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Christmas Evans

By David Smithers


      Mr. Evans, often called "the John Bunyan of Wales", was born on Christmas Day in 1766. "He was eminently a man of prayer. Prayer was his daily bread, the very breath of his spirit. He considered himself entitled, through Christ, to all the blessings of the gospel, and came boldly to the throne of grace in every time of need. During his whole ministerial life, much of his time was spent in the closet. It was his custom for many years, to retire for devotion three times during the day, and rise regularly for the same purpose at midnight."

      "When he was about to preach at an association, or any important occasion, he would wrestle for hours with The Angel of the covenant, nor relinquish his hold till he felt himself 'endued with power from on high.' Then he came forth to the congregation, as Moses from the Tabernacle, when he had communed with God." This was his secret, to tarry in prayer until the anointing of the Spirit came. Although he was often shabbily dressed and awkward, large crowds came to hear him preach and often there were tears, weeping and an uncontrollable excitement.

      "On his arrival in Angleses, he found ten small Baptist societies, in lukewarm and distracted condition; himself the only minister, and no brother to aid him within a hundred and fifty miles. He commenced his labors in earnest. One of his first movements was the appointment of a day of fasting and prayer in all the preaching places. He soon had the satisfaction to realize an extensive revival, which continued under his faithful ministry for many years."

      Those who witnessed this great season of spiritual blessing reported that the people were often so affected by Evans' sermons that they literally danced for joy. As a result they were nicknamed, "Welsh Jumpers". Others said the people seemed like the inhabitants of a city shaken by an earthquake, they rushed into the streets, falling upon the ground, screaming and calling upon God.

      "In 1794, the South West Baptist Association was held in Caermarthenshire. Mr. Evans was invited, as one of the preachers on the occasion. It was a journey of about 200 miles. He undertook it on foot, with his usual fortitude, preaching at different places as he went along. The meeting was to commence with three consecutive sermons, the last of which was to be preached by Mr. Evans. The service was outdoors, and the heat was very oppressive. Mr. Evans arose and began his sermon. Before he had spoken fifteen minutes, scores of people were on their feet, some weeping, some praising, some leaping and clapping their hands for joy. Nor did the effect end with the discourse. Throughout the evening, and during the whole night, the voice of rejoicing and prayer was heard in every direction; and the dawning of the next day, awakening the few that had fallen asleep from fatigue, only renewed the heavenly rapture."

      Christmas Evans knew how to pray and therefore knew the power of the Holy Ghost. He viewed prayer, not as a passive or a casual thing, but as a responsibility that must be PRACTICED. In a sermon preached on the Holy Spirit, he reminds us of this often neglected truth. "Christ is making intercession on our behalf without us and independently of us. But the Holy Spirit is making intercession through us, pleading in our prayers with groanings that cannot be uttered. He never acts without us. He inspires us to pray, but the act of prayer is our own. He works in us to will and to do His good pleasure. But He does not will and do for us!" If we are going to see revival WE must pray!

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