On the completion of the six months’ intercession for Captain Gosset by Easter, 1910, Rees Howells was free to go back to a normal life, but the Lord gave him the offer of continuing in a hidden ministry for another four months to gain some other places of intercession, one being for the child widows of India, whose sufferings were so great under the prevailing system. He chose to continue the hidden life, because, he said, “the fellowship I had had with the Lord Himself surpassed all I ever had with man; also I had not finished going through the Bible with the Holy Spirit. The hardest thing in my life had become the sweetest.”
The Lord then pointed out to him that these widows were living on only a handful of rice a day, and reminded him of the law of intercession, that before he could intercede, for them, he must live like them. So his diet was to be one meal of oats (porridge) every two days, “which the devil was apt to call pigs’ food!” He was to give up bread, tea and sugar, and have a pennyworth of milk every two days, the whole costing less than 1s. 6d. a week. The Lord also told him to leave home and live in rooms, ‘as his mother could never have stood his living on so little. He knew fully that before it could be completed, he would have to come to the position where he never wanted to change. Could the Holy Ghost so alter his taste that the food he was now to take would be as satisfying to him as the excellent food he was used to in his own home?
“What pangs of hunger I had,” he said afterwards. “The Lord doesn’t make it easy for you. He doesn’t carry you through on eagle’s wings, as it were. The victory is that you come up through it. I remember the feeling I had the first day, when I had no bread at all. I would have given anything for a crust. When you take the place of another, you take the. suffering of another, you have to walk every inch of it. As every meal-time came round, there was nothing for me. The wonder is that I didn’t go under to it and give in. Only Ezekiel was my friend, and all I could say was, ‘How did he do it?'” (Ezek. 4). Nor must it be thought that intercession for Mr. Howells merely meant costly acts of obedience. With his own pangs, there went up a continual cry to God for the relief of the sufferers whose burden he was carrying.
He continued this for ten weeks, and it took ten days to get victory. He saw that the point of fasting is to bring the body into subjection to the Spirit. “Each fast, if carried out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, means that our bodies become more equipped to carry burdens,” He began the day at 5 a.m., with no food all day, then sleeping on the floor, up again at 5 o’clock and going another day without food until 5 p.m. “I would have gone on like that all the days of my life to release those widows of India,” he said. And when he did get victory, one meal in two days had become the same to him as having three meals a day. “I knew I was gaining a victory for the Lord,” he said, “whereby He could release those widows.” It is a significant fact that with India’s Independence and new Constitution in 1949, at least a legal change has been made in the laws of inheritance for the benefit of widows, and that a new day has dawned in the general emancipation of women. Who knows what contribution this time of intercession made to this release, and indeed to the open doors throughout all India today for the spread of the Gospel?
In this period of intercession, the final positions of fasting to which God called him were first to one meal every three days, and then to a total fast of fifteen days. By the seventh day of this, he said, “I was going on happily and wasn’t touched by it. I was exactly the same the seventh day as on the first. I hadn’t exhausted my strength at all and didn’t feel the need for food,” but the Lord told him then that the intercession was gained and the fasting could finish, although he himself wanted to complete it.
During these final months of intercession, an incident took place which Mr. Howells always considered to be one of the greatest experiences of his life. Up on the Back Mountain, his invalid Uncle Dick was still living at Pentwyn, the grandparents” old home. On New Year’s day, before going to visit him, Rees Howells ran upstairs to his room. It was his habit before going out to ask the Lord to shelter him under the Blood and to lead him to anyone who needed his help. But that morning, quite unexpectedly, the Holy Spirit spoke to him: “It is the Father’s will to restore your uncle.” It seemed “too good to be true, and too great to believe” — that after all these thirty years his uncle should walk again as other men.
When he arrived at Pentwyn, his uncle, who was always eagerly awaiting his weekly visit, asked him the usual question: “Anything new from the Lord?” “Yes,” answered Mr. Howells, “and it is about you.” “About me!” was the surprised reply. “Have I done anything wrong?” “No, but the Lord has told me that it is His will to heal you.” We can only imagine what that news must have sounded like in his ears. All he could say was that he must go out and see the Lord’ about it. After a quarter of an hour in the little garden at the back, he returned with his face radiant. “Yes,” he said, “I am to be healed in four and a half months, that will be on May 15.”
If they had left it indefinite and not committed themselves to a date, it would have .been much easier to make known the healing in public, but the point the Holy Spirit pressed home was that it was to be as much of a reality to them then, as it would be to other people after it became a fact. “Faith is the realization of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1. Roth. Trans.). “This was not a case of the fight of faith,” said Mr. Howells, “but of standing still and seeing the salvation of the Lord.”” The intercession had been gained in the long six months’ battle for the consumptive woman, and “gaining it once meant gaining the position; it could be used in any other case the Holy Ghost wanted.”
So the great news was made known that week, and soon became the talk of the district. Many pitied his uncle and said he had allowed himself to be led astray. Some came to ask why the Lord had said four and a half months, instead of a month or a week or a day. “But those things we did not understand and therefore did not try to explain,” said Mr. Howells. “People are always asking ‘why?’ The only thing that could be said was that ‘the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets’, and God gave that date.”
Two weeks after it was made known, his uncle took a turn for the worse, and was in bed for a month, and people said that instead of being restored, he would be in the grave when the day came! Although he was very ill: the Holy Spirit warned them not to pray. If they did, their prayers would be prayers of doubt. Indeed the Lord had told his uncle, instead of praying for those ten hours a day, to prepare for the public work that would come to him after the healing.
Two weeks before the date of the healing, the Lord made it known to Mr. Howells that he was to leave home for a few months, and that after telling his uncle, he was not to visit him again until after the healing; because it was not God’s will that any man should take praise from it. When he went down to Pentwyn, his uncle asked, with the glory of the Lord on his face, “Has the Lord told you why He said four and a half months, and May 15, it will be Whit-Sunday. And He is healing me in memory of Pentecost. He has told me that I am to be healed at 5 o’clock in the morning and I am to walk to chapel and back (a distance of three miles) for the first time in thirty years!”
As Mr. Howells had been going to visit his uncle every week, and now wasn’t to go again, naturally the first thought that would come to everyone’s mind was that he had run away and left his uncle in the lurch. “We laughed all day at the greatness of the divine plan,” he said, “and our keynote for those last two weeks continued to be, ‘Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord with you.'”
On the night before Whit-Sunday, his uncle was as bad as ever. Every night between 1 and 2 a.m. he had to get up, being unable to remain lying down, and he had to do it that morning. It was the last attack of the enemy, who whispered, “It is all up. You are just the same now as any other night, and you have only got three hours.” But one minute is quite long enough for the Lord. He went back to bed, and a deep sleep .came over him. The next thing he heard was the clock striking five, and he found himself perfectly restored: He called the family up, and there was such a solemn awe in the house that they were afraid to move, realizing that God Himself had done that great act that very hour. When the time came to walk to church, the devil suggested that he should take a walking stick in case he needed a little support, and he had to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
He arrived at the church, and they had “another cause for thanksgiving on that Thanksgiving Sunday.” People from all parts of the district came next day to see him, and the Welsh correspondent of The Life or Faith, the Rev. Wynne Evans, wrote an article in that paper about the wonderful healing.
Mr. Howells had invited two of his friends to come a distance of nearly ten miles to have tea with him that Whit-Sunday. They came through his uncle’s district, actually passing the chapel he attended in the morning, but heard no news of his healing. Mr. Howells also had had no word. It was a day of testing; and the one topic at the tea-table was: Had Uncle Dick been healed? Although his best friend failed to hold out in his believing, God kept His servant steady until eleven o’clock on Monday night, when some of his friends called out under his window, “”It was marvelous to see your uncle in chapel.” They thought he knew all about it, as they had sent word to him on Sunday; but the messenger entrusted the giving of the message to another, and it never arrived.
Mr. Howells’ comment was, “If I had doubted, would I have rejoiced? The Lord will never give the witness unless we believe; and if we believe, we can afford the delay. To me there was something greater than the healing, it was the further confirmation that the position of intercession had been gained, and could be used in any case where God willed it.”
His uncle was appointed a kind of honorary home missionary in the district, and during the next five years visited every house within a radius of three miles over and over again, and opened many a prayer meeting. He walked eighteen miles with his nephew one day, and never had a day’s illness after his healing, until the Lord called him home, after telling him that his work on earth was done.