The least likely person to ever make an impact...

He was probably the LEAST likely person you could have ever imagined to impact the world for God.

From a human perspective Christmas Evans should never have amounted to anything.

His dad was a dirt poor shoemaker.

And then while he was a young kid his dad died.

His mom, with no money to feed Christmas, sent him to her brother's farm. He had to work all day just for the food and clothes on his back.

There was no familial bond here. His uncle was massively abusive. Drunk at all hours, selfish, and yes even physically abusive. When he was an adult, Christmas said of his uncle: "It would be difficult to find a more unconscionable man than James Lewis in the whole course of a wicked world."

This was the childhood Christmas endured. He never went to school. Between his uncle and his poverty, by the time he reached the age of 17 he could not read or write a single word.

When he left the farm of his uncle at 17, he had seen nothing but the worst of humanity. The only thing that maybe made him ponder if he was meant to be more than just another ruffian was his near death moments.

At one time in a fight he had been stabbed, and narrowly missed an artery.

He also fell out of a tree holding a knife but had managed not to land on it.

He had also nearly drowned but ended up on shore.

And finally he had been on a horse, when it got spooked and ran through a narrow rocky passage. Any rock he had hit with the out of control animal would have killed him. But his body managed not to hit any of them.

In a nearby town a revival had broken out. Some of the recent converts invited this rough, drinking, fighting, tough guy. And having little else to do, he went. The guy who was hosting the revival would himself become a universalist. But not before Christmas came through his church while he was still preaching the Gospel.

And Christ did His work through that Gospel.

And Christmas was different. He and his friends completely changed over night. They took what little money they had and bought a Bible to share and candles. After work they'd go into the barn and read through it all night long. Within a short time Christmas had learned to read in his mother tongue of Welsh, and in a little while he'd be picking up English as well.

One night traveling to the barn to read he was attacked. Six of his old friends were so sick of the new Christmas that they had waited in ambush for him. Christmas was no small guy, he was a tall guy at 7 feet. But six people hitting with sticks beat him mercilessly. He lost his eye in that attack and his vision never recovered.

The future universalist pastor, seeing the trouble Christmas was in, paid for him to go to a nearby school. He got 6 months of formal education but he took to it so well.

He began to feel like the Lord was calling him to preach. But he had nightmares of preaching going poorly and worried his one eye would turn people off.

Finally, an opportunity came. He was so nervous, he memorized a really good sermon he knew. However, after he preached, a man recognized the sermon and told him he knew it. But that his prayer at the beginning was so good, it was okay.

Christmas had plagiarized the prayer, too.

Mortified he would not preach again for a while. He started working for a nearby Baptist pastor. And over time he filled in pulpits whenever a local pastor needed him to.

A few years later at a convention of Pastors that was a big deal, the speakers were all set up, but they needed an opening preacher. No one wanted this job. It was the the throw-away. People didn't come for that one. It was a sacrifice to do it.

Seriously, at a Christian convention, they could find no one who would do it. Finally, one person said, "Just ask that one-eyed guy from the north."

He came bounding up on the stage at the opportunity. People were embarrassed and turned away at this gangly 7 foot tall one-eyed, excited young man. One in the crowd was heard saying, "Surely that absurdity has not been asked to preach."

s he stepped on stage, completely unprepared, the other speakers left the event. They went and got snacks. A few even went to take naps to rest before their turn in the shade of the trees!

But Christmas Evans started preaching his heart out. He used passion, a great understanding of Scripture, and most powerfully, his imagery. He was able to paint pictures from the texts in ways that I have seen no other preacher do. Of all the pastors I've studied, the man has some of the greatest word-usage and allusion power ever preached.

All this from a man who couldn't read a word at 17.

He stunned the audience. Soon he was crying on stage with a love for God and the audience melted, too. His fate changed forever as everyone wanted him to preach and soon he'd be the most popular preacher ever out of Wales.

Because of his powerful use of imagery, literature, and illustration, he was called the "One Eye'd Bunyan of Wales."

You'd have never bet on him. As a kid, as a young man even, he seemed to have the deck stacked against him. But he never stopped chasing after God and trusting in the Lord. And God saw in Christmas Evans what no human eye could have beheld.