On December 25, 1766 a son was born to an impoverished Welsh shoemaker and his wife. They considered naming him Vasover, but chose instead to name him for the day of his birth. When Christmas Evans was nine his father died in his cobbler stall, awl in hand. His mother farmed out the children, and Christmas went to live with an alcoholic uncle. The boy ran with rough gangs, fighting and drinking and endangering his life. He was unable to read a word.

But then Christmas heard the Welsh evangelist David Davies. He soon gave his life to Christ, and Davies began teaching him by candlelight in a barn at Penyralltfawr. Within a month Christmas was able to read from his Bible, and he expressed a desire to preach. His old gang, however, was annoyed. One night they attacked him on a mountain road, beating him and gouging out his right eye.

The young man resolved nonetheless to preach, and preach he did. Wherever he went—churches, coal mines, open fields—crowds gathered and a spirit of revival swept over the listeners. Unable to afford a horse, he started across Wales by foot, preaching in towns and villages with great effect.

But Christmas Evans eventually lost the joy of ministry. His health broke, and he seemed to have used up his spiritual zeal. On April 10, 1802 he climbed into the Welsh mountains, determined to wrestle with God until his passion returned. The struggle lasted for hours, but finally tears began to flow, and Christmas felt the joy of his salvation returning. He made a covenant with God that day, writing down 13 items, initialing each one. The fourth said, “Grant that I may not be left to any foolish act that may occasion my gifts to wither. … ” And the eighth said, “Grant that I may experience the power of thy word before I deliver it.”

The burly, one-eyed preacher left the mountaintop that day with a power that shook Wales and the neighboring island of Anglesea until his death 36 years later. He is called the “Bunyan of Wales.”

Create pure thoughts in me
And make me faithful again.
Make me as happy as you did when you saved me.
Then I will shout and sing about your power to save.
(Psalm 51:10,12a,14b)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). April 10.

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