Christmas Evans Dies (1838)

The burden of the debt on the chapel was great. In 1838 the remaining £300 had to be repaid, so Evans decided he had to go on another tour to the South to raise the money. He was now 71 years old and it is scarcely conceivable that he should need to go on this journey. He set out with his wife and a young minister, John Hughes, but before he went he wrote a circular that was published in the ‘Welsh Magazine.’ “We have received notice to pay up £300. The terms of the lease of life has expired in my case, even three score years and ten, and I am very much afflicted. I have purposed to sacrifice myself to this object, though I am afraid I shall die on the journey (he did die on the journey) and I fear I shall not succeed in my errand for Christ. We have no source to which we can now repair, but our own denomination in Wales, and brethren and friends of other communities that may sympathise with us.”

He pleaded with the people to smile upon him and contribute to his cause. He was received with great joy wherever he went and people flocked, as ever, to hear him. Incredibly, in May he visited twenty-two towns, and in June twenty-three. In Monmouthshire he preached before the CountyAssociation. It was said that the sermon evinced all his vigour and intellect, and splendour of genius, and as perfect a command over the feelings of the great crowd as ever. However, he got sick here and was laid up for a week before going on to preach in Caerphilly (where his former antagonists were pleased to see him), Cardiff, Cowbridge, Bridgend, and Neath, reaching Swansea on July 14th. He preached twice on Sunday at Bethesda, the Welsh Baptist church; then on Monday evening at Mount Pleasant Chapel, where he was heard by many to say, “This was my last sermon,” as he came down the pulpit stairs. He was taken ill during the night and died four days later on the Friday. Christmas Evans was buried four days later in the graveyard of the Welsh Baptist Chapel in Swansea. There was mourning throughout Wales and, there was scarcely a Baptist Chapel in Wales where the pulpit was not draped in black.

One of the amazing things about Evans’ life is what he achieved with no education. Apart from his few months under David Davies, he appears to have had no teaching and everything he learned was self-taught. He was born a simple man and a simple man he remained throughout his life. He had strength of character that comes from spending a long time in the presence of God. His times of communion with the Lord made him a holy and righteous man whose one desire was to serve his God. He spent a lot of his time in prayer. For many years he was accustomed to pray three times a day and to get up at midnight to do the same. Christmas Evans had a deep love of God and a deep love of man; all he wanted to do was to live for Christ Jesus.