Why did it only last 3-4 years? What happened to Evan Roberts, the great young revivalist? Feb 2013
Kathie Walters [email protected]
Maybe we can learn from history
As I studied the Welsh revival and Evan Roberts in particular I felt very saddened. Evan Roberts a young man full of zeal for God. He was treated very badly by other ministers who had the spirit of religion and who were jealous. The enemy set a trap and an assignment, and Evan didnťt see it. Those around didnťt discern either what was happening. The result was heart break and sadness and loneliness for Evan Roberts, a truly anointed young man of God who once held the whole of Wales in the palm of his hand
I am going to tell you why. If you are like me, you always want to know ťwhy.ť If someone tells me about a revival I want to know HOW AND WHY it happened and if it leaves I want to understand WHY it went.
The Welsh Revival was truly an awesome and very wonderful move of God but it ended in great personal sadness for a lot of people, and especially Evan Roberts who died a lonely man. I want us to learn from the Welsh Revival – to get a hold of the faith they had. Revival comes through hunger, prayer and intercession but also FAITH. Evan Roberts sought God in intercession for Wales for many months and there was a period when he was lifted up into the heavenly realms night after night and met with God in an incredible way. He obtained a promise from God of 100,000 souls. He didnťt just think it was ťinterestingť he BELIEVED IT AND released his faith and began to move out as God led him.
You can read hundreds of accounts of the power and presence of God among the people of Wales in the many books about the revival. It was said of Evan Roberts, ťYou couldnťt see him sometimes, he would lay behind the pulpit and the Spirit of God would take control of everyone and everything.ť Evan Roberts taught the people to obey the promptings of the Spirit. He spoke against control from the leaders and taught that if the people wanted God they had to get out of the way.
God used Evan in a remarkable way – he would deliver the word of the Lord through testimony, through words of knowledge and prophetic words and insights that could only have come from heaven.
One thing I have learned about the spirit of religion is that it makes God people feel responsible
for things that only God can do, and make people feel responsible for people that only God can change. For you or I cannot change anyoneťs heart or make anyone do anything, only God can and we must learn to trust and leave it to Him.
Evan totally depended on God and was just an instrument – but in the latter half of the revival, he gradually made himself responsible for how the people responded to the Holy Spirit, taking on himself something only God can do. Thus unconsciously, he put himself in the place of the Holy spirit
The Welsh Revival was so wonderful, I am not going to relate story after story as there are many great books out there to tell you of all those marvelous happenings ( list at end of Article) But I want to tell you what happened to Evan Roberts. I want us to learn so that we donťt make the same mistake again..
We need to pray for such an outpouring as Wales had, and the Hebrides Islands and many other places, they came through prayer and faith. You canťt leave out faith as it is the vehicle that God uses to release His power.
As a summary of the Revival here are some notes from the Welsh Revival 1904
ť ……This is revival! When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgment of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the presence of God, tremble in the street and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in supernatural power and holds men in the grip of terrifying conviction; when every shop becomes a pulpit; every heart an altar; every home a sanctuary and people walk softly before God – this is revivalť (Quote from Rev. Owen Murphy).
Rev. Murphy continues, ťThe Welsh Revival of 1904 was like a mighty tornado. The Spirit of God swept across the land until mountains and valleys, cities and villages were filled with the mighty manifestations of God.ť
ťChurches were crowded and meetings went on day and night. Prayer, singing and testimonies would sweep over congregations in torrents, and hundreds turned to Christ. Never in the history of Wales had such indescribable scenes been witnessed.ť
ťDr. Campbell Morgan, after witnessing the scenes of revival in Wales, returned to Westminster Chapel in London and declared, ťHere is revival that comes from heaven; there is no preaching, no order, no hymn-books, no choirs, no organs, no collections and finally no advertising! Now think of that for a moment! There were organs – but they were silent. There were ministers – but there was no preaching – they were among the people praising God! Yet the Welsh revival is a revival of preaching, for everybody is preaching. No order and yet it moves from day to day, county to county with matchless precision, with the order of an attacking force. No song-books, but- ah me, I nearly wept over the singing! When the Welsh sing they abandon themselves to the singing. No choir did I say? It was all choir.ťť
Wales is ablaze for God, already 50,000 converts have been recorded and the great awakening shows no signs of waning. It is sweeping over hundreds of villages and cities, emptying saloons, theaters and dance halls, and filling the churches night after night with praying multitudes. Go where you will; into the bank; the store; the trains. Everywhere men are talking about God.ť
Fire Breaking Out
ťIf you could stand above Wales, looking down over it, you would see the fire breaking out here and there and yonder, and somewhere else, without any pre-arrangement. It is a divine visitation from God – Oh! Let me say this reverently. God is saying to us, ťSee what I can do without the
things you are depending on, see what I can do through a praying people who are prepared to depend wholly and absolutely upon Meťť
ťLike a tree shaken by a mighty storm, Wales was moved by the power of God until almost every home in the nation felt its impact. Newspapers in bold headlines carried the news of the amazing scenes taking place. So great was the fear of God, and conviction gripped the people, that in
some communities crime disappeared. Magistrates were presented with a blank paper; no cases to be tried. And, to commemorate the occasion, they were presented with white gloves! In more than one place the Post officeťs supply of money orders were exhausted as people sought to make
restitution by paying their debts. Saloons and theaters were closed and stores were sold out of Bibles and New Testaments. Members of Parliament, busy attending revival services, postponed their political meetings. Theatrical companies coming into districts found no audience, for all the world was praying. ť
God Can do it Again
This is revival – A mighty God moving on behalf of men and women who have cried out to Him. Can God do this again? I believe He is waiting to release His awesome power. He is now preparing the way through dedicated and praying, believing people. There is a time to pray and then there is
a time to receive Godťs answer, for prayer is not a one-way communication. The men and women who prayed in the wonderful revival in the Hebrides Islands got hold of Godťs promise – and the fact that He was a covenant- keeping God who kept His word.
While Evan was taking steps to begin ministerial training he was involved in missions to other towns with some of the young people, but he began to feel Godťs voice calling him to go back to his own home town and church, Moriah Chapel. He felt he was to minister to the youth there.
During some meetings at Blaenannerch he sat in a side pew. The Chapel Pastor was annoyed when he heard Roberts making a disturbance in the meeting. Evan later said, ťťWhat boiled in my bosom was the verse ťFor God commendeth His love…ťť I fell on my knees with my arms outstretched on the seat before me. The perspiration poured down my face and my tears streamed quickly until I thought blood came out. Mrs Davis came to wipe my face and Magdalene Phillips stood on my right and Maud Davis on my left. I cried ťťBend me, bend me, bend me, Oh Oh oh.ť Mrs Davis said, ťOh wonderful grace.ť It was God commending His love that bent me, and I, not anything to commend. After I was bended a wave of peace and joy filled my heart.ť It seems at this point Evan was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He had an amazing experience one moonlit evening in the garden of Ty Llwd. He shared the experience with a friend, Sydney Lloyd, who was there with him. Mr Lloyd told a reporter later that he saw Evan Roberts looking at the moon and he said to him, ťWhat are you looking for? What are you doing here? This is a strange place, what are you seeing? I do not usually get visions but I saw this also. We saw an arm stretching out from the moon in the direction of the earth We both saw it.ť They took it as an answer to the prayer they had been praying for 100,000 souls.
In the Meetings.
Evan stepped back and let the Spirit have His way with the people. The only thing he stopped was loud shrieking and wild gestures that he felt brought attention to the person, rather than God. He would often lay on the floor behind the pulpit for hours and never get up unless God gave him something. A word of knowledge, some prophetic insight for someone. He was totally committed to the leading of the Spirit, which he said must be given first place and the Spirits promptings must never be ignored. When helpers tried to reduce the interruptions, he told them, ťNo one has the right to check it, for that would be control coming in. No one is to lead except the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some unseen force but a divine person who must be praised and adored in His own right, and must be obeyed totally.ť
He rebuked those who tried to shorten the singing. He threatened to leave the meeting if anyone interfered with the flow of the Spirit in any shape or form. When one leader asked Evan to cut down the singing, he replied, ťWould you stop the dawn chorus of birds and only allow a few to greet the rising sun?ť Only exhibitionist behavior would make him stop something.
What happened to make a turn in the revival and bring it on a downward trend?
In December of 1904 Evan began the practice of questioning the people, challenging them and confronting them. When he was challenged by a bold athiest at Tylorstown, Rhondda, Evan commanded all those born again to stand to their feet. Many were too embarrassed to stand up, while others were upset when they saw others pretending to confess to be Christians in order to escape notice. These ťtestingsť put Evan Roberts in the driving seat whereas he had claimed he would stay out of sight. These events worried Christian friends, and things began to change is his ministry.
Sometimes Evanťs questioning in the meetings to reveal peopleťs values and level of spirituality became like a drill session and began to sound like a spiritual bullying.
The meetings in Aberdafre in the January 1904 were the turning point of the revival.
The revivalist suddenly jumped up, lifted his arms and demanded total silence. Then he began to make an all out attack upon the people, accusing them of insincerity and hypocrisy which he said he could see creeping into their worship. The word rang out over the chapel like a pistol shot. David Matthews heard it and said the people were bowed over.
An attack on Evan Roberts, one of many.
The Rev Peter Price, a Cambridge graduate, a skilled counselor and dedicated young Pastor had put his faith in reasoning and debate as an answer to the rising atheism of the day. He was very dis-eased when an unqualified young preacher turned up in his area and at once gained spectacular success. His letter to the Western Mail sparked a national debate, He claimed that a genuine revival in his area had been spoiled by Evan Roberts bringing an imitation revival. During the same week, some strange things were happening in Merthyr which made Price even more antagonistic.
In a service in Ogmore Vale Chapel, Even treated the people so sharply that a visitor stood up and said, ťWhat is the meaning of this? we are appalled.ť His strain showed even more the next few days. The following night he entered at 9pm and announced that the Spirit had fled because people were too confident. On the Tuesday he launched another attack accusing people of being disobedient and unholy. Suddenly he began to talk about ťobstacles arriving,ť and ťobstacles departing.ť Of course people were looking around to see who the ťobstaclesť were.
It got so that every grumble or whisper or challenging remark was taken as the work of the devil and the fun loving man who enjoyed humor became upset at the smallest thing. It was like a schoolteacher who gets upset and blames the whole class for the one or two mischievous pupils.
Evan Roberts became increasingly impatient with people who would not ťown upť to his discernment. He warned people that if they did not repent, he would point them out and order them to leave. It was a long way from the joyous meetings of the previous months. You can see how Evan gradually moved into a place of false responsibility. What he had for people was between them and God -but he put himself in the way.
In the first meeting in Cwmafan, Evan walked in and almost at once threatened to close the meeting because people had too many smiles on their faces. He suspected them of mockery.
All this was working up to the triple explosion which shook South Wales between Feb 21-23 1905
I have often been asked how so many people are affected in a negative way by one person, a leader. It is often because someone operates strongly in the Spirit – and people are affected and even enamored with the one who is so powerfully used. Our wonderful experiences are related to the person who is being used so greatly, and so we keep on receiving, even when it is not really the Spirit. We fail to discern because we get our attention on the vehicle rather than source. But we do receive nevertheless and if the vehicle has moved at some point away from Godťs anointing, we still can continue to receive and end up needing deliverance. Another problem is that someone who has operated in a strong and powerful anointing, can move out into a false anointing, whereby the soul realm and even another spirits can operate.
One of the problems in the American church today is that ordinary people have not been taught to discern for themselves or listen to the witness of the Spirit within. While teachers, prophets, leaders are called to minister to the Body of Christ, nevertheless, we are all responsible to God, as He has given us His spirit to teach and guide us individually. So often we override the witness of the spirit because someone we consider a ťministerť seems to have more authority or knowledge than we. If we question or wonder about something a voice says, ťWho do you think you are? you arenťt anyone.ť ťBrother so and so is a great teacher, who are you to question?ť
Many people who were influenced in a negative way by the Shepherding movement years ago, have told me that in the beginning they felt uneasy, but went on receiving because of who it was that gave certain teaching. Many people were under a spirit of control and had a lot of difficulty getting free from that. They quenched the spirit within them. See my book, ťElitism and the False Shepherding Spirit.ť
In the beginning Evan was full of joy and liveliness, but he was not an extrovert and he detested showy people. For much of the time he played no open part in the meeting. He told his friend Sidney Evans, ťIt would spoil the work and rob God of His glory. It is important that we keep ourselves in the background.ť It is difficult to explain therefore and how and why Even Roberts gradually moved more and more to the forefront and became more and more directive and controlling.
In January – March 1905, there was the continual criticism from more well known and learned ministers. Obviously there was probably a certain amount of jealousy from ministers who had worked so long with little results. Roberts was young and in-experienced in dealing with political situations in the church. He also grew dismayed when people responded coolly or casually to his urgent messages. His identification with Christťs burden for the people caused him to be hurt by every person who was not on fire for God, and who did not respond in the way he felt they should.
These feelings would not have changed his attitude so much were it not for another factor. He had a growing conviction that he was called to the same kind of task as the lonely Elijah, the abused and misunderstood Jeremiah, who challenged his faithless nation. The quiet Ezekiel who obeyed all the commands of the Spirit and the stern John the Baptist, preparing the way for the promised Messiah. He made his criticism as a spiritual sign of his special call. The entrance of an Elitism spirit is always the beginning of the end, and the seeds of death are already in it.
During the 2nd half of the revival he also took upon himself a burden to discipline ťunworthy churchesť and the removing of ťťobstacles.ť
The greatest tragedy was that Evan was not able to come to terms with his own zeal and clearly see the limits of his role in the revival.
I want to insert a very important note here in the way of explanation. I believe that this is the key that brought the revival out of Godťs purpose and into a soulish religious place. Consequently it came into disrepute and then just faded away as did Evan Roberts ministry.
When I first visited Wales several years ago I was very excited to be in the place of the great Welsh Revival of 1904. The Lord began to speak to me about Evan Roberts, and his ministry. Things that I had not read in any book, but found out later to be true. I have a Seer anointing as did Evan Roberts did, so I do understand some of the things he saw and felt. Part of the seer anointing is that the Holy Spirit does move on your senses and shows you about the church or Body of Christ. However, while I was there in Wales – I kept feeling a great heaviness on my back, almost crippling. The was no physical reason for this, it just came and I would pray and it would go away. After a few days and when I really felt it strong, I spoke to the Lord. ťWhat IS this heaviness on my back?ť I asked Him. ťťIt is the spirit of False Responsibility which covers the land,ť was the reply I received.
I knew that religious spirit, as I had prayed for people for deliverance from that many times. It is a religious Spirit that makes people feel responsible for things they can do nothing about. For example, we cannot change anyoneťs heart, we cannot make anyone do anything against their will. But this spirit of false responsibility makes us do that if we get affected by it. I.e. If the Lord gives you a word for someone, it is your responsibility to present it, but it is not your responsibility to make them receive it or act upon it. That is between that person and the Lord. If you try to go beyond your responsibility and take the responsibility for something only God can do, then you come under a false burden and a false (heavy) yoke. God does not ask us to take up burdens we can do nothing about. Other people are His responsibility. His yoke is easy and His burden is Light and delightful – thatťs because itťs HIS.
I continued my conversation with the Lord, ťWhere did it come from?ť He replied, ťThe latter half of Evan Roberts ministry.ť
An old man of God who has been in the ministry for about 70 years ( Arthur Burt) says, ťJesus only ever did three things, He did what the Father told him to do, He said what the Father told him to say and he went where the Father told Him to go, and thatťs all He ever did.ť Well if we would operate that same way – a lot more would get done in the Spirit.
As Evan Roberts continued in his ministry of the Spirit which brought great revival. He began to take on the responsibility of how the people reacted and received the word and ministry that he gave. Whereas in the beginning he simply allowed God to be God and do what He wanted to do -he gradually began to take control, not only of the meetings but also the peopleťs response. That is a great burden, as only God Himself can take change someoneťs heart. When you put this together with all the other factors, his physical and emotional strain, his inexperience, the fierce and often violent criticism and his beginning to think he was called like Elijah etc..it became an open door to the wiles of the enemy.
When someone has a strong anointing and they have power in the Spirit as Evan Roberts did, they also are an open door when something else comes along, i.e religious spirits. Control spirits etc. The land was covered with the glory of God through Evanťs openness and trust in the Spirit, but when he moved over into the realm which is Godťs only then he also allowed in through his ministry, this spirit of heaviness and control.
We must be careful and watchful of what comes in through anointed ministries. We are all human. It is easy when there is success begin to think that we had something to do with it. People also are prone to lift up those who are powerful and who have outstanding gifts.
Many great meetings still happened and many flocked to where Roberts preached. But Evan was still tired and strained and had many unusual and vivid visions during December and January. But there were times when the promptings and voices caused his friends concern. One day in a chapel service where 90% of the people were English speaking, he refused to speak in English because ťthe Spirit has forbidden me,ť ( he spoke in Welsh in the language).
A while later he was taken to his bed for a few days because of depression and nervous prostration. He began to doubt his own ability to really hear the voice of the Spirit. At Briton Ferry great crowds had gathered for a meeting, but at the very last minute Evan said that the Holy Spirit had prohibited him. There were cries of disappointment, anger and confusion. Dr Fursac rushed to Evans lodging and gave this account of his enquiry. ťI had prepared to go to the service and had put on my hat and coat and gloves, when a voice said to me, ťDonťt go Evan.ť While I was washing a voice had spoken to me in Welsh, ťDo not go to Briton Ferry.ť Now the voice repeated to me, ťDo not go.ť
Of course the growing band of critics ridiculed the whole thing. Evanťs friends could not understand why the Spirt would give a last minute order counteracting earlier guidance. Evan Roberts shut himself up again for seven days.
In meetings that followed there were still strong rebukes and removal of ťobstacles.ť
Although at this point the revival was on a downward trend – the mission meetings in Liverpool ( April 1905) really put a nail in the coffin.
Evan made an announcement that he had given away all his money to Moriah Chapel and other good causes, He was determined to travel in poverty. A Christian friend paid his train ticket to Liverpool and another friend lodged him in the city.
On arrival in Liverpool, Evan was annoyed when he discovered that the ministers and churches had advertised his meetings. He wanted the Lord to bring the people. Although this is idealistic, most Christians are not that fine tuned to the voice of God, and to know when and at what church Evan would be.
He must also have sensed that some of the ministers were a little uneasy, having heard the confusing reports from Wales.
Long before the mission began people were planning on coming from North East Wales. Evan was the topic of the day. Many prayer groups spent hours in fervent prayer for the meetings. Schedules were set up for the use of various chapels, singers were on call. But the crowds of people couldnťt be contained. A newspaper described one of the chaotic scenes.
ťOlder women were climbing over railings in order to get to the door quicker, and falling on other people. They were snatched up by the police and thrown inside the chapel like sacks..Some shouted that they were suffocating. Others fought with policemen..When one reached gallery it was worse -like a furnace. Some were pleading to get in and others pleading to close the doors.ť
Before long the well organized meeting looked like a revival. Solos, prayers, cries of confessions, childrenťs songs, hymns, more prayers came is quick, bewildering succession. If there was any restraint made, Evan Roberts would say, ťScores of people are quenching the Spirit and disobeying His promptings.ť The churches seem to have had a shock when Evan came. His emphasis was on the spiritual state of the people. Nevertheless Many of these meetings were a great blessing to many. In the 6000 seat Sun Hall, Evan singled out a man who he said had come to try and hypnotize him. When this man later confessed to a theater audience that this indeed had been true, hundreds of Christians endorsed the verdict of Hugh Jones of Bangor. In a journal he wrote that Evan lived close to God and therefore it should not be surprised that he should have revelations concerning men.
Tragically the use of such power caused such confusion and conflict that in later years Roberts wondered if his powers had come from God or he had been tricked by the devil.
The first crack came in one meeting designed for backsliders. Evan noticed that the place was full of complacent churchgoers. He said that there were five people hindering the work and that they needed ťbending. After a great deal of whispering and groaning Evan began to rock back and forth and then pronounced judgment. ťDonťt ask God to save. He is not listening now, Three of these five preach the Gospel. There will be a awful bending one of these days.ť
The chairman asked, ťMay we not give thanks for those who are saved?ť ťNoť was the stern reply, ťťHe will not receive any thanks, He will receive nothing, He has locked heaven.ť
The next time there was conflict was on an evening that should have been a high spot in the mission. The Lord Mayor and his wife decided to hold a reception in the civic center. Many leaders of the Welsh churches had been invited. Also many business leaders in the community. Evan Roberts was driven in the official city coach to the reception where he behaved very courteously when the Lady Mayoress made the introductions. Evan did not make any formal address and the reception remained friendly and lively. The official party then made its way to the Sun Hall which was packed to capacity.
Suddenly Evan parted from the company on the dais and went to the front of the platform. He challenged everyone by telling people to make sure they were there for cleansing and confessing Christ. He told people to raise their hands if they were confessing Christ. Remember at this time in the church in UK this was something quite unusual and considered ťpersonal.ť A minister behind grumbled about the ťtesting.ť Then Evan told the minister to repent and ask Godťs pardon. Evan said to him. ťDo not be surprised if your arm hangs by you so that you cannot raise it for ever. Do as you please but you will carry this sign of disobedience as long as you live.ť While the people were wondering about this, he all but named another person he asked to confess. Another minister asked if he could perhaps take the person to another room and clear the names of the others who were there. Roberts at once left the meeting. This crisis did not seem to immediately affect the revival too much, but it made the ministers wonder if Evan had the right to treat complaining as the unforgivable sin.
In several meetings there were many saved as the Spirit of God moved, but another blow fell on Tuesday -11th April in the Welsh Wesleyan chapel. When he arrived he pronounced the place was not clean. After moaning and struggling Evan declared that God was making him give out a message for the new Free Church. The message was that the foundations of the church were not on the rock. The Free church was partly responsible to inviting Evan Roberts to Liverpool and had done much of the organizing. As an invited missionary many felt he did not have the right to enter into inter-church affairs. Many church leaders disowned the message and said it we not divinely inspired. Others resigned from the planning committee.
The final storm broke on Friday night at a menťs meeting when, after Evan had sat for two hours without making a sound, someone asked him if he made reconciliation with his brother, the offended minister of the Free Church. Evan left the meeting.
In the Sunday evening meeting Evan came at 7pm and began to weep and pray on his knees and then lovingly exhorted the people. Some of the offended ministers offered to be reconciled and the meeting ended happily. But Evan realized he would never again set foot in a Liverpool chapel.
Evan then went to the hills of Wales for healing.
As Evan continued to preach and exhort, crowds once again came out to see and hear Evan Roberts.
Six thousand made their way to Llangefni, nine thousand to Holyhead and uncounted hundreds made their way to open services. The castle precincts were the only space large enough in Beaumaris where hundreds crossed the famous bridge to meet him. Even these gatherings were eclipsed by the huge July meeting in the Eisteddfod Pavilion at Cearnarfon where ten thousand people stretched its space beyond limits. Countless numbers followed him to Bala where he was invited to preach on the ťMaesť ( Town Square.ť This was such a great privilege as it was the place where some of Wales greatest preachers stood and preached to the multitudes.)
It was in these great meeting that Evan spoke most severely, as he saw that the church leaders were present. He said that they needed to be given a vision to pray for the lost.
Jesse Penn Lewis
The involvement of Jesse Penn Lewis in Evans life always seems a bit of a mystery. She had a revelation of the ťcross experience andťthrone experience,ť which Evan also seemed to have. She stayed on to help Evan with the tent mission and had serious conflict with the church
leaders who accused her of interference. Mrs Penn Lewis was very hurt and stated that she would stay away from Wales in the future.
I do believe that Jesse Penn-Lewis has been somewhat unjustly treated by most writers about the revival. I believe she was sincere in that she could see problems looming in Evans ministry and sincerely tried to help him. When Mrs Penn Lewis showed up Evan had already had a several nervous breakdowns. When there were problems at Llandrindod Wells Jesse Penn Lewis and Rev. R.B Jones prevented Evan from totally abandoning his service to the Lord. She saw that he had gotten into a mixture and he was very unstable. Evan had several nervous breakdowns ( some minor) and was in a precarious position and unable to cope with all the was happening. Evan was inexperienced in dealing with church leadership and was pushed by religious spirits into a place of uncertainty where his faith was attacked and he lost control of his of authority. Although she ťrescuedť him and certainly helped him in some areas, she also bought more confusion into his life later on. But a ferocious Jezebel spirit did attack Evan Roberts through the preaching and ministry of Rev. Peter price of Downlais who was a well known eloquent preacher. He publicly called Evan a self deluded actor, a prophet of Baal, calling down false fire. And in fact said that Even was preventing the true revival by bringing a false revival. There were many such attacks and Roberts was already under a strong false responsibility that it brought about another nervous breakdown.
I have read a few articles by people who have claimed Mrs Penn Lewis was a Jezebel that took Evan from the revival but that is not true. If anything she rescued him out of it. She took him away to recover with the approval of other leaders.
A month later, after the tent mission, Evan Roberts experienced his fourth and most serious breakdown. With the knowledge of certain Christian leaders he was sent to Mrs Penn-Lewis country house called ťWoodlands,ť Great Glen.
1906-08 the Vale of Tears
Faced with repeated criticism Mrs Penn-Lewis wrote twice to Rev. R. B. Jones of Porth, a respected Bible Teacher. She explained to him how badly Evan Roberts needed to be protected
until all the strain and evidence of breakdown had gone.
She also explained that Evan could now see how he been misled over certain happenings in the revival. Rev Jones eventually came to a private meeting in Leicester. This turned out to be a meeting of vital importance according to a letter Jesse Penn-Lewis wrote to him from Switzerland where the family had taken Evan for convalescence.
ťFrom the day you visited Leicester, he has been steadily gained and now his is able to think freely, God is pouring in light in such a way I can see the church of Christ is going to benefit greatly. After all he has been through and the way God is giving him now to be able to dissect and define the entanglements of Satan in the supernatural sphere. I see God is training him as an expert. And I too have been through such depths of the cross as I never dreamed about.ť
I see in the peaceful interval we are having that we are being specially trained for special work.
I do not wonder that the adversary has raged. I knew that God was going to equip Evan here , so no wonder the enemy sought to hinder. God bless you that you should have been sent to join me in talking of life and liberty. No one else helped and all have failed to see clearly. You are the first one that God used when I was alone (in this).ť
Evan was always grateful to R. B. Jones for his ministry at that time. It seemed that Evans healing took a little longer that first supposed and he was not able to stand or walk for almost a year although there was nothing physically wrong with him. Taking on false responsibility or false burdens will surely affect you physically.
Evan was told by his physicians never to have pulpit ministry again but only to have relaxed counseling type ministry. He was deeply hurt by his Welsh converts and followers when they did not understand what had happened to him. But of course still today most Christians do not understand what happened to the Welsh revival or to Evan Roberts- as they donťt understand about the way the spirit of false responsibility works.
Evan Roberts always denied that he was at Leicester ( Jesse Penn-Lewisťs) under duress- but his own free will. He published a letter in ťThe Overcomerť several years later.
A lot of people who have researched the revival blamed Mrs Penn-Lewis for taking Evan out of the Revival, but he was in such a state emotionally, spiritually and physically that I donťt care to think what might have happened if he had tried to continue.
Over a 12 month period of time – rest and ministry restored Evan Roberts somewhat. The healing of his mind and body took time.
Here are some quotes from the letter Evan himself wrote in ťThe Overcomerť December 1913
ťNearly eight years ago I was invited to Leicester by Mrs and Mr Penn-Lewis. The church of God acknowledges this servant of God, Mrs Penn-Lewis as ťOne set by God.ť
During the revival in Wales, I, in my ignorance, did not escape the wiles of the enemy….Then seeing what I was not, understanding what had as yet not been broken on my spiritual vision, Mrs. Penn Lewis wrote me very reasonable and spiritual letters asking me to come and stay at her home in Glen, Leics.
…The last seven years of seclusion are ..hidden and not public…… I make no apology whatsoever for my conduct these last seven years. There is NOTHING to apologize for; there is none to apologize to. God is my master . What He bids I do. Where He commands, there shall I stay. Should I deviate from my course of life and work because men fail to understand me? I will not do so.ť
Evan went on to reinforce the book that caused so much controversy- written by himself and Mrs. Penn-Lewis, ťWar on the Saints.ť
Evan did not see his family, and Mrs Penn Lewis has been accused of keeping him away from his family but that is not true, it was Evan himself that refused to see them and would not talk, although the Penn-Lewisťs tried to persuade him to. One explanation given was that he had been set apart for a higher calling and had thus been obliged to forget ties of blood. David Matthews commentated, ťHad he become so spiritual in his outlook that he would not be permit himself to be governed by human suggestions of any kind.ť This is evidence of a religious Elitism spirit.
The spirit of Elitism comes most often when there has been success. After a period of time when there has been blessing it is easy to think that God put a ťspecialť call on us or our church. Another way is when we are hurt and are in a position of retreat. People who draw aside and keep to themselves
begin to think ťGod has me over here by myself (or maybe a few people) because He is dealing with me in a ťspecialť way. Because He is giving me ťspecial revelationť for a ťspecial purpose.ť
That is the spirit of Elitism.
Unfortunately Mrs Penn-Lewis fed this into Evan and so in this ways she was not a help in getting him back on track, but diverted him onto another side track, like a railroad siding. In this way although she probably meant well she did seem to control his life or at least a great part of it by feeding him ťrevelationť and giving him direction.
Evan came out of his dark valley in late 1908
There was one aspect of his journey through the vale of tears that Evan found hard to forget and that was the sense of being deserted. He wrote to some Christian workers, the real test of Theo is when there is no voice from the unseen and only the voices of people mocking. In such a hell you cannot praise the Lord, but you can keep the faith.ť
Mrs Penn-Lewis desired Evan to see the whole episode as a kind of cleansing -Sitting by the bedside of the sick man, she encouraged him to talk about all the visions and voices he had known and all the examples of his strange power to look into peoples thoughts and feelings. The she made him look frankly at the mistaken actions and misjudgements and to ask himself how he could have been deceived. She believed he was so open to the spirit realm because of his innocense and openness.
I believe that she at this point did talk him out of things that were really from God. But as he made mistakes because of False Responsibility and getting himself into a place where he hadnťt been called in the spirit, he assumed then that just about everything had been from the wrong source. How sad.
Evan Roberts began to believe that his recent depressions and struggles, together with the bold claims he made in the past were enough proof that he had been deceived. He then distrusted mystical experiences, tongues, visions, prophesying allowing them only for believers who were of a great wisdom and experience.
In ťWar on the Saintsťť Evan and Mrs Penn-Lewis ( chapter 12) warned others about the way in which the powers of darkness tried to drive or push to extremes what is true. Yet they took their own views of spiritual warfare to extreme lengths at times wresting the scriptures to their own purpose. At this stage Mrs Penn Lewis interpreted Evan Roberts sufferings as a divine plan to equip him for battle against satanic powers and to train others likewise. This was the entrance of a negative religious spirit and elitism.
ťWhy art thou cast down OH my soulť 1938-1943
ťThe unseen world rained down itťs lead,
For three long decades upon my head.
Itťs thunders spoke with mighty crash
When half a deluge caused a smash
And half my heart went limp with dread.ť
Roberts went into a deep depression during this time. He was alone. He was grieved by the lack of the revival spirit, and the backsliding of the revival people and coldness of the churches where he had seen and felt the wonderful presence of the Lamb of God in the midst of His people. It is very hard for people who have been caught up in a true spirit of revival to lose that Presence which gave them such life and joy.
People through the ages, especially preachers, have gone into deep depression when the revival is gone.
Nothing can replace revival.
What can replace it? Nothing – there is nothing that can replace the awesome power and presence of God once you have tasted of it. Evan seemed to be in mourning. He wrote poems, one called ťGravestoneť which was pleading with people to return to God, lest faith grow cold and songs be silent.
In another called ťPeaceť he sees the giant winds of fanaticism and violence whirling around mankind but he also sees the Castle of Jesus is glowing and the great host of the Lord is drawing near.
There are many people who have been in a move of the spirit and that move has been aborted for one reason or another. Usually control, and that spirit of abortion remains, hangs around and continues to abort things in peoples lives. The spirit of grief comes in also and I believe Evan needed deliverance from both of these spirits. The grief kept him lonely and broken hearted.
Lastly ťBendith Y Nosť depicts Gods grace coming down to heal the people. God will make the wilderness fruitful again and he prophesied restoration.
ťHow blessed that thereťs only one Cross on this earth
With its head above the clouds of this world.
How blessed that there is but one church unspotted
On the mountain of glory forever.
The Cross through all ages shall stand firm.
The wood nought shall rot till there comes
The Church all victorious from its campsites
And the last of the lost in its hands.ť
The last letter of a saddened and unhopeful man is a private letter to David shepherd of Gorseinon in December 1942. David had asked for advice and guidance. Evan Roberts told him to fight his own way out and said 3 times in the letter he could not help him or ťmeddleť with him. He said nothing at all about praying. The only word he gives to the young man is ťUse your common sense, revelation only seems to undermine it. Harness your intellectual powers and drive hard.ť
The letter sounds so unlike Evan Roberts, the man who wept over the churches, saw visions and had incredible encounters with God night after night and who was the great intercessor.
There is no doubt that some declension had overtaken him. It was not just the negative news of the war, but personal loss, loneliness and what to him was great failure.
Some would say, ťHow could such things come upon a man who had walked with God in such a powerful way?ť ťWhere was the victory he had always preached about?ť
There is no easy answer for there are a multitude of things that gradually bought him this low.
Many powerful and wonderful men of God with great and powerful ministries sometimes have no
discernment as to how the spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places work. The enemy does not simply lash out and make a strike and run, no he is a master at what he does, he has been around for a long time. He knows how men think and feel. He knows our vulnerability and he makes plain, sometimes long term plans. Some things people never discover and so they like Evan, never know
why things have happened and what doors were left open. I personally have known men of God, with powerful anointings, but they have been ignorant of the devils devices. Or, pride has made them think they are safe because they have a gift or an anointing. Remember that the gifts of God are without repentance. In other words, there are been many people with great ministries who have gone way off track but they can still operate in the gift-. That is because the ťgiftť is given to the Body of Christ, the person is just a channel of that gift-
At the end Evan seems to have made some reconciliation in his mind about his relationship with God and finally arrived at some peace. His last and final testimony to Godťs grace was in the form of a parable about a man gathering stones in a harsh field – a common site in Wales.
He knelt at the broken furrow.
And searched for the hidden stones
And his hands made red that burrow,
Were they not the Masters own.
The winds made this meadow so arid,
Thee sun burnt the prison of clay.
Where plough and ploughman now tarried,
The stone of resistance gave way.
The halts where MY farrow is broken.
He kneels at MY bed of clay;
and the hands made red are the token
that the stones shall be gathered away
Evan Roberts crisis poems were hidden until now, and people will wonder how such things can be gathered from such a story. Surely there are priceless lessons to be learned. From a man who went from the highest realms of heavens presence to the depths of barrenness, loneliness and despair, we can learn what to watch for when revival comes. When God moves, things happen in the spiritual realm. Even Godly people can be used to destroy the things of God and the men and women of God because of religious spirits and lack of understanding in the realm of the Spirit.
Three years after this period of depression he began to get free again. Also outward circumstances seemed to change for the better. He was not known and so he was no longer the center of controversy. Older men greeted him if he visited the old Welsh chapels but the younger men didnťt even know who he was. Senior members of the Christian Union who walked past Evanťs house on Beulah Rd had no idea that Evan Roberts lived there.
Evan did not take part in the 40th anniversary meeting of the revival, although he acknowledged that it could refresh the old and inspire the faithful.ť
All correspondence and writing in his journal stopped in Sept 1950 with one word, ťťill.ť
That severe winter was his last, He was buried 20th Jan1951 at the age of 72. He went on to join the host of revival saints, He was buried in his family grave behind Moriah Chapel.
Although Evan Roberts had been out of the public eye for years, hundreds turned up at his
Memorial service. They sang his favorite hymns and his friend, Sam, sang a revival song that Evan had loved. Many tributes were paid and old friends like Nantlais Williams and Mrs Oswald Williams the lady who had given him a home, stood with his relatives and honored the man of God.
The ťWestern Mailť newspaper paid a sensitive and understanding tribute:
ťHe was a man who had experienced strange things. In his youth he had seemed to hold the nation
in the palm of his hand. He endured strain and underwent great changes of opinion and outlook, but his religious convictions remained firm to the end.ť
The best way to end is to quite a little poem Even may have intended for his last testimony:
ťThanks be to God! His love is mine.
Heavens dazzling rays around me shine,
Freed through the cross, the night is oťer,
Take, Lord, the glory evermore.
Amen.ť Evan Roberts
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