I recently read The Awakening of Wales by Jessie Penn-Lewis who was an eyewitness of the Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905. After talking to some friends about that account, they loaned me James Stewart’s attempt to document the times from a perspective of a couple of decades. For the most part, Stewart succeeds in capturing the essence of God’s work in Wales by compiling many firsthand anecdotes and including more personal information about Evan Roberts than he allowed in his lifetime. While not as fresh as Penn-Lewis’ recounting, this short book still has the life of the revival on it.
The book concentrates on the preparation that had been done in the country through many prayer groups in the years leading up to the outpouring. There were numerous groups of three or four people whose hearts burned for a moving of God among the people. When it finally came, the society was transformed. Sports and entertainment lost their appeal. Businessmen and tradesmen alike found their way to the packed meetings. The young and the old would remain at worship until well past midnight. Stewart documents not only how rapidly the country transformed but how peacefully it did as well. All things were in order.
A great benefit to this book is the transcription of one of Evan Roberts’ actual sermons. This gives the reader a vivid picture of what was being taught more than a hundred years ago in Wales. While not to be emulated without the life that the Spirit had given the man, the salient points of the life of the cross and complete reliance upon God are lessons for all ages. The prayer to Jesus was always being made – “Bend the church. Save the world!”
5.5 stars out of 10
Every once in a while you read a book that slaps your self-pity on the nose – and this is a good thing. This true story about a young missionary woman in New Guinea during World War II will definitely give the reader a check on their pride. Darlene Deibler shares with openness and grace the struggles of moving to New Guinea to reveal the gospel to primitive peoples and then serving four years in a Japanese internment camp. The story is equally heartbreaking and beautiful as she and the women of the camp overcome with a patience and steadfastness rarely observed today.
Evidence Not Seen reads as a primer for those who feel called to missionary work – at least on this point: God’s plan for your life may not be yours but His is ultimately better. Mrs. Deibler relates how she married the much older missionary C. Russell Deibler to be swept to the Dutch East Indies where they were convinced they would set up a strong mission base in remote New Guinea. However, after working tirelessly for a few years to make this a reality, the Japanese army invaded the islands and forced the Deiblers into separate internment camps. Here Darlene found her new mission was to preserve a positive attitude among fellow prisoners and to share and cultivate faith in God in the camp. She suffered trials constantly: disease, forced labor, deaths of loved ones, torture, and deprivement. Through all this, she rested heavy on her relationship with Jesus. His promise to her to “never leave her or forsake her” was the iron for her soul. Though she could never see the endgame for God’s plan for her, she willingly followed his lead and found great reward.
Ultimately this book speaks to power of simple daily faith. To be a hero for this day, you do not have to be mighty – just faithful. The little kindnesses given have a cumulative effect. The daily study of the scripture ground the soul. The prayers whispered in the corner establish a connection to Christ that can be unshakeable. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
7 stars out of 10
photo: west-point.org (Japanese POW camp – not Mrs. Deibler’s camp)