When I was a child, Sundays were spent having a midday roast and watching WW2 war movies on our only TV station. My father was a 4th generation New Zealander of mixed German and English descent (half and half), so I’d ask him which half was winning. He didn’t think it was funny. No-one of his generation with German blood did after WW1 or WW2.
Not all Australians or Kiwis are descended from the British, and there were ANZAC soldiers who fought against their own relatives. It was a bad time under the Nazi jackboots where the devil rampaged through Hitler, and Christians in Europe were swept up in the conflict. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12.
The war movies never showed us the battles that went on behind the scenes in the Kingdom of God. The King raised up intercessors in that time to carry out His will and fight against the enemy in the spirit realm.
One of the intercessors was a man called Rees Howell, a convert from Wales. He was caught up in the power of the Welsh revival that swept throughout Wales in 1904, transforming communities as thousands joined the body of Christ. The powers of darkness were forced back as the Kingdom of God advanced forcefully. He realised there was a great need to be able to intercede for the new converts to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rees and his wife Elizabeth Howells were commissioned to build and sustain the largest Bible College in Wales by prayer and faith alone. At that time, the founders had only two shillings, (NZ 20 cents).
During World War II, he would lead his Bible College in intercession to defeat the Nazis. He and 120 intercessors vowed to give their lives over “to fight the battles of the Kingdom, as really as if called to fight on the Western Front.” As the Nazis poured through Europe, the College stood daily before God. Rees Howell said “We are going up to the battle, and I am as sure of victory as of the dawn. If you know you have faith for something, would you not go on until you got it? I would like this to ring out to the world: ‘The Lord, He is the God!'”
After Holland fell Britain stood on the brink of invasion, and the advancing German Army had trapped the British and French armies on the beaches around Dunkirk, 330,000 men, and they were a sitting target for the Germans. The beach at Dunkirk was on a shallow slope so no large boat could get near to the actual beaches where the men were. Due to war-time censorship and the desire to keep up the morale of the nation, the full extent of the unfolding “disaster” around Dunkirk was not publicised.
However, the grave plight of the troops led King George VI to call for an unprecedented week of prayer. Throughout the country, people prayed on 26 May for a miraculous delivery. May 29 was the day of the evacuation of Dunkirk. Mr. Howells said, “Let us be dear in our prayer that the intercession is gained. The battle is the Holy Spirit’s. See Him outside of yourselves tonight. He is there on the battlefield with His drawn sword.”
Hitler’s first mistake.
Hitler overruled his generals and his armoured columns at the very point when they could have proceeded to the British army’s annihilation. Churchill believed this was because Hitler undoubtedly believed that his air superiority would be sufficient to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea.
A storm of unprecedented fury broke over Flanders on Tuesday, 28 May, (1940) grounding the German Luftwaffe squadrons. Despite the storm in Flanders, a great calm settled over the English Channel during the days which followed, and its waters became as still as a mill pond. It was this extraordinary calm which enabled a vast armada of little ships, big ships, warships, privately owned motor-cruisers from British rivers and estuaries – in fact, almost anything that would float – to ply back and forth in a desperate bid to rescue as many of the men as possible.
General Haider, Chief of the German General Staff, three days after the High Command had so proudly boasted that the British Army was about to be annihilated, recorded in his diary on 30 May that ‘Bad weather has grounded the Luftwaffe, and now we must stand by and watch countless thousands of the enemy getting away to England right under our noses.’
Hitler’s second mistake.
The next battle of intercession was over the air-raids, and the crisis of the “Battle of Britain. Churchill tells how he visited the Operations Room of the R.A.F. On September 15. He watched as the enemy squadrons poured over and the R.A.F went up to meet them, until the moment came when he asked the Air Marshal, “What other reserves have we?” “There are none,” he was told. Churchill looked grave. The Luftwaffe were about to win the battle.
Then another five minutes passed, and the Luftwaffe turned for home. The shifting of the discs on the table showed a continuous eastward movement of German bombers and fighters. No new attack appeared. In another ten minutes the action was ended.” There seemed no reason why the Luftwaffe should have turned for home, just at the moment when victory was in their grasp. But we know why.
1941 January 28, Rees Howell’s journal stated, “Believed for the protection of the country.” This was followed by the remarkable petition: “Lord, turn the enemy down to the Mediterranean”, and thus relieve the pressure on Britain, by turning Hitler’s attention in another direction. Just over two months later, war was declared by Hitler on Yugoslavia and Greece, and this was followed by the invasion of Crete and North Africa.
Hitler’s third mistake.
The next prayer was greater still. “Lord, bring Russia into the war and deal with Communism.” Six weeks later, without a word of warning, Hitler swung round and invaded Russia. If anything was seen to be an intervention of God to help the Allies, it was that. The secular papers spoke of it in the words of the pagan proverb, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”
The enemy had made two attempts to occupy the Bible lands, the first via Crete, which brought the prayer from the Spirit that the Nazi hordes should be turned against Russia; and the second via. North Africa, which had resulted in the divine intervention in answer to believing prayer at El Alamein.
“Unless God will intervene on behalf of Palestine,” said Mr. Howells on July 4,1942, “there will be no safety there for the Jews. These Bible Lands must be protected, because it is to these lands the Saviour will come back. If I had the choice today, I would say to God, ‘Take all I have, but preserve Palestine.’ We want to say to God today, ‘unless there is a special reason for Egypt to fall, don’t let Alexandria be taken, but give Rommel a setback.’
Between Rommel’s men and Alexandria were the remnants of a British army, fifty tanks, a few score field guns, and about 5,000 soldiers. The sides were equally matched, with the Germans holding the advantage, because of their superior 88 mm. guns, until the Afrika Korps surrendered. 1,100 men of the 90th Light Panzer Division, the elite of the Afrika Korps, came stumbling across the barren sand with their hands in the air.
Cracked and black with coagulated blood, their swollen tongues protruding from their mouths, they crazily tore water bottles from the necks of the British and poured life-giving swallows between their parched lips. The Germans had been twenty-four hours without water, when they overran the British defenses and found a 6-inch water pipe. They shot holes in it and drank deeply. Only when they had taken great gulps, did they realize that it was sea water. The pipe had only just been laid, and the British had just started to test it. Fresh water was never used for tests on pipes, it was too precious. “The day before, it would have been empty. Two days later it would have been full of fresh water…” (Source Major P. W. Rainer, Pipeline to Battle.)
I have extracted much of this from the book “Rees Howell Intercessor by Norman Grubb, which can be read or downloaded here: http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/rees-howells/
John R. Mott, Nobel Peace Prize winner, said” The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.