It was two years ago this summer that Linda and I spend a month in the British Isles, where I was preaching for three weeks in Aberystwyth, Wales at Alfred Place Baptist Church for Pastor Geoff Thomas. During the month, we also had the privilege and enjoyment of seeing many church history sites and meeting many very dear Christians in England, Wales, and Scotland.
One of the most heart-warming and beneficial parts of the trip was to be in Bala, Wales, for visits with some very dear Christians, John & Mari Jones, who were among the closest friends of D. M. and Bethan Lloyd-Jones, as well as attend the annual summer Bala minister's conference, which was led for years by Dr. Lloyd-Jones.
Bala is situated in majestic central Wales with beautiful Bala Lake just on the edge as you come into town from the south. Situated in a beautiful valley, it is a breath-taking view driving to the north over the mountains on the small mountain road looking down on the valleys, and seeing the Welsh farms nestled among the hills with sheep scattered on the hills and in the grasslands. A prettier drive, one could not expect to see.
It was in Bala almost 220 years ago that a spiritual awakening occurred that shook the entire north of Wales. Thomas Charles, an evangelical leader time who lived there, wrote on December 7, 1791:
"Here, in our town of Bala, for some time back, we have had a very great, powerful, and glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God on the people in general, especially among the young people. The state and welfare of the soul has become the general concern of the entire country. Many, many of the wildest of the people have been awakened.
"This glorious work began on a Sunday afternoon in the chapel, where I preached twice that day; I cannot say that there was anything particularly special in the ministry of that day, more than what I had often experienced among our dear people here.
"Then toward the close of the evening service, the Spirit of God seemed to work in a very powerful manner on the minds of great numbers present who never appeared before to seek the Lord's face; but now there was a general and loud crying, 'What must I do to be saved?', and, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner'. About ten o'clock at night, there was nothing to be heard from one end of town to the other except the cries and groans of people in distress of soul. The very same night, a spirit of deep conviction and serious concern fell upon whole congregations in the town, when they were calling upon the Lord.
"In the following week, we had nothing but prayer meetings, and widespread concern about eternal things swallowed up all other concerns. The spirit of conviction spread so rapidly that there was hardly a young person in the town who did not begin to ask, 'What will become of me?' The work has continued to go on with undiminished power and glory, spreading from one town to another, all around this part of the country. A dispensation so glorious, I have never beheld nor indeed expected to see in my day.
"While it stirs up the opposition and rage of some determined enemies of the Lord, yet the coming of the Lord among us has been with such majesty, glory, and irresistible power, that even His enemies would be glad to hide themselves somewhere from the brightness of His coming.
"It is an easy and delightful work to preach the glorious gospel here in these days, for many are the fervent prayers by the people for the preacher, and they hear the Word for eternity. Divine truths have their own infinite weight and importance in the minds of the people. Beams of divine light, together with irresistible energy, accompany every truth delivered . . . I bless God for these days, and would not have missed seeing what I now see, not for the whole world."
- Thomas Charles
Iain Murray says:
"This year of 1791 proved to be of the greatest importance in many respects in Wales, as it marked the beginning of genuine revivals which continued in several districts of North Wales over the next three years, and more occasional similar scenes were to be seen there repeatedly over the next forty years. The moral change was immense and permanent for several generations to come. In 1811, twenty years after the awakening, Thomas Charles wrote: 'The whole country is in a manner emerging from a state of great ignorance and barbarity to civilization and piety. . . . Bibles without end are called for, are read diligently, learned by heart, and searched in with diligence and care. Instead of vain amusements, dancing, quarreling and cruel fights, we now have public prayer meetings and congregations are crowded."
This divine intervention in a country, which is rightly called a spiritual awakening, is the very last and ONLY hope America has in any way. That is why political action, as good as some of it may be, as far as making one's voice heard-- political action will never bring a nation back to where it was before. Only God can save a nation. Does He purpose to do so with America? Only what happened in Bala in the 18th and 19th centuries will preserve our nation. That is why history is so important.
- Mack Tomlinson