History of Rees Howells
Rees Howells was born in a small mining town in Wales in 1879. He was the sixth child out of eleven other children, and left school at twelve to work in a tin mill and coal mine. When he was twenty-two, Rees had a gripping born-again experience and encountered God, and slowly began his journey on a complete surrender in every area of his life.
One of the many aspects in which Rees Howells was challenged was his hearty appetite and love for food. Rees struggled with not being able to have four meals a day, a norm in his culture. Through this experience of abstinence, he found that it was much easier to enter into God’s presence to intercede for others when he was fasting, and easily gained the victory.
After which, God sought a deeper consecration from Rees and directed him to put Isaiah 58 into practice with the homeless and jobless, where Rees had to love the tramps the way he loved his family members. In doing so, he had to give them new suits of clothes, help them find work, and pay for their boarding until they were employed, even though he was financially stretched with having to look after so many tramps! This was when he had to die to his love of self, and realise how only the true love of Christ would provide and could compel him to continue loving the prodigals.
Another area that Rees had to submit to His lordship was in resisting a social convention – the wearing of a hat. It was common for folks to wear a head covering then, but Rees felt the Lord called him to be dead to the influence of the public, and to bare his head in the presence of God. Though he received much ridicule and questions from others, even his family members, he decided that it was harder to disobey God than to obey Him, and chose to live a life separate from the world. Such was the extent of his radical obedience, something we should all aspire for!
Through these incidents, his ministry flourished as more people began to come to Christ, seeing how many others had been transformed by Rees’ prayers and love for God and his fellow villagers. Yet at this time, God began to lead Rees into the secret life of intercession – to identify with those for whom he was praying for, and to do this in private. Rees had to retire from his public ministry and the work that he had established which once again, was not an easy thing to do.
Soon after Rees Howells married Elizabeth Hannah Jones in 1910, he was called into the ministry to serve with his wife as missionaries in South Africa. This proved to be the biggest test to both of them as they had to leave their new-born son in Wales to the care of foster parents, and God promised them a hundredfold reward in Africa. As they honoured the Lord, they began to witness more revivals and blessings all throughout the next six years of ministry, which Rees termed the “happiest years of our lives”.
When Rees returned back to England in 1920, more doors opened for him as he continued to share his testimony about the revival. It was then that God began to birth forth a vision of the Bible College of Wales through Rees, and taught him how to live a life wholeheartedly surrendered to Him and one that was given to intercessory prayer. As a result, he became the channel of a mighty revival and a man of great inspiration to others all around the world.