Pray without Ceasing

prayingPray without Ceasing
Johann Christoph Blumhardt
The words “pray without ceasing” are not to be understood in the way we usually think of prayer. For this would mean that we should incessantly be on our knees before God, addressing him with prayerful words. Then the statement would be in direct contradiction to the Lord’s command not to use many words when we pray.
This simply cannot be applied to the way we usually pray. For “pray without ceasing ” is too strong an expression to be translated by words like “pray frequently and diligently” or “pray as often as you possibly can.”
“Without ceasing” implies something more? It can only be understood as the turning of the human spirit toward God in prayer.
Here one can say that what should be present without ceasing is a prayerful and beseeching, supplicating attitude; one might say that there should not be a single moment when God does not find us praying to him as if we stood physically in his presence.
There is a different kind of prayer without ceasing; it is longing. Whatever you may be doing, if you long for the day of everlasting rest, do not cease praying. If you do not wish to cease praying, then do not cease your longing. Your persistent longing is your persistent voice. When love grows cold, the heart grows silent. Burning love is the outcry of the heart! If you are filled with longing all the time, you will keep crying out, and if your love perseveres, your cry will be heard without fail.”
-Augustine
David expresses this same thing: “To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens” (Ps.123:1). Here also, he compares this raising of the eyes to the Lord our God with the way servants watch the hands of their masters and maids the hands of their mistresses, without a word being said.
This looking upward can be present in every activity and wherever we are, even in the midst of conversation, and even when our mind is occupied with the practical task of the moment. If we undertake or perform a task which separates us from God and prevents us from raising our eyes to him, we can easily lose our bearings.
Only think of the many wrong emotions – so much anger, rage, vanity, envy, pride, greediness, touchiness, as well as unnecessary worry – which would not be there if our souls were directed toward God instead of being concerned with all these things.
Indeed, there is no other rule which costs so little and needs so little effort, but which has such a significant effect on a person’s nature; “pray without ceasing!” is to be understood in the sense of good advice rather than as a veto.
How much protection and safekeeping, how much deliverance from the snares of darkness, how much redemption and response to our need could we experience as a matter of course, with no exertion on our part, if we were to stand before the Lord in prayer in every situation?
Used with permission.

Zinzendorf and the Moravians

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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.

 

 

Kinderbeten: The Origin, Unfolding, and Interpretations of the Silesian Children’s Prayer Revival

 

The origin of this revival came to be connected to the arrival of Swedish soldiers and their daily worship on the parade field because this was also seen providentially. Thus the prayer revival and the soldiers as an answer to prayers for liberation mutually informed one another in the minds of contemporaries. However, this was confused by the interpretation offered by Lutheran Orthodoxy. Pietists, on the other hand, warmly embraced the movement and sought to place it within an apocalyptic interpretation of history, coming closer to the original conflation of the two events. However, both interpretations failed to give appropriate significance to reports that the revival had begun in the mountains before the Swedes’ arrival. It is suggested here that prayer is the key interpretive grid. Subsequent historians have missed this interpretation largely because of their own presuppositions against divine intervention.

More here.

Greenland by James Montgomery

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

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

GREENLAND.

CANTO I.

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 ;

. GREENLAND. CANTO i.

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

roam?

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
Stack.

(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-
pendix.

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
Vienna.

(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
trust,

(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.)

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud and the World Mission Prayer League

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud

(1840-1910)

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)

Minnie Abrams

Minnie Abrams

(1859-1912)

Minnie Abrams was born in Wisconsin in 1859 but her zeal for the Lord and His missionary task led her to ministry in India. Her heart was for witnessing to the common people, yet after her long journey from Chicago to Bombay, she was expected to teach the children of missionaries. She lived in a day when many believed that the actual work of missionaries was “men’s work.” It took ten years but she finally was released and she made the move 100 miles away to the Mukti mission of Pandita Ramabai, and as we say, “the rest was history.”
Abrams played a pivotal role in the spread of Christianity not only in India but also through her association with the wife of Willis Hoover into Chile. Her witness to other missionaries and her testimony when back in the States is a contribution some historians recognize but surely not all.
Dr. Gary McGee has written on Abrams, and here are a few links. First, from the page at the Assemblies site, a very enjoyable telling of her story:

 

ONE LITTLE WOMAN

Reflecting back on her ministry, Minnie said, “I was only one little woman.” Yet God used her to train hundreds of Indian women evangelists who, in turn, contributed to the proclamation of the gospel in that vast country. She recognized that God never intended revival to be an end in itself. Without its energies being invested in evangelism, the Great Commission would not be achieved. In line with this concern, her last book Prayer Warfare may have been the first Pentecostal exposition on intercessory prayer for the evangelization of the world in “signs and wonders.”

Minnie’s influence extended to South America when she sent a copy of The Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire to Willis and May Hoover, Methodist missionaries in Valparaiso, Chile. (May had been a schoolmate with Minnie at the Chicago Training School.) Minnie’s account of the revival, striking claims about the baptism of fire, and report of miracles added to the tinder that sparked “Pentecostal Methodism” in that country.

This “one little woman” became a pioneer missionary evangelist by refusing to accept the status quo-the “men are preachers\women are teachers” mentality. Following her death a leading Protestant mission periodical paid tribute to “Minnie F. Abrams of India” as “a woman of unusual ability and force of character. When she realized a course of action to be right she followed it without questioning; she was also a woman of faith, and it was this rather than her strength of character and will, which enabled her to accomplish [her] work.” Decades would pass before other Pentecostal missionaries would be so eulogized in the Protestant missionary movement.

Read the whole story here.

Oswald Chambers

“We are in danger of forgetting that we
cannot do what God does,
and that God 
will not do what we can do.”

    Some years ago a friend gave me a copy of “My Utmost for His Highest.” I was thankful and I began to read it, but it didn’t do much for me and I put it aside. A few years later, after a few crises in my parish and life, I picked it up and continued to use it regularly for several years. So many devotions available today are so much fluff-nice inspirational messages, but do they feed you? This was for me meat and potatoes. The following bio is directly from the RBC website. The address is at the end. I recommend you visit it. -EJS

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was born July 24, 1874, in Aberdeen, Scotland. Converted in his teen years under the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, he studied art and archaeology at the University of Edinburgh before answering a call from God to the Christian ministry. He then studied theology at Dunoon College. From 1906-1910 he conducted an itinerant Bible-teaching ministry in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

In 1910, Chambers married Gertrude Hobbs. They had one daughter, Kathleen.

In 1911 he founded and became principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham, London, where he lectured until the school was closed in 1915 because of World War I. In October 1915 he sailed for Zeitoun, Egypt (near Cairo), where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops as a YMCA chaplain. He died there November 15, 1917, following surgery for a ruptured appendix.

Although Oswald Chambers wrote only one book, Baffled to Fight Better , more than thirty titles bear his name. With this one exception, published works were compiled by Mrs. Chambers, a court stenographer, from her verbatim shorthand notes of his messages taken during their seven years of marriage. For half a century following her husband’s death she labored to give his words to the world.

My Utmost For His Highest , his best-known book, has been continuously in print in the United States since 1935 and in this, the last decade of the century, remains in the top ten titles of the religious book bestseller list with millions of copies in print. It has become a Christian classic.
Visit his site http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost/
and check it out, We recommend it highly.
For more biographical information about Oswald Chambers, check out these resources:
Oswald Chambers, Abandoned To God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost For His Highest
David McCasland
Discovery House Publishers
To order: Call 1-800-653-8333
Oswald Chambers, His Life and Work
Gertrude (Biddy) Chambers
Simpkin Marshall Ltd. 1933, 1938, 1959

Oswald Chambers, An Unbribed Soul
David W. Lambert
Christian Literature Crusade, 1968

 

Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday

(1862 – 1935)

William Ashley Sunday, Sr. was born November 19, 1862, to William and Mary Jane (Corey) Sunday. His father was in the Union Army on the day of his son’s birth and died, probably of measles, at Camp Patterson in Missouri without ever seeing his third and youngest child. Jane Sunday married again, to a man named Heizer in 1870 who left her after she bore him two children. Sometime around 1874, she left her first husband’s farm in Ames, Iowa, and went to live with her parents in a nearby county. Shortly before, young William Ashley and his older brother, H. Edward, were sent to the Soldier’s Orphans Home in Glenwood, Iowa. The two boys left again in 1876 and went to their grandfather’s farm but only for a short time. William had an argument with grandfather Corey and went to Nevada, Iowa, to find work. He held a variety of jobs over the next few years including fireman, janitor, and undertaker’s assistant. With some help of a prominent local politician named Scott, he managed to attend high school. In 1883, Sunday left the amateur baseball team in Marshalltown, Iowa of which he was the star, to join a professional one — the Chicago White Stockings. He had been scouted by Manager Ada C. “Pop” Anson because of his running ability. Sunday stayed with the White Stockings until 1888, when he went on to Pittsburgh and later to Philadelphia (1891). He played outfield, usually center.

It was while he was playing for Chicago that he committed his life to Christ. In the autumn of 1886, he was walking in Chicago with some friends when he stopped to listen to a gospel band on a street corner playing and singing hymns. He left his friends to follow the band to the Pacific Garden Mission on Van Buren Street. As he later said, “. . . I turned and left that little group on the corner of State and Madison, walked to the little mission, went on my knees, and staggered out of sin and into the arms of the Savior.” (T.T. Frankenberg, Billy Sunday, His Tabernacles and Sawdust Trails. Columbus, Ohio, 1917. p. 62.)

He was already or very soon afterwards began courting Helen Amelia Thompson. Helen, also known as Nell, had been born June 25, 1868. She was the daughter of William and Ellen (Binnie) Thompson. Her father was a farmer who later moved the family into Chicago when Helen was a baby. In the city he became a prosperous manufacturer and distributer of ice cream. She was the second of five children, her siblings including Jennie, Ada and William. Billy and Helen apparently met at a Christian Endeavor social sponsored by the Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church. After some initial objections from Helen’s father, they were married September 5, 1888.

Sunday made it a practice to give talks for young men on Christian living in cities his team was visiting. He also worked in his spare time for the Chicago YMCA. He attended Evanston Academy of Northwestern University for a short time during the winter of 1887-1888, under an agreement by which he coached the school’s baseball team in return for his tuition. Some of his classes were in rhetoric and this indicated the direction in which Sunday’s mind was turning. In 1891, he quit baseball and entered full-time Christian service as a worker at Chicago’s YMCA. Among other duties, he taught some classes in Bible reading and personal evangelism.

In 1893, Sunday began working as an advance representative and general helper for evangelist J. Wilbur chapman. He also occasionally worked with another evangelist, Milan B. Williams. After Chapman had accepted the pastorate of a church in Philadelphia, Sunday began holding his own evangelistic campaigns, starting with in Garner, Iowa, in January of 1896. He was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church in 1898 and ordained by the same in 1903.

After several years of holding meetings, mostly in small midwestern towns, Sunday’s fame began to spread nationwide and he received invitations to the larger cities of the United States. The structure of his meetings gradually became highly organized and often involved hundreds of local workers as well as the dozen or more specialists whom Sunday brought with him and partially paid himself. From about 1908 on, Helen Sunday was in effect the general manager of the campaigns and had final control over almost all parts of the work, including finances and the hiring and firing of staff. Billy Sunday’s style of preaching won him an enormous amount of newspaper exposure, as did the enthusiasm with which his campaigns were received. He used colorful, slangy language and entertained and instructed his audiences with mimicry, impersonations, as well as memorable epigrams and anecdotes. His messages laid great stress on every human being’s need for personal salvation through Jesus Christ and on the authority and reliability of the Bible. He was also a strong critic of alcoholic beverages and favored their prohibition in his most famous sermon, Get on the Water Wagon. He was a popular speaker on the Chautauqua lecture circuit as well.

In 1911, when Sunday was entering into the period of his greatest fame, he and Helen had a home built in Winona Lake, Indiana. By that time, all four of their children had been born: Helen Edith (1890), George Marquis (1892), William Ashley, Jr. (1901) and Paul Thompson (1907). When Mrs. Sunday was away for an evangelistic campaign, the children were usually taken care of by the family housekeeper, Nora Lynn. Miss Lynn stayed with the Sunday household until her death in 1930. It was probably also during the 1910s that the Sundays bought their ranch on the Hood River in Oregon.

In 1917, Sunday held a lengthy evangelistic campaign in New York City which is generally considered the zenith of his career. He was also deeply involved in support of the American war effort: helping to sell war bonds, speaking on the need to save food and fuel, and vigorously encouraging young men to enlist. Sunday, throughout his career, was a critic of American moral laxity and an unabashed admirer of American civilization.

It was also during 1917 that Rev. Sunday’s first book was published, Love Stories of the Bible, and the short lived Ma Sunday’s Column apparently appeared in papers across the nation. The latter were short vignettes from everyday life used to point up moral lessons.

For most of his ministry, Sunday had vocal critics as well as defenders. Like famous evangelists who preceded him, he was taken to task by liberal church leaders for being too simplistic in his theology, while others insisted that he placed too much emphasis on individual piety and salvation at the expense of social reform. Some ministers who participated in his campaigns complained that they received little benefit from the meetings because those who came forward already belonged to churches or had only a vague idea of what Sunday was asking them to commit themselves. Secular journalists, such as John Reed and George Creel, accused Sunday of being a tool used by the ruling elite to defuse lower class discontent. The suspicion was often expressed or inferred in newspapers that Sunday was little more than a grafter getting wealthy from his temporary congregations. Supporters, however, disagreed that Sunday’s meetings did not produce results, denied any personal dishonesty on his part, and dismissed criticisms of his theology since the criticisms were based on a world view and understanding of Christ’s gospel very different than Sunday’s.

Large scale evangelistic campaigns received much less national attention after the first world war. However they continued to be an important of the life of fundamentalist and pentecostal churches. Sunday was affected by a parallel decrease in his national exposure and influence, although until his death he never lacked invitations to speak and hold campaigns. Besides leading meetings, Sunday spent much of his time defending the constitutional amendment on the prohibition of alcoholic beverage and fighting its repeal. He was involved as well in the management of the Winona Bible Conference (later Winona Institutions and later the Winona Christian Assembly). Personal troubles such as the well publicized difficulties and divorces of his sons, George Marquis and William Ashley, added great sorrow and financial difficulties of his later years. He suffered greatly from major illnesses in 1918, 1933, and the early part of 1935. Other trials were the death of his daughter, Helen, in 1932, and his son, George Marquis, in 1933, an apparent suicide. Throughout most of 1935, he was in poor health and for this reason was unable to attend the ceremony at Bob Jones College at which a Doctor of Divinity degree was conferred upon him. (He had also received a Doctor of Laws degree from Westmont College in 1912.) He died November 5 of that year in Chicago from a heart attack. His memorial service was held at Moody Church in Chicago on November 9.

Mrs. Sunday began an active ministry shortly after her husband’s death. She traveled extensively throughout the country helping to raise money for rescue missions and similar Christian institutions, addressing youth rallies, serving on the boards of the Winona Christian Assembly and Bob Jones University (from which she received an honorary LLD in 1938), and giving talks on her husband’s career and influence. In the early fifties, she spoke at some of Billy Graham’s crusades as well as those of other evangelists. She traveled out of the country on a pleasure trip to Europe in 1937 and again in 1952 on a trip to Quito, Ecuador, to attend the ceremonies celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Voice of the Andes radio station. As with her husband, family problems and sickness (she had a heart attack in 1948) added sorrow to the last decade of her life. She died February 20, 1957, on a visit to her grandson, Paul Haines, who was living in Arizona. Both William and Helen were buried near Helen’s parents in the Forest Home Cemetery, just outside of Chicago.

The above is from the archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

Charles Harrison Mason

Elder Charles Harrison Mason, who later became the founder and organizer of the Church of God in Christ, was born September 8,1866, on the Prior Farm near Memphis, Tennessee. His father and mother, Jerry and Eliza Mason, were members of a Missionary Baptist Church, having been converted during the dark crises of American Slavery.
Young C.H. Mason

Elder Mason was converted in November, 1878, and baptized by his brother, I. S. Nelson, a Baptist Preacher, who was pastoring the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church near Plumerville, Arkansas. In 1893, he began his Christian Ministry with the accepting of ministerial licenses from the Mt. Gale Missionary Baptist Church, in Preston, Arkansas.

He then experienced sanctification through the word of God and preached his first sermon in “Holiness” from II Timothy 2:1-3: “Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” On November 1, 1893, Elder Mason matriculated into the Arkansas Baptist College, but withdrew after three months because of his dissatisfaction with the methods of teaching and the presentation of the Bible message. He then returned to the streets and to every pulpit that was opened to him declaring Christ by the word, example, and precept.

In 1895, Bishop Mason met Elder C. P. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi; Elder J. E. Jeter, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Elder W. S. Pleasant of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, who subsequently became Bishop Mason’s closest companions in the ministry.

Jointly, these militant gospel preachers conducted a revival in 1896, in Jackson, Mississippi, which had far-reaching affects on the city.

The theophanic manifestations of the revival, which included the large numbers that were converted, sanctified, and healed by the power of faith and the dogmatic teachings of Bishop mason on the doctrine of sanctification caused church doors within the Baptist association to become closed to him and to all those that believed and supported his teachings.

So in 1897, when these pioneering, persistent preachers returned to Jackson, Mississippi, Bishop Mason was forced to deliver his first message from the south entrance of the courthouse. A Mr. John Lee, who desired to see Bishop Mason’s ministry continue, provided the living room of his home the next night. Because of the overwhelming number that attended, a Mr. Watson, the owner of an abandoned warehouse in Lexington, Mississippi, gave his consent to transfer the revival meeting to the gin house on the bank of a little creek.

This gin house subsequently became the meeting house for the Church of God in Christ. This miracle deliverance revival was such a success it stirred up the “Devil”, causing someone to shoot five pistol shots and two double barreled shotgun blasts into the midst of the saints while they were shouting and praying. Some persons were wounded but miraculously, none of the shots were fatal.

At the close of the meeting, it was necessary to organize the people for the purpose of establishing a church with a stronger appeal and greater encouragement for all Christians and believers, a church which would emphasize the doctrine of entire sanctification through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

A meeting was mutually called by Elder Mason, Elder Jones, and Elder Pleasant, and sixty stood as charter members. Land was soon bought on Gazoo Street, from Mrs. John Ashcraft, just beyond the corporate line, upon which was built a little edifice 60×40. These charter members formed a Pentecostal body known as the “Church of God.”

Subsequently, in 1897, while seeking a spiritual name which would distinguish the church from others of the similar title, the name “Church of God in Christ” was revealed to Bishop mason while walking along a certain street in Little Rock, Arkansas. The following scripture supported his revelation: I Thessalonians 2:14, “For ye brethren became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye have suffered like things of your own countrymen even as they have of the Jews.” All of the brethren unanimously agreed to the name of “Church of God in Christ.”

Later, the church was reorganized during which Elder C. P. Jones was chosen as General Overseer. Elder C. H. Mason was appointed as overseer of Tennessee, and Elder J. A. Jeter was overseer of Arkansas. The turning point in Elder Mason’s life came in March, 1907, when he journeyed to Los Angeles, California, to attend a great Pentecostal revival with Elder D. J. Young and Elder J. A. Jeter. Elder W. J. Seymour was preaching concerning Luke 24:49, “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” Elder Mason became convinced that it was essential for him to have the outpouring of the Holy ghost.

The following are excerpts from Elder Mason’s personal testimony regarding his receiving the Holy Ghost.

“The first day in the meeting I sat to myself, away from those that went with me. I began to thank God in my heart for all things, for when I heard some speak in tongues, I knew it was right though I did not understand it. Nevertheless, it was sweet to me.

I also thank God for Elder Seymour who came and preached a wonderful sermon. His words were sweet and powerful and it seems that I hear them now while writing. When he closed his sermon, he said ‘All of those that want to be sanctified or baptized with the Holy Ghost, go to the upper room; and all those that want to be justified, come to the altar.’

I said that is the place for me, for it may be that I am not converted and if not, God knows it and can convert me…”

“Glory!”

“The second night of prayer I saw a vision. I saw myself standing alone and had a dry roll of paper in my mouth trying to swallow it. Looking up towards the heavens, there appeared a man at my side. I turned my eyes at once, then I awoke and the interpretation came.

God had me swallowing the whole book and if I did not turn my eyes to anyone but God and Him only, He would baptize me. I said yes to Him, and at once in the morning when I arose, I could hear a voice in me saying, “I see…”

“I got a place at the altar and began to thank God. After that, I said Lord if I could only baptize myself, I would do so; for I wanted the baptism so bad I did not know what to do. I said, Lord, You will have to do the work for me; so I turned it over into His hands.”

“Then, I began to ask for the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4, which readeth thus: ‘Then they that gladly received His word were baptized,’ Then I saw that I had a right to be glad and not sad.”

“The enemy said to me, there may be something wrong with you. Then a voice spoke to me saying, if there is anything wrong with you, Christ will find it and take it away and marry you…Someone said, ‘Let us sing.’ I arose and the first song that came to me was ‘He brought me out of the Miry Clay.’

The Spirit came upon the saints and upon me…Then I gave up for the Lord to have His way within me. So there came a wave of Glory into me and all of my being was filled with the Glory of the Lord.

So when He had gotten me straight on my feet, there came a light which enveloped my entire being above the brightness of the sun. When I opened my mouth to say Glory, a flame touched my tongue which ran down me. My language changed and no word could I speak in my own tongue. Oh! I was filled with the Glory of the Lord. My soul was then satisfied.”

This new Pentecostal experience which Elder Mason found for himself, for he began to proclaim to others upon his return home to Memphis, Tennessee as a New Testament doctrine. A division, subsequently, became evident within the ranks of Elder Mason’s contemporaries when Elder J. A. Jeter, the General Overseer, Elder C. P. Jones, and others regarded the new Holy Ghost experience of speaking in tongues as a delusion. Being unable to resolve their difference in the New Testament doctrine.

The General Assembly terminated by withdrawing the “right hand” of fellowship from C. H. Mason. Elder Mason then called a conference in Memphis, Tennessee of all ministers who believed in receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost according to the scriptures in Acts 2:1-4. Those who responded to Elder Mason’s urgent call were E. R. Driver, J.Bowe, R.R. Booker, R. E. Hart, W. Welsh, A. A. Blackwell, E. M. Page, R.H. I. Clark, D. J. Young, James Brewer, Daniel Spearman and J. H. Boone.

These men of God organized the first Pentecostal General Assembly of the “Church of God in Christ.” Overseer C. H. Mason was then chosen unanimously as the General Overseer and Chief Apostle of our denomination. He was given complete authority to establish doctrine, organize auxiliaries and appoint overseers.

Dr. Hart was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J.A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Tennessee; Elder J. Bowe the Overseer of Arkansas; later J. A. Lewis was appointed Overseer of Mississippi. As the church grew, Elder E. M. Page was appointed Overseer of Texas; Elder R.R. Booker, Overseer of Missouri; Elder E. R. Driver, Overseer of California and Elder W. B. Holt as the National Field Secretary.

As the Chief Apostle, he immediately dedicated twenty days, November 25th through December 14th annually as a meeting time for all of his followers to fellowship with each other and to transact all ecclesiastical and secular affairs pertinent to the growth of the National Organization.

This segment of the year was chosen because the majority of the communicants of the church lived in farming districts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. By this time of the year, they had sufficient provisions and financial resources from the harvesting of their crops, to enable them to attend and support a national meeting.

The first National meetings were held at 392 South Wellington Street, Memphis, Tennessee. The first National Tabernacle was built and completed at 958 South Fifth Street, in 1925.

This Tabernacle, however, was destroyed by fire twelve years later in 1936. In the interim until 1945, our National Convocation was held within the Church pastored by Bishop Mason at 672 South Lauderdale. In1945, Bishop Mason was able to visualize the culmination of his dream. He dedicated the Mason Temple at Memphis, Tennessee which was built for less than $400,000 during World War II. This auditorium became the largest convention hall owned by any colored religious group in America.

Under Bishop Mason’s spiritual and apostolic direction our church has grown from ten congregations in 1907, to the second largest Pentecostal group in America. The membership of the Church of God in Christ grew from three million in 1973 to an estimated eight million in 1997.

Churches under the parent body in Memphis, Tennessee, are now established throughout the United States, in every continent, and in many of the islands of the sea.
The above excerpted from the Church of God in Christ website.

Excerpt from China in Revival by Gustav Carlberg [highlighting the work of Marie Monsen]

 

CHAPTER THREE: REVIVAL
MARIE MONSEN

One of the outstanding instruments God has used for the reviving of the churches in northern China is Miss Marie Monsen. One of her own coworkers describes her coming to Chenping, one of the stations of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission in Honan, in effect as follows:

How God Prepared Special Instruments for Use in “The second of November of 1931 we were in Beginning and Carrying Forward the Work of the pressibly gladdened by the news that Miss Marie Revival. Monsen had returned to our field and was then at Nanyang. The early summer of 1927 God had sent her from Shanghai to Manchuria and later to Chili, Shantung, and Shansi. In these various places God had used her in a marvelous way for the reviving of the churches. “It seemed strange that she should thus be taken away from us to be used in the reviving of the churches elsewhere while we were longing and praying for a revival on our own field.

“Our older missionaries had quietly but tearfullly striven with God in view of the deadness of the churches. But with the news of God’s visitation of the other churches our prayers took on new life. With every letter from Miss Monsen our prayers received a new impetus and became more intense as the time went on, until finally they were in the nature of distress calls. God, who is no respecter of persons, can not but send Miss Monsen back to us and make use of her among us as He has used her in the northern provinces.

“Then the news reached us that she would be with us at our annual conference at Chenping from November 13 to 15. There was a general feeling of expectancy as we journeyed to this meeting, and we were not disappointed in our expectations. It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience to have her again in our midst.

“Already at this meeting it became clear to us that God had fashioned Miss Monsen into a seasoned soul winner through the experiences she had gone through in the north, and that she was in possession of a power from God that was well nigh irresistible.

“The first text she used was from the third chapter of the Gospel of John, `Ye must be born anew.’ The greater part of this address consisted in short questions, cast forth with holy, penetrating seriousness: `Why are you a Christian? Is it not that you wish to enter heaven? What does Jesus say here? “Except ye be born anew, ye can not enter the kingdom of God.” Ye can not, ye can not.’ These words sank like lead into the hearts of the listeners.

“The next text was from Rev. 20. 12, about the sins that were written in the books with such clear ness. `Also in Jer. 17. 1 we see that your sins are written “with a pen of iron” on the tablets of flesh in your hearts so that no one can erase them.’
“Other texts were, Mark 14. 3-11, about Judas. `He was a preacher of the gospel; he was a member of the church; he was a disciple. But he was false; he was a thief. Are you a preacher of the gospel, or are you a thief.’

“She aimed in the first place at our leaders and the workers in our congregations. She spoke from Prov. 28. 13, about covering one’s transgressions. All are born with an inclination to cover their sins. Other texts used were, Is. 59. 1-4, `Your iniquities have separated between you and your God’: Is. 64. 6, `Our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment’; 1 Cor. 6. 9, with the question, `Is this a catalog of your sins? Read and find out if your sins are there.’ Also Mark 7. 21-23, with the same question and the same admonition.

“Then came John 1. 14, `He is “full of grace and truth,” He will not permit you to remain full of falsehood and deceit.’ And Is. 1. 18, `If you will only acknowledge your sins before God they “shall be white as snow.”‘ Finally there was an address to believers about being in the will of God. `The unsaved have God’s will behind them. The saved have God’s will before them. Some are in God’s will; others are outside of it. They try to stretch God’s will so as to make it conform to theirs.’

“At the end of each service she took her place near the door, and few were those who managed to get by without having the question asked them, `Are you saved? ‘It felt like the thrust of a sword,’ they explained afterwards. After the next meeting they received another sword-thrust, `Are you still on the road to destruction.
“Many came to see her and to confess their sins, but she sent them away, some as often as three to four times. They were not in a condition of real need. `Pray that God’s Spirit may enlighten you concerning your sins,’ was the admonition they received to take away with them. She never tired of admonishing us, `Do not gather unripe fruit.’

“After the annual meeting there was a special meeting for workers and leaders. Those who were present told of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit manifest at these meetings. During the course of the meetings Miss Monsen spent one night in prayer before she could find courage to step up to Pastor Han Liu Ging and tell him she was afraid he did not have life in God. He came under deep conviction and after two days found release.

“He said afterwards that there was something that melted within him when she took him aside. He felt the love of God was impelling her and that he must give in. Later on he became Miss Monsen’s helper during a series of meetings, and is one among those God has used to further the revival.

“Pastor Liu Dao Sheng was another leader who had been used of God with much blessing. At these meetings he also experienced a renewal and em-powering. His eyes were opened to the need of bringing people to the point of being saved and re-leased from the power of sin. Together with others who had experienced renewal, he began immediately to enter the work as a definite soul-winner. Liu Dao Sheng became Miss Monsen’s chief helper as long as she remained on the field of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, and he is perhaps the one God has used the most since her departure.

“Miss Monsen’s plan was first to destroy the false security of the church members. She spoke of the various kinds of patches the unsaved used to hide behind when they tried to persuade themselves they were saved. Then she spoke of sin, one sin at a time. It had cost her several days of prayerful struggle before she became willing, as she expressed it, to `descend into the miry cesspool of sin’ in connection with the sixth commandment, against adultery. But it turned out that one of Satan’s well-nigh impregnable strongholds was at last broken into when this particular sin was brought out into the open.

“Another text that was laid heavily on her consciousness was, `It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ People by means of this text were placed face to face with God.

“Finally, the words of gracious promise from the Scriptures came as balm on open sores. `Unless He, who was without sin, had been made sin for us, God could never have said to the sinner, Come, when you are in earnest about your sins, God, who can not away with sin, will speak words of comfort to your heart.

“At each series of meetings there was no pronounced movement or great visible result. She was ever alert to hinder strong emotional outbursts, or public confession. Everything was done quietly. After she was gone it became evident that God’s Spirit had plowed deep furrows. We could begin to gather in the harvest of souls.”
As we ponder this gripping narrative by one of Miss Monsen’s co-workers we are bound to ask ourselves, what is the secret of the power this worker of God possesses? Is there anything in her nature or bringing up that would give a clue to the effectiveness of her service? What means did God use to bring about such marvelous results in her own life, and through her in the lives of others?

We are indebted to another of Miss Monsen’s coworkers, Mrs. Karoline Samset, of Laohokow, for some intimate touches regarding her youth and early training and first impressions on meeting her before she was sent out to China as a missionary under the N. L. K. Board.

“Miss Monsen was confirmed in the church of Sandviken in the outskirts of Bergen, Norway, under the charge of Rev. Grimnes, the pastor of the church, who was of great spiritual help to her during these formative years. Elder Tormod Retterdal of the China Society was of especially great help to her in a spiritual way. According to her own testimony she never tired of listening to him as he always had so much to offer.”

It appears that from early childhood Miss Monsen loved to wander about among the mountains and hills of her native land, and when school vacation arrived she always set her gaze towards the high mountains. The majestic Jotunheimen and other tall peaks were familiar places loved by her.

The year she was to take her examination for teacher’s certificate she was too young by one year, and it was just at this time that she came to clarity regarding her call to the mission field.

It was in 1898 in the Laksevag church in Bergen that Mrs. Samset first learned to know of Miss Mon-sen, who was later destined to become her close friend and co-worker. The Rev. Prydz was occupying the pulpit and the text was, “Thy kingdom come.” During the course of the sermon the preacher mentioned the name of a young woman who had sought for acceptance by the China Society to be sent to China. The Board had asked her to testify as to her spiritual life and outlook. During their conversation, the Rev. Prydz and Miss Monsen had both agreed that it was impossible to explain just how they had become heirs of the kingdom. The main emphasis in his sermon at this time was on the kingdom of God within us.

The following year we find Miss Monsen at Lovisenberg Hospital and Training School in Oslo as the choice of the China Society’s Board for work in China. Through a friend whom Miss Monsen had nursed, Mrs. Samset came for the first time into direct contact with her. She relates:

“It was evident from the first moment of contact with her that Miss Monsen was an unusually gifted woman. She possessed considerable originality of mind, and, as a rule, was never found treading the beaten paths. In contact with the deaconesses at Lovisenberg she was never afraid of expressing her opinion freely. In those days such behavior was not always well received, so she had many heavy burdens to carry at that time, but she was always ready to take the part of those who were weak.

“She wrote to Brandtzeg, then General Secretary of the Board from Lovisenberg, `Verily, you have sent me to the North Pole.’ He replied, `Yes, but I know that you have both pick and axe so you can dig yourself out again.’ She made it, and when she was the hardest pressed, the head physician came to her assistance.

“From that time on her life was unusually rich in experiences. She grew up in a home where she was supplied with only the necessaries of life. Money has never appealed to her as of any worth. She has always been willing to extend help to such as were in need. `Prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven.’ She has done this and the Lord has never permitted her to come to grief.

“She has gone to the steamships without money to buy a ticket; she has traveled by rail across the United States without provisions; she has made a journey to the Northland without a steamer berth. `Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of.’ This verse came to her at one time when she was suffering from hunger. She was led to a loaded table without the payment of money, and afterwards was in a position to help a fellow traveler who was on his way to tell his mother that there is no God. She has stuck to the promises, and God has never failed her. But to surrender everything unconditionally into the hand of God is not a lesson that is learned in one day. She has had to go through the deep waters to come to the place of utter dependence on God.

“When she came to China in the fall of 1901, her health failed her. She fell down a stairway in Shanghai and sustained a concussion of the brain, and when she arrived on the field she was taken down with a bad attack of malaria, so that even her life was despaired of.

“She was very much handicapped in her language studies the first few years. She struggled against the malaria, and her head gave her constant pain. During the summer of 1906 she was healed through prayer. Since that time the Lord has been her Great Physician, and she has needed His help on more than one occasion.


“Something that has always stood out before me as remarkable is her prayer life. She has always been an early riser, and the first two or three hours of the day have been holy to the Lord. The precious dewdrops from the Lord’s altar have sustained her step by step on the way of sanctification.


“As a co-worker she was always sympathetic and considerate, and, on the whole, easy to get along with. Her aim was to go the way of the Lord and do His errands, so that also out here it was never a question with her of following the beaten paths. Consequently there were times when some stood wondering and questioning. But that it has paid her to follow the way of the Lord and to be in His will, that has been amply shown by her life during recent years.”


This sketch of the life and work of Miss Monsen would be entirely inadequate if we left out all reference to an experience she had in the spring of 1929 when she was marvelously kept during twenty-three days of captivity at the hands of a band of sea rovers who had captured the ship she was traveling on from Tientsin, to meet an appointment to hold meetings at Hwanghsien in Shantung.
The story of this adventure in faith and dependence upon the Lord was told by Miss Monsen in her own characteristic way in an address before the Peitaiho Conference in North China, July 29, 1929, and recorded in a booklet, “We Are Escaped,” published by the China Inland Mission in 1931.


In reading this wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness and power to help those who trust fully in Him, we are impressed by the place and value of prayer in the scheme of God’s government of the world, as well as by the wonderful provision of God for our every need, if we are only willing to trust Him to undertake for us.
There is no doubt but that Miss Monsen’s experiences during those twenty-three days on that bandit-ridden ship were a means in God’s hand to prepare her for greater work for Him during the years that followed. The narrative is full of interest from be-ginning to end.


In the providence of God she was led to take a boat that sailed one day earlier than she had planned. She was also led apparently without any reason to purchase several pounds of apples to take along on the journey. Likewise she was led to keep four boxes of chocolate that had been sent her by friends. “Never before in my life,” she relates, “had I carried about with me four boxes of chocolate. From the last part of February I began to get those packages of chocolate, and every time I got one, I heard the words, `Keep it for an emergency.’ I had a few biscuits, dry biscuits, fourteen or fifteen of them. Many, many times I had been wanting to leave them behind and not carry them along, but I always heard, `Keep them for an emergency.’


For nine days she had those apples, that chocolate, and those biscuits, and during those nine days she could not get any one of the crew near enough to tell them she wanted anything.


The ship left Tientsin on the 19th about noon. The next morning, as they were nearing the Shantung coast, she heard shots all over the ship. About twenty robbers had come along with the ship as ordinary passengers and now they took possession of the ship. The words came to her, “This is the trial of your faith,” and a thrill of joy went through her at the thought of it.


“I was immediately reminded,” she says, “of the word that I had been using much in years gone by, in Isaiah 41. 10, and I will read it to you as I had been reading it on the Honan plains, `Fear not, Marie, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, Marie, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, Marie, with the right hand of my righteousness. Fear not, Marie.’


Suddenly the doors were opened and the passengers were commanded to go outside on deck. Miss Monsen did not move. She knew she was on that ship that left Tientsin on the 19th because the Lord wanted her to be there, and that she had that cabin as an answer to prayer, so she did not leave it. A line from a Danish hymn came to her: “My door-posts have been marked by the blood of the Lamb.”


She kept singing this over and over, and firmly believed it was so.
A young robber came into her cabin and demanded to see her watch. He told her to put it away, thinking that later he would come and get it. In the meantime another robber came and asked that she make him a present of her watch. This she refused, whereupon he threatened to shoot her. She replied: “Oh, no, you can not shoot me. You can not shoot me whenever you like.” She quoted the promise and told him what it meant. “My God says that no weapon that has been formed against me shall prosper. You can not use your pistol whenever you like on me and shoot me. You must have special permission from the Living God to do that.” He jumped up again and pointed the pistol at her. “You can not,” she said, “you can not. It has been promised to me, no weapon that has been formed against me shall prosper.” She repeated that to him four or five times. Later during the twenty three days they were. together on that ship, she heard that young man repeating those words to himself almost every day. They just stuck.


Another promise that she claimed was from the third chapter of Malachi: “And I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” She asked God that there might be such a difference between her, a child of God, and the others, that those two hundred passengers on that ship might see that she had a living God, that her God was God, and was to be praised. In this respect also her prayers were answered.
Miss Monsen tells about the advent of another visitor: “I saw two robbers standing outside, looking into my cabin. I have seen quite a few robbers down in Honan, but I have never seen more vile looking men than those two. One pushed the other into my cabin and shut the door and tried to lock it, but the key had been broken. There was that man in that little cabin, I felt the devil himself was there. His face and neck and hands were all covered with hideous sores, open sores. He sat down on my suitcase, almost breathing in my face. I repeated the promise that had been very precious to me many times down in our robber province: `The angel of the Lord encampeth around them that fear Him and delivereth them.’ And there was another promise I went over that moment, `The Lord is like a wall of fire round about His people.’ Round about me. Once when I had to travel through a robber district, the night before, the Lord allowed me to see it. I suddenly awoke and it seemed to me the roof was lifted off the house and I saw a wall of fire higher than the house, round about me, and I heard a voice saying, `The Lord is like a wall of fire round about His people.’ I could see the arrows coming from the out-side, arrows without number, and I could see the flames consuming them and not a single one of them passed that wall of fire round about me. I had known those words for years and years, but I had not known what they meant before that time. So I claimed the promise that He would be like a wall of fire round about me then, and that vile man sitting there was up against the wall before he could touch me.


“I started the conversation. Is your mother still living? `Yes,’ he said. How old is she? He told me. Well, she is about my age. I asked him about his father and the rest of the family, and we had a good long talk together. I had asked him to open the door and he obeyed me. It could not be locked. I found out that he knew a missionary, and he said about him, `Truly he is a good man, there is no better man in this world.’ He knew some real Christians too. I believe we talked together for an hour, and when he went he had tears in his eyes, and he went out very quietly indeed. I never saw him again near my door.”


For five days and nights the robbers looted every junk they came across and sent the loot ashore. On the second day a junk had arrived with guns and ammunition and the number of bandits had been increased to fifty or sixty men. The passengers were fed, but Miss Monsen consistently refused to eat any of the stolen food. The apples and chocolate and biscuits lasted her nine days. On the tenth day the second officer came to her door. Up to that time not one of the crew had dared to come near her cabin. He asked if she had anything to eat, and on learning she had nothing, said, “Well, I have a box of eggs in this cabin, which I bought in Tientsin with my own money, clean money; you needn’t fear. I have a box of Chinese cakes too. You can have it all.”


“From the tenth day till the end of the twenty-three days,” she says, “I had for breakfast one egg, for the noon meal, one egg, sometimes two; and for the evening meal, one egg. I prayed that the Lord would make that egg into a real meal and that He would make it good for vegetables and fruit and all that I needed; and He did. I had no trouble what-ever on account of the food, and when I had eaten one egg I seemed so satisfied I don’t think I could have eaten more if I had had it.”


Every day as they were having their meals, Miss Monsen handed out tracts to them. One would read aloud, and the others would explain the meaning. She relates: “Many and many a time I saw tears in the eyes of those men. They said, `We can not but be bad,’ and the one they wanted me to look upon as chief and to deal with came every night as I was standing outside the cabin door to get fresh air.


“We talked for hours together. Even that last night before we left the ship-I didn’t know it was the last night-we talked together for two hours on what I wanted to talk about. I told him what was coming, the Lord’s return and the Lord taking His own people unto Himself, and the tribulation that was to come upon the earth. I must confess it, the day I saw those robbers leave the ship, I sighed be-cause my work among them had come to an end. By that time I had been made perfectly willing to go with them, to be carried off, with them, although I could not see how they could carry me off as long as r had this Book and all the promises in it.”
During all this time she was perfectly delivered from impatience. Some of them remarked: “Can you understand the peace she has got? You can see it on her face. Look at the passengers; they look yellow and worn and impatient every day.” She knew it was so and thanked God that they could see the difference.
The last five days the one question was how to carry her off the ship. At three different times they had planned everything to carry her off, but each time something turned up to frustrate their plans. They had commandeered forty or fifty junks which they carried alongside. They pointed out to her the junk she was to be in; bedding had been taken into the junks. They were just on the point of leaving and taking her with them when a sudden storm arose, so the junks had to go near the shore for cover. So they didn’t leave the ship that time.


The twenty third day was Sunday. At three in the afternoon suddenly a shot was heard. A gunboat was in pursuit. Most of the robbers immediately left the ship. Ten were left behind. The captain was ordered out of his cabin, and there was a lively race for the space of two hours. The pirates planned to leave the ship and take Miss Monsen with them. “We must have the foreigner with us;” they said, “we can not go without that foreign face; they won’t shoot us if we have that foreign face with us.” At last they had to go into the junks, and she heard one voice saying, “What is the use of carrying the foreigner with us? She has not been eating anything for twenty-three days; she won’t be able to run; she won’t be able to walk. You see the circumstances we are in; leave her behind!” And I was left behind: of course I was. `Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered.’ “


Miss Monsen says the only difficulty she had on board ship was about how her old parents would take the news of her captivity. She was given grace not to be anxious for her parents, and God under took for her also in this respect. Seven days before her deliverance, word came to Norway that she had been released, so that during the last and most difficult days on board ship they were having praise meetings in the home land. She testifies as to what prayer did for her during the days of her captivity.


“The first four or five days, people did not know we were missing, so no one prayed for the missing ones, of course. Those five days I felt like one swimming against the current, but I felt that strength was given to me and that I would be able to make it. After people got to know we were missing and started praying for me, there was a marked difference. I felt like one floating on the waters, just floating, resting on the promises. And those seven days that they were having praise meetings at home, the hardest part of the time really, because there was this terrible struggle between the powers of darkness and the powers of light, during those days I was so filled with joy that I felt like bursting out with joy more than once.”


After the pirates had left the ship, the passengers swarmed around her asking for tracts. They said: “We have seen that your God is God, and we want to believe Him too.” She concludes: “Friends, I thank God for the Book of promises, and I do thank Him that He is faithful to His promise, and that I was allowed to see His faithfulness.”

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