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China experienced wonderful revivings in the years that preceded World War II and the later takeover of China by the Communists. Andrew Gih was a Chinese brother greatly used of God in ministry during those years. In the article below is Gih¬ís account of the beginning days of revival at Bethel Mission in Shanghai, followed by a message Gih preached. These writings are dated about 1938.
"O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things" (Isaiah 25:1).
The beginning was back in 1925. God put a spirit of expectancy into the hearts of a group of His faithful intercessors in Shanghai, and they were led to invite Mr. Paget Wilkes, chairman of the Japan Evangelistic Band, to come to China for the summer conference season. It seemed a most unpropitious time to invite a Britisher for special meetings in China! On May 30 grievous trouble broke out in Shanghai, resulting in strong anti-British feeling. The wave of resentment spread through the interior causing many missionaries to come out to the coast instead of going to the usual summer conference centres.
"But God!" Praise His Name! He worked His purpose out in spite of all human impossibilities. As His expectant ones waited upon Him, He led them to convene the conference in the city of Shanghai--first three weeks for missionaries and then six weeks for Chinese Christians--and a fire was kindled there that is spreading over the whole of China.
God has given such seasons of refreshing that multitudes have had their love fanned to a flame and are now blazing witnesses for Him. "China for Christ in this generation" seems a possibility. At last the unreached masses are having an opportunity to hear the Good News. God is blessing His Word and thousands are being saved. During those days "power from on high" came down sweeping away national prejudices and whirling multitudes into the full current of God¬ís perfect will....
Dr. Mary Stone, one of China¬ís most famous women physicians, and one of the founders of Bethel Mission, burning with zeal for souls, turned her big hospital and medical work over to her sister, Dr. Phoebe Stone, and led groups of younger workers out in evangelistic campaigns. I was one of the youngsters privileged to go with Dr. Stone. God had earlier called me, but it was not until Mr. Wilkes¬í meetings that the great committal was made. I gave up my position in the post office and returned to Bethel to prepare for fulltime service.
Mr. Wilkes led us to expect great things from God. He showed from his experience in Japan that the Holy Spirit can enlighten the minds and convict the hearts when the gospel is heard for the first time. And from the very first we found it blessedly true. We had the joy of continually seeing instant conversions, precious souls suddenly coming out of darkness into His glorious light.
Our own Bethel church, without any special meetings or speakers, experienced a great awakening. Every Sunday was a revival with souls saved. On one day 102 were baptized. The company of believers was so enlarged that a new tabernacle had to be built. And the same power of God is still working there. At the 1936 Annual Summer Bible Conference, God strangely moved His servant to give the opening message on sin and repentance. More than 100 souls were saved in that meeting.
After a fruitful year given entirely to evangelism, Dr. Stone was called back to her medical work by the Home-going of her sister, who had been carrying on so unselfishly in her absence. But while Dr. Stone was no longer free for long trips, the calls for evangelistic work continued to come to Bethel; and we younger workers answered these calls with fear and trembling. But God worked with us, weak and insignificant as we were.
It was in 1928 that we saw the glory of the Lord in soul-stirring reviving in South China, and in all our lives we had never witnessed such sights! In Wuchow there were 800 decisions in eight days of meetings. In Canton the whole congregation was melted. Being from Shanghai and unable to speak Cantonese fluently, we had to talk through an interpreter. But in the midst of the sermon the interpreter was so moved by God¬ís Spirit, so convicted of sin, that he gave way to weeping and the preaching had to stop!
In Hsinghua more than half of the audience of a thousand people crowded to the front. As they confessed their sins with tears, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were wonderfully revived.
Oh, those were glorious days! We were given a vision of the need and of the possibility of working together with God, carrying revival fire all over China. But we did not know how to go about it. We did not see how such a tremendous task could be financed. We prayed God to show us what we ought to do.
Then in 1930 the Asbury College World Evangelistic Team from Kentucky, came to Bethel¬ís Summer Bible Conference. They were carrying the gospel around the world--and without a bank account! We were convinced that if God could provide for them He could also provide for us; so we determined to launch out in faith. Praise the Lord! By His grace we were made obedient to the Heavenly vision!
Constrained by His great love for the perishing millions of our own countrymen, four of us organized the Bethel world-Wide Evangelistic Band, purposing to preach the gospel in every province of China, and then as led, to the uttermost parts of the world. We presented our bodies to the Lord for life-service, whether in church or home, on the road, on train or boat, in every place, to introduce men to our loving, gracious Lord. This was not our zeal but the Lord¬ís grace.
Without learning, eloquence or worldly position, how could we go into all the world and preach? The Lord said to us, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6). How could we bear such great responsibility? The Lord told us, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).
Without finances, how could we go into all the world? The Lord Jesus reminded us: "Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). So hearing the call, "Whom shall I send?" we answered, "Lord, here am I, send me."
On February 8, 1931, a consecration service was held at Bethel when we made known how we had been called. Everyone recognized that the call was not of ourselves but the work of the Holy Spirit. So they prayed for us, and committing us to the Lord¬ís grace, sent us forth. On February 18 we started out in faith to witness for the Lord in the North...."
A Message Preached by Gih
Five Years Later --
In the five years since the Bethel World-Wide Evangelistic Band began its work we have seen hundreds of churches gloriously revived. The secret of this great spiritual quickening is nothing new, nothing human at all, but just God¬ís way of working, unchanged since ancient times.
A study of First Kings 17 and 18 is illuminating: Elijah saw a great revival because the fire came down from heaven; and that is the only way we can have a revival today. If there is no working of the Holy Spirit as fire from on high, the world cannot know that ours is the true and living God. No matter how much Elijah preached, with ever so great earnestness and zeal, the people didn¬ít repent. But when the fire fell there was a great turning to God.
Our cold, half-dead churches today do not lack preaching, learned preaching, eloquent preaching, even fervent preaching. But the Holy Spirit¬ís fire is lacking and there are no results. Let us learn from Elijah how to bring down the fire and start a real revival!
Elijah had the distinguishing marks of a servant of God. He dwelt as a sojourner on the earth, the world was not his home. He had seen through the vanity and folly of the world, and for him, bickering and compromise were ended. Elijah appears in the Bible record without introduction; he was concerned with introducing not himself, but the Lord.
As a faithful servant of God rather than man, he was obedient even unto death. If we obey in that way, we, too, may have Elijah¬ís power. He was absolutely dependent on God, rather than on a church or organization or human benefactor. It was a great test of faith to look to undependable ravens for his daily food supply!
In spite of the world¬ís depression and distress, the God of Elijah and the God of the ravens is still on the throne. God¬ís servants must have Elijah¬ís reckless faith if they would see a great revival. With this must be coupled a holy life; Elijah lived in the wilderness, separated from the world. The church has lost its separated character and with it has lost the power to bring down fire from heaven.
God¬ís time for revival is the very darkest hour, when everything seems hopeless. It is always the Lord¬ís way to go to the very worst cases to manifest His glory. Today the church is troubled as never before, having "forsaken the commandments of Jehovah." Worldliness, unbelief, sin have brought shame and confusion. Oh, for an Elijah to bring down revival fire!
But God¬ís way of sending revival is absolutely uncompromising. There is no middle road. The choice between Jehovah or Baal, God or the devil must be clear-cut. No man can serve two masters. There can be no concessions to gain men¬ís good opinion or the world¬ís favor. Where do we stand? Are we completely His, without regard to consequences?
God¬ís programme for reviving His people is definite and clear. First Elijah "repaired the altar of Jehovah that was thrown down." That is the place to begin. All the ruin that sin has wrought must be cleared away by confession. Things must be made right with God; restitution must be made where it is due. Unless this is done definitely and thoroughly, prayer for reviving is vain.
The revival began with the twelve tribes, with the leaders, and that is where it must start today. Preachers and pastors and missionaries must first be revived. It must begin with you.
Then Elijah dug a trench about the rebuilt altar. Having confessed our sins and been forgiven, cleansed and renewed, we must separate ourselves from the world; draw a definite line of demarcation.
The sacrifice had to be cut in pieces, thus signifying that Elijah had gone to the place of death with the Lord, willing to be broken into bits for Him. This is complete surrender, perfect consecration. Then he said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering." And they did it the second and third times. The soul must be drenched with the water of the Word before the fire can fall.
The last step in God¬ís programme for revival is prayer. Too many are praying today without repairing the altar by confession of sin, without digging a trench of separation from the world and without a surrender that is even unto death. No wonder such prayer is fruitless. Faithfully follow the programme, then pray and the fire will fall, burning out self and sanctifying all that has been placed on the altar.
Elijah¬ís God still lives to hear our prayer. Why don¬ít we pray, and go out rejoicing in the reality that it is no longer I, but Christ? When the Holy Spirit¬ís purifying flame has kindled in our own hearts, then the people will see it and fall on their faces, confessing that Jehovah, He is God. And the sound of "abundance of rain" will refresh God¬ís people. Make ready, and the fire from heaven will fall today!
Humbly following this program, the Bethel Band is seeing God work in mighty power. Thousands are being definitely saved. Hundreds of volunteer preaching bands are enduring hardness and persecution for the Cross of Christ.
The work of the Holy Spirit goes on after the special meetings close, and many of the most signal victories come quietly months after the thrill of the campaign is over.
In the interior city of Chengchow the Band had a very difficult time. The meetings had gone on without noticeable results and the last day came. The Band knew that the hindrance must be with the leaders who seemed quite indifferent. Desperately we prayed, and when hope seemed almost gone we were reminded that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years. He can do wonders in just one day! Our faith took hold on God for the fall of Jericho at the last.
And God honored our faith. During the morning meeting one of the missionaries could not restrain his tears and confessed most humbly that he was a great sinner and a hypocrite. Then the Holy Spirit fell on the whole congregation and all were convicted of sin and confessed with tears of contrition.
At the closing meeting there was no opportunity for preaching. The Holy Spirit was working and people spontaneously confessed their sins and need, or gave joyous testimonies of salvation.
God can work and save souls independently of our preaching. Sometimes when we see results we are tempted to think it is because we have preached a good sermon! Oh, no! That is wrong! Without Him we can do nothing. Let us remember that the battle is His. Let Him work and give all the glory to Him.
Seeing that the revival was just beginning, the Band was led to stay on for another day and saw greater wonders. The Spirit worked in such power that people could not do otherwise than repent. Even passersby were convicted of sin and saved right there and then. Two deacons who were stumbling blocks in the church were converted. These men had led an anti-foreign agitation in 1927, planning to drive the missionaries away and take over the mission property. There was great joy in the church when they gave their confessions and testimonies.
The meetings continued with increasing effectiveness after the Band had to leave for another place. In these dark days may there be raised up English and Canadian and American and Australian Elijahs who will follow God¬ís programme and bring down the fire from heaven, even as it has been kindled in China!