A Welsh minister has purchased 12 abandoned chapels in a bid to restore them to their former glory. So far, Rev. Robert Stivey, a Congregationalist minister, has invested almost $250,000 of his own money (primarily an inheritance from his mother) in the derelict buildings. Most of the church buildings are former Baptist chapels. Calling his venture an “act of faith,” Stivey says he feels a strong desire to bring the aging sanctuaries to life, filling them once again with the sounds of Christian worship.
Many years ago, while visiting the Welsh valleys, Stivey was appalled to see many chapels being closed down, turned into flats, or demolished. “I felt I’ve been called to do something about this,” he told the BBC News. “These chapels must be saved and reopened and used again for their original purpose.”
Wales has a rich history of spiritual awakening. Evan Roberts, a young preacher, prayed for revival in Wales for 13 years, seeing few results. But in 1904–1905, a revival broke out that resulted in the salvation of 150,000 people across the nation and the spread of the gospel halfway around the globe.
So, can it happen again?
“I don’t think we’re in revival time yet to fill these chapels,” Stivey admits, “but there are people out there who are willing to listen to the gospel. . . . I see no reason why we shouldn’t start small and build up over the years.”
Stivey knows that some people think he’s crazy to undertake such a daunting task. “I may not personally reopen them all, but at least they’ve been saved from demolition . . . and they’re ready for other Christian workers perhaps to come along and take over where I’ve finished,” he says.
Prayer Connect magazine, Issue 39