Tag Archives: Welsh Revival

William Fetler, the Welsh Revival, and Early Russian Pentecostalism

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 25 July 2019

St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was in the midst of social turmoil in the 1910s. A decade of civil unrest and strikes, followed by the communist revolution, toppled the ruling czar. Political assassinations and mass uprisings became commonplace. Compounding these problems, the First World War led to high prices and a scarcity of food and other consumer goods. It was into this chaotic situation that William Fetler, a Latvian Baptist pastor, became a Pentecostal pioneer in the Russian capital city.

William Fetler (1883-1957), born in Latvia, was the son of a Baptist pastor. As a young man he worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper in the Latvian capital of Riga. He was quite sharp and had mastered seven languages, four of which he could speak fluently. He felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Spurgeon’s College, the ministerial training school in London founded by noted Baptist Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon.

Fetler was profoundly touched by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) during his time at Spurgeon’s College. The Welsh Revival, which lasted only for about a year, resulted in over 100,000 converts to Christ. The revival, which included enthusiastic worship and miracles, left a lasting imprint on the religious landscape of Wales. Evan Roberts, the primary leader in the Welsh Revival, was asked by the Spurgeon’s College principal if he had a message for the students. Roberts replied, “Tell them to live near to God. That is the best life — near to God.”

William Fetler took that message to heart and was never the same. He felt a great burden to see revival in Russia and Latvia. He would spend the rest of his life working to see Latvians and Russians come to Christ. After graduating with honors in 1907, he moved to St. Petersburg. He found a ready audience with nobility who were already believers, including Princess Lieven, Baron Nicolay, Madam Tchertkoff, and others. His impassioned preaching in multiple languages attracted large audiences. He raised money for the construction of a large “Gospel House” in St. Petersburg.

The Welsh Revival fed into the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Fetler rejoiced at the news of this latest spiritual outpouring. What had been somewhat localized in the Welsh Revival became a worldwide movement in Pentecostalism. Fetler maintained his Baptist identity and also worked within the Pentecostal movement and became a regular speaker at Pentecostal conferences across Europe.

Events in Russia overtook Fetler’s St. Petersburg ministry. Government officials viewed him with suspicion and kicked him out of Russia in 1912. Fetler recounted persecution in Russia, as well as healings, visions, and miracles he witnessed in an article published in 1916 in the Weekly Evangel. He moved back to his native Latvia, where he led a thriving congregation. Fetler, possibly the best-known Latvian pastor in the West, wrote a book about his life experiences under the pen name Basil Malof. Fetler, along with his wife and their 13 musically-gifted children, became legendary figures in Latvian church history. Sensing that war was imminent, Fetler gathered his family and moved to America in 1939. He founded the Russian Bible Society in 1944 and spent the rest of his life advocating on behalf of Eastern European Christians, raising money for Bibles, missions, and relief.

The testimony of William Fetler is a reminder that Pentecostalism has deep roots in Europe. Fetler melded his training at Spurgeon’s College in London with the Welsh Revival and became a noted advocate of the emerging Pentecostal movement, all while retaining his Baptist identity. He set the stage for the development of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Latvia, and became a prominent voice in the West on behalf of Eastern Europeans.

Fetler experienced many disappointments and much persecution over his decades of ministry. But when one door would shut, it always seemed that God would open another. Fetler lived out his belief that the best life was to live close to God, and as a result he changed the course of history for countless thousands of Christians in Russia and Latvia.

Read Fetler’s article, “Pentecostal Power in Russia,” on pages 4 and 5 of the July 22, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tithing,” by E. L. Banta

• “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Weekly Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Missions

Elizabeth Sisson’s 1905 Vision of a Worldwide Revival


This Week in AG History–May 30, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 28 May 2015

Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934), a prominent evangelist, church planter, and writer, recalled that she “wept for joy” after reading reports in both secular and religious newspapers about the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905.

Twenty years later, Sisson recounted her memories of the revival in Wales in a Pentecostal Evangel article. She was ministering in San Francisco in 1905 when she first learned about the revival. Friends from London mailed her daily newspaper headlines that carried news of a powerful move of God that filled churches across the small nation located adjacent to England. She wrote that “God had captured the English press” and had “taken possession of the church buildings irrespective of denomination.”

Sisson soon sensed that the Welsh Revival was part of a much larger movement. She recalled, “One day God spoke through my whole being, ‘This is not a Welsh revival; this is the beginning of a world-wide revival.'”

Before the Welsh Revival, Sisson had never before heard of a worldwide revival. In her estimation, previous revivals had been largely regional phenomena. She wrote, “The phrase ‘world-wide revival’ staggered me.”

Sisson opened up an atlas and ran her finger over every country on the maps. She prayed over each nation and felt impressed that she needed to be prepared to take part in the great harvest of souls. She wrote that she sobbed with joy when she realized that she would be privileged to participate in “the immensity of God’s harvest plan of Pentecost.” She anticipated that millions of people would accept Christ in the coming revival.

This prediction came true; the Welsh Revival was one of a series of overlapping revival movements that rapidly spread across the national divides. The revival in Wales helped to spark the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which became one of the focal points of the global Pentecostal movement.

Sisson recognized that missions was an essential aspect of this coming revival. How would this great harvest of souls occur? She wrote that “the provision of the fullness of His Spirit” was meant “for all believers,” so that each Christian “might disciple other disciples.”

Sisson went on to become a respected leader in the Pentecostal movement and transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1917. Her admonition to the readers of the Pentecostal Evangel in 1925 still rings true today: “every blood-washed soul that hears these words” is called to be a part of this “world-wide revival.”

Read Sisson’s entire article, “Reminiscences,” on pages 4-5 of the May 30, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Also featured in this issue:

• “Rising into the Heavenlies,” by Smith Wigglesworth

• “Love Triumphant,” by Violet Schoonmaker

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Church

Welsh Revival Leader: America Must Do These Four Things to Prepare for Revival

Evan Roberts, leader of the Welsh Revival

This Week in AG History–November 3, 1945
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 03 Nov 2014 – 5:22 PM CST

The Pentecostal movement emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, resulting from a series of overlapping revivals that occurred around the world. One of those revivals, the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905, witnessed the transformation of the small nation of Wales. In less than one year, over 100,000 people had accepted Christ. Saloons, dance halls, and other places of entertainment emptied out, and churches were filled with people seeking God.

An American journalist, George T. B. Davis, traveled to Wales and wrote a firsthand account of this remarkable revival. An abridgement of his story, titled “Memories of the Welsh Revival,” was published in the November 3, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Evan Roberts was the most prominent leader of the Welsh Revival. At 26 years old, Roberts was an unlikely leader of a national movement. He was a coal miner by trade and had just completed three months of ministerial training. Davis recounted that Roberts had an encounter with God that changed the trajectory of his life: “the Spirit came upon [Roberts] in such power that he felt impelled to return to his native village of Loughor and tell the people about God’s love for them.”

Roberts followed God’s leading, and revival broke out. Davis described what happened next: “as [Roberts] spoke, the fire fell from heaven upon the community. The people were so stirred that they crowded into church after church, and remained until four o’clock in the morning. The flame spread from district to district throughout South Wales with almost incredible swiftness, and soon scores of towns were being shaken by the power of God.”

Davis had the opportunity to meet Roberts and asked him if he had a message for America. Roberts grasped Davis’ hand and told him the following: “The prophecy of Joel is being fulfilled. There the Lord says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.’ If that is so, all flesh must be prepared to receive.”

Roberts told Davis that four conditions must be met in order for Americans to be prepared for revival: “(1) The past must be clear; every sin confessed to God, any wrong to man must be put right. (2) Everything doubtful must be removed once for all out of our lives. (3) Obedience prompt and implicit to the Spirit of God. (4) Public confession of Christ.”

News of the remarkable Welsh Revival spread across the Atlantic Ocean and helped to spark the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. The Azusa Street Revival became one of the focal points of the emerging Pentecostal movement, which gave birth to the Assemblies of God. And it all began because a 26-year-old coal miner listened to the voice of God and told people in his small village about Jesus.

Read the entire article, “Memories of the Welsh Revival” by George T. B. Davis, on pages 8 and 9 of the November 3, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Shall We Surrender the Fort?” by P. C. Nelson

* “Upspringing Health,” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

* “The Rescue of a White Slave,” by Cora L. Vinal

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

1 Comment

Filed under Church, History

William Fetler, the Welsh Revival, and Early Russian Pentecostalism

William Fetler
This Week in AG History–July 22, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 21 Jul 2014 – 4:28 PM CST.

St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was in the midst of social turmoil 100 years ago. A decade of civil unrest and strikes, heightened by an emerging Marxist political movement, threatened to undermine the ruling czar. Political assassinations and mass uprisings became commonplace. Compounding these problems, the advent of the First World War led to high prices and a scarcity of food and other consumer goods. It was into this chaotic situation that William Fetler, a Latvian Baptist pastor, became a Pentecostal pioneer in the Russian capital city.

William Fetler (1883-1957), born in Latvia, was the son of a Baptist pastor. As a young man he worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper in the Latvian capital of Riga. He was quite sharp and had mastered seven languages, four of which he could speak fluently. He felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Spurgeon’s College, the ministerial training school in London founded by noted Baptist Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon.

Fetler was profoundly touched by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) during his time at Spurgeon’s College. The Welsh Revival, which lasted only for about a year, resulted in over 100,000 converts to Christ. The revival, which included enthusiastic worship and miracles, left a lasting imprint on the religious landscape of Wales. Evan Roberts, the primary leader in the Welsh Revival, was asked by the Spurgeon’s College principal if he had a message for the students. Roberts replied, “Tell them to live near to God. That is the best life — near to God.”

William Fetler took that message to heart and was never the same. He felt a great burden to see revival in Russia and Latvia. He would spend the rest of his life working to see Latvians and Russians come to Christ. After graduating with honors in 1907, he moved to St. Petersburg. He found a ready audience with nobility who were already believers, including Princess Lieven, Baron Nicolay, Madam Tchertkoff, and others. His impassioned preaching in multiple languages attracted large audiences. He raised money for the construction of a large “Gospel House” in St. Petersburg.

The Welsh Revival fed into the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Fetler rejoiced at the news of this latest spiritual outpouring. What had been somewhat localized in the Welsh Revival became a worldwide movement in Pentecostalism. Fetler maintained his Baptist identity and also worked within the Pentecostal movement and became a regular speaker at Pentecostal conferences across Europe.

Events in Russia overtook Fetler’s St. Petersburg ministry. Government officials viewed him with suspicion and kicked him out of Russia in 1912. Fetler recounted persecution in Russia, as well as healings, visions and miracles he witnessed, in an article published in 1916 in the Weekly Evangel. Fetler, possibly the best-known Latvian pastor in the West, wrote a book about his life experiences under the pen name Basil Malof. He moved back to his native Latvia, where he led a thriving congregation.

Read Fetler’s article, “Pentecostal Power in Russia,” on pages 4 and 5 of the June 22, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Tithing,” by E. L. Banta

* “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Missions