Rees Howells Intercessor
Once the Holy Spirit took possession of him in 1906, Rees Howells, a Welsh miner, was led deeply into a ministry of intercession for many situations including healing, conversions and to challenge death at home and abroad on the mission field.
Called to a Life of Faith
After several years of working at one of the hardest jobs a man can do – down the mine, cutting coal, he received a call to come out from wage-earning. Rees Howells declared in obedience to God, “I do believe You are able to keep me better than that mining company.”
This was the beginning of forty years of praying for thousands of pounds and abundantly proving the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The just shall live by faithHebrews 10:38
Called to the Mission Field
In December 1910, Rees Howells married and later he and his wife received a call to be missionaries. This would mean leaving their newly born son Samuel at home to obey this call. Samuel would grow up to become an intercessor and the story of his life of intercession is told in the book Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession. For Rees and his wife, they left Samuel in Britain, and after this long and hard death experience, they both left for Southern Africa.
Rees Howells was touched deeply by the Welsh Revival, and when he and his wife arrived on the mission field at Rusitu, Gazaland, in the summer of 1915, the fellow missionaries knew they had come from the land where revival had been, and straightaway asked if they had brought the blessing with them! Rees Howells told them, that the source of all Revival is the Holy Ghost, and that He could do among them what He had done in Wales!
Rees Howells took many meetings to preach on Revival and within six weeks the Spirit began to move upon the Christians there. Mrs Howells taught them the chorus: ‘Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.’
You can never describe those meetings when the Holy Spirit comes down!– Rees Howells
The following Thursday, while on their knees in prayer, the Lord spoke to Rees Howells, telling him that their prayer was heard and that revival was coming. They waited, as in the days before Pentecost and then He came. In the meeting from 10 October 1915 the whole congregation were on their faces crying out to God; like lightning and thunder the power came. “You can never describe those meetings when the Holy Spirit comes down,” said Rees Howells.
Revival Spreads to the Surrounding Areas
Whilst seeking the Lord for revival blessing in other areas the Lord brought revelation to Rees, “I was pleading His word, Malachi 3:10, ‘And try me now in this,’ says the Lord of Hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ Then I saw the Holy Ghost descending on all the mission stations.” The vision came to pass and thousands received Christ.
I saw the Holy Ghost descending on all the mission stations– Rees Howells
Together the founders travelled eleven thousand miles from one mission station to another. The revival blessing remained with them from then on in their missionary endeavour.
The Commission to Found a Bible College in Wales
After the past blessing, the founders believed they might be led into a worldwide revival ministry. But the Lord showed them clearly that His plan was different. They were commissioned to build and sustain the largest Bible College in Wales by prayer and faith alone. At that time, the founders had only two shillings, (ten UK pence / fifteen US cents). The founders had only George Mueller (who needed ninety pounds Sterling a day), Hudson Taylor and the Old Testament Prophets to lead by example.
The first estate bought by faith for the College was Glynderwen. Buying this estate was a test case against the Church of Rome who also wanted the property.
The Lord provided the money instalment by instalment. The cost price was £6,300, but the Lord showed Rees to pay no more than £6,150. After a long battle and many tests of faith, where it looked like the Church of Rome would get the property, the owner dropped the price by £500 and the Bible College of Wales (BCW) was born!
The Dedication of the Bible College of Wales
The College was dedicated on Whit-Monday (Pentecost) June 1924. Hundreds gathered in the grounds for the special service, during this time of commercial embarrassment and scarcity of money. Long articles, describing the unique event were in the newspapers.
Bible College of Wales a Triumph of Faith, Fervent Inauguration– Swansea Post
The press called it – God’s College – and it was, for the funds had come from Him. At one time over a hundred and forty students were in residence and one thousand meals were prepared a day! The finances that were needed repeatedly came in at the very hour of the need.
The Second Estate of the Bible College of Wales
The second mansion the founders were called to obtain was Derwen Fawr. This was one of the most desirable estates in Swansea. At first the solicitor’s clerk declared, “Derwen Fawr is sold” to another party. The director Rees Howells announced, “Derwen Fawr is not sold! God’s Word can never fail.” After another test of faith, God intervened and the College purchased their second site.
The Third Estate and Children’s Home
The time soon came for yet another advance of faith. This came with the call to purchase Sketty Isaf Estate which was adjacent to Derwen Fawr. Rees Howells was reading about the life of Dr Whitfield Guinness of the China Inland Mission, and how no-one offered his children a home during the school holidays. Dr Whitfield said this caused him more heart agony than any persecutions he had endured in China. The Lord used this to bring home to him the need for a home for missionary children. The Lord said, “I want you to make a home for every child of missionaries who cannot be taken back to the field.”
Out of this time of travail in prayer came a home for and school for missionary children. Later the school was opened to the public because of the high demand for top schools in the area. Sketty Isaf was sought after for this reason.
Without money or an influential supporting committee, no sane man would have undertaken such a gigantic scheme of buying a third estate, unless his faith was fixed unshakeably on the Faithful, Almighty God.
Sketty Isaf was purchased for £3,000. Only in a falling market, in days of depression could such a house and grounds be bought for such a low price. God’s timing was perfect.
The Founders’ Desire
The founders of the Bible College of Wales dedicated their lives to be an object lesson to all, of what can be achieved by prayer and faith alone; their aim was to teach men and women that it is safe to trust God’s Word and His promises.
The Every Creature Commission
The Autumn of 1934 was a wonderful time in the College; on 26th December morning, the Spirit began speaking to the Rees Howells even earlier than usual, before he had arisen, and Mrs Howells, who was also awake, heard him repeating, ‘Every Creature, Every Creature.’
He dressed and went downstairs. There the Lord asked him if he believed the Saviour meant His last command to be obeyed? “I do,” he replied. “Then do you believe that I can give the Gospel to Every Creature?” “Without stretching a point,” he answered. “I believe You can do it, You are God.”
With the assurance of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, Rees Howells came out from his room a man with a vision and a burden that never left him.
Sharing the Every Creature Vision
The task ahead was clear – to intercede, to go and to serve others who go– Rees Howells
Rees Howells brought it before staff and students, and New Year’s Day 1935 was given to prayer and fasting. The task ahead was clear: ‘To intercede, to go, to serve others who go, to be responsible for seeing that Every Creature hears the Gospel.’ Through this they began to be open for God to lay any prayer upon them which would further the reaching of Every Creature with the Gospel. They became responsible to intercede for countries and nations. The College became a house of prayer for all nations.
The Visitation of the Holy Spirit
From the time of special dedication on 29 March 1936, when so many of the College, both staff and students, laid their lives on the altar as intercessors, the Spirit was at work in the College. The climax and consummation came in the New Year of 1937.
It was the Pentecost of the College, from which emerged not a loosely linked company of consecrated individuals, but a body in the full sense of the term, with one life and one purpose.
They wept before God for hours– The visitation of the Holy Spirit, 1936-37
As the College approached the New Year of 1937 there was an increasing consciousness of God’s presence. The first outward sign that He was working in a new way was when one of the staff broke down in prayer, confessing her sense of need and crying to the Holy Spirit to meet her.
Then we heard how the Holy Ghost had so manifested Himself in the glory of His divine person to some of the girl students, that they wept before Him for hours, broken at the corruption of their own hearts revealed in the light of His holiness.
An awful sense of God’s nearness began to pervade over the whole College. There was a solemn expectancy – God was there; and yet we felt we were still waiting for Him to come and in the days that followed He came– Dr Priddy
He did not come like a rushing mighty wind. But gradually the Person of the Holy Ghost filled all our thoughts, His Presence filled all the place, and His light seemed to penetrate all the hidden recesses of our heart.
The revelation of The Holy Spirit’s Person was so great, all our previous experience seemed as nothing– Dr Priddy
In the light of His purity, it was not so much sin we saw as self. These were people who left all to follow the Saviour, as far as they were aware their lives were fully surrendered to God. But He showed us:
There is all the difference in the world between your surrendered life in My hands and I living in your body– Revelation of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit asked of us our wills and our bodies. ‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:1). Why did He manifest Himself to us in this way? It was made very clear. It was because there was a work to be done in the world today that only He could do. “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement” (John 16:8). No wonder the Master told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the Promise of the Father.
But when He had come, they were witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. We had put all on the altar for the sake of giving the Gospel to Every Creature. But now the Holy Ghost said, as Jehovah had said to Moses; “I am come down to do it.”
As the days of visitation went on, we were just prostrate at His feet. Now He had come to bring the vision to completion. Even the grounds were filled with His presence. Walking around together we suddenly became conscious that we were speaking in whispers.
As the visitation went on, we were just prostrate at His feet– Dr Priddy
The late hours came, but no-one thought of bed, for God was there. Increasingly we looked to the Holy Spirit Himself, poured out on all flesh as Joel prophesied, as the only One by whom the vision He has shown us can be fulfilled, through His prepared channels in all parts of the world.
The fire fell on the sacrifice; the Spirit had sealed for Himself a company of intercessors for Every Creature. We were baptized, as it were, by one Spirit into one body for one God-appointed purpose and this was now one of them. His visitation lasted for some three weeks in this special sense, although praise God, He came to abide and has continued with us ever since.
Strategic Prayer Warfare
One form that this prayer warfare took was intercession on a national and international level concerning anything that effected world evangelism. Every Creature must hear; therefore, the doors must be kept open. Their prayers became strategic. They must face and fight the enemy wherever he was opposing freedom to evangelise. God was preparing an instrument, a company to fight world battles on their knees.
Over the next several years, Rees Howells led the College into a path of intercession and prayer warfare on international levels. These prayers included the crisis with the Rhineland, Ethiopia, Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Russia, North Africa, Italy, D-Day, and the intercession for the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Fourth Estate and Burden for the Jews
After reading the proclamation by Italy on 3 September 1938, that all the Jews must clear out of Italy within six months and with anti-Semitism so fierce in Germany, a heavy burden for the Jewish people began to rest upon Rees Howells.
A burden to see the Jews return to their land rested upon Rees Howells. He saw the need for them to go back to their homeland, which was promised to them by God. A burden to purchase a fourth estate for Jewish refugees also came upon the founder, and the Lord showed him Penllergaer Estate. The estate consisted of 270 acres, and within the grounds were a number of buildings, two lakes, a waterfall and observatory; it would cost nothing less than £20,000.
After another battle with a syndicate, the college was offered the estate; the price was £20,000 and in hand there was nothing! This dwarfed the previous purchases of faith, but God had so led him on through the years that, where we might think the test would be tremendous, and it was, yet, as one student said, “He bought Penllergaer with less fuss than many a man makes in buying a suit of clothes!”
The newspapers reported this: ‘City of refuge in Wales for Jewish children.’ The London newspapers gave it headlines also.
The War Hinders the Work
After receiving twelve Jewish children, war was declared on Germany, and because the College saw this as a massive unexpected political shift, plans had to be changed. Jewish refugees could no longer enter Britain. It was another hard test to see the estate bought by prayer and faith alone; then the war came, and they could not take the 1,000-2,000 Jewish children from mainland Europe that they had intended to rescue, raise and educate.
The Lord told them that they would have thousands of pounds out of it to use for the Kingdom. The M.O.D. commandeered the mansion and some of the land during the war for the use by Americans. Then the mansion was offered to a children’s charity, who considered it but eventually refused it because of its size, the cost of its maintenance and the policy change in children’s homes, from large institutions to smaller intimate homes. Many years later Samuel Howells sold it and put the money into the Kingdom. Today the Penllergaer grounds, part of the Penllergaer Valley Woods, are open for the public to walk in.
The Visit of the Emperor of Ethiopia
One of the first intercessions that came upon the College as a body was in 1936 when Mussolini of Italy intended to invade Ethiopia. The College saw what lay behind this scheme of the enemy. Ethiopia, through the influence of the Emperor, was opening in a new way to Evangelical Missions and there was a prospect of widespread evangelisation in many areas.
If the country was captured it could be the end of the Protestant Evangelical witness there. The College was led into a path of deep intercession for the country. On May 5, 1936, Addis Ababa fell, and the Emperor became an exile and a refugee. Although the country was captured, the College never lost faith. The Emperor came to Britain, and first visited the College in 1939, as his nephew was a boarder at the school and visited in a number of occasions, once camping at Penllergaer for two weeks. Rees Howells became good friends with Emperor Haile Selassie, and his son and successor, Samuel Howells remained in contact with Haile Selassie until his death in 1975.
Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia.
To Rev. and Mrs. Rees Howells,
It is with profound gratitude that I write to you today to thank you most heartily for all the kindness you have shown me during my visit to your Bible College last week. It is an inspiration to me to have seen all the wonderful things that the Lord is doing among those of your own people and those who have found a refuge in your country.
I do pray that God in His grace will continue to bless this great work of His very richly,– Signed personally by the Emperor Haile Selassie
In June 1941, when the Emperor re-entered his capital, he sent Mr Howells this cable:
You will I know share in my joy at entering my Capital. I send you this telegram in remembrance of past sympathy and help– Emperor Haile Selassie
To which Mr. Howells replied:
Thank you for telegram. Praising God daily for restoring Ethiopia and giving back your throne. The Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace– Rees Howells, Bible College of Wales.
God’s answer was perfect. When the missionaries returned to Ethiopia, it was reported in the Wolamo district that they could not account for the revival, which had been going on during the Italian occupation, when some five hundred converts increased to twenty thousand! God had answered prayer, protecting the Christians and increasing them.
When the Communist revolution took place in Ethiopia in 1975, every member of the Emperor’s government was executed in one night; the news brought a deep sense of shock and sadness to those at the Bible College of Wales and Emmanuel Grammar School and Emmanuel Preparatory School.
The great growth of the Church in Ethiopia since the 1930s, even as they endured such persecution under Communism, has been an encouragement to again see God’s faithfulness in answering the prayers that were offered up at the Bible College of Wales and all over the UK so long ago.
The Battle of Britain
Another battle of intercession concerned the German air-raids in 1940, and the crisis of the ‘Battle Of Britain,’ when Goering made his great attempt to gain mastery of the air in preparation for the invasion of Christian England.
September 8. At first, in a time when the bombing of Britain was causing heavy inflictions upon the civilians, Rees Howells and the College saw their faith levels raised to believe God, that no bomb would ever fall on any of the College properties, even though Swansea with its strategic docks had some very heavy raids and was less than two miles away. Rees Howells himself declared, “We have never walked this way before.”
As time went on, Rees Howells came through to victory knowing that his prayer was answered, not because of selfish need, but because of the work of the Kingdom. In the afternoon meeting he said, “I could put it in print that no devil can touch anyone here.”
After the victory of Sunday, there is great liberty to pray that God will really deal with the devil in the Nazis and put an end to this wicked system. Our prayer for London is that God will turn the tide now and save lives– Rees Howells, 10 September 1940
We prayed last night that London would be defended and that the enemy would fail to break through, and God answered prayer. If we have protection for our properties, why not get protection for the country?”– Rees Howells, 12 September 1940
God was faithful and did not allow any bomb to fall upon the College property throughout the war, despite Swansea centre being flattened in the war, and complete safety was given to all the children and staff on property owned by Rees Howells.
Because we have believed, God has made known to us what is to come to pass. Every Creature is to hear the Gospel; Palestine is to be regained by the Jews, and the Saviour is to return– Rees Howells, 14 September 1940
Mr. Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain at that time, in his war memoirs, gives September 15 as, ‘The culminating date’ in that battle of the air. He tells how he visited the Operations Room of the RAF and watched as the enemy squadrons poured over British airspace as British squadrons went airborne to do battle, until the moment came when he asked the Air Marshal, “What other reserves have we?” “There are none,” he answered, and reported afterwards how grave Winston Churchill looked, “and well I might,” added Mr. Churchill. Then another five minutes passed, and “it appeared that the enemy was going home. The shifting of the discs on the table showed a continuous eastward movement of German bombers and fighters. No new attack appeared. In another ten minutes the action was ended.” There seemed no reason why the Luftwaffe should have turned for home, just at the moment when victory was in their grasp. But we know why.
After the war, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Commander-in-chief of Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain, made this significant comment: “Even during the battle one realised from day to day how much external support was coming in. At the end of the battle one had the sort of feeling that there had been some special Divine intervention to alter some sequence of events which would of otherwise occurred.”
Faith in the Face of Defeat
Reading the accounts of those days, all will be aware that the College lived on the edge in their intercessions. Many times, in the face of defeat they believed God and declared in faith what God had shown them.
Also, the Lord worked miracles, so that what looked like a defeat ended up as a bigger victory and greater glory was given to God, as in the case of Ethiopia.
Norman Grubb in Rees Howells Intercessor (1952) which was commissioned by Samuel Rees Howells, comments on one of these intercessions: ‘When we look back now after all these years, many of us in Britain recall the terror of those days. Remembering the miracle of Dunkirk, acknowledged by our leaders to be an intervention from God, the calm seas allowing the rescue boats to cross. The almost complete evacuation of our troops, and then the lead Mr Churchill gave to the nation, how thankful we are that God had this company of hidden intercessors, whose lives were on the altar day after day as they stood in the gap for the deliverance of Britain.’
Samuel Rees Howells
Rees Howells passed into glory at 10am on 13 February 1950 and the burden of leadership was carried on by the young Samuel Howells. Just before his death, Rees Howells said to his son Samuel, “Whatever you do, you stand and maintain the intercessions.” Samuel Howells looking back on this day many years later said, “But you couldn’t do it yourself. Only the Holy Spirit could do it. If anything is precious to us, it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit. It’s become a part of us…these intercessions, they are my life.”
Whatever you do, you stand and maintain the intercessions-Rees Howells to son Samuel
Rees Howells had trained over one hundred intercessors who had prayed through with him during the war years. Every one of the intercessors had sold all and lived by faith and whenever there was a crisis, where the Gospel could be hindered around the world, these intercessors would be called to pray. Now Samuel Howells had a team of intercessors ready to intercede for the Gospel to go to every creature and if at any point in the future, the devil attacked the advance of the Kingdom of God around the world, it would be their responsibility to act in intercession under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
During the 1950s, after the success of the intercessions during the war years, Samuel Howells began to refocus the intercession of the College towards the fulfilment of the Great Commission. There were many missionaries throughout the world, but how many of them knew the principles of intercession? How many could pray through until the principalities and powers of darkness were bound? The strongholds of Satan in many parts of the world had been entrenched for thousands of years, now these powers of darkness had to be challenged, dislodged and overcome.
If thousands of missionaries were prepared to go to the frontline and sacrifice their lives, then the intercessors at the College would go before them to intercede for victory in the heavenly realms. Samuel had to remind the College that our battle is not against flesh and blood. It was the devil who had ‘blinded the mind of unbelievers’ and only intercession could prevail so these dear people could respond to the Gospel.
On 24 March 1950, Samuel said, “It seems that the Holy Ghost has been speaking to one all day long and one has felt within oneself the travail of the Holy Ghost for a lost world. These meetings are to be a cry to God. Is it right that these millions should be lost? There is a world to reach and it is only to be reached through prevailing prayer. We are coming tonight to meet God and to cry to Him to fulfil the task. Millions of souls tonight are unsaved and it is only through human channels He can reach them. We are praying these prayers because they are wholly and entirely for the Kingdom.”
Between 1950 and 2004, Samuel Howells was led into a deep and costly path of intercession. He led the College to pray through and intercede for many crises. There were many great prayer battles and their intercessions changed world events.
Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession
Samuel Howells learnt the principles of intercession from his father, Rees Howells and he continued in many intercessory battles over the next six decades. The battles over the decades included: concerns for the future of Israel, for gospel liberty in many nations and for the preservation for world peace. These include:
- Korean War
- Kenya Crisis
- A Burden for Revival in China
- Malayan Emergency
- Cuban Missile Crisis
- Congo Crisis
- Six Day War
- War in Portuguese East Africa
- Yom Kippur War
- Falklands War
- Liberty in Eastern Europe
- Demise of Communism
- Fall of the Berlin Wall
- Freedom in the former USSR
- End of Apartheid in South Africa
- Gulf War
- Keys to the Treasury
The story of these intercessions is told in the book Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession.
The Mission Continues
In 2002, Samuel Howells handed the leadership over to Alan Scotland, a former student who was led by God to build an apostolic ministry around the world. Alan Scotland was a student from 1969-71 and then a member of staff whilst his fiancée, Betty, began her studies at BCW. After leaving the College, Alan took two pastorates before he and his wife founded Lifelink International, which comprises an international group of churches and ministries involved in strengthening churches and training leaders.
With over twenty-five years of ministry experience behind him in 2002 and travelling extensively throughout the world, Alan gained a reputation as being a respected pastor to pastors. Throughout the years, Alan often returned to the Bible College of Wales to teach and on one of these visits, the Holy Spirit spoke to him saying, “One day I will entrust you with this legacy.” The sobering effect of what those words meant frightened Alan. For at least seven years, Alan pondered what the Holy Spirit had said, keeping those precious words in his heart. Then one day, Samuel Howells invited Alan to become a trustee at the College.
Samuel was greatly blessed by Alan Scotland’s assistance and joined him on a private trip to the bridge where Rees Howells had stepped out into the life of faith. Returning to the location where it all began, Samuel turned to Alan and asked him what the Lord was saying to him regarding the future of the College. “That’s when I shared with him how the Holy Spirit had spoken to me” years before “and the two of us kept that in our hearts for a while,” said Alan.
One day I will entrust you with this legacy– The Holy Spirit speaking to Alan Scotland
Samuel Howells passed into glory on 18 March 2004 and Alan Scotland, alongside many others, was deeply moved by the loss of this man of faith and intercession.
Mr Samuel has always been my unspoken hero. He was deeply dedicated to prayer, a shy man, but given to prayer and intercession and I used to say the greatest miracle in the Bible College of Wales was not the founding of it, but the sustaining of it for fifty years. Mr Samuel was a deep, humble man. He didn’t like the big platforms, but he was forever calling upon God, whether it was for the needs of the College, the needs of the nations. He had a real apostolic mandate to reach the nations– Alan Scotland
George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, speaking after Samuel’s funeral said, “I was with him even as he came out of hospital a few months ago and when he finally turned over the leadership. Mr Samuel was a man of prayer; he was also a man of vision. He made prayer the priority of his life, which is so unusual in these past decades when there’s been a decrease in the prayer emphasis. Here’s a man who’s an icon of spiritual reality, still a human being and it was just a privilege to know him.”
The Bible College of Wales
Rees Howells handed the work of the Bible College of Wales to his son, Samuel Rees Howells in 1950, and Samuel entrusted the Bible College of Wales to Alan Scotland in 2003. In 2009, the Bible College of Wales was relocated to Rugby, England and changed its name as it was no longer located in Wales. The mansions of Glynderwen and Sketty Isaf had already been sold (several years apart) and were later demolished and new houses built. The Derwen Fawr Estate was purchased by Cornerstone Community Church, Singapore in 2011 who started their own College in 2015.
Sources include the private archives of Rees Howells, Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession by Richard Maton, Samuel, Son and Successor of Rees Howells by Richard Maton, Rees Howells Intercessor by Norman Grubb, God Challenges the Dictators by Rees Howells and Mathew Backholer, Rees Howells' God Challenges the Dictators by Mathew Backholer.