Living Epistles – Part Four

by | Aug 17, 2009

Joseph Herrin (08-17-09)

Rees Howells in Later Years

The following testimony comes from the book Rees Howells – Intercessor, by Norman Grubb. I value the testimony of this book greatly, for it brings out the understanding that the power of the Holy Spirit is released when He finds a man or woman who will surrender everything to God. This, of course, was the testimony of Christ, but it is rarely taught in the church today.

Luke 14:33
So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.
[Amplified Bible]

Yahshua then proceeds to declare that those who have not given themselves and all they possess to Him have become as salt that has lost its savor. Such salt is good for nothing, and the implication is that so too are those who confess His name but do not accept the full cost of discipleship.

Early in his Christian walk the Lord sent Rees Howells to a small town that was full of drunkards and had no church or witness for Christ. He made it plain to Rees how He would reach out to these people and show them the life of Christ by his example. Following is an excerpt from the book.

A Village Untouched by the Revival

The Spirit made it plain to Mr. Howells that he was to “live out the Bible” to the people. As their clothes were different from his, he was to dress more plainly so as to attract no attention to himself…

“If you are the first sufferer, don’t have a thing these people can’t have,” the Lord said to him. Nearly everyone in the village was in need, and the Spirit reminded him of the Sermon on the Mount: “Give to him that asketh thee.” “Whoever is in need has a claim on you,” He said. “You have given Me all you have, and I tell you that it is all for the people, and they have as much right to it as you have.”

The greatest break came when the Lord laid hold of the ringleader among the drunkards. For a long time Mr. Howells prayed for him and asked for a chance to get at him. This man could see the love of God expressed toward others, but he had not yet experienced it himself. The opportunity came.

There was some trouble outside the village. This man was involved and it was to be a court case. The Lord then said to Rees Howells, “Now is your chance. Offer to settle the case for him.” So he called at the man’s home and asked him, “Would you be relieved if this case could be settled out of court? If the other people are willing to accept compensation, would you like me to pay it for you?”

The man was speechless. “He was every inch a man,” observed Mr. Howelss. “Mere words could never reach him, but when he saw the love of God like that, he was touched on a vital spot and broke down. He confessed that he had been to blame, and started to come to the meetings, and his love for one could be felt…”

Mr. Howells was earning his weekly wage at the colliery and also had some other savings, but at this rate he saw that his money would soon be finished. It was then that the Spirit showed him both a commandment and a promise. To the rich young man the Savior had given a command, “Sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor… and come, follow Me.” And to those who did so follow He had promised, “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, but that he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time.”

Rees saw that if he gave one pound, the Savior said he was to get one hundred. Could this be true? If it was, he would surely look forward to the day when he would come to his extremity. But was it true? That was what captured his imagination – not the fact of being without money, but the possibility of it being replaced through the promises. Could that exchange really take place and he get an hundredfold?

The day came when he reached his last pound. The Holy Spirit then told him, “Cut the ropes and take the promises.” It was a direct call to step out on God. But it is always easier to talk of such things than to actually do them. It had been much easier to give 100 pounds out of plenty than to part with this last 1 pound and come to the end of his savings – for the first time in fifteen years.

“Oh, how the devil pitied me and brought such arguments!” he said. “He told me it would be a step in the dark and that if there was a convention or anything of that kind, I wouldn’t be able to go unless I had 1 pound laid by. But the Holy Ghost showed me that if God wanted me to go anywhere, He would surely provide the means. The danger was on the other side: for if a person has money, he can go without consulting God, like Jonah, who could afford to pay his passage to run away from Him! The fact is, we can never really be bondservants until God does control our means.”

So Rees took the plunge and learned the blessed truth that his extremity was God’s opportunity. His eyes were opened to the fact that he had a claim on God for what he could not supply himself. Just as surely as the Spirit had told him that the people of the village had a claim on his money to meet their needs, so now he saw that he had a claim on God’s resources to meet his.

[Joseph’s note: People of God, do you see the truth of what is stated here? If we willingly follow the Lord and lay all we have at God’s disposal, He will also lay all He has at our disposal. If He can use us to meet the needs of others around us, then He too will be available to meet all our needs. Truly those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly, but those who give all to the Father to be used according to His will, these will find that all the resources of heaven are opened unto them.

For the past ten years I have lived by this principle. If God should show me that I was to give my money to another, then I would do so. Even if I had been saving the money for a future bill, and it would leave me short to give it away, I have found that it is the will of the Father that I give. In turn, when my need is at hand, He will be the guarantor of it.

Truly there is a blessedness in operating from the Father’s wallet. His resources are always sufficient. But see how the church has distorted things in this hour. They seek to lay claim to God’s abundance, but they would spend according to their own soul. One must be fully submitted to the leadership of the Spirit of Christ, then whenever we ask anything “according to His will” we will have our petition.]

The first week his need was for 2 pounds, and he was able to tell the Lord in his prayer that he would not have come to Him if he had it himself.

“I was only asking the Lord to do what I would have done if I had the money; and it was for His work. It came, and what joy I had in finding that I had finished with the limited resources of man and had begun on the unlimited resources of God! The promises of God had replaced money in the bank and became equal to current coin to me. I no longer had to carry my treasure with me wherever I went because I knew where the Treasury was, and how to reach it!”


Called Out From Wage Earning

It is hard to realize that throughout these three years of intense conflict and many triumphs of the Spirit, Rees Howells was working daily at one of the hardest jobs a man can do – down the mine, cutting coal. His was no sheltered, monastic life, but a walk of the Spirit right in the world, though never of it…

But now there came a further call, which was to loosen him yet more from his old moorings. Rees was out on his favorite Black Mountain, where the silent spaces were so often the gate of heaven to him, and the Lord spoke to him. “For seven hours a day you are earning two shillings an hour,” He said, “but you need not work for an earthly master any longer. Would you like to come out and give those seven hours a day to work for Me?”

Rees was standing on a small wooden bridge across a little stream, and the Lord asked him, “Will you give your word to Me that you won’t look to another person to keep you? If so, put up your hand and repeat, ‘I shall not take from a thread to a shoe latchet from any person, unless the Lord tells me.’”

Just as Abraham made that stand when he refused the spoils of war that were justly his, lest men should say his prosperity came from natural sources, so God was asking His servant to take the same stand for the rest of His life. On that bridge he raised his hand and made a solemn vow, adding, “I do believe You are able to keep me better than that mining company.”

It was no mean (small) stand of faith, because Mr. Howells had long since ceased that active ministry in the mission and among fellow Christians which might have led people to give to him…

The Lord then gave him a month’s holiday, which he could spend in worshiping the Beloved of his heart. Each day was spent on the mountain where he never saw the face of man. They were not days of intercession or carrying burdens, but of living fellowship, lost in the presence of God. He often spoke of that month as one of the most precious of his life.

He started the month with one penny, and the Lord did not add anything to it; so as he climbed the mountain the first few days, the devil kept saying each morning, “You haven’t had an answer to prayer yet.” Then one morning, when he was passing through the iron gate, where he left houses and fields behind, the Lord said, “The moment you shut this gate behind you, don’t allow the devil to speak to you again. You will not need a penny until the day you pay your mother.” (The Lord had directed Rees to pay his mother for the meals he was eating.)

“So I gave the devil one hit,” Rees said, “and told him that I wasn’t going to pray a single prayer for money until the end of the month. I never doubted that the people I was working for would pay me on Saturdays, so why should I doubt God? I didn’t pray a single prayer again, but I lived to worship my heavenly Bridegroom.”

On the last day of the month, about midday, the Lord told him to descend the mountain and go home; and as soon as he arrived, his father came in for lunch. The final test on his new call to a life of faith had come. “The manager says he has kept your job open, and you can take it again if you want to,” his father informed him.

“What a foolish man! Why did he do that?” Rees exclaimed. “But if you don’t mean to earn a living again,” continued his father, “who is going to keep you?” “Don’t you agree that if I am working for God, He can keep me as that last earthly master kept me?” asked Rees.

“But can you name one other person who lives this life?” his father asked. “George Muller,” Rees answered. “But he is dead. Must you call the dead back to help you?” was the quick reply. “Well,” Rees answered, “Don’t you believe the words of the Savior, ‘Take neither purse nor scrip… the laborer is worthy of his hire?” That quotation seemed to convince his father, who merely added, “I was only bringing you that message.”

While he was speaking, the postman arrived with a letter for Rees. It was from Mr. Gosset, offering him a position in the London City Mission, and saying that he would have a salary of 100 pounds a year. He added the words, “Those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” and underlined them. Rees could see his father’s countenance changing. He was plainly thinking, “How fortunate he is; everything turns out in his favor.” “You see that?” he said to Rees. “Those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel!” “Certainly,” Rees answered, “and those who preach faith should live by faith!” The victory was won, his father broke out laughing, and within half an hour the Lord sent the deliverance he needed. It was a good beginning to forty years of praying and abundantly proving the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”


Some time later Rees Howells was married and was directed to go to Africa as a missionary. Following is where the narrative picks up.

Standing in the Queue

About a week before they sailed, they received money from the mission to pay their expenses to London, but they needed some things for their outfitting, and once again the rule was applied – first need, first claim.

“There is always a tendency to keep money, so as to get out of God’s testings,” said Mr. Howells, “and we tried our best to do it this time! Anyway, we had to spend the money, and all the people of the place thought we were well supplied. So we were, up to that week, and we thought money would be sure to come the day before we were to leave for London; but the last post came and no money, and our train was leaving before the post the next morning…”

“We felt sure it would come on the station platform, but no, the time came for the train to leave. What were we to do? There was only one thing possible. We still had ten shillings, and we must go as far as we could with it; then our extremity would be God’s opportunity. We had to change trains at Llanelly Station, about twenty miles from our home, and wait there a couple hours; so without letting anyone know, we only booked as far as that.”

“There were many people at our home station wishing us all the good things, but what we needed was money to go to London! Many also came as far as Llanelly, singing all the way. The thought that came to me was, ‘I’d sing better if I had the money!’”

“We went out to breakfast with some friends at Llanelly, and then walked back to the station still not delivered; and now the time for the train had come. The Spirit spoke to me and said, ‘If you had money, what would you do?’ ‘Take my place in the queue at the booking office,’ I said. ‘Well, are you not preaching that My promises are equal to current coin? You had better take your place in the queue.’ So there was nothing I could do except obey.”

“There were about a dozen people before me. There they were passing by the booking office one by one. The devil kept telling me, ‘Now you only have a few people in front of you, and when your turn comes, you will have to walk through. You have preached about Moses with the Red Sea in front and the Egyptians behind, but now you are the one who is shut in.’ ‘Yes, shut in,’ I answered, ‘but like Moses, I’ll be gloriously led out!’”

“When there were only two people before me, a man stepped out of the crowd and said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t wait any longer, but I must open my shop.’ He said good-bye and put thirty shillings in my hand! It was most glorious, and only a foretaste of what the Lord would do in Africa, if we would obey. After I had the tickets, the people who came with us to the train began to give gifts to us, but the Lord had held them back until we had been tested. We were singing all the way to London!”

On their arrival, Mr. Head asked them to breakfast the nest morning. He then told them he had 50 pounds for them, but he didn’t post it. “Thank God you didn’t,” said Mr. Howells, adding to himself, “I wouldn’t have been without the test in the queue for anything.”

They had all their outfit except three things: a watch, a fountain pen, and a raincoat each. They had never mentioned these things to anyone, but at breakfast Mr. Head asked, “What kind of watches have you?” and told them that his son, Alfred, wanted to give them a watch each. He then asked, “Have you prepared for the rainy seasons in Africa? Have you got good raincoats?” When they said they hadn’t, he told them to go and get one each, and wrote down an address on a card, saying that they were to get them at his expense. After writing the address, he asked, “Have you seen this kind of fountain pen?” “No,” they replied. “You must take one each with you,” he said. The three things they had named to the Lord, he named to them!

Mr Head asked them to come to breakfast the following morning again and take prayers. He suggested that Mr. Howells should tell the servants a little of his experiences of faith. “You used to live a life of faith some time ago, didn’t you?” he asked. “Yes, and quite recently too,” answered Mr. Howells, and told them about standing in the queue. Mr. Head could hardly breathe, waiting to hear how they got out of it. “I have never heard anything like it,” he exclaimed. But Mr. Howells told them he hadn’t finished yet, and that what had happened at Corrie Lodge the previous day in that very room was better still, and he told them the story of the watches, raincoats, and fountain pens. “I prefer this to 1,000 pounds,” said Mr. Head, “to know that the Lord can guide me like this in my giving.”

So they left England July 10, 1915, after a glorious victory, knowing that the One who had called them into this life was able to deliver in all circumstances.

Note: There is much more that is excellent in the book Rees Howells – Intercessor, by Norman Grubb. I highly recommend it to all.

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063


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