Our Heroes

I have been noticing that my ‘Hero of the Month’ is being read by many fewer people than my other posts. I find this disappointing, because I have included them for a reason. I was reminded of this reason two weeks ago when someone prophesied over me. The word was ‘The Lord has given you the responsibility to honour past generations’.  I have been trying to do this through my website www.ukwells.org over the past seven years.

It is so important for us to have heroes these days. The heroes of our culture are film stars and other personalities, whose only claim to fame is their looks. As Christians we have incredible heroes to honour and emulate. Most of my Christian life I have been motivated to press on towards the goal through reading the life stories of people like John Wesley and William Wilberforce. We can learn so much from the lives of these men and women; these heroes of the faith. I have recently moved into a new home and have put the portraits of five of our heroes in my stairwell. John Wesley, George Whitefield, Elizabeth Fry, William Booth and William Wilberforce look down on me every morning as I come downstairs to start the day. They inspire me as I set out to each day to try to extend God’s Kingdom here on earth.

These heroes have changed our nation and we need to study their lives to get an understanding of how we can do the same. It saddens me that some of the graves of these heroes are in a terrible state. We need to honour them, not forget them. I have written around forty biographies of theese men and women on www.ukwells.org. They are generally 10-15 pages long, so can be read quite quickly.

Hero of the month – Howell Harris 2/2

Hero of the month – Howell Harris 2/2

In 1737 Harris met with Daniel Rowland, who was perhaps the greatest preacher of all time, and they worked together, leading Wales into the ‘Great Awakening’. Between 400 and 2000 people heard him preach at a time, with many giving their lives to Jesus, among whom were two other leaders of the Awakening; Howell Davies (Apostle of Pembrokeshire) and William Williams, the hymn writer of the Revival.

From the beginning of 1738 Harris started preaching full time and he travelled the whole country; mainly at the invitation of Non-conformist ministers. He would go on a tour for weeks at a time, travelling maybe 150 miles a week, speaking between two and six times a day; sometimes speaking at 1.00am to avoid persecution. He was threatened by magistrates and clergy in many places where he preached.

Harris was the organiser of the Awakening, similar to John Wesley. All went well until around 1746 when Howell began to cause trouble by criticising his co-leaders. He was very dogmatic and unbending, and he liked to be the leader and not co-leader. In 1750 Harris and Rowland split, but most of the people followed Rowland.  In 1752 he became ill and it is likely that he had a breakdown. He did other things, but he was by then on the periphery. He died in 1773. To read a lot more go to http://www.ukwells.org/locations/displaylocations/897.

Harris was a remarkable man. Through his energy the Word of God spread throughout the whole of Wales. Undoubtedly the revival would not have spread the way it did had he not travelled so much, and had his organisational skills not put in place a structure in which the Methodist movement could consolidate and grow. In the societies his creative genius found scope and fulfilment. However, he was a man of contradictions; a man of love and yet critical; humble and yet proud. His pride and obstinacy made it impossible for his colleagues to work with him and yet those qualities helped him be an indefatigable evangelist despite persecution and dangers. Few did as much for the spiritual life of Wales as Howel Harris.   

Hero of the month – Howell Harris 1/2

Hero of the month – Howell Harris 1/2

Howell Harris was born at Trefeca, in Brecon in 1714. Wales during his early life was spiritually in as parlous a state as England. He wrote in his journal in 1735, ‘One day in prayer I felt a strong impression on my mind to give myself to God as I was, and to leave all to follow Him. But presently felt a strong opposition to it, backed with reasons, that if I would give myself to the Lord, I should lose my liberty, and then would not be my own, or in my own power; but after a great conflict for some time, I was made willing to bid adieu to all things temporal, and chose the Lord for my portion. I believe I was then effectually called to be a follower of the Lamb.’
Then a few months later, ‘‘Being in secret prayer, I felt suddenly my heart melting within me like wax before the fire with love to God my Saviour; and also felt not only love, peace etc., but longing to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. Then was a cry in my inmost soul, which I was totally unacquainted with before, Abba, Father! Abba, Father! I could not help calling God my Father; I knew that I was His child; and that He loved me and heard me. My soul being filled and satiated, crying, ‘Tis enough, I am satisfied. Give me strength and I will follow Thee through fire and water.’”
He was so fired up by Holy Spirit that he had to go out and tell people about his Saviour. “The Word was attended with such power, that many on the spot cried out to God for pardon of their sins’’ The importance of this was that it was the beginning of the ‘Great Awakening’ in the UK. Harris was leading many to the Lord and forming them into Societies before Whitefield or John Wesley.

Hero of the Month – John Macdonald 2/2

In 1813 Macdonald became minister at Urquhart, Ross and Cromarty, where he remained until he died. He became known as the Apostle of the North, as he trekked all over Northern Scotland, to the most inhospitable areas and in the harshest of weathers.

During his first year at Urquhart Macdonald’s wife died and an awakening began at her funeral service. Soon after, a revival began in Breadalbane at Loch Tay, and the minister asked for Macdonald to come to help. He preached the action-sermon in the tent to an assembly of people more numerous than had ever gone before in Breadalbane. His text was Isa. 54:5, ‘Thy Maker is thine husband.’ The sermon was accompanied with an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit. Some cried out and others were melted into tears while many laboured in vain to suppress their feelings. The place was then ‘no other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.’ Macdonald preached on Monday from Luke xvi. 2, by which many more were awakened.

He visited St Kilda (all residents left in 1930) in 1822 where a revival took over the island. On another trip to St Kilda a storm prevented him from going, so he was invited to minister at the Communion service at Uig , Harris. He decided to go, arriving the day before the service. There had been a revival going on for some time, resulting in 7,000 at the Communion. He preached on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday, seeing many instances of people being touched by the Holy Spirit, or as Macdonald put it, there were ‘showers of divine influences’. It is said that this was the highpoint of the revival. Like at Breadalbane it is as if the power was suddenly turned up under his ministry.

Macdonald died in 1849 and his grave can be seen at Urquhart. Sadly, I have found only one book about him, ‘The Apostle of the North’ by John Kennedy, published originally in 1866. He was a ‘revivalist’ who travelled thousands of miles to bring the gospel to anyone who would listen.
For more http://www.ukwells.org/locations/displaylocations/1246.

Hero of the Month: John Macdonald (part 1 of 2)

Hero of the Month: John Macdonald (part 1 of 2)

John Macdonald was born in 1779 in Ray, in the far north of Scotland. It was a sign of the future that the minister had to break the ice on a pool in order to baptise him. When he was about 20 he went through a major time of distress, seeing that he was heading for hell, but not knowing how to change his course to heaven. One day he was walking along the beach when a light pierced through the darkness. He took himself to a nearby cave. And there he gave his life to Christ.

In 1805 he became a preacher and in 1807 he was appointed to the Gaelic Church in Edinburgh. When preaching he was always clear and sound in his statements of objective truth, but while in Edinburgh his preaching now became full of life; searching and fervent, as well as sound and lucid. He warned sinners, which excited the wonder and awe of his hearers. His statements of Gospel truth were from one who deeply felt its power. People could tell that he spoke from his hearts to theirs. His manner in the pulpit changed as well, becoming more vehement. His sermons, always full of thought, bright with illustration and teeming with feeling, were delivered with the most unaffected and intense earnestness. Many noticed the incredible change in his preaching.

Soon after there was a witness to his preaching in Caithness. “When the sermon began I forgot all but the doctrine I was hearing. As he warmed up with his subject, the preacher became most vehement in his action; every eye was riveted on the speaker and suppressed sounds testified to the effect which his sermon was producing. His second discourse was so awe-inspiring that the audience became powerfully affected. Such was the awful solemnity of the doctrine and the vehemence of the preacher’s manner that I expected, ere he was done, every heart would be pierced, and that the very roof of the church would be rent. The sermon over, all were asking who the preacher was.’’

I believe that Macdonald experienced ‘a baptism of fire’, taking him to a new level of power. I shall be mentioning this again as I have read about similar changes in other men.