Fifty Years On
W. Beale, Swansea
Our esteemed brother J.H. Large invited me to write an article for the very first issue of Precious Seed relating how the work began at Percy Street, Swansea, and which later was established at Ebenezer Gospel Had in Heol-y-gors. Now in my 91st year, I have been asked to make some observations on Christian witness in Swansea, fifty years on.
In today's Swansea, as in many another city in the U.K., impressive church buildings which once were landmarks have been pulled down. Large churches which used to be packed with full congregations are in many cases struggling to keep going. The Percy Street work, itself the fruit of the 1904 Welsh revival, commenced its gospel witness in the front room of a house. As a huge housing estate developed close by, the work began to grow very quickly, resulting in the completion in 1940 of a purpose-built hall in Heol-y-gors which was capable of seating 300. A Sunday School of some 300 children demanded the staffing of two sittings! Over 200 were present at the weekly Children's Service also, and many of these trusted the Lord. The years 1945-46 saw in Swansea (as in other parts of South Wales) a real movement of God through gospel preaching campaigns led by Bill Patterson, Stan Ford and Handel Evans, choice servants who now rest from their labours in the presence of their Lord. Many young people and adults, precious souls for whom Christ died, owned Jesus as Lord in such seasons of blessing in the gospel.
Emerging from the blessings of these campaigns, the Swansea and District Holiday Conference for Young People commenced in 1946 at Tiverton and continued annually in different parts of the country up until recently. Hundreds of young people were blessed through the study of the word of God over the years. It is encouraging to know that many of the young men occupy leading positions in assemblies in South Wales today, and that one or two couples were called to serve the Lord on the mission field. In addition, other outreaches include those of the South Wales Evangelistic Mobile Unit, the Sunday Schools' Camps, Scripture Study Tests and the Postal Sunday School.
Sadly, it is true that things may not be what they used to be. Many assemblies no longer exist, and others are small and struggling to maintain a witness for the Lord. However, we praise God that He is still on the throne, and that the Lord is continuing to build His church. Also we thank God for the young life amongst whom He has gifted some to preach and to teach, and we encourage them to go forward knowing nothing 'save Jesus Christ, and him crucified'. May He revive our hearts, keep us faithful and always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.