THE STORY OF THE GREAT REVIVAL
(At Mukti, India 1905)
Chapter 12 Of Her Book ‘Pandita Ramabai’
by Helen S. Dyer
About This Chapter
This is a brief but thrilling account of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which occurred in India in 1905. It was sparked by news of the Revival in Wales and another outbreak of Divine power in the Khassia Hills in Assam. Hundreds met for daily prayer until the fires of Revival swept throughout the Mukti mission. It was taken from ‘The Story Of The Great Revival’, chapter 12 of by Helen S. Dyer’s ‘Pandita Ramabai’, which was first published in 1900.
Copyright Information: public domain
IN answer to united and continuous prayer from both workers and the Christian converts at Mukti, the Lord wonderfully answered and poured down showers of blessing. In December, 1901, and the following January, about twelve hundred were baptised; but the workers felt the need of a much deeper work of grace to be manifested in the lives of converts and continued to cry to the Lord. The following July a further revival of blessing came down from above. For nearly three weeks meetings, daily increasing in size, were held, till nearly six hundred shared in the blessing and were led out into the joy of the Lord.
News of the revival in Australia in 1903 aroused Ramabai to send thither her daughter and Miss Abrams, in order that they might catch the inspiration of the revival fire and form praying-bands for Mukti among the Australian Christians. The burden of the message, which Ramabai sent by them to, the newly revived Australian Churches was, “Brethren, pray for us".
That has been the burden of all the messages that Ramabai has sent to her friends in all parts of the world. About the same time she organised among her friends far and near a system of prayer- circles. The names of ten girls or women were given to each circle. Thus all were being prayed for daily by name. Her magazine, The Prayer Bell, carried the same message.
Several months were spent in Australia and New Zealand by Miss Abrams and Manoramabai. An Australian edition of Ramabai’s book, “The High Caste Hindu Woman,” was issued, and the foundation was laid for a valuable auxiliary, which has continuously furnished workers and means for Mukti, in addition to the prayer partnerships so much desired.
The news of the revival in Wales brought much gladness to Ramabai. In January 1905, she told her pupils about it, and called for volunteers to meet with her daily for special prayer for a revival in India. Seventy came forward, and from time to time others joined. In June five hundred and fifty were meeting twice daily in this praying band.
Rejoicing still more that the revival had reached the Welsh missions in the Khassia Hills in Assam, Pandita Ramabai then asked for volunteers from her Bible school to give up their secular studies and go out into the villages to preach the Gospel. Thirty young women volunteered, and were meeting daily to pray for the enduement of power when the revival came upon them.
Miss Abrams had been giving some definite teaching on the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as power for service, and one morning she was awakened by one of the senior girls, saying, “Come over and rejoice with us. J. has received the Holy Spirit. I saw the fire, ran across the room for a pail of water, and was about to pour it over her when I discovered she was not on fire.”
When Miss Abrams arrived all the girls in that compound were on their knees, weeping, praying, and confessing their sins. J. sat there exhorting the girls to repent, and telling them she had received the Spirit. There was real power in her testimony. She said, “O Lord, I am full of joy, but forgive and cleanse my sisters as you have me; give me strength to bear this sorrow for their sins.” Then she would exhort them and break out into new and beautiful praise. She said, “O Lord, we must have a revival; we must have it; begin it today.”
The next evening, while Ramabai was expounding John 8 in her usual quiet way, the Holy Spirit descended with power, and all the girls began to pray aloud so that she had to cease talking. Little children, middlesized girls, and young women wept bitterly and confessed their sins.
Some few saw visions and experienced the power of God and things too deep to be described. Two little girls had the spirit of prayer poured on them in such torrents that they continued to pray for hours. They were transformed with heavenly light shining on their faces.
“From that time,” said Miss Abrams, “our Bible school was turned into an inquiry room. Girls, stricken down under conviction of sin while in school, or in the industrial school, or at their work, were brought to us. Lessons were suspended, and we all, teachers and students, entered the school conducted by the Holy Spirit.”
Prayer continued all night in the various compounds on more than one occasion. The Bible school was filled with those crying for mercy. Such repentance, such heart-searching, such agony over sin, and tears, as they cried for pardon and cleansing and the baptism of the Holy Ghost! Then a baptism like fire within came upon them. They seemed to have their eyes open to see the “body of sin” in themselves. Then came a strong realisation of Christ ‘s work upon the Cross; then, followed by intense joy. It often took a soul hours to pass through all these experiences. The Lord used the Word greatly, and the work went on rapidly for three days. Satan was also busy, and tried to counterfeit all he saw. Some who beheld the joy thought they could get it by imitating what they had seen the others do. Yet the work went on, and a spirit of prayer and supplication for a revival in India was poured out like a flood.
A letter written by one of the Mukti workers at this time says: “Even young girls are stricken down with the spirit of repentance. They cannot eat, sleep, or work till they go to the bottom of things. They seek the peace of pardon, and immediately begin to seek sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They search and weep before God, until He shows them the state of their heart. They repent, restore, confess, and finally come into such joy that it knows no bounds. They call it a baptism of fire. They say that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them the burning within them is almost unbearable. Afterwards they are transformed, their faces light up with joy, their mouths are filled with praise.
“One little girl of twelve is constantly laughing - her face, plain, even ugly, is beautiful and radiant. She does not know it. She is occupied with Jesus. You think you have looked on an angel face. Some claim to have seen the Lord - one, a blind girl. All speak of His Coming again. One sang hymns, composing them as she sang - lovely hymns to Indian tunes. Another, writing a few weeks later, said, ‘There is a very true work of God going on in our midst. Some of the worst women have been changed in heart and life. Since I came it is the marvellous spirit of prayer that has been most evident. Waves of prayer go over the meetings like the rolling thunder; hundreds pray audibly together. Sometimes after ten or twenty minutes it dies away and only a few voices are heard, then it will rise again and increase in intensity; on other occasions it goes on for hours.
During these seasons there are usually some confessing their sins, often with bitter weeping which is painful to hear. The conflict seems so great they are almost beside themselves. It reminds one of the narratives in the Gospels about our Lord casting out evil spirits, and truly evil spirits are being cast out. There is much one cannot understand at first, but one grows by His grace into the work and learns to distinguish by the outward signs as well as by the Spirit’s inward teaching the false from the true. Satan counterfeits all that the Lord does, and is working hard to hinder and spoil the work of God, but he is a conquered foe!”
One of the older girls, who had sinned against light and was greatly hardened, came under the mighty hand of God and was wonderfully saved. There was not the slightest indication of illness about her. She did her usual work and attended school. She was being instructed in the Bible school one afternoon when she was taken ill and died within an hour.
Doctors and nurses gave her every attention, but her spirit fled to be with God. She was quite conscious, and said that the Lord stood by her and was calling her to come to Him.
About a month after the revival broke out Ramabai was asked to permit the account of it to be published in India, but fearing lest the work of the Spirit should be hindered, she declined to give the desired permission. She did not feel easy, however, that she had done right, and a time of depression ensued.
The workers met for special prayer, “and then,” said Ramabai, “the Spirit revealed to me that the depression had come because we had refused to give glory to God by not allowing the account to be published. I made up my mind to praise God and give Him glory in public the first time He would make it possible for me to testify before people outside of our Home,” The depression left her immediately after this, and the story of the revival was sent to the Bombay Guardian and elsewhere, to the encouragement of many in India who were praying for a similar blessing.
A fortnight later Ramabai took a band of her Spirit-filled helpers to Poona, and there began a series of prayer meetings with the object of reaching the Indian Christians. Three meetings were held daily, attended by Europeans, including British soldiers, as well as Christian and non-Christian Indians. At these gatherings Ramabai exalted the Cross of Christ. She confessed with sorrow that she had neglected her opportunities of preaching Christ boldly, but she was resolved by God’s mercy to rectify the past, and openly and persistently magnify Christ crucified. She told how she had that day visited the learned Hindus in the city and preached Christ to them, though met by opposition, insult, and scorn.
The greatest apparent results from these meetings came to the orphanages and schools at Poona, the pupils of which were permitted to attend. It was noticed that the Spirit of God worked in a remarkable manner in those institutions, where famine waifs had been gathered. The belief held by many that God would turn the curse into a blessing by making the horrors of famine an instrument for salvation in India was seen to be well founded. It was also noticeable that the first communities of famine orphans visited with the revival were those conducted on the same principle as George Muller's famous institutions, in faith in God for daily bread and all temporal supplies.
It could not be otherwise, for this work was born of prayer. The enormous sums of money received from England, America, and Australia, which enabled the Lord’s servants in India to rescue so many precious lives, were given in large proportion by His own people. Much of this giving was steeped in prayer and ear-marked by heroic self-denial, so that one felt it was all a part of one great plan focused on one object in the purposes of the eternal God.
Ramabai’s visit to Poona was followed by deputations of praying bands being sent to other places where famine orphans had been gathered. Some of these bands were led out by Miss Abrams, and some by Manoramabai and other workers. They visited also schools and mission stations of several different denominations, and a deep work was done in many places. The object of the praying bands was defined by Ramabai to be "prayer for the Christian people living in the places to which the bands go." She said, “Our work will bear lasting fruit if we pray more and work less.” While the rules were slackened as regards secular work at Mukti, Bible study was entered upon with renewed vigour. Over and over again it was remarked by visitors and helpers alike that they were never in any place where so much time was given to Bible study and prayer. A special course was now provided for the members of the praying bands.
Rev. William Franklin, of the American “Christian and Missionary Alliance” Mission, was providentially led to help at Mukti at this time. He said: “We are now seeing the results of God’s work in transfigured lives, marked by intercessory prayer, Bible study, and more preaching to the heathen. Bible study and prayer have characterised the work here from its beginning, and were the preparation for the revival, yet both have been deepened by the revival.”
The first Tuesday in each month had been kept as a day of prayer at Mukti for many years. While waiting on the Lord on this special day in November, 1905, the Lord revealed to Ramabai that He would have her close school and every kind of work, and set apart ten days for waiting upon Him. As far as possible everybody at Mukti gathered in the Church four times daily to hear what the Lord had to teach them and to pray to Him. The early morning meetings were quiet, with Bible reading, messages, and silent prayer, when those who had undertaken to pray for others could leave their names before the Lord. At the other gatherings there was simultaneous and loud praying.
It seemed that the Lord came down to deepen the work. He had begun by an intense purifying, which caused some of the demonstrations to be very striking. But He had all in hand, and kept the workers quiet and still. He opened His Word and showed much of His glory, into which He desired to lead His people. Then towards the end the Lord spoke in power against a common sin in India, i.e., stealing. “Then,” wrote a worker, “we had a tremendous time of ‘house-cleaning,’ as one called it, when misappropriated things were restored to their rightful owners and other restitutions made. We European workers feel we have learned more of what heathenism means during the past few months than ever before. It is truly awful, yet how the grace of God is magnified as we see those who were steeped in sin cleansed by the precious blood and filled by the Holy Spirit.”
This season of waiting upon God had an evident purpose in the further equipment of workers for service. At this time Ramabai wrote: “You will rejoice to know that the revival is bearing fruit. Some seven hundred girls and women of the Mukti people have given themselves to prayer and the study of God’s Word, that they may go to the places where God sends them to give the Gospel. They are already visiting the villages around, where they sing Gospel hymns and read the Word of God to the village people. About sixty go out daily by turns, so that each one gets her turn every twelfth day. They pray regularly for those they visit. The Lord put this plan in my heart, and He is going before. The people whose turn it is to go out, meet previously for a long prayer meeting. The Lord is strengthening and developing them.”
The story of what God was doing among the widows in Mukti aroused the deepest interest in all missionary circles in India. Missionaries came from all parts of the country to see and hear for themselves. Many who came for a brief sojourn to Mukti left full of a newfound joy and power for service. One of these said: “It is not that place is anything to God. He can bless in one or another; but at Ramabai’s people have time to pray for you and see you through. It is simply that they have come to recognise that first things must be first and be kept first.” Said another: “I spent twelve days at Mukti, and during that time I saw the glory of the Lord, and came home in renewed strength of body and soul. I would never forget the trouble of many, especially of a Tinnevelly missionary and his wife, to receive the baptism of fire; and when they received it, how they went back rejoicing to their home. Not only missionaries, but Indian Christians also came to Mukti to partake of the poured-out blessing.” To one orphanage to which she was unable to send a prayer band at the desired time, Ramabai sent an invitation for a hundred boys, girls, and teachers to visit Mukti. They went and stayed sixteen days. The converted were revived, and most of the unconverted saved, while some of the elder ones remained ten days longer and received further blessing. Other deputations of Indian Christians came and received similar blessing.
In the results of this revival Ramabai began to feel that God was answering the prayer first voiced at Keswick in 1898 for 200,000 Indian evangelists to go up and clown the land proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. At this time she was led to write a circular letter and send it to missionaries all over India to increase prayer interest in this respect. More than 3500 copies of this circular were sent out asking for names of people to be prayed for. Many responses were sent in, and in a short time more than 29,000 persons were being prayed for by name. Ramabai said, “When we were Hindus we used to repeat one or two thousand names of the gods daily, as well as several hundred verses from the so-called sacred books, in order to gain merit. This did not hinder our work or study. Why should we not, as Christians, be able to pray for many hundreds of people by name?”
An experience by Mr. Handley Bird will fittingly close this chapter on the great revival. It was written in May 1906, almost twelve months from the commencement of this wondrous outpouring at Mukti. Mr. Bird is a well-known missionary of the people known as “Brethren,” working at Coimbatore, in South India, since 1890:
“The writer has spent seventeen days recently at Mukti-days of blessing that, please God, will leave their mark on all his future life. How can one describe the tides of feeling this first contact with the revival begat in the soul? There was hunger, real pain of hunger, for a share in this visitation of God; shame, bitter shame, at the ignorance, after long years of Christian life, of what this travailing in prayer, prevailing in prayer, being lost in prayer meant, as it was seen here in many mere children; then there was wonder, praiseful wonder, at the marvels of grace. Little girls were lost for hours in the transport of loving Jesus and praising Him; young Christians were counting it a rare privilege to spend many successive hours in intercessory prayer for strangers never seen or known. One face ever lives before me, a strong, rough looking girl, once the rowdy character of the institution, always in trouble, now transformed, her strong face aglow with holy joy, her loud, masculine voice ringing out in her crying to God for others, or breaking with tearful entreaty. God bless Billy Bray, as Ramabai has nicknamed this dear girl.
“Day after day it was meat and drink to gather to pray and praise. In one meeting we were seventeen hours together; the following day more than fifteen hours passed before the meeting broke up with great joy, and such songs of praise as hoarse and broken voices could utter. The work goes on. It is now eleven months since the blessing began, and yet while we were at Mukti we daily saw souls seeking and finding, coming out into blessing so full and definite as often to be almost more than could be borne, filling the mouth with laughter and the life with gladness.
“We are full of praise that we have been allowed to live to hear such sounds in India. Souls in agony, with bitter wailing and moving entreaty seeking the Lord. Hearts overflowing with joy in Jesus abandoned to the luxury of praising Him, sitting on the ground or kneeling, lost to all that goes on around, with clasped hands and upturned faces aglow with love, in the midst of a crowd but apart with Him, exchanging the holiest confidences of affection. This is worship, the worship the Father seeks for, and it is one of the loveliest sights one can conceive out of Heaven. When some hundreds are carried away and can only sing ‘Hallelujah, Hallelujah to the Lamb’ until unable to sing any more, God is surely getting His own, and His heart is refreshed.”