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Rees Howells: Intercessor

by Norman Grubb

Rees youngFrom the poor mining village of Brynamman, South Wales, in the late 1800’s, came one of the world’s greatest prayer warriors, faith builders and intercessors—Rees Howells. The book “Rees Howells: Intercessor” is an inspiring biography about this man’s life of faith and prayer.

Two generations before Rees was born his grandparents were radically saved during the Welsh revivals of 1859. Rees’ grandparents were probably the most powerful influence on his early years. Rees stated that he always felt that their “blessing” came down to him. He said that he always felt something drawing him in their little home and stated that “God was its atmosphere”. “To cross their threshold”, Rees said in later years, “was to pass from earth to heaven”.

It would appear that Rees’ parents also benefitted from this “blessing”. Although life was a real struggle for Rees’ family in his early years due to extreme poverty, yet the love of Christ seemed to dominate this blessed home. His father managed the busy home with inspiration. It was said they were a happy family and that “godliness and love were pre-eminent in the home”. His mother’s love was also noted as having been one of the deepest impressions on Rees’ young life, especially as he watched her ceaselessly nursing one of the three little members of their circle who was later taken from them.

Rees was the sixth of a family of three girls and eight boys, and his father brought them up on the Word of God. Rees’ earliest memories were of routine evening Bible readings and the effect they had on him. He said the stories of the Savior and His birth, life and death, stood out above all others. In describing Rees’ childhood it was said that, “even the normal pleasures of the world had no attraction for him.” He would walk miles to hear someone preach but he wouldn’t cross the road to hear a concert. Only once did he ever attend a football match and felt so convicted and out of place that he determined never to return.

Rees began to work in the mines at the age of twelve and stayed there until he was twenty-two. Eventually, out of a desire to make more money (for he had a great love of money prior to his resignation to Christ) he came to America to work with his cousin in the tin mines. He was living what seemed to most people to be a fulfilling and upright life. His American minister even called him, “the best young man in the congregation”. However, all at once he felt completely undone one night when his cousin asked him if he was “born again”. He argued that he lived a good life and that he was a “Christian”, but his wise cousin replied that it was not enough to live a good life. Afterward, he felt under such conviction when around his cousin that he had to move an hundred miles away.

Later that year he fell deathly ill with typhoid fever. In deep despair and all alone, he found himself gripped with fear, having none of his friends or family nearby to comfort or care for him. He stated, “I found fear in me for the first time, and when I faced leaving this world and entering an unknown realm, pangs took hold of me, such as I had never felt before. Thank God my parents were not there to take that fear from me. Thank God that human sympathy did not blind me to eternity, for you may live in a crowd, but you meet God and face eternity alone.” Finally, he cried out to God, “Give me one more chance and I will give my life to You”. As he recovered he became very introspective. He pondered on how he could fully embrace his beliefs in the Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection as most precious truths, and yet they were not real to him. He later stated, “I found that I had only an historical Christ and not a personal Savior who could take me to the other side.”

Following five months of soul searching, he went to hear the testimony of a converted Jew, Maurice Reuben, which would change his life forever—he was born again! Speaking of that night he said, “I had heard preaching on calvary scores of times before and believed it, but I had never seen Calvary before that night”.

Empowered with two generations of training in righteousness, Rees wasted no time after being born again. With a burden for the souls of his home land he sailed back to Wales and landed right in the middle of the Welsh revival of 1904. He quickly became involved in organizing cottage groups and prayer gatherings where he was instrumental in discipling new believers. During this time the book records his fascinating and radical walk of drawing closer to God. Pressing further and focusing more intently all the time, Rees experienced the joys of total self-denial and surrender to the Lord Jesus and His daily will and calling. Step by step, God challenged him along the way concerning his love of money, ambition, reputation and comfort. It was always Rees’ longing to lay it all down so that Christ could live in him more fully.

Early in his radical walk he found victory in loving the outcast, the poor and the unlovely, as well as the hopelessly lost. Time and again he braved the challenge in prayer to see a life changed by sowing seeds of prayer aggressively and tirelessly until he saw victory. Through all these experiences God was teaching him the concepts of “praying through” and “obtaining victory” in prayer. But mostly he learned what a true “intercessor” actually was. An entire chapter is devoted to this definition. He mentions that the three mandatory attributes of the “intercessor” are identification, agony and authority. He states that the difference between a “prayer warrior” and an “intercessor” is that a “prayer warrior” prays for a thing to be done without being willing for the answer to come through himself and he is not often bound to continue in the prayer until it is answered. But a true “intercessor”, on the other hand, is responsible to gain his objective, even giving of himself if need be, and he can never be freed until he has gained it.

Rees collegeAfter praying through to experience healings, family restorations, and the conversion of hardened sinners around Wales, he got married and headed off to South Africa where he served as an effective channel of God’s grace, witnessing the salvation of 10,000 souls! After six years he returned to Wales and was eventually led by God to start a Bible School. Reminiscent of the testimony of George Muller, all the finances for this school came by faith and almost always at the very last moment! This Bible School, called the Bible College of Wales, embraced Rees’ burden for intercessory prayer and became a powerful repository of prayer.

Toward the close of the book, exciting accounts are given of the college’s engagement in powerful warfare with Hitler and the German Army without even raising a fist! The day by day journal entries of their intercession during the German attacks will keep you on the edge of your seat. Furthermore, the victories that seem to correlate with their intercessions may even make you reevaluate history.

This book does not only give an account of Rees’ successes but also his failures. He might not have always made all the right choices and some of you may disagree with some of his decisions. However, I highly recommend this book. After reading it, I am confident your faith will be strengthened and your determination sharpened to remember that victories are won, not with carnal weapons, but mighty ones in prayer. May God make us all men and women who are not afraid to rise up in faith to the challenge and wage war in fervent, life-changing intercessory prayer.

Rees Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb can be ordered from your local book store or purchased directly from:

CLC Publications
P.O. Box 1449
Ft Washington, PA 19034

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