Wednesday, August 30, 2017

South Africa’s Christian Heritage

South Africa - The First Peoples

It is said that the Phoenicians sailed to the Cape already back in the 6th century BC. Light-built hunter-gatherer Khoi and the stock herding San dwelt in the Western parts of South Africa during this time. About 2000 years ago, Bantu-speaking farmers entered the Eastern Cape from the North. These tall people were skilled in the use of smelting and craftworks. Most of the native folk believed in shamanism and contacting their ancestors through a creator god, and some still do.

South Africa in Biblical Prophecy

Britain and her Commonwealth (of which South Africa was a predominant part until recently) are Israel of the Bible, as prophesied in GENESIS 35:11. Combined with the Dutch, who are descendents of the Israelite tribe of Zebulon (see the Christian History of Holland), South Africa has a rich Christian Israelite history. Indeed, God even specifically mentions that His people Israel will be found in the southern parts of Africa in the last days – see ZEPHANIAH 3:9-10.

Historical Background

The Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias 1 first set foot on the shores of Mossel Bay in 1488 and opened the route to the Indian Ocean. He erected a limestone pillar and Catholic cross at the Cape of Good Hope in the same year. It was 1652 when the Dutch East India Company sent Jan van Riebeeck to set up a refreshment station for company ships at Table Bay. He was a Protestant and member of the Puritan/Calvinistic orientated Dutch Reformed Church. In these early days when no minister had been sent to the Cape, lay-people, who had no theological education, were only allowed to preach from printed sermons. No Catholic was allowed to worship publicly or hold mass, even if their children had been baptised in the Reformed Church 2. Trade was held with the local Khoi, and through this contact the Christian faith and values were passed on. Missionaries of the Dutch Reformed Church reported in 1658 that Khoikhoi slaves in the area attended their mission services.
The small settlement in the Cape grew slowly into a colony under Dutch control, until 1795 when the French Revolution, which also affected Holland, split the people of the Cape: some supported France and some the Dutch King, William of Orange. The English feared the French would take over the Cape and the important sea routes to the East. Britain therefore sent ships to protect the Cape from a French invasion. Due to a number of misunderstandings, the peacekeeping mission ended up in guns being fired and the English occupying the Cape. The control of the Cape was handed back to Holland in 1803. Possession of the Cape returned to Britain in the second occupation in 1806, when once more war broke out between France and Britain. This time the British stayed until 1910.
South African Coat of ArmsSouth African Coat of Arms The Boers (Dutch farmers) had established their own two independent states by the 1850s: Transvaal and the Orange Free State in the northeastern part of South Africa; whereas Britain controlled the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape in Natal. The discovery of diamonds and gold primarily led to the Anglo-Boer War, and the years from 1899 until 1902 saw the two nations of Israelite descent fighting each other fiercely. Although the Boers were a resilient people and good marksmen, they were no match for the 500,000 British soldiers. After the Boer War, the two Boer republics and the British colonies in the Western and Eastern Cape were united under British dominion and became the “Union of South Africa” in 1910. As shown here, the old coat of arms of South Africa had the motto: “Ex Unitate Vires = Out of Unity Comes Strength.
The time until 1994 was marked by a system called “Apartheid”. It had its roots in psychology and evolution, combined with misinterpretation of the Bible and white Aryan superiority ideals. It was mainly instituted by the Afrikaans National Party, and it also expressed the fear that the white South Africans always lived with: finally being able to live safely in their own state. Nowadays, South Africa is very opposed to God’s Word, and we have another extreme - the “most liberal constitution” in the world - with the fruit of one of the highest crime rates in the world.3

Revivals and Christian Leaders of the Past

Due to the persecution of Protestants in France, in 1687 some 375 Huguenots (see the Christian History of France) fled and started a new life in the Cape. After a long and arduous journey by ship, they arrived with virtually nothing – even Bibles had to be smuggled out of France, some hidden in loaves of bread. The Huguenots had their own pastor come out with them, and contrary to what is common today, they actually seemed to obey and be loyal to him.
Huguenot Monument in FranschhoekHuguenot Monument in FranschhoekHuguenot Monument in Franschhoek Many more Huguenots came in the years after and settled in the areas of Paarl/Drakenstein, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. On the right you can see the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek. The woman has the Bible in her hand; the broken chain stands for religious freedom; and she is casting off the cloak of oppression.4
The first foreign missionary to South Africa was the Moravian, George Schmidt in 1737. His main aim was to see the Khoi saved, and so he lived and worked amongst them, teaching them to read and slowly winning their trust. Eventually some were baptised after hearing more and more about Christ.
The Boers were always a God-fearing people. In the Eighteenth century most of the farmers only had the Bible to read from, and since they lived in remote areas of the country, they often had to hold their own family worship. The typical daily work started with the singing of a Psalm and reading a chapter from the Bible, which the whole family, including slaves and Khoi workers, had to attend. Unlike today, the Bible was highly valued and referred to for guidance in daily social, economical and political matters 2
Great TrekGreat Trek Many felt oppressed by the English (who had controlled the Western Cape since 1806), who were “destroying what they [the Boers] saw as divine distinction between blacks and whites”, by abolishing slavery, and giving coloureds and blacks the same rights before the law. 5 That is why 15,000 Boers saw that the only way out was in leaving the Cape, in the so-called Great Trek towards the North-east in 1836, to form their own state. On their way the Boers entered land occupied by the Zulus and war seemed inescapable. It is to be noted that it was the Zulu leader Shaka (in a movement called “mfecane” = forced migration) who drove the native people (the Khoi) off their lands. Before the famous Battle of Blood River with the Zulus, the Boers made a vow to the Lord to always remember this day and His intervention if He would save them that day. For six nights this vow was confirmed, combined with prayers. Then God miraculously intervened, when during the ferocious battle none of the Boers were hurt and neither were any of their cattle lost, even though they were hugely outnumbered by the enemy. This day (16th December) was officially celebrated until the new government of South Africa changed it into the “Day of Reconciliation”.
David LivingstoneDavid Livingstone It must also be mentioned here that the man who changed the “dark continent”, David Livingstone, arrived in Cape Town in 1840. His first assignment was in Bachuanaland (now Botswana), where he was to found a mission station north of Moffat's. Here he began what was to become his standard practice. He traveled into the interior and stayed with the local people until he learned their languages, preaching and studying the botany and natural history of the area. In between trips he ran his mission, building a chapel, setting up a printing press, preaching, and healing. In 1851 he reached the Zambezi River. When he returned to the mission, however, he found that the Afrikaners6, smarting from his constant rebukes of them for practicing slavery, had burned down the mission and destroyed his home. In 1852, his wife, Mary and their four children were sent to Great Britain for their protection. With the family's departure, Livingstone embarked on a series of long explorations that were unprecedented at the time and that would take up the rest of his life. His determination was clear: "I shall open up a path into the interior or perish," he said. Livingstone was convinced that Christianity, commerce, and civilization would deliver Africa from slavery and barbarism. He hoped to find a route to the Atlantic Ocean that would open legitimate commerce and undercut the slave trade while providing opportunities for missionary work.
This great prayer warrior passed away on his knees in prayer, praying for Africa. He thought his life had been a failure. He had only one convert and his three essential prayers: that Africa should be opened to the Gospel; that slavery should be abolished; and that he could find the source of the Nile seemed unanswered. Yet, such was the love of the Africans for this man that they carried his body for 9 months over one thousand miles to be shipped back to Westminster Abbey for burial. Within years, mission stations were being set up all over Africa, Great Britain abolished slavery and it was found that he had actually discovered the source of the Nile! His heart was buried in Africa…
In 1860, as a direct result of a call to prayer that was published in the Kerkbode [the official bulletin of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of South Africa], strong conviction with confessing of sins and seeking God overcame the people in Worcester, located in the Western Cape. This "revival" was echoed in the late 1870's and spread to all sections of the population. It appears that the DRC could not comprehend nor adapt to some of the manifestations of that revival and we hear very little of it again.
Andrew MurrayAndrew Murray This also was the time when Andrew Murray had his great ministry in South Africa. In Great Britain he had been miraculously healed from “preacher’s voice” (the inability to speak). He returned to South Africa in 1881, but his church (the DRC) did not welcome his message about divine healing. 7 Nevertheless, there were families that received salvation at that time and a generation later, in the early 1900's, we find born again believers who were experiencing “the baptism with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.” 7
The (Boer) prisoners of war revival during the Boer War was characterized "by extraordinary prayer, by faithful preaching, conviction of sin, confession and repentance with lasting conversions and hundreds of enlistments for missionary service." With the return of the prisoners after the War, revival swept through South Africa during an economic depression 8. Also, John Alexander Dowie’sLeaves of Healing” were highly valued in South Africa and amongst those prisoners.
John G. LakeJohn G. Lake John G. Lake 9 (1870-1935) certainly had the greatest impact on the Pentecost movement in South Africa, bringing the Pentecostal message from Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1908. Prior to this, his whole family had been stricken with sickness and death. Then his brother, sister and his wife were powerfully healed after having been sick for a long time. John Alexander Dowie had prayed for all of them, and this was when Lake’s own healing ministry started. He received the baptism in the Holy Ghost after seeking it for 9 months!
The Lord led John Lake to South Africa, confirming His call by miraculously providing the sea fare and a house for free in Johannesburg. Thousands of healings were testified under Lake’s ministry, souls in repentance brought to salvation, and many people from other denominations were healed and filled with the Holy Ghost, carrying the testimony back to their churches. 10 Lake’s work started in multiracial services, and within five years he had established 500 black Pentecostal churches (Zion Christian Church) and 125 white churches (Apostolic Faith Mission). The Pentecostal Holiness Church in South Africa was founded in 1913 under the leadership of Lehman, who had come with Lake in 1908. According to Cecil John Rhodes, “[Lake's] message has swept Africa. He has done more toward South Africa's future peace than any other man.”

Hope for Our Future if We Turn to God

When the new South Africa was formed in 1994, and its Constitution first submitted for adoption, few of the political parties remembered the words: "THIS BIBLE is for the government of the people…" Only one Christian party did so. They voted against the Constitution and said: "The majority of South Africans… wanted the words “In humble submission to Almighty God” to be inserted at the beginning of the preamble, but the communists and atheists in the Constitutional Assembly (who are in the minority in the country!) rejected the requests." This constitution also protects homosexuality, allows State interference in religious observances at state-aided institutions (schools), and protects pornography, prostitution and abortion. 11
What needs to happen is for all the people to wake up to the true reasons for moral decline, staggering crime numbers, corruption to the core, dooming land reforms and pestilences sweeping the country. These problems are only because of our own sins, not because of any specific culture:
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” DEUTERONOMY 30:19-20.
As so often is the case, it is only when we return to God, He is willing to forgive us and take us on again.
  • 1. Nuwe Afrikaanse Ensiklopedie
  • 2. a. b. History of Christianity in South Africa
  • 3. The Mind Game - Phillip Day
  • 4. Huguenot Museum, Franschhoek, South Africa
  • 5. South Africa - The Rough Guide
  • 6. Afrikaners are white South Africans of predominantly Calvinist Dutch, German, French Huguenot, Flemish and Friesian descent who speak Afrikaans
  • 7. a. b. Full Gospel Church of GOD in Southern Africa
  • 8. The Greatest Revivals Ever
  • 9. The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement
  • 10. Apostle to Africa - John G. Lake - Gordon Lindsay
  • 11. Gospel Defence League

Monday, August 28, 2017

Scotland´s Christian Heritage

Scottish FlagScottish Flag Introduction

Few nations in this world have been as blessed as much as Scotland has. The history of this small country is so rich with our Christian ancestry that volumes could and have been written about it. God’s special plan for the Scots is evident from the many revivals which it has seen, and the many missionaries which it has sent to foreign lands. Indeed, half of the founding fathers of the United States had Scottish ancestry.
The history of Scotland has been both tragic and glorious. It has been oppressed by bishops and liberated by Godly giants like Wishart, Knox and Buchanan. Its history contains many parallels to the biblical pattern of Israel falling from God, being cursed, and then being restored.
Lion of JudahCoat of Arms of Scotland

Early History

The origins of the Scottish nation have been preserved in folklore and documentary form. One such document, one of Scotland’s most famous national documents, is “The Declaration of Arbroath”. It has long been taught in Scotland’s schools that the Scots were travellers who came from far across Europe to rest in their northern home. The Declaration of Arbroath has recorded this for all time:
“…the Scots have been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since.” 1
Greater Scythia includes modern-day Greece and the Tyrrhenian Sea, and also includes part of the west coast of Italy. Yet the Scottish origins can be traced further south-east to the land of Israel. The similarity between Scotland’s Royal Flag, “The Lion Rampant”, which pre-dates the Saltire Flag (a white St. Andrew’s Cross on a blue background) and the tribal banner of Judah are no coincidence. Compare below, the tribal banner of Judah with the modern Scottish Royal Flag, which is flown on every official building in Scotland.

Early Christian History

Christianity came to Britain immediately after the time of Christ, when the disciples were dispersed by persecution in Jerusalem. (See article Britain’s Christian Heritage or Was There a British Church Before Augustine Came? As the centuries passed in Europe “Christianity was amalgamated with the pagan religions to produce the compromised state religion of Roman Catholicism under Emperor Constantine…” The Christian Church in Britain became greatly persecuted, and with the invasions by the ‘pagan’ Angles, Saxons, Friesians and Jutes, Christianity managed to only survive in the Celtic fringes; in Wales and some parts of Scotland.
Ireland became Christianised through the efforts of St. Patrick, a British Christian, whose monastic Celtic Christianity was responsible for sending Columba as a missionary to the Celts of Scotland. Columba came from Ireland to the Island of Iona, just off the coast of Scotland. Here he founded a monastery, and from here he converted the Celts and the Picts to the faith of Christ by his preaching and example. Another early Christian who made a great impact on Scotland was St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern. He preached around the area which is now Glasgow. Glasgow’s motto, adopted in 1633, is attributed to a sermon, which was preached by St. Mungo. It is, “Lord, let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy Word.” Neither Patrick, Columba or Mungo were Catholic: they were part of the Celtic church which was established in Britain long before the arrival of the Roman Catholic Church in 597 AD with Augustine, who was commissioned by Pope Gregory.
From the arrival of Augustine onwards, the Roman Catholic Church worked to bring the Celtic Church into line with its own beliefs and errors. In 664 AD one event, which had a long-lasting negative effect on Christianity in Scotland, was the Synod of Whitby:
“In principle, the synod was about which method to use for dating Easter. The King’s choice of Rome’s method was based on the superiority of Peter as the ‘gatekeeper of Heaven’. The ‘superiority’ of Peter to the British saints was exploited by Rome to impress a ‘superstitious’ elite that remained pagan in its attitudes to choose the church with the more ‘powerful’ patron saint. Rome spread its practices through Britain, although individual ‘traditions’ still continued within different monasteries and the Celtic Christian influence remained.” [4]2
This compromise of the church led to a long period of spiritual darkness, which was only broken by the Reformation.

The Reformation

Though the Roman Catholic Church had for centuries attempted to prevent the common people from reading the Scriptures, they were unsuccessful, due to the efforts of men like John Wycliffe (1330-1384) and William Tyndale (1484-1536), who translated the Bible into English and dispersed it as widely as possible. It was only through the truth of the Word of God, that centuries of man-made tradition and superstitions could be done away with. The availability of the Word of God, such as Tyndale’s printed translation of the Bible, paved the way for the Reformation. Tyndale held a deep conviction that the Scriptures should be available to all. Many of his Bibles were burned and, for his efforts, he also was burned at the stake in October 1536. 3
One of the early evangelists in Scotland was George Wishart. As a young man, he had been ordained as a priest, but he cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church when its errors were expounded by a Protestant preacher. John Knox was so convicted by Wishart’s preaching and character that he became Wishart’s bodyguard. When Knox had to return to his work as a tutor, Wishart was arrested by Cardinal David Beaton and was condemned to be burnt at the stake. With great zeal, Wishart preached all the way to the stake and, even as he burned, loudly cried out forgiveness for his murderers.
Stirred by the corruption evident in the Roman Catholic Church, and with an unshakeable belief in the truth of God’s Word, John Knox became a powerful leader in the Scottish Reformation. A man of action and passion, he was not content to sit on the sidelines: he preached searing messages exposing the Roman Catholic Church for its unscriptural doctrines, and showing the Pope to be the antichrist. When he was sent to a French Galley for being a part of a rebellion against the Catholic Regent Mary, Knox did not give up hope that he would one day preach in Scotland again. The following prayer reveals his determination, “God, give me Scotland or I die.” When the galley slaves were all ordered to kiss a statue of Mary, Knox not only refused to kiss it, he threw the statue overboard saying, “Now let our lady save herself…” Amazingly, he got away with this and no further attempts were made to force the Protestant galley slaves into idolatry.
John KnoxJohn Knox John Knox was released from the galley through public pressure in England, and spent time in England and Geneva, learning much from John Calvin before he was able to return to Scotland and lead the Reformation there. One of his most famous sayings was “Spare no arrows”, which sums up John Knox’s method of battle. He tirelessly preached and wrote to teach people the truth and expose error. Because of his passionate ways, much controversy followed John Knox throughout his life. Even to this day, few other men have had the strength and courage to oppose both royalty and the powerfully entrenched Roman Catholic system, or have been willing to give their life entirely, as John Knox did, to stand up for the Truth. No other Reformer wielded as much influence as Knox; the whole nation of Scotland felt his presence, as under his bold leadership it threw off the bondage of a false religion. 4

King James and the Bible

The King James BibleThe King James Bible The Word of God, which was the power behind the Reformation, also became its fruit (MATTHEW 7:16-20) as it became more readily available throughout Europe in the language of the people. In 1604, King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England) ordered the translation of God’s Word into English. Using original Hebrew and Greek texts, as well as pure vernacular translations from the time of the disciples onwards, the translators polished the previous English translations.
The 54 translators, all men with extensive knowledge of languages and known for their Christian character, were divided into 6 different groups located in three different places. With the method of translation set out by the king, each word would be checked at least 14 times. The 400 years of fruit from the Authorised King James Version of the Holy Bible, reveals God’s anointing on His Word, and this translation remains the best English translation to this day. 5

The Covenanters

Following the Reformation came the Scottish Covenanters, a Protestant group which was committed to the freedom of the Church. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Covenanters experienced great persecution from those who wished to limit their freedom. In order to avoid the errors seen in the Church of England, the Covenanters fought in coalition with the parliament of England against Charles I. They were not much interested in politics as they were in obtaining freedom to worship as they chose. As children and grandchildren of those who went through the Reformation, they were not keen to return to the bondage and superstition of religion, having found freedom in Christ through the Word. They were known for their devotion to God, and refused to return to what they saw as a more “Roman system” instituted by Charles I and Charles II. They held illegal “conventiclers”, which were meetings often held in the open air. “Government efforts to crush these [meetings] led to ‘the killing times’ when hundreds of Covenanters were hunted down and executed.” These men, women and even children, ‘counted the cost’ and chose to live for Christ even though it would cost them their lives. Some of their main meetings were held in the town of Abernethy.


Following the Reformation, Scotland was used mightily by God in sending out many missionaries to all parts of the world to spread the Gospel of Christ. Two of these missionaries were David Livingstone and Eric Liddell.

David Livingstone: Africa’s explorer and missionary

David LivingstoneDavid Livingstone While he didn’t have any outstanding talents, David Livingstone earned his place as one of the most notable missionaries in modern history by shear hard work and perseverance. 6
David started working at the age of ten in a cotton mill in Blantyre, Lanarkshire. Even with 14-hour workdays starting at 6am he would still study until midnight. This was no ordinary boy. David had self-discipline at this young age that would have shamed any soldier. This combined with his calm and self-reliant nature would make him one of the most highly regarded missionaries of modern times.
When he reached the age of 20, David became convicted “that the salvation of men ought to be the chief desire and aim of every Christian”. Initially China was his desired mission field, but this was impossible due to the opium war that was raging at the time. Africa then became his vision, when he heard that “in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been” could be seen. This phrase from Dr. Robert Moffat captured David’s imagination and became his heart’s desire.
His first trip lasted 16 years. During this time he married; had children; discovered the Victoria Falls, among many other wonders: and suffered terrible illness, including 31 fevers, almost losing his sight in one eye and his hearing. He was also very nearly killed by a lion.
Dr. Livingstone I presume?” is the quote that everyone familiar with his life will know; words that came from a meeting with Henry M. Stanley of the New York Herald, who had been sent by his paper to find him. The truth is that many in Britain thought that he had been killed long before, since he had no way of communicating while on his journeys.
It was his third trip to Africa that cost him his life. Exhausted and drained from travelling while suffering the effects of years of disease and incredible hardships, Dr. David Livingstone died during an expedition at the village of Luapula. He was discovered on his knees praying to his master Jesus Christ.
During his life he was honoured by three universities, the public swarmed him and royalty admired him. He fought the slave trade, preached the Word in every village and opened the interior of Africa to all that came after him. His last public words in Scotland speak volumes for his character and the reason for his success: “work hard and fear God”. (See Christian History of South Africa for more information).

Eric Liddell: From Olympic Gold to China’s mission field

Eric LiddellEric Liddell Eric Liddell’s story 7 is one that has endured the years because he was a man that really cared more for what God thought of him than what the public thought. During his life Eric competed in many running events and was famous for his preaching to the crowds after each event. He was more noted in the press for his refusal to compete on Sundays. On one occasion he actually did run on a Sunday while holding a very large Bible above his head for the entire race, which he still won. If one Scripture could be used to describe this Godly man, then this may fit the bill:
”… for them that honour me I will honour …” (1 SAMUEL 2:30).
Eric became a household name when he was chosen to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. When it became clear that the qualifiers for the men’s 100 metres race would be held on “The Lord’s day” he quietly withdrew from what was his best event. This was seen by many as unpatriotic and gained him much criticism from peers and officials alike. Eric was given the chance of running in the 400 metres race, in which he triumphed over the competition to everyone’s amazement. He also won the bronze medal in the 200 metres race, which was more than enough to answer his critics and to make him a national hero and an example for every young man to follow.
Eric’s heart remained steadfast for God, and he soon returned to his passion of spreading the Gospel to anyone who would listen. This took him back to his birthplace of China, to become a missionary as his parents had been. Eric’s life ended in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in China after he chose to stay to continue his missionary work. He died of a brain tumour at the age of 43, leaving a wife and 3 children.
What made Eric Liddell so remarkable was that even with his newly found fame and the opportunities this created for him, he still remained faithful and devoted to doing the work of the Lord. Eric could have easily forgotten his calling and been enticed into an easy life as a celebrity. Yet he gave his life for others, just like his Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Many other missionaries of note could be written of here such as William Burns, John Alexander Dowie, Alexander Mackay and Mary Slessor .


There have been many revivals throughout the centuries in Scotland, from the times of the Covenanters through to George Whitfield 8 preaching to 100,000 people in Cambuslang to the revivals under Robert Murray McCheyne 9 in the 1840’s.
More recently, in 1949, a revival came to Hebrides Islands 10 in Northern Scotland. Peggy and Christine Smith (aged 84 and 82) prayed constantly for a revival, and God showed Peggy in a dream that a revival was coming. They asked their minister to call the church leaders to prayer, and three nights every week the leaders would come together for prayer. This went on for months, until one night God’s awesome presence filled the barn where they prayed. Rev. Duncan Campbell was invited to come to lead the meetings. After the first meeting he was invited to an all-night prayer meeting. Walking home at 3 am in the morning, there were already signs of what was to come: men and women were seeking God, and no-one seemed interested in sleep. By the next morning, the church was packed with people who were repentant and convicted of sin. For five weeks, meetings continued night and day, and the presence of God, was overwhelming. The revival spread throughout the Islands, bringing change and a new life to many.Note: President Trump's maternal grandmother, Mary Smith, took part in this revival.

Scotland Today

At one time Scotland was a great nation that, though small, had a huge impact on the world, as we know it. Not only did they spread God’s Word, but the Scots were also mightily used in civilising the world and contributed largely to the founding of countries such as the United States of America, Canada and Australia.
Many of the modern inventions, which we take for granted today were invented and developed by the Scots: a tribute to their creative spirit. It was after the Reformation, when her heart was set on following God, that Scotland had her greatest impact on the world. Today Scotland has become a very secular society where Christianity has been pushed to one side, and thus Scotland itself has been pushed to the side: its people suffer from a high rate of alcoholism, and have one of the shortest average life-spans in the developed world.
God’s promise to Scotland can be seen in the Scripture, “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” (2 CHRONICLES 7:14).

Our Commission from God

God has used the Scots to serve, explore, invent, renew, challenge, fight and die for something greater than themselves. One day, the Scottish nation will once again feel the shame of her reproach; she will see a great revival and a re-emergence of the fighting spirit that God used to spread His Word throughout the world. But until that day, the Scots will “teach the heathen to sin”.
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (ISAIAH 6:8).
  • 1. E.A. Capt, The Scottish Declaration of Independence, Covenant Publishing.
  • 2. See Britain’s Christian Heritage.
  • 3. G. Riplinger, In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery and History, Letter by Letter, A.V. Publications Corp. (2003), p. 820.
  • 4. R. Liardon, God’s Generals II: The Roaring Reformers, Whittaker House (2003), pp. 259-328.
  • 5. G. Riplinger, In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery and History, Letter by Letter, A.V. Publications Corp. (2003), pp. 578-617.
  • 6. Robert E. Speer, Servants of the King, Eaton & Mains (1909).
  • 7. Russell Ramsey, God's Joyful Runner, Bridge-Logos Publishers (1986).
  • 8. Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, Banner of Truth (1971)
  • 9. Andrew A. Bonar, Robert Murray McCheyne, Banner of Truth (1960)
  • 10. Winkey Pratney, Revival, Whitaker (1984)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Christianity in Russia

A Brief History of Russia

Russia! Many people know of the whereabouts of the world’s largest country, but to get a glimpse of its real face, here is a brief introduction to its troubled history.
During the 3rd to 8th centuries AD, a number of Eastern-Slavic tribes began to unite in the vast, densely wooded territories to the north of the Black Sea, and by the end of the 8th century the new feudal state of Kievan Rus had been formed. Over the centuries it grew in size and importance, spreading north. The Rusi ascribed supernatural powers to nature, and as a result their pagan gods were all named after elements such as the sun, the earth, water, etc. There was a very strong bond with the land and nature, which can still be felt in the language today - there are many words to describe forests, fields, sky, water, and other natural entities.
Imperial Russian Double Eagle FlagIn the 10th century the ruler of Kievan Rus, Prince Vladimir, chose Orthodox Christianity over the other religions of that time on the basis that it permitted the Russian tradition of drinking alcohol, which was forbidden by all the other religions. In the years 988-991 AD mass Orthodox baptisms took place in Kiev; Grand Prince Vladimir made Orthodox Christianity the national religion of Rus – it remained so until 1917. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Orthodox Church has resumed its position as the main religion of the nation.
Orthodox Christianity is a mixture of paganism and Roman Catholicism, with some purely Slavic traditions. At the 7th Ecumenical Council, the Eastern Orthodox Church officially split from Western Catholicism (the Church of Rome); and these two religions have remained hostile towards each other ever since. By the 15th century, after the fall of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), Russia became the centre of the Orthodox creed, with its capital of Moscow becoming known as “the third Rome”.
Tsar Nikolas II with his wife and childrenEver since, Patriarchs have led the Orthodox Church with even the Tsars being obliged to obey their instructions. In the 16th century, Ivan the IV (“Ivan the Terrible”) had a considerable influence on Russian history by winning wars and making the Siberian, Caucasian, and Volga river nations part of Russia during his reign. The Romanov dynasty reigned from 1613 until 1917, when the Communists executed the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, together with his wife and children. At this point the rule of the Russian monarchy came to an end.

Religion in Russia; From Past to Present

Monks and choirboys at Kerzhensky Monastery (Photo: M. Dimitriev)Monks and choirboys at Kerzhensky Monastery (Photo: M. Dimitriev) The Orthodox Church has retained its grip on Russia, and has never allowed any signs of spiritual awakening to develop. There have been some scattered pioneer groups, but there has never been true revival. The majority of Russians are proud of their Orthodox church, yet ignorant about its roots or about real Christianity. Bibles are kissed and decorated with elaborate covers, but never studied or followed. There is an abundance of witchcraft, astrology, sorcery, spiritual blindness and confusion. There is also open propaganda against any non-Orthodox Christianity in the mass media.
There are five thousand monasteries scattered across this vast land and Russia was and still is deeply religious. Foreigners are astonished at the amount of time given over to religious ceremonial activities by ordinary Russians. Almost all keep the Great Fast of Lent, and then attend the climax of Easter Mass, with its triple kiss and echoing proclamation, ”Christ is Risen”. Choirs compete to sing the finest chants and hymns in churches.

The Russian Bible

The most accurate Russian translation of the Bible originates from the middle of the 19th century and is called the “Synod Translation”. It was originally published by The Russian Missionary Society. The language has since been modernised and several editions have been published with many of the commentaries and appendices being taken from English and German translations of the Bible. There is also an Orthodox translation (interpretation) that contains the Apocryphal books, Orthodox Church commentaries and some doctrinal statements.

“Revivals” in Russian History

Historically and geographically Russia is situated between east and west, and yet the Russian mentality is neither eastern nor western. There is a saying that “10 Russians will have 11 opinions”! The nation is still very unpredictable and spiritually oppressed. Even though much of the western way of life in culture, architecture, etc., has been widely introduced and even imposed on Russia over the centuries (commencing with the great reforming Tsar Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century), the religious values of the general population have remained unaffected; the Orthodox Church has always been dominant.
Over the centuries, missionaries preaching the Gospel have come from far away lands. In the 14th century for example, there were signs of revival in the northern city of Novgorod, which always had a high proportion of literate and educated people. Churches were built with plain, undecorated walls and kept free from idols and heathen images; later, however, they were “flooded” with icons and religious paintings. The Reformation in the west never reached Russia, with the exception of some German religious groups (mainly Mennonites) moving to Siberia and the Ukraine in the 18th century, where German-born Russian Empress Catherine the Great promised them religious freedom.
At the end of the 19th century Russia had a chance to change its history. Western missionaries, led by an Englishman, Lord Radstock, spread the Word of God amongst Russian aristocrats in St. Petersburg, and the wives of some high-ranking officers and generals were converted. Several Counts amongst the Russian aristocracy came to Christ. An interesting fact to note is that those missionaries did not even speak Russian; they used their knowledge of French to convert these educated French-speaking Russians. There were all the signs of a revival breaking out: however, other unconverted aristocrats were alarmed by any hint of change and reported to the Tsar Alexander II, pleading with him to stop the Word being spread. Leaders of the Orthodox Church joined the appeal, afraid of losing their power. Consequently, Alexander arrested converts, exiling some and jailing others. Lord Radstock and the other western missionaries were barred from Russia; they had to leave the country virtually overnight. Some consider this particular historical event - such a blunt rejection of God’s Word - to be the reason for a future curse on Russia. One remarkable fact is that some Russian missionaries converted Armenians, who then started a revival in their own country. 1
Even before the Bolshevik communist revolution of 1917, religious gatherings were illegal outside the Orthodox Church. Whenever evangelical Christianity spread, the Orthodox Church always used their political might to repress it.
“We have heard of small evangelical revivals in different parts of Russia and the Ukraine, some groups forming here and there. Pentecost mission in the Russian Empire began in 1911 with visits from one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal movement in Europe, Thomas Ball Barratt of Oslo, in response to invitations from Finnish and Swedish-speaking evangelical churches. Barratt also visited St. Petersburg in 1911, but there appears to have been no attempt to bring the Pentecostal message in Russian until 1913, when Barratt began publishing his magazine in Russian. In 1913 Russian Pentecostal groups began in the Evangelical Christian churches in Helsinki and Vyborg and established themselves as separate congregations. By the end of the year there was a congregation in St Petersburg too and in 1914 preachers were sent out to Baptist and Evangelical Christian congregations as far away as Tiflis.
In 1915 Andrew Urshan (the founder of the United Pentecostal Church in the USA) held Gospel meetings in St. Petersburg – by then renamed Petrograd – in their hall with attendances of up to 200. The converts were so eager to be baptized that baptisms had to be conducted in a hole in the ice on a frozen river. On one occasion the snow was about two feet deep. ‘We went there,’ recalled Urshan, and a young lady, who was a sinner, imagined we were foolish, and fanatical, so she followed us to watch the ‘fun’. When we reached the snowy spot, the brethren managed to shovel away the snow, and broke a large hole in the ice. As soon as one young lady stepped into that cold water, God’s power fell upon her, and when the young sinner woman saw God’s power on her, and others being blessed, she fell on her knees into the deep snow. Rising, she came up running into the frozen stream to be baptized.” 2
After the 1917 Communist revolution, “inakomysliashie” (people who did not accept the changes) were not exiled or put into prison any more, they simply vanished. In the best of cases they were placed in Gulags (isolated hard labour concentration camps): otherwise they were instantly executed. In the 20th century, Stalin eliminated the majority of non-Orthodox believers. Some Orthodox priests became communists, which allowed them to still keep some churches open. These priests worked closely with the KGB (State Security Service). They reported everyone who wanted to be baptized or to baptize a child: those involved could then easily lose their jobs or be taken to a labour camp without any further investigation.
The Soviets organized widespread anti-religious propaganda. They were especially against Evangelicals and Baptists (the word ‘Baptist’ still carries very strong negative connotations for many Russians). Communism severely persecuted any signs of Biblical faith. It was absolutely forbidden to speak about faith, God, or the Bible:
Vanya (Ivan Moiseyev) in Red Square“In the last letter that he wrote home, Ivan Moiseyev (a young Christian man in the Soviet army) urged his brother Vladimir, ‘Don't tell our parents everything. Just tell them, ”Vanya wrote me a letter and writes that Jesus Christ is going into battle. This is a Christian battle, and he doesn't know whether he will be back”. I desire that all of you, dear friend, young and old, remember this one verse. REVELATION 2:10 “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The next day, July 16, 1972, twenty-year-old Vanya died in suspicious circumstances. The Soviets claimed it was an accidental drowning. His family insisted that Vanya was tortured to death.” 3
It is documented that in 1937 thousands of Christians were executed or were sent to labour camps in Siberia, or to Gulags in unapproachable areas in the far north. The country was purely atheistic, teaching people the “Moral Codex of the Communism Builders”, which was in fact very idealistic. Much teaching was also taken directly from the Bible, but without mentioning God, and making Lenin and Stalin into idols for the people to worship.

Hope for the Future

Now, after a transitional period towards democracy and away from communism (which totally forbade the existence of anything other than the Orthodox religion), the 1997 law against ‘sects’ is being gradually enforced, which in effect outlaws any Christian group except the Orthodox Church. There is no obvious persecution at present though, and Christians enjoy a period of “freedom”; they can meet together, openly speak to people about God and preach the Gospel, even though the Pentecostal / charismatic movement is placed besides Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Buddhists, etc., on the official list of “cults”. Missionaries from the west occasionally visit and preach, sometimes to stadiums full of people. Although the majority of Russians are mostly indifferent towards spiritual matters, there is nevertheless a spiritual hunger in the land and millions of souls who need to be saved!
“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (LUKE 10:2).

  • 1. Demos Shakarian, The Happiest People on Earth
  • 2. Michael Rowe, Russian Resurrection – Strength and Suffering - A History of Russia’s Evangelical Church, 1994
  • 3. Myrna Grant, Vanya – Vanya’s letter to his family, dated 9th July, 1972

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Poland’s Christian Heritage

A Brief History of Poland

The history of Poland is closely connected with the migration of peoples of Indo-European and Celtic origin. The first settlers were the Celto-Lugie, who populated the south of today’s Poland between 250 and 100 B.C. These Celts included some of the “lost” ten tribes of Israel. Specifically, the movements of the tribe of Dan can be followed throughout Poland as that tribe’s preference for renaming towns after their forefather can be seen in such places as Gdansk. These tribes continued their migration through Poland up into Scandinavia (see Swedish Christian History). There were remnants left of these Israelite tribes throughout Poland, though the majority of people come from the massive migrations, mainly of Slavic people, but also of Celts and Germans, which took place until about 250 A.D. The Slavic people, composed of various competing tribes, were eventually divided into the west, east and south Slavs (600-700 A.D.). These three groups populated not only today’s territory of Poland, but also the whole area of Central Europe from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea, as well as Eastern Europe.
The Polish Coat of ArmsThe Polish Coat of ArmsThe Polish FlagThe Polish Flag The Polish coat of arms, featuring a white eagle on a red shield (the colours of the national flag) was the personal emblem of the tribes’ nobility, the Piast dynasty, which integrated the main areas of modern day Poland (963 A.D.).
In 966 A.D., after continuous German conquests under the pretext of implementing Roman Catholicism, the Polish people accepted the Catholic faith, but they did so from their southern neighbours the Czechs, rather than from the Germans. This year marks the beginning of the Polish state as acknowledged by the pope and the rest of Europe at that time. The name “Polska” was firstly introduced in 1025 A.D. during the rule of Poland’s first king Boleslaw Chrobry. Poland became an ardent and fervent Roman Catholic country until the time of the Reformation.
During the reign of the Jagiellon dynasty Poland was one of the greatest European empires of the Middle Ages. At the beginning of the 17th century the country lost considerable strength due to constant conflicts with its neighbours, until great parts of the land were destroyed by the “Swedish deluge” (1655-1660). Poland’s weakened state eventually led to its 1st partition in 1772, when Russia, Prussia and Austria annexed one third of the country. Shortly after the 2nd partition in 1793, Russia, Prussia and Austria divided the remains and forced the last Polish king Zygmunt August to abdicate. With the 3rd partition in 1795 the country disappeared entirely from European maps.
The 18th and 19th centuries brought new hope for regaining independence. A big step forward was Napoleon’s support in rebuilding the army as well as his creation of the Warsaw Principality on former Polish soil after having defeated Prussia and Austria. The final solution came with the end of WWI, when the Treaty of Versailles guaranteed Poland absolute independence. But the Poles did not enjoy freedom for too long. In August 1939 the Soviet Union made an agreement with the Third Reich known as the Ribbentrop-Molotow pact, whose aim was a 4th Polish partition. One month later Poland was attacked from the West by the Third Reich and from the East by the Red Army. The Conference at Yalta in February 1945, where Europe’s partition was laid down and Poland’s fate sealed, meant that Poland was soon to find itself behind the Iron Curtain. The country fell into the hands of the communists who immediately started to liquidate the Polish upper class, deporting some to Eastern Russia and even exterminating them. Mass killings of Stalin’s opponents were the order of the day. In 1989 communism fell due to the solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa.

The Development of the Reformation on Polish Soil

The ideas of the Reformation germinated fairly early in Poland, and in the first half of the 15th century Hussitism (see Christian History of Hungary) already flourished. In the early 16th century the Reformation took hold in Germany through the preaching of Martin Luther (see Christian History of Germany for details), and the events in Wittenberg quickly found a response throughout Poland. King Zygmunt I Stary, being a staunch Roman Catholic however, forbade the circulation of reformatory documents under the threat of banning, loss of possessions or even the death penalty. In 1525 A.D., Prussia became a fief of Poland, carrying the light of the Reformation to its people. The University of Konigsberg, founded by Prince Albrech, played an important role in the Prussian/Polish Reformation movement. Many young Poles sought for knowledge within its walls and returned home with the reformatory teachings burning in their hearts.
Already in 1521, Luther was received in Wroclaw (in the south of Poland) and in 1525 in Gdansk (in the north). The Lutherans coexisted in other cities among various denominations, but especially in the Prussian city of Konigsberg (modern day Kaliningrad in Russia), they found great acceptance. From the 2nd half of the 16th century, Calvinism (see Christian History of Switzerland for details) gained popularity among the nobles. In 1534, the nobility of the Pomeranian imperial diet declared that the Roman Catholic Church was not to forbid the printing of a Polish Bible. Neither royal decrees, punishments for the heterodox nor the ban on reformatory literature from the West were able to stop the advance of the Reformation. The Polish nobility were determined to fight for peace and for the freedom of religion. When Zygmunt August became a great Lithuanian prince in 1544, the reformers gained great influence at his court. The “Bracia Czescy“ (Czech Brethren) had a strong impact on the Polish Reformation and spread a net of congregations throughout Wielkopolska. Reformatory and Lutheran congregations also sprang up in Lithuania, which were supported by the Radziwills and other feudal families. However, many reformers had hoped for a national Polish Church according to reformatory principles. This thought was proclaimed by Poland’s greatest political writer of the 16th century, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski.

Jan Laski – The Reformer (1499-1560)

Jan LaskiJan Laski In Europe, Jan Laski was known as “the only Polish reformer”. He contributed to the reform of the Anglican Church with his main work: Londynskie Wyznanie Wiary (London’s Confession of Faith). His activities in London were brought to an end during the reign of the Tudor Queen Mary, who ordered foreign Protestants to leave the country. After a long time of wandering, Laski finally settled in Frankfurt. There he also met John Calvin in 1556, with whom the Polish theologian had already corresponded for many years.
Upon receipt of a letter in which he was asked to serve the Reformation in his homeland, Jan Laski returned in December 1556 and joined the Polish Reformation. He was received twice by King Zygmunt August for a private audience in March 1557, and was granted permission to freely preach the Gospel. He spent the following years helping to establish a national Church and translating the Bible into Polish.

Mikolaj Rey from Naglowice (1505-1569)

Mikolaj Rey from NaglowiceMikolaj Rey from Naglowice Poland’s first national writer, Mikolaj Rey from Naglowice, was a devout author of reformatory teaching. His writings show a strong reformatory tendency and a desire for a pure Christian doctrine. At the imperial diet and at meetings of the nobles, Mikolaj Rey zealously supported the Reformation. Due to his humour and traditional joking he also filled the nobility with enthusiasm. The Evangelicals called him “the Polish Luther”.

The Warsaw Confederation – Congress of Nobility

In 1573 the imperial diet enacted the socalled Warsaw Confederation, which granted peace between different beliefs. In spite of the opposition of the Roman bishops and the intervention of the papal envoy, this vitally important law was passed – a unique event in the history of the nation. In the same year the imperial diet legislated an act called pax dissidentum as a result of Protestants demanding equal rights. The then newly elected king Henryk Walezy omitted this act in his coronation oath, but the great crown marshal Jan Firlej, an eager believer and defender of the protestant faith, forced the king to swear on this act saying: “Aut iurabis, aut non regnabis” (either you will swear or you will not rule). From the short reign of Henryk Walezy until the first years under Zygmunt III, religious tolerance was observed in Poland.

The Bible is Translated into the Polish Language

The Biblia GdanskaThe Biblia Gdanska Although the translation of the Bible was started by Jan Laski, it was completed by other workers. In 1563 the complete Scriptures were published in the town of Brzesc Litewski, financed by Prince Mikolaj Radziwill Czarny (the translation is known as Biblia Radziwillowska, Brzeska or Pinczowska). A revised version was printed in 1632 in Gdansk and hence called Biblia Gdanska. The Biblia Gdanska was quite close to the King James Version and remained as the Bible of the Polish Protestants for over 300 years. On the front page of this revision we find a copperplate depicting Moses and Aaron as well as The Garden of Eden at the top and a scene of judgment day at the bottom.
Apart from very few isolated persecutions, no religious wars or slaughters took place in Poland as they did in Western Europe. During the time of the Reformation the world recognized Poland as “a country without stakes”, where refugees from the whole of Europe found shelter. However, the Catholic church always had a strong influence on Poland, even long before the Reformation.
The Reformation was eventually wiped out by the protagonists of the Vatican, which henceforth determined the development of the Polish church. The Counter-Reformation also involved the fall of cities, schools and craftsmanship. The triumph of Catholicism meant a triumph of superstition and ignorance. Poland became more Catholic due to the Jesuit order, which was called into the country in 1564. Within a short time, the Jesuits had a good position at the royal court, where the king favoured putting Catholics into offices. The Jesuits created many denominational schools, thus competing with the Protestants. After the nobles had reembraced Catholicism the whole country followed suit. Today 89.9% of the citizens declare their affiliation to the Catholic church. Catholicism has hardly been affected by communism, but has rather strengthened itself due to political persecutions.

Development of Pentecostal Congregations in Poland

The apostle of the Pentecostal movement in Europe was Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940). He was a Methodist pastor from Oslo, who had a Pentecostal experience in 1906 during his stay in New York and also had contacts with the Azusa Street mission in Los Angeles. On his return he became a zealous propagator of Pentecost in Norway as well as elsewhere on the European continent, including Poland. During the years of the birth and shaping of the European Pentecostal movement, Poland was still divided by occupying powers. Pentecost was firstly received by the eastern part of the German Empire; Silesia, Pomerania and Eastern Prussia, as well as Poznan and the area of Gdansk. The new denomination was registered in 1910 in the South Silesian city of Cieszyn by authority of the Austrian state. Later, after Hitler’s invasion of Poland, when Pentecostal church services were strictly forbidden, people began to hold prayer meetings in private homes. During communism, the Pentecostal movement was a minority whereas the real threat as far as the communists were concerned was the Catholic church. Thus, Spiritfilled Poles were not as much persecuted as their brethren in the Soviet Union, where every sign of faith was immediately destroyed.
Today, Pentecostal churches represent the largest religious movement in Poland besides Catholicism and Protestantism. Sadly, many Pentecostal churches have become lukewarm and are not consistent in their teaching of the whole Word of God. However, many sincere and fiery Christians desire and expect a revival, which according to various prophecies will spread from Poland over the whole of Eastern Europe.
The entire Polish history could be summarized with one verse: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 CORINTHIANS 4:8-9).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Norway’s Christian Heritage

 Coat of Arms of Norway
Norway, known officially as The Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country on the western portion of the Scandinavian peninsula, bordering Sweden, Finland and Russia. The name “Norway” derives from the old seafarers’ route to the North, describing “the way to the North” = Nor-way.
The first Norwegian inhabitants can be traced back to descendants from the Israelite tribe of Naphtali with elements from Gad, Dan and Manasseh.1 The early Norwegians were famous as Vikings and were characterized by reckless courage and a cruelty alternated with generosity and magnanimity.
Little is known of the religious ideas of the early Norwegians. The little that is known rests on later sources, chiefly on the Eddas of the thirteenth century. It seems certain that not only animals, but also human beings (even kings), were sacrificed to the gods, of whom Thor and Odin were the most important. These and other heathen rituals like drinking, believing in trolls, etc., were deeply rooted in the Norwegian people and it took many centuries to break some of these traditions.
It is well known that the Vikings were skilled seafarers and tradesmen who travelled extensively throughout Europe and even touched Africa, America and Asia.
Norway comprises the western portionNorway comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian peninsula

Roman Catholicism Comes to Norway

Roman Catholicism came to Norway in 994 AD through the kings Olaf Tryggvason and Olaf II Haraldsson. In 1152 a national church was established, with the archbishopric in Nidaros (present-day Trondheim). The entry of Catholicism put an end to many cruel heathenistic rituals, but at the same time many clerical leaders misused their power and put the people under a heavy yoke. However, there were some small rays of light as history tells us that a few people, especially those living in the rural areas, away from the established church system, experienced answers to prayer, healings and miracles through a simple faith in Christ. Another positive development was that a first basic translation of the Bible into Norwegian was available as early as 1200, which prepared the way for the next step in developing true Christianity in the country.

 The Reformation in Norway

From 1397 until 1814, Norway was absorbed in a union with Denmark and from 1814 until 1905 Norway lived in union with Sweden under the Swedish king. Thus the reformation in Norway is very closely linked to both the Danish and the Swedish reformation history (see the Swedish and Danish Christian history pages).
The Danish King Christian III ordered the introduction of the Lutheran reformation into Norway in 1536 and a Norwegian church council officially adopted the Lutheran reformation in 1539. Monasteries were dissolved, much church property was confiscated by the state and the Catholic bishops were replaced by Lutheran superintendents (who were often referred to as bishops), and the bishops still adhering to Catholicism were deposed.
The Lutheran faith now having become the new state religion, did not mean that the country suddenly experienced a nationwide revival, but more and more preachers and laymen realised the power in The Word and were gripped by a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not until approximately 1670 that a Norwegian Bible could be bought for a reasonable price, and this development greatly helped to further the knowledge of the true ways of The Lord. However, it did not take long for the Lutheran church to become a rigid organisation as well, bound by many theological regulations. Many of its theologians were rulers, rather than servants, and were soon found bound by worldly pleasures, such as drinking and gambling, and a profane lifestyle.

Pietism, Brotherhoods and Missions

As in other Scandinavian countries, the 18th century saw the transmission of pietism from Germany to Norway. This produced a revival in Norwegian life expressed in the establishment of brotherhoods and missions such as the Quakers, Herrenhuters (followers of Count Zinzendorf) or of those following the German Pietist leaders Spener and Franke (see the German Christian history page). We can find many stories about men and women who laboured tirelessly amongst the people of Norway to bring the gospel to the most remote areas and who did not fear prison or persecution for their beliefs.
As the reader will have realised by now, Norway had so far not produced its own spiritual leaders, but rather followed the developments coming from Europe. Many of the movements so far did not reach the whole nation, but only certain geographical areas. In the meantime Erik Pontoppidan, a Danish Protestant bishop, wrote and distributed the fabulous book ”Sannhet til Gud-fryktighet” (in English: ”Truth to Godly Fear”), which prepared the minds of many young children of generations to come.
Soon after this, God would put one man on the Norwegian map who would be responsible for a nationwide awakening and change of values influenced by God and His Spirit – a man often referred to as:

“The Luther of Norway” - Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824)

Hans Nielsen Hauge Hans Nielsen Hauge Hans Nielsen Hauge was born on April 3rd, 1771, in rural Norway, about fifty miles from Oslo. He had little formal education, but was a skilled carpenter and handyman and was thus economically secure. He was raised in a devout home and as a young man he did much religious reading and was deeply worried that he might be damned.
While working on his father's farm, on 5th April, 1796 (just two days after he turned 25), he had a powerful conversion experience, which he later described as follows:
"One day while I was working outside under the open sky, I sang from memory the hymn, ‘Jesus, I Long for Thy Blessed Communion’. At this point my mind became so exalted that I was not myself aware of, nor can I express, what took place in my soul, for I was beside myself. As soon as I came to my senses, I was filled with regret that I had not served this loving, transcendentally good God. Now it seemed to me that nothing in this world was worthy of any regard. That my soul possessed something supernatural, divine and blessed; that there was a glory that no tongue can utter - that I remember as clearly as if it had happened only a few days ago and it is now nearly twenty years since the love of God visited me so abundantly. Now I wanted very much to serve God, I asked Him to reveal to me what I should do. The answer echoed in my heart, ‘You shall confess My Name before the people; exhort them to repent and seek Me while I may be found and call upon Me while I am near; and touch their hearts that they may turn from darkness to light."2   Hauge began to travel throughout Norway and Denmark, preaching everywhere "the living faith" - the personal commitment to the Lord that transforms the believer's life. He also wrote on the subject, producing about thirty books. In the next several years, Hauge travelled - mostly on foot - across Norway and held countless revival meetings, often after church services. In addition to his religious work, he also offered practical advice encouraging, among other things, settlements in northern Norway. People everywhere were saved and then in turn went out to preach the Gospel as well – thus the revival spread throughout all the country.
The Bible was the highest authority for Hauge’s life and teaching. The spiritual situation in Norway was very dark when Hauge came onto the scene – many pastors within the Lutheran faith were backslidden, drunkards and gamblers. In the middle of this darkness Hauge came with his clear message of salvation, re-birth and reconciliation. He called the people to turn from religious acts to a living faith and preached clearly that baptism as a child does not make a person a Christian, but that in adulthood people need to repent and follow God.
Not only did Hauge bring spiritual revival to the country, he was also a very practical businessman. He established various industries such as sawmills, factories and paper and fabric industries; he also worked as a fisherman and owned four fishing boats.
Hauge’s opinion was that a Christian has to be a Christian in every aspect. He established factories so that thousands of people could gain employment. Hauge had the presence of God over his life and yet he was a quiet and humble man, led by the Holy Spirit, whose only goal in life was to save people from eternal destruction in hell. The revival turned Hauge’s followers into the best citizens in the country and many of them acquired leading positions within the government and society.
Such preaching had its price and Hauge had to suffer a lot of persecution from the established clergymen and other authorities in the country. He was attacked in most of the country’s newspapers, arrested, beaten, sworn at, badly treated and imprisoned for much of the period between 1804 and 1814. Hauge’s time in prison broke his health and led to his premature death.

T. B. Barratt (1862–1940) – Europe’s Pentecostal Apostle

Thomas Ball BarrattT.B. Barratt Thomas Ball Barratt, the founder of Pentecostalism in Europe, began his career as a Methodist Episcopal pastor. Each stage of his ministry was characterized by frenetic activity. Driven by holiness theology to transform the world, he established a national youth program for the church and in his congregations. Barratt was active nationally in the temperance movement and he created (together with his sister Mary) an orphanage and a home for unwed mothers. He worked for civil rights for religious dissenters, fought for national independence from Sweden and was elected numerous times onto the city council in Kristiania/Oslo.
In 1905, Barratt travelled to America for a fund-raising tour, but instead of raising funds, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and fire and began to speak in tongues (ACTS 2:4). Upon his return to Oslo, he held revival meetings and many people were saved. The news about this Pentecostal experience soon spread all over Europe and many people came to Oslo to hear Barratt preach.
The work grew and Barratt was soon found travelling all over Scandinavia and Europe, spreading the message of Pentecost – wherever he went revival broke out and people were saved. Barratt also started a Christian newspaper, wrote several books and composed Christian music. He spent a lot of time in prayer and studied his Bible intensively.

Albert Lunde (1877–1939)

At around the same time as Barratt, Norway also saw some other powerfully anointed preachers, amongst them Albert Lunde, who was influenced by the Moody and Sankey revivals in England and America. The influence of God’s Word and Spirit upon his ministry was so strong that people in the prisons were saved even before the preacher got there and Oslo’s renowned department store ”Steen & Strøm” closed its doors for a few hours each day in order to hold Bible classes for both customers and employees.

What Will Come Next?

World War II brought another drastic change to the Norwegian Christian life. The Germans occupied Norway during World War II for about five years, confiscated many of the Christian meeting halls and forbade all evangelists to travel. Soon after the war, Norway experienced a growth in materialism and people were not really interested in God anymore. With the discovery of oil in the 1970’s and Norway’s rich fishing industry, materialism became even stronger and increasingly more Norwegians showed less and less interest in true spiritual values.
Today, secularism is ruling the country while Christian principles and values are removed from society. The religious landscape has changed drastically over the last few decades – the Muslim community is growing in numbers and strength, and eastern religions can be found everywhere today. The number of professing Christians is falling drastically and an openly permissive society is taking shape with activities like free use of drugs, prostitution, homosexuality and abortion, to name but a few. Everything that has ”non-Christian values” is tolerated today and at the same time the old Christian values and moral standards are subtly being removed from our society.
King Haakon VII King Haakon VII Our former King Haakon VII (he ruled Norway from 1905-1957) was aware of these developments within society and fittingly said that, ”The only thing which can save the world from difficulties and all evil is to turn back to early Christianity and the old Christian values.”
If we want to see the Hand of God move again, then we as a nation need to turn back to His Word:
2 CHRONICLES 7:14 “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.”
JEREMIAH 6:16 “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”


• Firdtjof O. Valton, De Norske Vekkelsers Historie, Filadelfiaforlaget A/S, Oslo (1942).
• Dag Kullerud, Hans Nielsen Hauge – mannen som vekket Norge, Aschehoug (1996).
• Martha Lunde, Albert Lunde – Minner fra hans liv, Aschehoug (1939).

  • 1. Yair Davidiy, The Tribes
  • 2. James E. Kiefer, Hans Nielson Hauge - Renewer of the Church, <>