Nation of Revivals
Twenty years ago, I picked up a book written by a man called Norman Grubb, who chronicled the life and times of the great Welsh intercessor, Mr. Rees Howells and those wonderful praying saints at the Bible College of Wales. It is an understatement to say that the book changed my life and countless others. I think apart from the Bible; no other book has impacted me that much. And not in my wildest imaginations could I have dreamt that 20 years later, God would call us to purchase the Bible College of Wales, a college that Mr. Rees Howells established in 1927.
I would be in no fear of contradiction or exaggeration to say that what Mr. Rees Howells and those wonderful praying saints in the Bible college did alter the course of human history. This world would be a much darker place today. It was this band of intercessors that prayed right through World War II, about 100 of them, and prevailed in their prayers. At the height of WW2, they would pray and thwart much of Hitler’s plans and saw miracle after miracle, which shifted the course of the war. They were always two steps ahead of the enemy.
On this, Mr. Howells felt that they had as much a responsibility as any soldier on the frontline, and they felt they were responsible for the outcome of the battles. They won WW2 not as a soldier in the trenches but as a soldier in the heavenlies. They prayed through the 1948 mandate when the UN was voting if Israel was going to be a new nation and again, their prayers prevailed. This and many more stories of victory have made the BCW a hallowed place in Christianity’s history.
However, it wasn’t just the victories. It was also the depth of prayer that Mr. Howells entered into. That man touched a level of intercession unheard of in the 21st-century church. At our inauguration of the College on 25th May 2015, both Lou Engle and Dutch Sheets commented that this is one of the deepest wells ever dug in the history of the church, and we have the responsibility to re-dig this powerful ancient well. We must pray that the Lord will give us, in this hour what He gave to Mr. Howells, a royal air force, that can win the battle in the heavenlies, and if we can do this, we can shift the nations. Churchill said concerning the Royal Air force in the Battle of Britain, “Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
These few verses are so profound and fundamental to our understanding of how God and the prophetic works that if we don’t grasp it, we will be incapacitated. I am 60 this year, and I can testify that everything that has happened in my life up to this point has been a result of God first declaring His word to me prophetically, whether it is through a dream or a vision, or a prophetic word being delivered to me. There is nothing that ever happens that happens without God first revealing it prophetically. This applies to prophecies on a national scale, or whether it is a prophetic word to a congregation, or whether it is a word on a personal level, this is how God operates. This is His modus operandi. He declares a word in advance so that when the thing actually happens, we would know that it is God who has brought it to pass, and the glory is His. From the conception of the word to the manifestation of the promise, it is God. That’s what prophecy essentially is—it is history written or declared in advance.
I am entering into a season of convergence. Convergence is when you are at the right place, at the right time, with the right people, in the right city, doing the right things and then a sort of spontaneous spiritual combustion takes place. I am now where everything that is happening in my life is a result of the prophetic word given to me, some going back as far as 20, 25 years. Nothing that has happened in my life has come to me as sort of a major surprise, except that the way it has happened is always different from what we have expected.
On the 7th April 2000, the Lord gave me a powerful prophetic dream where I saw members of our community in the continent of Africa. I saw them praying for the sick, casting out demons and confronting powerful witch doctors as well. Up to that point in time, we had not made a single trip to Africa nor had any contact in the continent. However, after that dream, Africa just opened up for us, and we’ve since sent over 100 teams to the continent. We now have schools, churches, orphanages, and Bible training centers in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. All this came about because of a prophetic dream. The prophetic breaks open destiny and everything that God showed me in that dream has now come to pass.
In the same week, on the 13th of April 2000, God gave me another prophetic dream where I saw an English Manor. I spoke to the man who seemed to be the owner, and I asked him if he was willing to allow us to use the facility for a bible school. He didn’t say anything, but all I knew from the dream was that he was a Scotsman. And so, I recorded all this in my journal. That vision didn’t come to pass until 12 long years later. I had kept this in the back burner till our trip to Wales in 2011 broke open the way for us. Through a set of very divine circumstances, we were led in 2012 to purchase the famous Bible College of Wales in Swansea, the school that Rees Howells founded in 1927. In Dec 2012, I had the privilege of announcing to the church that we had become the legal owners of the wonderful estate. God has since been opening some very wonderful doors for us in the United Kingdom.
In early 2011, a friend passed me a book and told me that I had to read it. The Book was the Grace Outpouring, written by Roy and Daphne Godwin, who have now become dear friends, who recorded an amazing move of God that’s still ongoing today, in a remote retreat center in Pembrokeshire, West Wales called Ffald-y-Brenin. The best way I can describe this retreat center was that it was a kind of protestant monastery where people go to seek God in the quiet of the woods. The leaders of the center have deliberately slowed down the pace of everything they do so that people can quiet themselves before God and wait upon Him. The book recorded powerful visitations that the people experienced in that small hamlet and whetted my appetite for more of God. I passed the book to my wife, who then suggested that we make a trip to Wales and visit Ffald-y-Brenin.
So, in September 2011, a small team of pastors from Cornerstone went on a short assignment to Wales, England and parts of Europe. Our assignment was to re-dig the ancient revival wells, and pray at the very places that revival broke forth in the early 1900s. Little did we know that there was a pleasant surprise waiting for us in the seaside town of Swansea. At Swansea, we visited a place called Derwen Fawr, which means Great Oak in Welsh, and it is a reference to a great oak tree that once stood in the gardens of the Bible College that Rees Howells established in 1924. I remember clearly that day. It was a normal Welsh afternoon. It was raining. We stood there that day, under a little drizzle, and cried and asked God to preserve the property.
The Board of Trustees had been planning to sell it to a developer, and we could not bear the thought of them demolishing our heritage, history, and inheritance. There is so much of our heritage in that facility. The next day, we visited an old chapel in Blaenannerch, and it was there on the 29th September 1904, that Evan Roberts, the great Welsh Revivalist, was baptized in the fire of God. This was where he cried out to God to “bend” him, and this was the flashpoint of the Welsh revival.
In the chapel, we prayed with a lovely couple—Dick and Gladys Funnell—who had been sent by God to Wales to pray in the revival. We started by praying over Wales, and it turned into a 3-hour prayer meeting. Dick gave a clear prophetic word to us—taken from the book of Jeremiah 32—that God was giving us the first right of refusal to purchase the college.
When we got back to Singapore, we began to negotiate. About six months into the negotiations, we hit a roadblock, and I was discouraged and almost thought of walking away from the whole thing. However, at that same period, we were hosting a conference called the Kingdom Invasion conference, and one of the speakers of the conference was Bill Johnson. On the 2nd day of the conference, Bill preached an amazing sermon on supernatural courage, and it was an amazing word. He spoke about how one man’s act of courage could make a difference and that nothing was more contagious than courage.
At the end of the message, Bill spoke about Shammah, one of David’s three mighty men. In a conflict with the Philistines, the Philistine army had formed themselves into a troop, and the children of Israel were in retreat. They came to a field of lentils and Shammah, who knew of the historic value of the field, stood his ground right in the middle of that field and defended it. His singular act of courage turned the battle around, and that day, God gave a great victory to Israel. And Shammah’s name was recorded in eternity as one of Israel’s most courageous sons. I had pondered over the significance of that field but never fully understood its implications until Bill had mentioned that in his studies, he discovered that the field was the very same field that David slew Goliath. So Shammah was defending a field that had revival history attached to it. In other words, that field represented the past victories of God’s people. It represented victory over the enemy. To God, it carried important historical significance.
As Bill shared this, the Lord said to me, “Now, you redeem My field of lentils,” and I felt a mantle descend from heaven and cover me. I started weeping profusely, and a pastor walked up to me, in a crowd of well over 4,000 people, put his arm on my shoulder, and said, “The Lord says to purchase the Bible College of Wales.” I was wrecked. The Bible College of Wales is our Field of Lentils. The next day, we called the owner and told them that we would pay full price for the property. In Dec 2012, I stood before my church and announced that we were the owners of the Bible College of Wales, and what a day it was.
Wales undoubtedly is the nation of revivals. It has been called the land of periodic revivals. No other nation on the planet has seen more revivals that the Welsh people, maybe with the exception of Israel. That God is now stirring the Welsh people to cry out for revival is a beautiful thing, and I have no doubts that we are at the cusp of another great wave of the Spirit. When the Lord told us to buy this property in Swansea and redeem it, we all knew that it was going to be a sign to the Welsh people that their time has come. God is visiting the nation of Wales once again. What we do with this property is going to have a significant effect on the nations.