I well remember when the first copy of Evangelical Times arrived. It came at a time in my life which coincided with many events affecting our family. We had recently moved from a Welsh language church to our first English language church in Cardiff, although both were in the Calvinistic Methodist Church of Wales. It was also a move from a beautiful mountainous district to a busy city.
This was such a change for us all but we believed the call was from the Lord and this was all that mattered. The move was from a large well attended church to a large building with a significantly smaller congregation.
It was also the time of another event in my life. I well remember the Ministers’ Conference held in Bala in North Wales where the speaker was the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
I had a ‘revival background’ in as far as the churches were full of the fruit of the great revival of 1904. Nevertheless the
subject he took was new to me – ‘The baptism with the Holy Spirit’.
Although I had often heard the revival people using such terms in prayer, I was puzzled and a little apprehensive. Surely this ‘baptism’ was a special blessing for God’s chosen vessels to carry out some particular task? Certainly it could not be for a young minister like myself. But Dr Lloyd-Jones went on to explain that this baptism was for all of us – especially at such a time as this.
Seeking and finding God
I remember on my return seeking the Lord for this blessing that I might be of some use to him in this city. And God in his mercy gave me an unforgettable experience which I did not fully understand. I shared this new experience with the elders of my church. They were supportive and asked me to teach and guide them in this matter.
The Bible class for the next three months was taken up with this theme. Meanwhile we had all been reading J. H. Alexander’s book More than notion – a title taken from one of Joseph Hart’s hymns:
True religion is more than notion,
Something must be known and felt.
It was not long before I noticed a change in the church, in that more and more men and women (both within the congregation and from outside) were beginning to seek God and find him.
So many things began to happen that it is difficult to enumerate them all. I well remember some of the young people coming to see me, who had previously been indifferent to any serious Christian teaching. They requested that they might have a Bible class on a Saturday night. It is hard to believe the speed at which this class grew.
Then some ladies requested a morning Bible study in our home, which became so large that we had to move to the church hall. The amazing catalogue of events continued.
It was at this time that I was taken seriously ill with a complaint that lasted 15 years. At one stage I was given only a short time to live. During this period the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his wife were a great support to us. I was in and out of hospital as well as receiving daily treatment, yet seldom missed a Sunday’s preaching.
In all this the Lord was kind to us and specially encouraged me by ‘giving’ me many hymns which were a private comfort to myself.
Meanwhile the church continued to grow at an incredible rate until the building was completely filled and people had to come early to find a place. Oftentimes there would be a large crowd outside – waiting for the children to go to their morning Bible studies and make room for them to enter the main building.
Strange at it may seem, I was also able to run campaigns in the local mining towns and to start a morning Bible school teaching a two year course in biblical studies and doctrine. This was repeated three times and a correspondence course was also organised. I believe that a photograph of one of the classes appeared in Evangelical Times.
The wonderful works of God
This time of blessing was at its height for 20 years, and even afterwards the remarkable work continued. In the congregation there were many students from other lands, who also took the message of the gospel home with them.
I was so involved with the work that there was very little else to think about. The burden for revival increased and became apparent, and a number of groups met regularly to pray for such a visitation. In all this I felt I was an onlooker – observing the wonderful works of God. Indeed it would be wrong of me to say that it was otherwise.
It had always been my wish to write hymns but at first I never seemed to succeed. Now in retrospect, having written many, I know that they came to me through the gentle visitation of the Holy Ghost. The hymn writing took place entirely within this special period of blessing in the church.
The enabling gift
What can I say about all this? When I first came to Cardiff, although I belonged to the strictly Reformed constituency, I was full of plans of how to reach the people of the city. Yet all these ideas were to no avail and hardly worth recalling.
I found that it was not the efforts of man that move the hearts of men and women but God himself. In his mercy he has given us this enabling gift of the Holy Spirit to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ and bring sinners to a saving knowledge of his finished work.
I am now retired after over 50 years in the Ministry – with its many experiences both high and low – and I can honestly say I would be quite happy to start all over again. There is nothing more wonderful than preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to men and women in their desperate need.
‘For our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power and the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance’ (1 Thessalonians 1:5)