This is the first monthly report from the Salvation Army Station here.
IMPLORED by several members of our Corps at Tredegar, which is about two miles from this centre of pits and ironworks, we went over to view the land and finding a school, with huge paved play-ground, upon which three or four thousand people might assemble available, we arranged to attack this place.
Sister Thomas, who was in charge of Dowlais, was appointed to lead off and to do so without relinquishing her command there. Accordingly, one weeknight found her at the school-room, ready to start; but there had been some misunderstanding, and there was nobody there. She cast about what to do and finding a number of children, asked them if they could sing. "Yes." Well, she was going to hold a meeting presently, and if they would go round the town and sing for her they should come in. They agreed. What should they sing? Here was a difficulty, but, finding they knew "Hold the Fort," she lead them round the streets, singing
"Hold the fort,
Miss Thomas is coming
To open a mission here
She announced the meetings, and by the time she got back to the school, it was packed, not an inch of standing room remaining for the dear children who had done the singing.
God moved mightily that night. On the Sabbath following, crowds of people were coming in all directions. In the afternoon the tables were brought into the centre of the play-ground, which rapidly filled with a dense throng of earnest souls, listening to the word of life, a convicted, condemned, and weeping crowd. Sitting on the window-sills and walls and roof, to see and hear. God slew on the right and on the left, slew and made alive wounded and poured the Balm of Gilead in.
On the following Saturday and Sunday over 100 precious souls, among them drunkards and thieves, and the deepest sunk of sinners, cried for mercy and found it.
Writing later in the same week, Sister Thomas, who is now in command there, Sister Mason having taken charge of Dowlais, says:-
"God is still working in Ebbw Vale. On Monday night we had 30 souls and on Tuesday 31. God is blessing and saving. Praise His name. We have got 170 (members) in a fortnight, and they nearly all speak."
In a letter, written on the I5th April, she goes on -
"The work is going on grand here. We have crowded meetings, and souls every night; Sunday 48 precious souls. Last night we had 34. On Sunday afternoon we had 36 speak for Jesus in 20 minutes. The folks are all amazed at such a thing, and the publicans come to see what has become of their customers; they say they hope to God I am not going to stay in Ebbw Vale. I have been ill."
The Lord is opening the way for a larger place. Pray for this valley. What is done, we believe, is but the beginning. Oh, for a flood tide.
From, 'The Salvationist', May 1879, page 128.
The work continues to roll on here with unabated force. Glorious results have been continuously achieved. Men deeply sunk in sin have been and are being rescued from its power. Not only are meetings being held in the evening, but for the benefit of those engaged in nightwork they are held in the mornings and largely attended.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 29th, there was a Mission funeral, being that of the second convert we had at Ebbw Vale, a young woman who up to that time had been, though only 19, a terror to the whole neighbourhood. Exactly a month after she was converted she was buried; she made a blessed finish, her last words were, "Jesus, I am coming: At her internment, there were from 6,000 to 7,000 people in the procession, some having come as far as 12 miles to be present; such a funeral had never been seen in the place before, the attendants singing from the house to the cemetery, and on the arrival at the ground, addresses were delivered to the immense mass of people, by Sisters Thomas, Mason, Prentice, Fysh, and Brother Davis. In the evening, a meeting was held in the schoolroom. Numbers of people could not get near, Sister Mason and Brother Davis spoke on the death of our sister, and at the close 24 precious souls fell at the feet of Jesus. At eleven o'clock we were obliged to put the gas out to get the place cleared.
On Saturday, May 3rd, the Ebbw Vale friends visited a place called Cwm, about three miles distant; a chapel was opened for them, but as found to be not near large enough to contain the congregation, so the meeting was held in the open air, and for two hours the people listened with tearful eyes and be-sought them to remain for an evening service, but they could not, as they had to return for their usual meeting at Ebbw Vale. On arriving at the station, they found they had half an hour to wait for a train and to make the best of the time, they took their stand between two public houses. Brother Davis spoke in welsh and Sister Thomas in English; the public-houses were soon emptied, the publicans' customers listened attentively to temperance addresses in the two languages and instead of returning to the public-houses, formed part of the procession to accompany the Ebbw Vale friends back to the railway station.
At the evening meeting in the Ebbw Vale, 9 souls for Jesus.
On Sunday morning, May 5th, seven o'clock prayer-meeting, 140 present, and the police sergeant who had been frequently at the meetings before, wept his way to the Cross. Sacrament at 10 o'clock; grand time, one soul. At two in the open-air, thousands listened; then in the largest chapel in the place, which was lent to them, Sister Thomas and Brother Davis conducted the service and Sister Saville in the hall.
Open-air at 5:30, grand time; march to the hall; about 500 saved since the Army came to the town. When we got to the hall it was full, they had to open the windows and doors and the people sat on the windowsills and out in the playground. At the close, 18 souls came out for Jesus.
One dear old woman, 58 years of age, when spoken to said, “I have been waiting this long time for you to ask me to come to the Saviour,“ and she fell on her knees and prayed and God saved her soul. Praise his name.
To see those who have been saved, pleading with their friends to get them to Jesus, is grand. There is nothing spoken of in the streets, coal pits, shops or houses but the work the Salvation Army is doing in the place; multitudes are under conviction.
The surrounding places are urgent in their entreaties for the Army to be sent to them. The people say “we are willing to do or to give anything if Mr Booth will only send the Army to our place.“ The following is from the Merthyr Express; –
“The 'Lasses' at the head of this religious army continue their efforts with unabated zeal in their Master's cause and appear never to be weary of well-doing. During the week services have been held night and morning. A Sunday school has been opened in the Forge old schoolroom, where converts and others in large numbers were assembled on Sunday at 9 am. At 10 am a procession was formed and a street march effected to Saron Welsh Congregational chapel, Briery Hill, which has had been placed at the disposal of the two Sisters by the church and congregation. The spacious building was literally packed to the doors by the most orderly assembly, there being no less than 1000 souls present. Sisters Thomas and Savile occupied the pulpit, but Sister Thomas evidently was suffering from severe hoarsness of voice from overtaxing her vocal powers. The meeting took the shape of a spontaneous experience deliverance by the Sisters and Brothers recently converted, or, as sister Thomas remarked, “they were all preachers.“ Sister Thomas spoke for a short time. Her remarks were thoroughly Catholic in spirit. She said that during the month's visit to the town, God had blessed their efforts in the conversion of 500 souls, 100 of whom expressed a desire to join the "churches of their fathers”. She rejoined. “Do so by all means.”
A monster gathering took place at 2 pm at Penuel Chapel, the spacious edifice being crowded to the doors and many failed to gain admittance. There are strange rumours afloat just now as to the market affect the efforts of “the Army” on the finances of the publicans of the town. One gentleman assured us that he was informed, from what he termed reliable sources, that one publican actually offered one of the sisters £20 to leave the town."
From, 'The Salvationist', June 1879, page 149-50.
Still advancing in December, a building holding 800 was planned. More reports can be seen in the weekly 'War Cry' that began in January 1880.
I do not know where the school was.