The early part of the 20th century was a turbulent time for China. National disasters and intense suffering left people feeling hopeless and depressed. There was strong anti-foreigner sentiment towards missionaries, and local Christians faced increasing persecution from the government. The addictions to opium and wine had permeated the Chinese church, and trust in the Bible as God’s Word had decreased significantly over time. Membership in churches saw consistent decline from year to year, and even many missionaries resigned from their posts in light of the great spiritual apathy, coldness, and lifelessness.
However, this was also a period when God saw fit to visit revival in many other places such as the United States and Korea and Scotland. The stories stirred up in the Chinese churches a longing and passion to see revival in their own country. Prayer groups with a distinct focus upon revival began to ignite throughout China, and the churches united in fervent prayer behind the slogan: “Lord, revive Your church, beginning with me!”
In 1927, in the town of Chefoo in the northeastern region of China known as Shantung, the Holy Spirit began to move powerfully through a series of meetings led by Marie Monsen, a missionary with the Norwegian Lutherans. They delved into God’s Word and preached pointedly about sin. A thirst for God was on display, unlike anything the missionaries had witnessed before. Deep conviction of sin gripped the people there, whether unsaved or new Christian or preacher alike. God used Miss Monsen’s words to cut to people’s hearts and to compel them to examine anew where they stood with Christ. The Spirit of God set a revival fire ablaze in those meetings.
This awakening soon began to spread throughout the surrounding towns and churches. John and Jewell Abernathy, who were Southern Baptist missionaries, testified how the convicting power of the Holy Spirit would take hold of listeners.Often people would be moved to cry out in agony and to confess their sins right in the middle of a sermon. Through all this, God would work miracles and healings and set people free from demonic harassment. Believers would experience visions and dreams, and onlookers would see the palpable impact of the Spirit upon the lives of believers.
The Shantung Revival would last from 1927 to 1937, touching every province in China, and it led to momentous transformation in the church. Christians spontaneously began sharing the Gospel of Jesus and the cross with boldness.Broken or strained relationships in families were healed and restored to wholeness. Racial tensions among Western and Chinese workers were resolved and replaced with new-found appreciation and thankfulness. Many outreach teams from revived churches were sent out to various provinces where they would see the salvation of many souls. And the spiritually-awakened Chinese Christians now took ownership of their faith communities and stepped courageously into leadership roles for the church in China. The church, which was at one point barely alive spiritually, was now revived and growing by the power of the Holy Spirit.
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS:
1. What aspects of the spiritual darkness in pre-revival China stand out to you? Are there harmful aspects from that time that are active today in our country?
2. Where have you heard about revival happening in our world in the past year? Have you ever wondered why it is not happening in full power where you live? What good things is God already doing? What do you think is the missing ingredient?
3. How could God revive you today to be a catalyst for revival in your city? What personal obstacles stand in the way of God doing what He wants with your heart? Pray for a gentle breaking of any hardness in your own heart.