The South Africa General Mission had been founded in 1889 to take the Gospel into the many unevangelized areas of South Africa, the first President of the Mission being the Rev. Andrew Murray. When Mr. and Mrs. Howells joined it, the mission had 170 European and African workers in twenty-five stations, reaching as far north as the southern frontier of the Belgian Congo, and east and west into untouched parts of the Portuguese territories of Angola and Mozambique. The Howells were sent to the Rusitu mission station in Gazaland, near the border of Portuguese East Africa. They joined Mr. and Mrs. Hatch who had labored there for several years and who, with others who had preceded them, had laid a firm foundation and paid a real price in taking the Gospel to the people. Mr. and Mrs. Hatch had recently been studying the subject of the Lord’s Second Coming, and giving time to the Word of God and prayer, longing for a deeper blessing in their own souls, that fuller blessing might come to their people. When, therefore, the Howells arrived, there was already preparation of heart for a work of the Holy Spirit.
The natural thing for new recruits to the mission field is to spend a considerable period in language study, acclimatization and getting generally used to life in a new country; but the people had already heard that Mr. and Mrs. Howells came from the land where the Revival had been, and straightway asked them if they had brought that blessing with them. Mr. Howells told them that the Source of all revival is the Holy Ghost, and that He could do among them what He had done in Wales. They asked him to preach about it, of course by interpretation. They had no word in their language for revival, so he told them about Pentecost: that it was God who had come down then, moving upon the hearts of men and women, and had swept multitudes into the Kingdom; and that He would do the same with them, if they were willing to repent.
In the meetings that Mr. Howells took he continued to speak to them about .Revival, and in six weeks the Spirit began to move upon the Christians. On Friday evening, when about a dozen of them had gathered in the Howells’ house, Mrs. Howells taught them the chorus, “Lord, send a revival, And let it begin in me.” The Spirit was upon them as they sang, and they continued the singing the next days in their gardens and elsewhere. As Mr. Howells listened to them, he recognized a sound he had heard in the Welsh Revival. “You know it when you hear it,” he said, “but you can’t make it; and by the following Thursday I was singing it too. There was something about it which changed you, and brought you into the stillness of God.”
That evening, as their custom was each Thursday, the four missionaries met together for Bible reading and prayer. While they were on their knees, the Lord. spoke” to Mr. Howells, telling him that their prayer was heard and the revival was coming. He called them all to rise: there was no need of further prayer: the Holy Ghost was coming down to give a Pentecost in their district. So great was the power of God’s word that every moment after that they expected the break. At every knock on the door they felt sure it was someone coming to tell them that the Holy Ghost had come. They waited thus for two days, and on the Sunday — He came. We have Mr. Howells’ own account of the days that followed:
“The Sunday was October 10 — my birthday — and as I preached in the morning you could feel the Spirit coming on the congregation. In the evening down He came. I shall never forget it. He came upon a young girl, Kufase by name, who had fasted for three days under conviction that she was not ready for the Lord’s coming. As she prayed she broke down crying, and within five minutes the whole congregation were on their faces crying to God. Like lightning and thunder the power came down. I had never seen this even in the Welsh Revival. I had only heard about it with Finney and others. Heaven had opened, and there was no room to contain the blessing. I lost myself in the Spirit and prayed as much as they did. All I could say was, ‘He has come.’ We went on until late in the night; we couldn’t stop the meeting. What He told me before I went to Africa was actually taking place, and that within six weeks. You can never describe those meetings when the Holy Spirit comes down. I shall never forget the sound in the district that night — praying in every kraal.
“The next day He came again, and people were on their knees till 6 p.m. This went on for six days and people began to confess their sins and come free as the Holy Spirit brought them through. They had forgiveness of sins, and met the Saviour as only the Holy Spirit can reveal Him. Everyone who came near would go under the spell of the Spirit. People stood up to give their testimonies, and it was nothing to see twenty-five on their feet at the same time. At the end of one week nearly all were through. We had two revival meetings every day for fifteen months without a single break, and meetings all day on Fridays. Hundreds were converted — but we were looking for more — for the ten thousand, upon whom He had told us we had a claim.”
As the news reached England of this breaking forth of the Spirit, and its spread to neighboring stations, Mrs. Bessie Porter Head, the wife of Mr. Albert Head, published two booklets. They were called Advance in Gazaland, and Retrospect and Revival in Gazaland. [ These extracts are published by kind permission of the South Africa General Mission.]
Mrs. Head started by giving some account of the founding of the Rusitu station in 1897. Several early pioneers had laid down their lives in founding the work, including Mr. Hatch’s first wife. They had been sowing for years, and as Mrs. Head said, after Mr. and Mrs. Howells arrived and the blessing had begun: “The two former (Mr. and Mrs. Hatch) have labored for many years there, truly ‘sowing in tears’ the seed of life with patience and prayer. The two latter (Mr. and Mrs. Howells) are now helping them to ‘reap with joy’ a great harvest, which is being gathered in by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God.” After describing the mighty movement of the Spirit on that first Sunday, she continues: “Meetings lasted from early morning till sunset, with only a short interval, the people weeping and confessing their sins, so that the missionaries could not put in a word, but simply wept with them and prayed for them. Sometimes everyone would be kneeling and confessing together in great agony of soul, and then one and another would ‘get free’ and begin to sing for joy. This went on day by day from Sunday till Thursday, the Spirit doing a mighty convicting work in souls and leading to confessions such as no human agency could have extorted from them…
“Hearing of God’s working in such a remarkable manner at Rusitu, an invitation was sent from the American Board Mission Station (some forty miles to the south) to Mr. Hatch and Mr. Howells to visit Mount Silinda… this is a large station with a staff of doctors, minister, school mistresses, etc… At the first meeting, at 9 a.m. on Thursday, the building was crowded, and the missionaries told how the blessing had come to Rusitu, and what were the conditions of blessing. After two or three of the Rusitu Christians had given their testimonies, crowds began to cry for mercy, and to confess their sins, the numbers being so great that it was impossible to help them all, though the meeting lasted till one o’clock in the day. All met again at 2 p.m. and there was a wonderful time, the men who had held back somewhat in the morning coming forward in confession of sin, and completely broken, down, teachers, evangelists, and scholars all praying and confessing, and this went on without any confusion, under the Spirit’s control, until sunset…
“As was said previously, none but the Holy Spirit could have made the people confess the sins which burdened them. For instance, a tall man stood up and related in broken voice the following story. In one of the native wars the young men were boasting of how they killed women, etc., so this man went and in cold blood killed a young girl. After he became a Christian, she seemed to be constantly before him, as if asking why he had killed her. As an ordinary Christian he had thought this was too great a sin to confess, and only Holy Ghost power led to the confession. He wept and wept, and said he was the chief of sinners, and was in agony of soul for hours. But what a scene when he got freed! He could only say, ‘Thank You, Lord Jesus.’ He began to give his testimony, and said that for years he had not known what peace was, and then he would break out afresh saying, ‘Thank You, Lord Jesus!’ That day about a hundred souls came to complete deliverance and victory, and on the Saturday scores came through into the new life of peace and surrender, and, instead of soul agony, the majority were praising and singing with joy. On the Sunday over two hundred had come into liberty, and there was no need for the missionaries to speak, as four or five were standing at a time each to take their turn to give testimony…
“Perhaps the most blessed outlook for the district is that God mightily met and filled with His Spirit twenty young men and women, who some weeks before the revival had offered themselves to the Lord for evangelistic work in Portuguese East Africa…
“As this brief account of God’s working goes to the press, further tidings have come to hand of the continued outpouring of God’s Spirit in the Gazaland district… During the short visit of Mr. Hatch and Mr. Howells to Melsetter, the power of the Spirit was so mighty in the meetings that white people and black were alike deeply convicted, and lives were wholly surrendered to God… The farmsteads on the road to Melsetter were visited, and six Dutch and English were converted, and four who were already Christians surrendered fully to God…
“Are not these facts encouragements to us all to ‘continue instant in prayer’, and will not God continue to show us His ‘greater things’, not only in Gazaland, but right throughout South Africa? The little flames that are already alight in different centers may by our prayers be fanned into a mighty blaze…”
Mrs. Howells now continues the story: “At the end of fifteen months, a request came to all the mission stations from the head office of the S.A.G.M. in Cape Town asking the missionaries and Africans to give half an hour every morning from 7 to 7.30 to pray specially that every station might receive the same blessing as we had experienced at Rusitu. Mr. Howells used to go to a little summer-house for this special half-hour of prayer. One Monday morning, about a month after starting to pray, I saw Mr. Howells coming in, when he had only been out a quarter of an hour, and I could see by Ms face that something marvelous had happened to him. He said, ‘I was pleading on His word, Malachi 3:10, and I saw the Holy Ghost descending.. He appeared to me. I saw Him coming down on all the mission stations,’ and the glory of God was so much on him that he was not in himself. He said he couldn’t stay on the station, but must go up to the mountain. He couldn’t be still, but for a whole day walked miles upon the mountain shouting praises to God. I followed him until I was too tired for words! He was in that glory all the week — it was so great as to be almost unbearable.”
Mr. Howells did not think that he would be the one to go round the stations, until a month later they had an invitation to a Conference at Durban, at which all the missionaries who could leave their stations were to be present; and they asked Mr. and Mrs. Howells to bring sufficient clothes for six months, as they wanted them to go round the stations. Mr. Howells so shrank from the responsibility of being the one God would use, that he said he couldn’t come. “I have only been on the field two years”, was his excuse; but the answer came back from Mr. Middlemiss, the Superintendent in Cape Town, ‘”You are a man under authority and you must come”!
Before they left to go down to Durban Mr. Middlemiss wrote and said, “I know you haven’t a banking account (he knew that they had been led to give 50 per cent of their salary away so as to continue to maintain a personal life of faith), so will you wire if you haven’t the money for your fare.” But Mr. Howells said, “No, I’ll never wire. We .are going to trust the Lord.” He regarded it as a good means of proving that the call was really from the Lord. It came to the last post before they were to leave at 6 a.m. the next day. In that post was a letter from a friend in America, who had never given them money before, sending in dollars the equivalent of ú25. So they started their journey in full assurance of faith.
There were forty-three missionaries present at the Conference. Mr. Howells hadn’t expected to take part more than anyone else, but the blessing was so great in the opening meetings that he was asked to speak every day. For about three weeks it was like a revival. Some nights the meetings went on into the early hours of the morning, and all the missionaries received a blessing. They were so full of joy that they were even singing on the street cars. By the end of the Conference the missionaries gave Mr. Howells a unanimous invitation to visit all the stations, thus confirming the intimation he had already received from the Council at Cape Town. All then went back to their stations to pray and prepare for the visit, in expectation that the Holy Ghost would fall on each station, as He had done at Rusitu.
Mr. Howells continues the story: “How could I believe that there would be scores saved on these stations, where in some cases the ground was still very stony? The enemy challenged me on this and asked me how I could carry revival from one land to another, with different languages, and hundreds of miles between them. I didn’t overcome this test in a day, there was many a hard battle, for the issues were tremendous, but I remember when I did come through. I said that there was no need to take people with the blessing from station to station, because the Holy Ghost was going in us, and He is the Author of Pentecost, and the Source of revival.
“Our journey took us over 11,000 miles, visiting five countries — Swaziland, Pondoland, Bomvanaland, Tembuland and Zululand. We were two years away from our own station.
“On the first station it was hard going the first day. The missionary told us of much backsliding in the church, even some of the deacons had been causing trouble; but on the third day, the Spirit came down and swept the place. Two of the deacons were always sitting at the back, and when the people began to confess their sins and come through to great blessing, they came up to me and said, ‘We enjoy the meetings very well, but we don’t like this confessing of sins. When it begins we feel a great pain in the back of our heads!’ ‘Quite so,’ I answered; ‘but one day it will move down a little lower into your hearts!’ ‘Do you think we need confess?’ they then inquired. ‘If you have sinned against God,’ I replied, ‘it is between you and God; but if you have sinned against the church, you must confess before the church.’ One of these deacons was named Jephthah. He went to pray and continued in prayer for about three days. Then, about one o’clock in the morning, his wife came and knocked us up: ‘Do come, Jephthah is mad with joy! Shall we ring the bell and call the people together for a meeting?’ ‘You can’t ring the bell at this hour of the night,’ I protested; but his mother went round all the people, calling them together, and at 3 a.m. the church was packed! Jephthah was blinded, just like the Apostle Paul; they had to lead him to the church, where he confessed the sins he had been committing. After that, scores were converted. His sight returned in a few days, and we took him around with us for about three months. Whenever he gave his testimony, it was like shots from a gun all the time, as one after another would go down under the Spirit’s conviction, and he never failed to get many through.
“In the next place there was a school of ninety-nine girls. They had heard that people were confessing their sins, so they met together and agreed among themselves that they were not going to confess theirs! The first two meetings were very hard in consequence, but at midnight on the second day a cry went up and they could hold out no longer. They began to confess, until ninety-eight were converted; the other one ran away. Many began to pray for their families, who had never been to a meeting.
“The next place we visited was Bethany, where the Queen of Swaziland lived. The first day we were thirteen hours in the chapel, dealing all the time with souls. On the third day, the power that was there! It wasn’t the preaching, it was the power. One African prayed, ‘Lord, give us a hundred converts in the next three days.’ Those were the believings of the Holy Ghost. The Queen of Swaziland sent for me. She asked why her people were going after my God. I told her it was because they had met the living God, and had forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. I told her that God had one Son, and He gave Him to die for us; and we had one son, and had left him to tell the people of Africa about God. She was very much affected by hearing that my wife and I loved her people more than we loved our own son. She allowed me to have a private meeting with her chief men, but said I must not look at her, but speak as if I were only talking to them! Later, in the chapel, the power of God was on the meeting, and when I tested it, fifty stood up, including the young queen, the daughter-in-law of the reigning queen. The man who had prayed for a hundred souls leapt to his feet, exclaiming, ‘Praise God for answering prayer. Fifty souls — and the queen, another fifty [we have our hundred]! But before the three days were ended, a hundred and five had accepted Christ. When we came back some time later the old queen asked to see us privately. The told us that she had just lost her daughter, who had also become a Christian, and she had died in perfect peace, trusting in Jesus. She seemed very much affected, and added that she too, in her heart, had accepted the Saviour.
“In Pondoland, on one station, I was preaching on Good Friday on the crucifixion, and the Spirit brought out those words, ‘Away with Him, crucify Him!’ It seemed as though the people saw hell opened before them, and in one mass the whole congregation rushed forward to get right with God. I was afraid they would push the pulpit over.
“At another place in Zululand where I was preaching, an evangelist was convicted of lack of power to win souls. He went out to the bush and cried all night to God. The next day he accepted the Holy Spirit. He came through most gloriously, and the outcome of that anointing was such that before very long his out-station had become greater than the main station.”
In ways like these the Holy Ghost came down on every station and gave revival, exactly as He had said He would do, and fulfilled the promise of the 10,000 souls. In Johannesburg, for instance, Mr. Howells conducted great revival meetings for twenty-one days in one of the largest churches and it was packed every night. He had to speak through three interpreters, there were so many different tribes, but that did not hinder the Spirit breaking through and hundreds coming out every night for salvation. No one was more conscious than His servant that the Holy Ghost was the Doer of it, and that it was “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.” He laid hands on hundreds under the Spirit’s power and guidance, and they came free every time. Outside the meetings he would look at his hands, see how ordinary they were, and wonder where the power came from! But he knew!
At the end of the tour, on the way back from Johannesburg to Rusitu, they had been invited by a friend to stay with him in Umtali, which was a railhead. From there they were to get the post-cart which was running to Melsetter, and then finish their journey on horseback or donkey. When they arrived at Umtali, their friend met them at the station, and told them he was very sorry he could not have them as there was influenza in the house. He suggested their going to the hotel where missionaries usually stayed. They found this would cost them 15s. a day. They had no money, but Mr. Howells said to his wife. “Let’s enjoy ourselves; I’m sure the Lord will deliver before the end of the week.” So they made a good holiday of it.
The post came by rail on Saturday evening, and they were looking to the Lord to send something by it, as they were leaving next day at 6 a.m. But when they went down to meet the train, they were told there had been a breakdown, and it was not expected that night. “We teased one another that we were not enjoying our meal that evening as much as usual[” said Mr. Howells. “We had told the hotel keeper to have our bill ready for Sunday morning. At 5 a.m. he knocked at the door and gave it us. We said we were going up to the post. and would pay him at six. At 5.30 a.m. we went, praying all the way. We had a Box number in Umtali, to which we had told some of our friends to write. ‘Is there anything in Box 32?’ I asked. The man looked and said, ‘Nothing at all, sir.’ But in a flash it came to my wife, it was not 32, but 23! There was just one letter. It had five different addresses on it. It had followed us around, and reached us on this very morning with ú30 in it. As well as the hotel bill, we had to pay ú7. 10s. for the post-cart. Although it was hard and springless, it was like the best motor-car to us. We never thought of the cart or the 140 miles — the springs, were in us!”
During their first two years Mr. and Mrs. Howells had learned the language, Chindau. On their return to Rusitu they settled in to the normal routine of an African mission station, when Mr. and Mrs. Hatch went on furlough, and they were left in charge of a boys’ and girls’ school, as well as the meetings and adults’ work. Much must be passed over of their daily experiences during these years; there was, however, one outstanding event. The revival was still continuing, but there was one special obstacle: hardly any of the married men were converted. They were bound by an age-old custom called Labola, which some think originated with Laban! The fixed price for a wife was ú25, which meant a large sum for a father with three or four girls; but a converted man could never sell his daughter, so no married men turned to the Lord. The Spirit then reminded Mr. Howells of his former intercession for a lost soul, and told him to challenge the devil on this point and use the victory of Calvary to set these men free to accept Christ.
He was building a house at the time, so he prayed that he would get married men to work on it. Six of them applied. There were prayers every morning and they were hearing the Gospel. The first guidance the Lord gave him was to ask them to come to the Sunday morning service, instead of digging in their gardens. They said they came every morning — but those daily meetings were during their working hours, and they had no objection to being paid for sitting down! He told them that it would please God much more if they came of their own accord on Sundays. They did come, and five were saved. It was the first break in the enemy’s ranks, but there were still hundreds untouched. How could God reach them?
God had a way that was most unexpected. It was the time of the great influenza epidemic which spread over the world just after World War I, and caused millions of deaths; and not long after these first five had come through, Mr. Howells heard that the ‘flu had reached their district, and many were down with it. It troubled him that this scourge should come, just when the break among the married men had begun, but the Lord said to him, “Don’t you believe Romans 8:28? Can’t you trust Me that this is a blessing in disguise?”
The Lord then reminded Mr. Howells of how, in the intercession for sick people in the village at home, he had been led to challenge death a number of times. Would he be able to challenge it again here on a much larger scale? He had already had one very sharp test since coming to Africa, in which he had been able to prove God. again for himself in this respect. It was in an attack of malaria of a very severe form. “I am sure it was allowed just to test this position,” he said, “for when you really face this enemy, you can’t make that bold challenge unless you are sure where you stand.” After many days of unabated fever, which had resisted all ordinary treatment, he was sinking rapidly, and it looked one night as if he would not live till the morning. Mrs. Howells had gone aside for a short while to pray, and while he was alone the Holy Ghost said to him, “Why don’t you ask the Father to heal you?” He thought he had, but the Spirit said to him, “You didn’t ask believing.” “I just turned over in bed,” Mr. Howells said, “and in that moment was healed. I wondered if my wife would know it. Would she have lost her burden? She came back to the room, and the moment she opened the door, she knew something had happened. ‘You have been healed,’ she said, and I laughed out and told her about it.” Three days after that he was out on trek (as they had planned they would be before the fever struck him down), and was perfectly fit; and although he worked and traveled much in malarious districts after that, it never touched him again.
But this time he was faced with death on a large scale. After their tour of the mission stations, Mr. and Mrs. Howells had been invited by Mr. Charles Murray, the son of Dr. Andrew Murray, to visit his station. But they had just been asked to cancel their visit because of the ‘flu, which had carried away two of the missionaries and scores of the converts.
At Rusitu it reached the station first. In four days they had a number down, and the heathen said it was a curse from the ancestral spirits, because of the Christians who had broken the Labola. But it soon reached the kraals also, and many were dying. In two or three days, a deputation came up from the chief and asked, “Have you had any deaths?” “No,” replied Mr. Howells. “Have you had any?” “Yes, many,” they said. “But can’t the witch doctors do anything to help you?” “Oh, two of them were among the first to go down.” “But what about your ancestral spirits?” “Our fathers never had this illness,” they answered, “so their spirits cannot deal with it.” “Quite so,” returned Mr. Howells, “the witch doctors have failed and the ancestral spirits have failed — but our God has not failed.” “Are none of your people going to die then?” they inquired. The Holy Spirit said to His servant, “Tell them that no one can die on the station.” So he answered, “No! Not one will die on the mission station.”
“I now had the victory of faith,” said Rees Howells, “and the Lord gave guidance about the way to do things. He told me to turn the chapel into a hospital, and to put fires in at night, so that the temperature was kept even. If I had not had those fifteen months of medical training, I should have been at sea; but there was no need to make a mistake. The number of cases increased till about fifty were down at a time.
“A few days later a second deputation arrived. ‘Have you had any deaths yet?’ was their first question. ‘Not one,’ I told them. ‘Are you going to have any?’ ‘No. Not one will die on the mission station.’ Would I have said that, unless I knew that the Holy Ghost was stronger than death?’ ‘Well,’ they said, ‘the chief has sent us to ask whether, if this disease comes, some of us can come to the mission station to escape death,’ ‘Tell the chief,’ I said, ‘that any of your people that want to can come to the station. We will look after them, and not one will die. But, remember this — if you come, you must admit that our God is the living God, and that He can help where the witch doctors and the ancestral spirits have failed!”
A few hours later, he saw a mournful procession wending its way towards the station — five of the worst, Gospel-hardened sinners among the married men! Slowly they came with blankets over their heads and the fear of death on their faces — their wives in the rear, carrying their sleeping mats and drinking cups. “How I praised God for my personal Guide!” he said.
After that dozens of them came up. Mr. Howells worked day and night on the people for three months. Mrs. Howells labored with him, until she herself succumbed to it. She was desperately ill for eight days, but one thing Mr. Howells told her — she could not die! At one point he felt that he was touched with it himself, fatigued as he was through lack of sleep and the prolonged trial. But just as he was attending to one of the patients, the Lord spoke to him: “If I can keep death from the station, and you are needed to look-after these sick ones, don’t you believe that I can keep the germ from overcoming you?” His faith took hold of it, and he said, “I had the victory that moment. It was then I learnt that hymn, ‘In God I have found a retreat’, where the last verse says:
A thousand may fall at my side,
And ten thousand at my right hand,
Above me His wings are spread wide,
Beneath them in safety I stand.
I found the Holy Spirit in me was stronger than the ‘flu. What it was to live with God in a plague!
“I had two cases which tested me very much,” he added. “If the devil could take them, he could take about fifty. I did everything medically for them, but I couldn’t move the temperature, no matter what I tried. So I brought them before the Lord, and pleaded His Word. The moment I got victory, their temperatures dropped and they were safe. There was not a single death.” Through a region of about twenty miles’ radius the news spread that the God of the white man was stronger than death. Conviction of sin took hold of many, and of those who came to the station many found the Saviour. The greatness of the Lord’s victory was seen in the fact that after this epidemic was over, in the meetings the whole of one side of the chapel was filled with married men. Mr. Howells said, “I told the Holy Spirit, ‘How wonderful You are! You have. preached more to the Africans in this way than through any of my words!'”
After the revival, some of their men who were full of the Holy Ghost used to go down on trek into Portuguese East Africa, between the mission station and the port of Beira. Some of the people there received blessing, and those who were converted built a little place of worship, although they had been warned by the Roman Catholics that they must not pray together. One Sunday morning six soldiers marched into the little chapel and took thirty-two of them prisoners, and kept them — men, women and children — in prison for four months. Not one of them would give in; “they had the spirit of the martyrs”. After four months, they released the women and children, but forced them to drink beer. To the six men they said that if they would stop preaching, they also could go out that day. They refused, saying that if they were released, they would preach the next day. They were kept in prison for two years, and four of them died there.
They were questioned and persecuted all the time, because their jailors couldn’t understand what it was they had. Their shouts of praise and joy used to annoy them, so they separated Matthew, their leader, and put him in with an old heathen man, a great sinner, who was always in prison. They heard nothing the first or second night, and were delighted that they had stopped the shouting. But the next night it was worse than ever — not only Matthew rejoicing, but the old heathen man shouting praises to God because he had been saved! Matthew caught smallpox in prison. He knew he was going to die, so he called all his friends together and told them he was going to be with the Lord, and that they must stand fast in the faith; then he bade farewell to them, and went home to glory.
Mr. Howells found that the only way to get a permanent footing in that country would be to buy a farm, which was offered them by a Frenchman, costing ú 1,200. When Timothy, their head teacher at Rusitu, and the others, heard of it, they said, “We will all give a third of our salary to help buy it.'” Mr. and Mrs. Howells were so touched by their example that they felt, in addition to the 50 per cent of their salary they were already giving, they should give a further thank-offering of ú100.
Soon after this, when they were on furlough, Mr. Howells was telling in a Convention about Matthew and what had happened in Portuguese East Africa. He didn’t say a word about money, but he hadn’t been speaking five minutes before a woman in the hall stood up and said, “I’ll pay for that farm.” The Lord told Mr. Howells not to take all that money, because she was under the influence of the meeting, so. he said to her afterwards, “I don’t expect you to give more than I give — ú100.” Her brother then said he would give ú100, and two other people came and said they would give ú100 each. He went to Birmingham and again had a gift of ú100. He went to Dundee, and one morning under his plate found ú100. Again in Glasgow another man said, “If Matthew gave his blood, I’ll give you ú100.” Altogether he had ú1,100 in ú100 gifts. In the end that actual farm was not bought, but several centers were opened in the territory.
So ended their period in Africa. “It was perfect victory,” said Mr. Howells. “I don’t think we had anything to cause us an hour’s trouble, and for both my wife and myself, they were the six happiest years of our lives.”