The Welsh: Connection: Evan Robert and Pentecostal Outpouring in Los Angeles By Matthew Shaw

The Welsh: Connection: Evan Robert and Pentecostal Outpouring in Los Angeles
By Matthew Shaw

In November 1903, a spark of spiritual revival ignited at New Quay in Cardingshire, Wales. Rev. Joseph Jenkins, a Calvinist minister, had himself experienced a powerful call to freer worship began holding unprogrammed meetings to he led exclusively by the Holy Spirit (Stead 66). Evan Roberts, a 26-year-old coal miner, was an early convert of the revival and soon became its primary evangelistic voice. The movement, which lasted just over a year, brought intense spiritual awakening throughout Wales and attracted the attention of some Christians in Los Angeles, who were also praying for revival. Thus, the Welsh revival became, in many ways, a paradigm for the embryonic turn-of-the-century Pentecostal outpouring in California.

Bro. Frank Bartleman, a journalist who received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and chronicled the early Pentecostal movement in Los Angeles, clearly viewed the American outpouring as an extension of the Welsh revival. He personally corresponded with Evan Roberts, soliciting prayers for revival in Los Angeles. In 1905, he received a cordial response from the Welsh revivalist:

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. (Bartleman 18)

Bro. Bartleman saw the response as evidence that they were "linked up with the revival there" and was "much encouraged to know that they were praying for us in Wales" (Bartleman 18).
Bartleman's own interest in the Welsh meetings was kindled by the pastor of First Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Joseph Smale, who returned to his pulpit in June 1905 after a pilgrimage to observe Roberts' work in Wales. Smale was favorably impressed and came back to the United States determined to replicate the work. He began daily and nightly meetings at First Baptist, and many members of the church were seized by a desire for a "real Pentecost", though they could scarcely have known what this meant (Bartleman 15).

Though Evan Roberts and the Welsh movement did not experience the full power of Pentecost, they did cast of dead denominationalism. Descriptions of the meetings evidence a strong movement (ii not baptism) of the Spirit. George T.B. Davis, an American journalist who visited some of the Welsh services at the beginning of the revival captures the spiritual fervor of the meetings:

My first impression? How am I to describe it? As we entered the door, I beheld a room meant to seat about 700 people, crowded to suffocation with about 1,500. But this was not the chief thing that attracted us. Up in the gallery, a young lady was standing, praying with such fervor as I had rarely, if ever, seen before. One hand was upraised, and her tones were full of agonized pleading, and though it was in Welsh, so that I could not understand a word she uttered, yet it sent a strange thrill through me ... The entire atmosphere of the room was white-hot with spiritual emotion, and my chief thought was: "This is a picture of what must have occurred in the early Church in the first century of the Christian era."(Davis 8).

Davis reported that over 34,000 converts had already been made early in the revival, and he saw tangible evidence of the social impact of the Spirit's work:

It is sweeping over hundreds of hamlets and cities, emptying saloons, theaters, and dance-halls, and filling the churches night after night with praying multitudes. The policemen are almost idle; in many cases the magistrates have few trials on hand; debts are being paid; and the character of entire communities is being transformed almost in a day . . . (Davis 8)

In an interview with Evan Roberts, Mr. Davis asked the charismatic leader if he had a message for America. Prophetically, the evangelist responded:

The prophecy of Joel is being fulfilled. There the Lord says, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." If that is so, all flesh must be prepared to receive. (1) The past must be clear; every sin confessed to God, any wrong to man must be put right. (2) Everything doubtful must be removed, once for all out of our lives. (3) Obedience prompt and implicit to the Spirit of God. (4) Public confession of Christ. Christ said, "I, if I, he lifted up, will draw all men unto me." There it is. Christ is all in all. (Davis 8)

This "message for America" was unwittingly realized in the Los Angeles revival that continues to impact the entire world. Repentance and restitution were a primary feature of the Azusa Street revival. Like the paradigmatic Welsh movement, the pre-Pentecostal and Pentecostal meetings that formed throughout southern California in and after 1905 were marked by the unfettered worship, prayer, and fervor of the revival led by Evan Roberts. Some of the participants in the Welsh visitation later received the real Holy Ghost baptism and became propagators of the Pentecostal message in England and Europe. God, who orchestrates all things, undoubtedly used the Welsh meetings to provoke the American seekers to a deeper level of spiritual hunger satisfied by the Pentecostal manna at Azusa and beyond. Though Evan Roberts himself never joined the Pentecostal ranks, he was an important forerunner in the birth of Apostolic revival and offered prayers that were answered in April 1906 with the unmistakable detonation of Holy Ghost dynamite in Los Angeles.

Davis, George T.B. "Memories of the Welsh Revival." Pentecostal Evangel (No. 1643) 3 Nov 1945, pg. 8.

Stead, W.T. Welsh Revival. Boston: Pilgrim's Press, 1905.

From, “Indiana Apostolic Trumpet”/May 2009/Page 8, by Matthew Shaw 

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