Evan Roberts’ Personal Testimony
In December 1904 a full and authentic account of the conversion of Evan Roberts was forwarded to the “Western Mail” by the Rev. Thomas Francis, Calvinistic Methodist minister, Gorseinon, to whom it was dictated in Welsh by Mr. Roberts himself. The reverend gentleman writes as follows:-
“I herewith enclose a copy of a report which Mr. Evan Roberts dictated to me. It was dictated in Welsh, but I have, to the best of my ability, preserved the force and vividness of the Welsh, sacrificing style and polish for the sake of a faithful literal translation. This accounts for the abruptness and stiffness of many sentences. On Wednesday afternoon, December 28, 1904, Evan Roberts dictated to me the following account:-
“For thirteen years I had prayed for the Spirit, and this is the way I was led to pray. William Davies, the deacon, said one night in the society:-
“Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you absent? Remember Thomas! What a loss he had!”
“I said then to myself: ‘I will have the Spirit.’ And through all weather, and in spite of all difficulties, I went to the meetings. Many times, on seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was tempted to turn back and join them. But, no. Then I said to myself: ‘Remember your resolve to be faithful,’ and on I went. Prayer meeting Monday evening at the chapel; prayer meeting Tuesday evening at Pisgah (Sunday School branch); Church meeting Wednesday evening; Band of Hope Thursday; class Friday evening-to these I went faithfully throughout the years. For ten or eleven years I have prayed for a revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit that moved me to think about a revival.
God visits in the night
“One Friday night last spring, when praying by my bedside before retiring, I was taken up to a great expanse – without time and space. It was communion with God. Before this a far-off God I had. I was frightened that night, but never since. So great was my shivering that I rocked the bed, and my brother, being awakened, took hold of me, thinking I was ill.
“After that experience I was awakened every night a little after one o’clock. This was most strange, for through the years I slept like a rock, and no disturbance in my room would awaken me. From that hour I was taken up into the Divine Fellowship for about four hours. What it was I cannot tell you; except that it was Divine. About five o’clock I was again allowed to sleep on till about nine.
At this time I was again taken up into the same experience as in the earlier hours of the morning until about twelve or one o’clock.
They questioned me at home. Why didn’t I get up earlier, &c., &c.
Three months in school
But it was too Divine to say anything about it. This went on for about three months. When I went to school, to Newcastle-Emlyn – oh! I was afraid that I would lose the communion. I had set aside half an hour daily for it. And for the first week I did the school work very well. But after that all the time was taken up. I had four days in bed with a severe cold, but day and night there was nothing but prayer. The last night of the four I was bathed in perspiration – the result of the cold and communion with God.
Seth Joshua meeting
“I got up Sunday. The Rev. Seth Joshua was there. Tuesday evening there was a prayer meeting, and Sydney Evans and others came to see me, and asked if I would go to the meeting. At that moment I felt the Spirit coming upon me, and so irresistible did He come that I rushed to the chapel without my topcoat. The influence began. I was ready to pray – to pray for power to the young women who were there from New Quay, lest the people should wait upon them. I had prayed for them in the house on Monday night. I was not allowed to pray publicly on Tuesday evening. That day I had asked where the devil was. I was hard. I could look at the Cross without feeling. I wept for the hardness of my heart, but could not weep for Christ. I loved the Father and the Spirit, but I did not love the Son.
“On Wednesday I went to Blaenannerch. In the morning I met the (railway) guard in the Shop (the house of the Rev. Evan Phillips), and told him that I was like a flint-I was as if someone had swept me clean of every feeling. And my conviction was that I must either be cast on a bed of affliction or receive the Spirit mightily.
“Mag Phillips came to me. There was a prayer meeting going on at the house. I had two reasons for not going in: one was lest they might talk about me because I ventured out; the other was that I wanted to speak to Mag about the state of her soul.
“‘You pray for me, and I’ll pray for you,’ said I to her, and the tears burst forth from her eyes.
Both of us were blessed the same day, I in the morning and she in the afternoon. I remember nothing about Wednesday, except that I received something about half-past three, and that I asked Mag if she had been praying for me at that time, and that she told me, ‘I was praying for you all day, Roberts bach.’
The fire falls
“When returning Wednesday night the young woman from New Quay tried to influence me, but nothing touched me. And they said:
“‘No,” said I. ‘I have only to wait for the fire. I have built the altar, and laid the wood in order, and have prepared the offering; I have only to wait for the fire.’
Oh Lord, bend me!
“About half-past nine next morning the fire fell, and it is burning ever since. “We started for Blaenannerch about six o’clock Thursday morning. Now, joyful, now sad, now hard and cold – so my feelings varied on the journey that morning.
“The seven o’clock meeting was devoted to asking and answering questions. The Rev. W. W. Lewis conducted. At the close the Rev. Seth Joshua prayed, and said, during his prayer, ‘Lord, do this, and this, and this, &c., and bend us.’ He did not say, ‘O Lord, bend us.’ It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need,’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed, ‘O Lord, bend me.’
“At the breakfast table at the Rev. M. P. Morgan’s house Mag Phillips offered me bread and butter. I refused, as I was satisfied. At the same moment the Rev. Seth Joshua was putting out his hand to take the bread and butter, and the thought struck me:-
“‘It is possible that God is offering me the Spirit, and that I am unprepared to receive Him; that others are ready to receive, but are not offered?’ Now my bosom was quite full-tight.
Another deep experience of the Spirit at Seth Joshua meeting
‘On the way to the nine o’clock meeting the Rev. Seth Joshua remarked, ‘We are going to have a wonderful meeting to-day.’ To this I replied, ‘I feel myself almost bursting.’
“The meeting, having been opened, was handed over to the Spirit. I was conscious that I would have to pray. As one and the other prayed I put the question to the Spirit, ‘Shall I pray now?’ ‘Wait a while,’ said He. When others prayed I felt a living force come into my bosom. It held my breath, and my legs shivered, and after every prayer I asked, ‘Shall I now?’ The living force grew and grew, and I was almost bursting. And instantly someone ended his prayer-my bosom boiling. I would have burst if I had not prayed. What boiled me was that verse, ‘God commending His Love.’ I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, and the tears and perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth. Mrs. Davies, Mona, New Quay, came to wipe my face. On my right was Mag Phillips, and on my left Maud Davies. For about two minutes it was fearful. I cried, ‘Bend me! Bend me! Bend us!’ Then, ‘Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!’ and Mrs Davies said, ‘O wonderful Grace!’ What bent me was God commending His Love, and I not seeing anything in it to commend. After I was bent a wave of peace came over me, and the audience sang, ‘I hear Thy welcome Voice.’ And as they sang I thought of the bending at the Judgement Day, and I was filled with compassion for those who would be bent on that day, and I wept.
A burden for souls
Henceforth the salvation of souls became the burden of my heart. From that time I was on fire with a desire to go through all Wales, and, if it were possible, I was willing to pay God for allowing me to go. A plan was agreed upon, and eight of us were to go through Wales, and I was to pay all expenses.
“One Saturday afternoon a few of us went to New Quay to confer about the idea. I had only about two hours stay there. I had promised to go back to Newcastle-Emlyn for the sake of one soul. The others remained there and prayed over the plan, but no light came. After the wonderful experience at Blaenannerch I had prayed God to fire six souls in the Church at Newcastle-Emlyn, and six were fired, and straightway I was commissioned home to Loughor. The vision was given me in the Sunday evening service, just before the Rev. E. Phillips began to preach.”