Evan John Roberts
Evan John Roberts (June 8, 1878-September 29, 1951), was a leading figure of the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival who suffered many set-backs in his later life.
His obituary in The Western Mail summed up his career thus:
"He was a man who had experienced strange things. In his youth, he had seemed to hold the nation in the palms of his hands. He endured strains and underwent great changes of opinion and outlook, but his religious convictions remained firm to the end."
Born in Loughor, Wales, Evan Roberts was the only son of Henry and Hannah Roberts. Raised in a Calvinistic Methodist home, he was a serious child who attended church regularly and memorized scripture at night. From the age of 11 to 23, he worked in the coal mines alongside his father.
In 1904, Roberts began studying for the ministry at Newcastle Emlyn. Attendance at a service held by evangelist Seth Joshua in Blaenanerch led to an experience that formed Roberts' belief in the "Baptism of the Spirit". In October of that year, Roberts began speaking at a series of small meetings. These appearances led to his involvement in the Revival. He was soon attracting congregations numbering thousands.
The four "points" of his message were:
- Confess all known sin
- Deal with and get rid of anything ‘doubtful’ in your life
- Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly
- Confess Christ publicly
Roberts soon succumbed to the pressure of his rigorous schedule, and, in 1906, suffered a physical and emotional collapse. Recuperating at the English estate of his patron Jessie Penn-Lewis, Roberts co-wrote with Penn-Lewis, War On The Saints, published in 1913. The book was labelled heretical by his former colleagues. Later in his life, Roberts would repudiate the work.
Though Roberts returned to Wales in 1926, the latter part of his life was spent writing poetry and corresponding with ministers of the day, rather than preaching.
Evan Roberts died in 1951 at the age of seventy-two. He was buried in a family plot behind Moriah Chapel in north Wales. Today, a memorial column commemorates his contribution to the revival.