Adoniram Judson
Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson was the first foreign missionary sent out from the United States. He faithfully served Christ Jesus in Burma (modern Myanmar) for the better part of four decades. He did so despite staggering trials and hardships experienced by himself, his family and the Burmese Christians to whom he ministered. With unshakable faith in God and through unrelenting diligence in Christian service, Judson was used of the Lord to spread the Gospel throughout Burma, to lead many Burmese to faith in Christ, to establish healthy Christian congregations and to translate the entire Bible into the Burmese language.

Last month my wife Leeta and I had the privilege of visiting Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher located near Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland. Here’s the short feature CFP released recently from our interview about the Adoniram Judson biography I’ve published with them. 

Adoniram Judson by Vance Christie

I hope this brief feature will whet your appetite to read the full account of Judson’s life and ministry in Adoniram Judson: Devoted for Life. I think you’ll be inspired and encouraged by Judson’s example, as I have been, to faithfully follow the Lord’s leading in diligently serving Him with the unique abilities and opportunities He gives each of us. May we be heartened to do so with unflagging faith and commitment, even when encountering extreme difficulties.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Andrew Murray
Older Andrew Murray

While in Scotland recently my wife Leeta and I had the privilege of visiting Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher located near Fearn, Ross-shire. One morning during that visit CFP interviewed me about several of the books I’ve had the privilege of publishing with them. Here’s the short feature CFP released earlier this week of “yours truly” commenting briefly on the biography I’ve written on Andrew Murray, South Africa’s premier preacher, devotional writer and church leader of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. To this day Murray’s devotional writings continue to bring significant spiritual benefit to Christians around the world.

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

I hope this brief feature will whet your appetite to read the full account of Murray’s life and ministry in Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. I think you’ll be inspired and encouraged by Murray’s example, as I have been, to serve Christ with greater diligence and warmth of personal devotion to Him.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Vance and Leeta’s Wedding Day

Forty years ago on Easter Sunday evening, I read the following poem to the young lady I was about to ask to marry me:

I Need a Hand
By Gregory Henderson

A hand to touch, to hold, to bend, to fold
A hand to shyly reach for and to learn of love with
A hand to hold within my own two hands.

A hand to live and share with, to grow and learn with
A hand to clasp on walks in woods, to study with and put a ring on
A hand to seek God’s will with and to start a new life together.

A hand to join with mine in prayer and Bible study
A hand to cry with and rejoice with
A hand to build a home with, to protect and hold a tiny hand with
And to lead our children to the Lord.

A hand to rest with, and caress, to reminisce with, and rejoice
A hand to love our grandchildren, to praise God for all circumstances
A hand to share the wisdom of our life
A hand to love yet more with every year.

  Thankfully that young lady, Leeta Hale, accepted my proposal and became Mrs. Leeta Christie a few months later. We celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary this coming Sunday, August 25, 2019.

Proverbs 18:22 teaches: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:14 adds: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

I have experienced the truths of those Scripture verses in fullest measure in the wonderful life partner God has blessed me with. When I first married Leeta I was aware of and attracted by a number of her delightful, positive characteristics and qualities. But I had no way of knowing then that I comprehended only a fraction of her attractive, commendable traits which would come to be manifested through the many years and experiences of life we would share together. With each passing year, I continue to learn more about my wife and to more fully appreciate her.

Vance and Leeta with daughters and sons-in-law

In addition to praising God for the unspeakable blessing of the cherished wife he has given me, I praise Him for the innumerable blessings He has permitted us to share together in life:

  • A personal, growing, sustaining relationship with Him
  • Our three lovely daughters, two quality sons-in-law and one (so far) darling granddaughter
  • Many faithful, supportive friends and family members
  • The privilege of carrying out meaningful, fulfilling ministry and work
  • Health and strength
  • This list could go on and on!
Granddaughter Devin

However many more years the Lord grants us together as husband and wife, may He help us to:

  • Love and appreciate Him most of all
  • Appropriately cherish and honor each other
  • Be appropriately grateful for all our other blessings in life
  • Faithfully, earnestly serve Christ and people
  • Show forth Jesus to others, as individuals and as a couple

So enable us, blessed Holy Spirit of Christ!

#         #          #

In special celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary, Leeta and I recently took our first-ever overseas trip, to Scotland. (If you care to, you may see a preview of that trip in my August 9, 2019 Perspective) Thanks to everyone who prayed for the Lord’s manifold blessings on all aspects of our trip; we certainly experienced those. As we had anticipated, we found Scotland to be a land rich in God’s natural created beauty, significant Christian history and distinctive cultural aspects. We also met many friendly, helpful people and a number of faithful, fervent Christians. God willing, in future Perspectives I will plan to share a few of the worthwhile highlights from that trip.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Scottish Cultural Festival

My dear wife Leeta and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this August 25th. As a special celebration of that exceptional blessing we are going on our first-ever overseas trip to Scotland, August 5-17.

We plan to visit a number of Scotland’s scenic and historic sights. We hope to observe one of the Scottish cultural festivals that are held in various locations during the month of August. (Think traditional Scottish dress, music, folk dances, food, athletic competitions, etc.)  High on Leeta’s priority list, and I’ll enjoy it too, is the opportunity to visit a couple of Scotland’s noble historic castles.

Scotland has a rich Christian history, and we’re looking forward to learning more about that and to visiting some of its related sites. We’re also desirous to learn more about the status of Christianity and the professing Christian Church in modern Scotland – various Christian denominations, their convictions, ministries, challenges and influence in society.

David Livingstone Centre Blantyre, Scotland

For the past three and a half years I’ve been working on a comprehensive biography on the life and ministry of David Livingstone, the eminent nineteenth century missionary explorer to southcentral Africa (“Doctor Livingstone, I presume”). One of the highlights of our Scotland trip will be spending a day at the David Livingstone Centre and Birthplace Museum in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire.

We’re also greatly looking forward to meeting several of the people who minister at Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher in Fearn, Ross-shire, in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve interacted via email with a number of those individuals for several years, but this will be our first opportunity to meet most of them in-person. We’re keenly anticipating worshiping at the church that some of the CFP staff attend, and to receiving a “wee ecclesiastical tour” of the region presented by William Mackenzie, the CFP Publisher.

Geanies Keeper’s Cottage at Christian Focus Publications

Christian Focus has a “cottage” (a cozy two-bedroom house overlooking the North Sea) which we’ll be staying at our second week in Scotland. From there we plan to make several day trips to see various sights in the north of Scotland.

So much to see and take in, so little time! But we’re looking forward to taking in as much as we can while enjoying what we are able to see and experience. I’ll plan to share some highlights from our Scotland trip in future Perspectives blogs. Your prayers for the Lord’s manifold blessings on all aspects of our trip will be greatly appreciated.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Rosalind Goforth

Not a few Christians find it very difficult to forgive, especially when they’ve been deeply wronged and hurt. Rosalind Goforth was an outstanding missionary to China with her husband Jonathan for forty-seven years (1888-1934). In her autobiography Climbing, Memories of a Missionary’s Wife she wrote honestly of her own struggle and eventual victory in this difficult matter of forgiving a marked offense.

Rosalind did not reveal the specific offense that was committed against her husband and her by a fellow missionary at the station where they were ministering. “Suffice it to say,” she later wrote, “that those who knew the facts agree that humanly speaking one can scarcely imagine a case where unforgiveness was more justified. Yet my dear husband, who had equal reason with myself for feeling as I did, quietly and calmly laid it all before the Lord and left it there. He begged me to do the same, but I could not, or rather would not, forgive.”

For more than a year the person who had caused the offense continued to live at their mission station, during which time Rosalind would neither speak to nor acknowledge him. After he left the station, another three years passed in which Rosalind held the matter “more or less in abeyance.”

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth

Then the Goforths and some other Christians traveled by train to a large religious fair in a distant town where they carried out an intensive annual evangelistic campaign. Rosalind had been put in charge of the women’s outreach work that year, and she had a great yearning in her soul that the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power would be experienced in her life and ministry endeavors.

While they traveled along she bowed her head and cried to God to fill her with His Spirit. As she did, she sensed the Lord speaking to her in her heart: “Write to _____ [the one toward whom she felt hatred and unforgiveness], and ask forgiveness for the way you have treated him.” Instantly her whole soul cried out, “Never, never can I forgive him!” Twice more she prayed the same request and sensed the same clear inner prompting from the Lord. At last she jumped to her feet and said to herself of the divine blessing which she desired, “I’ll give it all up, for I’ll never, never forgive!”

As a result: “Then followed the saddest part of my life. For several months I taught and prayed to keep up appearances. But all the while my heart was becoming harder, colder and more hopeless.” One day Rosalind was reading Pilgrim’s Progress to her children. She came to the passage where Christian came to the man in the iron cage who said, “I have grieved the Spirit, and He is gone; I have provoked God to anger, and He has left me.” As she read those words, a terrible conviction came upon her that they were true of her. For the next two days she was in the depths of despair.

Pilgrim Progress’ Man in the Iron Cage

Jonathan was away from home at the time, and there seemed to be no one to whom she could turn for spiritual help. Then a young missionary, whose wife had died under exceptionally sad circumstances, came to their station and stopped by to greet Rosalind. They sat on the front steps of the Goforths’ home while he related with tears the details of his wife’s tragic death. 

Apparently the emotion of the moment combined with Rosalind’s already distraught spirit proved too much for her to bear, and she began to weep uncontrollably. When at last she was able to do so, she shared the entire story about her struggle to forgive the man who had wronged them. She ended by saying, “I have grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and He has left me!”

  “But Mrs. Goforth,” the young missionary asked, “are you willing to write the letter?” She replied: “I now know what it would be to be without God and without hope. And if I could only have another chance, there is nothing I would not do.” Again her fellow missionary asked, “Are you willing to write that letter?” When she indicated she was, he said, “Then go at once and write it.”

With “a glorious ray of hope dawning” in her, she hastened into the house and returned a few minutes later with the letter. It contained a few lines of sincere, humble apology for her actions toward the one whom she had been unwilling to forgive. Of the immediate and long-term consequences of her finally choosing to forgive she afterward related:

“O the joy that came, and thankfulness that it was indeed not too late! From that time, I have never dared not to forgive. There have been times when for hours, or even days, the battle was on again. But always the remembrance of this experience has enabled me to conquer and forgive.”

An important clarification: I do not understand the Bible to teach that the Holy Spirit actually leaves true Christians when they persist in sin. But Scripture certainly teaches that when believers refuse to forsake sin they grieve God’s Spirit and forfeit His empowerment and many other precious spiritual blessings.

A vital application: If we’re aware of unforgiveness or some other unforsaken sin in our lives presently, let’s hasten to get that cleared up with the Lord and any other appropriate individuals. Then we’ll once again fully honor and please the Lord and experience the restoration of spiritual joy and blessings in our lives.

# # #

Rosalind Goforth wrote several inspiring books, including her autobiography Climbing, Memories of a Missionary’s Wife. I believe that volume is no longer in print, but can easily be found online through various used book sources. It is well worth the effort to track down and read the work, in which Rosalind honestly and humbly relates her own beneficial (and oftentimes remarkable) experiences of growing in her relationship with and service of the Lord. Reading that book may very well lead you to read several of her other works, as I have.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Warren Wiersbe

Warren Wiersbe, one of the preeminent Bible teachers and writers of our day, recently had his heavenly homegoing at the age of eighty-nine. A number of the obituaries written about Wiersbe noted that he had come to saving faith in Jesus Christ at a Youth for Christ rally where Billy Graham was the featured evangelist. Here is some more of the instructive story of Wiersbe’s Christian conversion.

Wiersbe grew up in East Chicago, Indiana, a steel town twenty-five miles southeast of Chicago. With his family he faithfully attended the Indiana Harbor Mission Covenant Church. “Most of the people in the church would have pointed me out as a ‘good Christian boy,’ but I had never really been born again,” Wiersbe later testified. “I was faithful in my attendance and was even confirmed in 1944 [at fifteen years of age], but I had never made that life-changing decision to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Warren Wiersbe in Confirmation Class, age 15
Warren Wiersbe in Confirmation Class, age 15

Everett Ostrom was the church’s pastor when Wiersbe was confirmed. There were only four students in the class, but Ostrom faithfully taught and prayed for them. “I didn’t know until years later that every Saturday after confirmation class, Pastor Ostrom would fall on his face on the study floor and weep over me and pray for me. He knew I was pretending to be a Christian and he yearned to see me make a true decision for Christ.”

A year later the Chicago Youth for Christ ministry organization held three Saturday evening rallies at the auditorium of Washington High School where Wiersbe was a student. He was one of the many students who passed out invitations to the special meetings at school. He was also asked to serve as an usher at the rallies because he was considered “one of the best Christian boys” in town.

Billy Graham as Youth for Christ evangelist
Billy Graham as Youth for Christ evangelist

A then little-known evangelist named Billy Graham was invited to be the speaker at the opening rally on May 12, 1945. Graham, who was twenty-six years old at the time, had recently resigned a pastorate to become Youth for Christ’s first full-time evangelist. When the earnest young evangelist began to speak that evening, Wiersbe’s attention was completely “captivated.” He stood against the back wall of the auditorium, unable to move and unable to take his eyes off the evangelist.

“I heard every word he spoke and every Bible verse he quoted, and everything he said went right to my heart. Sure, I had heard it all before, but for the first time it came together and made sense. I saw that in spite of my character, my confirmation, my church attendance, and my host of religious relatives, I was a lost sinner who needed to trust Jesus Christ.”

Wiersbe did not wait for a public invitation to be given. “Right where I stood, I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart and save me, and He did! I didn’t raise my hand for prayer, I didn’t fill out a card, I didn’t even go forward when the crowd sang ‘Just as I Am.’ But I did trust Christ and become a child of God.”

Wiersbe went on to devote his entire adult life to pointing people to Jesus as the Savior and helping them to grow in their Christian faith and their knowledge of God’s Word. He was always careful to emphasize that we don’t become a Christian and God’s child through our church affiliation and activities. Rather, we’re born again into God’s spiritual family by personally believing and receiving Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord. (For those teachings in the Bible, see John 1:12 and 3:1-18.)

You can learn much more about Warren Wiersbe’s remarkable life of Christian faith and service in his excellent, humble autobiography Be Myself: Memoirs of a Bridgebuilder

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth
Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth

One of the greatest necessities and challenges for Christians is to genuinely love those whom we serve. Such Christlike love makes our service much more effective, and enables us to faithfully serve even when ministering to difficult people or under trying circumstances. Rosalind Goforth, who served with her husband Jonathan as a missionary in China for forty-seven years, learned that love lesson from a fellow missionary and sought to live it out through her many years of faithful service.

About nine months after arriving in China in 1888, the Goforths moved to an inland mission station in Shantung Province. One of the missionaries serving there was a Mrs. S., who was widely known for her success in ministering to Chinese women. One day Rosalind went to visit her shortly after she returned from teaching in the neighboring villages. “Mrs. S., I wish you would tell me some of your experiences that might help me in reaching the women.” 

“I think something I went through today might help you,” the veteran missionary responded. She then related the following incident:

“This morning I went to a distant village where the Christian women of that section were to meet in a certain house for study. But it began to rain, and no outside women came. So I started to read with the Christian woman at the home. We were sitting close together on the kang [a brick platform bed]. I had my arm around her as we read. Suddenly she began to cry, saying, ‘O Mrs. S., don’t let us read any more! My heart is so full I must talk to you.’

Rosalind Goforth with her children
Rosalind Goforth with her children

“So I drew her closer while she told me her troubles. The woman went on to say: ‘My sister died some months ago, and since then I have had to care for her children as well as my own. Besides all the regular work of meals, sewing and so on, I have to weave cloth late into the night. And for weeks I have had no time for lice hunting. I and the whole family are just crawling with them. Even the bed we are sitting on is just alive!’ ”

“O Mrs. S.,” Rosalind gasped,” didn’t you jump off the kang?” She replied: “Mrs. Goforth, listen! I felt like it. But just as I was about to do so the words flashed through my mind, ‘The love of Christ constraineth us’ [2 Corinthians 5:14]. And instead I just drew the woman closer to me.”

When Rosalind heard this, tears flowed freely as she cried in her heart: “O God, give me such love for my service in China!” She would later write: “Never was the lesson forgotten, and in years to come it was often needed as like experiences were gone through.”

In 1890, after moving to the town of Chuwang in Honan Province, Rosalind needed to put that lesson into practice in what proved to be one of the greatest tests in all her missionary experiences of properly loving people. The people of Chuwang were initially quite hostile toward the Goforths as foreigners.

Rosalind had given strict instructions to the amah (nanny) of their infant son Paul never to carry the child outside the gateway of their home’s “fairly large courtyard with trees.” But one day as Jonathan and Rosalind were leaving to have lunch with a neighbor missionary, she turned to wave goodbye to the baby in his high chair. His face had a strange expression on it, and he was wriggling back and forth violently. Rosalind ran to her son, fearing something was hurting him. When she lifted his shirt, she discovered his entire back was covered with eighty big lice! (They counted them later.) She immediately stripped the child and put him in a bath.

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth’s Gravestone

Some hours later, Rosalind conducted “a council of war” to determine the cause of what had happened. It was learned that, against her orders, the amah had taken the child into a Chinese home nearby. A Chinese teacher then spoke up to reveal further: “We must tell you the truth. It is not an uncommon thing for a woman who is jealous of another’s child to gather all the vermin possible and put it on the little one!”

Rosalind afterward related both her initial reaction and her eventual victorious response to this situation: “Oh, the horror of it! For days I went about simply loathing the thought of getting in close contact with the women again. But as with Mrs. S., divine love conquered, and from that time I felt a love for the women such as I had never realized before. A miracle? Yes, truly, the miracle of divine grace!”

# # #

Rosalind Goforth wrote several inspiring books, including her autobiography Climbing, Memories of a Missionary’s Wife. I believe that volume is no longer in print, but can easily be found online through various used book sources. It is well worth the effort to track down and read the work, in which Rosalind honestly and humbly relates her own beneficial (and oftentimes remarkable) experiences of growing in her relationship with and service of the Lord. Reading that book may very well lead you to read several of her other works, as I have. 

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

James Kraft
James Kraft

Keeping our spiritual priorities straight, while pursuing our dreams and ambitions of life, is a common challenge for followers of Jesus Christ. Here’s the instructive story of how one committed Christian did that very successfully.

In 1903 an ambitious young man named James Kraft moved to Chicago, Illinois, with the desire of becoming the most successful manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. A dedicated Christian and a hard worker, James purchased a pony named Paddy and a wagon. He bought cheese in bulk wholesale and sold it to grocers in smaller quantities, neatly packaged in ways that delayed spoiling in an era before refrigeration.

Early each morning he loaded his wagon with cheese then delivered it to stores throughout the city. But as the months passed, Kraft began to despair. Despite all his long hours and hard work he was making very little profit.

One day he pulled his wagon to a stop and began talking to his pony: “Paddy, there is something wrong. We are not doing it right. I am afraid we have things turned around and our priorities are not where they ought to be. Maybe we ought to serve God and place Him first in our lives.” He then drove home and made a covenant that for the rest of his life he would first serve the Lord and then work as God directed.

Kraft went on to keep his pledge, and the Lord greatly prospered his business ventures. In 1916 he invented and patented a process of pasteurizing cheese which resisted spoiling and could be shipped long distances. In the years that followed his business expanded into international markets and developed a number of additional food products, leading to his company being renamed Kraft Foods, Inc.

North Shore Baptist Church - Chicago, IL
North Shore Baptist Church – Chicago, IL

James Kraft joined the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago and served as Superintendent of its large Sunday School for forty years. As a Trustee of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary he underwrote the education of many eventual clergymen. His communications to employees were interspersed with Bible texts.

He used to say: “I would rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church than to head the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Jesus.”

Serving Christ first, of course, does not guarantee that we’ll experience extraordinary success in our endeavors of life like James Kraft did. Many who put the Lord first in their lives enjoy a modest rather than an exceptional degree of success from a human perspective.

But all who put Jesus first and faithfully serve Him receive abundant blessings on all aspects of their lives – personal spiritual growth, ministry undertakings, career endeavors, interpersonal relationships and much more. Even more important than the blessings that come to us, Christ is rightly served and honored through our lives.

James Kraft Quote

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Recently I saw two joggers pass by on the same street within minutes of each other. The first was a tall, trim young man. His posture was upright and he moved along at a brisk pace. He made running look effortless.

The second man was well into middle age and quite gray-haired. He was shorter and heavier than his younger predecessor. His posture was a bit stooped and he proceeded at a slower pace. Running was obviously a great deal of work for him.

I immediately thought: “Good for both of them!” They’re both making an effort to maintain or improve their health and strength. They’re not allowing themselves to decline.

It’s not hard to see parallels to the Christian life. Maintaining our personal relationship with the Lord, walking in steadfast moral obedience to Him and actively serving Him all require ongoing attention and effort. If we continue to work at the various areas of our Christian life, we’re able (with God’s help) to maintain good spiritual health or even improve it. But if we allow ourselves to become spiritually undisciplined and inactive then naturally our spiritual health and vitality are going to decline.

Committed younger Christians often manifest considerable enthusiasm and exertion in their personal devotion, obedience and service to Jesus. It’s a joy to see them running their spiritual race with such eagerness and discipline.

Faithful older Christians who have been in the spiritual race for a lot of years are an inspiration to watch as well. They may no longer have the high levels of physical energy and emotional intensity that they possessed in younger years. They may need to pace themselves a bit more slowly. But they still have a strong desire and determination to maintain a close personal relationship with the Lord, to honor Him through their habitual obedience and to be useful to Him through their steady service.

To all committed Christians, younger and older, I say, “Good for all of you! Way to maintain good spiritual health and diligence in the various areas of your Christian walk. With God’s gracious, ongoing encouragement and enablement, let’s all continue to do so through the whole course of life’s journey.”

And to any Christians who realize they’ve declined a bit in their spiritual lives, let’s remember that it’s always possible to regain our spiritual health. As would be the case with regaining good physical fitness, so we can renew sound spiritual health by recommitting ourselves to the focuses and disciplines that we know will help to strengthen us spiritually.  

One reason I greatly appreciate and enjoy reading historic Christian biography is that it provides numerous examples of outstanding believers who served Jesus faithfully and fervently all through life, in both their younger and older years. We can receive much encouragement and guidance for our own spiritual lives by considering their commendable examples.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Andrew Murray at age 28
Andrew Murray at age 28

After becoming convinced that the sudden spiritual awakening which came to his own church and community in Worcester, South Africa, truly was the work of God’s Spirit, Andrew Murray joined in supporting the powerful revival as it continued to sweep across the country. This blog, the last of a three-part miniseries, shows how God used Murray as a discerning and skilled young minister to help promote the awakening that took place throughout South Africa in 1860 and 1861.

In the weeks that followed the commencement of the revival at Worcester during the middle of 1860, Andrew Murray’s wife, Emma, wrote her mother of the ongoing, dramatic awakening in their parish: “We are having many visitors from the surrounding places who come to see us on account of the revival meetings, and they go away blessed, saying that half has never been told. It is a solemn thing to live in such a congregation at such a time.

“I feel sure the Lord is going to bless us even more, and yet there are heavy trials before us; the work is deeply interesting and yet some things are painful. In the midst of an earnest address [by Murray] a man drove a dog into the church with a tin tied on its tail and frightened the people. Andrew came down the aisle and prayed a most solemn, heart-searching prayer, that if the work was not of God, He Himself would put a stop to it. The people were terrified as the excitement was very intense and some even fainted.

“The prayer meeting last night was very full and ten men decided for Christ, but fifty undecided left the building about twelve o’clock. We had no idea of the time. Two souls afterwards came through who were wrestling in agony for a time, but got into the light in their own houses. Some go through a fiery struggle. Two sisters have both passed through, are now bright and rejoicing.

“Last night again the church was full and Andrew preached so powerfully and yet so simply on ‘the Lamb of God.’ He is so very discreet in dealing with souls. About twenty came forward, and others stayed behind to be talked to. We do feel and realize the power and presence of God so mightily. His Spirit is indeed poured out upon us.”

Several other South African towns were visited and transformed by the revival around that same time. Toward the end of the year God began to use Murray’s powerful preaching ministry in even greater ways than he had previously experienced. He was invited to speak at a number of conferences from Cape Town to Graaff-Reinet, 500 miles to the east. His itinerant ministry was greatly blessed by the Lord and helped further the revival in various locations.

Nicolaas Hofmeyr later in life
Nicolaas Hofmeyr later in life

During 1861 the awakening continued to spread across South Africa, impacting some two dozen additional parishes. Some of the communities first awakened in 1860, including Worcester, continued to be powerfully impacted by the revival in 1861. Early in September of the latter year a ministerial friend of Murray’s named Nicolaas Hofmeyr visited Worcester. He was on a collection tour to raise funds for missions but also wanted to observe for himself the “vehement, excited and confused prayer meetings” he had heard were taking place at Worcester, purportedly as an inevitable outcome of the mighty work of God’s Spirit.

Murray was away at the time of Hofmeyr’s arrival at Worcester, so the latter attended a prayer meeting with a church elder. As Hofmeyr opened the meeting in prayer he heard a few people moan. Then when a youth who had been powerfully converted began to pray in emotional tones, the assembly broke out in a bewildering verbal tumult. Due to their emotional distress, people tended to pray in short outbursts: “Lord, won’t you pour out your Holy Spirit?”  “Yes, Lord, do it!” “O Lord, convert the unconverted!” As soon as the young man’s emotional prayer came to an end, the commotion stopped. But when other individuals subsequently prayed with great fervor the same type of group response occurred.

Hofmeyr was convinced that such behavior was not of God’s Spirit, was unedifying and needed to be stopped. As soon as Murray arrived home, Hofmeyr expressed his concerns and suggested that Murray put an immediate stop to the questionable behavior. Murray instead told Hofmeyr he was in no position to accurately judge a whole movement by observing it during its middle phase rather than from its beginning. Murray further explained that he had tried to put a halt to the emotional behavior, but had been unable to do so. He had concluded that these prayers from the heart served as the most powerful proof that the Holy Spirit was at work. It was for this reason that he was reticent to suppress such manifestations with force.

This incident certainly shows the change of perspective Murray had come to have concerning his own role in the midst of revival. He was now seeking not to interfere with, rather than to moderate, the mighty moving of God’s Spirit. To Hofmeyr’s credit, he did not press the issue further.

# # #

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

A full account of the revival in South Africa is recorded in chapters 11 and 12 of my comprehensive biography on Murray entitled Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Much spiritual encouragement and instruction can be gained through the consideration of his outstanding life of service for Christ Jesus.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie