Welsh Revival and Azusa Beginnings
From Frank Bartleman’s ‘How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles’
April 8. I heard F. B. Meyer, from London, preach. He described the great revival then going on in Wales, which he had just visited. He had met Evan Roberts. My soul was stirred to its depths, having read of this revival shortly before. I then and there promised God He should have full right of way with me, if He could use me. Bartleman p11.
May 12th 1905.
I had just received a little book, “The Great Revival in Wales,” written by S. B. Shaw. Taking a little walk before breakfast I was reading this. The Lord had been trying for years to bring me to this decision for his service. We entered into a new contract between us. He was to have the rest of my life fully. And I have never dared to break this contract. I love work, and have been terribly tempted at times, through seeming need. I have always worked harder than my natural strength reasonably allowed. Wife kept my breakfast for me. But I did not return until noon. I had lost my appetite for food. The Spirit, through the little book, set me on fire. I visited and prayed with three preachers and a number of workers before I returned home, at noon. I had received a new commission and anointing. My burden was for a revival. Bartleman p13.
I visited and prayed with people all day long for some time now, distributing G. Campbell Morgan’s pamphlet on the “Revival in Wales.” It moved the people strongly. The spirit of prayer was increasing upon me and I determined to be “obedient to the heavenly vision.” The ‘bread question” had faced me down for many years. I prayed the Lord for faith to trust Him fully. “Man shall not live by bread alone.”—Matt. 4:4. Bartleman p14.
G. Campbell Morgan’s little tract on the “Revival in Wales” spread the fire in the churches wonderfully. I did a great deal of visiting among the saints also, and began to sell S. B. Shaw’s little book, “The Great Revival in Wales,” among the churches. God wonderfully used it to promote faith for a revival spirit. My tract work was continued among the saloons and business houses. Bartleman p14.
I wrote in an article: “My soul is on fire as I read of the glorious work of grace in Wales. The ‘seven thousand’ in the land, who have kept company with the ‘spared ones’ (Ezek. 9), and who have been crying and sighing’ because of the abomination and desolation in the land, the decay of vital piety in the body of Christ, may well be excused for rejoicing at such a time and prospect as this, when God is once more moving in the earth. But where are the men who will ‘stir themselves’ up to take hold on God? Let our watchword at this time be ‘California for Christ.’ God is looking for workers, channels, worms of the dust. Remember, He must have worms. Jesus’ life was pressed out in prayer at every pore. This kind comes too high for most people. But may not this be our Lord’s ‘last call? Bartleman p15.
I went to Los Angeles to attend a meeting at the First Baptist Church. They were waiting on God for an outpouring of the Spirit there. Their pastor, Joseph Smale, had just returned from Wales. He had been in touch with the revival and Evan Roberts, and was on fire to have the same visitation and blessing come to his own church in Los Angeles. I found this meeting of an exact piece with my own vision, burden, and desire, and spent two hours in the church in prayer, before the evening service. Meetings were being held every day and night there and God was present. Bartleman p16.
Letter to Evan Roberts
I had written a letter to Evan Roberts in Wales, asking them to pray for us in California, I now received a reply that they were doing so, which linked us up with the revival there. The letter read as follows: “My dear brother in the faith: Many thanks for your kind letter. I am impressed of your sincerity and honesty of purpose. Congregate the people together who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. May God bless you, is my earnest prayer. Yours in Christ, Evan Roberts,” We were much encouraged to know that they were praying for us in Wales. Bartleman p18.
I went frequently to Brother Smale’s church in Los Angeles, taking part in the meetings with much blessing. The Peniel boys went with me and helped to fan the flame. We were much tested at home along financial lines. Money was very tight. But God did not allow us to really suffer. I wrote some articles for the “Way of Faith,” the “Christian Harvester,” and for “God’s Revivalist” at this time. The following are extracts: “A wonderful work of the Spirit has broken out here in Los Angeles, California, preceded by a deep preparatory work of prayer and expectation. Conviction is rapidly spreading among the people, and they are rallying from all over the city to the meetings at Pastor Smale’s church. Already these meetings are beginning to ‘run themselves.’ Souls are being saved all over the house, while the meeting sweeps on unguided by human hands. The tide is rising rapidly, and we are anticipating wonderful things. Soul travail is becoming an important feature of the work, and we are being swept away beyond sectarian barriers. The fear of God is coming upon the people, a very spirit of burning. Sunday night the meeting ran on until the small hours of the next morning. Pastor Smale is prophesying of wonderful things to come. He prophesies the speedy return of the apostolic ‘gifts’ to the church. Los Angeles is a veritable Jerusalem. Just the place for a mighty work of God to begin. I have been expecting just such a display of divine power for some time. Have felt it might break out any hour. Also that it was liable to come where least expected, that God might get the glory. Pray for a ‘Pentecost.’—F. Bartleman, June, 1905.” Bartleman p19.
And history repeats itself. Let the Pentecostal people beware! The present world-wide revival was rocked in the cradle of little Wales. Bartleman p21
The revival spirit at Brother Smale’s rapidly spread its interest over the whole city, among the spiritual people. Workers were coming in from all parts, from various affiliations, uniting their prayers with us for a general outpouring. The circle of interest widened rapidly. We were now praying for California, for the Nation, and also for a world-wide revival. The spirit of prophecy began to work among us for mighty things, on a large scale. Some one sent me 5000 pamphlets on “The Revival in Wales.” These I distributed among the churches. They had a wonderful quickening influence. Bartleman p22
Letter to Evan Roberts
I wrote another letter to Evan Roberts, asking for continued prayer for California. Thus we were kept linked up in prayer with Wales for the revival p24
“Loughor, Wales, 7, 8, 1905. Dear brother: I am very thankful to you for your thoughtful kindness. I was exceedingly pleased to learn the good news of how you are beginning to experience wonderful things. Praying God to continue to bless you, and with many thanks repeated for your good wishes, I am yours in the service. Evan Roberts.” p27
The night before Brother Smale’s services at Lake Avenue Church two of us spent the night until after midnight in prayer. Brother Smale preached twice on Sunday. He was wonderfully anointed of God for the occasion. We spent the time between the services in prayer. His message was on the revival in Wales. The people were greatly moved. Brother Smale soon organized a New Testament Church. I became a charter member, as I felt I ought to stay with them, though I did not care very much for the organization. p30
Brother Smale now rented Burbank Hall, and prepared to hold meetings there. I secured the Fourth St. Holiness Hall for him, until Burbank Hall was ready. The Lord gave me another tract, entitled “Pray! Pray! Pray!” I took it to the printer in faith and He sent me the money on time. It was a strong exhortation to prayer. Like the prophets of old we must pray for those who will not pray for themselves. We must confess the sins of the people for them. p30
I wrote Evan Roberts a third time to have them continue to pray for us in Wales. in those days after I had preached I generally called the saints to their knees and we would be for hours in prayer before we could get up. The Lord led me to write many leaders throughout the country to pray for revival. The spirit of prayer was growing continually. p33
Third letter from Evan Roberts
For several days I had an impression another letter was coming from Evan Roberts. It soon came, and read as follows: “Loughor, Wales, Nov. 14, ’05. My dear comrade: What can I say that will encourage you in this terrible fight? I find it is a most awful one. The kingdom of the evil one is being besieged on every side. Oh, the millions of prayers—not simply the form of prayer— but the soul finding its way right to the White Throne! People in Wales can pray during the last year. May the Lord bless you with a mighty downpouring. in Wales it seems as if the Holy One rests upon the congregation, awaiting the opening of the hearts of the followers of Christ. We had a mighty downpouring of the Holy Spirit last Saturday night. This was preceded by the correcting of the people’s views of true worship. I .—To give unto God, not to receive. 2.—To please God, not to please ourselves. Therefore, looking to God, and forgetting the enemy, and also the fear of men, we prayed, and the Spirit descended. I pray God to hear your prayer, to keep your faith strong, and to save California. I remain, your brother in the fight. Evan Roberts.”
This was the third letter I had received from Wales, from Evan Roberts, and I feel their prayers had much to do with our final victory in California. p35
Comments on Revival and prayer
An English eye-witness writes of the revival in Wales: “Such real travail of soul for the unsaved I have never before witnessed. I have seen young Evan Roberts convulsed with grief, and calling on his audience to pray. ‘Don’t sing,’ he would exclaim, ‘it’s too terrible to sing.’ (Conviction has often been lifted from the people by too much singing.) p36
John Wesley himself once prayed, after the revival had about died out for the time: “Oh, Lord, send us the old revival, without the defects; but if this cannot be, send it—with all its defects. We must have the revival.”
Adam Clark said: “Nature will always, and Satan too, mingle themselves as far as they can, in the genuine work of the Spirit, in order to discredit and destroy it. Nevertheless, in great revivals of religion, it is almost impossible to prevent wild-fire from getting in among the true fire.”
Dr. Seiss says: “Never, indeed, has there been a sowing of God on earth, but it has been oversown by Satan; or a growth for Christ, which the plantings of the wicked one did not mingle with and hinder. He who sets out to find a perfect church, in which there are no unworthy elements ,and no disfigurations, proposes to himself a hopeless task.”
Still another writer says: “In the various crises that have occured in the history of the church, men have come the front who have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their fellows. When Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, cautious men were astonished at his audacity. When John Wesley ignored all church restrictions and religious propriety and preached in the fields and by-ways, men declared his reputation was ruined. So it has been in all ages. When the religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply, and there have always been found a few who were willing to be regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness concerning men’s opinions and other consequences is the only attitude that can meet the exigencies of the present times.” God found His Moses, in the person of Brother Smale, to lead us to the Jordan crossing. But He chose Brother Seymour, for our Joshua, to lead us over. p46