A BOOK REVIEW | MELISSA RUNCIMAN
In this beautifully engaging biography, Norman Grubb tells the story of one Mr Rees Howells, born to a poor Christian family in Wales in the late nineteenth century, whom the Lord arrested and called on an extraordinary journey of faith. As he grew in obedience to the Holy Spirit, his impact likewise started to grow, until he was used eventually to disrupt, through intercession, the course of WWII and, hence the trajectory of the modern world.
As a young man, Rees encountered Christ and committed his life to him. Then, in 1906, aged 27, the Holy Spirit came to him asking for complete surrender. Not an easy decision
but eventually Rees came through and, in his own words “[i]mmediately [...] I was transported into another realm, [...] I heard God speaking to me and I have lived there ever since.” And so the Holy Spirit would continue to challenge him throughout his life to go deeper into obedience and intercession. He was joined on this journey by his wife, Elizabeth, and later by the staffand students of the Bible College of Wales which he established.
Mr Howells saw the Ministry of Intercession in a very clear way, best articulated as follows...“Perhaps believers in general have regarded intercession as just some form of rather intensified prayer. It is, so long as there is great emphasis on the word "intensified"; for there are three things to be seen in an intercessor which are not necessarily found in ordinary prayer: identification, agony and authority.” Thus, for him, intercession meant identification with the person or people for whom the Lord had called him to intercede, sharing in their sufferings in some way (taking their place, as it were) prevailing in prayer and, thus, gaining authority to see them set free.
Much like George Müller, Mr Howells faced many battles for financial provision. He was several times challenged by the Lord to believe Him for the acquisition of estates in South Wales. Despite having no money nor income of his own, he contended in prayer for the purchase and establishment of a Bible College and a home and school for missionary children. “What joy I had in finding that I had finished with the limited resources of man, and begun on the unlimited resources of God! The promises of God had replaced money in the bank, and become equal to current coin to me.”
Once these local and financial victories had been secured, the Lord turned Rees’ attention to global affairs. In the mid 1930s, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Hitler was satan’s agent for preventing the spread of the gospel throughout the world. So, when WWII broke out, the Bible College as a whole were standing daily before God interceding as “the world became [their] parish”. Mr Howells encouraged them that they were “more responsible for this victory […] than those men on the battlefield [...and] must be dead to everything else but this fight”
But by late May 1940 the Allies had been routed all the way through to the North of France. German troops were closing in and the Allied troops were stranded on the beach of Dunkirk ready to be slaughtered. Once they’d fallen, there would be nothing left to stop the Nazi invasion of Great Britain. Excerpts from Bible College prayer meetings notes show how fiercely the battle was being fought by these intercessors - who chose to live by faith not by what they heard from the media. Mr Howells summed it up well “From a worldly standpoint
there is no hope of victory [...] We are not to run into any panic thinking the Nazis are going to win. We may have to go through far greater sufferings yet, but I am not going to doubt the final issue.”
Inexplicably, on May 23rd, the German High Command issued a halt order for all ground troops. At the same time, weather over the English Channel became calm and 800 vessels “the Little Ships of Dunkirk” were able to ferry 338,226 soldiers back to safety in Britain. The Lord had answered the cry of Mr Howells and his intercessors as they stood in the gap to see Britain saved from certain disaster. It was a fight of faith: to stand in the face of fear and apparent defeat to contend for His will to be done in order to see victory.
We read chapter after chapter of breathtaking miracles like this one; however, even more precious in many ways are the insights into the dealings of the Lord with the heart of the intercessor himself and revelations of how He sees prayer. He was told by the Holy Spirit “the meaning of prayer is answer and of all I give you, see that you lose nothing.” He also told him that effectual praying must be guided praying, and that he was no longer to pray for all kinds of things at his own whim […] but only the prayers that [He] gave him.”
This account of a life surrendered to the Lord and the call to prayer and intercession is skillfully narrated by Mr Grubb weaving together testimony from many who knew Rees Howells. It traces his life from an inauspicious birth right through until he is called home to be with the Lord in 1950. Anyone who takes the time will discover it is both a delight to read and inspiration to all those who sense the same call of God in their own generation.
This is, aside from the Bible itself, the most exciting adventure I have ever read! I bought it from a second hand store nearly 25 years ago because of a prophetic word I had received about the Lord calling me to be an “intercessor”… and I had no idea what that word even meant. I think the same is probably true for many of us as little has been spoken of the ministry of intercession. But now, it seems, the Lord is raising up intercessors all over our beautiful nation…some just beginning their journey, others who have been on it for decades.
Although written long ago, the story seems strangely relevant for the times we find ourselves in, like an overgrown sign-post pointing to the only way out of the chaos. It reminds us that the Lord has not forgotten His people, but rather that He is searching “for a man among them to repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, so that [He] should not destroy it.” as He says in Ezekiel 22:30. Will He again find no one? Not on our watch!
May I encourage you to read the book for yourselves? In it you will find the most terrifying and exhilarating stories of living for God and influencing events not only on a personal, local, governmental and national level but also globally. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted but, rather, for those who can no longer abide life of mediocrity and are willing to lay everything down for Jesus.
Enjoy this free download of the book.
If you prefer an audio version from YouTube, you can find it here.