“Well Mr Stead, you’ve been to the revival. What do you think of it?”


When people are asked to explain their experience of revival, they struggle to say what they have experienced. The following is an account of the revival of a non-Christian, William Stead. At the time, Stead was the editor of the famous Paul Mall Gazette. He was believed by many to be the most powerful man in Britain at the time. He visited the South Wales Revival (1904-05), and The London Methodist Times recorded this interview with him afterwards. (As published in The Great Revival in Wales, by S. B. Shaw (1905).

“Well Mr Stead, you’ve been to the revival. What do you think of it?”
“Sir”, Mr Stead replied, “the question is not what I think of it, but what it thinks of me, of you, and all the rest of us. For it is a very real thing, this revival, a live thing which seems to have a power and a grip which may get hold of a good many of us who at present are mere spectators.”

“Do you think it is on the march then?”
“A revival is something like a revolution. It is apt to be wonderfully catching.”

“You speak as if you dreaded the revival coming your way.”
“NO, that is not so! Dread is not the right word. Awe expresses my sentiment better. For you are in the presence of the better. You have read ghost stories and can imagine what you would feel if you were alone at midnight in a haunted chamber of some old castle and you heard the slow and stealthy step stealing along the corridor where the visitor from another world was said to walk. If you go to South Wales and watch the revival, you will feel pretty much just like that. There is something there from the other world. You cannot say whence it came or whether it is going, but it moves and lives and reaches for you all the time. You see men and women go down sobbing, in agony before your eyes, as the invisible Hand clutches at their heart. And you shudder. It is pretty grim, I tell you, if you are afraid of strong emotions, you better give revival a wide berth.”

“But is it all emotion? Is there no teaching?”
“Precious little. Do you think teaching is what people want in revival? These people, all the people in a land like ours, are taught to death, preached to insensibility. They all know essential truths. They know they are not living as they ought to live, and no amount of teaching will add anything to that conviction.”

“Then I take it your net impressions have been favourable?”
“How could they be otherwise? Did I not feel the pull of the unseen Hand? Have I not heard the glad outburst of melody that hailed the confession of some, who in very truth had found salvation? Of course, it is all very much like what I have seen in the Salvation Army. And I was delighted to see that, at last, the Welsh churches are recognising the equal ministry of men and women all, and so far, its fruits have been good and only good.”

“Will it last?”
“Nothing lasts forever in the mutable world… But if the analogy of all previous revivals holds good, this religious awakening will be influencing for good the lives of numberless men and women who will be living and toiling and carrying on with this God’s world of ours long after you and I have been gathered to our fathers.”

Personal Revival vs. Revival in the Community or Nation

Daily spiritual renewal is essential and possible for every believer. In this book, I differentiate between personal revival and revival which impacts churches, communities, and sometimes even countries on a national scale.

About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert