Welsh actor Michael Sheen is best known for playing roles of famous people during his acting career, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in The Deal. He also played the role of journalist David Frost in Frost/Nixon, a movie about Frost’s 1977 interview with US President Richard Nixon.
Though I am uncertain of Sheen’s faith, in April 2011, the actor led a modern retelling of The Passion in Port Talbot, Wales, the home of his great-grandfather.
The play performed outside over three days involved the dramatic retelling of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
On the first day of the play, which started at 5:30 am on Good Friday morning, it drew a crowd of a few hundred people. By Easter Sunday, the crowd had grown to an estimated 13,000.
But Port Talbot also serves as the backdrop to the remarkable spiritual transformation of Sheen’s great-grandfather.
His great-grandfather was basically the town drunk, but Sheen says that all changed when one night, after being thrown out of the local pub, he was lying on his back in the gutter looking up at the night sky.
When the moon broke through the clouds, Sheen says that God spoke to his great-grandfather telling him that he must mend his ways.
But that wasn’t all. God also said that he needed to “save up money and buy the disused tin mine in the mountain,” Sheen added in an interview with Jeremy Clarkson.
The mine had been shut down for years because it had run out of tin, but his great-grandfather quit drinking and started saving up money to buy the mine.
“Everyone thought he was mad cause there was no tin left,” Sheen said.
But Sheen’s great-grandfather discovered a new vein of tin and became the richest man in Port Talbot.
“And [he] became a street preacher from then on,” Sheen noted.
Sheen’s great-grandfather basically received a word of knowledge that involves supernatural revelation about a current or past situation that otherwise a person would have no knowledge about.
This revelation changed his life.
It reminds me of how a word of knowledge had a similar impact on a Samaritan woman as well.
Jesus was in the Samaritan town of Sychar and visited Jacob’s well dug near land that Jacob had brought for his son Joseph.
At the well, he encountered a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water and asked her for a drink. She was shocked that a Jew would ask her for water.
Eventually, this led to a conversation about the woman’s life, and when the Lord asked where her husband was, she replied she had none.
Through a word of knowledge, Jesus told the woman, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:17-28NIV).
This startling revelation resulted in the woman declaring that Jesus was a prophet (v 19).
And similar to Sheen’s great-grandfather, the Samaritan woman essentially became a street preacher and ran back to her village, telling the villagers what had happened, leaving many wondering if the Lord was the Messiah (vs 28-29).
We are told that people poured out of the village to see Jesus (v 30).
While many preachers often cite what Jesus said next, telling us that we need to share our faith because the fields are white for harvest, they often miss the major point of this passage (v 34-35).
Though in the natural the physical harvest was still months away, through a word of knowledge, the Holy Spirit turned the spiritual atmosphere, causing people to be open to the Gospel.
And we are told that many Samaritans believed (v 39-41).
The main message of this passage is that we need to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to prepare the harvest.