Penuel Baptist Church - Rhos (1904)

Saturday, November 19, 1904

The present revival began when Rev. R. B. Jones, Forth, held a mission in Penuel Chapel, (Baptist), Rhos, from November 8 to the 18. Reports about him had been circulating in the district before he came. These told of his self-sacrifice in resigning from a great and wealthy church to go to a small one because, as he believes, the Spirit of God directed him. They also told of his remarkable awakening to the true state of the Church and its weak sickly condition, after weeks of fasting and prayer. These reports also told of the resulting total consecration of his life to the demands of King Jesus. Because of this, expectations had risen high before he came and preparations were well under way for ensuring a successful mission.

Perhaps it would not be out of place to give a description of the man. It is enough to say that it is obvious that he is wholly under the leading of the Spirit of God. What else but this accounts for the fact that men and women feel stirrings and convictions they have never experienced before? If he were not a man of God, what could account for the huge crowds that gathered night after night to hear him and for the unprecedented success that resulted from his ministry? Who in all truth but the Spirit of God through him could account for our district having been instantly turned into a prayerful district where midday prayer meetings have become popular services, where men and women leave their occupations to be present? What else could account for a whole congregation unwilling to disperse, for denominations to be completely forgotten, and for everyone to be in too reverent a mood to consider their differences? What else could account for timid men and women not accustomed to praying publicly receiving some invincible boldness at the throne of grace, and for the holy joy that has possessed everyone? Yes, and to what can be attributed the fact that there have been 45 converts up to this morning (Friday)? Are not all these things due to the mighty working of the Spirit of God through him?

One feature of this mission is the awakening that the churches have experienced. The mission has produced a deeper conviction in scores of consciences. Many of those who were already members have come to feel that what they had done to propagate the kingdom of Jesus Christ had been less than nothing, and to be deeply distressed over it. Indeed what is often heard are confessions by those who had previously made professions but who were now afraid that they were not Christians except in name only. The whole disposition and desire of hundreds of church members, as a consequence of the mission, is for more purity and holiness, to become instruments for carrying the saving truth of the gospel to others. According to the testimony of many, some new light and vision concerning religious matters has been given to them.

During the fortnight blessed meetings were held—meetings where the divine influence could be felt moving through every gathering. Who can ever forget the Friday night service? We were there until half past ten and I believe that no one present would have objected to the meeting going on until the same time the following morning.

Then there was the Sunday afternoon service for the young people—it stands out as the most notable in the life of scores of people and it will continue to be unforgettable. The missioner's words sank deeply into many hearts. Though the experience that he spoke about was simple, the congregation was troubled to the depths of their being when he told them that fifteen months earlier he had resolved to offer himself completely upon the altar of his God to be used as he willed, where he willed and when he willed. I believe that what he divulged accounts for the influence that follows him and the inspiration that goes with him. Though the influence on the public meetings is so great, it is felt even stronger in the prayer meetings. In these it is all conquering.

The fire is burning and, as the missioner said, the only thing that is needed is for the churches to make a joint effort to go out into the highways and fields to carry the gospel to those who will not come and hear him. A little sacrifice on their part in these ways and the place will be ablaze and the district will be swept with divine powers until they force into retreat the waves of sin and public vice which are at such a high level in the land. Wales is on the threshold of great things and needs only to understand the signs and take advantage of them for there to be a more effectual revival than the one in 1859. Saturday, November 26

The Revival in Rhos reached high tide last Friday. The service was announced for ten o'clock in the morning. From then on it continued without a break until almost ten o'clock at night. The first part of the meeting was held in Penuel and until about six o'clock it was spent in prayer and pleading; ministers of the district took it in turn to lead each hour. Such a meeting was not only a novelty; the influence of the Holy Spirit was also constraining some to wrestle with God for a blessing and for a mighty demonstration of the power of the gospel to change characters. As a result prayer was felt to be red-hot and when they moved across to Capel Mawr for the final meetings of R. B. Jones' mission the expectation of an outpouring of the Spirit had never been higher during that whole series of meetings.

From, 'The Rhos Herald'.

There was a goodly company present (at the prayer meeting 7th December), but the ground floor was by no means full; so that the service was not made by numbers. Yet the moment we were inside the door, we came under an indescribable spell. We silently took our seats. The people were at the moment waiting in a hush that affected one as the sound of a gentle wind in the twilight of pines; a tear, unbidden and apparently for no reason, stole into the eye. Someone prayed - not “engaged in prayer,” but prayed. It must be repeated: these people, meeting twice a day for three weeks - like those weeks between the Ascension and Pentecost - had become very intimate with their Saviour. They confided to Him exactly what they most dearly wished, praying for relatives and friends, even for some by name. They pleaded for those who might miss the blessing, though it came so near. Prayer glided imperceptibly - for there was no announcing, or even lifting of the bowed heads - into the singing of a verse of Miss Crosby’s hymn, led sweetly by a woman’s voice: Pass me not, gentle Saviour. But the Welsh version has a striking variation in the last line but one: While on others Thou art smiling, Do not pass me by. And in the refrain, “Saviour, Saviour,” is represented by “Iesu, Iesu.” I am finding out that this revival has added something indefinable, not there usually, to the ordinary human voice, I have heard something like it in the voice of a mother speaking of her beloved dead, not in the first sharpness of grief, but in the heavened tranquillity that gradually comes; when grief renounces its regret in part, in order to make room for the rapture of remembering how well the beloved one rests in the deep vales of God’s Avilion! Such unison of awe, and affection, and tender sorrow there was in the singing that morning that I had never felt before. I thought, how much music there is in the name IESU, as the voice lingered over it in the refrain. And His smile!- all its graciousness came home, for the first time it seemed, in all its redeeming wonder. Nothing mattered in the world except this – “Pass me not, O gentle Saviour.” Scarcely had the sound of “pass me by” gently died away, before another prayer was on its wing. For a moment there was a misgiving: it sounded too wholehearted shall I say? He seemed to ask too easily for such grace of life as to be able himself to ask the world in the very words of Christ: “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” It was part of the deep ethical note of this revival. Suddenly the voice changed into that day of sorrowing, rapturous love, as he went on brokenly to say – “No one can say Thou art not kind. I know better. What was I before Thou didst take me up? There is no one anywhere so kind, so gentle, to an old wanderer such as I was - no one anywhere like Jesus Christ. Help me never to dishonour Thy Name.” And once more that woman’s chastened voice led us in another well-known, exquisitely harmonious hymn, of which this is a translation pour servir: Lord, in every wish and motion, Let my soul be sanctified: In my weary, striving spirit Let the strength of Heav’n abide: Keep me always, Lest I wander from Thy side. And so prayer and hymn followed and mingled, without a single halt or jar. It was as if an Invisible Harper had the string of each soul ready to His finger, awaking the finest music at His touch and making it fade again to hushed expectancy. Anything more orderly, more harmonious than that unconducted meeting I can scarcely conceive. Two or three spoke: they had news of the revival in other places; a prayer-meeting at Wrexham the previous evening, a Sunday evening service at Aberystwyth, Colwyn Bay - Bangor - Nantlle: they were all telegraphic sentences. One reported a children’s prayer-meeting in his district. He proceeded smoothly until he tried to repeat his own child’s simple prayer – “Lord, help us to be good children, and live to thy praise”- and then no more from him, except a half sob. But - Speak, in all Thy might and glory, Speak, O Lord, this very hour: Let Thy voice be all - victorious, Yea, let none withstand its Power Spread and shine, Fire divine, Make this place entirely Thine! The last two lines were repeated, time after time, and then suddenly, but with joyous effect, that sisters voice led in a changed refrain (to the same tune) - Frodyr Dewchz, llawenhewch, Diolchwch iddo, byth na thewch! (Brethren, raise hymns of praise, Bless him, thank Him - all your days!) Then a missionary plea was put in, earnestly and effectively. Could we allow ourselves to enjoy these choice blessings and view the perishing world with indifference? If the churches of the country had for the last generation given such free course to the Spirit, as they were giving these brief weeks, would the heathen world be where it was today? Surely a host of missionaries would be born of this awakening! Then we returned to prayer again, and although the speaking was to the point, and in perfect keeping with the spirit of the service, somehow the return to prayer always meant an open door into the inmost sanctuary. Several women had taken part - one of them now, with her own heartache in every syllable, and her joyful resignation to Gods will. Think of a prayermeeting in which thanks was humbly given “for the blessing of ill health.” But they had found a Friend, who carried their infirmities, as another of their refrains, sung at first almost in a whisper - Oh, the Lamb, the gentle Lamb, The Lamb of Calvary: The Lamb that was slain is living now, To intercede for me! I had heard it, to its sweet minor setting, scores of times; but what was it that morning that revealed the Lamb’s infinite gentleness - yr addfwyn Oen - as it had never been revealed before? What was it that made his living now so absolutely certain, so overpoweringly real? Nearly a week has gone between that morning and the time of writing these words: and yet I feel now as I felt then, that something was won and possessed in that service which it would be worth crossing a continent any day to get possession of. What was previously faith is now assurance. Perhaps it would be well to add - lest someone should be misled to think that it acts by a sort of sacred magic -that the meetings inexplicably vary. Several who had been at previous meetings said that they had never felt at the others what all of us seemed to have experienced that morning. Indeed, the afternoon meeting, though exceptional in ordinary seasons it missed that indefinable something of the morning - the morning on the Mount. The crowded evening meeting had more volume of thrill, naturally, and was in itself a memorable scene. And yet, some who had come a long distance for the afternoon and evening services were partly disappointed. To them the day had not become a memory for a lifetime - like the reminiscence of an Alpine afterglow, recalled on lowering days, with the assurance that it will be there again, some near or far eventide. It was another form of Wordsworth’s experience Tho’ inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither. In the whole service there was little of what may be properly called excitement. There was no shouting; indeed, if I remember rightly, we did not rise once to sing. It seemed to be prayer from first to last: the form varied speech, song, supplication, but it was all prayer. An effectual prayer, without a doubt. Dozens, personally prayed for, have come as Gods answer and given themselves to Christ during these three weeks. That very afternoon, when the invitation was given, a father, whose son had been praying for him the previous week in the very same pew, gave himself to the Saviour. Let not those who watch from a distance be misled: this revival is not a mere outburst of emotionalism, of worked-up excitement, and sometimes blazing into extravagances; unhappily, it is not, and could not well be, in every single instance, without these. But the true revival, which is lifting thousands of souls and changing visibly thousands of lives, is born and fed in unrecorded prayer-meetings, in a nation’s wistfulness for God. “Who brought the revival to you?” was the question once, during a fruitful season, asked of an old minister, now passed away. No one, he replied: we got revived. That is what is happening today, increasingly, throughout Wales - England - Scotland - Ireland - the whole wide world! Why not? It can be had, wherever men and women are prepared to give themselves, with one accord, to prayer. So far this is the sketch of that day, as written at the time. But it was incomplete. The crowning scene of all was yet to follow, later in the evening. When the congregation was tested, all being hushed into anxious expectancy, a man made his way slowly along the densely filled aisle, towards the pulpit pew. When he was recognized there was a thrill of joy not quite free from fear. They knew him as one of the notorious characters of the whole district, a pugilist of no light form, and leader of a gang of thirteen. Could it be that he was among the captives of Christ that day? Or was he in drunk, and about to disturb the solemn proceedings? Another moment, and there was no doubt. Disturb the proceedings he did - in a soul's grand way returning from the furthest boundary of the far country to the Fathers House. They saw his face, stained with perspiration and tears, and, at first glance, more terrifying than usual; but there was a gleam of new life upon it, “None of you will ever know,” he began, in a voice part shout, part sob, “what I have passed through tonight. I have wept a pool of tears where I have been sitting and they were the gladdest tears I ever knew. The agony before that!- my head seemed to swell and swell, as if it would at last burst. But it grew easier when the tears came. You all know me: you know for whom I have fought; but I am changing sides to-night, to fight on the side of Jesus.” And he kept his word. The next evening he was marching with the soldiers of the Cross, inviting others to the services; night after night he was appealing to his old pals especially, and praying for them with an earnestness that melted all hearts. I can this moment recall, in all its freshness, the joy of the bringer of good news, and my own joy in receiving it, when a few weeks later I was told, at the close of an address on the Revival in the Central Hall, Manchester: “You will be glad to hear that he has now brought in the last of the gang of thirteen!” He is still on the Saviours side, fighting valiantly. Like a good soldier, he is furnishing his mind as well as his heart; and his remarks at many a society meeting reveal a knowledge of the Bible and of doctrinal theology which show that before the evil years some gentle hand had led him, and some faithful voice had taught him.

From, 'With Christ among the Miners', by Howell Elvet Lewis. 130 were added to this church from the beginning of R B Jones' meetings in November to the end of January 1905.

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