The Bible College of Wales (1924)

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.