Samuel Rees Howells or “Mr Samuel” as he was affectionately called by students and staff members of the Bible College of Wales (BCW) was born in 1912 in Brynamman, a mining village near Swansea, South Wales, UK. Before his birth, the Lord gave Rees and Lizzie Howells his name – ‘Samuel.’ There were similarities in his life, to the Samuel he was named after in the Bible. His mother’s middle name was Hannah and he too was to be dedicated to the Lord by his mother on the altar of sacrifice.
They called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord”– 1 Samuel 1:20
In 1912, his parents received the call to Africa by the Lord and with the training needed for the mission field, the young Samuel was given into the care of his foster parents – Rees Howells’ uncle and wife, Moses and Elizabeth Rees. It was at this point that his name was changed to Samuel Rees.
In July 1915, three year old Samuel waved the train carrying his parents away as it passed along the railway track at the bottom of his adoptive parents’ garden. The vivid memories of that occasion remained with him throughout his life.
For the next five years, Rees Howells and his wife saw the hundredfold promised by the Lord to those who ‘give up wife, husband, child,’ under their ministry in Southern Africa, beginning in Gazaland. The story of leaving their baby son had a deep effect on the Africans, and after a wonderfully fruitful time in Africa, Rees and Lizzie Howells returned to the UK in 1920, for furlough and then deputation work under the South Africa General Mission (SAGM). Meanwhile, little Samuel grew up with his foster parents in the village of Garnant, in Wales. It was here that he attended the junior school where his foster mother was headmistress.
He accepted the Lord as his personal Saviour in 1924 when he was 12 years old, and just like Samuel in the Bible, he seemed set apart for the Lord from his youth. That same year, the Bible College of Wales (BCW) was opened by Rees Howells at Glynderwen House, Blackpill, Swansea, Wales, UK. Samuel was attending Preparatory School in Uplands, Swansea and was staying with his natural parents at the Bible College of Wales throughout the week and returning to his adoptive parents at the weekends.
Samuel’s adoptive parents wanted him to become a doctor, but Samuel felt the Lord’s call to Christian ministry. In the early 1930s he attended Oxford University, where he graduated in theology. After graduation, without any persuasion from his natural parents, he joined the Bible College of Wales and became a member of the College staff.
Samuel lectured in theology and Greek and later became Assistant Director of the College, which was then based on two sites: Derwen Fawr and Sketty Isaf, Sketty, Swansea. The sites were a five minute walk from Glynderwen (the site of the School), but crossed a geographical boundary into Sketty.
When Rees Howells passed into glory in February 1950, Samuel became the Honorary Director and assumed the responsibility of the entire work of the College until he stepped down in 2002, aged 89.
Always a quiet man and unassuming in character, Samuel had a keen mind and a dry sense of humour. He was a true son of his father, sharing in a life of deep and costly intercession, both during the war years and later when he became the Honorary Director.
When Rees went to be with the Lord in February 1950, his son Samuel Howells took charge of the work and he immediately called the College to prayer. He began by declaring they would have more prayer meetings than before and would continue in the life of faith.
Over the next fifty years, Samuel Rees Howells led the College to intercede through various world crises and they saw the power of intercession prevail against the powers of darkness. Beginning with prayer for revival around the world, especially in China, Samuel’s intercessory battles led him to bind the strong man during the Korean War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and from the Six-Day War to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
When Samuel passed into the next life, Christian leaders from around the world came to honour his legacy:
‘Reverend Samuel Rees Howells. MA Oxon, Hon. Director of The Bible College of Wales passed into glory on Thursday, 18 March 2004 aged 91 years.’
A memorial service was held on the 31 March in the conference hall at BCW, where around two hundred people were present, including many past students and staff, alongside leaders and founders of several notable worldwide ministries.
The inspirational life of Samuel Rees Howells has led to two books being published about his life on the centenary of his birth. The story of the intercessions of Samuel Rees Howells and the intercessors trained by Rees Howells is told in the book Samuel Rees Howells: A Life of Intercession. The story of Samuel’s life at the Bible College of Wales, its staff, students and history is told in Samuel, Son and Successor of Rees Howells.
Find out about Rees Howells’ books here.