Friday, March 09, 2007

John Pugh XI: The Splott Campaign

Visible from Clifton Street, the Splott district of Cardiff teemed with life, and with sin. John Pugh yearned to reach out to the sinners of Splott. At first, Pugh met with nothing but indifference. Still, Pugh went ahead with his plans, procuring a plot of land close to the centre of Splott in 1891, planning to erect a tent there. His opponents viewed this with scorn by many, one critic declaring: "You might as well try to demolish the rock of Gibraltar with boiled peas as to convert the people of Splott in a tent."

Pugh was not discouraged, far from it. By this time a name of an ally had come to him: Seth Joshua of Neath. Converted from a labouring background about ten years earlier, Seth and his brother Frank had established a mission at Neath. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Joshua came to Pugh and offered his assistance. The partnership that would lead to the conversion of many hundreds, had begun.

Together, the two evangelists set about putting up the tent, borrowed for the purpose of evangelism. The sight of these big men erecting a tent at the centre of Splott drew interested observers. One of the rougher characters of Splott paused to ask what was going on. He approached Seth:

"Hullo, guvnor," he asked, "what's this, a boxing show?"

"There is going to be some fighting here," Seth replied.

"When are you going to start?"

"Tomorrow Morning at 11am."

"Tomorrow's Sunday."

"Well, better the day, better the deed."

"Who's on?"

"I've got to take the first round."

"Who's with you?"

"He's a chap called Beelzebub."

"Never heard of him, who's he?"

"Oh, he's a smart one I can tell you. Come tomorrow morning."

"I'll be there."

Others asked whether the meeting would resemble those of the Salvation Army, 'with tambourines and the like.' Pugh replied that the meeting would be bereft of such innovations, consisting of singing and preaching: 'red-hot from the heart.'

On the day, Seth Joshua took the morning and evening services, while Pugh, occupied in Clifton Street for the normal services, preached in the afternoon. The man who had spoken to Seth was there, although he must have known that this was a Gospel service. From the first hymn, 'all hail the Power of Jesus' name,' the Holy Spirit began to work on his heart. He was converted that day.

From 5th May, 1891, until the 13th October, when the tent was destroyed in high winds, the Holy Spirit worked mightily under the canvas. Hundreds of men and women were converted. Crowds flocked to the tent, and a separate tent for the children was erected. It was clear that the work had to go on, tent or no tent.



Post a Comment

<< Home