Rees Howells (1879-1950)
This account of Rees Howells life is taken from ‘Rees Howells Intercessor’ by Norman Grubb.
Rees Howells was born on October 10th, 1879 in the mining village of Brynamman. He and his ten siblings were brought up in a small cottage; his father was employed in the iron works and later in a coal mine. They were godly family, and Howells remembered his mother in later life for the love she showed him. Rees was educated in the village school until he was twelve when he started work in the tin mill. He and his brothers all felt the need for more education, so they attended night classes in the village. Rees’ love for the Lord probably came about through the influence of his grandparents who lived in the Black Mountains. He used to say that going into their cottage was like passing from earth to heaven. They were converted in the 1859 revival.
Rees’ father brought the children up on Bible stories and somehow these, together with the influence of his grandparents, helped to prepare him for the work he was to do. He was clearly set apart; the hand of God was on him. He did not get involved with the same activities as the local youth; he once went to a football match, but he realised that the atmosphere there was not right for him so he pledged that he would never go to another one, and he didn’t.
Unlike most young people, Rees had a very sensitive conscience. Once his father asked him to deliver some shoes to a customer (his father had opened a shoe shop). He asked the customer for 1s 10d, knowing full well that the cost was 1s 9d, spent the extra penny on apples. He confessed his sin to his father, but even so, this act ‘haunted’ him for some time, especially when he saw apples. It is a wonderful thing for a young person to be so sensitive to what is right and what is wrong; Holy Spirit had caught hold of him.
Rees was at home in the chapel, prayer meetings and in the beautiful valleys. At the age of twenty-two Howells was a broad shouldered young man, nearly six foot tall. Many young men from Wales emigrated to America at this time, and news of how you could make a lot of money there came filtering back to Wales. Howells was ambitious and wanted to make a lot of money in a short time, so he decided to go and join his cousin who was already over there.
Shortly before he left home he attended a service in church, where the minister was speaking on Hebrews 12:1 about the ‘cloud of witnesses’. During the talk the minister explained, “Young man, you may be leaving home, you may be going to a place where your parents will not see you; but remember, the cloud of witnesses and God will see you.” These words had a huge impact on Rees, and he was to remember them for a long time.
Rees joined his cousin in New Castle, near Pittsburgh and started work in the tin mill. He continued to live a godly life, even though he was not yet saved. One day a friend invited him to a boxing match, but the day before he was to go he wondered what his father, or his uncle, or indeed ‘the cloud of witnesses’, would say to his going; so he cancelled. He was never tempted again. One day his cousin asked him if he was ‘born again’. This was an expression that Howells had not heard before, but on having it explained to him, he was defensive. His cousin would not let the matter rest and they often had discussions which normally ended in a fruitless argument; however, some of the arrows were getting through.
He moved to Martin’s Ferry about 100 miles away, but God followed him and would not let him go. Slowly he began to realise that he did not have a true relationship with his Saviour and his religious complacency was shattered. At this time he was struck down by typhoid fever, which brought him face to face with death. He said later, “I found fear in me for the first time, and when I faced leaving this world and entering an unknown realm, pangs took hold of me, such as I had never felt before. Thank God my parents were not there to take that fear from me. Thank God that human sympathy did not blind me to eternity, for you may live in the crowd, but you meet God and face eternity alone.” Howells cried out to God to not let him die, and told Him that if he could be given one more chance, he would give his life to Him.
“As I faced losing all and entering an eternal darkness, I touched real life for the first time. I had seen the world at its very best, taking me down to a lost eternity, and I knew I owed my all to the God who had delivered me.”
Howells recovered, but he still had the fear of death. “I found that I had only an historical Christ and not a personal Saviour, who could take me to the other side.” For five months he daily searched for God. In his desperation, he went back to speak to his cousin, but his cousin was unable to make it clear to him. He moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and one day went to a meeting that was held by a converted Jew, Morris Reuben, from Pittsburgh. “I had heard preaching on Calvary scores of times before and believed it, but I had never seen Calvary before that night.”
On hearing Ruben’s testimony, Howells wept and wept; he saw the Saviour’s love for him, and he asked Him into his life. A few days after this, Howells was offered a promotion at the place where he worked with a significant increase in pay, but the ‘old man’ was dead, and the ‘new man’, who was not a lover of money, said no. He decided to get away from temptation. He arranged to return home, arriving at the time of the great revival of 1904. “In a short while the whole of the country was aflame, every church was stirred to the depths. Strong men were in tears of penitence, and women moved with a new fervour. People were overpowered by the Spirit as on the day of Pentecost, and were counted as drunken men. In the services they were praying, singing and testifying. It was a church revival, turning Christians everywhere into witnesses.”
So many came to the Lord at that time, that there were not enough people to disciple them. Howells was very conscious of the fact that he did not have the power of Holy Spirit to help these new Christians. Howells took work in a coal mine and in his spare time he was involved in the revival. In 1906 he decided to go to the Llandrindod Wells Convention. In the train on the way to the Convention he heard a voice say, “When you return you will be a new man.” On the first morning he was listening to Evan Hopkins speaking on Ephesians 2:1-6 and he realised that he had not been raised up to sit with Him in the heavenly places. At this realisation he saw the Glorified Lord. “As really as I had seen the Crucified Christ and the Risen Christ, I saw the Glorified Christ, and the voice I heard in the train said ‘Would you like to sit there with Him? There is a place for you… All that night I was in the presence of God and my glorified Saviour.’”
He met Holy Spirit. “I saw Him as a Person apart from flesh and blood, and He said to me, ‘As the Saviour had a body, so I dwell in the cleansed temple of the believer. I am a Person, I am God and I am come to ask you to give your body to Me that I may work through it.’… He made it very plain that He would never share my life. I saw the honour He gave me in offering to indwell me, but there were many things very dear to me, and I knew He wouldn’t keep one of them. The change He would make was very clear. It meant that every bit of my fallen nature was to go to the Cross, and He would bring in His own life and His own nature.”
It took Howells five days to decide and those days he spent with God. “The Holy Spirit went on dealing with me, exposing the root of my nature, which was self, and you can only get out of a thing what is in its root. Sin was cancelled, and it wasn’t sin He was dealing with; it was self — that thing which came from the Fall. He was not going to take any superficial surrender. He put His finger on each part of my self-life, and I had to decide in cold blood. He could never take a thing away until I gave my consent. Then the moment, I gave it, some purging took place, and I could never touch that thing again.”
What died those five days were his love of money, his right to a choice in making a home, his ambition, his reputation and finally the most difficult thing of all – his free will. Within an hour of this process Holy Spirit had come in. “Having therefore boldness to enter in to the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, immediately, I was transported into another realm, within that sacred veil, where the Father, the Saviour and the Holy Ghost live. There I heard God speaking to me and I have lived there ever since. When the Holy Ghost enters, he comes in to ‘abide for ever.’
The first thing that Holy Spirit got hold of was Howells’ prayer life. He was only to pray prayers given by Him and he was never again to ask God to answer a prayer through others. His first assignment was a young man called Will Battery who had had meningitis, became a drunk and sank so low that he slept every night on the boilers of the tin mill. He was unshaven and badly dressed and the revival had not touched him. Howells was to pray him through sanity to salvation and he was to love him, He found that he had so much love for this man that he spent all his Sundays with him and loved him into the Kingdom. It was a slow job, but bit by bit Battery looked after his appearance better, took lodgings, got a job in the mine and went to church. It took three years of loving but finally Battery received salvation. “I started at the bottom and loved just one; and if you love one, you can love many; and if many, you can love all.”
Holy Spirit’s next target was Jim Stakes who used to be a great drunkard and a man of very low character, but he was ‘saved’ in the revival. He had many children, but was very poor due to his drinking. One morning, when in prayer, quite unexpectedly this man ‘stood before’ Howells. “I had never before known such a conflict for a soul in the spiritual realm, for an hour it was as much as I could do to allow the Holy Ghost to pray through me. I saw the devil attacking him, and that if he could get him back, it would be one of the best thing he could do to counteract the work of the revival. I saw that it was a conflict between God and the devil for a soul, and I told the Lord I would do anything, if He would keep him.” That same evening Stakes showed up on his doorstep asking for help because he was two weeks behind with his rent and he was about to be evicted. Howells told him he would give him half the rent and he knew someone who would probably give the other half. While going to get the money Holy Spirit spoke to Howells reminding him that he had said he would give all for him. He returned to Stakes and told him, “I’m sorry I told you I would only give one year’s rent. I am to give you two years’ rent, and all you need beside. I am to deliver you in such a way that the devil can’t use this situation any longer to get at you.” He had given him £70, a lot of money, and he immediately felt the joy of heaven come down.
The person Howells was closest to spiritually was his Uncle Dick, an invalid who spent his time in prayer. Uncle Dick knew that he was missing something of the power in prayer, so he was delighted to hear what had happened to his nephew. Howells told his uncle that he would have to surrender his will completely if he wanted Holy Spirit to dwell in him. It took three weeks for Uncle Dick to receive the blessing. There was a village a half mile from Stake’s home that had not been touched by the revival even though preachers had been there. There was not one Christian in the village and it was full of drunkenness and gambling. Holy Spirit told Howells to go there, so he obeyed, taking a team with him. In the first home he visited was a woman who was baking bread and she felt so guilty that she was doing this on a Sunday that she allowed the bread to burn rather than let Howells know what she was doing. On hearing this he went back to the house and left a sovereign (a gold £1 coin) for the damage he had done.
This act of generosity had a tremendous effect on the village; the woman and her husband became Christians and Howells held meetings in their home. Holy Spirit prompted Howells to not wear his gold watch and to wear simpler clothes to fit in with the villagers. The main breakthrough came when the leading drunkard got involved in a court case. Howells offered to pay compensation on his behalf to keep him out of the courts. At this offer the man broke down. Soon a dozen people had been converted and there were meetings five times a week; with the team visiting different homes in the evenings. Soon there were converts scattered over the neighbourhood. Howells still had some savings, but he knew that these would not last long. However, he had a promise from the Lord that he would receive £100 for every £1 he gave away. He found it difficult to part with the last of his savings, but he took the plunge and began to rely completely on God for his needs.
A threat came to the village through an impending strike; the last one had gone on for eight months. At a meeting he told the villagers, “This strike may last 9 months, but not one of you will be in need of what God has promised. There is no need for one of you to be troubled or fearful.” After saying this, the Glory came to the meeting. The next day the strike was settled. Howells went to that village every night for three years. One day the Lord called Howells to something new, a day of prayer and fasting. He was so caught up with the desire for food that he could not pray, so he went down for lunch to relieve his appetite. However on going back to prayer he found that Holy Spirit had gone. He thought that he would never be allowed back into His presence, but Holy Spirit returned and Howells learned that you do not disobey Holy Spirit.
The next test was to look after tramps. Holy Spirit told him to give them a new set of clothes, find them lodgings and work. Immediately after this instruction a tramp appeared in one of their meetings and he was treated accordingly. Then there was another and another and the word got around so many tramps came. The small team gave all their money to help these tramps. They came to a place where they realised that the only way that there would be enough money was if they handed over the responsibility to God. When paying the grocer’s bill there was often just enough money to settle it. There were setbacks and discouragements, but the little band continued on and several of these tramps became Christians because of the love that they were shown.
One night Howells and his friends were returning from the village when they came across a group of women who never came to the meetings. He was challenged by Holy Spirit to pray the notorious ringleader into the Kingdom without communicating with her. He knew about Matthew 12:29 about binding the strong man and it was now time to put it into practice. Holy Spirit gave him John 15:7 and he realised that this was to be achieved through ‘abiding.’ The key to ‘abiding’ is 1 John 2:6, ‘Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.’ Howells would spend time waiting on the Lord each day and during this time Holy Spirit would reveal areas of his life where he was falling short. It was not just individual characteristics, but the root causes of his actions/thoughts that were dealt with. The more he obeyed, the more he became like Christ, the more the Lord could do through him. As he spent more time ‘abiding,’ he became more aware of Holy Spirit engaging the enemy in battle and being victorious. Howells would be able to tell when victory had been won, and then he would wait to see the result in the physical.
At the end of the sixth week he says, “I was abiding now, without being called to abide, walking in the position, and the Lord told me that I could now expect to see this woman make a move.” That very night she was in the open air meeting. Then she started to come to the cottage meetings, but there was no sign of repentance. Holy Spirit told him not to pray for her. Then after six weeks, on Christmas morning, Howells knew that victory had been won. At the Christmas service the woman fell on her knees crying out for mercy and she never went back. On making a mistake Howells asked the Lord to forgive him and come by His Presence into the meeting, in return for which he promised the Lord anything He wanted. As a result, Holy Spirit asked him to be a steward and not an owner of money. He had to promise that he would not spend a penny on anything, but essentials and only spend money as directed; he could not even give away money without permission. He would no longer have the joy of giving as it was not his money to give. Having made the promise, the Lord told him that he was now grafted into the Vine.
It took several months for Howells to become dead to money, but he succeeded. Chapters 10 and 11 give an account of Howells’ theology on healing and intercession. If I included them here I would have to do so fully, and this would make this account of his life much too long. I urge you to read the book. Suffice it to say here that for Howells intercession involved identification, agony and authority. At this time the Lord taught him how to pray for the sick; taking on their burdens, identifying with them until breakthrough came or not. He prayed for a consumptive woman for six months, but she died in the end. However, she died in victory. As Howells interceded for the sick he began to hear God’s voice more clearly, and he came to know what God’s will for the sick person was, life or death. After the death of the consumptive woman, some people who were dying lived as a result of his intercession. The Lord used him a lot to pray for the sick during this time, and he said he believed a new era of healing would break out in the Church. The consumptive woman had four little children whose father deserted them soon after she died. The Lord directed Howells to move in with them and be their father, but this was something he had no inclination to do. He felt that he had no love for them and looking after them would severely restrict his ministry; he told God that he would only do it if He changed his heart so that he could love the children as a father. This the Lord did, pouring His love into Howells in such a way that Howells felt he loved every orphan in the world. At the last moment three of the children’s aunts came forward to look after them, but there remained in Howells a love of orphans.
The Lord needed Howells to be a pure vessel if He was to be able to use him effectively as an intercessor. One evening he was to speak in the open air after his friend had spoken. His friend was being used so powerfully by Holy Spirit that Howells wondered if he would ever be called upon to preach. Howells was not a gifted open air speaker and a small amount of jealousy rose up inside him. Holy Spirit really convicted him and told him that he had to repent to a friend and that if it ever happened again he would have to repent publicly.
There had been much success in the village where Howells had ministered for so long and the mission was growing. Three years earlier the brewery would send two wagon loads and a cart load of barrels of beer to the village every fortnight; now it was down to one cart, half full. The Lord was continuing His work in Howells, making him ‘dead’ to the world. It was the fashion of the day for everyone to wear a hat or cap when outside, but Howells always took his hat off when spending time with the Lord on the two mile walk to the mission. He was then told by God to not wear his hat at all and this Howells found very difficult, because he was worried about what people would say and he did not want to upset his mother (who he was living with at the time). He was then told he had to hand the mission over to his friend and his new job would be to intercede for his friend and the mission. This change in roles meant he had to deal with some pride issues.
Howells was then asked to go to London to meet some ‘important’ people. He decided that he would not go because he needed to intercede, but Holy Spirit made him realise that the true reason for his hesitation was that he did not want to go without a hat. On arriving at Paddington his host was rather shocked that he had not brought a hat, which caused him to be red with embarrassment during the whole trip in an open cab to his home. His next problem was to tell his host, who had some wonderful meals prepared for him, that he was only allowed to eat two meals of bread, cheese and soup each day. On leaving the Lord told him to grant a request from his host. His host’s wish was for his son who had fallen away. The Lord promised that he would be converted and Howells returned home to intercede for him. His intercession included the simple food, being hatless, not going to the mission and daily spending two hours reading the Bible and one hour waiting on God.
This hidden existence was very different for Howells after years of activity. At first the ‘world’ encroached on his time with the Lord, but he learned how to leave the ‘world’ outside the room where he was abiding with God. The Lord then asked him to live as a Nazerite in order to knock anything else of the ‘world’ out of Howell, so he did not shave or cut his hair. He was not allowed to explain his actions, so even his parents were questioning his actions. Some Christians thought that he had gone too far and some thought he had gone mad. Initially it was hard, but after two weeks Howells had victory and became dead to the influence of the world. He came to a wonderful place with God and the Word was illuminated like never before.
After six months Howells had victory and was allowed to shave again, much to his mother’s relief. Over the next few months there were signs of change in the life of his London host’s son and he finally gave his life to the Lord some twelve years later.
Howells continued in intercession, this time for child widows in India. As these children were living on only a handful of rice a day, he lived on one bowl of porridge every two days. So as not to upset his mother he moved home to some rented rooms. For ten weeks he woke up at 5.00am, did not eat all day, slept on the floor, up at 5.00am again and then ate his meal at 5.00pm. It is not known what the results of this intercession were.
His Uncle Dick had not been able to walk for 30 years and the Lord told Howells that his uncle would be healed. On being told, Uncle Dick went out to pray and came back saying that he would be healed in four and a half months. They were both told not to pray as that would show lack of faith of what was a done deal. The word went out and some people questioned the situation. Uncle Dick took a turn for the worse and was confined to bed; confirming the doubters’ views. Howells was instructed to go away so that he would not be around when the healing came, so that only God would receive the praise. The Lord told Uncle Dick that he would be healed at 5.00am on May 15th. He was still bedridden and on the night of the 14th had a peaceful sleep, woke up to the clock striking 5.00am and he was healed. He walked the three miles to church later that day.
For the next five years he visited every house within a three mile radius over and over again, and never had a day’s sickness again until he died. The Lord then called him away from the life of a miner to live by faith. He was not allowed to take any money from anyone unless the Lord allowed it. He even had to pay for the meals his mother prepared, much to his mother’s chagrin. It was only when Howells said that he would leave home if she did not allow him to pay, that his mother relented. As usual the enemy tried to have his say, but Howells persevered and lived by faith for the rest of his life.
At the time of Uncle Dick’s healing one of Howells co-workers in the ministry contracted consumption, a contagious disease. Howells received a large gift of £320 and was told by the Lord to take his friend Joe to Madeira, an island near Spain, to be restored. On arriving in Madeira he placed Joe in the English Hotel. Since the Lord had told him the amount that he was allowed to spend each day, that left only enough for Howells to live in the local Sailor’s Rest. Two months later Joe got worse and everyone thought he would die, but the Lord told Howells that Joe would be healed in exactly a month. He wrote home that they would be back in a month and then he told Joe. It took Joe a while to receive that word, but receive it he did and neither of them prayed any more as the healing was assured. As the day approached they prepared to leave, but on the appointed day Joe was as ill as ever. Howells went to the Lord who asked if he had sent a telegram home confirming the healing. This was quite a challenge of faith, but he obeyed, sending a telegram that said ‘Victory.’ The next morning as they were sitting on the terrace, the Lord healed Joe.
On December 10th 1910, Howells married his childhood friend, Elizabeth Hannah Jones, who had been a helper for some years. A few months later he went to America with a friend and began to preach again. On returning, he and his wife joined a Congregational Chapel that had no minister. This caused a bit of a stir as there was little ‘life’ there, but ‘life’ began to come into that church once Howell became involved. A few months later the elders asked him if he wanted to go into the ministry; on accepting he went to study at theological college in Carmarthen.
From this time Howells led a more normal life. It was not a time for intercession, but for the preaching of the Gospel around the district. At the annual Llandrindod conference Howells received a vision of Africa. The Lord showed him the needs of the heathens there and he realised that he and his wife were being called as missionaries there. However, they now had a baby called Samuel and Holy Spirit said ‘You must prove to Me that you love the souls of the Africans who are to live for eternity, more than you love your own son.’
A few weeks before they were to leave, one of Howells’ uncles told him that the Lord had directed them to look after Samuel while his parents were away. In addition Howells’ sister agreed to be the child’s nurse. In prayer together the Lord showed Rees and Elizabeth that their sacrifice would be rewarded by 10,000 souls. (It was not until after University that Samuel came back to his father; joining him in the ministry.)
Howells went up to London to offer Elizabeth and himself for the mission field. They were accepted. The chairman of the South African General Mission told him that God had said that he was to be the Howells’ sole support while they were in Africa. The Howells had many instances of money coming in at the last moment as answers to prayer. They always gave money to the first need, whether it was theirs or someone else’s. Sometimes they gave money they had thought was for one thing to something else, so they had to remain in faith for the original need.
A week before leaving for Africa they received money for their expenses to London. However, another need came up for the money. No money came to enable them to buy tickets to London, so they bought tickets to Llanelli which was as far as the money they did have would take them. At Llanelli station they were waiting when Holy Spirit told Howells to stand in the queue for tickets. When there were only two people in front of him, a man stepped out of the crowd and gave him the money he needed. They had everything they needed for the journey except watches, raincoats and fountain pens, and on meeting their benefactor in London he had the three items ready for them.
They left for Africa n July 10th 1915. On arrival, they joined another missionary couple who had laboured in the area now called Zimbabwe for several years. On hearing that the Howells were from the land of revival they were asked if they had brought the blessing with them. For six weeks Howells spoke on revival and then Holy Spirit began to stir. The Lord told him that revival was coming and two days later, on October 10th, He came. They had two revival meetings every day for fifteen months and hundreds were converted. The station where they were was founded in 1897, and several had died establishing it. They had prayed for years and now they were reaping the harvest. On hearing the news of revival an American station forty miles away invited them to speak. At the first meeting revival came. The news spread and they were asked to go down to a missionary conference in Durban. It was then suggested that they go around all the mission stations in South Africa. Revival touched that conference and the missionaries went home to prepare for their visit and the hoped for revival. They returned to their station after a two year revival tour. They arrived back in Wales on Christmas Day 1920.
Until the Llandrindod Conference of 1922, Howells travelled around taking the revival anointing with him. The power of God at the Conference was very great. At a prayer meeting the question of training the young converts was discussed, and Howells suggested asking the Lord for a training college. While they were at prayer the Lord told him that he was the one that was going to build the college. This meant giving up the one thing that Howells had always wanted to have – a world-wide revival ministry, so it was hard for him to accept. The Howells left for a private visit to America, where they saw the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Seeing the Institute gave Howells a vision to start something similar in Wales. He believed that God would provide the funds. They resigned from the Mission and set their faces towards their new task.
While holidaying in Mumbles near Swansea they were walking near the Bay and came across an empty house named Glynderwen. As they stood by the gates the Lord said, ‘This is the College.’ Howells asked God for proof of the ‘call’; to meet someone who knew the owner within two days. On the second day a local came by to invite them to tea and it turned out that he knew the owner very well. Howells went to see the owner and visited the property again. He was told that the Catholics were after the property, but God told him to kneel down and claim it for his College. Howells felt a little despondent because he knew the weight that would be on him to bring this project to completion. The owner offered to sell the house, eight acres and a public house for £6,300 although he had had an offer of £10,000. Howells was keen to accept, but God said he could not pay more than £6,150, so he wrote to the owner explaining what God had said. The owner replied by offering £5,800.
When it came time to pay the deposit he was still £140 short, so he decided to go to the solicitor anyway. His wife arrived soon after him with the post that included three cheques that totalled £140 exactly. The remainder of the money was hard fought for. He spent nearly all day for ten months in prayer, until he had breakthrough. The two books he found most useful were the Bible and George Muller’s autobiography. Muller had been through the same process in providing the finances for his huge orphanages in Bristol. Like Muller, Howells was not allowed to do any meetings, he had to do it all in prayer.
The College opened on Whit-Monday 1924 with six tutors and thirty students and was run by faith, just as Howells’ life was. After five years the Lord was burdening Howells that there was a need for expansion to double the size of the College. Around the time of the fifth anniversary the owner of an estate down the road died. This estate of Derwen Fawr consisted of a large house, three cottages and seventeen acres of land. The Lord told Howells to buy it, so he started to prayer walk around it. When it came on the market the Roman Catholics also wanted to purchase it. To confirm the task he asked God for a large donation from a new donor the next day. £100 arrived in the third post. The Depression was at its height so Howells asked for another sign – £50 on his fiftieth birthday from a new donor. It too came. The negotiations lasted several months, as a Syndicate was also trying to buy the estate, but Howells finally bought it for £8,000. God told Howell to build new buildings, which he did at a cost of £6,000.
In 1932, when the building programme was nearing completion, God asked Howells to build a home for the children of missionaries who could not take their children to the mission field. He bought Sketty Isaf, a property with five acres opposite Derwen Fawr for this purpose. He later bought twelve acres that were part of the estate and a further seven of adjoining land. All this was done in the Depression, so Howells was able to buy all the properties way below normal market value. When looking for the last two estates, Howells made offers on other estates first, but was turned down. Then these better properties came on the market. Howells considered a temporary disappointment on the way, not as a failure, but as a stepping stone. The Lord provided about £30,000 for new buildings on the various estates. In fourteen years the Lord sent him £125,000. For all gifts of £100 or more the Lord told him to give 25% away.
During these years, many came to the Lord at the various meetings held at the College. From 1935, Howells felt that God wanted him to intercede strategically on international affairs so the Gospel could reach all nations. Others from the College joined him in intercession and it is believed that there were several victories. There was concentrated prayer when Hitler moved into the Rhineland in1936 and into Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938; other warfare was over Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. In March 1936 many in the College laid their lives on the altar as intercessors.
At the beginning of 1937 Holy Spirit came in a powerful way to the College. There was an awesome sense of His Presence, throughout the campus for three weeks; it was as if God was preparing them for the battle ahead. The next battle was for the Jews. From September 1938 Howells had a burden to see the persecuted Jews of Germany and Italy return to Israel. The Lord also laid on his heart a burden for the Jewish children who were made homeless. In prayer Howells heard the word ‘Penllergaer’, which he knew was one of the largest estates in the Swansea area. He found out that it was 270 acres and included a mansion, seven houses, a farm and many out buildings. He bought it for £20,000. . The College was already praying for £100,000 to help the Jews when Howells announced that he was going to put all three estates on the market, worth about £100,000 and move everything to ‘Penllergaer.’
The War Office had made enquiries about purchasing one of the properties and so Howells went into negotiations to sell the lot. However, the War Office decided not to extend any further in that area and withdrew from negotiations, so Howells took the properties off the market. God had wanted him to lay the estates down. He had proved willing and was allowed to keep them all. Having bought this new estate, he began to arrange for the children to arrive, but only twelve arrived because war broke out. Prayer continued for the Jews, particularly at the time of the United Nations discussions in 1947. Throughout the war the whole College prayed each day from 7.00pm to midnight with a break for a meal, in addition to one or two other prayer meetings each day. About a hundred people were on their knees throughout the war. There was probably nowhere else in the world where this was happening to such a degree. There was particularly intense prayer at the time of Dunkirk, the Blitz, and the Battle of Britain. Holy Spirit would show the way, faith would rise up, they would claim victory and then they would press through until they felt that victory was certain. The Lord had told Howells not to provide shelters or gas masks as no bomb would fall on the properties. None did, even though the Swansea dock area had some very heavy raids.
There were many other strategic prayer assignments during the war and in his book Norman Grubb tries to link their prayer to some of the physical victories that were achieved. It is of course impossible for us to know for sure the effect of all that prayer on the course of the war. However, there were so many proven victories in Howell’s prayer life over a number of years, that I would expect that those prayers did make a substantial difference to the outcome of some of the battles. After the war the burden to see the Gospel reach every person never lifted from Howells, particularly the financial burden to help make it happen. On January 15th 1950 he announced that God had promised that the £100,000 would come and that every person would be reached. His task was completed and in less than a month Howells was taken to be with the Lord. He died on February 13th as a result of a heart attack, his mission complete.
This biography was taken from ‘Rees Howells Intercessor’ by Norman Grubb, published by The Lutterworth Press 1952.