The GOSPEL TRUTH
THE SHANTUNG REVIVAL
C. L. CULPEPPER
To the friends who contributed so generously
of their letters and testimonies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: THE SHADOW OF A MIGHTY ROCK
CHAPTER TWO: A FOUNDATION - THE NEW BIRTH
CHAPTER THREE: THE REVIVAL SPREADS
CHAPTER FOUR: PERMANENT RESULTS
"We can only conclude that the Lord of the harvest sent this great revival to strengthen His people in the face of the oncoming years of terrible suffering under military occupation and later communist domination." Dr. Baker James Cauthen, Executive Secretary, Foreign Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention.
"In China, a mission field well-known for its resistance to the Gospel, our Lord sent a great revival. Much of the normal mission work, so routine and unproductive as to break the hearts of the missionaries, suddenly came alive . . . My own reaction to the story every time I hear it is the prayer, 'O God, please do it again.'" Dr. R. Cal Guy, Professor of Missions, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"Dr. Culpepper has dealt with the most important aspect of Christian missions. Unless the church moves forward in the power of the Holy Spirit, there is, as a rule, not much growth and certainly not much blessing. The account of the revival in Shantung is of absorbing interest, both to Christians in America and to missionaries all around the world." Dr. Donald McGavran, Dean, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary.
About the Author
Dr. C. L. Culpepper was born in Lavaca County, Texas, March 10, 1895.
He graduated from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, with the bachelor of arts degree in 1919. That same year he married Ola Lane.
From Baylor he went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and received the master of theology in 1922. He later received the doctor of theology degree from the same institution.
The following year he and Mrs. Culpepper were appointed missionaries to China by the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
During their years of service in China, they witnessed the defeat of the War Lords by the Nationalist army led by Marshal Chiang Kai-shek; the invasion of China by the Japanese Imperial Army; and the overthrow of the government by the communists, led by Mao Tse-tung in 1949.
But they also witnessed the great awakening in North China which has come to be known as the Shantung Revival in which countless thousands of Chinese were converted to Christ. As president of the North China Baptist Theological Seminary in Shantung, Dr. Culpepper saw the enrollment soar from four to more than 150 during the revival.
Following the communist takeover he became treasurer of the Hong Kong Baptist Mission for two years and then went to Taiwan to become president of the Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary until his retirement in 1965.
Now residing in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Culpepper is used extensively in local church revivals, evangelism institutes, and denominational meetings. Everywhere he goes, he tells the story of what God did in Shantung Province, China.
The Culpeppers have two children, Mary, a missionary to Japan, and Charles, Jr., missionary to Taiwan.
Thirty-six years ago, in Shantung Province in North China, one of the greatest revivals in modern history took place. It has come to be known as "The Shantung Revival."
Most Christians in America have never heard of it. Miss Mary Crawford, with whom I served in the North China Mission, compiled a book of reports on the revival in 1933, but it received only limited distribution.
The present volume is simply a revision of Miss Crawford's treatise, expanded by additions, reflections and comments. Miss Crawford has granted permission to use her original work, and this has been done.
Most of the things that took place in Shantung are as foreign as Chinese in American churches today, mainly because of resistance to the Holy Spirit. This same resistance may seek to influence readers of this book. Many things in this book will be hard for some to understand. Only those who have seen the unusual working of the Holy Spirit can comprehend the revolutionary change which took place in the lives of those who witnessed the great awakening during the Shantung Revival.
To others the terminology may seem strange. For instance, the use of "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" and "the fullness of the Holy Spirit" are understood in different ways by many people. In his defense before the council, Stephen said, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit." The charge remains true to this day. Actually this resistance is usually disguised by a professed aversion to "pentecostalism," but it's becoming more and more evident as nothing more than resistance to the Holy Spirit.
This terminology is not used in a technical or theological way in this book. The writer has used these expressions to designate the experience of total surrender to the Holy Spirit, resulting in a dramatic experience of Christian joy. I prefer the term "filled with" or "filled by" the Holy Spirit. Some prefer to use the term "baptism of" or "baptism by" the Holy Spirit. I do not contend the point, but I long to see all of God's children controlled by Him.
Miss Crawford included a note of warning in her book: "For fear my readers should take doctrinal exception to the term 'back to Pentecost' let us notice that we are not going back to before Pentecost! We are only waiting upon the Lord to prepare our hearts to receive what He has so graciously given. We believe that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, but very few believers have experientially received Him in His fullness (Acts 6:3-5). We do not believe in 'tarrying' but in 'receiving.' Some of the all-night prayer meetings mentioned were not in the sense of waiting for Pentecost, but in waiting upon God for His preparation of hearts to receive what He had already given. The long prayer meetings were only an expression of the hunger of hearts for the fullness of the Spirit. There was no dependence upon the length of the prayers."
I wish to express my deepest appreciation to Miss Crawford for permitting me to use the material in her book. I also wish to thank the Reverend Chandice Johnson of Ione, Washington, who upon the request of Dr. R. Cal Guy, Professor of Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, patiently edited my manuscript. Likewise, I wish to thank Miss Doris Knight, one of my co-workers in China who read and corrected the manuscript and made many practical suggestions, and Mr. Billy Keith, director of Public Relations, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dallas, who made the final revision. I also wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Baker James Cauthen, Executive Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Along with the others, he gave me valuable suggestions and encouragement.
My prayer is that this book may encourage many to pray for an even greater awakening of God's people in America.
C. L. Culpepper, Sr.
March 25, 1968
Chinese history can be traced back nearly five thousand years. But only in the last few centuries has China had any close connection with the Western World. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, western progress attracted Chinese attention, and China began to realize her own backwardness. Progressive Chinese recognized their country could stay abreast with the world only by abandoning their ancient ideas and breaking from the isolationism of their old Middle Kingdom.
One of these young men, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, had visited the United States and was deeply impressed with the democratic principles of Abraham Lincoln. In 1911 he established the Chinese Republic but with only partial success. The War Lords, who had long controlled China, continued to exert a divisive influence.
Sun Yat-sen sought help from England and the United States. When these attempts failed, he turned to Russia, which provided only limited war materiel but flooded China with propaganda. Students were their favorite target. China's only hope of becoming a nation, they were told, lay in the overthrow of western influence: capitalists, imperialists, and Christians.
By 1925 Sun Yat-sen had a well-equipped army. Led by Marshal Chiang Kai-shek, this army started from South China, bent on the overthrow of the War Lords, so that all China could be united under one national government. The Nationalist Army reached Nanking in 1927. The "rape of Nanking" alarmed the American government, and the American consul called all missionaries to the port cities of Chefoo and Tsingtau to prepare for possible emergency evacuation.
The whole country was in turmoil, and it was at this point that missionaries and church leaders in China began to sense a great spiritual need. The churches were cold and apathetic. Many were simply dead. Spiritual conditions were so bad many missionaries resigned. Something had to happen.
The situation was particularly trying for my wife Ola and me. Ten years earlier she had developed optic neuritis-decay of the optic nerve. A doctor in San Antonio, Texas, had treated her for several months and succeeded in reducing the pain and stabilizing the disease. But the vision in one eye was apparently impaired permanently. With the aid of glasses she could see all right. But a few months before the Nanking crisis her eyes weakened and the pain returned. The mission doctor advised her to visit the Union Medical College, a Rockefeller Foundation hospital in Peking. The eye specialist, an Austrian, examined her eyes but discovered he could do little other than change the prescription of her glasses.
In Chefoo her eyes began to bother her again. The frustration of being refugees away from our home was painful in itself. But her illness added a new dimension of helplessness to our troubled lives.
Regardless of the difficulties, we continued our ministry to the Christians and witnessed to the masses of Chefoo. During that time Miss Jane Lide, another Southern Baptist missionary, was asked to give a series of Bible messages on the subject, "Christ, Our Life." And Miss Marie Monsen, a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran, also a refugee in Chefoo, was invited to share her testimony with us. Miss Monsen had witnessed some unusual experiences in Bible teaching and evangelism. She had seen the sick healed. Although she did not ordinarily mention the healing, at the request of the missionaries she related the miraculous experiences.
As Miss Monsen gave her testimony, Ola began to be impressed with the fact that she should go and talk to her about the eye damage. We made an appointment and went to her apartment. As she met us at the door, Miss Monsen's first question was, "Brother Culpepper, have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?" I stammered out something less than a definite reply. Then, recognizing my uncertainty, she carefully related a personal experience fifteen years earlier when she had prayed for and received the promise of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Galatians 3:14. After visiting with her for two hours, we urged her to come to our home to pray for Ola's eyes.
That night we were deeply troubled. Prayer for healing seemed unorthodox for Baptist people. But in private we read James 5:14-16 and were greatly encouraged. The words "confess your faults" particularly pierced my heart. A consuming realization that our hearts must be completely open to God pervaded all our senses. I began to feel the Lord was going to undertake a great thing for us.
The next morning about 20 people came to our home for prayer. We felt an electric excitement, a feeling that God was preparing us for something we had never known before. After praying for several hours, we all seemed in a complete spirit of communion. Suddenly Ola took off her glasses and laid them on the mantle. Following the instructions in the Book of James, I anointed her with oil. Then we all knelt and continued praying. It was as though God had walked into the room. Everyone prayed aloud. We felt that Heaven came down and Glory filled our souls.
As we prayed, the male Chinese cooks from both missionary residences in Chefoo walked into the room. Their hatred for each other was common knowledge. But, as the power of God's Holy Spirit worked, they went to each other, confessed their hatred, sought forgiveness, and accepted Christ as personal Saviour.
In the midst of our joy for the cooks' salvation we had completely forgotten Ola's eyes. Then someone remembered and asked her, "What about your eyes?" She replied, "They feel all right and the pain is gone."
It never returned. This was the most wonderful experience in our lives. We had never known such spiritual joy. The events surrounding those days in Chefoo were the prelude to the great Shantung Revival.
THE SHADOW OF A MIGHTY ROCK
In the days that followed Ola's healing, the tension in the interior began to subside, and we prepared to return to our mission station. After returning home, the question that Miss Monsen had asked me, "Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?" continued to disturb me. That day in her apartment I had not known the answer. Now, alone at home, I decided I must search the Scriptures to see what the Bible teaches about the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thus I began a great spiritual quest that was to last four years.
The hunger to know more about the deeper spiritual life was common among the missionaries in China. It influenced every moment of every day and led us through a spiritual wilderness of internal turmoil and crisis. The local wars, the Communist-inspired unrest, bandit raids, and other incidents showed us how little progress had actually been made in evangelizing China by Sun Yat-sen or by missionaries.
We realized the foundations needed to be re-examined, and in the days following the 1927 crisis, we did so. First we probed deeply into our own spiritual lives. Then we looked with disillusionment upon the Chinese churches. We discussed our concern in detail when the North China Mission (organization of Southern Baptist missionaries) met in Chefoo in 1930. Three Chinese evangelists made discouraging reports of work among "dead" churches. A note of despair and spiritual hunger permeated their messages.
A missionary reminded the group that in the North China Association at least seventy churches had "died." Another missionary related her fears for the Chinese Christians. Many, she felt, had accepted God's grace as an outside coating of whitewash, but had only "covered" their sins, not been forgiven for them.
Our best-known Chinese evangelist, on the point of despair because of the seeming hopelessness of the work, echoed these fears. He told the group he felt more than 1,000 church members had been converted to Christianity, not to Christ.
If foreign missions had been merely a human project, the end of the North China Mission would have been in sight that day. But we realized that God had sent Marie Monsen to point us toward the right way.
She had spent her first missionary years mainly as a Bible teacher to church members. But after 14 years she became convinced that most church members had never experienced the second birth. She also recognized her own shallowness and longed for the spiritual power necessary to witness effectively. Focusing her hope on Galatians 3:14, she prayed all one day and far into the night for the promised Holy Spirit. Each time she prayed she felt the power of Satan mocking her request, telling her she was not worthy of such a blessing. Finally, near midnight, her eyes fell on verse 13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."
As she read that reassurance, she opened her heart to God, and the Holy Spirit flooded her soul! Overcome with joy, she began singing and praising God, continuing until she had exhausted her voice. Then she went to a small organ and played hymns for the rest of the night.
Strengthened by this experience, Miss Monsen rooted her life in the center of God's will and battled the drift toward spiritual shallowness. With Miss Monsen's encouraging example, other men and women began to find strength. It became apparent that God had raised her up to expose the spiritual apathy and weakness that existed among the Christians of North China.
Spiritual power continued to deepen. Many of the Southern Baptist missionaries attended the Peh Ta Ho Conferences and heard Dr. Jonathan Goforth, esteemed missionary in China, and others speak on the subject of prayer and the deeper spiritual life. After this, missionaries toured China leading conferences and trying to stoke spiritual fires. Seeking and finding deeper personal commitment to Christ, they then challenged the churches with a series of messages entitled, "Christ Is My Life," based on Colossians 3:3,4. It was more and more evident that many of the people had become dissatisfied with the spiritual coldness and the apathy of the churches and the mission. Everywhere they went they encouraged their co-workers to engage in soul-searching prayer.
In the fall of 1931, a missionary began teaching the Book of Acts to a high school class. The emphasis, dealing with the person and power of the Holy Spirit in soul winning, made her acutely conscious of her own lack of power. She sought and found God's strength. When news reached the other missionaries that one of their co-workers had received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, they too became eager for the new experience. The drought was broken, and God's Spirit poured out just as He had promised. By June, 1932, 24 missionaries and many Chinese Christian leaders had experienced the personal presence of the Holy Spirit and rejoiced in the new life they saw developing in the once spiritually dead churches.
A FOUNDATION - THE NEW BIRTH
In November, 1930, I was driving with Miss Monsen and several other missionaries from one mission point to another discussing the missionary work in China. "A great revival is coming soon and it will begin in the North China Mission," Miss Monsen told me.
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because God has a covenant with His people," she answered. "It is as true today as it was when He made it. He said, 'If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'" (II Chron. 7:14).
She continued, "I believe God is going to send a revival to you and your people because you have fulfilled those four conditions."
Just as Miss Monsen had predicted, the revival came. It had taken years for Southern Baptists in China to fulfill the four conditions Miss Monsen mentioned.
The beginning of the new awakening started with a series of preparatory meetings during 1927 led by Miss Monsen. The Lord greatly used her in our mission during the following years. Her messages emphasized the seriousness of sin and the importance of the new birth and resulted in deep personal realization of sin, a search for a deeper spiritual life, prayer for revival for all China, a new respect for God's Word, and reconciliation and restitution among the believers.
She visited mission stations and churches giving her testimony. After each service she greeted the Chinese and missionaries alike with the probing question, "Have you been born again?" The question insulted some and angered others. But she spared no one, asking preachers, deacons, missionaries and others the same question. When their anger subsided, the Holy Spirit began to search hearts. People discovered and admitted they had not been born again.
Many of them gave ridiculous answers to the searing question. One said, "I've preached for years." Another answered, "One cannot know until death." At one church she discovered that none of the deacons clearly understood the concept of the new birth. The revival, therefore, developed into an ingathering of those born again from among the church members as well as from outsiders.
The meetings avoided "sensationalism." Miss Crawford wrote, "Miss Monsen herself is one of the quietest speakers I ever heard. There was very poor singing, no invitation for public decisions, only the quiet question, 'Have you been born again?'" Miss Crawford quoted from one missionary's letter, "Everything otherwise has been so quiet. Were it not for a wonderful spirit of prayer and an occasional testimony, no unknowing visitor would believe we were in the midst of a revival."
A missionary nurse reported that she had tried to discover why she had never before known salvation. She had been reared under strict attention to religious duties, but was never conscious of depending on "works" rather than faith for her salvation. Her home religious training had been careful; she was taught about God and about the wickedness of sin. She had enjoyed church and memorizing Bible verses and had even received answers to prayer.
She had heard the gospel preached since childhood and had even realized she had sinned. But up to that point she had never experienced true salvation. After receiving new life in Christ, she told of a particular experience which had plagued her since childhood. She had stolen 25 cents from a neighbor and then lied when her mother questioned her. Many times God had tried to influence her to confess, she said, but fear of punishment kept her from obeying. Later, pride and fear of being exposed as a thief prevented her confession. She joined the church when she was 13. In the baptistry she silently prayed to God, "Let this water wash that sin away." But it did not.
In 1922, after completing college and nurse's training, she was appointed as a Southern Baptist missionary to China without any reservations about the depth of her Christianity.
But in a meeting she attended, each person was asked if he or she had real communion with the Lord and was urged to spend time alone with Him until His presence could be felt. The young missionary nurse did so, but as she began to feel God's presence, she became frightened, jumped up and ran away. She later said, "I couldn't bear that presence. I knew then what I had to do; I had to return that 25 cents to my neighbor. I told God I would confess to my mother when I went home on furlough. Some peace came then." However, when she went on furlough, she didn't have the necessary courage.
She had been back in China a year when Miss Monsen came for the meetings. She said she didn't want to attend; but a fellow missionary told her to pray, "Lord, send a revival, and begin in me." When the meeting began, she hoped Miss Monsen would not ask the question, "Are you born again?"
But during the meeting Miss Monsen asked the missionaries to help her in personal witnessing by asking the Chinese if they were "born again." As the young nurse did this one morning, she choked as she spoke. She confessed, "My heart said, 'You are not born again yourself; how can you ask that question?'"
By Wednesday she was miserable but tried to seem happy and kept singing. She consoled herself by thinking that singing the words meant she was saved. She intended to walk to the afternoon meeting with Miss Monsen in order to share her problem. When she spoke to Miss Monsen, the abrupt reply was, "No, I'm going with someone else."
The young nurse went home dejected, believing there was no help. She ate supper and then went to the hospital for prayers with the other nurses. When she returned home, she was alone in the big house; so she 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."
The darkness of her sins became apparent; and she cried, "What can I do?" Just then the weight was removed, and the peace of salvation became hers. Question marks no longer surrounded her salvation experience.
Immediately she went downstairs to find a copy of "Precious Promises" in Chinese. She looked up the promises in English and wrote them in the back of her Bible, realizing they really were the most precious words she'd ever known. She then wrote a letter home, confessing what a poor example she had been to her family and friends. She sent a dollar to pay for the 25 cents she had stolen. At that moment the Bible became a new book to her, and she knew she was a new person in Christ.
Definite prayer for key people in each church accompanied each of Miss Monsen's revivals. In the Tsinan meeting the key person was the pastor's wife, a young woman of vivid personality who had graduated from the mission high school and had several years of seminary training. She knew the Bible, but she was on the prayer lists of several groups of missionaries who didn't believe she had been saved.
The young woman later said, "When Miss Monsen asked me, 'Have you been born again?' I tried to reassure her and myself that I had been. About two weeks before, I had had an experience in prayer for my sick husband. I thought this was a second birth experience. Before the week was over, I knew it had not been."
Day by day, as she heard the messages on sin, her own sins seemed painfully clear to her. Suddenly she realized she had to go to Christ for confession and forgiveness. She realized the sin of hate for her first child because she had wanted a diploma more than a baby.
During the last day of the meeting she surrendered her stubborn pride for the joy and peace that came with the assurance of the forgiveness of sins. She later testified before the entire church and confessed to them she had been a bad example.
Many examples of spiritual awakening can be selected from the results of Miss Monsen's "Born Again Revivals."
One school, for example, had two attractive teachers. To an American, Miss Liu was especially attractive because of her clear-cut features, wavy hair, and eyes that sparkled with energy and sincerity. Of the two teachers she was the first to have a definite, spiritual experience. At first the meetings made no impression on her, and she thought Miss Monsen had no right to ask her if she had been born again. Then she became deeply convinced of her guilt as she saw herself unrighteous before God. Her pride, deceit, worldliness, and hate weighed heavily upon her.
Although she had been a nominal Christian since childhood and had attended Mission Schools, no real change had taken place in her life. She later said, "Several times I had been inspired by good preaching and had determined not to sin&emdash;to be good&emdash;but I continued to sin."
During her last years of high school, she had been exposed to anti-foreign propaganda and began to believe that the church was an "Imperial Machine," that prayer was empty, and that the Bible was written by men without divine guidance. She did not have the least understanding of the second birth and knew very little about God.
When she realized her sins, she knew she wanted the life in Christ; so she knelt and confessed her sins one by one to the Lord. Then she let the Holy Spirit work in her heart, and she received new life.
She later said, "In 23 years of life I had never been so happy. My feet could not stay on the ground, and my heart was so light. I knew that Jesus was a living Lord who frees sinners."
The other teacher was more reserved, old-fashioned, and of the upper class. The first meetings didn't touch her, but during the second week, messages on the teachings about sin destroyed her blind reserve. Of the meetings she said, "Conviction settled on my heart like a cloud I could not bear. I almost had to run to a Christian worker and ask her to help me pray."
A missionary reported that his preaching experience in the revival was a time of joy. He said he found many eager listeners, and it was easy to preach to them. The Lord had prepared them for the meetings during the days of prayer. Besides church members about 50 workers attended the meetings, and the Holy Spirit was present from the beginning. Those under conviction of sin were privately and quietly counseled by those already saved.
One young man, a worker, tried to deceive himself and others by insisting he was saved. However, he could not deceive the Holy Spirit. One night this healthy young man was suddenly struck down in the courtyard and had to be carried in. He was stiff, blue, and cold. Concerned friends knelt at his side, praying. The missionary urged him to confess his sins quickly. As soon as he could open his mouth, he confessed and stood upon his feet again, forgiven.
One old, hardened sinner could not remain seated one evening. He stood, went to the front of the church, and confessed a life of sin. No public confessions had been made up to that time. He confessed as if compelled to do so. Suddenly the atmosphere changed, and the church seemed filled with evil. In the midst of his confession he had remained hard, cold and seemingly untouched. But those present in the meeting prayed for him, and during the night he was converted. The next day he was different. As tears streamed down his face, he testified he was a man who had been set free.
One of the missionaries at the meeting said, "Almost all of our workers are saved now." But another answered, "Don't be too sure. They will be known by their actions." The Holy Spirit had worked in the hearts of many of them, and they had been helping each other through these experiences.
Another missionary wrote that his church had been praying for years that a special worker could be sent to Pingtu. When Miss Monsen came, the revival for which they had been praying began. A large audience of pastors, evangelists, workers and students filled the large church. As the Biblical teaching on sin was given, the Holy Spirit burned the message deep into every heart. A holy quietness filled the church. Those saved in the recent meetings in other areas gave testimonies contributing greatly to the impact of the services. A well-known educator, a graduate of an American college, gave an especially moving testimony. He said he had been a "naotzu" (brain) Christian for 10 years before being saved.
In the same meeting, Miss Monsen asked one of the men sitting close to the front if he had been born again.
"Yes!" he quickly replied. Carefully she examined his face. She later remarked he had "a dead man's eyes." As the man listened in the meetings that followed, the Holy Spirit began to work with him. He began to doubt his salvation, that he had been born again. He decided that he had to know for sure, so he asked a friend to pray with him. As they prayed together, the man said, "Lord, I will do anything you tell me to do, if I can only receive peace." The Holy Spirit convinced him of his sins, and when he began confessing them to God, the Lord told him to do so to his friend. Satan's influence countered, saying that there was no need to lose face by confessing to others. But the man knew that "face" could not be compared with eternal life. He confessed to his friend, and peace and joy came.
Another interesting experience was that of an elderly classics teacher in the Girls' School. He had joined the church but was only a nominal Christian. An old-style scholar, he had studied both Chinese and western history extensively and had read the Bible through with interest. When Miss Monsen started her meetings, he believed she had some hypnotic power. He thought the personal workers were simply drawing attention to her by asking people if they were saved. The third day he decided that she knew psychology. The fifth day he had to know the truth of God and whether or not he was really a sinner.
Actually he thought he had no sins. The next morning at 2:00 o'clock he awakened and began to pray. As he prayed, his sins appeared before him one by one. Taking a piece of paper, he wrote each of them down. As he looked at them, he began to doubt, reasoning that this was his own thinking and that the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with it. But he wanted to be sure, so he prayed, "God, if you are God, and if Miss Monsen 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 will confess all and ask you to give me peace. Then I'll know that you are God." Peace came, and with the assurance that God is the true living God, he continued his prayers.
The outstanding teacher in the Boys' School was also saved. The Lord used her to lead other women teachers to a clear commitment to Christ.
One missionary said in a letter to friends, "The revival is still going on, and we feel this is only the beginning. Souls are being saved daily."
A missionary from Laiyang wrote, "You who have been praying for the meetings in Laiyang will be happy to know that the Holy Spirit is present and powerful in convicting and saving these people. When Mr. Li reached Laichow and found some of his friends rejoicing in the new birth, he knew their liberty and joy was something he had never experienced. With a sad heart he wept and prayed through much of the night. He returned to Laiyang the next day, a miserable man. The first service increased his misery, but the Holy Spirit completed His work. On the evening of the second day, after having honestly laid his sins before the Lord, Mr. Li found peace.
A missionary's cook was also saved during the Laichow meetings. He went to Laiyang to cook for our group, arriving just before the first meeting closed. He had formerly lived in Laiyang and was a faithful and well-known member of the church. When he led the closing prayer, everyone knew from his words that he had been marvelously changed. One man, eager to know what had happened, followed him home and sat in the kitchen inquiring about this "new life" while the cook prepared dinner. After each service as many as eight evangelists 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." He was indeed a new person in Christ.
Another evangelist, a big, fine-looking fellow named Li, looked disturbed after the first day and became more and more troubled as the days went by. But during one of the services he was genuinely converted and later in his testimony said he had never before realized he had any sin. He had not been afraid to meet God because he was not aware of any need. However, when the realization did come, he was willing to receive Christ, humbly confessing his sins.
In 1930, the mission meeting at Chefoo had sounded a note of despair. Gloomy reports had reflected a dissatisfaction among the missionaries who presented them. The 1931 meeting saw little change except that there seemed to be a desire for spiritual power.
But 1932 was quite different. The depression in the United States threatened to make foreign missions impossible. Missionaries on furlough were asked to find something else to do for awhile. The trouble, however, did not reach North China. The 1932 mission reports indicate the revival Miss Monsen had predicted had already come.
A report from Hwanghsien said everyone on the faculty of the North China Baptist Theological Seminary and Bible School had been filled with the Holy Spirit. It was a new school. Likewise, the staff members of the Warren Memorial Hospital had been wonderfully blessed during their spring revival. Many of the personnel had been saved, and others had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
In Tsinan more people were saved in 1932 than during any year in the history of the work in that area. The churches reached a new spiritual high plane. Nearly every one of the preachers, teachers, Biblewomen and missionaries had an experience of the deeper life, and each one began to have genuine victory and power in his life.
In Harbin, which had been the scene of fierce fighting with the Communists, a new church was organized. Before long the small building was insufficient to care for the numbers, and they had to move to a larger hall.
The report from Laichow-Laiyang said, "This has truly been one of our very best years in China. The sheer joy and rapture of this new, marvelous, intimate fellowship into which we were brought with the glorified Redeemer Himself is beyond the power of human expression."
THE REVIVAL SPREADS
One of the most encouraging reports we received came from Pingtu. A missionary wrote, "God has been adding daily to His church. We estimate that 3,000 have been saved this year. There have been about nine hundred baptisms, with others waiting. 'The Acts of the Holy Spirit' are being re-enacted in a remarkable way right here in our midst."
Other reports provide a sampling of what was happening throughout Shantung Province in 1932. One involved me personally.
The day Miss Monsen asked me, "Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?" I could not answer her. When I returned to my station after being in Chefoo, I determined to find out what the Bible said about the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In that search the Bible became a new book to me. I didn't want to put it down to eat or sleep. I did not care to eat or sleep. I only wanted to read the Bible. I took the Bible to the table with me and to bed. My Chinese cook thought I was ill because I would come to the table but would not eat. I just sat there and read. I would take a bite, then read.
After a week or so of intensive Bible reading and study regarding the Holy Spirit, I believed I knew what it taught about the fullness of the Holy Spirit; and I asked the Lord to fill me also.
After praying earnestly for this, God suddenly revealed a memory that startled me, a sin I had committed 10 years earlier while a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. I had been working my way through school by checking trays in the cafeteria and collecting for the meals. On Sundays many Waco residents came to the Baylor campus for dinner. One Sunday a family came whom I did not know. They were at the head of the line, and when I checked the trays, the man of the family gave me a ten dollar bill. Their checks totaled a little over four dollars, but I didn't have enough cash to make change. He said, "We'll go ahead and eat, and I'll come back for my change when you have it." He must have forgotten because he left without picking it up.
I kept the change for several weeks. Then one day I got a telegram from home saying one of my sisters had died. I didn't have the money for a train ticket home, so I used that six dollars, thinking I would return it later. However, the man never returned and I forgot about it. It may seem like a little thing, but the Holy Spirit revealed it to me that day in China as theft.
I told the Lord I would give ten times that amount to the orphanage or to the other church work, but the uneasiness remained in my heart. He seemed to direct me to write Dr. Samuel Palmer Brooks, who was then president of Baylor, and tell him the whole story. I didn't feel that I could do it. Dr. Brooks believed I was a good boy, and I thought that if I told him what had happened, he would think I was dishonest. But the Lord seemed to say, "All right! just go ahead and cover it up. No one will ever know. You can go on and be a nominal missionary, but I will not put my stamp of approval upon you, and I will not give you the fullness of my Spirit." I was so eager for God's power and approval I knew I couldn't be happy without it.
Satan tried to discourage me. In the silent hours he would suggest that if I did write, Dr. Brooks would report it to the Foreign Mission Board, and they would cut off my salary. He hinted I would be left in China with my wife and children to support without any income. Frightened, I tried to pray and argue with the Lord. But the only answer I received was, "Write and confess." As the Lord became my strength, I wrote the letter.
I told Dr. Brooks what I had done. I told him I was not worthy of being a Baylor graduate, and if he thought it best, he could take back my diploma. I enclosed the money to repay what I had taken. After posting the envelope, suddenly I felt at peace and could pray with a clear conscience.
Two months passed before the slow-boat mail came bringing my reply from Dr. Brooks. My heart pounded as I opened the letter and began to read. He assured me that Baylor University would not take back my diploma. He said I deserved to be one of his students more than at any other time in my life. He said he wished all his students would do what I had done and "get right with God." I rejoiced, suddenly remembering the Bible says the devil is a liar. He had tried to keep me from doing what the Lord had urged so I wouldn't find peace with God.
That experience was the great turning point in my life. I am sure that if I had simply yielded more fully to the Bible's teaching at that time, I would have been filled with the Holy Spirit then. But God had many more lessons for me. I had to write other letters to make other sins right.
But the Holy Spirit didn't limit himself to me alone. He dealt with nearly all the missionaries in our North China Mission, which, at that time, consisted of about fifty. We all began a period of soul-searching desire for God's cleansing power.
This spirit of quest and prayer continued. When we met in Tsingtao for a mission meeting in June, 1931, most of us were so eager for spiritual blessings that we didn't want to follow the usual business procedures of discussing the requests from each station and sending necessary ones to the Foreign Mission Board for the coming year. Someone suggested we accept the Executive Committee's recommendations on estimates for 1932 and spend the remaining four days in prayer, seeking the Lord's will for our work.
I had never heard such brokenness in prayer and such pleading to God. Many of us believed that God had heard us and would do something in our midst.
Before leaving the mission meeting, we felt the leadership of the Lord to form a study committee to reorganize our training program in North China. We had only four students in our seminary. They would graduate the next term. It had been several years since the Lord had called any young people into the ministry.
But when the seminary opened in October, 1931, we were overwhelmed when 25 young people came to the seminary and training school. These young people told of marvelous things God had done through revivals in their churches. The term at the seminary was wonderful. Everything seemed to be spiritually alive.
We had a long winter vacation for the seminary and the Boys' and Girls' Schools during Chinese New Year. After completing the fall term grades and making preparations for the spring term, I had two weeks before school opened. I wanted to go down to Pingtu and see for myself some of the things which I had been hearing.
I had heard that a woman who had been paralyzed for 28 years had been healed, and great numbers were being saved. When I got to Pingtu, I asked to see the woman who had been healed. Local Christians said they had known the paralytic, Mrs. Chiao, for more than 30 years. They told me she had been a faithful Christian and church member and was well-known throughout the community. They believed a real miracle of healing had occurred. Several of us rented bicycles and began the 20-mile trip to her village. Just before we arrived at the church, a little boy met us and asked us if we had come to see the woman who had been healed. We told him that we had. He asked us to go on to the church and he would tell her. By the time we reached the church, many people had come to see us.
In a few minutes the 72-year-old woman came walking into the church. She bowed to me and said, "Pastor Culpepper, look at me. I am a new person from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet." She stuck out one foot and said, "Do you see these shoes? This is the first pair of shoes I have had in 28 years."
At that point the pastor, who was about 65 years old, took up the story. With the enthusiasm of a little boy, he told me what had happened. He said they had planned to have a revival and were all looking forward to it, but that no one had said anything about praying for the sick. He said Mrs. Chiao believed God would heal her if the church would really pray for her, so she asked her two sons to carry her to the church and request prayer.
None of the congregation, the pastor continued, had much faith; but Mrs. Chiao was so sure, and they began to have deep confidence in her. So they put her in a big arm chair, brought her to the church, and placed her in front of the communion table. The pastor said he then asked all the members to kneel and pray, and he knelt beside the pulpit. He said in a few minutes he heard a noise and looked up to see Mrs. Chiao walking across the front of the church and down the aisle. Startled, he jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "Jesus has come and healed Sister Chiao!" He said it was like an electric shock to the whole congregation. They all had known Mrs. Chiao's condition. But there she was walking in their midst! They began praising the Lord and telling the story of what He had done.
The old Chinese preacher was bouncing up and down as he told me the story. He said, "Pastor Culpepper, I want to tell you that I have been preaching for 30 years and have not been worth my salt. I was so lazy I could not walk a mile and a half to tell people about Jesus. Since the revival I go to prayer meeting at 5:00 o'clock in the mornings, go home and eat breakfast, take a little bread for lunch and walk 25 miles witnessing in villages, then come home and go to prayer meeting at night. The next morning I'm ready to go again."
He added, "When this revival began, we had about 50 members in our little church. Now we have at least one Christian in each of the 1,000 homes in this town. Dozens of villages surround us, and we have witnessed in all of them. There are hundreds of Christians in them."
That evening about 80 of us attended a Bible class and prayer meeting which lasted nearly two hours. First we studied the Bible. Everyone read verses and asked questions. Then we had a prayer meeting in which everyone prayed.
As individuals led in prayer, they seemed to be talking face to face with the Lord. Near the end of the meeting, a young woman was filled with the Spirit and sang a beautiful melody I'd never heard before. It sounded like heavenly music.
I went home to Hwanghsien and told my co-workers what I had seen. They were both astonished and thrilled to hear of the mighty working of the hand of God.
At Hwanghsien we had a seminary, a hospital, a boys' school, a girls' school and several churches. One Monday morning a number of the missionary doctors, nurses, teachers and seminary professors&emdash;about 40 in all&emdash;met for a prayer meeting at 5:00 a.m. in preparation for a revival that was to begin. They met again at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and during the evening also.
After the evening prayer meetings something extraordinary happened. We had gone home for our family devotional. Our revival evangelist, Mr. I. V. Larson, was staying with us during the week. After the devotional period he went to his room. A little later my wife went to bed, but I felt the need for further Bible study.
As I read God's Word and tried to pray, it seemed that I had turned into stone. Finally I asked, "Lord, what is the matter?" I opened my Bible to Romans chapter two and read the 17th verse. It seemed as though the Apostle Paul himself was speaking directly to me when he said, "But if you call yourself a Christian, and rely upon the Gospel, and boast of your relation to God, and know His will, and approve what is excellent because you are instructed in the gospel; and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the gospel the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the gospel, do you dishonor God by breaking the gospel? For as it is written, 'The name of God is blasphemed among the Chinese because of you.'"
The Holy Spirit used these verses like a sword to cut deeply into my heart. He said, "You are a hypocrite! You claim to be a Christian! Are you real? Missionaries flatter you by saying you are a good missionary! Are you a real Christian witness? The Foreign Mission Board and Southern Baptists have spent thousands of dollars and sent you half way around the world! What have you really done for Christ? The Lord said that those who believed on Him would have rivers of living waters flowing from their innermost being! Do you have that kind of power?"
The Holy Spirit and God's Word continued to probe until I believed I would die under the searching, accusing finger of God. I still could not go to bed; so I went upstairs, called my wife, and asked her to come downstairs and pray with me. We prayed for a long time, then got up at 5:00 o'clock for the early morning prayer meeting.
Immediately upon arrival at the meeting place, I asked the leader to let me make a statement. I don't remember all that I said, but I know the Lord enabled me to tell my inner feelings to the group of 40 gathered there. I told them how God had made me realize my spiritual impotence. I told my missionary colleagues that their praise of me as being a good missionary had made me proud. I told my Chinese co-workers that in their compliments of me as an effective worker, I had stolen God's glory. My heart was so broken I didn't believe I could live any longer.
While I was speaking, the Holy Spirit so deeply convicted those present of their own sins it seemed they could not bear it. I watched their faces grow pale. Then they began to cry and drop on their knees or fall prostrate on the floor. One missionary, sitting on the front seat, dropped to his knees and began to weep. When he got up, he went across the chapel to a Chinese preacher and said to him, "Mr. Kiang, I have hated you." The Chinese gentleman answered, "Yes, and I have hated you, too." Missionaries went to missionaries confessing unpleasant feelings toward one another. Chinese preachers, guilty of envy, jealousy and hatred, confessed their sins one to another.
No one had said a word about public confession of sin, but the Holy Spirit had brought such conviction upon the group that none could keep from it. It was so unexpected and unplanned that no one realized what was happening. The time scheduled for ending the meeting passed, but all wished to continue. When we would try to close, someone would say, "Please don't go! Pray for me! I am in desperate need!" As soon as we would pray for that one, another would confess his bitter inner feelings. One could sense that the Holy Spirit controlled the confessions because no one accused or implicated others. There were no unwholesome confessions, only broken and contrite hearts making things right with God and each other.
Finally the meeting ended. Those who wanted to go home departed from the little chapel. Others stayed and prayed. The meeting continued throughout the morning. As others entered the chapel, they too were convicted of sins. The meeting continued into the afternoon. By 11:00 o'clock that night we tried to close the meeting again, but some continued, spending the second night also in prayer. Wednesday many more came, and as we went through the whole day, no one preached or led devotionals. We simply followed as the Holy Spirit directed us to pray for those who asked for help.
The meetings were very informal. Anyone who wished could speak or make a request. For instance, early Thursday morning the principal of the Boys' Primary School came to the meeting, his face red, swollen and wet with tears. He told us he hadn't slept the night before. He had not gone home from school, but stayed in his room, read the Bible and prayed all night. His attention had been drawn to Ecclesiastes 7:26, "And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her."
He read this passage aloud and told us it was a parable of his life. He said, "You people know me on the outside. You know me as a leader of our church. You have selected me to serve as a deacon. You also know that I have a wife and three children who are not members of the church. What you do not know is that my home life is miserable. My wife has snared my soul! When I want to give a tithe to my church, she is opposed to my giving anything. So I have deceived her by telling her that I am making only $18 a month when I am actually making $20. I have lied to her and deceived her so that I can give $2 a month to my church. In doing this, I have displeased God. Also, she does not want me to go to church on Sundays. She says if I go she will follow me, and when we get into the church she will jump up and down and scream in order to disgrace me. I know her, and she will really do it. On Sundays I tell her I am going to the market to buy something for the school. I go a round about way to the church, attend worship, then go back by the market and buy something before I go home. In doing this, I have lied to her and deceived her. I thought I was justified because I did it to attend church. Last night the Lord showed me, through this verse of the Bible, that I have displeased Him. He showed me that the only way to escape is to confess my deceit to Him and to my wife. Now I want all of you to pray for me while I go home and confess my sins to my wife."
All of us got down on our knees and prayed for him and his wife. Later in the morning he came back to the prayer meeting. His face was changed. Tears were still running down his cheeks, but they were tears of joy. He told us what had happened.
After returning home, he confessed everything to his wife. All of us knew how hard it was for a Chinese man to confess to his wife that he had wronged her. He told us, "When I got to the yard gate (Chinese homes have a yard wall around the house), I had to knock because the gate was fastened on the inside. I heard my wife start out of the house, raving because I had not come home that night. I told her to be quiet because I had come home to confess my sins to her. She heard the words 'confess my sins' just as she opened the gate. Her eyes popped wide, and her mouth flew open. For once in her life she stopped talking, and I began telling her what had happened. I told her I had not slept the night before because God had convicted me of lying and deceiving her, and He had made me come home and confess how I had wronged her.
"When I finished, she was stunned. Finally she said, 'Well, if Jesus Christ can make you confess your sins to me, then I want to know about Him too. I have a lot of sins myself.'"
He told us he had tried many times to talk to his wife about the Lord, but she would never listen. My wife and other women had visited her, but she had no interest in the message of eternal life. But a few days after this incident the women visited her again, and soon she accepted Christ and became a faithful Christian.
This was one instance among many. The Lord dealt with nearly every one of us during those days. By the end of the week 200 were attending the prayer meeting that had begun with only 40 a few days before. One of the best missionaries I had ever known on the mission field came to me the second day and said, "Charlie, pray for me!" He fell on my shoulder, and both of us went down on our knees. He was so distressed he couldn't tell me what was hurting him. He was as pale as death and kept groaning in his anxiety. I prayed with him and for him several times during that day and the next.
In the evening of the second day he came running to me and threw his arms around me. "Charlie, it's gone!" he exclaimed. I said, "What's gone?" He replied, "That old root of bitterness!"
He told me that 30 years earlier, before he came to China, a man had insulted his wife. The insult had made him so angry he felt he could kill the man if he ever saw him again. He realized a called servant of God should not feel that way, and it had bothered him for years. Finally he just turned the man over to God. When the Holy Spirit began working in his heart during that week, the question came, "Are you willing for that man to be saved?" He answered, "Lord, I'm willing for you to save him . . . just keep him on the other side of heaven!" Finally, he came to the place where he said, "Lord, if that man is alive, and if I can find him when I go on furlough, I will confess my hatred to him and do my best to win him to You." When he reached that decision, the Lord released the joys of heaven in his soul, and he was filled with love and peace. He became a more effective preacher for the Lord, and during the next few years he led hundreds to Christ.
By Friday night of that week, nearly all of the 200 who had participated in the prayer session had received a special blessing from the Lord&emdash;had been renewed and revived. We were scheduled to meet for the last time Saturday morning, and I had been asked to lead the service. I began to read the 32nd Psalm, and when I had read two verses, everyone stood and began to praise God in unison. It seemed the whole room was filled with the glory of the Lord, and love and joy was in every heart.
I saw missionaries and Chinese Christians embrace each other as God removed pride, envy, jealousy and criticism from all of us and molded us together in Christian love. I saw Chinese preachers put their arms around each other and weep and laugh together in the renewed joy of Christian love. After this period of ecstasy and divine joy someone asked that we sing. We sang one song after another for two or three hours. No one wanted to go home because it seemed that heaven had come down, and we wanted to praise God and rejoice.
Finally we adjourned and went to our homes. I spent the rest of the day reading my Bible and praying. Two Chinese preachers and I had agreed to meet together that Saturday night in my office to pray for the complete filling of the Holy Spirit. I had read many books on the work of the Holy Spirit. Some had said a person must completely surrender his life. Others said not to surrender completely because Satan might come in and take charge. All this had confused me, and I was afraid to relax completely and trust the Lord for His full blessing.
That night, as we three knelt in an outward-facing circle, quietly praying, the passage in Luke 11:9-13 suddenly came to mind: "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
I believed the Lord Himself had spoken this passage to me, showing me that as I knelt before Him asking Him for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, I could be sure He would not give me anything but the very best. My fear left. I relaxed and relied on His promises. For the next half hour I was completely enraptured in Him.
Human words and man's mind cannot understand nor explain what I heard and saw. The experience is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. The Lord became more real to me than any human being had ever been. He took complete control of my soul&emdash;removing all hypocrisy, sham, and unrighteousness&emdash;and filled me with His divine love, purity, compassion and power. During those moments, I realized my complete unworthiness and His totally sufficient mercy and grace.
A great feeling of need then came over me, a feeling so great I felt I could not bear it. It seemed as if my heart would burst with love and compassion for others&emdash;my wife, children, coworkers and the unsaved. For the first time I realized the true meaning of Romans 8:26, 27, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
Suddenly it dawned on me what a wonderful privilege it was to be a Christian, one to whom such unbelievable power is committed. Then I grieved because so few of God's children ever experience the full extent of blessings available to them. I knew that to receive that blessing one must dare to believe and accept the promise of the Holy Spirit.
That night my two Chinese friends and I were filled with the Holy Spirit. The next day was Sunday, a new and wonderful day at our missionary station and the church. I have never heard such praying or experienced such joyous fellowship as we had in our Sunday morning worship service. That evening 15 persons met in our home for further prayer. The Holy Spirit filled the entire group. Many of them requested prayer for the work of the churches, the hospital, the schools, and for the lost.
The next day following the Chinese New Year's holidays, the boys and girls began returning to the schools. The Girls' School had 600 students, and about 120 of them were supposed to be Christians; that is, their parents were Christians and had urged their children to be baptized. We discovered most of them had not really had a religious experience.
While these students were returning from their homes, the Holy Spirit began convicting them of sin. They became so deeply convicted that by 4:00 o'clock on Monday afternoon the principal of the Girls' School sent word to the seminary asking the teachers to come and help with the students.
When we arrived at the school, we found the girls in groups of two or three in a room, all in deep conviction of cheating on examinations, stealing peaches from the school orchard, lying to their parents and to others, and stealing pencils, pens, and money.
We talked with them and prayed with them until nearly midnight. We thought they would be ready for school the next day, but the next morning even more were under conviction.
The boys also responded the same way. The principal from the Boys' School called a Chinese pastor and me, saying the Lord had sent a revival and suggesting we take time out to let God continue working in the hearts of the young people. So we decided we would have two services each day. Although the seating capacity for the school chapel was about 1500, the two schools filled it.
Doctors and nurses from the hospital came, too. I read a passage of scripture, preached a brief message on salvation and gave an invitation. Dozens came forward for decisions during each service. They filled the front and the aisles, kneeling, praying, and confessing sin. The conviction was so deep that tears flowed as they prayed. You could count the number who came forward by the tear-stained spots on the wooden floor.
The meeting lasted about 10 days. By that time all 600 girls had made professions of faith. Nine hundred of the 1,000 boys also made professions. Most of the boys who weren't converted left school because they couldn't long endure the warm spiritual atmosphere without receiving Christ.
About the middle of the first week of the meetings, as I was closing a night service, one of the teachers told me a boy under a bench at the back of the chapel was calling for me. I turned the services over to one of the Chinese pastors and went back to the boy. He was very upset. I got down beside him and heard him say, "Mr. Culpepper, you don't know me. I'm a Communist. We have a secret Communist cell here in the school. I've threatened to kill you and all the missionaries, and I've sworn to wipe out Christianity and burn your churches. When I heard about this revival, I thought the missionaries were just hypnotizing the students and that the concept of God was foolishness. I decided to come tonight to expose you. But when I heard you preach and ask those students to go forward and accept Christ, and when I saw them go forward and get down on their knees to pray, I said in my heart there is no God, that you were just hypnotizing them, but that you couldn't hypnotize me. I started to stand up and challenge you, but something struck me and knocked me under this bench. I know it was God. I know that you Christians are right, but I can't believe. I have gone too far. I can't believe!"
We dismissed the students, but several of the teachers stayed and prayed for the boy and pleaded with him to give his heart to God. He kept insisting he had gone too far. The next morning he left school, and one week later we heard he was dead.
The next night Pastor Wang preached and a large number of students were converted. When we stood for the benediction, I felt something brush my back. I looked around. A boy lay on the seat where I had been sitting. I knelt beside him and asked what was the matter. He gritted his teeth and flexed his fists. He said, "Take me home! I am going to die."
I answered, "No! Let's pray."
By that time the crowd had been dismissed, and the teachers gathered around the boy for prayer. He kept saying, "Take me home! I'm going to die."
But we kept praying. After several minutes he suddenly screamed out, "Oh God! If you won't crush me to death, I will confess my sins."
He began to confess. It was the most touching confession I have ever heard. He said, "God, You know that when school let out for the winter holidays, we were all at the bus station waiting for the bus; and I saw some Christian students buying bread. I didn't have any money to buy anything, so I thought to myself that I would like to kill all the Christians, take their money and give it to the poor. I also said I would like to kill all the missionaries and burn the churches and just wipe out Christianity."
Then he screamed even louder, "Oh God! You know I have said that when I have destroyed all the Christians, I would like to climb up to heaven and kill You!"
The confession stunned me. The Communists said they did not believe in God, yet they confessed they hated Him and wanted to destroy Him. After that experience I could better understand the mob that took Jesus, crying, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" The Communist students in our school had been so poisoned by hatred and unbelief they were nearly insane.
When the boy ended his confession, he became completely limp. By holding his arms, we stood him on his feet and walked with him around the room. After a while he returned to normal, and we took him to his room. For several days he seemed dazed, but he finally accepted Christ and was saved. We discovered the Communist cell in the school consisted of eight or ten members, including these two boys. About half of the members were saved during the meeting, and the others left the school. The cell was destroyed.
The school was so greatly blessed that the students and faculty organized into preaching bands and on Saturdays and Sundays traveled through the nearby villages, holding Bible classes and witnessing.
Not only were the schools revived, but the hospital became a revival center, too. The doctors and nurses formed evangelistic teams. They prayed and witnessed with great power to each patient that entered the hospital. They also organized into preaching bands. When they had leisure time, they went to nearby villages to witness.
One Sunday I was preaching in a country church where the preacher's wife told me of a 65-year-old woman who needed to go to the hospital. Both she and her husband were Buddhists. I took her to the hospital in my car, and she remained there for a month. During this time the doctors and nurses won her to the Lord. She couldn't read; but, because she wanted a Bible of her own, the staff gave her one and helped her learn some verses by memory. They marked the verses she had learned and put book marks in her Bible so she could find them. She was changed and happy.
When she recovered from her illness, I returned her to her home. When she got out of the car, she bowed to her family and said, "Look at me; I am a new person. The doctors cured my body and Jesus cured my soul. Now I am saved!"
When her husband learned she had become a Christian, he was greatly displeased. At night she took her Bible, put her finger on the verse she had memorized and repeated it by memory. Then she would kneel and pray. But her husband would push her over or throw a shoe at her and make fun of her. One night he had already gone to bed, and she was kneeling on the edge of the bed reading her Bible. Suddenly he put his feet in her back and kicked her onto the floor.
After that she waited until he had gone to bed, then went into the yard just outside his bedroom window for prayer. One night he woke up and heard her praying for him. It had been three months since she had been saved; he was puzzled about what had happened to his wife. The next morning he went to see the pastor of the church and asked him, "What have you Christians done to my wife? She went to your hospital and came back completely changed. I have lived with her for 35 years, and we fought all the time. I used to curse her and she cursed me back. I used to hit her and she hit me back. Now when I curse her, she just smiles. When I hit her, she just walks away. She does better work than she ever did. Last night I woke up and heard her crying and praying for me. What have you Christians done to her?"
The pastor explained that she had been changed by Jesus Christ and now wanted him to be changed, too, because she loved him. The pastor told the husband about God and about how God had sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins. Because of her Christlike life it wasn't long until the woman's husband was saved. Her son and daughter and her grandchildren also became Christians.
One day I went to her church to preach. As I was talking to the pastor's wife, the old woman walked up to me and said, "Brother Culpepper, now my whole family is saved, and I want something to do in the church."
I wondered what we could ask her to do. Finally I told her, "You pray for us."
She replied, "Why, Brother Culpepper, I pray all the time. I want to do something."
I still didn't know what to tell her, but it wasn't long before the Lord showed her what she could do. When I went back two weeks later, she came in just as I started to deliver the morning message, leading two women by the hand. She marched them down to the front and said, "You sit here and listen to that preacher." She left the church and in a few minutes came back with two more women.
I found out later she had been talking to them, telling what Jesus had done in her life. She continued to witness to the neighbors and bring them to church. The next time I went there to baptize candidates, about a half dozen of them were women she had won to Christ. When I baptized them, she came with them. As they came up out of the water, she put her arms around them and half carried them to the dressing rooms. She was one of God's faithful witnesses.
The week following the great revival in the schools one of the pastors from a little country church came to me. He told me that people had begun coming to his church in large numbers and that all were under deep conviction of sin. I told him I would go to his church that night and help him. When I arrived, it amazed me to find the little church building filled with people. Many were in the yard listening through the windows.
Before this revival the church had been very small with only about 30 members. After I preached, many of them came forward under deep conviction of sin. We continued the meeting for about 10 days. During that time about 100 accepted Christ. We enrolled them in an inquirer's class to teach them the basic doctrines of the Bible. From this group I baptized 89 on one occasion. In another church I baptized 203 at one time. From that time on we had to baptize 20 or 30 every month.
God had worked in amazing ways. The revival spread to all our churches and chapels throughout the county and into adjoining counties. About five centers developed, from which the revival spread through the Shantung Province and then into other provinces. Some of the missionaries and Chinese preachers were called to go into the other places to preach. Revivals began to develop in Honan Province, in Manchuria and then in Anhuei Province. Not only did it go into the other provinces where our missionaries worked, but it also spread throughout the work of missionaries of other denominations. Some of the missionaries from the other groups weren't as well prepared for the revival as we were, and some of them even opposed it. They feared it was only emotionalism, but they could not subdue the force of spiritual power.
A split occurred in one denomination, and several new denominations resulted. One of these was known as the "Jesus Home" group, and the other as the "Spiritual Food" group. Because they lacked spiritual leadership, these two groups went to extremes, overemphasizing certain doctrines such as praying for the sick, speaking in tongues and the community of possessions. The two groups soon splintered into smaller groups, and gradually some of them dissolved.
Reports began coming in from the surrounding areas. One missionary said that on December 2, they had begun a revival in Laiyang City, which lasted for nine days. From the very beginning they felt the presence of the Spirit of God, and the spiritual fervor increased daily. The people experienced deep spiritual hunger.
Several of the missionaries felt they had lost their spiritual power during their years in China. They said that 20 years earlier they had received great blessings from the Lord, but that they had come to realize they had been failing to repent and confess their sins.
On the evening of December 3, they had prayer service in the church. After songs and prayers, a lull, a complete hush, possessed the room. Mr. Li, the evangelist, had been suffering from hoarseness and could hardly speak. After a long period of silence he began to sing, his voice free of all hoarseness. Those present realized this was extraordinary, and one of them cried out in Chinese, "The Holy Spirit has come!" Several of those kneeling in prayer in front of the church saw Mr. Li and a missionary hurled to the floor. They couldn't get up for two hours. The missionary later reported it seemed he was so full of the Holy Spirit that he would burst. It seemed as though the fire of the Holy Spirit was burning everything away except the purest and holiest of impulses.
That night a number of the people accepted Christ. They bowed before the Lord and praised Him.
Missionaries said revival at Laiyang was one of the most glorious experiences they had ever known. Many became convicted of sins and more than 20 were people born again. At times there was no preaching. They spent the entire period dealing with those who were pleading to God for mercy. The preachers couldn't finish their sermons before people would begin crying out in agony because of their sins.
Another report came from Laichow, where an all day revival was planned. It took longer for the true spiritual atmosphere to develop in Laichow; but as the days progressed, the Holy Spirit was given more freedom and many of the people were born again. One, Mrs. Chang Ai Chen, was filled with the Holy Spirit; and many others sought a deeper relationship with God. They came to realize that the greatest need in all the churches was for full surrender and consecration of both missionaries and Chinese to Christ.
A missionary wrote, "We have experienced a revival during the past week that I would never have believed possible. I heard confessions of sin until my ears and heart hurt as I thought of them. My own heart was deeply convicted, and I was brought so low that I would have despaired if I hadn't had the blessed hope in Christ."
One Sunday of the revival the missionary observed many wonderful experiences as they took place. It suddenly occurred to him that these missionaries and Chinese Christians were being tempted in many of the ways Christ had been tempted, yet He remained without sin. He began to realize his own helplessness, and it became so powerful in his life he knew he had to make a full commitment to the Lord. He said many others received the same blessing in varying degrees, including nurses, missionaries, servants, evangelists, and Chinese Christians, young and old.
One missionary in her testimony said, "No missionary ever went to a foreign land with a more shallow experience with Christ than mine. I realized I wasn't prepared to come, yet I didn't know how to change. People mistakenly think one has reached the depth of consecration and the height of devotion when he or she goes to a heathen land. But after being in China a short time, I realized I had run into a stone wall and had no power to scale it. I didn't even know how to claim God's power. I was happy with my surroundings and had great joy in my home and with my children. But the unrest and need in my life increased."
Although I didn't know the great spiritual pilgrimage the missionary wife was facing, I did learn that in 1927 she read a book that made her realize her need for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and that she had started praying for it. She said that in many ways she was greatly blessed that year. Her prayer life changed, and the Bible became like a new book to her.
When her family returned from furlough in 1930, she realized she still wasn't a person the Lord could use fully and began praying for specific needs in her life. She told us later, "God heard my prayer and answered it far differently than I expected He would."
The great revival had started in her province, actually in her own station. She knew fellow Christians received what she longed for, so she prayed more fervently. She said she had been sincerely willing to follow the Lord, and then suddenly He asked her to travel a very difficult road. He showed her many things in her life, from childhood to the present, that she must correct; she was stunned.
At first she didn't respond, and this added to her misery.
Finally she heard the probing question in her conscience, "Aren't you willing to walk for a while a road you thoroughly deserve, when I walked to Calvary for you and your sins?"
Realizing she hadn't deceived anyone except herself, she took off the character mask she had been wearing. She confessed what God asked her to confess. When it was done, a great peace and joy came into her life.
There was still a time of testing before the Lord gave her the fullness of His presence. Later she said, "I entered a depression that completely engulfed me; even my desire to pray suddenly disappeared. A spirit of rebellion entered my heart; I know now it was Satan making a last, great effort to restrain me from Christ."
During the period of a few hours her husband received the fullness of the Holy Spirit; and although she had prayed and longed for her husband to have it, she couldn't rejoice with him. But immediately he was concerned for her. That night a small group met to pray in their home. As she began to pray, every possible question bombarded her mind. Then she said, "Lord, I just want to surrender it all to You. You only can answer.
Suddenly the great event for which she had waited so long took place, and she was filled with joy she had not realized could be so wonderful, a joy of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
She later said, "The world was new to me, and never had God's Word been as precious as it has been since that moment. I could never praise Him enough for His loving goodness to me."
Miss Hou was a powerful Bible teacher who worked in a large area in Manchuria. In 1931 she came to Pingtu. She became ill because of the strain of her work and nearly died. Prayer saved her.
As she was recovering in the hospital, she heard of the revival and that one of the missionaries had received the fullness of the Spirit. She began searching the Scriptures. She read Acts, Colossians, and Ephesians. Then she decided she would memorize the whole book of Ephesians. She was convinced that there was a fullness of the Spirit which she had not experienced and decided she would pray for it. Several of the expressions listed in the Bible made her hungry to have this fullness of the Spirit promised in the book of Acts. One day, as she was leading a nurse to Christ, she was suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit. That night she was so happy she couldn't sleep but could only lie in bed singing praises to the Lord.
The revival had a marked influence on the various Chinese pastors who labored so faithfully in Shantung. Pastor Kuan, one of the leading ministers working with our mission, was a man of great ability who could have been successful in many different fields. During the summer of 1931 he became eager for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He had always been a deeply spiritual man and had taken every spiritual step he knew to take.
At first he feared pentecostalism; but as he studied the Word of God, he became convinced that the promise in Acts 2:38 was for him. The more he studied and prayed, the more eager he became. He went through a period of doubt; but the promise in Galatians 3:14 came to him, and he became so spiritually hungry he prayed throughout the night. He then became afraid of psychological influence and mesmerism, but he continued his spiritual search. One day, while he knelt in church, the Holy Spirit came to him in such power that he knew the promise of "living water" had been fulfilled for him.
Full of joy, he praised the Lord for several days. He had been a good pastor before, but now he became a power in prayer and soul winning. He had the courage to enter the political circles in all walks of life for direct avenues in soul winning. His church received converts daily. He became a modern Stephen, "full of faith in the Holy Spirit."
In the book of Acts each report of the coming of the Holy Spirit is followed by an account of some dynamic result. This pattern also appears in the reports that came out of Shantung Province. When the Spirit came, things happened&emdash;things that can be classified as permanent results of the revival.
The first result was in the development of living witnesses for the Master. Very few churches had been witnessing with effect. The outstanding result of the Shantung Revival was that witnessing became spontaneous. Saved people went everywhere telling everyone what Jesus had done for them.
The second result was persecution. For example, when young Chang was saved, his mother persecuted him. At meal times she told him to go into the yard and ask his Jesus for food. While Chang was still a high school student, he was filled with the Spirit. He and one of his teachers went out to one of the villages and held meetings, leading many people to Christ.
One day a missionary heard him in the church praying for his family, especially his father and mother, the most difficult ones to reach. They, too, had found him in the church praying and were too disgusted even to scold him. His father was an opium addict, and his mother had exhausted herself during 25 years of trying to manage the father. She believed she had to commit sin&emdash;losing her temper&emdash;to keep her husband in order. The family was always in need. All the money was spent on opium. His sister was unhappy in her marriage to a widower who gambled and drank. The family seemed hopeless, but young Chang never gave up.
His persistence and faithfulness resulted in the whole family&emdash;father, mother, sisters, brother, wife and brother-in-law being saved. The mother, in tears, said the worst thing a person could do would be to separate parents and child. But she confessed that was what she had been trying to do&emdash;separate the children of the Heavenly Father from Him.
Chang later entered the Seminary in Hwanghsien, and his parents became active members in the church and faithful witnesses for Jesus.
Key evangelistic teams continued meetings in the cities and across the provinces. Many were saved; others were eager to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit. One team initiated a 43-day tour, holding meetings in churches, homes, schools or any place where a group would gather. They worked first with the Christians; and after they had found a right relationship with the Lord and had asked for and received the infilling of the Holy Spirit, they went to tell their neighbors of Christ.
Said one of the team members, "It's easy to win the lost when Christ's Spirit has free, clean channels through which to work."
One man hated his own brother. They had not spoken in years. He felt, of course, that he had been wronged. When he repented, he went to his brother begging forgiveness. The brother came with him to church, and he and his household accepted Christ. It brought great rejoicing to the little church.
A young girl went to a missionary with some money she had stolen from her sister-in-law. Afraid to return it, she asked the missionary to give it to the poor or help some other needy people. The missionary told her to take it to her sister-in-law, but the young girl didn't have the courage. So the missionary went with her.
Local Christians had been praying for the sister-in-law and her husband, and this visit provided a way to win them to Christ. When they had cleared up their differences, the Lord straightened out their lives.
During this tour, two young men teachers pleaded with team members to come to their schools for meetings. Mr. Chen had come from a Christian family and in recent months had experienced a closer relationship to the Lord. Mr. Miao was a recent convert from a non-Christian family. Both wanted these 50 pupils, nearly all from non-Christian homes, to be saved. The Spirit worked mightily in these meetings, and every one of the pupils was saved. Both of the young men were filled with a consuming desire to win others. They went from house to house, some in the towns surrounding the city, pleading with parents and others to come to Jesus for salvation. Many responded, but some refused to have anything to do with the Lord. However, those who turned to Christ took down the "house gods" they had worshipped for ages and burned them. Then they were free, and their hearts were filled with joy and praise.
In one city there was no room for the team members in the Christian homes because they were entertaining several out-of-town guests who had come for the meetings. A friendly old couple gave them a room in their home. They knew something of Christianity. The husband had read a Gospel, but he continued his idol worship.
But at one of the meetings during the time the team members were in their home, the husband was converted.
One day he said, "This will never do! We must go the same road." He rushed home to tell his wife that he had been saved and that she, too, must come to know the Lord. About that time a team member came into the room. The husband turned to him and said, "Tell her how to be saved. Tell her how Jesus saves. My wife and I must go the same road." It wasn't long before she, too, was born into the heavenly family.
He later said, "I am a new person. Old things are passed away. No more smoking, no more wine-drinking, no more vile words from these lips. We both belong to Jesus. This home is His. No more paper and incense burned here, no more idol worship here. Oh, why have we found the true way so late in life? But I do thank Him that we have found it!"
During the following two years the Chinese Christians were inwardly compelled to reach the unconverted with the message of eternal life. In one country village a little girl who had been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit saw a vision of Jesus on the cross. She became concerned for her parents and immediate family who were nominal, but not born-again, Christians.
The missionary reminded her of the promise of Acts 16:31, and she accepted the promise of the Lord in simple faith. Within a few days her parents and other family members also became true Christians.
The revival gripped all three Baptist hospitals. Several nurses in the women's hospital were saved and filled with the Spirit. Even the scrubwomen went about their work beaming and singing praises to the Lord. The sick were saved daily. On one visit to the hospital I became convinced God was responsible for the atmosphere of radiance there.
In one school, two daughters of a Biblewoman were filled with the Spirit. They were eager to witness to their own families. One weekend, with some classmates, they walked 30 Li (10 miles) to their home village. On Sunday they gave testimonies in the church, and those who heard began to weep. Before long they were confessing their sins and searching for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. After receiving it, they, in turn, began telling the story; and revival spread like fire throughout all the countryside.
In a number of cases the servants began witnessing. In one mission station two of the missionaries had special services for the servants. After several were filled with the Spirit, one remarked, "We never thought the fullness of the Spirit was for us! We thought it was only for teachers and preachers."
They, too, began witnessing; and one even sent for his family to come a long distance from a western province in order that they might hear the Gospel story.
In one school an old woman cook was filled with the Spirit and spent many days in praise and prayer, but she never failed to get the meals on time. Although she was toothless and unpleasant to the eye, the joy of the Lord that could be seen in her eyes inspired others to deeper commitment to Christ. On Saturdays she always went out to the villages with the younger girls, witnessing.
In one school girls whose only heritage was the depravity of generations of idolatrous ancestry, were given a new life and a deep experience in Christ. During the year the girls organized an evangelistic band, and on Sunday afternoons they went out witnessing in the nearby villages. One spring, after the hot weather began, a group walked five miles. The road was dusty and the day uncomfortably hot, but this little group of school girls sang praises as they walked and spent their rest time praying by the roadside for those to whom they had witnessed. When they returned at twilight with shining eyes and voices still joyous with praise, it was learned that during the whole, long, hot afternoon the girls had not taken a single drink of water.
From a girls' school in Pingtu a report read, "No longer a school, but a powerhouse preparing bands of soul winners. No longer hiring teachers, but men and women watching prayerfully the spiritual growth of each student. No longer simply a mission school, but everything is for God's glory!"
That same note of victory appeared in reports from throughout the province. Groups of girls with their teachers went out on Saturdays and Sundays, witnessing everywhere. Teachers preached in the street and local halls when they had no classes. Reports were given at the daily evening prayer meetings.
A 12-hour watchtower prayer service was maintained enthusiastically in an upstairs room until school closed. The girls contributed liberally of their limited funds to the work of the young people's organizations. Fifteen were baptized that spring. During the summer the graduates and other students taught Vacation Bible Schools, witnessed to the women in the villages, and led prayer meetings. Many of the young people returned to their small hamlets throughout the province and began local prayer meetings. As a result, many of the weak, fledgling churches were revived.
The revival continued in and around Pingtu. The hearts of the people were full of praise and thanksgiving. One of the outstanding features of the revival is personal testimony. People went everywhere witnessing and telling everyone they met the wonderful things the Lord had done for them. Christians realized their relatives and friends were lost, and they sought to win them to Christ.
Mr. Li, after having been revived and healed, became a living epistle of what God can do in a pagan's life. He went to every home in his town with the story of his conversion, praying continually for Chinese families.
In some communities a few Christians met daily for prayer and Bible study. They prayed for their unsaved friends, pleading that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin. Then they divided into teams and went out with the message that Jesus came to save sinners.
These humble Chinese Christians, whose lips were touched with the message of Christ, went about their work seeking to be good examples of what the Spirit of God had done in their lives. They never missed an opportunity to speak to a lost person about his eternal soul. Little children, old men and women, people of all ages whose lives had been changed, thus witnessed.
One day a great realization came to me. Our Lord did not limit His work to the pastor or the Sunday School teacher or the professional church worker. All the church, every born again believer, was to be a witness. When the Chinese Christians actually experienced the Holy Spirit, they witnessed with great vigor! I saw these simple, uneducated Christians do things for the Lord that many missionaries were unable to do. Doubts came into my mind about the effectiveness of our training program. Over and over I asked myself if it were not a subtle evasion of the Holy Spirit?
Another outstanding result of the revival was an interest in Bible study. The mission could not keep enough Bibles in stock. Every Christian wanted the Word of God. They studied it and carried it with them to church. Bible classes, in addition to the regular Sunday School program, were organized, and nearly all the Christians participated.
Some churches held Bible classes every night, and others began short-term schools for laymen who wanted a more systematic study of the Bible. Many students from these short term schools went on to the seminary.
I had taught in the seminary for several years and had become quite concerned about the enrollment, which had dropped to four students before the revival. The first term after the revival began, enrollment increased to 25: the second year, to 45, then to 65 and 80. More than 100 were enrolled by the fifth year, and within five or six years it had increased to more than 150.
In addition to the seminary, we had two Bible schools. Many of the people who could not attend regular daily Bible school attended at night. Those who studied during the day attended Bible study in the mornings and witnessed all afternoon. Large numbers of the lost people in the area were won to Christ as a result of these classes.
One day a clerk of the local store brought some cloth for one of the pupils. The student invited him to the class, and the clerk accepted Christ that day. The class was in such great harmony that when an unsaved person came into the class to listen, an understanding prayer went up from each heart.
On another day a piano tuner came from one of the great port cities to repair the mission instruments. One of the young men of the class, a recent convert himself, gave the tuner a Bible and led him into the class. Before the repair work on the instruments was finished, the man was saved and filled with the Spirit.
One of the most amazing results of the revival was that it did what the word "revival" implies. It revived spiritually-dead churches. Many of the churches in China had stopped holding worship services, and others met only when the missionaries had time to visit them. Following the revival they began meeting regularly, and most of them even had prayer meetings during the week. When no preacher was available, laymen led the services.
Church attendance increased many times within a few months. Those who attended were serious workers for Christ. Many churches began disciplining their members. After an attempt had been made to interest those who never attended, the church withdrew fellowship from them.
In a mountainous section of the province, difficult to reach and served only by Chinese evangelists, a great revival took place in one of the churches. Ten years earlier there had been no welcome when the missionaries visited the area. With great disappointment they had discovered the church doors closed, and they could not receive permission to hold a meeting. However, following the revival men and women crowded into the church to welcome the missionaries.
Guided by the Spirit of the Lord, men and women from the church went into the districts surrounding the area telling the Good News. After that, there was no need for foreign supervision or even encouragement from the city church. They witnessed faithfully and carried their own responsibility.
At Lungp'ing there was another spiritually-decadent church which had considered closing. Its membership had dwindled to two old men, but they remained faithful, meeting Sunday after Sunday for Bible reading and prayer. When the revival came this dead church received new life in Christ.
The spirit of prayer was another outstanding result of the revival. People loved to pray. Many times prayer meetings lasted two or three hours. The prayers were not long and monotonous but fervent, sometimes tearful, always as if those praying were simply talking to the Father with the confidence that He was listening. It was beautiful to hear them pray for each other. Many parents came to know the Lord through the prayers of their children, and teachers were saved because their students prayed for them.
There was no cheap advertising of prayer for the sick; but in simple, childlike faith these people prayed for the sick, and many were healed.
During those days we missionaries observed many supernatural things, but the change in the lives of sinful men remained for us the greatest miracle of all.
Although we didn't emphasize healing as a result of prayer, nevertheless healing, in response to prayer, did take place during the Shantung Revival.
In these districts, just as it had been in the New Testament after the disciples went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord confirmed their message with signs following. One report read:
"I saw a man who had crawled around like a worm because his legs had grown together. God responded immediately to the prayer of faith. As these simple believers waited upon Him, the flesh was separated, the man rose and walked, and he is now preaching the Gospel."
In another town an old man was dying of tuberculosis. The coffin and the grave clothes were all prepared, and the people were waiting for his death. Then the evangelist came and prayed for him. Suddenly he jumped and shouted, "I am well!"
He later sold his coffin, and the proceeds were contributed toward the erection of a chapel. Several other Christians also contributed, and the church members themselves built a building, something almost unheard of among the Chinese people.
However, throughout the district, healing was not stressed. The emphasis was on repentance and confession of sin. The proof of the reality of the revival was seen in transformed lives, as persons were being saved continually through the spontaneous testimony of those who received salvation from Christ's atoning death on the cross.
As the revival spread into the country districts, it reminded me of the work in Samaria in apostolic days. Through the key of prayer of faith for sickness, doors were opened for the Gospel.
For example, a young college student had been treated unsuccessfully in a first-class university hospital and sent home, expecting to live only a short time. Confession of sin and the prayer of faith not only cured him but proved to be the witness needed to open the whole district for Christian work.
In another village a woman had been laid out in her burial clothes, and the members of her family stood by mourning. A little blue bag, containing two kinds of flowers, hair and thorns, had been put up her sleeves. (In China this is done when all hope is gone. The bag supposedly provided protection for the dying person as she passed the "dogs of hades." The flower was to be eaten by the dogs, and the thorns were meant to stick them.)
Just as the woman's eyes closed, a woman came in who had been saved for only a few days. She said, "Oh, you must pray to the living God. He hears prayers!"
She walked over to the bed and began to pray for the woman. As she prayed, the dying woman opened her eyes and became better immediately. The believing woman witnessed to the power of the Gospel, then sent for an old man experienced in prayer. The family themselves sent for the missionary. The whole family and a large number of other people were saved. About 20 in the village were filled with the Holy Spirit.
In another village, God's Spirit seemed to fall upon the people like fire. They knelt before the Lord asking for forgiveness and salvation.
A Christian son of a Pingtu woman who was healed was a clerk in the store in Tsingtau. He went home to see his mother and to rejoice with her. Upon meeting her, seeing a renewed church, and realizing the salvation of many of his people, he rededicated his life to the Lord.
When he returned to the big port city, he persuaded his employer to give him time to go to witness for the Lord. The first night he unknowingly went to a prayer meeting where someone was telling about the healing of his mother. The leader was not confident that this and other reports of healing were true. The young man quickly stood to testify to the healing power of the Lord and to preach to those who had come. He continued to witness for Christ with the enthusiasm that so many Christians now possessed.
The husband of a Chinese woman who had been healed after eighteen years of helplessness was teaching in Chefoo. His family telegraphed him, and he immediately returned to his home to see his wife. He, too, rededicated his life and began preaching. Many of the villagers were saved as a result of his ministry.
Another miracle occurred in connection with this healing. A doctor in Pingtu, a graduate of a renowned missionary hospital, commented that should two of his paralytic patients be healed, he would believe. He had heard the Gospel but had joined an anti-Christian political party and taken a public oath never to have anything to do with "the foreign religion." Miraculously two of his patients were healed, one after eighteen years and the other after twenty-eight years of being paralytic. The doctor, trembling with fear and conviction, repented and accepted Christ. Immediately he began doing personal work with the members of his old political party.
Another result of the revival was the continual singing of the people. They put songs and other scriptures to music. Old people who could not read or write memorized the songs and sang with their eyes closed, their bodies swaying to the rhythm of the melody and tears of joy running down their cheeks. God had taken away their sorrow and given them a new song. I saw that many old women who could not carry a tune were filled with the Spirit, singing a melody that seemed to come from an angel of heaven.
One of the greatest personal blessings which I received from the revival was the wonderful spirit in the worship services. Entire congregations bowed in silent meditation for several minutes, and the atmosphere became charged with spiritual power. Suddenly someone would begin to pray and praise God. As long as an hour would pass before the speaker could speak. Conviction became so evident that the preacher would simply give an opportunity for anyone who wished to accept Christ to come forward, and there was always some response, often large groups. I knew it was the natural result of a spirit of worship and adoration which followed revival.
The ordinances also became more meaningful. One missionary commented, "I was never so blessed in my life as when taking the Lord's Supper with Spirit-filled Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ."
It was not unusual to see people in tears during the observance. As one young widow told a missionary, "My eyes were streaming tears all the time. It wasn't that I was sad or glad; it was simply that I was broken before the Lord."
Baptism took on new meaning. Unbelievers, witnessing the baptisms, often came under deep conviction. Invitations were frequently given and conversions resulted. I realized I had never fully understood the meaning of worship until I saw the Spirit of God renewing the hearts of His people.
Another result was the change in the lives of Christians. Husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters repaired relationships with God and each other. The change was so pronounced that even the unsaved people knew something unusual was taking place.
During the winter a young doctor was converted. He became a devoted Christian, but his effectiveness was greatly hindered by his wife who had become violently anti-Christian. Several times she said she would commit suicide if he went to church. When the evangelist visited in the doctor's home, the wife cursed him.
At the close of one of the special meetings the doctor rose and said God's Spirit had told him to go home and confess a sin to his wife that he had never revealed to her. He asked us to pray for him. Everyone wondered what would take place when he confronted his wife, but the next night, to our great delight, she came to the service with him. At the close of the service the doctor rose again to testify. He told how he had confessed to his wife the night before. His confession, revealing he had been the sinner causing her to act against God, had eliminated her opposition. He concluded his story by telling of his great desire to see his wife saved so they could be of one mind and heart in Christ. Tears streamed down his cheeks, and with his arms uplifted in supplication to her, he pleaded with her to come from the balcony to the front of the church and kneel with him in prayer.
To everyone's great joy she came to the front and knelt with her husband as all the others prayed for her salvation. When she stood to her feet, we knew she was a changed woman.
The last permanent result of the revival which I wish to mention was the development of national leaders. Prior to the time of the revival we had difficulty finding strong and reliable leaders for our churches. Many of them would work for awhile and then find more attractive employment in the business world. But during the first year of the revival we saw a great number called into the ministry. They had experienced a new and vital relationship with the Lord. And it continued through the ensuing years.
Many of them became strong pastors and evangelists. Some, working without any financial assistance, traveled far into the mountains to tell their new story to everyone they could find.
One of them was Mr. Chiang Ki Yao, a nominal Christian before the revival but a living witness following his new experience with the Lord.
This Mr. Chiang, a graduate of the Pingtu Mission School, traveled throughout the province for several years preaching for evangelistic meetings in the churches. He later returned to his alma mater to teach.
After he was converted, he stated he had not been happy as an evangelist because his conscience disturbed him for receiving a salary for preaching the Word of God when he really did not believe it. It had been a great relief for him to confine himself to school teaching, for he could at least teach secular subjects with a clear conscience. He later left Pingtu and taught for some time in Laichow, then in Harbin and ultimately in Dairen.
After remaining in Dairen for several months because of illness, he was forced to return home. Shortly following his return he attended a revival in one of the churches. Someone asked him the pointed question, "Are you born again?"
He frankly replied he was not and disguised his own guilt feelings by engaging in lively debate with his friends from the school.
Several weeks later another speaker delivered a series of messages on the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Mr. Chiang and his friends attended the meetings but amused themselves by making fun of the preacher and his message, and even imitated some of the outward manifestations of the Spirit's working among the audience.
Mr. Li, one of Chiang's friends, declared it was all mesmerism and openly certified himself as an authority on the subject. However, one day he came out of the chapel acting a little strange. Mr. Chiang thought he was mimicking again.
"No, I've found the real thing this time," Mr. Li said.
As Mr. Chiang watched him closely during the next several days, he had to admit that no mesmerism could account for such a vital change. He felt rather lonely during the remainder of the meeting, for he could make no sport with his friend, who spent his leisure moments in Bible reading and prayer. But he was not greatly impressed with the preaching and scarcely listened.
Then one day he was told that many people in the city, including his daughter, were praying earnestly for his salvation. It began to concern him and he listened more attentively. Finally, at the closing meeting of the series, he was converted and immediately filled with the Spirit.
From that time the Word of God became a fire in his bones. It was of such absorbing interest to him that he would read whole books of the Bible at one sitting, and within a few days he had read the Bible completely through. He developed a great compassion for the lost and was particularly concerned for those whom he had formerly caused to disbelieve God.
"I am a murderer," he said. "The bandits here cause the death of only a few people, but I am the cause of the spiritual death of many. Now I am going to visit all the places where I have been before, confess my former shortcomings, and present the Gospel to those people. This is my first task. I am a debtor to them, and I must pay the debt." And wherever he went, the power of God went before him, and many of his former friends came to know Christ through his testimony.
Mr. Chiang remained faithful to his covenant with the Lord. He soon became an able Bible teacher. After several years he was invited to join the staff of the seminary and became one of the outstanding Baptist leaders in all of North China. Even after the Communists took over the province, it was reported he continued to be faithful to the Lord.
Another outstanding leader was Pastor Peter Wang, whom I mentioned before as an interpreter for several of our missionaries. He had a good position in Shanghai. When the revival began, he returned to Hwanghsien, and the Lord began to deal powerfully with him concerning his sins. Shortly thereafter he was filled with the Holy Spirit and became an effective evangelist.
He traveled all over North China preaching evangelistic services, but he would not take a salary and lived on what the churches gave him in the meetings. He preached with power, and hundreds were saved under his ministry. He went everywhere, many times walking long distances to an out-of-the-way, small country church where he would have to share the poorest of food with the impoverished Christians. But he never complained and was always happy.
Another outstanding leader who came out of the Shantung Revival was Mr. Kiang Fang Nan, a wealthy resident of Hwangsien, who had been a Christian for many years. After he became a Christian, he had many temptations. It was apparent that Satan wanted Mr. Kiang to depend on his own understanding, position and wealth. By nature he liked his good position in the world, and Satan succeeded in getting him an official position in the city. There he became financially involved with many people, so seriously involved that at one time he had to flee the city. He realized he had not been right in his worldly affairs and tried to correct his error. It was at this juncture in his life that the revival began. Mr. Kiang was among those most affected.
For a week God's Spirit worked with him, becoming increasingly powerful until on Monday of the second week he willingly submitted to the Lord. He later testified he wept more tears on that one day than he had in all his life. For one entire day he just wept and confessed his sins before the Lord. That afternoon he went to the meeting and made his confession before the entire group, asking the forgiveness of the church and of those whom he believed he had wronged. He was completely purged of guilt, and peace and joy came into his heart.
That night he attended prayer meeting and asked the Lord to prepare him for the fullness of the Spirit. Twenty others joined him and prayed all night.
Since I had to take the missionary children to the China Inland School the next day, I went to bed early. About 5:00 a.m. I was awakened suddenly by the feeling that the presence of the Holy Spirit covered my home like an umbrella. I got up and dressed immediately. I went downstairs knowing that the Holy Spirit was leading me. Instead of going to my office, I went to the front door and there stood two men. One of them was Mr. Kiang; the other was Dr. Chu of the hospital. I invited them in. They said the Lord had sent them there to pray with me for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I told them to come into my office for prayer. We had prayed for about an hour when I had to go to prepare to take the children to school. A few minutes later I heard a noise that shook the entire house. I ran back to my office. Mr. Kiang, who was a big man, had been knocked to the floor and was lying there just praising God. Dr. Chu knelt by the table, with the radiance of an angel on his face, and prayed quietly.
From that time on, Mr. Kiang was a different man. He became humble and loving. The Lord later called him to preach. Although he never received a salary, he went all over North China and Manchuria preaching to the needy people. He suffered many hardships, but he remained faithful. Many people were won to the Lord by him during his fifteen years of faithful preaching.
A final impression the Shantung Revival wrote upon my soul lingers with me even today. Throughout the breadth and depth of Shantung Province, I visited the hamlets and farms. Everywhere I went, I discovered signs of revival. The churches were crowded as never before. Attendance multiplied. Church auditoriums had to be enlarged to accommodate the crowds, sometimes reaching 1,000.
I sensed an increased spiritual vitality among the Christians. They testified to the cleansing from sin. Habits and customs which once dominated their whole lives were given up, and they developed strong Christian character.
I discovered the danger and deceit which had been brought into the church by many of the members who had never been saved. Pastors, deacons and others learned the difference between profession and possession. What a sight it was to see them searching for the genuine experience of regeneration.
Everywhere I went, the Christians had a zeal to search out the lost and win them to Christ. The number of believing church members soon multiplied, and many of them became concerned that others know new-found joy and peace.
In years past it was difficult to get the interest and attention of the lost people. Now, under the strong influence of the Spirit of God that prevailed throughout North China, the unbelievers, at their own initiative, became inquirers concerning the way of salvation.
Throughout the province those who had held grudges against or had been jealous and envious of their friends were restored to fellowship. Under the influence of the revival, the Christians confessed their faults openly and prayed for one another. Personal and racial problems between the missionaries and Chinese Christians dissolved.
There was a thorough realization of the heinousness of sin. Countless thousands of people gave up their idols. Even missionaries confessed lies and petty thefts and other sins which had shadowed their lives and dogged their tracks for years.
It was also quite apparent that the revival reached into the Chinese Christians' pocketbooks. There was a deep joy and satisfaction in giving. It was no longer difficult to get sufficient funds for the work. Many churches became self-supporting.
In the mid-thirties Dr. M. E. Dodd, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention, toured the Orient.
He gave this evaluation of the Shantung Revival: "The grand climax of our work in China came in Chengchow, Honan Province, where a missionary-evangelist from Shantung was conducting special meetings. They were having a great revival; it was the Shantung Revival spreading into Honan Province. We had already seen something of the Shantung Revival in Tsinan, Pingtu, Hwan-hsien and Chefoo.
"This so-called Shantung Revival is a spiritual movement of tremendous force which has been going on in Northeast China for more than three years. It corresponds quite markedly to the Welsh Revival of the past few decades and to other historic revivals of both Biblical and post-Biblical times.
"I had heard something of this Shantung Revival before leaving America. I had facetiously said to my church, which so generously voted me a six-month's leave of absence, that if I found the Shantung Revival to be anything like the reports I had heard of it, I might never come back. When I got there and observed and also experienced some of its power, I felt like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration . . . 'Lord, it is good to be here, let us build a tabernacle and abide.' But I also felt the more practical and useful thing would be to bring back with me to America as much of the revival spirit as I could.
"When I had finished preaching in a service in Kaifung, an old woman threw a piece of money on the platform. I asked my interpreter what that was for. He said she had probably come expecting a collection to be taken, and since there was none, she wanted to give her money anyway. She kept calling to us to take it. My interpreter suggested that it was intended for me. So I asked him to come with me to see what she had to say. She requested that this money, a 100-cash piece, be put on her 'sin account.' Sin account, what was that? She had taken a vase from a shop without paying for it, and in the revival she had become so convicted of her sin that she wanted to make amends. She had returned to the shop to repay four times the worth of the vase, but the shop was closed and the man gone. She could not find him or any of his people, so she wanted to put this money into the church treasury because she was unable to return it to the rightful owner.
"I asked if this was usual, and I was assured that it happened in nearly every service. The pastor told me that he is returning money to the Southern Seminary for funds which he secured from Student Aid by falsifying his financial needs.
"Preachers, deacons, church members are confessing to the church that they had claimed to be tithers, but in reality had robbed God. Some have now paid as much as $600 in owed tithe. These things I saw and heard, and I was told much more by honest, sincere, trustworthy Christian men and women.
"Excesses? Extravagances? Yes, whenever work of grace is going on, Satan is ever present among the sons of God. He seeks to destroy this work first by ridicule and second by duplicating it.
"If Satan cannot caricature the work of God out of countenance, he will duplicate it as nearly as possible for purposes of deception.
"Observing how the work of Christ improves personal and social life, increases culture and multiplies physical comforts, Satan needs to secure the same results up to the point of accepting regeneration or salvation, but not that.
"In other words, Christ and Satan work in exactly the opposite directions. Christ creates a changed life first and then works toward human betterment in all things. Satan begins with human betterment and seeks as much physical comfort and mental achievement in social culture as possible, provided there will be no regeneration, no salvation of the soul."
Dr. Dodd was a great blessing to us all. And we knew that when he returned to our Southern Baptist people in America, he would give a true account of what had actually happened in Shantung.
When reports of the Shantung Revival reached other parts of China, the Orient and the United States, some people began questioning the orthodoxy of our mission. In 1935, Dr. C. E. Maddry, newly-elected secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, was asked to investigate the practices of the North China Mission.
Dr. Maddry arrived in Chefoo in time for the annual conference. After several meetings he said to us, "Reports have come to America that the North China Mission has gone to extremes in this revival. My Board has asked me to investigate. What do you have to say for yourselves?"
There was a deathlike hush which fell over the group. Then Dr. W. B. Glass, esteemed professor of our North China Seminary, stood and said very gravely, "Dr. Maddry, I will tell you what I have seen. I know that God has worked in our mission in these past five years."
Then he told him that thousands had been baptized each year. He cited the growth of the seminary from an enrollment of four to more than one hundred and how the churches had nearly doubled in attendance and membership, many becoming self-supporting. He mentioned prayer meetings and Bible study that had become meaningful, homes that had become truly Christian, and many other changes brought about by the revival.
Others testified. We heard Miss Pearl Caldwell, Miss Doris Knight, Misses Jane and Florence Lide, Dr. Frank Connely, Dr. John Abernathy, Mr. J. W. Moore, Miss Martha Franks, Miss Bertha Smith, Miss Bonnie Ray, Dr. Frank Lide, Dr. N. A. Byran. Then I tried to tell him what I had seen. I hid nothing. I told him that the devil had sought to dominate all China, but we had seen him overcome by the power of the Spirit.
Our meeting lasted nearly all afternoon, and before it was over, Dr. Maddry was in tears. He stood and said, "Brethren and Sisters, I'm going back home and tell my Board that God has been walking in the midst of the North China Mission, and we had better go slow in criticizing them!"
Another Southern Baptist leader later re-echoed Dr. Maddry's evaluation when he said, "I wish that every church in any way connected with the Southern Baptist work could have just such a revival as came to the North China Mission!"
That is also my prayer for America. In the midst of riots, protests, and all the dissatisfaction produced by our complex society, my heart often returns to Shantung. My soul is renewed as I recapture the aura of spiritual ecstasy which epitomized that era in my life. Then the reflective glow fades away, and I find myself in the midst of a land, my land, which needs a second touch for its impotent churches hobbled with their lack of spiritual power.
Unless a great spiritual awakening overtakes our churches, there is little hope for our nation. Such a renewal need not take the exact form of the Shantung Revival. But all the revivals recorded in Holy Writ followed a general pattern. First there was a degeneration of spiritual power among God's people.
Then came the realization of desperate need. Deep conviction of sin and agonizing prayer always followed. A final action required turning away from all wickedness and worldliness.
That's the way it happened in Shantung when God kept His covenant with His people. He is waiting for us to let Him do it again in America.
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