This is the final post in a short series on Rees Howells and the intercession of Wales Bible College during World War 2. Links to the other posts are found at the bottom of this page.
As Rees Howells and the students, professors and guests interceded daily for the suffering of World War 2, God brought specific crises and circumstances to their hearts. Many of their prayers are documented in Norman Grubb’s book Rees Howells, Intercessor.
What world crisis could you be praying about today?
Grubb records two final prayer burdens, for the invasion of Italy (“The Miracle at Salerno”) and for D-day. The Allied landing at Salerno had been savagely counterattacked by German Panzers, which were temporarily halted close to the shore by a destroyed bridge. Historian Robert M. Citino writing at history.net says:
“Just a few thousand yards away, General Clark was spending a worried night. . . . ‘It was obvious,’ Clark later wrote, ‘that we had barely escaped disaster.’ Although he would later deny it in writing, he was thinking about evacuating the beachhead. Many critics have accused him of having a case of the jitters, and maybe he did. The entire army was jittery. During the course of the fighting that day, Clark had received a call from General Dawley. It was the very moment of the breakthrough, and German troops were fanning out all over the rear areas. ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Clark asked. ‘Nothing,’ Dawley answered. ‘I have no reserves. All I’ve got is a prayer.’
These were hardly comforting words, yet even as they were spoken the tide of battle was beginning to turn. The Allies had begun assembling an avalanche of men and materiel that would all but destroy their German adversaries over the next few days.”
Concerning that same moment, Norman Grubb quotes Dr. Symonds
“the Director’s voice [was] trembling with the burden of his message, and scarcely audible, as he said, ‘The Lord has’ burdened me between the meetings with the invasion at Salerno.’ I believe our men are in great difficulties, and the Lord has told me that unless we can pray through, they are in danger of losing their hold.’ The awe of God settled down upon us, for this came as a complete surprise, there having been no official news to this effect on the wireless, . . . and we ourselves having previously had some rejoicing that Italy was at last on the point of being delivered from the Fascist and Nazi tyranny. Before long we were on our knees crying to God for Him to intervene; The Spirit took hold of us and suddenly broke right through in the prayers, and we found ourselves praising and rejoicing, believing that God had heard and answered. We could not go on praying any longer, so we rose from our knees and began to sing praises, the Spirit witnessing in all our hearts that God had wrought some miraculous intervention in Italy.”
D-Day, June 6, 1944
The whole world knew the Allies would soon open a second front by invading France. Rees Howells and the Wales Bible College were not given insight into the timing, but on May 7, 1944 Rees Howells wrote:
“I am speaking at a time when 5,000,000 men are facing the Second Front. These young men from America are in our country waiting for the invasion, and many thousands may be lost. In Verdun the French lost 1,000,000. If I am not called up to fight, and I know another way to help them and I don’t do it, I ought to be killed instead of them. They are facing death, and anyone who has faced death knows it is a serious thing, and they are facing it for you and me. If they suffer more than we suffer for them, it will be our lifelong shame. If there is a Second Front next week, is there a God in heaven who can intervene?
In another meeting God gave the assurance to the College that on “D” Day . . .
“He was going over before our troops, and they would not have a set-back.” “The believing was so strong that we were able to take it,” wrote one who was present. “After the burden we had been carrying, the relief was so great that I went to my room, fell on my knees and burst into tears. They were tears of joy and sheer relief from a tremendous tension. It was just as real to me ‘then as if the whole Second Front had been established and the victory actually won.”
On June 6, the day of the opening of the Second Front, Mr. Howells read with great
approval General Eisenhower’s Order of the Day to the assault troops, in which he said,
“The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you… let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking”; and still more, the wonderful speech of the King, which he broadcast to the country, solemnly calling his people to prayer and dedication, when he said, “Surely not one of us is too busy to play our part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide, vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”
In the meeting Mr. Howells said:
“If there is going to be a Day of Prayer, it ought to be a day of victory and moving God.” And in his own prayer at the end of that meeting, thinking of the assault troops already landing in Normandy, he prayed, “If You hadn’t intervened at Dunkirk, not one of us would be here today. So lay a burden on us, don’t allow us to be slack. If Hitler had won, Christianity, civilization and freedom, would have gone. Oh Lord, protect and keep our men.! Don’t allow us to pray any differently from what we would if we were on the front line. We do believe the end of this will be victory.”
What are you praying about?
A skeptic could look at these moments in the greatest war the world has ever known and cobble together a human explanation for each of the Nazi reversals or Allied successes. But there is no virtue in being a skeptic. Faith can see in each of these things the intervention of God in answer to prayer. Lewis, possibly, would encourage us to limit our prayers to our immediate personal and relational circumstances, to pray that we will do our duty toward Him and toward others. Rees Howells would not deny this duty, but would call us to pray for God’s victories in the battle to bring His Good News to all people.
So what are you praying about today? As I write ISIS (the Islamic State of Iran and Syria) has just accepted an alliance with Boko Haram, the radical Islam terrorist group from Nigeria. One website called this “an alliance from hell.”
Two weeks ago ISIS released a video of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive, and shortly after that a video of 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded. Apparently they feel that single beheadings are no longer grabbing the right amount of media attention. Earlier their sister organization, Boko Haram, ravaged several towns in Nigeria, killing thousands.
The Lord has laid it on my heart that radical Islam is purely evil, an instrument of Satan to halt the spread of the Gospel. If so, I must pray – and I am praying – that God will miraculously halt and reverse this evil. I invite you to pray with me, just as Rees Howells invited all of Wales Bible College to pray. If our prayers are answered, there will undoubtedly be human explanations. Only God will know the truth.
This is part four of a short series on the intercessory ministry of Rees Howells and the Wales Bible College
Salerno, D-Day – and ISIS (this post)