Martin Luther and the Mission of God: Why All Christians Are Missionaries


Missio Dei (The Mission of God), Martin Luther, and Why All Believers Are Missionaries
by Rev. Eric Jonas Swensson

“Even those who are sent do not know themselves how they got there.”
Martin Luther (WA 24:262)

Very early in my graduate studies in theology the professor teaching the class on methodology told me to read  a certain book by Gustav Warnecke. Seems that since I was a Lutheran I needed to be put wise to the fact that Martin Luther was totally confused about mission. Naive church-historian-to-be that I was, I took this for fact. Only later did I learn that the professor and Warnecke did not understand Luther and his methodology of mission. Those who think Luther was not in the business of making missionaries are wrong.

If Lutherans follow the lead of their namesake they understand world mission not as a separate category of church work. Mission comes out of every church that has been planted. It is not so much that certain individuals have the gift of evangelism or an inner call to become a missionary (they do), rather  we should all understand mission is always pre-eminently the work of the triune God (missio Dei) and all believers are supposed to share the Gospel. Luther was misunderstood by scholars to have said that the Gospel had already gone out to all the world and so was not terribly interested in “foreign missions”. Such was not the case. In fact, this misunderstanding perhaps sheds light on another: Luther probably would not have foreseen a special order of missionaries because he in fact assumes that all believers are at the disposal of God to convey the word of salvation. All of us.

When we rightly understand what Luther said and kept saying, we also see how simple it is to be involved. Believers are to participate in the missio Dei. The Word evangelizes. God does the mission. We have opportunities to participate. God arranges and God performs. It is always God’s own mission that dominates Luther’s thought, and the coming of the kingdom of God is what is always on his horizon. We are drawn into it.

Therefore, Martin Luther was hands down the most effective missionary of the 16th century. How could Luther be greater than his contemporary, Francis Xavier? Luther never drew up a missions plan; Vavier founded a missionary order. Luther never set foot outside of his native land (besides that one trip to Rome he made as a monk); Xavier journeyed to India, Japan and Borneo. Stated simply, Luther was one of the greatest missionaries of all time because, as he said, “I let the word do the work.” What Martin Luther was able to do was to get out of the way so that believers could see that it is God that does mission.

I did not come to this discovery on my own. There have been a number of Lutheran theologians and  missiologists who have been pointing this out in recent years. Richard Bliese wrote a chapter that appears in a report from Aarhus University ten years ago that names Holl, Holsten, Gensichen, Elert, Scherer, Bunkowske and others as having identified “the missionary thrust of the Reformers’ theology.”  Eugene Bunkowske has two articles that make a convincing argument, therefore it should be understood that everything said from here on is based on his work. It is self-evident that no matter how well a thing is said, one judges a tree by the fruit. Let’s look at Luther and his contribution to missiology using the eight points Bunkowske lays out as “Luther’s Methods” in an article already referenced.

  • Spontaneous

  • Biblically Based

  • Prayer: A Priority

  • Sacramental

  • People Oriented

  • Student Centered

  • Teaching Focused

  • Indigenously Directed

Let us now consider each briefly and then draw some conclusions about the benefits.

Spontaneity We, of course, like being spontaneous (as long as we don’t make fools of ourselves). However, we are not the starting point; God is. We want to get out of the way and let God be God. Instead of trying to put God in a box, we need God to get us out of being boxed in! Luther said that faith was a lively thing, therefore our approach to mission is exegetical. We turn to Scripture for our first steps and then use the Word to keep us in step. We start with the Word of God, rather than human need or church growth or any other thing. God said “Go” and Abram went, and so on and so on. However, the key here is proclamation. We learn about God and the missio Dei from the Word proclaimed. Mission therefore is nothing but the Word embodied by the believers. We hear and are sent. We learn and we enact.

Biblically Based Luther’s goal should be ours: to understand the Word as clear as possible. We therefore rely on Scripture. We practice sola Scriptura. Luther’s break from Late Medieval Roman Catholic methodology was successfully handed on, i.e., sola Scriptura is a well-known slogan. However, like much that we Lutherans have had passed onto us, we wonder how well it is understood and practiced. If we took it seriously, we would be an evangelistic people.

The Priority of Prayer Luther said, “Next to the preaching of the Gospel (whereby God speaks to us and offers to give us all His grace and blessings) the highest and foremost work is prayer.” Luther taught that prayer was about imploring God to be merciful, and it was also to establish a relationship with the One to whom we are praying. Prayer is also about having certainty that our prayers are heard. In prayer we realize that being in conversation and unity with the One who said “as the Father has sent me, so I send you” has the implicit meaning that all who pray are assuming the same mission, i.e. there is no escaping the fact that all true believers are missionaries the rest of their days wherever it is that they find themselves.

Sacramental The Word of God is the key to mission. it is the power of God unto salvation. The Word of God is expressed in oral and written form as well as in a special form that can be seen and touched in Holy Baptism and even tasted in Holy Communion. As already said, Luther did not separate the church and its mission, and he did not think of a separate missionary order. Luther expected that the church would do mission, and so as the Word went out into the world, salvation would come to some and they would be gathered into churches and the Word would be preached and the Sacraments would be celebrated rightly. A missionary church would be a sacramental church.

People Oriented We can agree with Bunkowske that the Catechisms are an example that Luther gives us an example of how we missionaries are to express ourselves: using common words, addressing the common needs and aspirations of the common man and woman. Think of his words from the First Article that God has given me my body and soul, eyes and ears, my reason and senses and that he still preserves them, God gave me clothes and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children and so on. ‘He daily and richly provides me with all that I need to support this body and life; defends me from all danger, guards and protects me from all evil. And all of this out of pure fatherly and divine goodness.

When we rightly understand what Luther kept saying we also see how simple it is to be involved. Believers are to participate in the missio Dei. That’s all. That’s it. The Word evangelizes. God does the mission. We have opportunities to participate. God arranges and God performs. It is always God’s own mission that dominates Luther’s thought, and the coming of the kingdom of God is what is always on his horizon.

Student Centered No fewer than 16,000 students enrolled in Wittenberg University between 1520-1560. No fewer that one-third came from outside of Germany. Surely one of the reasons the evangelische spread as it did was Luther’s method. Sixteen thousand students sat under Luther’s preaching and teaching and heard again and again how this spontaneous Word made clear in biblically based proclamation, geared to the common man. Students are an effective channel for mission, one that we can utilize again once education is wrestled away from other approaches.

Teaching Focused As Dr Bunkowske said, “Luther was a teacher with a mission.” He was a teacher of teachers. He believed all people were entitled to a Christian education, something radical for his time. He thought each town should have a school for girls. Children were to be taught first about spiritual things and then secular. He used many means and media to teach. The Small Catechism was placed on posters. Luther played the lute and used hymns as another catechism. he wrote 35 hymns and encouraged his co-workers to do the same. Four different printing presses published hymnbook after hymnbook. By the end of his life 47 collections were published. Luther wrote letters, commentaries, sermons and collections of sermons (postils), he wrote for academic audience and for lay people. Luther modeled how all types of oral and written communication can be used to educate for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.

Indigenously Directed Luther did to need to go to England, Finland or Denmark. He taught his Wittenberg students and helped them to take the Word to their own countries. Luther encourage William Tyndale to translate the New Testament which was printed in Worms and smuggled into England in barrels of German wheat. When Luther saw the abilities of student Michael Agricola he wrote the King of Sweden and recommended he commission him to translate the Scriptures into the Finnish language. Peder Palladius came to Wittenberg from Denmark and later became known as the Father of the Danish Reformation. And so on and so on. This is the kind of work Lutherans have been doing since and we would be wise to do more of it.  Members of a culture can witness to their community far more effectively than an outsider.

Literature on missiology is vast and growing, but it is rare to find the methodology of Martin Luther even mentioned. Clearly he is not seen as having their answers. We are waiting for a Lutheran missiology based on systematic Lutheran theology. It would be of immense benefit to our congregations and mission agencies. Until more of our  theologians get excited by the possibility of missional theology that is centered on the gospel as Luther explained it, we can make do with Bunkowske’s categories. Of course there is a need for specialization in the work and let no one denigrate the need to be appropriately grounded in one’s context. That is necessary whether your context is Kansas or Kenya. It is to say though that  the genius of Luther is that the Holy Spirit uses the Word and brings unbelievers into the Kingdom of God. Effective mission comes not from technique but belief. It sounds naive, but it works. Let’s tell the believers that their prayer partner Jesus wants the Gospel proclaimed from the housetop and that of course means  housetops in Kansas and Kenya and every other place on earth.

This article originally appeared in the Institute of Lutheran Theology’s Word at Work magazine.
For your reading:

Richard H. Bliese, “Lutheran Missiology: Struggling to Move from Reactive Reform to Innovative Initiative”, The Role of Mission in The Future of Lutheran Theology, Viggo Mortensen, ed. (Centre for Multireligious Studies: University of Aarhus, 2003).

Dr. Eugene Bunkowske, “Luther and the Growth of the Church” in Church Growth: A Biblical Perspective, 70-93; “Luther the Missionary,” in God’s Mission in Action, 54-89.



Sadhu Sundar Singh


Sadhu Sundar Singh


   Sundar Singh was born in 1889, the youngest child in an aristocratic, land-owning Sikh family in the village of Rampur inPatiala, India. While a young teen he was crushed by the death of his mother. He seems to have rejected nearly everything in his emotional pain including the Presbyterian mission school and the Scriptures they had presented. He invited his friends over to watch him burn the Bible page by page. It was his intention to commit suicide. He took a bath in preparation and during it he cried out that if any of the gods of which he had been taught (Hindu, Moslem, Christian) were real they should reveal themselves.


“Although I believed that I had done a very good deed by burning the Bible, I felt unhappy,” he said. Within three days Sundar Singh could bear his misery no longer. “I planned to throw myself in front of the train which passed by our house.” His suicide plan was the violent end of being struck by a train. He spend the night in prayer before he planned on going to the railroad track. He prayed. “O God, if there is a God, reveal thyself to me tonight.” He reported that after many hours the room filled with a glow and a man appeared before him, and spoke in perfect Hindustani, Sundar Singh’s mother tongue: “Why do you persecute me? Remember that I gave My life for you upon the Cross.[1]

How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you.” He saw the man’s nail-pierced hands.

“Jesus was the last person Sundar was looking for. After all, Jesus was the ‘foreign god’ of the Christian teachers at his school… Amazed that his vision had taken the unexpected form of Jesus, Sundar was convinced in his heart that Jesus was the true Savior, and that He was alive. Sundar fell on his knees before Him and experienced an astonishing peacefulness which he had never felt before. The vision disappeared, but peace and joy lingered within him.”

Sundar spent the rest of his life explaining how Jesus came to him. He told his father who promptly threw a great banquet and tossed his son out into the streets the next day. He learned with a short period that he had also been poisoned by his father who considered his son a traitor for forsaking the family’s religion.


Sadhu Sundar Singh story reveals many things. A pronounced one is God’s continuing initiative to be a supernatural visitor. Just as Muslims are learning in the countries in the Middle East where there are few or none of the usual resources to learn about Jesus, He will appear to them in dreams and visions. This is enough for a real conversion. Less than sixteen, he became an apostle, living a God-directed life of hardship and holiness.


His life also shows the difficulty indigenous people have in separating the presentation of the gospel by missionaries with the real thing. God revealed something to him in the following story:


“He had a great desire to visit Palestine and re-live some of the happenings in Jesus’ life. In 1908 he went to Bombay, hoping to board a ship to the region. To his intense disappointment, the government refused to give him a permit, and he had to return to the north. It was on this trip that he suddenly recognised a basic dilemma of the Christian mission to India. A brahmin had collapsed in the hot, crowded carriage and, at the next station, the Anglo-Indian stationmaster came rushing with a cup of water from the refreshment room. The brahmin — a high-caste Hindu — thrust it away in horror. He needed water, but he could only accept it in his own drinking vessel. When that was brought, he drank and was revived. In the same way, Sundar Singh realised, India would not widely accept the gospel of Jesus offered in Western guise. That, he recognised, was why many listeners had responded to him in his Indian sadhu’s robe.”


This follower of Jesus became fairly well known in the evangelical world of the 1920’s and from time to time he surfaces again. He deserves both serious research and a still greater fame. He is a real “stained glass window saint” through which God’s light shines through as faint-hearted Christians contemplate how much more they are being called on to give for the Kingdom to come today for a new believers in distant lands.

There is a quite good biography on Sadhu Sundar Singh at Wikipedia (no, not all are created equal), part of a series on Protestant missions in India.[2] You may also like the biography that explores the link between him and C.S. Lewis.[3] But by all means, always, always, always, when you have the opportunity, read the words of people not what others wrote about them. Read At the Master’s Feet below.










This little book was published in Urdu in India, where also an English
translation was issued.

In the preparation of this translation we have been fortunate in
having the co-operation of the Sadhu himself, and in concert with him
certain alterations have been made with a view to remove obscurities
and give added point and clearness wherever possible. While striving
to provide a careful translation, a certain freedom of expression has
been made use of wherever necessary, at the same time care has been
taken to preserve the true spirit and meaning of the original.

To those who, like ourselves, have had the good fortune to see the
Sadhu at his work in India, the whole atmosphere of the book is
familiar. In true Oriental fashion one has seen him seated on the
ground in the midst of a large number of eager inquirers of both sexes
and all classes. His bearing on such occasions one can never forget.
His simplicity and plain common sense often lay open the very heart of
a spiritual problem, and his quiet humour raises an occasional ripple
of amusement, which again subsides into a feeling of reverence as the
deeper significance of his answers makes itself felt.

The man himself, in his own gracious and dignified personality, makes
an indelible impression on the mind. He becomes more than a charming
memory; he remains as a compelling force in the lives of many who have
sat with him at the Master’s feet.

This little book goes out as an emanation from a mind chastened and
refined by experience and prayerful meditation, and chosen by the Lord
of love and mercy to make Him known in life as well as in word.

Arthur Parker

Rebecca J. Parker


The words of Christ –

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” (John

“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me . . . and ye shall find rest
unto your souls.” (Matt. xi.29)

There is nothing so perfect in the world as to be quite above
objection and criticism. The very sun which gives us light and warmth
is not free from spots, yet notwithstanding these defects it does not
desist from its regular duty. It behooves us in like manner to carry
on to the best of our ability what has been entrusted to us, and
strive constantly to make our lives fruitful.

When the truths set forth in this book were revealed to me by the
Master they deeply affected my life, and some of them have been used
by me in my sermons and addresses in Europe, America, Africa,
Australia, and Asia. At the request of many friends I have now
gathered them together in this little book, and though it is possible
that there are defects in setting them forth, I am sure that those who
read them with prayer and an unprejudiced mind will benefit from them
as I have.

It would be impossible for me to set forth these truths that have been
revealed to me except in parabolic language, but by the use of
parables my task has been made comparatively easy.

It is my prayer that as God by His grace and mercy has blessed me by
these truths, so also they may be a blessing to every reader.

Your humble servant,

Sundar Singh


First Vision

Once on a dark night I went alone into the forest to pray, and seating
myself upon a rock I laid before God my deep necessities, and besought
His help. After a short time, seeing a poor man coming towards me I
thought he had come to ask me for some relief because he was hungry
and cold. I said to him, “I am a poor man, and except this blanket I
have nothing at all. You had better go to the village near by and ask
for help there.” And lo! even whilst I was saying this he flashed
forth like lightning, and, showering drops of blessing, immediately
disappeared. Alas! Alas! it was now clear to me that this was my
beloved Master who came not to beg from a poor creature like me, but
to bless and to enrich me (2 Cor. viii.9), and so I was left weeping
and lamenting my folly and lack of insight.

Second Vision

On another day, my work being finished, I again went into the forest
to pray, and seated upon that same rock began to consider for what
blessings I should make petition. Whilst thus engaged it seemed to me
that another came and stood near me, who, judged by his bearing and
dress and manner of speech, appeared to be a revered and devoted
servant of God; but his eyes glittered with craft and cunning, and as
he spoke he seemed to breathe an odour of hell.

He thus addressed me, “Holy and Honoured Sir, pardon me for
interrupting your prayers and breaking in on your privacy; but is is
one’s duty to seek to promote the advantage of others, and therefore I
have come to lay an important matter before you. Your pure and
unselfish life has made a deep impression not only on me, but upon a
great number of devout persons. But although in the Name of God you
have sacrificed yourself body and soul for others, you have never been
truly appreciated. My meaning is that being a Christian only a few
thousand Christians have come under your influence, and some even of
these distrust you. How much better would it be if you became a Hindu
or a Mussulman, and thus become a great leader indeed? They are in
search of such a spiritual head. If you accept this suggestion of
mine, then three hundred and ten millions of Hindus and Mussulmans
will become your followers, and render you reverent homage.”

As soon as I heard this there rushed from my lips these words, “Thou
Satan! get thee hence. I knew at once that thou wert a wolf in sheep’s
clothing! Thy one wish is that I should give up the cross and the
narrow path that leads to life, and choose the broad road of death. My
Master Himself is my lot and my portion, who Himself gave His life for
me, and it behooves me to offer as a sacrifice my life and all I have
to Him who is all in all to me. Get you gone therefore, for with you I
have nothing to do.”

Hearing this he went off grumbling and growling in his rage. And I, in
tears, thus poured out my soul to God in prayer, “My Lord God, my all
in all, life of my life, and spirit of my spirit, look in mercy upon
me and so fill me with Thy Holy Spirit that my heart shall have no
room for love of aught but Thee. I seek from Thee no other gift but
Thyself, who art the Giver of life and all its blessings. From Thee I
ask not for the world or its treasures, nor yet for heaven even make
request, but Thee alone do I desire and long for, and where Thou art
there is Heaven. The hunger and the thirst of this heart of mine can
be satisfied only with Thee who hast given it birth. O Creator mine!
Thou hast created my heart for Thyself alone, and not for another,
therefore this my heart can find no rest or ease save in Thee, in Thee
who hast both created it and set in it this very longing for rest.
Take away then from my heart all that is opposed to Thee, and enter
and abide and rule for ever. Amen.”

When I rose up from this prayer I beheld a glowing Being, arrayed in
light and beauty, standing before me. Though He spoke not a word, and
because my eyes were suffused with tears I saw Him not too clearly,
there poured from Him lightning-like rays of life-giving love with
such power that they entered in and bathed my very soul. At once I
knew that my dear Saviour stood before me. I rose at once from the
rock where I was seated and fell at His feet. He held in His hand the
key of my heart. Opening the inner chamber of my heart with His key of
love, He filled it with His presence, and wherever I looked, inside or
out, I saw but Him.

Then did I know that man’s heart is the very throne and citadel of
God, and that when He enters there to abide, heaven begins. In these
few seconds He so filled my heart, and spoke such wonderful words,
that even if I wrote many books I could not tell them all. For these
heavenly things can be explained only in heavenly language, and
earthly tongues are not sufficient for them. Yet I will endeavour to
set down a few of these heavenly things that by way of vision came to
me from the Master. Upon the rock on which before I sat He seated
Himself, and with myself at His feet there began between Master and
disciple the conversation that now follows.



The Disciple,–O Master, Fountain of life! Why dost Thou hide Thyself
from those that adore Thee, and dost not rejoice the eyes of them that
long to gaze upon Thee?

The Master,–1. My true child, true happiness depends not upon the
sight of the eyes, but comes through spiritual vision, and depends
upon the heart. In Palestine thousands looked upon Me, but all of them
did not thus obtain true happiness. By mortal eyes only those things
can be perceived that are mortal, for eyes of flesh cannot behold an
immortal God and spiritual beings. For instance, you yourself cannot
see your own spirit, therefore how can you behold its Creator? But
when the spiritual eyes are opened, then you can surely see Him who is
Spirit, (John iv.24), and that which you now see of Me you see not
with eyes of flesh, but with the eyes of the spirit.

If, as you say, thousands of people saw Me in Palestine then were all
their spiritual eyes opened, or did I Myself become mortal? The answer
is, No! I took on a mortal body so that in it I might give a ransom
for the sins of the world; and when the work of salvation was
completed for sinners (John xix.30), then that which was immortal
transfigured what was mortal into glory. Therefore after the
resurrection only those were able to see Me who had received spiritual
sight (Acts x. 40,41).

2. Many there are in this world who know about Me, but do not know Me;
that is they have no personal relationship with Me, therefore they
have no true apprehension of or faith in Me, and do not accept Me as
their Saviour and Lord.

Just as if one talks with a man born blind about different colors such
as red, blue, yellow, he remains absolutely unaware of their charm and
beauty, he cannot attach any value to them, because he only knows
about them, and is aware of their various names. But with regard to
colors he can have no true conception until his eyes are opened. In
the same manner until a man’s spiritual eyes are opened, howsoever
learned he may be, he cannot know Me, he cannot behold My glory, and
he cannot understand that I am God Incarnate.

3. There are many believers who are aware of My presence in their
hearts bringing to them spiritual life and peace, but cannot plainly
see Me. Just as the eye can see many things, yet when someone drops
medicine into the eye does not see it, but the presence of the
medicine is felt cleansing the inner eye and promoting the power of

4. The true peace which is born of My presence in the hearts of true
believers they are unable to see, but, feeling its power, they become
happy in it. Nor can they see that happiness of mind or heart through
which they enjoy the peace of My presence. It is the same with the
tongue and sweetmeats. The faculty of taste which resides in the
tongue and the sweetness it perceives are both invisible. Thus also I
give My children life and joy by means of the hidden manna, which the
world with all its wisdom knows not nor can know (Rev. ii.7).

5. Sometimes during sickness the faculty of taste in the tongue is
interfered with, and during that time, however tasty the food given to
the sick person may be, it has an ill taste to him. In just the same
way sin interferes with the taste for spiritual things. Under such
circumstances My Word and service and My presence lost their
attraction to the sinner, and instead of profiting by them he begins
to argue about and to criticize them.

6. Many believers again–like the man born blind, on receiving his
sight–are able to see Jesus as a prophet and the Son of Man, but do
not regard Him as the Christ and the Son of God (John ix.17, 35-37),
until I am revealed to them a second time in power.

7. A mother once hid herself in a garden amongst some densely growing
shrubs, and her little son went in search of her here and there,
crying as he went. Through the whole garden he went, but could not
find her. A servant said to him, “Sonny, don’t cry! Look at the
mangoes on this tree and all the pretty, pretty flowers in the garden.
Come, I am going to get some for you.” But the child cried out, “No!
No! I want my mother. The food she gives me is nicer than all the
mangoes, and her love is sweeter far than all these flowers, and
indeed you know that all this garden is mine, for all that my mother
has is mine. No! I want my mother!” When the mother, hidden in the
bushes, heard this, she rushed out and, snatching her child to her
breast, smothered him with kisses, and that garden became a paradise
to the child. In this way My children cannot find in this great garden
of a world, so full of charming and beautiful things, any true joy
until they find Me. I am their Emmanuel, who is ever with them, and I
make Myself known to them (John xiv.21).

8. Just as the sponge lies in the water, and the water fills the
sponge, but the water is not the sponge and the sponge is not the
water, but they ever remain different things, so children abide in Me
and I in them. This is not pantheism, but it is the kingdom of God,
which is set up in the hearts of those who abide in this world; and
just as the water in the sponge, I am in every place and in
everything, but they are not I (Luke xvii.21).

9. Take a piece of charcoal, and however much you may wash it its
blackness will not disappear, but let the fire enter into it and its
dark colour vanishes. So also when the sinner receives the Holy Spirit
(who is from the Father and Myself, for the Father and I are one),
which is the baptism of fire, all the blackness of sin is driven away,
and he is made a light to the world (Matt. iii.11, v.14). As the fire
in the charcoal, so I abide in My children and they in Me, and through
them I make Myself manifest to the world.


The Disciple,–Master, if Thou wouldst make a special manifestation of
Thyself to the world, men would no longer doubt the existence of God
and Thy own divinity, but all would believe and enter on the path of

The Master,–1. My son, the inner state of every man I know well, and
to each heart in accordance with its needs I make Myself known; and
for bringing men into the way of righteousness there is no better
means than the manifestation of Myself. For man I became man that he
might know God, not as someone terrible and foreign, but as full of
love and like to himself, for he is like Him and made in His image.

Man also has a natural desire that he should see Him in whom he
believes and who loves him. But the Father cannot be seen, for He is
by nature incomprehensible, and he who would comprehend Him must have
the same nature. But man is a comprehensible creature, and being so
cannot see God. Since, however, God is Love and He has given to man
that same faculty of love, therefore, in order that that craving for
love might be satisfied, He adopted a form of existence that man could
comprehend. Thus He became man, and His children with all the holy
angels may see Him and enjoy Him (Col. i.15, ii.9). Therefore I said
that he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John xiv.9-10). And
although while in the form of man I am called the Son, I am the
eternal and everlasting Father (Isa. ix.6).

2. I and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One. Just as in the sun
there are both heat and light, but the light is not heat, and the heat
is not light, but both are one, though in their manifestation they
have different forms, so I and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the
Father, bring light and heat to the world. The Spirit, which is the
baptismal fire, burns to ashes in the hearts of believers all manner
of sin and iniquity, making them pure and holy. I who am the True
Light (John i.9, viii.12), dissipate all dark and evil desires, and
leading them in the way of righteousness bring them at last to their
eternal home. Yet We are not three but One, just as the sun is but

3. Whatever worth and power and high faculty God has endowed man with
must be brought into action, otherwise they gradually decay and die.
In this way faith, if it is not truly fixed on the living God, is
shattered by the shock of sin and transformed into doubt. Often one
hears something like this, “If this or that doubt of mine be removed I
am ready to believe.” That is as though one with a broken limb should
ask the doctor to take away the pain before he sets the limb. Surely
this is folly, for the pain comes from the breaking of the limb, and
when that is set the pain will of itself pass away. Thus by the act of
sin man’s tie with God has been snapped, and doubts, which are
spiritual pains, have arisen. It needs must, therefore, that the union
with God be again renewed, then those doubts which have arisen
regarding My divinity and the existence of God will of themselves
disappear. Then in place of pain there will come that wonderful peace
which the world cannot give nor take away. Thus it was that I became
flesh, that between God and poor broken men there might be union, and
they might be happy with Him in heaven for evermore.

4. God is love, and in every living creature He has set this faculty
of love, but especially in man. It is therefore nothing but right that
the Lover who has given us life and reason and love itself should
receive His due tribute of love. His desire is to all He has created,
and if this love be not rightly used, and if we do not with all our
heart and soul and mind and strength love Him who has endowed us with
love, then that love falls from its high estate and becomes
selfishness. Thus arises disaster both for ourselves and for other
creatures of God. Every selfish man, strangely enough, becomes a

This also I have said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Now although
in a sense all men are neighbours one of another, yet the reference is
especially to those who habitually live near each other, for it is an
easy matter to live at peace with one who is near at hand for a few
days only, even though he be unfriendly; but in the case of one who
has his dwelling near you, and day by day is the cause of trouble to
you, it is most difficult to bear with him, and love him as yourself.
But when you have conquered in this great struggle it will be more
easy to love all others as yourself.

When man with all his heart, mind, and soul loves God, and his
neighbour as himself there will be no room for doubts, but in him will
be established that Kingdom of God of which there should be no end,
and he, melted and moulded in the fire of love, will be made into the
image of his heavenly Father, who at the first made him like Himself.

5. Also I manifest Myself by means of My Word (the Bible) to those who
seek Me with a sincere heart. Just as for the salvation of men I took
on a human body, so My Word also, which is Spirit and Life (John
vi.63) is written in the language of men, that is, there are inspired
and human elements united in it. But just as men do not understand Me,
so they do not understand My Word. To understand it a knowledge of the
Hebrew and Greek tongues is not a necessity, but what is necessary is
the fellowship of that Holy Spirit, abiding in whom the prophets and
apostles wrote it. Without doubt the language of this Word is
spiritual, and he who is born of the Spirit is alone able fully to
understand it, whether he be acquainted with the criticism of the
world or be only a child, for that spiritual language is well
understood by him since it is his mother tongue. But remember that
those whose wisdom is only of this world cannot understand it, for
they have no share in the Holy Spirit.

6. In the book of nature, of which I also am the Author, I freely
manifest Myself. But for the reading of this book also spiritual
insight is needed, that men may find Me, otherwise there is a danger
lest instead of finding Me they go astray.

Thus the blind man uses the tips of his fingers as eyes, and by means
of touch alone reads a book, but by touch alone can form no real
estimate of its truth. The investigations of agnostics and sceptics
prove this, for in place of perfection they see only defects. Fault
finding critics ask, “If there is an Almighty Creator of the world why
are there defects in it, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, eclipses,
pain, suffering, death, and the like?” The folly of this criticism is
similar to that of an unlearned man who finds fault with an unfinished
building or an incomplete picture. After a time, when he sees them
fully finished, he is ashamed of his folly, and ends by singing their
praises. Thus too, God did not in one day give to this world its
present form, nor will it in one day reach perfection. The whole
creation moves onward to perfection, and if it were possible for the
man of this world to see from afar with the eyes of God the perfect
world in which no defect appears, he too would bow in praise before
Him and say, “All is very good” (Gen. i.31).

7. The human spirit abides in the body very much as the chicken in the
shell. If it were possible for the bird within the shell to be told
that outside of it was a great widespread world, with all kinds of
fruit and flowers, with rivers and grand mountains, that its mother
also was there, and that it would see all this when set free from its
shell, it could not understand or believe it. Even if anyone told it
that its feathers and eyes, ready now for use, would enable it to see
and to fly, it would not believe it, nor would any proof be possible
till it came out of its shell.

In the same way there are many who are uncertain about the future life
and the existence of God, because they cannot see beyond this
shell-like body of flesh, and their thoughts, like delicate wings,
cannot carry them beyond the narrow confines of the brain. Their weak
eyes cannot discover those eternal and unfading treasures which God
has prepared for those who love Him (Isa. lxiv.4, lxv.17). The
necessary condition for attaining to this eternal life is this, that
while still in this body we should receive from the Holy Spirit by
faith that life-giving warmth which the chicken receives from its
mother, otherwise there is danger of death and eternal loss.

8. Again, many say that the thing, or the life, that has a beginning
must of necessity have an end. This is not true, for is not the
Almighty who is able at His will to make from naught a thing which is,
also able by the word of His power to confer immortality on that which
He has made? If not He cannot be called Almighty. Life in this world
appears to be liable to decay and destruction, because it is in
subjection to those things which are themselves the subject of change
and decay. But if this life were set free from these changeful and
decaying influences, and brought under the care of the eternal and
unchanging God, who is the fountain and source of eternal life, it
would escape from the clutch of death and attain to eternity.

As for those who believe on Me, “I give unto them eternal life, and
they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My
hand” (John x.28). “I am the Lord God Almighty that is and was and is
to come” (Rev. i.8).



The Disciple,–Master, it is clear to almost everyone that to disobey
God and to cease to worship Him is sin, and the deadly result is seen
in the present state of the world. But what sin really is is not
absolutely clear. In the very presence of Almighty God, and in
opposition to His will, and in His own world, how did sin come to be?

The Master,–1. Sin is to cast aside the will of God and to live
according to one’s own will, deserting that which is true and lawful
in order to satisfy one’s own desires, thinking thus to obtain
happiness. Yet in so doing one does not obtain real happiness or enjoy
true pleasure. Sin has no individuality, so that no one can say of it
that someone created it. It is simply the name of a state or
condition. There is only one Creator and He is good, and a good
Creator could not have created a bad thing, for to do so would be
against His very nature. And apart from the one Creator there is no
other who could have created sin. Satan can only spoil that which has
already been created, but he has not the power of creating anything.
So sin is not a part of creation, nor has it independent existence
such that it could be created. It is simply a delusive and destructive
state of being.

For instance, light is something which has real existence, but
darkness has not; it is only a state, the absence of light. Thus sin
or evil is not a self-existent thing, but simply the absence or
nonexistence of good. This dark state of evil is most terrible, for
because of it many miss the right course, and making shipwreck on the
rocks of Satan fall into the darkness of hell and are lost. For this
reason I who am the Light of the world became manifest in the flesh,
so that those who put their trust in Me should not perish, for I
rescue them from the power of darkness and bring them safe to that
desired and heavenly haven, where there is neither name nor sign of
darkness (Rev. xxi.23, xxii.5).

2. You ask how this dark state of sin came to be in the very presence
of the Lord of creation. It arose because Satan and men, of their own
motion in an unlawful and wrong way, sought to carry out their own
desires. And if you ask why God did not make man in such a way that he
could not fall into such a state, the answer is that if he had been
constructed like a machine he could never have attained to that state
of happiness which is reached only by action in accordance with one’s
own choice. Adam and Eve fell into the wiles and deceit of Satan
because in their sinless state they did not know there were such
things as lies and deceit. Before this, Satan himself did not know of
the existence of that pride by reason of which he was cast out of
heaven, for before him no such thing as pride existed. And although
both in men and Satan this state of sin came to be, God by His
almighty power has given that state a new aspect, so that even from it
He has brought forth the noblest results.

First of all, the boundless love of God was made manifest in the
incarnation and redemption, which under other circumstances would have
remained hidden; and in the second place, the redeemed, after having
tasted the bitterness of sin, will more richly enjoy the happiness of
heaven, just as after a taste of bitterness the sweetness of honey
gives greater delight. For in heaven they sin no more, but in meekness
and obedient love they serve their Father God, and abide with Him in
joy for evermore.

3. Men are keen on discovering faults in the sun and moon, such as
spots and eclipses, but to the spots and eclipses of sin they give no
heed. From this you may measure how great that darkness in men is,
when the very light they have is darkness (Matt. vi.23). Just as the
body of the leper by reason of his disease becomes numb and
insensible, so the heart and mind of man by reason of sin become dull
and insensate, and bring to him no sense of disgust or pain. But the
time will come when he will awake to its terrible ravages, and then
there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

4. Many who are immersed in sin are unaware of its load, just as one
who dives into the water may have tons of water upon him, but is
wholly unaware of its weight until he is choked in death. But he who
emerges from the water and seeks to carry some away soon finds its
weight, however little he takes up; and he who, finding the burden of
his sin, comes to Me in penitence will freely receive true rest, for
it is such I come to seek and to save (Matt. xi.28, Luke xix.10).

5. It is not necessary that every single member of the body should
become useless and weak before death occurs. A weakness of, or a blow
upon, the heart or the brain will suffice to bring an end to life,
however strong and healthy other parts of the body may be. Thus one
sin by its poisonous effect on the mind and heart is sufficient to
ruin the spiritual life not of one only, but of a whole family or
nation, even of the whole race. Such was the sin of Adam. But as one
word from Me could bring Lazarus from the tomb, even so it is
sufficient to give eternal life to all.

6. Sometimes it happens that an animal or bird after long association
with man returns to its own kind, but they, instead of welcoming it,
set upon it and do it to death, the reason being that by its long
residence and familiarity with man, its habits and manner of life have
entirely changed. In the same way as animals do not admit to their
society those of their kind that have come under man’s influence, how
can the saint and angels in heaven welcome those sinners who have
lived in intimate relations with wicked men? This does not mean that
saints and angels have no love for sinful men, but the holy atmosphere
of heaven will itself be distasteful to such men. For clearly, when in
this world sinners dislike the company of good men, how can they be
happy in their company throughout eternity? To them a heaven of that
sort would be as distasteful as hell itself.

Do not suppose that God or His people will turn sinners out of heaven
and cast them into hell, for God who is Love, never cast anyone into
hell, nor ever will do so. It is the foul life of the sinner that will
bring him to hell. Long before the end of life brings heaven and hell
near to us, there has been set up in every man’s heart, according to
his good or evil nature, his own heaven or hell. Therefore whosoever
longs to be saved from that eternal torment, let him truly repent of
his sins and give his heart to Me, that by My presence with him and
the Holy Spirit’s influence, he may become for ever a child of the
kingdom of God.

7. A rebel against a king or government in this world may save himself
by taking refuge in another country, but where shall a rebel against
God flee for safety? Wherever he goes, even in heaven or hell, he will
find God ever present. (Psa. cxxxix.7,8). He will find his safety only
in repentance and submission to his Lord.

8. For Adam and Eve the fig leaves were too scanty a covering, so God
gave them coats of skin. In this way, too, man’s good deeds are as
useless as the fig leaves to save him from the wrath to come. Nothing
will suffice save My robe of righteousness.

9. The moth thinks not of the burning and destructive power of the
flame, but fascinated by its brilliancy rushes into it and perishes.
So man, regardless of the destructive and poisonous power of sin, and
feeling only its allurement, rushes in to his eternal destruction. But
My light rescues the sinner from death, and bestows upon him life and
enduring happiness. Man was so made as to be capable of appropriating
the precious gift of My true light.

10. Sin is not an illusion or a thing of the imagination, but in this
state of spiritual darkness, by the exercise of the evil will of man,
such living seeds of evil have come into existence as will for ever
infect his spirit and finally destroy it–just as smallpox in quite a
short time will destroy the beauty of a man for all time, turning it
to repulsive ugliness. As God did not create wickedness, so also He
did not create disease and bodily pains. They are simply the natural
issue of man’s disobedience. Pain and disease also are not things of
the imagination, but are the outward and visible fruits of the hidden
unseen disease of sin, whether it be one’s own sin or that of the
family of which one is a member. When all these members repent and are
united with Me, My health-giving blood circulates through all, healing
all their internal and unseen diseases and giving to them health for
all eternity. For such a state of health man was created, that he
might for ever dwell in happiness with his Lord and Master.


The Disciple,–Master, in these days some learned men and their
followers regard Thy atonement and the redemption by blood as
meaningless and futile, and say that Christ was only a great teacher
and example for our spiritual life, and that salvation and eternal
happiness depend on our own efforts and good deeds.

The Master,–1. Never forget that spiritual and religious ideas are
connected less with the head than with the heart, which is the temple
of God, and when the heart is filled with the presence of God the head
also is enlightened. For the mind and the eyes of the understanding
are useless without the true light, as the natural eyes are without
daylight. In the dark one may mistake a rope for a snake, just as the
wise of this world pervert spiritual truth and lead astray simple
minds. So Satan when beguiling Eve made use not of the sheep or the
dove but of the serpent, the most crafty of all the animals. So he
takes the wisdom of the wise and the skill of the learned, and of them
makes instruments suited to his purpose. But it is not enough to be
learned and clever; one must also have the innocence of the dove,
therefore I have said, “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves”
(Matt. x.16).

2. My cross and atonement do the same for believers as the serpent of
brass did for the Israelites, for whoever looked up to that with the
eyes of faith was saved (Num. xxi.9, John iii.14,15). There were some,
however, who, instead of believing, thought of it as brass only and
began to criticize and say, “If Moses had provided an antidote, or
were to give us some powerful drug or special medicine for these
venomous serpents, that would be a proper object of faith, but what
power has this pole over poisonous venom?” They all died. In these
days too, those who cavil about the method of salvation which God has
appointed will perish in the poison of their own sin.

3. A young man fell down a precipice and was so much injured, and lost
so much blood that he was at the point of death. When his father took
him to the doctor he said, “The life is the blood, and the supply of
this young man’s blood is exhausted; but if anyone is prepared to
sacrifice his own life he may recover, otherwise he will die.” The
father, whose heart was overflowing with love for his son, offered his
own blood, and this being injected into the young man’s veins he
recovered. Man has fallen from the mount of holiness and lies broken
and wounded by his sins, and by reason of those wounds his spiritual
life has ebbed away and he is near to death. But for those who believe
in Me I pour forth my own everlasting and spiritual blood, that they
may be saved from death and obtain eternal life. For this purpose have
I come that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John
x.10), and thus live for evermore.

4. In ancient times men were forbidden to drink the blood of animals,
or to eat certain foods, in the belief that they would thus escape
certain diseases; and also lest, as a man has an animal body, his
animal propensities might be strengthened by eating flesh and drinking
blood. But now “My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed”
(John vi.55), for they give spiritual life, and by them perfect health
and heavenly happiness and joy are received.

5. The forgiveness of sins does not mean full salvation, for that can
only come with perfect freedom from sin. For it is possible that a man
should die from the disease of his sin, though he has received full
pardon for it. For instance, a man had his brain affected owing to an
illness of long standing, and whilst thus affected he made an attack
upon another man and killed him. When sentence of death was pronounced
upon him, his relatives explained the circumstances and appealed for
mercy for him, and he was granted pardon for the sin of murder. But
before his friends could reach him with the good news, indeed while
they were on the way, he had died of the sickness by reason of which
he had committed the murder.

What advantage was this pardon to the murderer? His real safety would
have been to be cured of his disease, and then he would have had real
happiness in his pardon. For this reason I became manifest in the
flesh that I might deliver penitent believers from the disease of sin,
from its punishment and from death; thus taking away both cause and
effect. They will not die in their sins, for I will save them (Matt.
i.21), and they shall pass from death to becomes heirs of eternal

6. To many people life is full of peril, and they are like that hunter
who caught sight of a honeycomb on the branch of a tree overhanging a
stream. Climbing up, he began to enjoy the honey, quite unaware of the
fact that he was in peril of death, for in the stream beneath him lay
an alligator with open jaws waiting to devour him, while around the
foot of the tree a pack of wolves had gathered waiting for him to
descend. Worse still, the tree on which he sat had been eaten away at
the roots by an insect and it was ready to fall. In a short time it
did fall, and the unwary hunter became the prey of the alligator.
Thus, too, the human spirit, ensconced in the body, enjoys for a short
time the false and fleeting pleasures of sin gathered in the honeycomb
of the brain, without a thought that it is in the midst of this
fearsome jungle of the world. There Satan sits ready to tear it to
pieces, and hell like an alligator waits with open mouth to gulp it
down, while, worst of all, the tiny unseen insect of sin has eaten
away the very roots of the body and life. Soon the soul falls and
becomes an everlasting prey to hell. But the sinner who comes to Me I
will deliver from sin, from Satan, and from hell, and will give him
eternal joy “which none shall take away from him” (John xvi.22).

7. Satan with crafty speech and enticements draws men to him and
swallows them down just as a snake fascinates little birds by the
magnetism of its glittering eye, and makes a prey of them. But to
those who believe on Me I give deliverance from that old serpent and
from the seductions of this soul-destroying world. I set them free so
that, as a bird, easily resisting the force of gravity which is in the
earth, flies freely through the open heaven, they mount on the wings
of prayer and reach at last the abode of safety and their hearts dear
home, drawn by the sweet attractions of My love.

8. Just as a man with jaundice sees everything yellow, so to the
sinner and the philosopher truth itself takes on the form and fashion
of his sin or his theories, and it is not a matter of much surprise if
such people go a step further and count Me a sinner like themselves.
But My work, which is the salvation of sinners, does not depend on the
good opinion of the world, but for ever moves on its undisturbed way
in the lives of believers. Just as Levi, being still in the loins of
Abraham, paid tithe to Me though he was not yet born, so all
generations of believers have in Me, offered upon the cross, the
atonement and ransom for their sins, though they were not at that time
even born; for this salvation is for all races of men in the world.

9. This saying, that a man can by his own effort and good works
acquire salvation, is foolish and absurd so long as the man is not
born again. World-rulers and teachers of morality say, “Become good by
doing good,” but this is what I say, “Become good yourself before
doing good works.” When that new and good life has been entered upon,
good deeds will be the natural result.

It is only a fool that will say that a bitter tree by constantly
bearing fruit will at last become sweet. As a matter of fact a bitter
tree can become sweet by being grafted on a sweet tree, so that the
life and qualities peculiar to the sweet tree will pass into the
bitter one and its natural bitterness will pass away. This is what we
call a new creation. So too the sinner may have the desire to do what
is right, and yet the only result is sin; but when he repents and by
faith is grafted into Me the old man in him dies, and he becomes a new
creature. Then from this new life which has its origin in salvation
good deeds come forth as fruit, and this fruit abides for ever.

10. There are many who have learnt from experience that man’s natural
goodness cannot give true peace of heart, nor can it give him a
certainty of salvation or eternal life. The young man who came to Me
seeking eternal life is a case in point. His first thought with regard
to Me was wrong, as is that of some worldly-wise men and their
followers at the present day. He thought Me to be one of those
teachers who are like whited sepulchres, and in whose lives there is
not a particle of true goodness. Therefore I said to him, “Why do you
ask Me about goodness? There is none good but One.” But he failed to
see in Me the one giver of goodness and life; and when I sought to
admit him to My companionship and make him a truly good man, and
bestow life upon him, he became sad and left Me. His life, however,
makes one thing perfectly clear, and that is that his keeping the
commandments and his goodness did not satisfy him or give him the
assurance of eternal life. If his good works had given him peace he
would not have come to inquire of Me, or had he come he would not have
left Me in sorrow, but, believing My words, would have gone away

Not long afterwards the young man Paul recognized Me, and the desire
of his heart was completely fulfilled. Instead of turning away in
sadness he gave up all that he had and followed Me (Phil. iii.6-15).
So everyone who ceases to trust in his own righteousness and follows
Me shall receive from Me true peace and everlasting life.



The Disciple,–Sometimes this question is asked, “Since God is fully
aware of our needs, and knows how to supply them in the best way, not
for the good only but for the evil, how should we pray to Him about
them? Whether our necessities be temporal or spiritual, can we by our
prayers alter the will of God?”

The Master,–1. Those who ask such a question show clearly that they
do not know what prayer is. They have not lived a prayerful life, or
they would know that prayer to God is not a form of begging. Prayer
does not consist in an effort to obtain from God the things which are
necessary for this life. Prayer is an effort to lay hold of God
Himself, the Author of life, and when we have found Him who is the
source of life and have entered into communion with Him, then the
whole of life is ours and with Him all that will make life is perfect.
To evildoers God, out of love for them, gives what is necessary for
their life in this world, but their spiritual necessities He does not
even show to them, as they have no spiritual life.

Were He to bestow such spiritual blessings upon them, they would not
be able to appreciate them. But on those who believe gifts of both
kinds are bestowed, especially spiritual blessings, with the result
that very soon they pay little regard to temporal blessings, but fix
their love on the unseen and spiritual. We cannot alter the will of
God, but the man of prayer can discover the will of God with regard to
himself. For to men of this kind God makes Himself manifest in the
hidden chamber of the heart, and holds communion with them; and when
His gracious purposes are shown to be for their good, then the doubts
and difficulties of which they complain pass away for ever.

2. Prayer is, as it were, a breathing in of the Holy Spirit, and God
so pours His Holy Spirit into the life of the prayerful that they
become “living souls” (Gen. ii.7; John xx.22). They will never die,
for the Holy Spirit pours Himself by means of prayer into their
spiritual lungs, and fills their spirits with health and vigour and
everlasting life.

God, who is Love, has freely bestowed on all men those things which
are necessary for both the spiritual and temporal life, but since He
offers salvation and His Holy Spirit to all as freely, they are
lightly esteemed. But prayer teaches us to value them, because they
are as necessary as air and water, heat and light, without which life
is impossible. The things for our spiritual life God has freely
provided, but men so lightly regard them that they offer no thanks to
their Creator; but on the other hand, His gifts of gold, silver, and
precious jewels, which are scarce and obtained with great difficulty,
they highly esteem, though with such things the hunger and thirst of
the body cannot be assuaged, nor the longings of the heart be
satisfied. With such folly do men of the world act with regard to
spiritual things, but to the man of prayer are given true wisdom and
eternal life.

3. This world is like a widespread ocean in which men sink and are
drowned, but marine animals carry on their life in the deepest water,
because they occasionally come to the surface and, opening their
mouths, take in a certain amount of air, which enables them to live in
the depths. So they who rise to the surface of this life-ocean, by
means of private prayer breathe in the life-giving Spirit of God, and
find even in this world life and safety.

4. Although fish spend their whole life in the salt water of the sea,
yet they do not themselves become salty, because they have life in
them; so the man of prayer, though he has to live in this sin-defiled
world, remains free of the sinful taint, because by means of prayer
his life is maintained.

5. Just as the salt water of the sea is drawn upwards by the hot rays
of the sun, and gradually takes on the form of clouds, and, turned
thus into sweet and refreshing water, falls in showers on the earth
(for the sea water as it rises upwards leaves behind it its salt and
bitterness), so when the thoughts and desires of the man of prayer
rise aloft like misty emanations of the soul, the rays of the Sun of
Righteousness purify them of all sinful taint, and his prayers become
a great cloud which descends from heaven in a shower of blessing,
bringing refreshment to many on the earth.

6. Just as the waterfowl spends its life swimming in the water, yet
when in flight its feathers are perfectly dry, so men of prayer have
their abode in this world, but when the time comes for them to fly
aloft they pass from this sin-polluted world and arrive without spot
or stain at their everlasting home of rest.

7. The ship, quite properly, has its place in the water, but for the
water to flow into the ship is both unsuitable and dangerous. So for a
man to have his abode in this world is right and good for himself and
others, for, keeping himself afloat, he will be able to help them to
arrive along with himself at the haven of life. But for the world to
find its way into his heart means death and destruction. Therefore the
man of prayer ever reserves his heart for Him who formed it to be His
temple, and thus both in this world and that which is to come he rests
in peace and safely.

8. We all know that without water it is impossible to live; but if we
sink beneath it we choke and die. While we need to make use of and
drink water, we ought not to fall into and sink beneath it. Therefore
the world and worldly things must be used with discretion, for without
them life is not only difficult but impossible. For this very purpose
God created the world that men might make use of it, but men should
not drown themselves in it, for thus the breath of prayer is stopped
and they perish.

9. If by ceasing to live the life of prayer the life of the spirit
begins to fail, then those worldly things which are intended to be
useful become hurtful and destructive. The sun by its light and heat
makes all vegetable things to live and flourish, and also causes them
to wither and die. The air also gives life and vigour to all living
beings, but itself is the cause of their decomposition. Therefore
“Watch and Pray.”

10. We ought so to live in this world that though we are in it we are
not of it, and then the things of this world instead of being hurtful
will be useful, and will help the growth of the spiritual life; but
only on this condition, that the spirit ever keeps its face turned
towards the Sun of Righteousness. Thus it sometimes happens that in a
plot of unclean and filthy ground flowers spring up and flourish, and
the sweet scent of the flowers overpowers the evil smell of the place.
The plants, turning towards the sun, receive from it light and heat,
and the filth instead of being hurtful to the plants fertilizes them
and helps them to grow and flourish. So, too, the man of prayer as he
prays turns his heart to Me, and receives from Me light and warmth,
and amidst the ill odours of this evil world the sweet scent of his
new and holy life glorifies Me, and there is produced in him not sweet
odours only, but also fruit which shall abide for ever.


1. To pray does not imply that without prayer God would not give us
anything or that He would be unaware of our needs, but it has this
great advantage, that in the attitude of prayer the soul is best
fitted to receive the Giver of blessing as well as those blessings He
desires to bestow. Thus it was that the fullness of the Spirit was not
poured out upon the Apostles on the first day, but after ten days of
special preparation.

If a blessing were conferred upon one without a special readiness for
it, he would neither value it sufficiently nor long retain it. For
instance, because Saul obtained the Holy Spirit and the kingship
without seeking for them he very soon lost them both, for he had set
out from home not to obtain the Holy Spirit but to look for his lost
asses (1 Sam. ix.3; x.11; v.13-14; xxxi.4).

2. The man of prayer alone can worship God in spirit and truth. Others
are like the sensitive plant; during worship, affected by the teaching
and presence of the Holy Spirit, they shrivel up, as it were, and
bowing their heads become serious, but scarcely have they left the
church before they brighten up and go on as before.

3. If we do not take care of a tree or a shrub which bears good fruit
or flowers, it will degenerate and go back to its wild state. In the
same way, if the believer, through the neglect of prayer and the
spiritual life, ceases to abide in Me, he will, because of this
carelessness, fall from that state of blessedness, and sinking again
into his old sinful ways be lost.

4. When we see a crane standing motionless on the side of a tank or
lake, we may suppose from his attitude that he is musing on the glory
of God or the excellent quality of the water. But no such thing! He
stand there motionless for hours, but the moment he catches sight of a
frog or small fish he springs upon it and gulps it down. Just such is
the attitude and method of many with regard to prayer and religious
meditation. Seated by the shore of the boundless ocean of God, they
give no thought to His majesty and love, or to His divine nature that
cleanses from sin and satisfies the hungry soul, but are wrapped up in
the thought of acquiring some specially desired object, by means of
which they may more fully indulge in the delights of this fleeting
world. Thus they turn away from the fountain of true peace, and,
immersing themselves in the fading joys of this world, with them also
die and pass away.

5. Water and petrol both come from the earth, and though they seem to
be alike and even the same, they are in nature and purpose exact
opposites, for the one extinguishes fire and the other adds fuel to
it. So also the world and its treasures, the heart and its thirst for
God are alike His creation. Now the result of the attempt to satisfy
the heart with the wealth and pride and honours of this world is the
same as if one tried to put out a fire with petrol, for the heart can
only find ease and satisfaction in Him who created both it and the
longing desire of which it is conscious (Ps. xlii.1,2). Therefore
whoever now comes to Me I will give to him that living water so that
he will never again thirst, but it shall be in him a well of water
springing up into eternal life (John iv.14).

6. Men try in vain to find peace in the world and the things of the
world, for experience plainly shows that true peace and satisfaction
are not to be found in them. They are like the boy who found an onion
and began peeling off its skins in the hope of finding something
inside it, just as one finds in a box on taking the lid off. But his
was an altogether futile expectation, since he found nothing but the
last skin, for an onion is nothing but a collection of skins. And this
world and all that belongs to it has been proved to be vanity of
vanities (Eccles. xii.8), until men discover the true fountain of
peace (Isa. lv.1; Jer. ii.13; Rev. xxii.17).

7. The world is like a mirage, and the truth seeker, hoping to find
something to satisfy his thirsty spirit, starts off in search of it
but meets with nothing but disappointment and despair. The water of
life cannot be found in man-made tanks or cracked cisterns; but those
who approach Me in prayer with a pure heart will find in Me, who am
the source of the living water, that from which they may obtain
satisfaction, invigoration, and eternal life (Isa. lv.1; Jer. ii.13;
Rev. xxii.17).

A woman was traveling along a mountain track, carrying her child in
her arms, when the child, catching sight of a pretty flower, made such
a spring out of its mother’s arms that it fell headlong down the
mountain side, struck its head upon a rock, and died on the spot. Now
it is perfectly clear that the safety and sustenance of the child were
to be found in its mother’s bosom, and not in those fascinating
flowers which were the cause of its death. So acts the believer whose
life is not a life of prayer. When he catches sight of the fleeting
and fascinating pleasures of the world he forgets My love and care
which are far greater than those of the mother, and, neglecting that
spiritual milk which I provide for him, leaps out of My arms and is

9. The sustenance which the mother provides is so arranged that it
cannot be obtained without some effort on the part of the infant. So
also My children whom I bear in My bosom cannot obtain without
seeking, the spiritual milk which is able to save their souls. And as
the child does not need to be taught, but knows by instinct where and
how to obtain its food, so those who are born of the Spirit know by a
spiritual instinct, and not from worldly philosophy or wisdom, how to
pray and to obtain from Me, their spiritual Mother, the milk of
eternal life.

10. I have infused into man’s nature hunger and thirst, that he may
not in sheer heedlessness regard himself as God, but that day by day
he may be reminded of his needs and that his life is bound up with the
life and existence of Someone who created him. Thus being made aware
of his defects and necessities, he may abide in Me and I in him, and
then he will ever find in Me his happiness and joy.


1. To pray is as it were to be on speaking terms with Me, and so by
being in communion with and abiding in Me to become like Me. There is
a kind of insect which feeds upon and lives among grass and green
leaves and becomes like them in colour. Also the polar bear dwelling
among the white snows has the same snowy whiteness, and the tiger of
Bengal bears upon its skin the marks of the reeds among which it
lives. So those, who by means of prayer abide in communion with Me
partake, with the saints and angels, of My Nature, and being formed in
My image become like Me.

2. When for but a short time I drew Peter, James, and John into
communion with Me upon the Mount, I showed them somewhat of My glory,
and of all the saints two only, Moses and Elias, appeared to them;
they were so captivated with that brief glimpse of heavenly glory that
they wished to erect three tabernacles in order to live there (Matt.
xvii.1-5). How wonderful, then, will be the happiness of those who
abide in Me, and with saints and angels innumerable enter into their
longed-for heaven, and share with Me My full glory which knows no loss
nor shadow of change (John xvii.24; James i.17). The man of prayer
shall never be alone, but he shall abide with Me and My holy ones for
ever (Matt. xxviii.20; Zach. iii.7-8).

3. It is not a great thing to control and make use of wild animals,
lightning, the wind, and light, and other powers of nature, but to
gain the mastery over the world and Satan and self, with all its
passions, is of a truth a most momentous and necessary thing. Upon
those only who live a life of prayer do I bestow the power to overcome
all the might of the enemy (Luke x.17,20), so that even while they
live in this world they abide with Me in the heavenly places (Eph.
ii.6), and Satan being below and they above he is never able to reach
them, but they abide for ever with Me in safety and without a tremor
of fear.

Although men have now obtained control over the powers of nature they
are not to travel beyond the bounds of the air, while the man of
prayer, having mastered Satan and self, can range at will the
everlasting heavens.

4. Just as the bee collects the sweet juice of the flowers and turns
it into honey without injuring their colour or fragrance, so the man
of prayer gathers happiness and profit from all God’s creation without
doing any violence to it. As bees also gather their honey from flowers
in all sorts of different places and store it in the honeycomb, so the
man of God gathers sweet thoughts and feelings from every part of
creation, and in communion with his Creator collects in his heart the
honey of truth, and in enduring peace with Him at all times and in all
places, tastes with delight the sweet honey of God.

5. Now is the time to obtain and keep in the vessels of our hearts the
oil of the Holy Spirit, as the five wise virgins did (Matt. xxv.1-13);
otherwise like the five foolish ones we shall meet with nothing but
grief and despair. Now also you must collect the manna for the true
Sabbath, otherwise there will be nothing left you but sorrow and woe
(Ex. xvi.15,27). “Pray, therefore, that your flight may not be in the
winter,” that is, in time of great distress or the last days, “or on
the Sabbath day,” that is, the reign of a thousand years of eternal
rest, for such an opportunity will never occur again (Matt. xxiv.20).

In the same way as climate produces a change in form, colour, and the
habits of growth in plants and flowers, so those who maintain
communion with Me undergo a development of their spiritual nature in
habit, appearance, and disposition; and putting off the old man they
are transformed into My own glorious and incorruptible image.

With my finger I wrote upon the ground the sinful state of each of
those who, regardless of their inner vileness, brought the woman taken
in adultery for condemnation, so that they left her one by one and
went away abashed and ashamed. With My finger, too, I point out in
secret to My servants their wounds of sin, and when they repent, with
a touch of the same finger I heal them; and in the same way as a child
grasps his father’s finger and by it help walks along with him, so I
with My finger lead My children along the road from this world to
their home of rest and everlasting peace (John xiv.2,3).

7. Oftentimes men pray to the Father in My name, but do not abide in
Me, that is, they take My name into their mouths and on their lips,
but not into their hearts and lives. That is the reason why they do
not obtain what they pray for. But when I abide in them and they in
Me, then whatever they ask from the Father they receive, because they
pray under the direction of the Holy Spirit in that condition. The
Holy Spirit shows them what will glorify the Father and be best for
themselves and for others. Otherwise they will get such an answer as a
bad son got from a governor whom his father had served with great
courage and honour. When the son presented a petition in his father’s
name and asked for some employment and favour, the governor pointed
out to him his evil life and habits, and said, “Do not petition me in
your father’s name, but first go and act according to his example. Let
his high worth be not on your lips only, but carry it into your life,
and then your petition will be accepted.”

8. Between the prayers of those who worship and praise Me with their
lips only and of those who do so from their heart there is a very
great difference. For instance, one who was a true worshipper was
constantly praying for another that his eyes might be opened and that
he might accept the truth, while the other was a worshipper in name
only often prayed in his enmity against My true worshipper that he
might be struck blind. Finally the prayers of the true worshipper were
heard by the loving will of God, and he who was formerly only a
hypocrite received spiritual sight. With his heart full of joy this
man became a true believer, and a sincere and lasting brother of My
true servant.

9. Prayer makes things possible for men which they find impossible by
other means, and they experience such wonderful things in life as are
not only opposed to the rules and opinions of worldly wisdom, but are
held to be impossible altogether. Scientific men do not recognize that
He who set all created things in order and made laws for them, cannot
be imprisoned behind the bars of his own laws. The ways of the great
Lawgiver are inscrutable, because His eternal will and purpose is the
blessing and prosperity of all His creatures, and the reason the
natural man cannot grasp this fact is because spiritual things are
spiritually discerned (1 Cor. ii.14).

The greatest of all miracles is the new birth in man, and to the man
who has experienced this miracle all others become possible. Now in
very cold countries a bridge of water is a common sight, because when
the surface of a river is frozen hard the water beneath still flows
freely on, but men cross over the icy bridge with ease and safety. But
if one were to speak of a bridge of water spanning a flowing river to
people who are constantly perspiring in the heat of a tropical clime,
they would at once say that such a thing was impossible and against
the laws of nature. There is the same great difference between those
who have been born again and by prayer maintain their spiritual life,
and those who live worldly lives and value only material things, and
so are utterly ignorant of the life of the soul.

10. He who desires by prayer to obtain from God the blessing of a
spiritual life must believe and obey without questioning. The man who
came to Me with a withered hand, when I commanded him to stretch out
his hand instantly obeyed, and so his hand became whole as the other
(Matt. xii.10-13). But suppose instead of that instant obedience he
had begun to argue and say, “How can I stretch out my hand? If I had
been able to do that, why should I have come to Thee? First of all
heal my hand, and then I shall be able to stretch it out.” All this
would have been considered very reasonable and to the point, but his
hand would never have been healed.

He who prays must believe and be obedient, and stretch out to Me in
prayer his weak and withered hands, and then it will be for Me to give
him spiritual life, and according to his need it shall be granted to
him (Matt. xxi.22).



The Disciple,–Master, what is the real meaning of service? Is it that
we serve the Creator and then His creatures for His sake? Is the help
of man, who is after all but a mere worm, of any value to God in
caring for His great family, or does God stand in need of the help of
man in protecting or preserving any of His creatures?

The Master,–1. Service means the activity of the spiritual life and
is the natural offering prompted by love. God, who is Love, is ever
active in the care of His creation, and His desire is that His
creatures and especially man, whom He formed in His own image and
likeness, should never be idle. In the care and preservation of His
creatures God needs the help of none, for He created them in such a
way that without His help they could not continue to exist, and He it
is who has provided all that is required to satisfy their desires. In
true service of others there is this great advantage that it helps him
who serves–just as it happened to you in Tibet. When you were in fear
of death on account of the bitter cold, you saw one lying buried in
the snow and at the point of death, you went to him and lifting him on
to your shoulders carried him forward, and the efforts you made
produced heat in your body which also passed into his, and both he and
you were saved, so that in rescuing him you saved your own life. This
is the true end of service. No one can live alone and deprived of the
help of others. Should anyone receive help from another, and be
unwilling to return such assistance as he can, such an ungrateful
fellow would have no right to expect any help from any one at all.

2. Until a man brings into the service of God and man faculties and
powers with which God has endowed him, he will not receive from God
the help He alone can bestow. As soon as man does his part God will
complete it. For instance, the removal of the stone from the grave of
Lazarus was man’s work, and it was not necessary for God to put forth
His power to do that; but when the people had rolled away the stone,
then God, that is Myself, did that which was beyond the power and
skill of man, for I gave life to the dead. Even after that there was
work for man to do in releasing Lazarus from the grave-clothes that he
might be perfectly free (John xi.39,41,44).

So with regard to those who are dead in sin. It is the work of My
disciples to roll away the gravestones of hindrance and difficulty,
but to bestow life is My work. Often, too, some who have received
spiritual life still remain in bondage to their old bad habits and
evil associations, and it is the duty of My children to lead them into
perfect freedom; and to render this great service they should ever be
alert in heart and soul.

3. A certain king on his deathbed spoke to a faithful servant of his
as follows: “It has been my custom when setting out on a journey to
send you before me to announce me and make preparations for my
reception. I am going to the land of the dead. Go, therefore, and
inform them that I am about to join them.” At first the honest servant
did not understand what his lord meant, but as soon as he saw that his
meaning was that he should die and thus precede him to the land of the
dead, the faithful fellow, without a moment’s hesitation or doubt,
plunged a sword into his heart, and thus entered the country of the
dead, there to await his lord. Thus it is the duty of those who serve
Me, who am the Lord of Life and the King of kings (Acts iii.15; Rev.
xix.16), to carry the gospel of salvation to those who are dead in
sin, and to be ready even to give their lives for Me, who came to
earth for their salvation and will come yet once more (Rev. ii.10).

4. A rebellious son once left his father’s house and joined a band of
robbers and became in time as bold and ruthless as the rest. The
father called his servants and ordered them to go to his son and tell
him that if he would repent and return home all would be forgiven, and
he would receive him into his home. But the servants, in dread of the
wild country and fierce robbers, refused to go. Then the elder brother
of the young man, who loved him as his father did, set off to carry
the message of forgiveness. But soon after he had entered the jungle a
band of robbers set upon him and mortally wounded him. The younger
brother was one of the band, and when he recognized his elder brother
he was filled with grief and remorse. The elder brother managed to
give the message of forgiveness and then, saying that the purpose of
his life was fulfilled and love’s duty done, he gave up the ghost.
This sacrifice of the elder brother made so deep an impression on the
rebellious youth that he went back in penitence to his father and from
that day forward lived a new life. Is it not right, therefore, that My
sons should be prepared to sacrifice their lives in order to bring the
message of mercy to those of their brethren who have gone astray and
are ruined in sin, just as I also gave My life for the salvation of

5. My children are like salt in the world (Matt. v.13). If the salt
crystals are not dissolved they cannot transmit their flavour. So with
My children. If they are not melted in the fire of love and the Holy
Spirit, and made into a living sacrifice, they will not be able to
bring a single soul that spiritual and heavenly life by which they may
be saved. They will be no better than Lot’s wife who became a pillar
of salt (Gen. xix.26). But just as for your sakes I was melted in
Gethesemane (Luke xxii.44), and on the cross gave up My life that I
might save the lives of men, for life must be paid for with life, so
you also are called upon to give up your lives and thus bring the
savour of spiritual life to others and deliver them from death.

6. A certain murderer, instead of being hanged, was sent into battle,
and there he fought for his king and country with such dauntless
courage that although he was severely wounded he came back a
conqueror. After the victory he was brought into the court again to be
sentenced. The king, seeing on his body the marks of his wounds,
cancelled the sentence of death, and not only forgave his crime, but
also highly rewarded him and raised him to a post of honour. So those
who on My side fight in the Holy War against Satan with courage and
boldness that they may save their brethren and sisters, shall not only
receive from Me the forgiveness of their sins, but in the kingdom of
God I will bestow on them a crown and a kingdom (James v.20; Rev.

7. As the pipe that is used to convey clean water is itself kept clean
by the water which passes through it, so those, who through the Holy
Spirit carry the Water of Life to others, are themselves purified and
become heirs to the kingdom of God.

8. The best way for the believer to be fitted for the reception of the
Holy Spirit and for service is to be obedient to the heavenly voice
and immediately, as far as ability goes, to begin to serve. As to
become a good swimmer it is useless to receive instruction unless one
enters the water and strikes out for oneself, and only by constantly
practising, first in shallow water and then in deep, can one become an
adept in the art, so, in order to learn how to save the souls of those
who are sinking in the dark waters of sin, the best way is to enter
the only real and practical school of divinity, which is union with
Myself (Acts iv.13).

9. There are some who are kept back from serving by the thought of
their lack of ability, and do not remember that My strength gives
power in weakness (2 Cor. xii.9). They are like invalids who, though
they have recovered from their disease and are taking nourishing food,
yet remain weak because they do no work and take no proper exercise.
What such believers need is that they should put their trust in Me and
set out to save sinners from destruction.


1. Love is the touchstone by which the reality of truth is perceived,
and by it shall all men know that ye are My disciples (John xiii.35).
I also make use of the sword of justice, so that at first sight some
are inclined to think that, like Solomon, I intend to finish My work
without mercy (1 Kings iii.16-28), but My object, like his, is to
apply the touchstone of love which will bring out the truth, and show
that you are the children of that God of Love who gave His life to
save yours. You ought therefore to abide in that love and serve one
another, and even give your lives to serve others, as I also gave My
life for you. Then as I live ye shall live also (John xiv.19).

2. If ye are My disciples indeed your service of love will bear much
fruit (John xv.8). And if men speak evil of you and pelt you with
reproaches, pray for them, and instead of reproaching them let them
taste the sweet fruit of your love.

Mischievous boys, when they catch sight of sweet fruit on a tree, pelt
it with stones, and the tree without a murmur drops upon them, instead
of stones, its charming fruit. For the tree has no stones to throw,
but what God has given it, it gives without complaining. Be not cast
down by ill treatment, for the fact that men fling abuse at you is
full proof that yours is a fruitful life. Though they treat you thus
from envy and spite, yet by that means the glory of your heavenly
Father is made manifest. Do not suppose that God hungers after glory,
or that there is anything lacking in His glory that man can supply. By
no means! The object of His love is to lift that mean creature man out
of the sinful state into which he has fallen and bear him upwards to
His heaven of glory. Thus He gives not glory to Himself but to man by
cleansing and purifying him, and in this the wonder and majesty of His
love is made manifest.

3. To those who by their labours have enabled many to turn from sin
and find righteousness in Me, I will grant such glory that they shall
first of all shine like the stars, and then being made perfect shall
shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The stars fade and
disappear at the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, but the wish of
My Father is that His sons should be made perfect like Himself and
shine with Him in everlasting glory, rejoicing for ever in His
boundless and eternal love.

4. There are little creatures far inferior to man, like the firefly,
with its flickering light, and certain small plants among the
vegetation in the Himalayas, which by their faint phosphorescent
radiance illuminate as far as they can the dark jungle where they
live. Tiny fish also that swim in the deep waters of the ocean give
forth a glimmering light which guides other fish and helps them to
elude their enemies. How much more ought My children to be lights in
the world (Matt. v.14) and be eager in self-sacrifice to bring into
the way of truth, by means of their God-given light, those who by
reason of darkness are liable to become the prey of Satan.

5. If they do not use these heaven-sent powers in the service of God
and His creatures they are in danger of losing for ever those heavenly
gifts. This is what has happened to certain fish that live in the deep
waters of dark caves, also to some hermits in Tibet, for both have
lived so long in darkness that they have entirely lost their sight. In
like manner the ostrich, through not using its wings, has lost
altogether the power of flight. Take heed, therefore, not to neglect
whatever gifts or talents have been entrusted to you, but make use of
them that you may share in the bliss and glory of your Master (Matt.

6. Sometimes when there is some great act of service to be done, I
choose for My purpose those who are little esteemed in the eyes of the
world, for they make no boast of their own power or wisdom, but
putting their entire trust in Me, and accounting what little ability
they possess as of no great value, they devote all they have and are
to My work for men (1 Cor. i.26-30). For instance, when I fed in the
wilderness five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, you will
remember that I did not perform this miracle by the agency of My
disciples, for they were full of doubt and perplexity and wished to
send the multitude away hungry (John vi.9). My servant on that
occasion was a little lad whom I had cured of the palsy. Filled with a
desire to hear My words he determined to follow Me. His poor mother
wrapped up in his clothes some barley cakes and dried fish, enough for
two or three days journey, so when inquiry was made for food for the
multitude this faithful little lad at once brought all that he had and
laid it at the disciples feet. Though there were wealthy people there
who had with them much better food, such as wheaten cakes, they were
not prepared to give them up; so it was from the barley cakes of this
boy, My namesake, that by My blessing the multitude was fed with the
choicest food.

7. There are many who are so wanting in gratitude that whatever
blessings are bestowed upon them, even to the extent of miracles being
performed for their benefit, they still remain dissatisfied and
ungrateful. Such people can never be used for the service and blessing
of others, but are like the man whom I healed after he had suffered
for thirty-eight years from an incurable disease, for instead of being
grateful and believing on Me he did not even trouble to remember My
name (John v.12-13). From such people the world can hope for no
blessing; it comes only from those who, like the poor widow, are ready
to give up all they have, even all their living (Luke xxi.2-4).

8. For true service and the performance of duty My servants must be
ready to offer even life itself–like that faithful soldier who
remained at his post in the bitter cold and falling snow till he froze
to death, and like a statue still kept his place, though the others of
the watch went off to warm themselves at the fire. When the king came
and saw him standing fixed and faithful still in death, he took off
his crown and placed it for a space upon his head, saying: “Such a
faithful soldier and servant is worthy of the honour and glory of my
diadem. Would that he had lived, for then I would have made him the
head of my kingdom!” Such must my faithful servants be in the service
to which I have appointed them, and to those who finish their work
with like faith and courage I will grant a fadeless crown of eternal
kingship (2 Tim. iv.4, 5-8).

9. Many there are who have wasted the precious time given to them for
My service, but even now there is an opportunity for them to rouse
themselves and make the best use of the time that remains to them.
They are like a hunter who, while wandering in the jungle, picked up
some pretty stones on the bank of a stream. Unaware of their value he
used them one by one in his sling to shoot at the birds seated on the
trees near the river, and so one by one they fell into the water and
were lost. With one still in his hand he returned to the city, and as
he passed along the bazaar a jeweller caught sight of it, and told the
silly fellow that it was a valuable diamond for which he could get
thousands of rupees. When he heard this he began to bewail himself and
say, “Woe is me! I didn’t know their value, and have been using many
of these diamonds to shoot at birds by the riverside, and they have
fallen into the river and are lost, otherwise I should have been a
millionaire. Still I have saved this one, and that is something
gained.” Every day is like a precious diamond, and though many
priceless days have been wasted in the pursuit of fleeting pleasures,
and are for ever sunk in the depths of the past, you should awake to
the value of what remains, and bringing it into the best possible use
gather for yourself spiritual riches. Use it in My service, who have
given to you life and all its priceless blessings, and by using them
to save others from sin and death you will obtain an everlasting and
heavenly reward.



The Disciple,–What is the meaning and purpose of the cross, and why
do pain and suffering exist in the world?

The Master,–1. The cross is the key to heaven. At the moment when by
My baptism I took the cross upon My shoulders for the sake of sinners,
heaven was opened, and by means of My thirty-three years bearing of
the cross and by death upon it, heaven, which by reason of sin was
closed to believers, was for ever opened to them.

Now as soon as believers take up their cross and follow Me they enter
heaven through Me (John x.9) and begin the enjoyment of that unbounded
bliss which the world cannot understand, for heaven is closed to
unbelief. Hope and experience will teach the unbeliever that joy
follows pain, but that that joy does not endure. But I give to My
children ease in pain, and perfect happiness and peace. Those who
joyfully take up My cross are themselves upborne by it, and ever
supported by that cross they enter heaven at last.

2. Pain arises out of man’s perverse and rebellious nature, just as
tropical heat is irksome and painful to those who live in cold lands,
and bitter cold to those who live in tropic climes. Heat and cold
depend on the relation of the earth to the sun. So man, by the
exercise of his own free will, enters into a state of agreement or
disagreement with God, and inasmuch as the laws of God are intended
for the spiritual health and happiness of man, opposition to them
brings about spiritual pain and suffering. Now God, instead of
altogether removing these states of opposition and rebellion to His
will, makes use of them to make clear to man that this world was not
created to be his home, but is to him a foreign land (2 Cor. v.1,2,6).

This world is but to prepare him for a perfect and eternal home, and
the oft-repeated blows of ill-fortune are intended to keep his spirit
awake, lest he should become careless, and falling away from the truth
share in the ruin of this unstable world. He is meant to come into
communion with his Maker and, after being freed from the suffering and
misery of this fleeting life, to enter into His heaven of eternal
happiness and peace.

3. Pain and suffering are bitter as poison, but it is also well known
that sometimes the antidote of a poison is itself a poison. And thus I
sometimes employ pain and suffering as bitter medicines in order to
promote the spiritual health and vigour of My believers. As soon as
their perfect health is secured there will be an end of all suffering.
Their pain is no pleasure to Me, for My one object is their eternal
well-being (Lam. iii.31,33).

4. Just as after a shock of earthquake springs of sweet water
sometimes emerge in desert places, and the arid wastes are irrigated
and become fruitful, so in certain cases the shock of suffering opens
up within the heart of a man hidden springs of living water, and in
place of murmurings and complainings there issue from him streams of
gratitude and joy (Ps. cxix.67,71).

5. As soon as a child enters the world it is most necessary that it
should begin to cry and scream, so that its breath may have free play
and its lungs be brought into full use; and if for some reason it does
not cry out it must be slapped till it does so. Just so with perfect
love. I sometimes cause My children to cry out by the blows and stings
of pain and suffering, that the breath of prayer may have free course
through the lungs of their spirit and they may thus gain fresh vigour
and abide in endless life.

6. The cross is like a walnut whose outer rind is bitter, but the
inner kernel is pleasant and invigorating. So the cross does not offer
any charm of outward appearance, but to the cross-bearer its true
character is revealed, and he finds in it the choicest sweets of
spiritual peace.

7. When I became incarnate, I bore the cruel cross for man’s
salvation, not for the six hours of My crucifixion only, or even for
the three and a half years of My ministry, but for the whole
thirty-three and a half years of My life, in order that man might be
delivered from the bitterness of death. Just as it is painful to a
cleanly man to stay for even a few minutes in a filthy and unclean
place, so those who abide in Me find it most distasteful to have to
live among vicious people; and this is the reason why some men of
prayer, distressed by the foulness of sin, have abandoned the world
and gone to live as hermits in deserts and caves. Consider this, then,
when men who have been sinners themselves feel the presence of sin so
hard to bear that they cannot endure the company of their own kind, so
much that they leave them, and never wish to return to them again, how
extremely painful and hard a cross must Mine have been, that I, the
Fountain of Holiness, should have had to live for more than
thirty-three years constantly among men defiled with sin. To
understand this and rightly to appreciate it is beyond the powers of
man’s mind, and even the angels desire to look into it (1 Pet. i.12).
For before the creation they knew that God is Love, and yet it was to
them a most wonderful and amazing thing that the love of God should be
such that, in order to save His creatures and to bring to them eternal
life, He should become incarnate and bear the cruel cross.

8. In this life even I share the cross of those who abide in Me, and
enter into their sufferings (Acts ix.4). Though they are creatures and
I am their Creator, yet, just as the body and the spirit, though
separate entities, are yet so intermingled that if even the smallest
part of the body feels pain the spirit immediately becomes conscious
of it; so I am the life and spirit of My children, and they are, as it
were, My body and members. I share their every pain and grief, and at
the right moment give them relief.

9. As I Myself bore the cross I am able to deliver and keep in perfect
safety those who are crossbearers, even while they walk amid fires of
persecution. I was with the three young men in Nebuchadnezzar’s
furnace, which with all its raging had no power to hurt them (Dan.
iii.23-5; 1 Peter iv.12-13). So those who by the baptism of the Holy
Spirit have received the new life will never feel the fires of
persecution nor any hurtful thing, for they ever abide in Me in
eternal peace and safety.


1. In the bitter cold of winter the trees stand bare of leaves, and it
seems as if their life, too, had departed for ever, yet in the spring
time they put forth new leaves and beautiful flowers, and the fruit
begins to show itself. So was it with Me in My crucifixion and
resurrection, and so it is with my faithful cross-bearers (2 Cor.
iv.8-11; vi.4-10). Though they seem to be crushed and dead beneath
their cross they still put forth the beautiful flowers and glorious
fruits of eternal life which abide for ever.

2. In grafting a sweet tree on to a bitter one, both feel the knife
and both are called upon to suffer in order that the bitter may bear
sweet fruit. So, too, in order to introduce good into man’s evil
nature, it was necessary that first of all I Myself and afterwards
believers also should suffer the agonies of the cross, that they might
in future for ever bear good fruit, and thus the glorious love of God
be made manifest.

3. If in this world men persecute and slander you do not let this
surprise or distress you, for this is for you no place of rest, but a
battlefield. Woe to you when men of the world praise you (Luke vi.26),
for this proves that you have taken on their perverse ways and habits.
It is against their very nature and temper to praise My children, for
light and darkness cannot exist together. If for the sake of
appearances evil men act contrary to their nature and cease to
persecute you, yours is the greater injury, for their influence enters
into your spiritual life, and your spiritual progress is hindered.

Further, to put your trust in the world or in worldly men is to build
your house upon the sand, for today they will raise you aloft and
tomorrow will so cast you down that there will be no trace left of
you, for they are in all things unstable. When I went up to Jerusalem
at the Passover, they all with one voice began to cry out, “Hosanna!
Hosanna!” (Matt. xxi.9), and only three days after, when they saw that
what I said was against their life of sin and self-seeking, they at
once changed over and began to cry, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Luke

4. If through some misunderstanding some, or even all, believers turn
against you and cause you pain, you must not count it a misfortune,
for if in all honesty and faithfulness under the guidance of the Holy
Spirit you continue to do your duty, remember that God Himself and all
the hosts of heaven are on your side.

Do not allow yourself to be discouraged, for the time is at hand when
all your good designs and purposes and all your unselfish love will be
made known to the whole world, and, in the presence of all, honour
will be done to you for your labours and faithful service.

I, too, for the salvation of men, had to renounce all things, and was
Myself renounced by all, yet at the last I regained all and
everything. Neither be surprised if the world desert you, for it has
deserted God Himself, so that in this you are seen to be a true son of
your Father.

5. Do not suppose that those who live in luxury and seem to be always
successful in worldly affairs are all true worshippers of God, for the
opposite is often the case. It is possible for sheep to wander away
from the fold and the shepherd, and find in the jungle good pasturage,
but they are all the time in danger of being torn to pieces by wild
beasts, which will indeed be their fate in the end. But those who
abide in the fold with the shepherd, though they may appear to be sick
and feeble, are certainly free from danger and in the shepherd’s care.
This is the difference between believers and unbelievers.

6. The life of the believer and that of the unbeliever show great
similarity in their beginning, but when their end comes, they are as
diverse as the snake and the silkworm. The snake, however many times
he casts his skin, remains a snake and nothing else, but the silkworm,
when it casts off its unsightly cocoon, becomes a new creature, and as
a dainty pretty moth flies about in the air. So the believer, casting
aside this body, enters into a state of spiritual glory and flies
about for ever in heaven, while the sinner after death is but a sinner

Though the silkworm, cramped within the cocoon, is in a state of
depression and struggle as though upon a cross, yet this very
condition of strife and difficulty gives strength to its wings, and
fits it for the life that is to be. So My children, while in the body,
are in a state of spiritual struggle and conflict, and look forward to
their release with sighs and longing, but through the bearing of the
cross I give them strength, and they become fully prepared and fitted
for that state of endless life (Rom. viii.23).

In the midst of this spiritual warfare, and even while they are
bearing their cross, I give them a truly wonderful peace of heart,
that their courage may not fail. For instance, when a faithful martyr
of Mine had borne witness to Me in word and deed, his enemies took him
and hung him up to a tree head downwards. In this condition such was
his peace of mind that he was utterly unconscious of the pain and
disgrace to which he was subjected, and turning to his persecutors
said, “The way you have treated me does not distress or dismay me, for
I can expect nothing else in a world where everything is upside down,
and where one can see nothing upright. In accordance with your own
nature you have turned me as you think upside down, but in reality I
am right side up. Just as when a slide is put into a magic lantern
wrong way up it shows the picture correctly, so though now in the eyes
of the world I am upside down, I am for ever right side up before God
and the heavenly world, and I praise Him for this glorious cross.”

8. For believers it would sometimes be an easy thing to become a
martyr to My Name, but I also need living witnesses who will daily
offer themselves as living sacrifices for the salvation of others (1
Cor. xv.31). For death is easy, but it is hard to live, for a
believer’s life is a daily dying. But those who are thus ready to lay
down their lives for My sake shall share My glory and live with Me for
ever in fullness of joy.

9. Should pain and suffering, sorrow, and grief, rise up like clouds
and overshadow for a time the Sun of Righteousness and hide Him from
your view, do not be dismayed, for in the end this cloud of woe will
descend in showers of blessing on your head, and the Sun of
Righteousness rise upon you to set no more for ever (John xvi.20-22).



The Disciple,–Master, what are heaven and hell, and where are they?

The Master,–1. Heaven and hell are the two opposite states in the
spiritual realm. They have their origin in the heart of man and it is
in this world that their foundations are laid. Since man cannot see
his own spirit, so neither can he see these two states of the soul.
But he has experience of them within him, just as he feels pain from a
blow and perceives sweetness from eating sweetmeats. The wound caused
by the blow may increase until it caused the greatest pain and finally
ends in death and decay, as on the other hand the sweetmeats may by
digestion promote strength. In the same way the pain of a sinful act
and the happiness of a good deed may to some extent be apparent
immediately, yet the full penalty or reward for them will be perceived
only on entry into the spiritual realm.

2. In this world man is never satisfied for long with one thing, but
is ever in search of a change of circumstances or surroundings; for
which it is clear that the fleeting things of this world never can
satisfy him, for he wants something that is stable and unchanging and
always agreeable to his tastes and desires. When in his search he
finds this reality in Me, the desire for all further change comes to
an end, because one does not grow wearied of perfect society and
complete happiness, for this is the one demand of both body and
spirit. In truth, to obtain a true peace is the one object of the
human soul. Sometimes there comes to the heart of man, without any
thought or desire of his own, a sudden sensation of pleasure or pain
which is an emanation from the spiritual world of heaven or hell.
These come to him again and again, gradually one or other of these
prevails, according to his spiritual habit, and by steadily
appropriating one of these he makes a final choice. In this way the
foundation of heaven or hell is built up in a man’s heart while still
in this world, and after death he enters into that state which, in
this life, his desires or passions have prepared him for.

3. Some say that desire is the root of all pain and sorrow, therefore
it is not right to desire happiness in heaven or in communion with
God, for salvation consists in killing all desire. To say this is as
great a folly as to tell a thirsty man to kill his thirst instead of
giving him water to drink, for thirst or desire is part of life
itself. To take away desire or thirst without satisfying them is to
destroy life, and this is not salvation but death. Just as thirst
implies water, and water is intended to remove thirst, so the
existence of desire in the soul implies the existence of true
happiness and peace. When the soul finds Him who planted within it
that desire, it receives far greater satisfaction than the thirsty man
does from water, and this satisfaction of the soul’s desire we call

4. There are many in this world who are like the man who died from
thirst although he was in the midst of the boundless waters of the
ocean, for sea water could not quench his thirst or save his life.
Just so there are men who are living in the boundless ocean of love,
and yet because the fresh water of God’s grace is bitterness to them
in their disobedience and sin, they perish with thirst. But for those
who repent of their sin and turn to Me fountains of living water gush
up from that sea of love, and they find in Him who loves them
satisfaction and enduring peace. This, too, we call heaven.

5. There are many who have conceived such a love and devotion to the
world that though by the example and teaching of My children their
hearts are often lifted heavenwards, yet drawn down by the force of
gravity, like stones that have been thrown upwards, they fall back
into the world and finally slip into hell. But when man turns his
heart to Me in true repentance, I cleanse the temple of his heart with
the whips of love and make it a heavenly abode for the King of kings.
This earthly life is such that the glory and pomp of kings are seen
but today, and tomorrow are mingled with the dust. But those who
become sons of the kingdom of God have glory and honour, thrones and
crowns, and of their kingdom, which is heaven, there is no end.

6. Sinners in order to increase their pleasures steal the good things
of others, and that is why men, good as well as bad, lock up their
houses when they go abroad. And this locking up of goods must go on as
long as men’s hearts are locked against their Lord and Maker. When,
however, the lock of the heart is open to Him whoever stands knocking
at the door (Rev. iii.20), the desires and longings of the heart will
be fulfilled. Then there will be no further need for the locking up of
houses, for instead of stealing each other’s goods and doing each
other mischief all will serve one another in love. For when men give
to God what is due to Him they will seek only what is good. Thus they
enter into His wondrous joy and peace; and this is heaven.

7. When I gave My life upon the cross for the sons of men that I might
save sinners from hell and lead them into heaven, two thieves, one on
each side of Me, met death at the same time. Although to all
appearance we all three suffered a like fate, from a spiritual point
of view there was a vast difference. One of them shut up his heart
against Me and met his death unrepentant, but the other opened his
heart to Me in true repentance, and in communion with Me found life,
and that very day entered Paradise with Me (Luke xxiii.39-43). This
Paradise exists not only beyond the grave, but begins in the hearts of
men now, though it is hidden from the eyes of the world (Luke
xvii.21). A faithful martyr of Mine was at the point of death after
suffering untold agonies at the hands of his persecutors, and was so
filled with the joy of heaven that he turned to them and said, “O that
I could open my heart to you, and show you the wonderful peace I have,
which the world can neither give nor take away! Then you would be
convinced of its truth, but it is the hidden manna which is unseen and
unseeable.” After his death those foolish folk tore out his heart,
hoping to find something precious in it, but they found nothing, for
the reality of that heaven is known only to those who accept it and
find in it their joy.

8. The womb of Mary, where in a fleshly form I had My abode for a few
months, was not a place so blessed as the heart of the believer in
which for all time I have My home and make it a heaven (Luke

9. There are many who long for heaven yet miss it altogether through
their own folly. A poor begger sat for twenty-one years on the top of
a hidden treasure chamber, and was so consumed with the desire to be
rich that he horded up all the coppers that he received. Yet he died
in a miserable state of poverty, utterly unaware of the treasure over
which he had been sitting for years. Because he sat so long on the
same spot a suspicion arose that he had something valuable buried
there. So the Governor had the place dug up and discovered a hoard of
valuables, which afterwards found its way into the royal treasury. My
word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart (Deut. xxx.14).

10. Those who know nothing of the spiritual life declare that it is
impossible to experience real peace and heavenly joy in this
grief-stricken world. But those who have experience of the spiritual
life know that just as one finds here and there in the midst of the
ice fields of the polar regions flowing streams of hot water, so in
the midst of this cold and sorrow-laden world there are to be found
flowing in the hearts of believers restful streams of heavenly peace,
for the hidden fire of the Holy Spirit glows within them.

11. Although God made all men of one blood and created all in His own
form and likeness, He has made them to differ in character,
temperament, and powers. For if all the flowers in the world were of
the same colour and scent, then the very face of the earth would lose
its charm. The sun’s rays as they pass through coloured glass do not
change the colours, but only bring out their varied beauty and charm.
In the same way the Sun of Righteousness, both in this world and in
heaven, through the God-given virtues of believers and saints
continually makes manifest His unbounded glory and love. Thus I abide
in them and they in Me, and they will have joy for evermore.


The Disciple,–Master, some people say that the comfort and joy that
believers experience are simply the outcome of their own thoughts and
ideas. Is this true?

The Master,–1. That comfort and abiding peace which believers have
within themselves is due to My presence in their hearts, and to the
life-giving influence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. As for those
who say that this spiritual joy is the result only of the thoughts of
the heart, they are like a foolish man who was blind from his birth,
and who in the winter time used to sit out in the sunshine to warm
himself. When they asked him what he thought of the sun’s heat he
stoutly denied that there was such a thing as the sun, and said, “This
warmth which I am now feeling on the outside comes from within my own
body, and is nothing more than the powerful effort of my own thoughts.
This is utter nonsense that people tell me about something like a big
ball of fire hanging up in the sky.” Take heed, therefore, lest anyone
captures you “with philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of
men and after the rudiments of the world.” (Col. ii.8).

2. If true happiness depended on the thoughts of man, then all
philosophers and deep thinkers would be filled to overflowing with it.
But with the exception of such of them as believe in Me, those who are
wise in the philosophy of this world are altogether devoid of
happiness, except for a kind of fleeting pleasure which they derive
from following out certain rules of their own.

But I have so created man that he has a natural fitness for the
reception of the Holy Spirit by means of which alone is he able to
receive this heavenly life and joy. As in charcoal there is a natural
fitness to receive fire, but without oxygen the fire cannot enter it,
so unless the oxygen of the Holy Spirit finds an entrance into a man’s
soul he will remain in darkness and will never enjoy this true and
lasting peace (John iii.8).

3. This fitness of heart and thoughts of man is like that of the
strings of a guitar or violin. When these are tightened and made to
harmonize, then by the touch of the plectrum or the bow the most
charming music is produced; but if that is not done the touch of the
bow only produces discords. And the production of sweet sounds when
the strings all harmonize is again dependent on the air, by the force
and motion of which sound is carried into the ear. In the same way, to
harmonize the thoughts and imaginations of men the presence of the
stimulating breath of the Holy Spirit is necessary. When that is
present there will be produced heavenly airs and joyous harmonies in
men’s hearts, both in this life and in heaven.

The Disciple,–Master, sometimes I am conscious that my peace and
happiness have departed. Is this because of some hidden sin of mine,
or is there some other reason unknown to me?

The Master,–1. Yes, this is sometimes due to disobedience, but
occasionally I appear to leave My children for a short time and then
they become lonely and restless. Then while they are in that condition
I am able to reveal to them their actual selves and their utter
weakness, and teach them that apart from Me they are nothing but dry
bones (Ezek. xxxvii.1-14); so that they may not in a constant state of
rest and peace forget their essential condition, and, deeming
themselves to be God, fall through pride into the punishment of hell
(1 Tim. iii.6; Jude 6; Isa. xiv.12-17). In this way they are trained
and educated; and when they humbly and meekly abide in Me, who created
them, they will enjoy eternal happiness in heaven.

2. Sometimes it happens that when I enter into My children and fill
them with the fullness of the Spirit, they overflow with such divine
happiness and joy that they are not able to endure the glory and
blessing that is theirs, and so fall into a state of faintness or even
unconsciousness. For flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of
God, nor temporal things those which are eternal, until men are set
free from the power of vain mortality and raised into glory (1 Cor.
xv.50,53; Rom. viii.19-22). Then shall My will be done on earth in
every creature, even as it is done in heaven. Then shall pain and
suffering, sorrow and sighing, woe and death be for ever done away,
and all My children shall enter into the kingdom of My Father, which
is joy in the Holy Ghost, and they shall reign for ever and ever (Rom.
xiv.17; Rev. xxi.4; xxii.5).


Dear Master, Thy varied blessings and gifts have filled my heart to
overflowing with gratitude and praise. But the praise of heart and
tongue do not suffice me until I prove by my deeds that my life is
devoted to Thy service. Thanks and praise be to Thee that Thou hast
brought me, unworthy though I am, out of death into life and made me
to rejoice in Thy fellowship and love. I know not as I ought either
myself or my sore need, but Thou, O Father, knowest full well Thy
creatures and their necessities. Nor can I love myself as Thou lovest
me. To love myself truly is to love with heart and soul that boundless
love which gave me being, and that love Thou art. Thou hast therefore
given me but one heart, that it might be fixed on one only, on Thee,
who didst create it.

Master, to be seated at Thy feet is better far than to sit upon the
lordiest throne of earth, for it means to be enthroned for ever in the
eternal kingdom. And now, on the altar of these sacred feet I offer
myself as a burnt sacrifice. Graciously accept me, and wheresoever and
howsoever Thou wilt, use me for Thy service. For Thou art mine, and I
belong to Thee, who didst take this handful of dust and make me in
Thine own image and didst grant me the right to become Thy son.

All honour and glory and praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for ever
and ever. Amen.


Index of Scripture References


[1]1   [2]2   [3]19







1 Samuel


1 Kings



[9]19   [10]39   [11]42




[13]9   [14]14   [15]55   [16]55   [17]64


[18]2   [19]2








[23]1   [24]3   [25]5   [26]5   [27]6   [28]10   [29]11   [30]11
[31]12   [32]17   [33]21   [34]21   [35]24   [36]25   [37]25


[39]6   [40]9   [41]10   [42]17   [43]19   [44]21   [45]22   [46]23


[48]1   [49]3   [50]3   [51]4   [52]4   [53]5   [54]6   [55]6
[56]6   [57]9   [58]10   [59]10   [60]10   [61]11   [62]13   [63]13
[64]14   [65]14   [66]14   [67]14   [68]15   [69]16   [70]16
[71]17   [72]19   [73]20


[74]3   [75]4   [76]9   [77]10:40   [78]10:41


[79]8   [80]8   [81]14

1 Corinthians

[82]1   [83]2   [84]15   [85]15

2 Corinthians

[86]4   [87]5   [88]8   [89]12






[92]1   [93]2

1 Timothy


2 Timothy



[96]1   [97]5

1 Peter

[98]1   [99]4




[101]1   [102]2   [103]2   [104]3   [105]3   [106]19   [107]21
[108]21   [109]22   [110]22

This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal
Library at Calvin College,,
generated on demand from ThML source.

Zinzendorf and the Moravians

File:Haidt Zizendorf.JPG

Count Zinzendorf was Francke’s student at Halle, and Spener’s godson. He underwent an awakening while studying, and proceeded to organize a group of refugees from Moravia into collegia pietatis within the Lutheran church. Later, they formed the basis of the re-vitalized Moravian Brethren church. This group exerted global influence, and are perhaps the main river flowing out of the churchly Pietistic movement.Properly speaking, William Carey should not be called the father of the modern missionary movement. Sixty years before Carey went out, and 150 years before Hudson Taylor went out, the Moravian Brethren began sending out their first missionaries. Their first outreach was to St. Thomas Island in the West Indies in 1732. They reached out to twelve more areas of the world within the next twenty years, and eventually sent out 2,158 missionaries within the next 150 years. The well known English social reformer, William Wilberforce wrote of the Moravians, “They are a body who have perhaps excelled all mankind in solid and unequivocal proofs of the love of Christ and ardent, active zeal in His service.”

From a research project by Dennis H. McCallum (found here).

You may also download here a separate resource, the very first issue from the Christian History Institute which was devoted to Zinzendorf and the Moravians.



Greenland by James Montgomery


Oft var ek dasa, dur ek dro thilc.”
Oft was I weary when I drew thee.”



The three First Moravian Missionaries are represented as
on their Voyage to Greenland, in the year 1733.
Sketch of the descent , establishment, persecutions,
extinction and revival of the Church of the United
Brethren from the tenth to the beginning of the
eighteenth century. The origin of their Missions to
the West Indies and to Greenland,

THE moon is watching in the sky ; the stars
Are swiftly wheeling on their golden cars ;
Ocean, outstretcht with infinite expanse.
Serenely slumbers in a glorious trance ;
The tide, o’er which no troubling spirits breathe,
Reflects a cloudless firmament beneath ;
Where, poised as in the centre of a sphere,
A ship above and ship below appear ;


A double image, pictured on the deep,
The vessel o’er its shadow seems to sleep ;
Yet, like the host of heaven, that never rest,
With evanescent motion to the west,
The pageant glides through loneliness and night,
And leaves behind a rippling wake of light.

Hark ! through the calm and silence of the scene,
Slow, solemn, sweet, with many a pause between,
Celestial music swells along the air !
No ; ’tis the evening hymn of praise and prayer
From yonder deck ; where, on the stern retired,
Three humble voyagers, with looks inspired,
And hearts enkindled with a holier flame
Than ever lit to empire or to fame,
Devoutly stand : their choral accents rise
On wings of harmony beyond the skies ;
And ‘midst the songs, that Seraph-Minstrels sing,
Day without night, to their immortal King,
These simple strains, which erst Bohemian hills
Echoed to pathless woods and desert rills ;

Now heard from Shetland’s azure bound, are known
In heaven ; and He, who sits upon the throne
In human form, with mediatorial power,
Remembers Calvary, and hails the hour,
When, by the’ Almighty Father’s high decree,
The utmost north to Him shall bow the knee,
And, won by love, an untamed rebel-race
Kiss the victorious Sceptre of His grace.
Then to His eye, whose instant glance pervades
Heaven’s heights, Earth’s circle, Hell’s profoundest shades,

Is there a groupe more lovely than those three
Night-watching Pilgrims on the lonely sea ?
Or to His ear, that gathers in one sound
The voices of adoring worlds around,
Comes there a breath of more delightful praise
Than the faint notes his poor disciples raise,
Ere on the treacherous main they sink to rest,
Secure as leaning on their Master’s breast ?

They sleep; but memory wakes; and dreams array
Night in a lively masquerade of day ;
The land they seek, the land they leave behind,
Meet on mid-ocean in the plastic mind ;
One brings forsaken home and friends so nigh,
That tears in slumber swell the* unconscious eye ;
The other opens, with prophetic view,
Perils, which e’en their fathers never knew,
(Though school’d by suffering, long inured to toil,
Outcasts and exiles from their natal soil 😉
Strange scenes, strange men ; untold, untried distress ;

Pain, hardships, famine, cold, and nakedness,
Diseases ; death in every hideous form,
On shore, at sea, by fire, by flood, by storm ;
Wild beasts and wilder men : unmoved with fear,
Health, comfort, safety, life, they count not dear,
May they but hope a Saviour’s love to shew,
And warn one spirit from eternal woe ;

Nor will they faint ; nor can they strive in vain,
Since thus to live is Christ, to die is gain.
‘Tis morn : the bathing moon her lustre shrouds ;
Wide o’er the east impends an arch of clouds,
That spans the ocean ; while the infant dawn
Peeps through the portal o’er the liquid lawn,
That ruffled by an April gale appears,
Between the gloom and splendour of the spheres,
Dark-purple as the moorland-heath, when rain
Hangs in low vapours o’er the* autumnal plain :
Till the full Sun, resurgent from the flood,
Looks on the waves, and turns them into blood ;
But quickly kindling, as his beams aspire,
The lambent billows play in forms of fire.
Where is the Vessel? Shining through the light,
Like the white sea-fowl’s horizontal flight,
Yonder she wings, and skims, and cleaves her way
Through refluent foam and iridescent spray.

Lo ! on the deck, with patriarchal grace,
Heaven in his bosom opening o’er his face,
Stands CHRISTIAN DAVID; venerable name!
Bright in the records of celestial fame,
On earth obscure ; like some sequester’d star,
That rolls in its Creator’s beams afar,
Unseen by man ; till telescopic eye,
Sounding the blue abysses of the sky,
Draws forth its hidden beauty into light,
And adds a jewel to the crown of night.
Though hoary with the multitude of years,
Unshorn of strength, between his young compeers,
He towers; with faith, whose boundless glance can see

Time’s shadows brightening through eternity;
Love, God’s own love in his pure breast enshrined ;
Love, love to man the magnet of his mind ;
Sublimer schemes maturing in his thought
Than ever statesman plann’d, or warrior wrought ;
While, with rejoicing tears, and rapturous sighs,
To heaven ascends their morning sacrifice, (a)
Whence are the pilgrims ? whither would they


Greenland their port ; Moravia was their home.
Sprung from a race of martyrs ; men who bore
The cross on many a Golgotha, of yore ;
When first Sclavonian tribes the truth received,
And princes at the price of thrones believed ; (6)

(a) The names of the three first Moravian Missionaries to
Greenland were Christian David , Matthew Stack, and Christian

(6) The Church of the United Brethren (first established under
that name about the year 1460) traces its descent from the
Sclavonian branch of the Greek Church, which was spread
throughout Bohemia and Moravia, as well as the ancient Dal-
matia. The Bulgarians were once the most powerful tribe of
the Sclavic nations ; and among them the gospel was introduced
in the ninth century. See additional Note (A.) in the Ap-

When WALDO i flying from the’ apostate west, (c)
In German wilds his righteous cause confessed :
When WICKLIFFE, like a rescuing Angel, found
The dungeon, where the word of God lay bound,
Unloosed its chains, and led it by the hand,
In its own sunshine, through his native land : (d)
When Huss, the victim of perfidious foes,
To heaven upon a fiery chariot rose ;

(c) With the Waldenses, the Bohemian and Moravian Churches,
which never properly submitted to the authority of the Pope, held
intimate communion for ages: and from Stephen, the last Bishop
of the Waldenses, in 1467, the United Brethren received their
episcopacy. Almost immediately afterwards, those ancient con-
fessors of the truth were dispersed by a cruel persecution, and
Stephen himself suffered martyrdom, being burnt as a heretic at

(d) Wickliffes writings were early translated into the Bohemian
tongue, and eagerly read by the devout and persecuted people,
who never had given up the Bible in their own language, nor
consented to perform their church service in Latin. Archbishop
Sbinek; of Prague, ordered the works of Wickliffe to be burnt
by the hands of the hangman. He himself could scarcely read !

And ere he vanish’d, with a prophet’s breath,
Foretold the* immortal triumphs of his death : (e)
When ZISKA, burning with fanatic zeal,
Exchanged the Spirit’s sword for patriot steel,
And through the heart of Austria’s thick array
To Tabor’s summit stabb’d resistless way ;
But there, (as if transfigured on the spot
The world’s Redeemer stood,) his rage forgot ;
Deposed his arms and trophies in the dust,
Wept like a babe, and placed in God his

(e) It is well known that John Huss (who might be called a
disciple of our Wickliffe)> though furnished with a safe*conduct
by the emperor Sigismund, was burnt by a decree of the
council of Constance. Several sayings, predictive of retribution
to the priests, and reformation in the Church, are recorded, as
being uttered by him in his last hours. Among others ; ” A
hundred years hence,” said he, addressing his judges, ” ye shall
render an account of your doings to God and to me.” Luther
appeared at the period thus indicated.

While prostrate warriors kiss’d the hallow’d ground,
And lay, like slain, in silent ranks around : (/)
When mild GREGORIUS, in a lowlier field,
As brave a witness, as unwont to yield
As ZISKA’S self, with patient footsteps trod
A path of suffering, like the Son of God,
And nobler palms, by meek endurance won,
Than if his sword had blazed from sun to sun : (g)
Though nature fail’d him on the racking wheel,
He felt the joys which parted spirits feel ;

(/) After the martyrdom of John Huss, his followers and
countrymen took up arms for the maintenance of their civil and
religious liberties. The first and most distinguished of their leaders
was John Ziska. He seized possession of a high mountain, which
he fortified, and called Tabor. Here he and his people (who were
hence called Taborites) worshipped God according to their con-
sciences and his holy word ; while in the plains they fought and
conquered their persecutors and enemies.

(g) See Note (B.) in the Appendix, for a brief account of this
Gregory ) and an illustration of the lines that follow concerning his
trance and vision while he lay upon the rack.

Rapt into bliss from exstacy of pain,
Imagination wander’d o’er a plain :
Fair in the midst, beneath a morning sky,
A Tree its ample branches bore on high,
With fragrant bloom, and fruit delicious hung,
While birds beneath the foliage fed and sung ;
All glittering to the sun with diamond dew,
O’er sheep and kine a breezy shade it threw ;
A lovely boy, the child of hope and prayer,
With crook and shepherd’s pipe, was watching there ;
At hand three venerable forms were seen,
In simple garb, with apostolic mien,
Who mark’d the distant fields convulsed with strife,
The guardian Cherubs of that Tree of Life ;
Not arm’d like Eden’s host, with flaming brands,
Alike to friends and foes they stretch’d their hands,
In sign of peace ; and while Destruction spread
His path with carnage, welcomed all who fled :
When poor COMENIUS, with his little flock,
Escaped the wolves, and from the boundary rock,

Cast o’er Moravian hills a look of woe,
Saw the green vales expand, the waters flow,
And happier years revolving in his mind,
Caught every sound that murmur’d on the wind ;
As if his eye could never thence depart,
As if his ear were seated in his heart,
And his full soul would thence a passage break,
To leave the body, for his country’s sake ;

While on his knees he pour’d the fervent prayer,
That God would make that martyr-land his care,
And nourish in its ravaged soil a root
Of GREGOR’S Tree, to bear perennial fruit, (h)

(fi) John Amos Comenius, one of the most learned as well as
pious men of his age, was minister of the Brethren’s congregation
at Fulneck, in Moravia, from 1618 to 1627, when the Protestant
nobility and clergy being expatriated, he fled with a part of his people
through Silesia into Poland. On the summit of the mountains form-
ing the boundary, he turned his sorrowful eyes towards Bohemia and
Moravia, and kneeling down with his brethren there, implored God,
with many tears, that he would not take away the light of his holy
word from those two provinces, but preserve in them a remnant for
Himself. A remnant was saved. See Appendix , Note (C.)

His prayer was heard: that Church, through ages past,
Assail’d and rent by persecution’s blast ;
Whose sons no yoke could crush, no burthen tire,
Unawed by dungeons, tortures, sword, and fire,
(Less proof against the world’s alluring wiles,
Whose frowns have weaker terrors than its smiles ;
That Church o’erthrown, dispersed, unpeopled, dead,

Oft from the dust of ruin raised her head,
And rallying round her feet, as from their graves,
Her exiled orphans, hid in forest-caves ;
Where, midst the fastnesses of rocks and glens,
Banded like robbers, stealing from their dens,
By night they met, their holiest vows to pay,
As if their deeds were dark, and shunn’d the day ;
While Christ’s revilers, in his seamless robe,
And parted garments, flaunted round the globe ;
From east to west while priestcraft’s banners flew,
And harness’d kings his iron chariot drew :

That Church advanced, triumphant, o’er the ground,
Where all her conquering martyrs had been crown’d,
Fearless her foe’s whole malice to defy,
And worship God in liberty, or die :
For truth and conscience oft she pour’d her blood,
And firmest in the fiercest conflicts stood,
Wresting from bigotry the proud controul
Claim’d o’er the sacred empire of the soul,
Where God, the judge of all, should fill the throne,
And reign, as in his universe, alone,
‘Twas thus through centuries she rose and fell ;
At length victorious seem’d the gates of hell ;
But founded on a rock, which cannot move
The’ eternal rock of her Redeemer’s love
That Church, which Satan’s legions thought destroy’d,
Her name extinct, her place for ever void,

Alive once more, respired her native air,
But found no freedom for the voice of prayer :
Again the cowl’d oppressor clank’d his chains,
Flourish’d his scourge, and threatened bonds and pains,
(His arm enfeebled could no longer kill,
But in his heart he was a murderer still 🙂
Then CHRISTIAN DAVID, strengtheri’d from above,
Wise as the serpent, harmless as the dove ;
Bold as a lion on his Master’s part,
In zeal a seraph, and a child in heart ;
Pluck from the gripe of antiquated laws,
( Even as a mother from the felon-jaws
Of a lean wolf, that bears her babe away,
With courage beyond nature, rends the prey,)
The little remnant of that ancient race :
Far in Lusatian woods they found a place ;
There, where the sparrow builds her busy nest,
And the clime-changing swallow loves to rest,
Thine altar, God of Hosts ! there still appear
The tribes to worship, unassail’d by fear ;

Not like their fathers, vex’d from age to age
By blatant Bigotry’s insensate rage,
Abroad in every place, in every hour
Awake, alert, and ramping to devour.
No ; peaceful as the spot where Jacob slept,
And guard all night the journeying angels kept,
Herrnhut yet stands amidst her sheltered bowers ;
The Lord hath set his watch upon her towers, (j)
Soon, homes of humble form, and structure rude,
Raised sweet society in solitude :

(j) In 1721, (ninety -four years after the flight of Comenius)
the Church of the United Brethren was revived by the persecuted
refugees from Moravia (descendants of the old confessors of that
namej, who were led from time to time by Christian David,
(himself a Moravian, but educated in the Lutheran persuasion,)
to settle on an uncultivated piece of land, on an estate belonging
to Count Zinzendorf, in Lusatia. Christian David, who was
a carpenter, began the work of building a church in this wilder-
ness, by striking his axe into a tree, and exclaiming ” Here hath
the sparrow found an house, and the swaUow a nest for herself i
even thine altars, Lord God of Hosts!” They named the
settlement Herrnhut, or The Lord’s Watch.

And the lorn traveller there, at fall of night,
Could trace from distant hills the spangled light,
Which now from many a cottage window streamed,
Or in full glory round the chapel beam’d ;
While hymning voices, in the silent shade,
Music of all his soul’s affections made :
Where through the trackless wilderness erewhile,
No hospitable ray was known to smile ;
Or if a sudden splendor kindled joy,
Twas but a meteor dazzling to destroy :
While the wood echoed to the hollow owl,
The fox’s cry, or wolf’s lugubrious howl.

Unwearied as the camel, day by day,
Tracks through unwater’d wilds his doleful way,
Yet in his breast a cherish’d draught retains,
To cool the fervid current in his veins,
While from the sun’s meridian realms he brings
The gold and gems of Ethiopian Kings :
So CHRISTIAN DAVID, spending yet unspent,
On many a pilgrimage of mercy went ;

Through all their haunts his suffering brethren sought,
And safely to that land of promise brought ;
While in his bosom, on the toilsome road,
A secret well of consolation flow’d,
Fed from the fountain near the* eternal throne,
Bliss to the world unyielded and unknown.
In stillness thus the little Zion rose ;
But scarcely found those fugitives repose,
Ere to the west with pitying eyes they turn’d ;
Their love to Christ beyond the’ Atlantic burn’d.
Forth sped their messengers, content to be
Captives themselves, to cheer captivity ;
Soothe the poor Negro with fraternal smiles,
And preach deliverance in those prison-isles,
Where man’s most hateful forms of being meet,
The tyrant and the slave that licks his feet. (A:)

() In 1732, when the congregation at Herrnhut consisted of
about six hundred persons, including children, the two first mission-
aries sailed for the Danish island of St. Thomas, to preach the
gospel to the negroes ; and such was their devotion to the good

O’er Greenland next two youths in secret wept:
And where the sabbath of the dead was kept,
With pious forethought, while their hands prepare
Beds which the living and unborn shall share,
(For man so surely to the dust is brought,
His grave before his cradle may be wrought,)
They told their purpose, each o’erjoyed to find
His own idea in his brother’s mind.
For counsel in simplicity they pray’d,
And vows of ardent consecration made :
Vows heard in heaven ; from that accepted hour,
Their souls were clothed with confidence and power, (I)

work, that being told that they could not have intercourse other-
wise with the objects of their Christian compassion, they deter-
mined to sell themselves for slaves on their arrival, and work with
die blacks in the plantations. But this sacrifice was not required.
Many thousand negroes have since been truly converted in the
West Indies.

(Matthew Stack and Frederick Boenisch, two young men,
being at work together, preparing a piece of ground for a burial-
place at Herrnhut, disclosed to each other their distinct desires

Nor hope deferred could quell their heart’s desire ;
The bush once kindled grew amidst the fire ;
But ere its shoots a tree of life became,
Congenial spirits caught the* electric flame ;
And for that holy service, young and old,
Their plighted faith and willing names enrolled ;
Eager to change the rest, so lately found,
For life-long labours on barbarian ground ;
To break, through barriers of eternal ice,
A vista to the gates of Paradise ;
And light beneath the shadow of the pole
The tenfold darkness of the human soul ;

to offer themselves to the congregation as missionaries to Green-
land. They therefore became joint candidates. Considerable
delay, however, occurred ; and when it was at length determined
to attempt the preaching of the gospel there, Frederick Boenisch
being on a distant journey, Christian David was appointed to
conduct thither Matthew Stack and his cousin, Christian Stack,
who sailed from Copenhagen on the 10th of April 1733, and
landed in Ball’s River on the 20th of May following.

To man, a task more hopeless than to bless
With Indian fruits that arctic wilderness ;
With God, as possible when unbegun
As though the destined miracle were done.
Three chosen candidates at length went forth,
Heralds of mercy to the frozen north ;
Like mariners with seal’d instructions sent,
They went in faith, (as childless Abram went
To dwell by sufferance in a land, decreed
The future birthright of his promised seed,)
Unknowing whither ; unenquiring why
Their lot was cast beneath so strange a sky,
Where cloud nor star appearM, to mortal sense
Pointing the hidden path of Providence,
And all around was darkness to be felt ;
Yet in that darkness light eternal dwelt :
They knew, and ’twas enough for them to know,
The still small voice that whisper* d them to go ;
For He, who spake by that mysterious voice,
Inspired their will, and made His call their choice.

See the swift vessel bounding o’er the tide,
That wafts, with CHRISTIAN DAVID for their guide,
Two young Apostles on their joyful way
To regions in the twilight verge of day ;
Freely they quit the clime that gave them birth,
Home, kindred, friendship, all they loved on earth ;
What things were gain before, accounting loss,
And glorying in the shame, they bear the cross ;

Not as the Spaniard, on his flag unfurl’d,
A bloody omen through a Pagan world :
Not the vain image, which the Devotee
Clasps as the God of his idolatry ;

But in their hearts, to Greenland’s western shore,
That dear memorial of their Lord they bore,
Amidst the wilderness to lift the sign
Of wrath appeased by sacrifice divine ;
And bid a serpent-stung and dying race
Look on their Healer, and be saved by grace.

(This is the end of the first of five cantos. You may download Montgomery’s Greenland, and other poems here.)

John Carlsen, Ernest Weinhardt and the early days of World Mission Prayer League and Luther Bible Institute


This article was written for World Mission Prayer League by Dr. Charles Lindquist:

In 1937 the South American Mission Prayer League organized formally in Minneapolis. By the end of the year, the organization had sent its first missionaries – John Carlsen and Ernest Weinhardt, off to the mountains of Bolivia. In 2012 we celebrate the 75th anniversary of their sending!

This is a story with important antecedents. It is based, in particular, in a strategic understanding of the frontiers of God’s mission in the world.

Lutheran Bible Institute, circa 1940

Some years before, in 1910, missionary leaders from around the world gathered in Edinburgh to evaluate the status of world evangelization, formulate some goals, and project their way into a new century. This was the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference.But Latin America was excluded from consideration.

Conference organizers wanted participation by the Church of England – an obvious consideration in a city like Edinburgh. But the Church of England considered South America a Christian continent, and not a suitable target for world evangelization. If the Anglicans were to participate, they insisted, Latin America must be removed from the agenda. Kenneth Scott Latourette points out that “many from the United States were unhappy over the omission.” (1)

“In order to correct what they believed to be the mistaken impression given by theEdinburgh World Missionary Conference,Protestants held evangelical congresses in Panama in 1916, in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1925 and Havana, Cuba in 1929. These congresses legitimized missionary efforts in Latin America and stimulated new initiatives in mission.” (2) The conferences described vast tracts of “unoccupied fields” – notably Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru – and “inadequately occupied fields” elsewhere in the continent. (3) Organizers concluded that “South America has come to the psychological and providential moment for Christian evangelization.” (4)

This was the backdrop for a “missionary survey” course at the Lutheran Bible Institute of Minneapolis, taught by Clarence Granlund in the fall of 1932. South America was widely considered “the neglected continent” – language that dates to Edinburgh itself. (5) Evald Conrad, then pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls and one of our earliest leaders, certainly reflects this estimation. “[South America] indeed is the neglected continent,” Conrad reported. “We have forgotten our neighbor.” (6)

Granlund’s survey presented a compelling case for missionary outreach in South America – and made a deep impression on John Carlsen, then a student at the Bible Institute. “While the teacher moved on to other areas in his survey,” reported fellow student Stanley Olson, “most of us remained with our thoughts and prayers riveted on South America.“ (7)

This was the beginning of the Prayer League. Already in 1932, Carlsen, Olson – and very soon Weinhardt, too – met every Thursday evening to pray for the “neglected continent.” They prayed for months and years. In 1937, Olson reported, “we finally realized that there must be answers to our prayers, and that missions included more than prayer – it also meant obedience to the commission to go.” (8) In May of that year they were organized. And by the end of the year they were off.

As we look back, now 75 years later, it is easy to see the pattern: God was doing something on a very large scale, mobilizing broadly for the sake of his broad purposes in the world. God was doing something much bigger than Weinhardt, Carlsen and the Prayer League. He was enlisting his people for the sake of his cause. He was illuminating then-neglected frontiers, engaging unbelief, moving and equipping his people, and sending them as gospel ambassadors into the world.

Luther had this dynamic clear: “The gospel wants to be taught and preached always and always, in order that it may always appear above the horizon.” (9) Carlsen and Weinhardt – and so many that followed these pioneers – set their hearts “above the horizon.” This became, and remains today, the heart of the World Mission Prayer League.


A History of the Expansion of Christianity, Vol.7, p.172. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978)

2 Johnson and Ross, Atlas of Global Christianity, p.276. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009)

3 Committee on Cooperation in Latin America, Regional Conferences in Latin America, p. 259ff. (New York: Missionary Education Movement, 1917)

4 ibid., p.266

5 cf. World Missionary Conference, 1910, Vol 1., p.249

6 “Days of Beginnings,” in Mission Prayer Banner, July-August 1945, p.1

7 “Birth of a Mission,” in Fellow Workers, May 1977, p.21; italics added

8 ibid.

9 WA 10 I, 1, 540, 12f.

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud and the World Mission Prayer League

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud


By Charles Linquist

A little leaven, sometimes, goes a long way.

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud required a bit of leaven, that’s for sure. He was a rowdy young man, given to drink, carousing and petty thievery. By the time he was eighteen years old, young Lars found himself in prison. “My heart was as hard as a stone,” he said of those years. “It was dead, absolutely dead. I had turned my back upon God and plunged into riotous living…. I had suffered shipwreck in everything.” [1]

But the leaven of God’s gospel was at work.

Skrefsrud had heard the Good News as a child from his deeply believing mother. He had heard the Good News preached in church and had been through confirmation. Now in prison, the testimony of a pious young woman from his home area, Anna Onsum, became particularly meaningful. Eventually Skrefsrud understood that Jesus had come into the world precisely for him. The blood of the Savior was sufficient to cover every sin, including – praise God! – his own. The year was 1861. The young imprisoned shipwreck became a new man.

And the leaven of God’s grace continued its work. While still a prisoner, Skrefsrud sensed “a burning desire to become a missionary… that I, the most unworthy of all, might be permitted to declare to the heathen what I had experienced in my own heart – His boundless compassion.” [2] Skrefsrud gained his freedom in December 1861. By the summer of 1862, he made application for missionary service with the Norwegian Missionary Society.

That first application was rejected. (Young, passionate, prison-made converts were not so highly desirable, apparently.) Then a friend recommended that Skrefsrud consider alternative societies in Germany. Feeling led of God, he departed for Berlin in October 1862. There he met Hans and Caroline Borresen, who were to become his life-long friends and colleagues in ministry. The Borresens introduced him to the Gossner Mission. Skrefsrud enrolled in the Gossner Mission School, graduated quickly, and by November 1863 was on his way to India.

In the spring of 1865, the Borresens arrived in Calcutta to join the team – with Anna Onsum, by now Skrefsrud’s fiancée. (The two were married on May 6.) Later in the year, the Borresens and Skrefsruds set out in a strategic new direction – to serve among the Santal people, northwest of Calcutta. They left the Gossner Mission. On September 26, 1867, after several false starts, they laid a corner-stone of “Ebenezer station” in the heart of Santalistan.

This was the beginning of the Santal Mission of Norway. But this was our beginning, too. An American Board of the Santal Mission was founded in Minneapolis on November 13, 1891. And this same board merged with the World Mission Prayer League on May 1, 1972. We are the Santal Mission, in fact. The leaven that worked in Skrefsrud is the leaven that works in us.

We have inherited much from these pious Scandinavian roots.

We have inherited a commitment to the urgent frontier between faith and unbelief. “To the poor [unbeliever] held captive in sin, I will cry: ‘You have a friend in Jesus,’” said Skrefsrud upon his departure from Norway in 1862. [3] “The main thing was to save souls,” reported his biographer. [4]

We have inherited a commitment to ministry holism. “Skrefsrud’s work for the economic and social improvement of the Santals is unique…. Practically single-handed he broke the power of the Hindu landowners, money-lenders and liquor dealers without neglecting the salvation of souls.” [5]

We have inherited historical partnerships with the Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church of India and the Bangladesh Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church, as well as the Christian Hospital in Mohul Pahari and the LAMB Medical Project in Bangladesh.

Most of all, we have inherited a believing, Lutheran, evangelical appreciation for the gospel of God in the work of Christian missions.

It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes us believe and makes us missionaries. It is the gospel that calls us, prepares us, becomes our message and fuels our lives. Emotionalism cannot accomplish this, nor can sheer obedience. It is the objective gospel of Jesus Christ that creates life and empowers service within us.

An early promoter of the American Board heard Skrefsrud speak in Oslo in the summer of 1881. He concluded the message with a typical, gospel-centered emphasis: “It has proved true in my life; it will prove true in yours. If you will come to God today with your abounding sin, you can go out from here with his more exceedingly abounding grace as your possession.” [6]“Exceedingly abounding grace” – this became the power, fuel, and message of the American Board.

A little bit of leaven – this kind of leaven – goes a very long way indeed. This is leaven for our entire community. We believe it is leaven for the world.

1 Lars O. Skrefsrud, by N.N. Rønning, pp.17, 18. (Minneapolis: Santal Mission in America, 1940)

2 ibid., p.20 3 ibid., p.23 4 ibid., p.30 5 ibid., p.45

6 The American Santal Mission, by Andreas Helland, p. 9. (Minneapolis: Santal Mission in America, 1948)

Roland Allen

 Roland Allen
Missionary to China and Kenya


Christ has given the apostles a world-wide commission, embracing all the nations; but intellectually they did not understand what He meant. They found that out as they followed the impulse of the Spirit. — Roland Allen, Pentecost and the World, 1917

Roland Allen, a young English missionary, first in North China and later in East Africa, sought to change drastically the entire colonial and paternalistic system of mission governance. He became a leading missionary theorist and a controversial, prophetic challenger of the existing order.

The son of an Anglican clergyman, Allen was a graduate of St. John’s College, Oxford, and then trained at the Leeds Clergy Training School before being sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) to China. Allen was ahead of his time in his theological views, and his personality managed to alienate most colleagues with whom he came in contact. After eight years in China, he resigned and returned to a parish in England, said it was a non-Christian place, and left it as well. Allen spent the rest of his life writing about mission issues and serving as a nonstipendiary minister, the model for ministry he favored from his reading of the New Testament. Drawing on 1 Peter 4:10, he argued that priesthood belonged inherently to all Christians.

He believed that indigenous peoples should be given control of their own churches–including control of finances–and responsibility for supporting their own churches. In a 1902 report he wrote:

“The continued presence of a foreigner seems to me to  produce an evil effect. The native genius is cramped by his presence and cannot work with him. The Christians tend to sit still and let him do everything for them, denying all responsibility …. I should feel disposed to group all foreigners together in one place to avoid having them reside in more places than can be helped. A visit of two or three months stirs up the Church. Long continued residence stifles it.” [1]
He also proposed that local churches raise up their own spiritual leaders and present them to the bishop for ordination. Their devotion and commitment to the Christian Gospel and the support of their friends and neighbors should be the primary qualification for ordination. Allen wanted most clergy to earn their incomes from secular work, the tentmaker model St. Paul followed in the New Testament. His best-known book is Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? (1913), and in it and other works he was a tireless promoter for the autonomous self-funded, self-directed, locally led church.

Allen’s feisty temperament made waves among the Nairobi settler community. While he was in Kenya during World War II he told the settler community not to wrap the Bible in the Union Jack, lest both be thrown out together, and when a local Colonel Blimp issued a blanket denunciation of everything German, Allen dueled back in the local paper, “I might ask him whether he ‘hates’ all drugs invented by German chemists, whether he ‘hates’ all German music; blind hatred is not Christian.”

During a 1935 sermon in All Saints’ Cathedral he urged the settler community to be their own ministers:

“Sooner or later many of you, and your children, will go up country. There, Sunday after Sunday, you will have no Church to go to. You know that. Well then, what are you going to do?… Will you say,… “The Church is here where I am”? Would that person be “fighting a battle on Christ’s behalf against the sloth which says, “If there is no chaplain to do things for us, we can do nothing, but hold a dance or a tennis tournament.” You have the secret. You know what is the Christian fight, and that you are fighting it, and that Michael and all his angels are on your side?” [2]
Eventually the local English bishop forbade Allen to preach, although he could celebrate the Eucharist. Among Africans he was a revered figure, called Bwana Mzee (the old gentlemen) for his mane of white hair.

Allen completely turned traditional missionary attitudes on their ear. In his emphasis on an immediate, intense, local experiencing of prayer and community, he lessened the need for hierarchical control of the institutional church. In his total trust of local congregations to raise up ministers, he presaged the sort of Canon III (locally ordained) ministries now recognized in Alaska and certain parts of the United States where seminary-trained clergy are not available. In his trusting of the Holy Spirit and welcoming of local leadership, Allen expressed ideas that a later generation of liberation theologians and post-Vatican II mission strategists would find important to the future of world mission.
To preach the Gospel requires that the preacher should believe that he is sent to those whom he is addressing at the moment, because God has among them those whom He is at the moment calling; it requires that the speaker should expect a response.

-Frederick Quinn


1. USPG: Africa & Asia, vol. 2, 1902, in Raymond Eveleigh, “Roland Allen: Prophet of Non-Stipendiary Ministry,”
2. Sermon note for September 29, 1935, Rhodes House collection, in Hubert J. B. Allen, Roland Allen: Pioneer, Priest, and Prophet (Cincinnati: Forward Movement Publications, 1995), 155.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from African Saints: Saints, Martyrs, and Holy People from the Continent of Africa, copyright © 2002 by Frederick Quinn, Crossroads Publishing Company, New York, New York. All rights reserved.

Gladys Aylward, Missionary to China

   Gladys Aylward, Missionary to China

    Gladys Aylward was born in London in 1904 (or a few years earlier). She worked for several years as a parlormaid, and then attended a revival meeting at which the preacher spoke of dedicating one’s life to the service of God. Gladys responded to the message, and soon after became convinced that she was called to preach the Gospel in China.

   At the age of 26, she became a probationer at the China Inland Mission Center in London, but failed to pass the examinations. She worked at other jobs and saved her money. Then she heard of a 73-year-old missionary, Mrs. Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a younger woman to carry on her work. Gladys wrote to Mrs. Lawson and was accepted if she could get to China. She did not have enough money for the ship fare, but did have enough for the train fare, and so in October of 1930 she set out from London with her passport, her Bible, her tickets, and two pounds ninepence, to travel to China by the Trans-Siberian Railway, despite the fact that China and the Soviet Union were engaged in an undeclared war.

She arrived in Vladivostok and sailed from there to Japan and from Japan to Tientsin, and thence by train, then bus, then mule, to the inland city of Yangchen, in the mountainous province of Shansi, a little south of Peking (Beijing). Most of the residents had seen no Europeans other than Mrs. Lawson and now Miss Aylward. They distrusted them as foreigners, and were not disposed to listen to them.
Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots, and iron goods on six-week or three-month journeys.

It occurred to the two women that their most effective way of preaching would be to set up an inn. The building in which they lived had once been an inn, and with a bit of repair work could be used as one again. They laid in a supply of food for mules and men, and when next a caravan came past, Gladys dashed out, grabbed the rein of the lead mule, and turned it into their courtyard. It went willingly, knowing by experience that turning into a courtyard meant food and water and rest for the night. The other mules followed, and the muleteers had no choice. They were given good food and warm beds at the standard price, and their mules were well cared for, and there was free entertainment in the evening–the innkeepers told stories about a man named Jesus.

After the first few weeks, Gladys did not need to kidnap customers — they turned in at the inn by preference. Some became Christians, and many of them (both Christians and non-Christians) remembered the stories, and retold them more or less accurately to other muleteers at other stops along the caravan trails.

Gladys practiced her Chinese for hours each day, and was becoming fluent and comfortable with it. Then Mrs. Lawson suffered a severe fall, and died a few days later. Gladys Aylward was left to run the mission alone, with the aid of one Chinese Christian, Yang, the cook.
A few weeks after the death of Mrs. Lawson, Miss Aylward met the Mandarin of Yangchen. He arrived in a sedan chair, with an impressive escort, and told her that the government had decreed an end to the practice of footbinding. (NOTE: Among the upper and middle classes, it had for centuries been the custom that a woman’s foot should be wrapped tightly in bandages from infancy, to prevent it from growing. Thus grown women had extremely tiny feet, on which they could walk only with slow, tottering steps, which were thought to be extremely graceful.)

The government needed a foot-inspector, a woman (so that she could invade the women’s quarters without scandal), with her own feet unbound (so that she could travel), who would patrol the district enforcing the decree. It was soon clear to them both that Gladys was the only possible candidate for the job, and she accepted, realizing that it would give her undreamed-of opportunities to spread the Gospel.

During her second year in Yangchen, Gladys was summoned by the Mandarin. A riot had broken out in the men’s prison. She arrived and found that the convicts were rampaging in the prison courtyard, and several of them had been killed. The soldiers were afraid to intervene.

The warden of the prison said to Gladys, “Go into the yard and stop the rioting.”

She said, “How can I do that?”

The warden said, “You have been preaching that those who trust in Christ have nothing to fear.”

She walked into the courtyard and shouted: “Quiet! I cannot hear when everyone is shouting at once. Choose one or two spokesmen, and let me talk with them.”

The men quieted down and chose a spokesman. Gladys talked with him, and then came out and told the warden:

“You have these men cooped up in crowded conditions with absolutely nothing to do. No wonder they are so edgy that a small dispute sets off a riot. You must give them work. Also, I am told that you do not supply food for them, so that they have only what their relatives send them. No wonder they fight over food. We will set up looms so that they can weave cloth and earn enough money to buy their own food.”

This was done. There was no money for sweeping reforms, but a few friends of the warden donated old looms, and a grindstone so that the men could work grinding grain. The people began to call Gladys Aylward “Ai-weh-deh,” which means “Virtuous One.” It was her name from then on.
Soon after, she saw a woman begging by the road, accompanied by a child covered with sores and obviously suffering severe malnutrition. She satisfied herself that the woman was not the child’s mother, but had kidnapped the child and was using it as an aid to her begging. She bought the child for ninepence–a girl about five years old. A year later, “Ninepence” came in with an abandoned boy in tow, saying, “I will eat less, so that he can have something.” Thus Ai-weh-deh acquired a second orphan, “Less.” And so her family began to grow….

She was a regular and welcome visitor at the palace of the Mandarin, who found her religion ridiculous, but her conversation stimulating. In 1936, she officially became a Chinese citizen. She lived frugally and dressed like the people around her (as did the missionaries who arrived a few years after in in the neighboring town of Tsechow, David and Jean Davis and their young son Murray, of Wales), and this was a major factor in making her preaching effective.
Then the war came. In the spring of 1938, Japanese planes bombed the city of Yangcheng, killing many and causing the survivors to flee into the mountains. Five days later, the Japanese Army occupied Yangcheng, then left, then came again, then left. The Mandarin gathered the survivors and told them to retreat into the mountains for the duration. He also announced that he was impressed by the life of Ai-weh-deh and wished to make her faith his own.

There remained the question of the convicts at the jail. The traditional policy favored beheading them all lest they escape. The Mandarin asked Ai-weh-deh for advice, and a plan was made for relatives and friends of the convicts to post a bond guaranteeing their good behavior. Every man was eventually released on bond. As the war continued Gladys often found herself behind Japanese lines, and often passed on information, when she had it, to the armies of China, her adopted country.

She met and became friends with “General Ley,” a Roman Catholic priest from Europe who had taken up arms when the Japanese invaded, and now headed a guerilla force. Finally he sent her a message. The Japanese are coming in full force. We are retreating. Come with us.” Angry, she scrawled a Chinese note, CHI TAO TU PU TWAI, “Christians never retreat!” He sent back a copy of a Japanese handbill offering $100 each for the capture, dead or alive, of (1) the Mandarin, (2) a prominent merchant, and (3) Ai-weh-deh.

She determined to flee to the government orphanage at Sian, bringing with her the children she had accumulated, about 100 in number. (An additional 100 had gone ahead earlier with a colleague.) With the children in tow, she walked for twelve days. Some nights they found shelter with friendly hosts. Some nights they spent unprotected on the mountainsides. On the twelfth day, they arrived at the Yellow River, with no way to cross it. All boat traffic had stopped, and all civilian boats had been seized to keep them out of the hands of the Japanese. The children wanted to know, “Why don’t we cross?” She said, “There are no boats.” They said, “God can do anything. Ask Him to get us across.”

They all knelt and prayed. Then they sang. A Chinese officer with a patrol heard the singing and rode up. He heard their story and said, “I think I can get you a boat.” They crossed, and after a few more difficulties Ai-weh-deh delivered her charges into competent hands at Sian, and then promptly collapsed with typhus fever and sank into delirium for several days.

As her health gradually improved, she started a Christian church in Sian, and worked elsewhere, including a settlement for lepers in Szechuan, near the borders of Tibet. Her health was permanently impaired by injuries received during the war, and in 1947 she returned to England for a badly needed operation. She remained in England, preaching there. In 1955, she returned to the Orient and opened an orphanage on Formosa (Taiwan), which she continued to run while she lived. Miss Gladys Aylward, the Small Woman, Ai-weh-deh, died 3 January 1970.
In 1957, Alan Burgess wrote a book about her, The Small Woman. It was condensed in The Reader’s Digest, and made into a movie called The Inn of The Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman. When Newsweek magazine reviewed the movie, and summarized the plot, a reader, supposing the story to be fiction, wrote in to say, “In order for a movie to be good, the story should be believable!”

Phyllis Thompson wrote a biography of her in 1971. I do not know the title, but have some evidence that it may be The Little Woman in China. In 1997, Moody Press published a biography called The Little Woman, listing Gladys Aylward and Christine Hunter as co-authors.
-James E. Keifer

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

File:Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky.jpg
Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was born in Lithuania in 1831, went to Germany to study for the rabbinate, there became a Christian, emigrated to America, trained for the priesthood, and in 1859 was sent by the Episcopal Church to China, where he devoted himself from 1862 to 1875 to translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese. In 1877 he was elected Bishop of Shanghai, where he founded St. John’s University, and began his translation of the Bible into Wenli (another Chinese dialect). He developed Parkinson’s disease, was largely paralyzed, resigned his position as Bishop of Shanghai, and spent the rest of his life completing his Wenli Bible, the last 2000 pages of which he typed with the one finger that he could still move.

Four years before his death in 1906, he said: “I have sat in this chair for over twenty years. It seemed very hard at first. But God knew best. He kept me for the work for which I am best fitted.”

-James E. Kieffer

James Hannington and the Martyrs of Uganda

Memorial for James Hannington on the site of his and his companions  martyrdom 
Among the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870’s with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.

James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington’s last words were: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886 a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga’s household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death “laughing and chattering.” These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity.

The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga’s intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man’s religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and Christianity spread steadily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of professed Christians of any nation in Africa.

Several years ago I heard an African clergyman, born of pagan parents, tell of his conversion. He said:

One afternoon I was bicycling along a road and met a young man about my own age bicycling in the opposite direction. He promptly turned about and began to ride beside me and to talk. He spoke with great enthusiasm about Jesus, whom I had never heard of before, and how He had destroyed the power of death and evil by dying and rising again, and how He was God become man to reconcile man with God. I heard what my companion had to say, and before we parted I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now, the young man who preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to me that afternoon had himself heard of Jesus for the first time that morning.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

-James E. Kiefer