Christmas Evans lived in terror of death from the time he was nine years old until he discovered he could have peace in Christ Jesus. Born into a poor Welsh family, he'd been sent to live with a uncle when his father died. The alcoholic uncle was cruel to the boy, worked him hard and completely neglected his education. In his heart, the boy knew there had to be something better and trembled for his soul. Eventually, he fled from his uncle's farm and found a job with a pastor.
Although the pastor denied Christ's divinity, he taught enough truth that Evans learned to trust in Jesus for salvation of his soul. Immediately the young man wanted to read the Bible for himself. A few friends bought Bibles and they read together by candlelight. Within a month Evans had mastered reading. He then studied Latin for six months in his pastor's school. That was his entire formal education but he went on to teach himself Greek and Hebrew.
Soon after he became a Christian, Evans stopped drinking with his buddies. The fact that he distanced himself from their ways made them angry. Six of them jumped him one night and beat him. He lost the sight of one eye in that attack. A dream about judgment day awakened in him a fervent desire to tell other people about the freedom a heart-change brings. The Holy Spirit gave him power to preach and he preached his way across Wales. Sometimes whole towns followed him from village to village, listening to ten or fifteen messages. Revival broke out in Wales.
After many years of success, Evans became bogged down in teachings that treated Christianity as a gaggle of rules. The power evaporated from his preaching. The churches he had built began to fail. He felt wretched inside.
On this day, April 10, 1802, Evans had had enough. "...l was...climbing up towards Cader Idris, l considered it to be incumbent upon me to pray, however hard I felt in my heart and however worldly the frame of my spirit was. Having begun in the name of Jesus, I soon felt as it were, the fetters loosening and the old hardness of heart softening, and, as I thought, mountains of frost and snow dissolving and melting within me. This engendered confidence in my soul in the promise of the Holy Ghost. I felt my whole mind relieved from some great bondage. Tears flowed copiously and I was constrained to cry out for the gracious visits of God...This struggle lasted for three hours. It rose again and again, like one wave after another, or a high, flowing tide driven by a strong wind, till my nature became faint by weeping and crying..."
Evan's last years were troubled. Although hundreds were converted wherever he went, disagreements also broke out. This was partly owing to his inability to share power, partly owing to his easy interpretation of Calvinism. He became nearly blind. He kept at the work anyhow. Preaching a sermon on Pentecost, he told the congregation that it would be his last. That night he took sick and died shortly afterward.
- "Christmas Evans." The Baptist Page. http://www.baptistpage.org/Portraits/evans.htm.
- "Christmas Evans 1799 - 1838." The Christian Bookshop. http://www.christian-bookshop.co.uk/free/biogs/cevans1.htm.
- Shaw, Solomon Benjamin. The Great Revival in Wales: also an account of the great revival in Ireland in 1859. Chicago, Ill.: S. B. Shaw, 1905.
- Various reference and internet articles.
Last updated May, 2007.