Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3: 3.
The last days of April, 1929, all Shantung, and especially Southern Baptist circles, were shocked to hear that a Missionary had been captured by pirates. Numbers of Missionaries had been in the hands of bandits before, but this Missionary was on her way from Tientsin to Hwanghsien to hold special meetings in our Mission there; several of us had travelled on the very boat that the pirates had taken. The horror seemed to reach out and touch us. Our prayers joined the prayer of other Christian circles that reached all the way to Norway, where cable had wired the news to the native country of the captured Missionary. Afterwards Miss. L. sent out cireular reprints of Miss. M’s own letter telling of those twenty-three days in the hands of the pirates. Instead of days of misery, days of triumph and rejoicing were recorded. In her own words: “Just before daylight, I heard pistol shots all over the ship, and I knew immediately what we were in for. The words came to me: ‘This is a trial of your faith.’ I remember the thrill of joy that went through me at the thought of it. I was immediately reminded 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 down 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, yea I will uphold thee, Marie, with the right hand of my righteousness.’”
Standing on the promises as given in the Book of Promises she went through the test of having a pistol pointed at her, plans to take her away with them, the intrusion of a vile bandit into her cabin, without a hair of her head being touched. Standing on the promises of the King of Kings she refused to obey the pirates orders, refused to eat the stolen food brought to her, refused to be frightened, and with perfect peace in her heart was not only kept in a miraculous way but witnessed to the two hundred passengers and fifty robbers, including hours of personal conversation on Salvation to the chief of the pirates himself.
But this missionary had another reputation, that of going about and asking people if they were born again. It was even reported that she asked Missionaries themselves, “Have you been born again?” Some months after the pirate episode she held meetings at Hwanghsien, and imagine our surprise, and in spite of joy, shock, to hear that one of our own Missionaries had been “born again.” Later we shall hear her experience in her own words, but this was not the beginning of our spiritual hunger.
For several years there had been an increasing hunger in the hearts of most of us to see more of the Power of the Holy Spirit in our work. We had been taught in our seminaries that if we ever got any souls saved it would be through the work of the Holy Spirit. We knew the doctrine of the Acts of the Apostles, but we were not experiencing it as we knew we should. After the Chinese Southern Army came. in during the year 1928, and so much of our work showed up as “hay and stubble” most of us were willing to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt us in due season.” Miss. L. and other missionaries who had heard Miss. M’s testimonies during the time of refugeeing in Chefoo, were glad and willing to have her come into their Missions with the pointed question of, “Have you been born again?”
But let us hear from one who truly faced the question during the Hwanghsien meetings. As far as “natural sweetness which may exist quite apart from grace,” the writer has never met a more unselfish character. During the year together at Language School Miss. —— was very popular because of her sterling character and devoted service to others. She had had a real call to service in China; she had been inspired time and again by Christ’s teachings. But let us hear her own words:
“I’ve tried to figure it all out why I missed the way of salvation. I know I was reared with strictness as to religious duties, but if I was depending on works, as one friend told me it appeared to her, it was without any conscious idea of it. I really enjoyed church going, memorising Bible verses, and had answers to prayer. It was not, as I once thought, because I did not hear the Gospel, for I did hear it, and I knew I had sins, a rather deep sense of it beginning early. I feel that when times of conviction came that sin (of stealing 25 cents from our next door neighbour and covering it with a lie when my mother questioned me) was the one that God wanted me to confess, and just tell my mother that I had lied to her, but I refused to listen to Him. I just begged Him to forgive me and make me forget that sin. In giving this testimony I do not mean to intimate that any one was to blame for my failure to be saved earlier. My home training was careful and I was taught much about God and about the sinfulness of sin. Many verses of scripture were memorised for which I have been profoundly grateful to my Mother and Sunday School teachers. There was one time at our church when the Cross of Christ was so lifted up I felt that I must talk to that minister about my soul’s condition. At that time I satisfied myself with the assurance that I was a church member and therefore saved. At the time I joined the church I was thirteen. I attended revival meetings at another B. church in our city; the invitation for sinners to hold up their hands annoyed me, and I asked a girl by me, “Who are sinners?” She replied, “Those not in the church.” With this I held up my hand but I had no idea of confessing the sin that was in my heart. Many a time I had heard God’s voice telling me to confess my sin but the fear of punishment and later, fear of being known as a thief held me back. I joined the church and was baptised but the sin remained. In the baptismal pool I silently cried to God, “Let this water wash that sin away.” It had become a bother to me and I do praise the Lord He kept on reminding me of it till I yielded to His leading in confessing and making restitution. There were many other sins, but stealing from a neighbour, twenty-five cents with which I bought candy and covering over the whole with a lie, which my Mother believed, was the sin that kept me so many years from getting right with God. When Miss. P. was here she asked if we had real communion with the Lord, and urged us to get alone with the Lord till we felt His presence. I did this and felt it, but beginning to be afraid, jumped up and ran away, for I could not bear that Presence. I knew then that it meant returning that money to the woman. I told Him that I would confess to my Mother when I went on furlough. Some peace came then. But when I went on furlough I could not summon up the necessary courage. All this time I had not doubted my salvation, or I hardly believe that I would have come back to China. I had been back just a year when Miss. M. came. Something in me did not want her to come. But one day a fellow Missionary gave me the thought that the thing to do was to pray, ‘Lord, send a revival, and begin in me.’
When the meeting began I hoped the speaker would not ask me the question, “Are you born-again?” I sat near the front in the foreign meetings to be sure she would not detect any lack in me. O, my deceitful heart, when I should have been eager for the light which I did not have! She asked us Missionaries to help her in personal work by asking the Chinese if they were ‘born again.’ This I did one morning after Chinese service, and the question choked me, and my heart bore witness, ‘You’re not born-again yourself, how can you ask that question?’ This was early in the meetings; by Wednesday I was very miserable, but tried to keep happy and singing, consoling myself that if I could sing I knew I was saved. Wednesday p.m., I went through a period of questioning. M. was at home and I talked to her, whether she answered or not I do not know, but she did not give me any comfort, for which I praise the Lord. It was a series such as this: ‘I think I’m saved.’ ‘How could I be here if I were not saved’ ‘I hope l am saved,’ well, I guess I am saved,’ well, I ought to be,’ and so on. Then I went to work and to the afternoon meeting.
I had planned to ask Miss. M. to walk with me and put the facts of my case before her so as to make her think I was talking about someone else. When I asked her she indifferently replied, ‘No, I am going with someone else.’ I went home and felt that there was no help, ate a little supper and to the hospital for prayers with the nurses. One of the nurses asked me what was the difference between ‘believe and be saved’ and be ‘born again.’ (Believe can be used in a sense such as to believe the fact of Christ’s advent and teachings without the work of grace in a heart changed by Him.) I answered, ‘You will find out later.’ I went home, M. was out; I was in the big house alone. I knelt by the bed and prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t know whether I’m saved or not but you know; I want to be right with you and with man, please show me what is wrong.’ My sins came before me like darkness, and I cried, what can I do?’ Just then the burden rolled away and the Light of Salvation shone in my soul. I saw my sins and I saw the Cross. Such joy flooded my being but it was only a moment before the temptation, ‘It cannot last, such joy as this,’ but then came the blessed assurance in Rom. 8 that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor — height nor depth nor any other creature should be able to separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’ Quickly I jumped up to run down stairs to hunt a sheet of precious promises printed in Chinese. I looked up the promises in English and wrote them in the back of my Bible. They were the most precious words I had ever known! Then I took paper and pencil and began writing a letter home confessing how far short I had fallen of all they had believed me to be and sending back a dollar to pay for the twenty-five cents that I had stolen when a child. Then and there the Bible became a new book to me; I was a new creation in Christ Jesus. I knew that as God revealed my sins to me I would do what He suggested about restitution. I was full of joy and peace about my salvation, but after meeting with God I wanted every pretence and wrong dealing with man made straight. Some things were hard, but He made it harder not to do this. He showed me many things and it has brought me joy as one thing after another has been made right with man.”
This worker went on in joy and witnessing, became very earnest in soul winning, had no other desire but to see souls saved, and has since received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
It seems needless to say that the Revival was born out of prayer groups who were asking definitely for revival. Several stations had prayer bands, but we have space to mention only the one with which we were closely connected.
For years there had been a prayer group of women in Tsinan, As far back as 1925 there was one home where choice friends were invited to dinner, the place cards were prayer pledges, reading, “O Lord revive thy church, beginning in me.” In the summer of 1930 a group of five hungry Missionaries went to Summer Conference hunting a new experience in the Lord. Miss. L. never stopped stressing in prayer and laying upon the hearts of the others the fact that there were seventy odd “dead churches” in the North China Association. During the summer a definite prayer list was made on which it was agreed to pray for revival in Tsinan, Tsining and Hwanghsien. In the fall of 1930 Miss. M. came for meetings in Tsinan. The leaders were ready and willing to have the church exposed to the question, “Have you been born again?”
Right here I want to say that none of these “Born Again” revivals had the least taint of sensationalism about them. The singing was the usual mediocre singing of the congregation, there was no advertising other than announcements. Miss. M. herself is one of the quietest speakers I ever heard, but any one with any discernment at all could see and feel that she was depending upon the promises of God in a remarkable way, and most especially upon the promise given in the Gospel of John 16: 8, “And when He (the Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.” He, Himself, the Holy Spirit, will convict of sin. The Word of God concerning sin was given in a quiet, unassuming manner, and it became “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart.”
“But was not Grace and the Cross preached?” you ask. Yes, God’s grace had been preached for years, but so many had accepted God’s grace as an outside coat of whitewash, and had covered their sins in their naturally depraved hearts.
To continue the account of the Tsinan Revival which we had the privilege of attending, the members of the congregation were exposed to what the Bible says concerning definite sins, one sin discussed at each session — not the fact that we are all sinners jumbled into one sermon. For example: After the foundation fact “Ye must be born again” had been well-rubbed in; one day the sin of Hate, and what the Bible says about Hate, what Hate does to men’s hearts, and the freedom that comes when Christ changes the heart and hate is forgiven; then the next session the sin of Lies, then the sin of Stealing, Covetousness, the whole decalogue, yes, even Adultery. With the boldness and power which only comes from a heart continually cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, what the Bible teaches about each sin was given in a vivid, forceful manner. At the close of each session the speaker took her stand at the door and put the question “Have you been born again?” to individuals as they met her. The evasion, the doubt, the conviction was terrible. In some places, if there was a back door, the victims under conviction would escape through it. With all the preaching of what the Bible says about Sin, there came the most terrible conviction of the Righteousness and Holiness of God, with the surety of judgement. All the time there was definite prayer, especially for the “key person” in the church, who happened to be the young pastor’s wife. She was a young woman of vivid personality, graduate of our Mission High School, several years of hospital training, and also several years in the Seminary. She knew her Bible, but it came to light that she was on the prayer lists of several groups of Missionaries who felt that she had not been saved. But let us hear her experience as given by herself: “When Miss. M. asked me, ‘Have you been born again?’ I tried to assure her and myself that an experience of faith in prayer for my husband’s sickness about two week’s before was a born again experience, but before the week was over I knew better. Day after day as the messages were given as to how God regards hate, lying, stealing, in fact all the sins covered by the ten commandments, I knew myself to be undone before God. My sins were spread out before me and I knew I must go to the Cross for confession and forgiveness. I knew my Bible well, and could handle it in a mechanical way, but that could not wipe away the sin of hating my first baby because I wanted a diploma more than a baby. In knowing my sins of hate and discord, the truth of I Jno. 3: 15 cut like a “two edged sword.” But I could not surrender my pride and stubbornness till the last day of the meeting, and Oh! the floods of joy and peace as assurance of the forgiveness of sins came. I gave my testimony and confessed my sins before the whole church because I felt that as a pastor’s wife I had caused them all to stumble. O, friends, is it possible that education and Seminary training have taken the place of a real work of grace in your heart? Are you a new creation in Christ Jesus?”
The True Light School had two attractive young women teachers, and we all had thought that they were converted. To an American, Miss. L. especially was very attractive. She has good clear-cut features, wavy hair, a generous mouth, and eyes that speak for energy and sincerity. Her personality is as glowing and promising as the first rays of the morning sun. But when the convicting power of God’s Word spoke to her, she saw herself a lost sinner. Impulsive and open-hearted, she was the first to go under deep conviction; the first to have a clear-cut, “born again” experience. But let us hear her own experience:
“At first the meetings made no impression on me, and I thought that Miss. M. had no right to ask me, “Have you been born again?” Then I came under deep conviction and saw myself unclean before the Living God. My pride, deceit, worldliness, and hate weighed as a burden in my heart. God’s Word in Rom. 1: 28 - 32 and II Tim. 3: 2 - 4 became a living picture to my heart. My own righteousness became as “filthy rags” before a Holy God. Although I had been a nominal Christian from childhood, and had always been in Mission Schools, my heart had experienced no change. Several times I had been inspired by good preaching, and had determined not to sin, determined to be good, but I kept on sinning. Although we had Bible lessons in school, we only read the Bible because we had to. Then in the last years of High School anti-foreign propaganda reached us, and I came to believe that the Church was an “Imperial Machine,” that prayer was empty, the Bible written by men only, not the least understanding of the second birth. I was not the least afraid of God. Then suddenly I went under deep conviction and saw myself a lost sinner. I was physically limp, had no hope; knew that the “wages of sin is death.” When I had no hope, the word of the Lord in John 3: 36 came to me. I wanted the life that Jesus gives, and knelt before the Lord and gave my sins to Him one by one. Then I took the promise of I John I: 9 and let the Holy Spirit do His work in my heart, received the new life that Jesus gives. October II, 1930 I was “born again.” Oh, what joy.’ In all my twenty-three years I had never been so happy. My feet could not stay on the ground, my heart was so light. Then I knew that Jesus was a Living Lord, a Lord who frees sinners. Within a month I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Follow Me.” And so I have, going to the lost around me with the message of John 4: 14. I believe that the New Birth is a necessity. The Life that Jesus only can give is a living, vital, glorious fact.”
Miss. L. has since gone through the test of opposition from her family. Her father being dead, her brother has control and he was determined she should not do anything so foolish as follow a life of faith, but tried to make her compromise with a good position in “Social Gospel” work. But nothing other than vital work in the “born again” revival satisfied her. Then her brother tried making a worldly marriage for her, but prayer prevailed, and she has lived to see her brother change his attitude, and himself experience the New Birth. She is now in a Seminary for Bible study and looks forward to pioneer work when she graduates.
The other teacher, Miss. Li. was more reserved, old fashioned and of the official class. The first meetings could not break down her reserve, but a second week on what the Bible teaches about sin, broke her down completely. In her own words, “Conviction settled down on my heart as a cloud that could not be borne. I almost had to run to a Christian worker and ask her to help me pray.” The New Birth freed her from her sins, and she has since been an open-hearted, radiant soul-winner in the school.
But these are only a few outstanding examples of the first fruits of the revival. As one Missionary wrote:
“We have suddenly been brought to our senses as a result of Miss. M.’s messages on sin. Our best (?) church members have been brought under deep conviction of sin. They have come weeping and confessing sins which they have kept hidden all these years. So we have been having an in-gathering of “Born again ones from among the church members as well as the outsiders.” She also adds that not one of the deacons of the church was clear on the New Birth. After the first meeting they and the teachers began to try to teach and preach the New Birth, but soon showed that they did not know what they were talking about. Some said that one could not know till death, but the bright, happy faces of those who had been freed convicted him. There began a searching of the Scriptures and a confession of sins that brought assurance. One deacon was so anxious about his condition that he said that it made no difference whether he had his supper or not — he wanted to bring his Bible and get straight. When asked if he believed all the Bible he had no difficulty there, but when asked if his name was written in the Book of Life, he just said, “No, I am not sure, because I don’t think my sins are open and confessed.”
Now I will quote in full from a letter as to how the first messages on sin struck two churches.
“MY DEAR PRAYER-HELPERS:
Thank God in answer to prayer we have had eight wonderful days here. It truly has been a time of reaping with joy. I found many hungry prepared hearts here. It was easy work preaching to them.
K. is only half an hour away from K……. by railroad. Some of the workers here went to the meetings there, the leading evangelist among them. He had for some time been on the point of despair on account of the hopelessness of the work. He himself is a fine man, reborn. He seemed to realise that most of the church members, more than a thousand, had only been converted to Christianity and not to Christ. At the first meeting at he seemed to get the help he needed both for himself and for his work. Tears of joy were streaming down his face when he discovered he had a part in helping two evangelists into the kingdom. One evangelist and a teacher came back from K. saved. They were on fire, and the Lord has greatly used them in meetings here. They have been doing personal work all the time.
During the two weeks between the meetings at K. and here, a prayer meeting was held three times a day for all the workers in the district, and the Lord did indeed prepare their hearts for the meetings during the days of prayer.
Besides the church members about fifty workers have attended the meetings, and with the leading evangelist on the right side there was no opposition. He who has come into the world to convict of sin, was in our midst from the very beginning. Convicted, burdened sinners were privately and quietly helped through, by those who were already saved.
One young man tried to deceive himself and others; he insisted he was saved. He was a worker. But He could not deceive the Holy Spirit. One night the healthy young man was suddenly struck down in the court-yard. He had to be carried in, stiff and blue and cold. Friends burdened for his soul were kneeling at his side crying for mercy. The Missionary called into his ears.” “Confess your sins quickly”! And as soon as he could open his mouth he just poured out his black sins, and stood on his feet again, a forgiven sinner. Praise the dear Lord, the Saviour of all sinners!
Several others have had God’s hand on them in the same way. One old, hardened sinner, also a worker, and a much prayed for man, one evening could not possibly keep his seat. In spite of himself he had to get up, he had to go to the front, and he just had to pour out a life of black sins before them all. No public confessions had been made before. He just confessed, — he had to — but seemed hard and cold and untouched through it all, and the atmosphere of the place seemed suddenly changed, the church seemed filled with evil spirits. But the next day he was a broken man, tears streaming down his face. He seemed to be set free, but he has many things to put right.
Everything otherwise has been so quiet. But for a wonderful spirit of prayer and an occasional testimony now and again, no one dropping in would think we were in the midst of a revival. The sweet, “Abba, Father” that has seemed to come from the depth of the hearts of many, has shown one how lovely it has been to “come home.” It sounds like the Lord of the harvest is calling out labourers for His own work. Whenever it comes out in prayer, I feel like we are on Holy Ground. Some of these friends have asked for an interview today. Oh! for more men and women with a Divine call upon them for the work. May God forgive us for all the men-called workers in China.
“Almost all of our workers are saved now,” said one of the Missionaries this morning. I could only answer, “Don’t be too sure of them. By their fruits shall they be known. But I do realise that a real work of the Holy Spirit has been done in the hearts of many of them. They have been helping each other through. It was almost comical to hear one of the evangelists tell how the goat boy had helped him. And a very clever teacher went and woke up a colporter, who can hardly read, to come help him. I
Glory to God and to our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit, for all the wonders He allowed us to see.
And thanks to all you dear friends, who so faithfully stand by in prayer. God bless you all richly.”
“Yours in the ministry of reconciliation,”
Another worker writes:
“We had been praying for three years that this special worker should come to Pingtu. God truly sent her to us, and the revival for which we have been praying has begun. A large audience of pastors, evangelists, workers, Christians and students filled the large church. As the teaching on sin from the Bible was given, the Holy Spirit carried the message to every heart. A holy quietness filled the church so that all could hear every word.
Testimonies from saved ones in recent meetings at other places helped much. A well-educated educator, graduate from an American college, gave a good testimony. He said he had been a “naotzu” (brain) Christian for ten years, then he was saved in the meetings in T. . . . An evangelist from L. . . and also a cook, gave their testimonies.
I wish I could tell you in detail, of all that were saved during the meetings, but space forbids, so I will only tell a few of the outstanding ones.
We felt that Mr. H. . . . . was saved and were so happy that he had come and was sitting near the front, listening so well. When the speaker asked him face to face if he were saved he said, “Yes.” She remarked to us that he had a “dead man’s eyes.” As he listened, and the Holy Spirit worked, he began to doubt his salvation; did not feel that his evidence was sufficient. He felt that he must know. He said he was anxious, and asked a friend to pray earnestly for him. This friend prayed and he prayed and struggled. Finally he said, “Lord I will do anything you tell me to do, if I can only get peace.” The Holy Spirit brought all his sins before him and he confessed them to the Lord, but God told him to confess them in the presence of his friend. Satan said, “There is no need to lose face by confessing all.” He replied that face was not to be compared with eternal life. Peace and joy came, and a new light shown from his eyes.
. . . . Right here, in parentheses, let us follow up this completely changed man. Two years have passed since this letter I am quoting was written. This Mr. H. was a doctor and was leading a comfortable life in his home town. He so felt the passion for souls that he turned his medicine shop over to a clerk, and for two years now has given his time to country evangelistic work with the local Missionary. Week in and week out, in uncomfortable quarters in the country places he is giving his life and energy to leading revival meetings. He and the Missionary have seen as many as one hundred a week saved. He went into this work not expecting and not caring for a salary, but the revival has so worked in other places that a Christian doctor who works in a R. R. hospital is now paying this man’s salary. He, Mr. H. has since been filled with the Spirit and is used in a great way.
Going back to the letter we were quoting:
“Another interesting case is that of an old classics teacher in the Girls’ School. He had already joined the church as a nominal Christian. He is the old-style scholar, has studied both Chinese and Western history quite extensively. He had also read his Bible through and was interested in the truth therein. When Miss. M. started her meetings he felt that she must have some hypnotic power and that the personal workers were aiding her by asking people if they were saved. The third day he decided that she knew psychology. The fifth day he felt he must know whether there is a God or not, and whether he was a sinner or not. He thought he had no sins. At two o’clock that night he had to get up and pray. As he prayed his sins came before him. He got a piece of paper and wrote them down, then he doubted, thinking that this was his own thinking and that the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with it. He wanted to be sure, so he prayed something like this: “God, if you are God, and if Miss. M. is not doing her work in her own strength, and if the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross can wash away my sins, and if these sins brought before me are the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then I’ll confess all and ask you to give me peace; then I’ll know you are God.” Peace came, and with it assurance that God is the true, living God. At the next service he led in prayer.
. . . . . Again, we just must follow up the old man in the two years of revival, for a year later he found that God not only forgives sin but has the power to save from sinning, for he gave up his beloved tobacco because it hurt his Christian testimony. Now he teaches during the week and goes out after sinners on Sunday afternoon. We saw him sitting in the nightly Bible study group just radiant, and chuckling with joy as his position in the resurrected Lord is being revealed to him by Bible study. He was leading the group to pray for fifty souls to give the Lord for a Christmas present. Such a different prayer from the first midnight one.
“One of the younger teachers in the Boys’ School was under such deep conviction that he thought the earth would swallow him up. Praying friends helped him to find peace at the foot of the Cross. Those who had such clear-cut experiences were used to help their friends almost immediately.
The leading woman teacher was gloriously saved; in her testimony she said, “I know the gate to heaven is narrow; I know there is a definite time when the blood is applied.” She was used in bringing the other women teachers into a clear, “born-again experience.
My heart ached as I saw one of the oldest Bible women confessing her sins to God. It was hard; but I thank God she is a new creature in Christ Jesus now. She had to send some conscience money back where she had worked.
The revival is going on still, and we feel that this is only the beginning. Souls are being saved daily.”
Another letter, written in 1931:
You who have been praying for the meetings in Laiyang will be happy to know that the Holy Spirit worked in convicting and saving power.
As soon as Mr. Li reached Laichow and found some of his friends rejoicing in the new birth, a sword was thrust into his own heart. He knew their liberty and joy was something which he had never experienced, and with a burdened heart he wept and prayed a good portion of the night, and returned with us to Laiyang the next day, a miserable man indeed. The first service increased his misery but the Holy Spirit completed the work which He had begun, and on the evening of the second day, after having honestly laid his sins before the Lord, he was released.
The cook of one of the Missionaries was gloriously saved during the Laichow meetings. He went to Laiyang to cook for our party, arriving just before the first service there was closed. He formerly lived in Laiyang and was a faithful member of the church and well known by the congregation. When he led the closing prayer all knew from the prayer that he was marvellously changed. One man with a hungry heart followed him home and sat in the kitchen enquiring about the “new life” while the cook prepared dinner. After every service, six or eight men, evangelists among the number, gathered about him wanting to know how they, too, might receive such joy. One day in his prayer he said, ‘Lord I thank you that now I am not I.’ A truer statement was never made, for indeed he is a new creature in Christ Jesus. His seventeen-year-old brother came into the city to be with him, and was soon made miserable enough to confess his sins and receive saving faith.
“A number of men were ready to receive the truth, and after a few days of awakening, followed by condemnation, a number were born again. One evening during prayer service they could contain their misery no longer, and a number broke out into confession before God. One was saved that night, and others one by one came into the joy of forgiveness.
Another evangelist, named Li, a big, fine-looking man, had a disturbed countenance after the first day, and showed that his burden of sin was growing heavier day by day; but next to the last day we went in to the church and saw a new man. In his testimony he said that he had never before realised that he had any sin whatever. He was not afraid to meet God because he was unconscious of being unprepared. As he listened to the truth day by day he saw himself a hell-deserving sinner and was willing to come by the way of confession and self-abasement. . .
Pray for Mr. C. , the leading evangelist, who insisted that he would not be turned away from heaven, because he had preached more than twenty years.”
Perhaps the reader is beginning to have some questions, such as, “Isn’t all this confession Catholic?” “Why all the stress on sin?” Then there are always some circles who club any revival “Emotional,” and continue in the same old ruts that are ‘so safe and sane’ and where nothing ever happens.
In answer to the first question we want to say that confession was not stressed and public confession wasn’t allowed except in a few extreme cases already mentioned, or where confession concerned the public. But the speaker was resting on the promise in John 16: 8. He, (the Holy Spirit) when He is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement.” A.V. Praying with a personal worker was encouraged because it frees. The writer knows because of personal experience. It is a living doctrine that works.
It is as old as Job. In personal interviews only Bible verses were given that the convert might stand on God’s word for assurance. After conviction and confession, the stress was upon the cleansing power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. There was never a message given that did not also point the way to the Cross. The messages were mostly given in circles where God’s grace had been preached for years.
As for the second question, “Why all the stress on sin?”, if you had heard some of the sins confessed you would not have to ask. Perhaps the question will clear up in the next chapter. You would have been grieved to have heard the answers which the “best” church members gave to the question, “Have you been born again?” Some of the characteristic answers were: “I’ve preached for years.” “I’ve been baptised.” “I have dreamed so and so.” Or, “One cannot know till death.”
As for the question “Emotional?” The only answer is, “No.” From the letters you must already realise that it was a work of deep faith, relying upon the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. In the first revival meetings in Shantung, there was very poor singing, no altar calls, no chance given for public confession, but only the pressing home of the quiet question, “Have you been born again!”
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
NEW THINGS IN N. CHINA BRIEFLY EXPRESSED
HWANGHSIEN:“In the revival here in Hwanghsien last spring the N. China Baptist Theological Seminary and Bible School; came in for a great blessing. Everyone of the faculty got a distinct blessing, and nearly everyone of them was filled with the Holy Spirit. It has made a new school.”
Evangelistic Work: “It is a new day for us. Every month or so, all the churches and out-stations have had special revivals held by Missionaries or special evangelists, and the results have been greater than many previous years put together. One blessed result of the outpouring of the Spirit is that He sends people to ask the Way.”
Warren Memorial Hospital: “The hospital was mightily blessed during the spring. Many of the personnel were saved and some filled with the fullness of the Spirit.”
“During this week of prayer in the Tsingtao Church, daily testimony is being given by Mr. Chao Deh San, one of the brightest Mission pupils our early schools ever knew, who has spent his life in Government service, building Rail and Motor Roads. In his sixtieth year, after forty years in the wilderness; he confessed and put away his sins, and is now visiting the cities where he worked and sinned, testifying to the saving power of Christ.”
“More people have been saved the past year than perhaps in any year in the history of the work here. The churches have never been on such a high plane spiritually as now. Practically all the preachers, teachers, Bible women and Missionaries have had a blessed experience in the deeper things of the Holy Spirit, and have more real victory and power than they had ever known before.”
“Our people have become of one heart and mind in the Lord Jesus, as never before. We feel that the year has led us on to new spiritual heights.”
“A new church was organised, and this with fighting in hearing distance. This group also doubled the size of their gospel hall in spite of demoralised business conditions.”
“This has truly been one of our very best years spent in China. It is absolutely beyond the power of human tongues to express the sheer joy and rapture of this new, marvellous, intimate fellowship into which we were brought with the glorified Redeemer Himself. On that night there began the most wonderful revival ever witnessed in that little church.”
“In place of having difficulty in finding teachers who would be willing to suffer the reproach of being superstitious and unpatriotic, we have had to refuse applicants sufficient to re-staff the schools.”
“God has been adding daily to His church. The general estimate is that three thousand souls have been saved this year. There have been about nine hundred baptisms, with others waiting.” The Acts of the Holy Spirit “are being reacted in a remarkable way right here in our midst.”
A PERSONAL MISSIONARY LETTER TELLING OF THE REVIVAL IN THE NORTH CHINA MISSION.
Chefoo, Shantung Province, China, July 4, 1932.
DEAR BROTHER PASTOR, BRETHREN AND SISTERS:
In our annual Missionary Conference here these last few days someone exclaimed: “Oh, that our Baptist people at home could hear and see what has come to our ears and eyes these past months!” “Yes,” replied another, “how they would rejoice with us! And should the Holy Spirit bless them as He has many of us and our Chinese brethren and sisters, the debt on foreign Missions would be wiped out in a short while!” That you may enter into this joy with us, pray for greater blessings upon us, and for a real revival in the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention, the writer was asked to prepare one or more letters to be sent by individual Missionaries to pastors and others at home.
It may not be generally known that perhaps the greatest revival in the history of Southern Baptists in North China is now being experienced in many Chinese churches of our North China Mission. This has come as a result of EARNEST PRAYER, FAITH IN GOD, BIBLE TEACHING, and MUCH PREACHING on sin and kindred subjects. Numbers of Christians and churches are being revived; restitution of money is being made; tithes of the Lord held back are being brought forward; sins confessed to God and to those who have been wronged; sick are being healed; devils cast out; men and women, boys and girls are preaching with a power hitherto not known; hundreds are crying for mercy and are being saved. The devil is also at work, but there is great blessing and rejoicing in many places. Missionaries and Christians are marvelling at the wonderful works of God.
During a quiet series of meetings held in Tsinan, the capital of Shantung, people were led to examine their hearts, for the searching message of the leader was: “Are you saved; have you been born again?” This simple question, asked publicly and privately throughout North China and Manchuria, has put many to thinking. Church members apparently unsaved — and leaders among them — confessed their sins, and were marvellously saved. Then other meetings were held in Tsinan. Each time the people moved closer to the Lord. Joy following the forgiveness of sins, love for Christ and concern for the lost took possession of the saved, and has spread like fire there and elsewhere in that region.
There were wonderful results among the students of the Shantung Christian University. This fine institution adjoins the Baptist compound at Tsinan, a hundred being saved the past year. Many were led to the Lord by a professor, also blessed in these meetings. Missionaries, pastors and others, willing formerly to work only as average Christians, became dissatisfied, put themselves on the altar anew, were filled with the Spirit, and now see the Lord in a different way. They have a new joy in the Lord and a vigour in their work hitherto not known. The revival there, as at other places, began with the leaders. Some missionaries found that they were not without sins, and so did other leaders. These confessed their sins to God and to those whom they had offended, even though this often meant “loss of face” (embarrassment). The result is that many are being saved.
God’s power came mostly during prayer services, while studying earnestly the Holy Spirit and His work by men and women who met separately in rooms of the Church. People were broken up and wept for their sins. There were then special manifestations of the Spirit’s power and great rejoicing. Nothing like it has been seen in old Tsinan. A young man, for years only a nominal Christian, came forward confessing his sins and placed on the table ten dollars which he had wrongfully received. Others also brought money which did not belong to them, and a number brought funds which should have been given to the Lord. A wealthy man, who had been only an average Christian, has become a great leader, and so have others. These have now gone out in the city and country churches, some of which were almost dead, to conduct meetings. The churches are being revived and many saved. The big gospel tent, unused for two years for lack of funds and workers, is now being taken over the country by earnest Christians, these bearing the expense and doing the preaching. The Tsinan Church now pays all its’ pastor’s salary, supports three theological students in the Seminary, and has made other advances in self-support.
Speaking of the revival in the country districts of the Tsinan field, one of the Missionaries said: “Our country work has been revolutionised. Last year we decided to discontinue work at two places and go on to others because the people seemed hardened, but now it is different. The few old Christians there have been revived. They have power and are now doing the preaching themselves. It would all seem a dream did we not realise it is real. A man at another place thought himself saved, but then realised he was lost and prayed in great agony for forgiveness. He is now saved, and also his wife. They have revolutionised their village. Another layman who was saved recently has rented a place to be used as a preaching hall. Numerous Christians have confessed their sins and gotten right with God. Unsaved who scoffed at the gospel are now coming for salvation. What we call the ‘Model Church,’ recently built by the people themselves in one of the villages, a result of the revival, is the best building in the town, and is crowded. From fifty to sixty are awaiting baptism there.’
Thus God’s Spirit is doing wonderful things in the capital of Shantung and elsewhere in our Mission as a result of earnest prayer, preaching and teaching of His Word. Pray that the fire may continue to spread, and that God will likewise bless His people in the homeland.
ANOTHER LETTER FROM ONE OF YOUR MISSIONARIES TELLING OF GOD’S REVIVING POWER IN CHINA.
DEAR BROTHER PASTOR, BRETHREN AND SISTERS:
You will be interested to hear of the moving of God’s Spirit in the Schools of the North China Mission as reported recently at our annual Mission Conference in Chefoo.
During a prayer-meeting at one of the schools in Hwanghsien a boy, so convicted of sin that his body became rigid, fell against one of his teachers, crying aloud for mercy. He was told to pray to God, but begged that they carry him home, for he thought he would surely die. (Chinese all want to die at home.) He was terribly afraid, for the devil had led him into great sin. He was laid upon a bench and several of his friends — teachers and students — bowed close beside him, praying earnestly for him. Either the hand of the Lord, or the consciousness of sin, bore heavily upon him, for he felt that life was being crushed out of him. After a half hour of great agony, his body rigid, he cried aloud: “O, God, if you will not kill me, I will confess my sins!” And then for an hour he poured out his heart to God. He confessed the deepest and blackest sins, such as had never been heard in that school. He hated and wanted to take the life of a classmate who had kindly loaned him money simply because this friend was better off than he. His hatred of the rich had become so great that he wanted to destroy them and seize what they possessed, for he had become a real communist (“red”) at heart. He asked student friends to forgive him because he had tried to convince them that there is no God. Among other terrible things, he confessed to God how he had sworn to kill every person in the world if there be a chance, and then that because the world is not right he determined to go to heaven and kill God himself! But God graciously forgave him and he, as did others, received peace and salvation. This school has never before had such spiritual blessing.
“In our school new hearts and new lives have been born in girls whose only heritage was depravity of generations of idolatrous ancestry. We rejoice that many have been led of the Spirit into a deeper experience and walk in Christ Jesus.” So goes the report of the Girls’ Boarding School at Tsinan, in another part of 4th. Province of thirty-five million souls, the vast majority of whom are yet unsaved. This report, read at our annual Mission Conference in Chefoo, continues: During the year the girls themselves organised an evangelistic band and on Sunday afternoons have gone out preaching in the nearby villages. This spring, after the hot weather began, a group walked five miles and came home with their faces beaming because they had experienced the joy of witnessing for their Saviour. The road was dusty and the day uncomfortably hot, but this little group of school girls sang praises to their God as they walked, and spent their rest time by the roadside praying for the souls of those to whom they were taking the gospel. When they returned at twilight with shining eyes, and voices still joyous with praise, the report continues, we found that during the whole long hot afternoon the girls had not bothered about the comfort of a single drink of water, but exclaimed: ‘It was the best trip we ever took!’ Faculty and students have made great progress in spiritual growth in this school. The principal rejoices that the chief aim and ideal of the students is the spiritual uplift of the students and the salvation of their people.
A revival in the church at Tsining resulted in a new era in the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools there. Due to reduction of funds from America the Middle School departments had to be closed and these pupils sent to the Presbyterian Schools but the enrolment increased nevertheless.” The tone of the schools is so fine as a result of the revival that our hearts overflow with rejoicing to God for rich blessings from Him this year, for never was the spiritual atmosphere of the schools so high. Many have received great spiritual blessing, and, on going home, were looking forward to a summer of witnessing to parents, relatives and friends.” These are extracts from the Girls’ School and Woman’s Training School at Laichowfu.
The Boys’ Middle School at Pingtu rejoices that all graduates this year are Christians, one an earnest preacher and others outstanding disciples. There was a serious cut in funds and other difficulties, but again, we are reminded, the greatest feature of the work was the spiritual revival this year, a blessing to students and teachers. A number took part in the students’ Sunday preaching on the streets and in outlying districts. Another report says: “God’s boundless grace poured out upon us in increasing fullness this year, the best and richest in the long history of our institution.
And now read these lines from the Effie Sears Memorial School for Girls, located at Pingtu, where the revival began: “No longer a school, but a POWER-HOUSE, preparing bands of soul-winners; no longer ‘hireling teachers,’ but men and women watching prayerfully the spiritual growth of each student; no longer simply a Mission school, but ‘everything for God’s glory’! Praise His holy name, for He is Head of this school!” This note rings through all these reports. Preaching bands of girls and teachers in this school also went out on Saturdays and Sundays as did the school boys and instructors. Teachers preached in the street gospel hall when they had no classes. Reports were given at the daily evening prayer-meetings. A twelve-hour watch-tower prayer service was maintained enthusiastically in an upstairs room until school closed. The girls contributed liberally of their limited funds to work of the B.Y.P.U. societies. Fifteen were baptised this spring.
This summer the graduates and other students will teach vacation Bible Schools, preach to the women in the villages, and lead prayer-meetings, as will many of the boys who have gone home, for there is now a prayer-meeting nearly every night in each of the many revived country churches. This report, as did so many others, closes with words of praise: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.”
This letter is being written at Hwanghsien, Shantung, where we are attending the Chinese Summer Bible conference. We never saw such rejoicing as among this large body of delegates, who have come from as far north as Harbin, Manchuria, and Tsining in the far west of Shantung; nor have we ever seen the Chinese so burdened for the souls of their people. Surely with God thus blessing the work of your Missionaries in such a marvellous way, when we are needed so much to direct in this movement and to teach His Word, and with unparalleled opportunity for preaching the gospel, you will not allow our forces to be cut down, or funds to be reduced, but make it possible for us to continue to GO FORWARD in the Lord and the power of His might.
Hwanghsien, Shantung, China, July 10, 1932.
C. A. L.
INCIDENTS OF THE REVIVAL IN THE CHINESE BAPTIST CHURCHES OF THE NORTH CHINA MISSION.
Chefoo, Shantung, China, July 15, 1932.
DEAR BROTHER PASTOR, BRETHREN AND SISTERS:
You who pray for the work out here and contribute of your funds for saving of the Chinese will be interested to receive another letter giving a few incidents in this great revival movement, where God is blessing so many. Please accept this as a personal letter from the one whose name the envelope bears, and pray that the revival will not only spread throughout China, but that God will also revive His people in the homeland and increase their interest in foreign Missions.
In the densely populated county of Pingtu, Shantung, where the revival began and the churches have been greatly revived, there are now villages in which every family has one or more saved persons, and in some villages nearly every one has accepted the Lord. Is this not glorious news to all who love God our Saviour! ? ! ? Even during wheat harvest meetings went right on. Some coming into the meetings at night fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, desiring rather to pray than to rest.
At one of these villages a Missionary dared not sleep a few years ago, for local bandits were expected to attack at any time, which meant looting and burning of the village and possible carrying away of Missionary and leading Chinese for ransom or death. But since the revival began that whole community is different. Recently this same Missionary slept there safely with doors open and walls down. One could not ask for more peace than now reigns in that region. Forty odd were baptised in the village this spring.
Another story is told of a gospel tent which was not being used for lack of funds and workers, now repaired and being used by laymen in Pingtu county, as at Tsinan. An organised band of desperate robbers planned to break up the meetings and take the tent. The brethren were advised to move elsewhere in order to save the tent, but replied, “No,” preferring to pray earnestly for salvation of these robbers. The result was that the young bandit leader was stricken blind and a swelling came upon his face. This frightened him greatly. He realised it was from the Lord, and came to the tent confessing his sins and asking for prayer. Converted, his sight was restored and the swelling left. Later he went to Pingtu city and joined a Bible class. His life has been wonderfully transformed. This man had heard the gospel in a Christian day school when a child, but resisted and has served the devil rather than God. Those who know him believe that now he will give the remainder of his life to preaching. There have been between two and three thousand conversions in Pingtu county this year. No less than one thousand have been baptised!
At another village God’s Spirit seemed to fall upon the people like fire. They fell before Him, asking for forgiveness and salvation. During a meeting the speaker arose from prayer only to see his congregation leaving the house. He found that old Sister Kiao, who had been sick and was carried to the meeting, had gotten up, walked out, and was on her way home, third of a mile away, to tell her family she was healed. The village people marvel, for she had not walked for twenty years and was known to be helpless. She is still walking, and, with others, is praising God. The church is now too small, so at night two separate meetings are held.
A Christian son of a Pingtu woman who was healed clerks in a store in Tsingtau. He went home to see his mother and to rejoice with her. Seeing her, a revived church, and the salvation of many of his people, he also reconsecrated his life to the Lord. On returning to the big port city he persuaded his employer to let him go out to witness for the Lord. The very first night he happened to go into a prayer-meeting where someone was telling of the healing of his mother, but the leader was not sure that this and other reports of healing were true. The young man was quickly on his feet to testify to the healing power of his Lord, and preached Christ to those who had come. He continues to witness for Christ with that zeal which has taken possession of so many. The husband of this same Christian woman, who has been healed after 18 years of helplessness, lives here in Chefoo, where we are writing at this time. His family telegraphed him and he immediately went to his home, some distance interior, to see his wife and to praise God. He, too, has reconsecrated his life to the Lord, is preaching His Word, and many of his village are being saved.
It rejoices one to hear also of how God is now graciously and marvellously blessing His work in the Laichow fu field. We were permitted to labour there before moving to Harbin. A man who went home from up our way and was converted in the Laichow fu meetings was met by his brother in the fields with a shovel ready to fight, for they had been enemies for eight years. But the meeting turned into one of confession of sins, forgiveness and salvation of both. Then the two sisters also became Christians. This prodigal brother from Manchuria is now so enthusiastic in preaching that many of the heathen think him crazy.
At one of the women’s prayer-meetings in a neighbour’s yard a missionary saw mud on the skirts of some of the women, due entirely to tears wept for sin and unsaved members of their families. A phonograph is no longer needed there to attract people into the evangelistic meetings, for the gospel hall fills with earnest listeners. Again we find the laymen there preaching in tent and other meetings, while the Missionary and evangelists are free to give their time largely to work elsewhere.
In an adjoining county a leading church member who for twenty years was careless about paying his debts, has now received a new Christian experience and is advertising for creditors to present old accounts, and his son is now supporting two evangelists. A Christian man at Hwanghsien brought forward $500.00 of tithes due the Lord since he became a Christian years ago. Another who owed money to a Missionary now in America but did not intend paying it has sent the money to him. Others are making restitution and paying back tithes due the Lord.
Time would fail us to tell of the many evidences of God’s wonderful working in the Chinese churches. This is given that you may rejoice with us and give praise to God. The revival is a result of earnest prayer, preaching and Bible teaching. Again may we ask that you join us in prayer for return of the missionaries now at home. We plead with all earnestness for greater financial support so the saving gospel of our Lord may be carried to other places here in Shantung, in Manchuria and elsewhere, for we have never had such openings for preaching the Word as at this time.