For the first twelve months after the opening of the College everything was a great success. There were five tutors and thirty-eight students; news of the College was in all the South Wales papers, and at the end of the first session a Convention was held which was attended by about forty ministers. But no work of God can become established unless it goes through the fire. Just because of its rising popularity, God had to take the College into death, so that it should have none to trust in except Himself; just as years before, He had taken His servant personally from popularity and the public eye into the hidden walk which few understood.
During the summer vacation the Lord had been showing Mr. Howells that He was not entirely satisfied with the College. There was worldliness among the students and unwillingness for the standards of faith and surrender which the Holy Spirit had said were to be presented and maintained in the College. The Lord warned him that trouble was coming, but that through it He would purge the work, to His own glory. Even so, it was not realized quite how severe the test would be.
Shortly after the opening of the second session there arose a sharp internal conflict, which ultimately reduced the personnel to a staff of two and five students. There would be not profit after these thirty years in attempting to go into details. Wounds in the body of Christ are always grievous, and put us in the dust at the feet of Him who died to make us one. Yet God has wonderful ways of bringing good out of evil, and He did that for the College. So far as Mr. Howells himself was concerned, God gave him one definite word: “Where there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth”, and he would not allow a word to be spoken to him against those who had left. The Lord recalled the position He had brought him to of being able to love the missionary in Madeira, and, without needing weeks to come up to it this time, he found he was able to pray for God’s blessing as much oil those who had left as on those who had remained.
For twelve months they didn’t have a single lecture, and many thought the College would never rise again. But the time was spent shut in with God in prayer, and they were able to prove that the work did not depend on human support or popularity. “Through this experience,” said Mr. Howells, “the College was put on the Rock of Ages; on a foundation that no man nor devil could ever shake.” Remarkably enough they had seldom had big gifts up till then, but from that time onwards God began to send in larger sums of money.
Five years later, for the fifth anniversary, on Whit-Monday, 1929, Mr. Howells published the first printed report. In it he said:
We want to give you a brief account of what has been accomplished during the last five years through faith anti believing prayer. Thousands were watching the Outcome of this venture of faith — a College without a committee, council, denomination, or a wealthy person behind it. No appeal was to be made for finance; one of the chief aims was to strengthen the faith of God’s people by giving” a visible proof that He is the living and faithful God… The needs of the College as it stands today run up to nearly ú5 a day (nearly ú35 a week). During the last three years it has been a rare case to have means in hand to meet our necessities for three days together. It has been the Father’s will to teach us the way to trust Him each morning for the day’s need, to give a practical demonstration of the words: Give us this day our daily bread. These years have been a time of great financial embarrassment in the world; scarcity of money and financial pressure have made men’s hearts to fail, and many have not been able to stand the strain: but the Lord has been proving to us day by day, that living faith is above circumstances; no delays can discourage it, no loss of friends nor depression in trade can touch it.
During this period the Lord has allowed us to be tested beyond our strength; often pressed out of measure, above strength… that we should not trust in ourselves. Our faith has grown with the work, and we have proved over and over again that all the testings have been for the purpose of strengthening it. If we were able a few years ago to take the challenge to build a College when we only had two shillings, and by now have received ú8,000, without a single appeal, this in itself is a great encouragement to trust still more.
We have six tutors on our staff, four of them having taken their degrees in different universities of our country; the other two are outstanding ministers in the town. We have thirty students in the College, men and women, who have been called by the Holy Ghost, and have gladly entered the school of faith. Tuition is given free, and the board and residence made as low as possible. Through the gifts sent in to the College in answer to believing prayer, we have been able to give it for nearly half the actual cost.