OPERATION DYNAMO, THE DUNKIRK EVACUATION WAS INDEED A MIRACLE.
#Dunkirk #DunkirkMovie #OperationDynamo #PowerofPrayer #Intercession #PrayerIntervention #ReesHowells
Here we are in July of 2017, and a new block buster film has opened, a film on the evacuation of Dunkirk, when 330,000 allied troops, British, French and Belgians were evacuated by the Royal Navy, and a fleet of civilian water craft and boats, any vessel that could be dispatched from England to bring troops back to England safely. The Royal Air Force (RAF) flew air cover over the beaches and piers where the troops awaited rescue. The skies and winds were fierce but the intermittent breaks allowed for the rescue to continue.
For the oddest of reasons, Hitler’s first blunder of the war (the hand of God intervened) was to hold back the German panzer divisions and simply encircled the beaches, while Goering the head of the German air force (Luftwaffe) boasted that his planes would bomb the allies into surrender. The Germans failed. The Royal Navy launched Operation Dynamo, a coordinated effort bringing together the Royal Navy, the RAF, Royal Navy Reserve, and 700 civilian water craft to rescue as much of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force). The allies prevailed against impossible odds. The world watched aghast and mesmerized awaiting the fate of the British, French, and Belgians.
While the world watched, Christians around the world, and particularly across the United Kingdom and the British Empire and the Dominions, were praying
There was an army of intercessors praying that God would intervene and protect the United Kingdom, and that it would be saved to fight another day and overtake the enemy of the world and fight for victory of a demonic enemy and the embodiment of evil itself in the person of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi hordes. Rees Howells, a Welshman and a devoted Christian began his real work when he returned to his beloved Wales and established the Bible College of Wales in 1924. The college came into its own as the Second World War started and Howells gathered intercessors to pray with him against the spiritual forces at work in the world at that time. Howells understood the the words of Paul in the book of Ephesians 6, where he wrote: ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.
These Christian intercessors would listen to the world news on their radios and then gather to pray. They learnt to see world events transformed through prevailing prayer. They followed this method and process as the war began and expanded, and when the Phony War (no land battle between September 1939 t0 May 1940 in France), Howells and the intercessors began to pray in concert and focus for God to deliver the United Kingdom from the grip of Hitler’s offensive through the lowlands, Belgium and France on 10 May 1940 onward.
Using the same principals as George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, and many others, for raising funds – at the time Rees Howell only had two shillings (ten pence) in his possession – he established the Bible College in Swansea, and also a home for missionaries children, and a refugee centre for Jewish children escaping the Nazi terror.
This endeavour by Howells was a family affair which involved his wife and his son Samuel, ‘Praying through’ with Rees, as he prayed strategically interceding for God’s intervention for His righteousness to reign supreme in the events taking place in the war. When Howells was nearing his death in 1950, Rees turned to Samuel and said, “Whatever you do, stand and maintain these intercessions.” For the next fifty plus years, Samuel was faithful to this commission as he developed as an intercessor and man of faith.
Like many times throughout human history, when people pray and seek the divine intervention of God, humble themselves, God hears and answers prayer in often dramatic ways
God’s heart is moved by heartfelt expressions of earnest prayers, and His arm is extended to bring about his purposes in the world. In ways beyond description, God stirs hearts and people to action. He gives instruction and direction, and will intervene, both by using individuals as well as through direct means, even using weather and the natural elements to do his bidding.
The movie, Dunkirk, by Christopher Nolan, is an epic made on a grand scale, with sound and cinematography that will assail the senses and draw the audience into the moment of what it would have been like to be there on the beaches, on the sea, and in the air, and what it was like to be at home while all this was happening.
But the movie doesn’t tell the whole story
Here below is one chapter out of the biography about Rees Howells understanding and application of biblical intercession
This is the whole chapter in the book concerned with the prayer movement that took place before and during Dunkirk, and records how people prayed for God to rescue England and hold back the Nazis from achieving victory. It only goes to show that prayer and trusting in the God of the Bible actually changes human history. Prayer matters. Prayer changes people. Prayer changes circumstances. Prayer releases the power of God to accomplish his will in the lives of people and in the history of nations. Nations that prayer can be saved. Imagine what could happen today if we were concerted in our prayers for our nations.
Here below is the chapter of the book. The PDF version of this book can be downloaded from this link.
CHAPTER 34 – INTERCESSION FOR DUNKIRK – REES HOWELLS: INTERCESSOR BY NORMAN GRUBB
During the four years previous to the outbreak of World War II, as we have already seen, the Lord was changing the burden on Mr. Howells from local concerns, centering on the development of the College, to national and international affairs. As he said, “The world became our parish and we were led to be responsible to intercede for countries and nations.” We have also seen how the Lord was preparing in the company at the College a special instrument of intercession for the coming world crisis.
It was in March, 1936, that Mr. Howells began to see dearly that Hitler was Satan’s agent for preventing the gospel going to every creature. As he said later, “In fighting Hitler we have always said that we were not up against man, but the devil. Mussolini is a man, but Hitler is different. He can tell the day this ‘spirit’ came into him.” For several years Mr. Howells stressed the fact that God must destroy him, if the vision of the Gospel to every creature was to be fulfilled.
At first, he believed that God would prevent war altogether. We have seen how the College fought through on their knees during the Munich crisis and how they believed for peace.
As the clouds over Europe grew darker, Mr. Howells still believed that God would intervene and prevent war. He stood to his prediction right up to the day of the declaration of war between Britain and Germany on September 3, 1939. Even then he was not moved. Although people said that the prediction was wrong, he thanked God he had made it. “If I had a choice again about making this prediction,” he said, “I would make it to-night, although it ‘has gone much farther than we thought it would. Hitler must be put out of the way’, because if he isn’t, he will come up again in another two years. I want to know that the Holy Spirit is stronger than the devil in the Nazi system. This is the battle of the ages, and victory here means victory for millions of people.”
On the day of the declaration of war, he published the following statement: “The Lord has made known to us that He is going to destroy Hitler and the Nazi regime, that the world may know that it was God and God alone who has scattered the dictators. Three and a half years ago, the College prayed this prayer for weeks and months, and we firmly believe He will now answer it. He has isolated Germany so that He may get at this evil system, which is the Antichrist, and release Germany, the land of the Reformation. He will deal with the Nazis as He dealt with the Egyptian army in the time of Moses. God will cause Hitler to fall on the battlefield or by a mutiny or a great rising in Germany against the Nazis.”
So far from the declaration of war shaking him and those with him, it only sent them more determined than ever to their knees. They were now called in a new way to pay the vow they had made three years before — to give their lives over “to fight the battles of the Kingdom, as really as if called to fight on the Western Front.” This stand of faith against war in order that the Gospel might not be hindered, was proved to be God’s way of placing upon that company a responsibility from which they could never come free, until the enemy that God was dealing with should be destroyed.
When, after a month of hostilities, an offer of peace was made by Hitler, the College stood with the Prime Minister in stating that war must be continued, “until Hitlerism is overthrown,” even though, like so many more, the College had much to lose by its continuance. The conviction of the College was expressed in the title of a book which Mr. Howells wrote in the opening weeks of the war, and which was published in December, 1939, called: God Challenges the Dictators — Doom of Nazis Predicted. In it he said, “The God of Daniel will deliver Pastor Niemuller, and the hundreds of other German Evangelicals, who have followed him to the concentration camps… their places will one day be occupied by the fanatical Nazi leaders, if any of them escape a speedy death.”
After an indictment of Mussolini, he stated, “When victory over Germany comes… Ethiopia should also be given back to the Ethiopians, and this may also be in God’s divine plan to evangelize Ethiopia.” He also declared that “Bolshevism and Soviet Russia are being used in the plan of God to break the evil Nazi regime”; “but of Stalin he said, “The devil has used and may yet use this man to be the greatest foe to the Church that the world has ever known.”
Although his confidence was that God would intervene to deal with the enemy, he wrote, “We may have many a set-back before He does so… it may be that we, like the Israelites (referring to Judges 20), will have to cry out to God in our extremity for the help which will certainly come.”
It is truly remarkable to look back now and realize that these things were in print before the end of 1939.
Shortly after this, Mr. Howells made a further prediction, which was published by The Western Mail on January 8, 1940, under a headline of “Welsh Bible College Director Urges Prayer to Stop War”. It quoted him as saying: “If all the righteous in the country will send up effectual prayer, we feel sure that we shall prevail and open Penllergaer on Whit-Monday without war or blackout… what a relief to millions of people if God will intervene and bring the war to an end by Whitsuntide.” Little did he imagine when that prediction was made, that the days around that Whit-Sunday, May 12, were to be the blackest in the history of our nation, and the nearest we had come in nearly 400 years to the invasion of our shores; for on May 10 Hitler’s armored columns broke in on Holland and Belgium, and May 29 was that never-to-be-forgotten date in our history, the Dunkirk evacuation, to be followed shortly after by Mr. Churchill’s memorable call to “blood and sweat and toil and tears.”
In spite of this apparent set-back, as we read the diaries of the daily College meetings, three meetings on most days, we find ourselves among certainly not a fearful, not even chiefly a praying company, but rather among those who are already on victory ground, when all around men’s hearts are failing them for fear; and what gave them such clarity and assurance that theirs was the victory, was the outward “death” of the prediction! If we say God was not with them, we may well ask ourselves this question: “Was there anywhere else in the whole of Britain or America or elsewhere among God’s people another such company, maybe a hundred strong, who were on their knees day by day, holding fast the victory by faith, while our soldiers across the water were retreating mile by mile, whole countries surrendering, and the enemy within sight of their goal?” From this time on, through all the years of the war, the whole College was in prayer every evening from seven o’clock to midnight, with only a brief interval for supper. They never missed a day. This was in addition to an hour’s prayer meeting every morning, and very often at midday. There were many special periods when every day was given up wholly to prayer and fasting.
In the meetings just before Whit-Sunday, Mr. Howells said: “Through God we made the prediction, through God we stand to it, and through God we are going against the enemy. He tells me tonight, ‘Don’t you fear because of that prediction you have sent out, don’t you fear the Nazis.’ I think what a glory it is that we don’t need to change our prayers one bit, in spite of the present developments. I am so glad that it has been the Kingdom we have had before us all the time in the last nine months, and I haven’t a single regret. The Lord has said, ‘I am going to deal with the Nazis.’ It has been a battle between the Holy Spirit and the devil which we have been fighting for four years.”
On Whit-Sunday, when, instead of peace being declared, only two days before, Hitler had invaded Holland and Belgium, Mr. Howells said in the College meeting: “We shall never defend the prediction. The point is, can God put a doubt in us who have really believed? If the Lord tells you that this delay is for His glory, then you must take victory in it. There is no glory in delay, unless there was faith to put it through. I would be a different man today if there was failure, but the Holy Spirit is not a failure. I can really thank Him for the delay. I wouldn’t be without this experience for the world. Very strange that what is death in the eyes of the world, is victory to the Holy Spirit.”
The next day he said, “We could never have had a greater death than in this prediction being delayed. But we are not going to have resurrection on one point more than has gone to the cross. I preached victory yesterday without a visible victory. There is a death in every grade, but as really as you die, there will be fruit to a hundred-fold. “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!’”
As the Nazis poured through Europe, the College stood daily before God: We quote from notes taken of Mr. Howells’ messages in the meetings:
May 16, 9.80 a.m. The clay after Holland had surrendered: “To-day is probably the greatest battle in history. Can God do something today? Now when the Germans say, ‘We have got the Allies on the run’, can God do it? Keep your eyes on God today and get this victory. 2 p.m. The Lord has made very plain that the victory is from Him and no one else, and He is to have all the glory. God gets at the enemy visibly and invisibly, through the army and through us. 5.30 p.m. The position is most serious in France, but even if the French and British are fighting against such great odds, the Lord is well able to help them.”
May 17, 9.30 a.m. “God will not do a bit more through you than you have faith for. The victory last night was in seeing that no matter how near the enemy came, the Holy Ghost is stronger than he. You are more responsible for this victory today than those men on the battlefield. You must be dead to everything else but this fight. 1 p.m. Because you have committed yourselves, you are responsible. You will never have peace again, until the world has peace, but you have a place in the cleft of the Rock. 8.30 p.m. We are here until these Nazis are put out. 7 p.m. If the Lord finds us quite willing in this death-life, and that we have got victory in the test, will He allow us to prevail upon Him now to finish it? If we believed last Saturday, we are believing tonight. I am not willing that thousands of our boys should be lost, because there has to be the ‘doom of the Nazis’, and it will come now if we can prevail. If this had been a failure, God would have been against us, but He shows he is pleased with us.”
May 18, 9.30 a. m. “Unless God intervenes today in a miraculous way, I believe we have lost. I would be willing to die, but I cannot afford to die, neither can we afford that Hitler should live. 2.30 p.m. I want to fight with this enemy again this week-end, as if it were the end of civilization. You don’t leave anything to chance in this. Don’t allow those young men at the Front to do more than you do here. I do ask Him to bring a real disaster on the Nazis this week-end. 6.30 p.m. As the Lord gave us the prediction, and we have had victory in it, and the delay has not changed our faith a bit, then we must come back and ask Him when He is going to do it. I feel to-night that whatever these Nazis do, they cannot escape the Holy Spirit. Christianity is quite safe. If you have faith, you can leave it in His hands, and He will intervene in the right time. We can’t inquire when He is going to do it, if we haven’t got faith for Him to do it. 9.30 p.m. It is not you struggling, but God doing, and you coming to know what God is doing. Is it God Who has drawn Hitler across that line with his 2,500 armored cars? I want the Lord to discomfit this man and those armored cars.”
May 19, 9.30 a.m. “These Nazis will not destroy civilization. When they get near enough, God will deal with them. When the Holy Spirit has gone to the victory side, you could never convince the man or woman who has gone to the victory side with Him, that He is a failure. 9.15 p.m. Now is the best time to test the Bible in wars, because we are in one ourselves.”
May 20, 9 a.m. “The next 24 hours will be the crisis in this great battle. They are ready to take our country at any moment. Even before lunch-time the history of the world may be changed. Such a thing as this has not happened to us before, and you do not know how much faith is needed. We’ are coming to the Lord this morning, and telling Him our eyes are on Him today. Unless He intervenes, we are lost. I don’t doubt the Lord for one second, but I must be very careful. 2.30 p.m. I think tonight of sending the book, God Challenges the Dictators, to Mr. Churchill to encourage him at this moment. The army is losing ground every day, but in the book it has been said that man would not be able to end this; but that God has said, ‘Don’t expect Me to do it, until you get to your extremity.’ The only thing we want the Lord to make plain to us is, are we up to the place He wants us to be at this moment? The only thing I want is not to doubt in the time of crisis, and it is going to be a real crisis. 7 p.m. To-day I have sent the book to Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and Mr. Churchill — in the darkest hour.”
May 21, 9 a.m. Fear of Invasion. “Yesterday was the darkest day in the history of this country, especially after the Prime Minister’s speech. Everyone in town is expecting the enemy to invade this country. We have told the Lord, ‘Our lives for victory’. We ought to pray now for the Lord to stop them coming over to this country. 2.80 p.m. We must pray for the Lord to keep the enemy in check. He is like a roaring lion. 7 p.m. The French Premier says tonight, ‘It is only a miracle that will save us.’ The test is, whether the Bible is true. I am willing to risk my life to prove it, and I want to tell you tonight that it is quite true. See that your believing is right, and if it is, you don’t need to have any fear.”
May 22, 9 a.m. “The world is in a panic today, and certainly we would be too, unless we were quite sure the Lord had spoken to us. The destiny of England will be at stake today and to-morrow. 2.80 p.m. In a battle such as we are in today, you cannot trust in a meeting or in feelings. We must go back to what God has told us. There is an enemy that we must keep in check, until God does the big thing.”
From the night of May 22 to 25 Mr. Howells no longer came to the meetings; other members of the staff took them. He went away alone with God to battle through, and, as others have testified, the crushing burden of those days broke his body. He literally laid down his life.
May 26 was the day of public prayer in Britain. As Mr. Churchill said of the May 26 Service of Intercession in “Westminster Abbey: “The English are loath to expose their feelings, but in my stall in the choir I could feel the pent-up passionate emotion, and also the fear of the congregation, not of death or wounds or national loss, but of defeat and the final ruin of Britain.” Mr. Howells returned to the College meetings and said:
9.30 a.m. “All you can do today when a cry will go up from the country is to be in a position to take the answer from God. The question this morning is, Can we take the answer? If you ever cried, you ought to cry today.
11.15 a.m. How can you be sure that the Nazis will not take our country? All the leading people know today that unless God intervenes, we will be slaves. We prayed for Ethiopia and other countries, so our cry is not a selfish one. 2.30 p.m. We are going against this Beast, as David went against Goliath.”
May 27, 9 a.m. “There is intercession and faith, so the Lord can do a mighty deed. Our people will see God answering their prayers, and they will have all the joy of it. 2.45 p.m. It is as much as I can do to believe today. The news between the two meetings was awful — hell upon earth.”
On May 28 Mr. Howells again was alone with God. In the meetings the prayer was for God to intervene at Dunkirk and save our men; and as the Spirit came upon them in prayer and supplication, what one prayed at the end expressed the assurance given to all: “I feel sure something has happened.”
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.”
May 30, 7.80 p.m. “From a worldly standpoint there is no hope of victory; but God has said it. I could not come tonight and ask Him to intervene, because we have already said that He is going to intervene. Instead of bad news about our soldiers, if He is on the field of battle, He can change that and make it very good news. Oh, for God to lift us up tonight! We are not to run into any panic thinking the Nazis are going to win: Germany must be delivered as well as England and France. We may have to go through far greater sufferings yet, but I am not going to doubt the final issue. We state in plainest terms: The enemy will not invade Christian England.”
When we look back now after these years, many of us in Britain recall the terror of those days. Remembering the miracle of Dunkirk, acknowledged by our leaders to be an intervention from God, the calm sea allowing the smallest boats to cross, the almost complete evacuation of our troops, and then the lead Mr. Churchill gave to the nation, how thankful we are that God had this company of hidden intercessors, whose lives were on the altar day after day as they stood in the gap for the deliverance of Britain.
And so ends chapter 34 of this book.
May our nations again cry out to God to rescue us from all that seeks to destroy us, and may we learn from the past, and humble ourselves and seek his face and his grace and power to seek and to save us. Most of all save us from our own selfish ways in how we have departed from his ways and done what we thought was right in our own eyes, forsaking the truth of God for a lie.
May God have mercy upon us all
When you watch this film, think again about how all this unfolded. Think again of why the Dunkirk evacuation was indeed a miracle. Then when you pray afterward, take a moment to thank God for that miracle and all the others he brings to your mind.
The God behind the miracle of Dunkirk, is the God behind the miracle you need in your own life. Call upon his name while he may be found. Call upon Jesus Christ, and receive what only Jesus can give you. Do not delay. Do not put it off. God is already waiting for you.
Peace and grace.
Samuel M. Buick