Pentecost and the 1860 Revival in the Cape

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Pentecost at Worcester

As Andrew Murray was inducted as the pastor of Worcester on Pentecost Sunday 1860, a Spiritual Awakening was underway in the Cape.

Andrew Murray commenced his ministry at Worcester on Pentecost Sunday, 27 May with a sermon on “The Ministration of the Spirit”. C. Rabie wrote: “It was as though one of the prophets of old had risen from the dead. The subjects were conversion and faith … deadly earnestness.” Andrew Murray preached on: “What meanest thou o sleeper? Arise and call upon thy God.” Jonah 1:6; “He that believeth not shall be damned” Mark 16:16; “Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?” Matthew 22:12. The congregation in Worcester had never heard such straight forward shocking Biblical preaching. The Revival in Worcester came like a firestorm.

An Eyewitness Account

One of the pastors who experienced the Revival, Servaas Hofmeyr, wrote: “Before the days of Revival the situation of our congregation was lamentable. Love of the world and sin; no earnestness or heartfelt desire for Salvation; sinning and idleness that was the order of the day for most … 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 rending 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.”

Joy Unspeakable!

Prayer meetings were overflowing and full of fire and zeal. Early in the morning and late at night people would come singing to God's house. Repentance, renewal and rebirth. Devotion was deepened, vision widened. Cases of heartfelt conversion occurred daily.

Amongst the first to be impacted by the Revival were the coloured farm workers near Worcester. A written account of these farm workers described them as: “debased and shrivelled with drink and drunk all day long, sullen wretched creatures…” It was this least expected quarter that the Revival hit most powerfully. Farm workers fell to the ground and cried out for mercy, so greatly was the presence of God felt. At first Andrew Murray was shocked at the emotionalism and apparent disorder. Andrew’s knowledge of Revival had been limited to the Scottish experience where congregations were far more orderly and restrained. As Andrew sought to take control of a prayer meeting where people were experiencing agonies of conviction of sin, a stranger touched Ds. Murray and warned him: “Be careful what you do, for it is the Spirit of God that is at work here”.

Discerning Between the Real and the False

From this point Andrew identified with the Revival and defended it against the criticisms of skeptics. He quoted from George Whitefield, who stated: “If you try to stamp out the wildfire and remove what is false, you will equally and simultaneously remove what is real.”

Nicolaas Hofmeyr wrote: “A Spirit of humility is observable amongst us. We see ourselves in all our loathsomeness as lost and wretched children of Wrath unable of ourselves to do any good thing. … The Spirit of prayer increases and the supplications become more earnest … - this is the work of the Holy Spirit … the sense of sin is increasing. Deep humility is observable and still our souls have been refreshed … God is being sought in secret.”

Montagu and Calvinia

At Montagu, a Scriptural class of coloured farm workers, who were being taught by a young woman, experienced an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit of God. Calvinia, which had resisted every effort by their previous pastor to participate in prayer meetings, suddenly developed an overwhelming burden for prayer.

Answer to Prayer

Conviction of sin came over the congregations with intense spiritual agony, confession of sin and earnest restitution. Andrew Murray senior visited Worcester and rejoiced that what he had prayed for, over 38 years, was now being experienced by his son. “Andrew, my son, I have longed for such times as these which the Lord has let you have.”

Anointed Preaching

Rev. Henry Taylor of the Presbyterian Church in Wellington wrote this report on Andrew Murray's preaching: “His whole being is thrown into the task and he glows with the fervency of Spirit which it seems impossible for human flesh to sustain … audiences bend before the sweeping rain of his words, like willows before the gale. The heart within the hearer is bowed and the intellect is awed.”

Writing Ministry

As Spiritual hunger increased, Andrew was led to provide more discipleship instruction and guidance for converts including writing: The Children For Christ, Abide in Christ, The Two Covenants, The New Life, The Full Blessing of Pentecost, Holy in Christ, The School of Obedience, The School of Prayer, The Ministry of Intercession, Pray Without Ceasing, Absolute Surrender, Waiting on God and Like Christ. Andrew Murray became one of the world's most respected writers on the deeper Christian life. He wrote over 200 books, booklets and pamphlets, many of which were translated into numerous other languages, some continually in print for over 100 years. Andrew wrote: “A Revival of Holiness is what we need. We need preaching about Christ's claim on us that will lead us to live entirely for Him and His Kingdom.”

Evangelism & Revival

Selwyn Hughes observed: “In evangelism the preacher calls on people to get saved; in Revival people often call on the preacher to ask him how they can get saved.”

Transformation

The September 1860 edition of De Wekker declared: “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.

Robert Shand in Tulbagh wrote of: “A deepening of the Spiritual Life within the congregation.” In Ceres the church council wrote of: “Coming to life of dead bones.” In Robertson Ds. Smidt reported that the Revival was: “Undoubtedly the work of the Holy Spirit.”

The Cape Bows to Christ

The Evangelical Alliance issued a nationwide call for all churches in the Cape Colony to set aside a week in January for united prayer. The Cape was literally on its knees.

Revival in Paarl

Ds. Gottlieb van der Lingen preached: “Are you, congregation of Paarl, being awakened by these cries of Revival? Wake up, you who sleep! Arise from the dead and Christ will shine His light on you…! And what if you don't awaken now? Will you then ever be renewed before the terrible Awakening to take place in the hereafter?” It was during that week of prayer in January 1861 that Revival swept through Paarl. There were heart rending pleas for mercy and soul wrenching confessions of sin. The church building became too small to hold the growing crowds. The interest in prayer required numerous new prayer meetings to be established. Members of the Paarl congregation experienced lengthy periods of wrestling through self examination, repentance and surrendering all to God. There were great cries for mercy and ultimately many tears of thankfulness and joy. Ds. van der Lingen exclaimed: “How many years have I not served God as a servant? But what a great difference between serving Him as a servant and serving Him as a son! I only now understand the freedom.”

Pentecost Services

In May 1862 Ds. van der Lingen suggested that the congregation should assemble for prayer during the ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The adoption of Pentecost services throughout the Dutch Reformed Churches remains one of the significant fruits of the 1860 Revival.

Revival in Graaff Reinet

In April 1861 Revival erupted in Graaff Reinet. A prayer meeting that began after a communion service on Sunday evening became so powerfully aware of the presence of God's Holy Spirit that the meeting lasted non-stop until Tuesday midday before the congregation went home!

Reversal of Fortunes

The Dutch Reformed Church at the Cape was changed forever. From the earliest days of the Cape Colony there had always been a desperate shortage of pastors. Now over 50 young men came forward to be trained for the ministry. A Bible based newspaper, Die Volksvriend, was launched in January 1862 by Andrew Murray and Servaas Hofmeyr. Resistance to missions evaporated.

Missions Launched

Die Vrouwen Zending Bond (Women’s Missionary Union) was established with Emma Murray becoming its first president. The first Cape DRC missionaries Alexander McKidd and Henri Gonin were sent out to the Transvaal.

De Wekker editorialised: “What is the aim of Revival? Not to enjoy God's gift in a selfish way. No! But to impart mission work. Every farm must become a mission station and every congregation a mission organisation”.De Wekker declared that we must send our sons and daughters to the mission field.

Sacrificial Service

Andrew Murray turned to Paul Kruger to help the DRC to establish its first mission station in the Soutspanberg Range. When the first missionaries were Alexander and Hessie McKidd, died of fever, this became a testing time for the revived churches. Henry Gonin faithfully served at Paul Kruger's farm near Rustenburg until his death in 1911. Stefanus Hofmeyr worked faithfully for over 10 years among the surrounding tribes seeing many witchdoctors and murderers come to the Lord.

Education and Evangelism

Despite much spiritual warfare and ongoing attacks from liberals in the DRC, Andrew Murray became a renowned author, an international evangelist and the Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church. He established the Africa Institute which sent out hundreds of missionaries through Africa. Andrew also pioneered women's education in South Africa and established the Huguenot College for training Christian teachers.

Africa for Christ

The missionary vision of the Dutch Reformed Church exploded with mission stations being established in Moshonaland, Matabeleland, Bechuanaland, Nyasaland, Nigeria and Sudan. In 1927 the Missions Committee of the Cape DRC recorded 304 serving missionaries and 72,079 baptised African Christians. DRC missionaries from the Cape had established 1,447 schools with 2,699 teachers and 96,309 pupils.

Afrikaans Advanced

The language barrier was overcome as Afrikaans became the language of the pulpit and in 1925 Afrikaans was granted equal status with English as an official language of the country. In 1933 the first complete Bible translated into Afrikaans was published.

Murray's Challenge

As Andrew Murray wrote: “Live in the bold and holy confidence that God is able to bless His Church through you … God is really only waiting for prayer in order to give the blessing”

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 13

Dr. Peter Hammond 

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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