It is often not during a visit to another clime or land that one realizes the impact of the visit or sojourn. It was so for me last month when I visited Wales.
Statue of Thomas Charles
The last time I had been in Wales was in 1992 when I drove to Aberystwyth from Oxford to do research at the National Library of Wales. I spent three or four glorious days in that town, studying by day in the Library and by night walking the promenade along the beach and looking wistfully across the Irish Sea to my forebears’ native land of Ireland.
It was too long to have not been back to Wales! No wistful longing for Ireland on this trip. I was too absorbed by what I was seeing and experiencing. I went to Wales to speak at the Bala Ministers’ Conference, preach—in Newport, Gwent (Emmanuel Church, Newport) and Narberth (www.bethesdachapel.co.uk)—and give a talk on Benjamin Daniel Thomas (1843-1917)—“Dr. Thomas of Toronto”—at Bethesda Baptist Church, Narberth, where Thomas had grown up as a child of the manse (it is the church’s 200th anniversary this year). I was with my daughter for much of the time, so we did the legionary fortress at Caerleon (which was superb) and had a day in Bath.
But it was the drive to and from Bala, a half-day looking at Howell Harris sites, and the time in Pembrokeshire that deeply impacted me. Pastor Graham Harrison, who generously gave of his time to drive me around and who, with his wife Eluned, fabulously hosted my daughter and I, drove me to Bala. And then on the way back drove through country associated with Ann Griffiths (1776-1805) and William Williams Pantycelyn (1717-1791). I was deeply moved to see places associated with these two figures, two of my favourite hymnwriters. And then to go to places associated with Howel Harris: Talgarth, where he was converted—I wish I had recalled that Williams was awakened in the very graveyard adjacent to the church (see Look at Talgarth church); Trefeca, where Harris’ home is located, once a college, now a retreat
Tombstone of William Williams
and conference centre and where there is a Howell Harris Museum; and Llangasty, where Harris had a “baptism of fire” as Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it—see his Howell Harris and Revival. It wasdeeply moving to be in places where God had moved so powerfully and kindled revival. It brought to the fore, as I have reflected on those aspects of the trip, that our great need as Evangelicals—our greatest need—is to cease from man and cry out to God for the outpouring of his Spirit in power and in a baptism of fire and renewal.
To be cont’d.