Friday, November 07, 2008

Mr Matthews

The following has been excerpted from Bethan Lloyd-Jones' Memories of Sandfields, pp. 77-78:

...Mr Matthews deserves honourable mention. He was a farmer all his life, in the Vale of Glamorgan, starting as a farm hand in a tied cottage. Like many of his contemporaries in the same walk of life he had never been to school, and from a child knew nothing but hard work. He had grown up and married and brought up a large family of children on the princely sum of 9 shillings a week!

He had been gloriously converted in the 1904-5 revival, when, I think, he was nearer seventy than sixty. He had seen and felt the Holy Spirit working in great power and the wonder and the glory of that revival never left him. But he could not read and was conscious of a great deprivation in not being able to study the Bible. Now he had come to live, in retirement, with his married daughter in Harrow. She was a sincere Christian, as was her husband. They had three beautiful children and the family attended an English church. Mr Matthews had no English and he was a member of the Welsh church which we as a family attended.

One day my mother told us that Mr Matthews was going to learn to read, and would be coming every morning for lessons. We were greatly intrigued. Perhaps we found it hard to believe that anyone should want to have lessons! However the pupil came and, after all these years, I can see them now in my mind's eye.

In our old-fashioned house we had what we knew as 'the drawing room'. It opened into a glass house which we grandly called 'the Conservatory' and in one or other of these rooms they would sit. As our baby brother would say, 'When it's fine they sit in the "d'awin' moon" and if it's wet, in the "scuvetry"!' Of course, the large-print Bible, opened out on the table between them, was a Welsh one and Welsh is a phonetic language. In no time at all Mr Matthews was reading, slowly and haltingly at first with a finger picking out the words, but soon with ease and great delight. When he first picked out the word Iesu (Jesus) he broke down completely, and with the tears running down his cheeks, and crying, 'Oh, his name, his blessed name!', he picked up the book and kissed that name.

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