Rees Howells, Ministry Village (1907)

There was a village two miles from Howells' home where he went regularly with a team. That village is thought to have been Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen.

'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.'