The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8 NIV)
I happened to catch a bit of Janet Parshall’s program on Kinship Christian Radio recently as she was interviewing Linda Evans Shepherd.
Shepherd told of a pastor named Murray who changed the known world back in the 1800’s by sending children out to be missionaries with one simple prayer:
“More Holy Spirit.”
Andrew Murray was the son of Andrew Murray, Sr., a Scottish pastor stationed in South Africa. He was born in South Africa, but educated back in Scotland.
After seminary, he returned to a South Africa that had experienced 150 years of spiritual drought.
Colonists in the area where originally Dutch but had long given up their native language in favor of Afrikaans, a kind of slang Dutch that incorporated words from many other languages and which the church authorities found unworthy of being used in church services, prayers, or even personal devotions.
So, it wasn’t surprising that spiritual drought occurred in an area where church leaders were telling people that God would not hear prayers spoken in their normal, everyday language. And who would go to church if they couldn’t understand what was being said?
Eventually, the British became involved in the area, which lead to use of the English language and then (through a variety of circumstances) Scottish preachers being given the task of spreading the gospel in South Africa.
The elder Andrew Murray was among those Scottish preachers. He is known to have prayed every Friday evening for 36 years for Revival.
In August 1859, pastors were challenged to preach on the character of God, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the need for corporate and private prayer asking for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. All were asked to pray fervently for one hour each week for the blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
At first, the prayer meetings that took place drew no more than three or four participants.
But then, on April 18,1860, a conference was scheduled in the town of Worchester to discuss the subject of revival. Over 374 visitors attended, representing 20 different congregations. This included eight ministers from the Murray family.
The younger Andrew Murray’s participation in this conference was limited to one prayer, but it is said that this one prayer “was so full of power and conviction that people came under a deep conviction of sin.”
It is also said that the Revival of 1860 can be traced to that one prayer.
And Revival did indeed “come like a firestorm.” It was written that: “The whole of society has been changed, yes, turned literally upside down!” Church buildings needed to be enlarged to cater for the influx of new converts. Side wings were built onto existing churches.”
People everywhere experienced lengthy periods of wrestling through self examination, repentance and surrendering all to God. Witch doctors and murderers came to the Lord.
One of the pastors who experienced the Revival, Servaas Hofmeyr, wrote: “… when the Lord started to move among us how intense were the prayers for Revival and the cries for mercy! ‘I am lost!’ cries one here. ‘Lord, help me!’ cries another. Anxious cries were uttered, heart rendering testimonies of conversion were heard. Visions were seen … Corporate prayer, even behind bushes and rocks, on mountains and in ravines, men, women, greyheads, children, gentlemen, servants all kneeling on the same ground crying for mercy. And none of this was expected by anyone, nor prepared by anyone, nor worked up, or preached by anyone it was all the Spirit of God, and not for a few hours or days, but months long.”
The Revival spread across South Africa with new churches built, existing churches expanded, many new pastors volunteering to serve the Lord, and a fervent focus on missions throughout the land.
And this great revival was not something that lasted for just a few months or even a few years.
By 1927, there were a recorded 304 serving missionaries and 72,079 baptized African Christians. Those missionaries had established 1,447 schools with 2,699 teachers and 96,309 pupils.