We were excited to reach the seaside town of New Quay, the place where God touched two revival girls. In a letter written by Evan Roberts on October 11, 1904, he says, "We have come in contact with the girls of New Quay, and the divine fire has begun to lay hold of us.”
This little tiny, fishing village was a place where a fire started that went around the world! Thank the Lord for God's girls who were willing to be used as His fire-starters! Never underestimate even the smallest church or most unassuming location! We prayed for God to move on the next generation and then pressed on.
We continued further into Wales to the village of Blaenannerch, arriving there after driving around four hours. It was worth the travel time as we were to receive a deep and lasting touch from God in the church there.
Michael led us into the small church with a balcony. It reminded me of the sites I visited in New Jersey where George Whitfield preached. There were fresh flowers on The Lord's Supper table, so I could tell there are loving hands that care for this holy site.
For those of you who do not know the story of the Welsh Revival, this was the place mentioned above where Evan Roberts was ministered to by the girls from New Quay. Roberts was at a meeting with some 18 young people when he was "bent low" and disrupted the preaching of Seth Joshua. He began shouting praises to God, and three remarkable things happened which he wrote about in the letter I quoted earlier, obtained from the church. He stated:
- I have lost all nervousness.
- I can sing all day long—some physical impediment obstructed me before.
- I had gone hard as flint, and that, bear in mind, although my whole inclination and the only object of my life was to serve God—but thank heaven, I was bent low at Blaenannerch. I was so bent that I had to shout out “Thanks be to Him!” Oh, what an easy thing it is to thank now!
Beyond him losing his shyness, some kind of healing that allowed him to sing, as well as a new heart for a stony one, Roberts’ deep transformation is further amplified in the same letter: "...when light comes, the ugly and undesirable are revealed. And this is the reason of my writing to you."
He goes on to share how he had borrowed a book some years ago and could not remember if he had paid for it or not: "I do not know whether you remember or not, but I must get rid of the doubts as soon as possible, and I enclose to you twelve stamps, desiring you to accept them."
In my studies of revivals, I have found that both conviction and open confession of sin have been some of the hallmarks--whether the move of God was in Wales, the Asbury Revival, or the East Africa revival of the 30s.
Our group of three solemnly read the plaque marking the pew where God touched young Evan. I felt nothing personally at that moment; however, to my surprise and joy, when I walked to the place directly in front of the pew, Michael, Kathryn and I felt waves of glory pour over us. In fact, I was struck down to the floor by the power of God even after my friends had tried valiantly to hold me up!
There is a reason the word glory in the Hebrew means “weightiness. It happened so suddenly no one could stop it.
This is the same type of experience the prophet Daniel must have had when the Bible says he “fainted" when he saw an angel (see Daniel 8:27). What I saw at that moment was a strong angel holding a harp in his hands. I felt he was the angel over the nation that sings the songs of the nation. Later I saw a harp just like the one he held in a museum at Trinity College in Dublin. It had belonged to the first king of Ireland.
We departed from that place rejoicing in the goodness of God, feeling a joy and certainty that what was done in the Welsh Revival was going to be poured out in a regional awakening.
The impact of former generations and past visitations is often hidden to those who are not hungry enough to search it out. One could walk past the sites of the most powerful works of God without a discerning spirit that says, "Stop and look." But for those who will open their hearts, God has something amazing to impart.
After another three-hour drive, we arrived at the home of Roy and Vanessa who pastor the Cleddaugh Community Church in Milford Haven, Wales. They have a lovely 180 year-old house where we had a bit of tea and fellowship (or as the Irish like to say a wee bit of tea) before we were off to the meeting.
After preaching, I felt I needed to read the letter we had obtained that afternoon and give an invitation to the small crowd of faithful believers. I asked, "Is there anyone here who wants to publicly confess some kind of sin?"
We waited a bit. One must never get nervous in waiting for the conviction of the Lord to nudge the hearts of sinners, especially when one is not in the momentum of an awakening.
A young man came to the front and made a confession. He hugged and hugged me with tears in his eyes! A glorious change had happened at that moment. Another came and then another! All of their eyes shone like stars when they had gotten right with God.
One woman, 80 years old with silver hair and bright blue eyes, came forward. She told how she had been working for the Lord in Argentina, but the fire for Him had gone out in her heart.
She cried as she confessed this to us and was gloriously restored. We received a fresh sweetness of God in remembering how He loves the old as well as the young.
I did not have peace that all were saved, and I recall saying something like, "I still feel that someone needs to come. Perhaps a child?"
With that said, a handsome blond-haired child came walking forward. I asked, "Why have you come?"
"I want to give my heart to the Lord!"
I asked him, "How old are you?"
"Eleven," he said.
"What is your name?"
"Findlay," he replied. With tears streaming down his face, he earnestly prayed and was forever changed from one life to another.
After that I still had not received peace that all had come. I looked out and caught the eye of another boy shyly standing in front of his dad. "Did you want to come too?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said, and the kingdom welcomed another 11 year-old boy named Nathan.
There were actually many more great things that took place while in Wales, but I have been writing for hours on the plane home after a very busy journey to five nations in which I preached twelve times!
I am pretty tired today, but I am spurred on by glimmers of those I will not know until we all meet in heaven. It is going to be so special to really understand the impact of traveling from place to place and preaching God’s word when tired and wishing for my own bed.
In closing, I think of something Peter Wagner says: that any move of God not written about is not remembered. As I am now in my sixties, I often ponder whether or not these trip reports I write will be read by those who come after me, perhaps even my own grandchildren. I pray they—and you—will receive strength to carry the flame of the gospel to the generations that will follow after reading what I have labored to write.
- Cindy Jacobs