R. B. Jones – Gospel ministry in turbulent times
232 pages, £12.95
This is an excellent and much needed biography of Rhys Bevan Jones (1869-1933). ‘RB’ (as he was referred to) is popularly remembered in connection with the 1904-05 Welsh Revival; and his influence was much wider.
The author helpfully brings out RB’s commitment to training others for gospel work at home and overseas. In 1916 a number of young people expressed a desire to serve the Lord, wherever he might lead them.
RB responded by starting a weekly class for those wishing to enter full-time Christian service. By 1919, this led to the establishment of the Bible Training School and South Wales Bible Training Institute in Porth. RB was concerned to counter the influence of modernism in the other Welsh theological colleges at that time.
The Training School was certainly fruitful – about forty students went into service overseas and fourteen foreign students returned to serve the Lord in their home countries. Many other students worked within Wales and with city missions in London and Liverpool.
The author regards R. B. Jones as one of the most powerful preachers in Wales since the eighteenth century. He was certainly the most travelled Welsh preacher, making his first visit to the US in 1907.
He visited the US also in 1923, on behalf of the Thado-Kookie Mission, to raise funds to open a Bible School in Calcutta. Also he wanted to see how American Bible Colleges operated.
In 1927 RB was invited to take part in the opening of the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Riga, Latvia, where he met with Pastor William Fetler. Fetler was known as ‘the Spurgeon of Latvia’ and was connected with the founding of the European Missionary Fellowship. In 1928, RB spoke at the Canadian Keswick Convention in Toronto, meeting such preachers as T. T. Shields and Billy Sunday.
RB was not Calvinistic, but was concerned to preach the big themes of Scripture – the holiness of God, the second coming of Jesus Christ, heaven and hell, and especially the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. Indeed, at times, he criticised Evan Roberts for mystical elements in his preaching.
The author highlights RB as a fearless defender of the faith, standing against the rise of modernism within the denominations, and seeking to teach and train others who would stand firm on the fundamentals of the faith.
The lasting impression of RB Jones from reading this book is of a holy, if sometimes severe, man – and yet a man whose dying words were ‘I love Jesus Christ’.