Baptists owe a great debt to the country of Wales, where our forefathers lived and thrived long before the Protestant Reformation. In addition to many individuals, during the days of American colonization, more than one entire church emigrated from Wales to the Middle Colonies. Thomas Griffith for example, settled in Delaware, and the area became known as Welsh Tract. The Welsh Tract church became one of the founding congregations of the Philadelphia Baptist Association which organized in 1707.
Two of the most famous Welsh Baptist preachers were Christmas Evans and Thomas Rees Davies. Davies was eccentric – unique, but not in any negative way. His way of life attracted curiosity, and many were saved through his ministry. For example, he was known by the irreverent as “Old Black Cap” because he wore a velvet cap every time he preached. And he preached often, keeping a meticulous journal, noting texts, locations and other details. His ministry extended 47 years, during which time he averaged 5 sermons a week for a total of 13,145.
On this day (December 3) in 1847 he wrote to a man who was to meet his train in London, describing himself for identification purposes. “At Euston Station, and about 9 o’clock in the evening, expect the arrival by train of a gray-haired old man; very tall, like the ancient Britons, and without an outward blemish, but a Jewish high-priest. Like Elijah, he will wear a blue mantle, not shaggy, but superfine, and like Jacob, he will have a staff in his hand, but will not be lame, it is hoped. But most especially, he will have a white string in his hat, fastened to his coat button. There will be many there with black strings, but his will be white. Let the friend ask, ‘Are you Davies?’ and his answer will be, ‘Yes.’”
Twelve years later, Davies knew he was approaching the end of his service. He told his friends he wanted to be buried in the same gave with Christmas Evans. Then during his final illness he added that he wanted to die in the same bed as Evans, which he considered to be a great launching pad for his soul, but this was not possible. On Sunday, July 24, 1859 he passed way, and according to his wish, his body was laid out in the same tomb as his friend. Imagine how it will be when they are resurrected together at the same moment from the same spot.