Intercession In Action
In this continuation of the story of Norman’s personal intercessions, we learn of a desperate crisis in his life and his subsequent application of the faith principles made plain to him by Rees Howells. From what seemed a small beginning has flowered a worldwide outreach.
New Understanding of Faith from Rees Howells
Once again, the Spirit carried out His plan in our lives in an unpredictable way. I was back home attending the Keswick Convention. A man I had vaguely heard about in relation to a revival in South Africa called one afternoon with his wife. He was an imposing powerful figure, formerly a Welsh coal miner at the pit face; and his wife was equally imposing. My first sight of them rather scared me. What did they want with such as myself–merely a missionary on furlough?
They invited me in quite urgent terms to come and visit them in their new Bible College at Swansea in South Wales. The two were Mr. and Mrs. Rees Howells. I had not the faintest idea of the enormous impact his life was to have on me. My first reaction was not to accept their invitation. What were they up to? However, having said I would go, a few weeks later I did go.
Mr. Howells suggested we take a walk together. That was the end of my reluctances and the beginning of a great light shining into me in some particular realms. Our conversation was like a pure, flowing stream of the Spirit. I was caught indeed, becoming almost like a son to him. Each time I returned home from my continual visits to The College, Pauline would ask nervously what new thing I had come back with this time!
That "new thing" became a new understanding of the principle of faith in action, as plainly seen in the men of the Bible in Hebrews Eleven. This was not just how to walk and live by faith in the happenings of daily life. It was how to be confronted with the impossible and incredible, as were those Bible men and as I saw in Rees Howells’ life, and then to see how faith was to be changed into substance.
There was also the whole principle of what Rees Howells called, in Bible terms, the life of the intercessor–the highest calling possible to a redeemed human. This is what has made the book Rees Howells, Intercessor, with the shocks it imparts and which I had the privilege of writing, such an atomic explosion.
It is a best seller, even called by some the greatest book they have read outside the Bible. One man distributed 50,000 and another 20,000. Additionally, Doris Ruscoe has since given insights into this life of intercession in a further small book, The Intercession of Rees Howells.
This reality of being an intercessor lies at the heart of each of my life’s experiences which I’m sharing here. Hopefully, others can begin to recognize the Spirit-Intercessor in action in their own lives and come alive to His further "high callings." It was God’s marvelous purpose in those early years to give me such training for my coming major intercessions through my constant visits to Rees Howells.
He was continually referring to the intercession of C.T. Studd, whom he had never met. Insistently he said he "knew" him in the Spirit as an intercessor for the gospel to go to "every creature." Studd had paid the full intercessor’s price for gaining it, Mr. Howells said. God would only pass on the baton, as it were, to another who had paid the same price, and thus would walk in the same prevailing faith and sacrifice. Rees Howells evidently foresaw what had certainly never occurred to me, that Pauline and I were being prepared and fitted for that "high calling."
The Bottom of the Barrel-Crisis
When the moment came, linked to a great crisis in the mission, God (although unknown to myself) had me prepared. This is always His way, so that no glory can come to man. In this crisis in 1931, there were severe losses and thinning down of our numbers. Pauline and I were back in England to represent C.T. and the remaining 35 workers with him in the Congo. Then the news came that our beloved C.T. had been "glorified," with his last words a three-times "Hallelujah"
The available funds were just $7 (then equivalent to 1.10 pounds) for each of the 35 missionaries for a month! It was the bottom of the barrel. We were, of course, living by our fixed practice from our beginnings of letting none know our needs but God. Here was ripe soil, indeed, for either a quick collapse or a mighty work of God. I don’t believe we could have faced it but for those lessons on the principles of intercession and faith in action which had seeped into me by my Rees Howells’ contacts.
What then could we do in such desperate circumstances? It was practically starvation level for the workers on the field, our human founder was gone to his Lord, and we two were alone on the home end. Common sense said, and such advice was given: "Find some more stable missionary group and attach yourselves to it!" But we had seen those intercessory and achieving faith principles in operation in Rees Howells, so by grace we followed through.
The intercession reality, with its "death" experience of the "first fruits to the altar," came straight to us in simple form. It had always been the custom that any of us at home should have a first share, and a bigger one, of the month’s supplies, as it was more expensive to live in the homeland than in the heart of Africa. Could we take that share, though, with only $7 per head for the field workers for a whole month?
The answer was obvious, and back came a simple solution. Why not trust the Lord alone for our personal daily needs of food, clothing, etc., according to Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God…and all these things shall be added unto you." That had looked real enough when we had been used to an allowance!
So we took the step of no longer taking any funds from the mission’s supplies but depending on God alone for all needs. We would leave what came in to be for its real purpose: the field workers. And we have not receded from that position these 60 years, though Pauline has had her sufficiency directly in God’s presence since 1981.
Actually, so low was our faith-concept at the time, that we said to each other, "Surely we shall never have any home workers with us, for who will join us on these same faith standards?" But WEC has well over 100 such home workers, behind the 1200 on the 50 fields, on all our widespread home bases of today. All are living by that same direct dependence on God and His promises.
That trusting God for our daily needs was our "death," again not pre-meditated, but just what the Spirit confronted us with at the crisis moment. And by grace we went His way. Were there tests in coming months and years? Certainly, there were many.
Once about ten of us lived for eight days with no food in the house and no money. But each day, as we gathered in our prayer room upstairs to thank God for the bread of life, the bell rang from the basement where the kitchen and dining room were.
Mrs. Edward Studd, C.T.’s mother, had had a devoted lady’s maid, then retired, who had come to live with us in a basement room. She didn’t profess any faith but did love what she called her "Hallelujah Boys"–the young men candidates for the fields.
All we knew was that three times a day for those eight days that bell rang. And as we trooped down, there was bread, cheese and tea on the table. We surely praised God for the extra in the cheese, on top of the "daily bread"!
Putting Faith into Action
It was now that we began to put faith into action, as in Hebrews 11. It was quite simple. We were four of us with Daisy Kingdon, a Congo missionary on furlough, and our new recruit. We did not rush into beseeching prayer but sat together and said to God in plain words, "What are You up to?" We were not there to express our own viewpoint or concern about our desperate condition, but to discover what His purpose was in it.
Back came the answer to my mind. I have always found God’s answers to be by the mind of Christ being in action in my mind (1 Cor. 2:16). That answer was, "What was the commission I gave C.T. Studd when he first sailed for Africa in 1913?"
We remembered that God had said to him that this "trip" he was taking to the heart of Africa was not merely for that region, but for any unevangelized parts of the world! And Studd had added as he wrote this to his wife: "To human reason it sounds ridiculous; but faith laughs at impossibilities and cries, ‘It shall be done!’"
That word coming to my mind challenged us to the same faith. So now we were in a corner! And how do you believe when in a tight spot? The solution was obviously to see how the men of the Bible acted out faith in their crises. So we turned to Joshua, feeling rather like modern Joshuas following our Moses-founder. We were such a small mission–in the one Congo field, with such a huge title, "Worldwide Evangelization Crusade."
There in Joshua, chapter one, the Spirit gave us the answer, which is still the answer today. God had given Joshua certain instructions about going in and possessing the Promised Land. But how? The conversation with God ended at verse 9. When we got to verses 10 and 11, the light shone in-and it has never gone out.
Blank Check Promises
It said that Joshua commanded the officers of his army to prepare food, "for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan"–a Jordan in flood–"to go in to possess the land." What right had Joshua to say "three days"? God’s instructions had not specified any time frame. In a flash we saw that great secret.
When we are God’s servants, in His service (which is all life, no matter what our circumstances-Col. 3:17), then God says to us, "Here are My promises, like a blank check. You fill in the amount according to the present need." We fill in the blank check. Joshua did it by predicting three days in his military assessment.
We saw this now for our missionary commission. It did not apply to the present needs of the 35 workers, for they had already trusted God for their daily needs according to Matthew 6:33. But our commission, as given to C.T. Studd, was for the whole unevangelized world. Fantastic! No wonder Studd said that only faith can laugh at impossibilities.
But how were we to put faith into action? How? By naming our existing need-spelling it out in words to God. Then, though trembling within by the apparent absurdity of it, by speaking out the word of faith-that our need was already supplied, and we said so. We said it on the given fact that God had supplied it already in the invisible, and we would see it in the visible.
We are told to "have the faith of God" (Mark 11:22, margin). What is God’s faith? We looked at Romans 4:17, and there it was in print: God calling the things that be not as though they are! And the Spirit causing us to believe, with His believing as ours.
So we did the same. We assessed what we would like as a first step for-ward into peopling the unevangelized world with those who would take them the gospel. Deliberately we said, "ten new workers" in that first year. It was our spoken word of faith.
As we met on subsequent days, we never dared to ask again! We often just laughed at the prospect of those ten coming, called of God, filled with the Spirit, taught in the Scriptures, and with the funds to take them to the field-the first reinforcement to the Congo.
Needless to say, they came: five men, five women and the last one within three days of the end of that year.
Steps of Faith–Into Unevangelized Fields
Having had our eyes opened to the principle of achieving faith, we then proceeded on year by year and need by need. In numbers, those early years, we went yearly from 10 to 15, to 25, to 50, to 75. And with the incoming recruits, we began the launch by faith into new unevangelized fields. This is not the place to go into further details beyond the simple fact that the WEC is now established in 57 fields world-wide, with 1500 missionaries.
Much more thrilling, the new marching army has now begun of our national brothers, from peoples and tribes to whom we first went with Jesus. They are now joining our ranks as "missionaries" to other peoples. There are Brazilians, Japanese, West Africans, Indians and Koreans lining up with us Americans, British, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and so on.
By the call of God in 1941, there was the birth of the Christian Literature Crusade, operating by the same faith and sacrifice principles as we in WEC. CLC now numbers 600 workers in 43 countries at 150 book centers. All literature points to Christ, and sales are in the millions of dollars.
What can we say, but what Balaam was forced to say of God’s Israel, "The shout of a King is among them" and "What hath God wrought!" (Num. 23:21, 23). It has been Paul’s word adapted to modern conditions: "Whereunto we also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in us mightily," with "many deaths working in us, but life in you" (Col. 1:29 and 2 Cor. 4:12).
The gaining of this intercession for a worldwide missionary outreach and my privileged part in it as Secretary covered 35 years, from the first word of faith for the ten to the present world-wide expansions. It was the fourth major intercession of my life. Needless to say, it involved many stresses and tensions, sometimes in the opening of closed fields, often in finances, some-times in personnel problems and losses.
Always there was relearning and repracticing of that fundamental evidence of a Spirit-led calling-that we are loving one another as He loved us. By grace we have continued together. There was the plain commission inherited from C.T. Studd, and what followed for me and my coworkers was intercession in action.
The first fruit to the altar was the ceasing at the home base to use mission monies for personal needs. Then there were many continual "deaths." We appeared to other societies and churches as a weak, unorganized, "scary" company of daring men and women. We were even called "modern Franciscans"! Usually we had not great educational backgrounds, no personal funds and not much backing from home churches. However, church backing has much changed now. There was no controlling committee, except the one C.T. Studd called our "Committee Always in Session." This Father, Son and Holy Spirit "commit-tee" (occasionally visited by a fourth, the Devil!) conveyed guidance to us by the open fellowship method.
So deaths worked in us personally and corporately, in the "foolishness of faith." But God enabling us, we went forward; and there has been and still is the gaining of this intercession.
To some extent, we have lived in the glorious condition described in 1 Corinthians 4:9-12:
For I think that God hath set forth the apostles last, as it were appointed to death, for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honor-able, but we are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.
How I thank God for being given such years of the royal Priesthood, in the authority of faith and vicarious sacrifice–commission, cost, completion.
To be continued in the next issue.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 16 No 2
- Speaking the Word of Faith
- Yes, I Am
- Editor’s Note
- Tape Talk
- Annual Business Meeting–2000
- We Accept His Calling
- Faith Lessons
- A Testimony About Myself and My Art
- Our True Rest
- Zerubbabel Focus: Alpen Acres–The Physical Plant
- Questions & Answers
- Bible Study: Word of Faith
- Z News–A New Direction
- The Mark of an Apostle
- Excerpt from The Inercession of Rees Howells
- The Worst Sin
- What I Am Not, God Is
- Seeing Life As God Sees It
- British Easter Conference
- To Think About…
- Intercession In Action
- Where Are The Men?
- The Mailbox
- You Are Complete…
- Words to Live By…