Of all the names that are linked with the 1904 Revival,
Evan Roberts is the most well known. At 26 years of age in the Autumn of 1904, he was to become an instant spiritual celebrity
in Wales as the local and national newspapers of the day chronicled the spreading
His celebrity status was highlighted by the fact
that he was a precious ‘unknown’. He wasn’t even a fully licensed preacher in 1904 – he was merely
a trainee attending a grammar school to prepare him for the ministry course. He had left school when only 11years and nine
months old to help his father in the local coal mine. Having worked in coalmining for 12 years he then became an apprentice
to a blacksmith for over a year. He left that calling when he felt a greater call to reach people for Christ. The only avenue
that seemed available to him at the time was the Presbyterian Ministry and it was whilst he was in pursuit of this that God
radically changed his plans.
Evan Roberts had been a committed Christian from
his early teenage years. He had not lived a profligate life – he was a tea-totaler committed to abstinence, a regular
attendee and contributor to the on going life of his local church. He was a well-respected Sunday School teacher – someone
who prayed publicly in the prayer meeting and rarely missed the other mid week meetings. Friends of his at the time remember
him as a committed Christian in word and deed. His private spiritual life also matched his public profession, private prayer
and bible study. These were essential components of his spirituality from an early age. But it was in the spring of 1904 that
Evan was to experience an even greater feeling of God’s presence. One night he was woken from his sleep and led into
a deep communion with God for hours. This experience was to continue every evening for the next few months until he went away
to the school at Newcastle Emlyn.
This change of scenery had an immediate cooling effect
on his spiritual fervour but it wasn’t to last long. Two weeks after arriving at the school, Evan attended a Convention
at nearby Blaenanerch and it was here that he received what he termed as a fresh ‘Baptism of the Spirit’ as he
responded to the prayer ‘Bend me oh Lord’. This empowering of the Spirit transformed the young student into a
Revivalist with a message for Wales.
Within a month he felt compelled to share this message
of the reality of God and the possibility of complete forgiveness of sins with his home youth group at Moriah Loughor.
Summing up the message in 4 parts, Evan pressed it
home to the astonished church
1. Confess all known sin
2. Deal with and get rid of anything ‘doubtful’
in your life
3. Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly
4. Confess Christ publicly
By the end of the last week over 60 responded. By
the end of the second week Evan had already started on a whirl-wind tour of the South Wales valleys with his team of 5 girl
singers and within a year or so 100,000 converts were said to be added to the Welsh
What was the secret of this young man's powerful
ministry? I’m sure that there may be many answers including his upbringing, his bible reading, his prayer life etc.
Perhaps a concise way of answering the question would
be that he was willing to bow to God’s Sovereign purpose for his life. This did include being a teacher of a great Revival
but firstly it meant being willing to let God have this Divine way in Evan’s own life.
This involved a struggle between
Evan’s way and God’s and as at Gethsemane it meant a conscious choice of “not
my will but Thy will be done”.