Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Christ Shall be Magnified:' Mrs. Laura Thomas V

The church to which Nathaniel Thomas was called, Tabernacle, the Hayes, Cardiff, was an old and prestigious cause. Christmas Evans, the famous one-eyed preacher of Wales had once occupied the pastorate, and its position, in the centre of Cardiff, reflected its importance. The building illustrated was not built until 1862, but stands on the same site as the original.
The contrast between quiet, religious Carmarthen and Cardiff could not have been more pronounced. The town (as it then was) had recently begun the growth spurt that would see it surpass all other towns in Wales. It was neither settled nor quiet, but full of life and vice. The town was expanding mushroom-like, and the churches were failing to keep pace. Unlike the drink traffic, which dominated Cardiff then as it does now. Vice and intemperance were rife. It was not safe to go outsode in Cardiff after dark, and on one occasion the Pastor and his wife were woken up by the sounds of a murde taking place in the street outside. Later that night another murder took place in the same street. At first Mrs. Thomas must have wondered just what she had exchanged the settled nature of Carmarthen for, but soon the realisation of the darkness that pervaded the city moved her to give her all for the 'spirits in prison.'
She made the prostitutes who haunted the city a particular area of her care. As a woman, she was able to speak with them without raising any wicked gossip or rumour, and shared with them the Gospel of the sinners' friend. Hers was not the piety stereotyped in novels and in the activity of the busybodies, those who knew her noting that what she showed was real. If the counterfeit coin caused many to be disgusted with Victorian piety, her very real piety attracted sinners, just as the real love of her saviour had attracted sinners.
Children, too, were drawn to her. And, as we shall see, her work among the young people of Cardiff was blessed abundantly.



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