Meanwhile, Mr. Howells had written to Mr. Albert Head, who was chairman of the South Africa General Mission, as well as being chairman of the Keswick and Llandrindod Conventions, and offered for the mission field. He told him about the healing of his uncle and Joe, and he received a letter from Mr. Head asking him to come up to London and meet the Council of the mission, and to bring Joe with him.
The morning they left for London, he and Mrs. Howells only had ú2, and she needed money that very day. But, as usual, “First need, first claim.” As he was going before the post arrived, he had the claim on the money, and he comforted his wife by saying that more would be sure to come in the post! Joe and he arrived in London with only five shillings, having taken single fares. Mr. Howells met the Council the next evening, and he and Mrs. Howells were accepted for the field. A meeting had been arranged for him the following day by Mr. Head, where he was to speak on intercession. The Lord blessed, and when he left the day after, as Mr. Head shook hands with him, he said, “The Lord has been speaking to me through you. I have never ‘kept’ a missionary before, but God has told me to keep you as my missionary. No one else is to support you, and while you are preaching in Africa, I will share in the harvest!”
Before they took their return train, they had lunch with some friends, and as they left, an envelope was put into Mr. Howells’ hand. When he opened it at Paddington, there were five golden sovereigns inside. They had arrived with five shillings, but were leaving with five pounds! “The Lord has only done for us what he did with the water that was turned into wine,” Joe remarked. “He has just changed the color!” They had a praise meeting when they arrived home, Mrs. Howells telling how the ú2 came half an hour after he had left. “There is nothing in the world better for strengthening one’s faith than testings]” was Mr. Howells’ comment.
Later, they .both left for Scotland, where Mrs. Howells was to take a year’s training in the Faith Mission. Shortly afterwards, he left her there and went on to London for a nine months’ medical course at Livingstone College. Here again there were many trials of faith, and deliverances. His special friend at the College, with whom he had close fellowship in the Spirit, was Mr. Harold St. John of the Brethren, who became well known later as a Bible teacher. They used to get up at five o’clock each morning to wait on God, knocking on the wall between them to wake each other. Meanwhile, Mrs. Howells had all her needs supplied in Scotland; Mr. Howells never once had to send her anything. “We were in the school of faith,” he said, “and there is nothing to be compared with having to be delivered to keep you abiding: you will never do it without.”
On one occasion he only had a few days in which to get ú20. This was needed for Mrs. Howells’ admission to a maternity course in the City Road Hospital, for which she was coming down to London. There was another student, a Cambridge graduate, who had been saying openly that he had never prayed a prayer that had brought a direct, definite answer. So, Mr. Howells invited him to join in this prayer for ú20. He had never heard of praying for money like that and expecting it to come. They were to pray for two hours one afternoon, each in his own room. The young man was exhausted at the end of it! he had never known time go so slowly; he said the two hours were like two months! Mr. Howells did not pray through in ‘the afternoon, so suggested that they should go back for a further two hours in the evening. “What!” exclaimed his friend, “four months’ hard labor for £20!” However, he agreed to try again if Mr. Howells thought he could be of any help. Before the end of this second period of prayer, Mr. Howells went to his room, and said, “You don’t need to pray any more, I am through.” “Have you got the money?” he said. “No, but I have got the faith, and the money will come.” Late that night they were taking a walk together, when this student suddenly stopped, leant against a fence and roared with laughter. “What are you laughing at?” Mr. Howells asked. “I was just thinking of the chap who will have to give that ú20.” He had seen it. Two days later Mr. Howells received two ú10 notes. What a blessing it was when he went to his friend’s room and held them up for him to see! It became quite a habit of the Principal of the College to invite Mr. Howells in to tea whenever he had any special visitors, and ask him to relate some of his experiences of faith.
Some people wondered why Mr. Howells studied medicine, after the Lord had given him such wonderful eases of healing. But the point was, as has already been mentioned, that he never was opposed to medicine. The principle he had found in a life of intercession was that “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity”, and most of the cases he had were when medicine had failed. Commenting on this, Mr. Howells said that he had only refused to give medicine in one case, and that was when Samuel was born and his wife was gravely ill. The Lord had told him she was not to take medicine. “What a test it was!” he said. “It was a fight of faith for me and a fight with death for her. I never shook in my position. The one thing I knew was that the Lord told me. I said to my wife, ‘You are not to take medicine, and you are not to die.’ At our extremity, in our reading one morning, the words ‘Have faith in God’ stood out in golden letters. We believed, and from that moment she began to get well.”
On the general subject of medicine and faith, Mr. Howells said: “To tell other people not to take medicine, when we are not sure of our guidance, is nothing less than tragedy, if they die. But I know of cases where people were guided not to take medicine and had victory all through their lives. One was Lord Radstock, who gave me many instances of how the Lord had honored faith. Another was A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, who proved over and over again that there is healing in the Blood. In cases of giving medicine, it depends wholly on guidance; if the Holy Ghost leads a person not to give it, He will be sure to make up for it. We were both guided to take a course in nursing and medicine, and the proof was that the Lord had to answer prayer to enable us to do so. After we had finished our training in Edinburgh and London, the Lord opened the way for me to be a dispenser with a doctor for six months, and my wife to take a maternity course, both of which proved most useful on the mission field.”
About a week before they sailed, they received money from the mission to pay their expenses to London, but they needed some things to complete their outfit, and once again the rule was applied — first need, first claim. “There is always a tendency to keep money, so as to get out of God’s testings,” said Mr. Howells, “and we tried our best to do it this time! Anyway, we had to spend the money, and all the people of the place thought we were well supplied. So we were, up to that week, and we thought money would be sure to come the day before we were to leave for London; but the last post came and no money, and our train was leaving before the post next morning. We thought it would be very hard to say good-bye to my uncle and aunt and little Samuel, but the burden for the train money made the parting a little easier! That is often the way with the Lord; when we have a very hard thing to do, He will burden us in another way to make the former one easier.
“Next morning, it was not so hard to part with our parents, because we had to walk to the station without the money! We felt sure that it would come on the station platform, but no, the time came for the train to leave. What were we to do? There was only one thing possible. We still had ten shillings, and we must go as far as we could with it, then our extremity would be God’s opportunity. We had to change trains at Llanelly station, about twenty miles from our home, and wait there a couple of hours;” so without letting anyone know, we only booked as far as that. There were many people at our home station wishing us all the good things, but what we needed was money to go to London! Many also came as far as LIanelly, singing alt the way. The thought that came to me was, ‘I’d sing better if I had the money!’
“We went out to breakfast with some friends at Llanelly, and there walked back to the station still not delivered; and now the time for the train had come. The Spirit then spoke, to me and said, ‘If you had money what would you do?’ ‘Take my place in the queue at the booking office,’ I said. ‘Well, are you not preaching that My promises are equal to current coin? You had better take your place in the queue.’ So there was nothing I could do except obey. There were about a dozen people before me. There they were passing by the booking office one by one. The devil kept on telling me, ‘Now you have only a few people in front of you, and when your turn comes, you will have to walk through. You have preached much about Moses with the Red Sea in front and the Egyptians behind; but now you are the one who is shut in.’ ‘Yes, shut in,’ I answered, ‘but, like Moses, I’ll be gloriously led out!’ When there were only two before me, a man stepped out of the crowd and said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t wait any longer, but I must open my shop.’ He said good-bye and put thirty shillings in my hand! It was most glorious, and only a foretaste of What the Lord would do in Africa, if we would obey. After I had the tickets, the people who came with us to the train began to give gifts to us, but the Lord had held them back until we had been tested. We were singing all the way to London!”
On their arrival, Mr. Head asked them to breakfast the next morning. He then told them that he had ú50 for them, but he didn’t post it. “Thank God, you didn’t,” said Mr. Howells, adding to himself, “I wouldn’t have been without the test in the queue for anything.”
They had all their outfit except three things: a watch, a fountain pen, and a raincoat each. They had never mentioned these things to anyone, but at breakfast Mr. Head asked, “What kind of watches have you?” and told them that his son, Alfred, wanted to give them a watch each. He then asked, “Have you prepared for the rainy seasons in Africa? Have you got good rain-coats?” When they said they hadn’t, he told them to go and get one each, and wrote down an address on a card, saying that they were to get them at his expense.
After writing the address, he asked, “Have you seen this kind of fountain pen?” “No,” they replied. “You must take one each with you,” he said — the three things they had named to the Lord, he named to them!
Mr. Head asked them to come to breakfast the following morning again and to take prayers. He suggested that Mr. Howells should tell the servants a little of his experiences of faith. “You used to have a life of faith, some time ago, didn’t you?” he said. “Yes, and quite recently too,” answered Mr. Howells, and told them about standing in the queue. Mr. Head could hardly breathe, waiting to hear how he got out of it. “I have never heard anything like it,” he exclaimed; but Mr. Howells told them he hadn’t finished yet, and that what had happened at Corrie Lodge the previous day in that very. room was better still; and he told them the story of the watches, raincoats and fountain pens. “I prefer this to ú1,000 said Mr. Head; “to know that the Lord can guide me like this in my giving.”
So they left England on July 10, 1915, after a glorious victory, knowing that the One who had called them into this life was able to deliver in all circumstances.