I write of the revival in Korea because it has done so much for me. I cannot even consider the attainments and sacrifices of the Korean Christians without feeling ashamed of the little I have ever done for the Master. I have often seen Chinese Christian audiences break down and weep when I told them the story. If you realize that you have been "bought with a price" you will surely be ashamed and humbled too if you give this tale of Gospel triumph in Korea a fair hearing.
It was in the year of the great revival, 1907, that I visited eight of the chief mission centers of Korea. On returning to China I told the facts to the Chinese Christians at Mukden, and they seemed deeply moved. I went to Pei Tai Ho and told the missionaries there how the Lord had blessed Korea; and I heard some in tears vow that they would pray until a like blessing came to China. Afterwards I was invited to go to Chi Kung Shan, another health resort, to tell about Korea. I told the story on a Sunday evening. As I finished it occurred to me that I had been too long, and immediately I closed with the benediction. But no one moved. The stillness of death reigned. This lasted six or seven minutes, and then suppressed weeping broke out over the audience. Sins were confessed; forgiveness was asked for bid temper and quarrels, and the like. It was late when the meeting broke up, but all felt that the Holy Spirit had been among us, refining as by fire. Then we had four days of conference and prayer. It was the most wonderful time I have ever seen among missionaries. We resolved that we would pray every afternoon at four o'clock until the Church of China was revived. That autumn we began to see the power of God manifested among the people, but increased in mighty measure after the beginning of 1908 in Manchuria and elsewhere.
The beginnings of revival were first seen in Korea in 1903. Dr. Hardie, of Gensan, on the east coast, had been asked to prepare some addresses on prayer for a little conference the missionaries proposed to hold. As he was preparing his subjects, from John fourteen and elsewhere, the Holy Spirit taught him many things. When he delivered his talks on prayer all the missionaries were moved. Afterward the Korean Christians met in conference and were very manifestly moved. Then Dr. Hardie visited ten mission centers throughout Korea and gave his prayer talks; and during 1904, ten thousand Koreans turned to God. The revival thus begun continued in power and spiritual result until 1906.
In June, 1907, Mr. Swallen, of Ping Yang, told me how they came to see greater things in Korea. Said he, "I personally didn't expect to see greater blessings in Korea than we had seen up to the middle of 1906. When we compared our results in Korea with those in China, Japan and elsewhere, we saw that our ingatherings far exceeded anything in those lands, and we came to the conclusion that probably God did not intend to grant us greater blessings than we had already seen. But we got our eyes opened at Seoul, in September, 1906, when Dr. Howard Agnew Johnston, of New York, told us of the revival in the Kassia Hills, India, in 1905-6, where they had baptized 8,200 converts during the two years.
"We missionaries returned home to Ping Yang humbled. There were over twenty of us in the Methodist and Presbyterian Missions at Ping Yang. We reasoned that since our God was not a respecter of persons, He did not wish to give greater blessings in the Kassia Hills than in Ping Yang, so we decided to pray at the noon hour until greater blessing came.
"After we had prayed about a month, a brother proposed that we stop 'the prayer-meeting, saying, 'We have prayed about a month, and nothing unusual has come of it. We are spending a lot of time. I don't think we are justified. Let us go on with our work as usual, and each pray at home as we find it convenient.' The proposal seemed plausible. However, the majority decided to continue the prayer-meeting, believing that the Lord would not deny Ping Yang what He had granted to Kassia."
They decided to give more time to prayer instead of less. With that view they changed the hour from twelve to four o'clock; then they were free to pray until suppertime if they wished. There was little else than prayer. If anyone had an encouraging item to relate, it was given as they continued in prayer. They prayed about four months, and they said the result was that all forgot about being Methodists and Presbyterians; they only realized that they were all one in the Lord Jesus Christ. That was true church union; it was brought about on the knees; it would last; it would glorify the Most High.
About that time Mr. Swallen, along with Mr. Blair, visited one of the country out-stations. While conducting the service in the usual way many commenced weeping and confessing their sins. Mr. Swallen said he had never met with anything so strange, and he announced a hymn, hoping to check the wave of emotion which was sweeping over the audience. He tried several times, but in vain, and in awe he realized that Another was managing that meeting; and he got as far out of sight as possible. Next morning he and Mr. Blair returned to the city rejoicing, and told how God had come to the out-station. All praised God and believed that the time to favor Ping Yang was close at hand.
It had now come to the first week of January, 1907. They all expected that God would signally bless them during the week of universal prayer. But they came to the last day, the eighth day, and yet there was no special manifestation of the power of God. That Sabbath evening about fifteen hundred people were assembled in the Central Presbyterian Church. The heavens over them seemed as brass. Was it possible that God was going to deny them the prayed-for outpouring? Then all were startled as Elder Keel, the leading man in the church, stood up and said, "I am an Achan. God can't bless because of me. About a year ago a friend of mine, when dying, called me to his home and said, 'Elder, 1 am about to pass away; I want you to manage my affairs; my wife is unable.' I said, 'Rest your heart; I will do it.' I did manage that widow's estate, but I managed to put one hundred dollars of her money into my own pocket. I have hindered God, I am going to give that one hundred dollars back to that widow tomorrow morning.
Instantly it was realized that the barriers had fallen, and that God, the Holy One, had come. Conviction of sin swept the audience. The service commenced at seven o'clock Sunday evening, and did not end until two o'clock Monday morning, yet during all that time dozens were standing weeping, awaiting their turn to confess. Day after day the people assembled now, and always it was manifest that the Refiner was in His temple. Let man say what he will, these confessions were controlled by a power not human. Either the devil or the Holy Spirit caused them. No divinely enlightened mind can for one instant believe that the devil caused that chief man in the church to confess such a sin. It hindered the Almighty God while it remained covered, and it glorified Him as soon as it was uncovered; and so with rare exceptions did all the confessions in Korea that year.
Let me give a few examples.
A doctor had boasted that he had one of the most honest cooks in Korea (in the East, cooks do all the marketing); but when the cook was convicted he said, "I have been cheating the doctor all the time; my house and lot have been secured by cheating the doctor." The cook sold his home and paid all back to the doctor.
A teacher had been entrusted to buy some land for the mission. He secured it, and said the price was $500. The missionary paid the bill, though objecting to so big a price. In the revival that teacher confessed he had secured the land for $80. He now sold out all he had and paid back the $420 out of which he had cheated the mission.
Mr. Mackenzie, the war correspondent, had a boy who cheated him out of less than four dollars. That boy, when convicted, walked eighty miles and had a missionary send that money to Mr. Mackenzie. Is it any wonder that Mr. Mackenzie became a strong believer in the kind of Christianity they have in Korea?
A man who had a wife and one son in We Ju left them and became rich in another city. There he married another woman, and by her had two daughters. When his soul was revived he arranged for the support of this woman and her daughters, and went back to We Ju and was reconciled to his lawful wife. If the Korean kind of revival ever reaches some Christian lands, where divorce prevails, there will be some startling social upheavals.
A deacon, who was looked upon as almost perfect, seemed to get very uneasy as the revival progressed, and he confessed to the stealing of some charity funds. All were astonished, but expected him to get peace; however, he descended into deeper distress and then confessed to a breach of the seventh commandment.
A woman, who for days seemed to pass through the agonies of hell, confessed one evening in a public meetmg to the sin of adultery. The missionary in charge of the meeting was greatly alarmed, for be knew that her husband was present, and knew that if that husband killed her be would be in accord with the Korean law. That husband in tears, went over and knelt beside his sinning wife and forgave her. How the Lord Jesus was glorified as He said to that Korean woman, "Sin no more! "
Such extraordinary happenings could not but move the multitude, and the churches became crowded. Many came to mock, but in fear began to pray. The leader of a robber band, who came out of idle curiosity, was convicted and converted, and went straight to the magistrate and gave himself up. The astonished official said, "You have no accuser; you accuse yourself; we have no law in Korea to meet your case"; and so dismissed him.
A Japanese officer at the time of the revival was quartered in Ping Yang. He had imbibed the agnostic ideas of the West, therefore to him spiritual things were beneath contempt. Still, the strange transformations which were taking place, not only among great numbers of Koreans, but even among some Japanese, who could not possibly understand the language, so puzzled him that he attended the meetings to investigate. The final result was that all his unbelief was swept away and he became a follower of the Lord Jesus.
As Mr. Swallen said, "It paid well to have spent the several months in prayer, for when God the Holy Spirit came He accomplished more in half a day than all of us missionaries could have accomplished in half a year. In less than two months more than two thousand heathen were converted." It is always so as soon as God gets first place; but, as a rule, the Church, which professes to be Christ's, will not cease her busy round of activities and give God a chance by waiting upon Him in prayer.
The revival which began in 1903 and had continued to increase, now flowed on in increasing volume, from the Ping Yang center, all over Korea. By the middle of 1907 there were 30,000 converts connected with the Ping Yang center. In the city there were four or five churches. The Central Presbyterian Church could hold 2,000 if the people sat close. Korean churches have no seats. The people sit on mats spread on the floor. They said in the Central Church that if you packed 2,000 in they would be so close that if any one had to stand up a bit to ease his cramped legs he never could sit down again, for the space would just fill in. But the utmost packing could not meet the need of Central Church, for its membership was 3,000. The way they did was for the women to come first and fill the church, and when their service was ended, the men came and took their places. It was clear that the revival had not died down by 1910, for in October of that year 4,000 were baptized in one week, and thousands besides sent in their names, saying they had decided to become Christians.
South of Ping Yang we passed through Songdo, the ancient Korean capital. In 1907 the revival had added 500 to the Church, but during a month of special meetings in 1910, 2,500 were gathered in.
When we visited Seoul in 1907, every church was crowded. A missionary said that on a six weeks' tour he had baptized 500 and recorded 700 catechumens, and that his five out-stations, in one year, had increased to twenty-five. During 1910 there were 13,000 people in Seoul who signed cards saying they wanted to become Christians, and in September of that year the Methodist churches of the city received 3,000 by baptism.
Directly west of the capital, at the port of Chemulpo, the Methodist Mission, in 1907, had a church with 800 members. Opposite the harbor there was an island with 17,000 inhabitants. The churches on the island had a baptized membership of 4,247, and more than half of them had been brought in that year. The Christians were praying that soon the whole island would become the Lord's.
At Tai Ku, the capital of one of the southern provinces, Mr. Adams told how they had proposed to hold a ten days' prayer-meeting, seeking for revival, and that the Holy Spirit came like a flood on the seventh day and revived them. One result was that the city church became too small, and churches sprang up all over the country. In 1905 they received 1,976 converts; in 1906 they received 3,867, and in 1907 they received 6,144. Said he, "There are churches now in the country I have never seen, and some even that the evangelists have never yet visited." Then he told how a certain church had formed without missionary or evangelist. A man from that district had heard the Gospel in the city and took a Testament home with him. He kept on reading it to his neighbors until more than fifty believed. Then they felt they ought to form a church, but did not know how. From the New Testament they inferred that the door of entrance was by the use of water In baptism, but they were at a loss as to how it was applied. So after consultation they decided that each would go home and take a bath and then meet and form their church. And 1 have no doubt that God was pleased.
Another center visited in 1907 was Shan Chun, along the railway north of Ping Yang. Surely not much could be expected from such a young mission center, for the missionaries had only been established there eight years. Yet when we were there, in town and country there were 15,348 believers-and no one is counted unless lie attends church and contributes to its support. They had just completed a church seating 1,500. A year before their churches seated 800, but the membership was 870, so they must build. During the year that Central Church lived off five country churches; but when it was completed, its membership had increased to 1,445. And no street radiating from that church had a heathen family left; all had become Christian. Since they say in our Christian lands, "the nearer the kirk, the farther from grace," how do you account for that Korean church having no unsaved families near it? I can only account for it by the fact that they honor God the Holy Spirit,,and thereby live such a powerful type of Christianity that all around them get convicted of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.
In 1916, 1 heard Mr. Foote, a missionary from the east coast of Korea, say that he had recently spent a Sunday at that center. That Sunday evening he worshiped in the enlarged First Church, where the church was packed with an audience of 2,500, and he was told that the other church that evening had an audience of 500. The town has a population of only 3,000, therefore all must have been out to church. Our highly favored Christian lands do not so appreciate the privilege of assembling themselves together. The Master is going to say some straight things on this subject some time.
To get an idea of how the work from that center spread throughout the country, I asked Mr. Blair to draw me a sketch map of one of his counties. He had but a few minutes before the train drew in. It was a sketch of Noag Ch'en County which he drew, It bordered on the sea, east of the Yalu River. About the center of the map he put down a church with 350 believers; less than a mile north there was another church with 250; northeast, five miles, another church with 400; east, less than two miles, another church with 750; and so on, there being fourteen self-supporting centers in the county. Mr. Whittemore, who was standing beside me, said: "That county does not equal one I work to the north of it. There are over 5,000 Christians in the county, connected with thirty-five self-supporting stations." I heard of one place where 400 one year had increased to 3,000 by the next. Every forty-five minutes, day and night, since the work began in 1884, a convert has been added to the Church. Whole villages have become Christian.
Some one may say, "But numbers don't count; on one occasion the Master discouraged the multitude from following." True. The point is well taken. Well, then, what standard shall we apply? Let us go to the early chapter of Acts. We can readily agree to apply that standard to the Korean Church, even though we prefer not to have it in its entirety applied to ourselves. Now, let us see how the Korean Church measures up to the Pentecostal standard.
The Early Church did great honor to God the Holy Spirit by dropping everything and spending ten days in prayer to prepare for His coming. I have told how the missionaries spent one to several hours each day for months in preparing a way in their hearts for the Holy Spirit. These missionaries heard from Dr. Howard Agnew Johnston how the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Kassians in India. At the same time and place a Bible colporteur from Kang Kai, away up among the pine forests along the Yalu, also heard Dr. Johnston. He went home and told the Kang Kai church of 250 believers that the Holy Spirit alone could make effective the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He was promised them as freely as any other gift of God. They honored God and appreciated the gift of the Holy Spirit by meeting in the church for prayer at five o'clock-not five o'clock every evening, but every morning-through the fall and winter of 1906-7. They honored God the Holy Spirit by six months of prayer; and then He came as a flood. Since then their numbers have increased manyfold. Do we really believe in God the Holy Spirit? Let us be honest. Not to the extent of getting up at five o'clock through six months of cold weather to seek Him!
A burning zeal to make known the merits of the Saviour was a special mark of the Church at Pentecost. The same is not less true of the Korean Church. It was said that the heathen complained that they could not endure the persecution of the Christians. They were evermore telling of the strong points of their Saviour. Some declared they would have to sell out and move to some district where there were no Christians, in order to get rest.
The missionaries at Ping Yang honored God the Holy Spirit in their high school. They had a school of 318 students, and that Monday morning of the opening, in February, 1907, the two missionaries in charge were early at prayer in the principal's room. They wanted the Holy Spirit to control the school from the start. They knew that if He did not control, the school would only turn out educated rascals who would be a menace to Korea. We in Christian lands do not give the Holy Spirit much control in our high schools and universities. In some, rank unbelief is taught. We are not afraid to turn out educated rascals. Men in high places steal the country's money, and always some are found to whitewash their sin. These are educated men. The fear of God is not before the eyes of many who graduate from our colleges, and we have not humbled ourselves and told God that our sins were visited upon us because we did not honor Him by committing our education to His control.
Before nine o'clock had struck, that Monday morning, in the Ping Yang high school, the Spirit of the Lord was smiting those boys with conviction. Agonized cries were heard upstairs and down. Soon the principal's room was filled with boys agonized over sin. School could not be opened that day, nor the next, and Friday still found it unopened. By Friday evening the Presbyterian boys had all come through to victory, but it was clear that something held the Methodist boys back.
It all came out that evening, when about a dozen of the Methodist boys went and pleaded with their native pastor to free them from their promise to him. It seems that this Korean pastor was jealous because the revival had not started in the Methodist church. He got the high school boys to oppose it, and to resist all public confession as from the devil. But by Friday night their agony of mind was unbearable, hence their pleading to be set free from their promise.
With that, the pastor went and flung himself at the missionaries' feet and confessed that the devil had filled him with envy because the revival had commenced among the Presbyterians. A missionary told me that it was dreadful to hear the confessions wrung from those students that week; that it was as if the lid of hell had been pulled off, and every imaginable sin laid bare. By the following Monday the students were right with God, with their teachers and with one another, 'and the school commenced under the Spirit's control.
Just then about one hundred preachers and colporteurs of the Methodist Mission arrived in the city to study a month. The missionaries in united prayer committed this important class to the control of the Holy Spirit. They realized that it was not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. They honored God, and He rewarded them by a manifestation of His presence and power at the very first meeting. In a few days crooked things were made straight. The Divine One took control. They studied with effect, and at the end of a month they went out to do exploits.
A few days later, 550 selected women from the Presbyterian country churches assembled in the city to study God's Word for twelve days. If we heard of over 500 sisters meeting in our country to study the Bible for twelve days we would expect a mighty revival. Before the war, many mothers in Israel were more zealous for card parties than for the study of God's Book. The Korean sisters had dropped cards when they dropped idols and witchcraft, all works of the devil. These 550 women brought their own money to pay all expenses. Two of them walked five days to get to that class. One mother carried her babe five days to get there. The missionaries and revived leaders in Ping Yang now knew that man, not God, was to blame if there was any lack of spiritual power. They knew the Holy Spirit was ever waiting for human instruments, through whom He might glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. So they sought His control the first night, and, true to promise, He was present to convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.
Many got rid of the hindering thing on the first night. But others, as Mrs. Baird expressed it, went about for days as with a thorn in the foot or an unopened abscess, and then came the yielding and the victory. The Best of Teachers taught them those day, and then they went home. The change could not be covered. These were Spirit-filled women. Their husbands knew it. Their children saw it. The daughters-in-law could not mistake it. Not a few of those Eastern mothers-in-law are terrors. It often happens that their victims can get relief only by suicide. But now the mothers-in-law are different. And some daughters-in-law who were at that class are different, too. They are more diligent and less touchy. The heathen neighbors note the change also and the lord was glorified.
Scarcely had the women reached their homes when seventy-five Presbyterian students in theology arrived to study three months. They had a five-year course, with three months each year. The Ping Yang Theological School is the largest in the world, with over two hundred students. The teachers, in arranging the curriculum, decided that they would have a prayer-meeting and Bible class each evening, hoping that by the end of three months the Holy Spirit might fill these young men. However, since God the Holy Spirit had been doing wonders among them of late, their eyes had been opened to the great dishonor of saying, as it were, to the Holy Spirit, "Let us do our best for the term, and at the close You come and do for the young men what is lacking." They confessed this sin and turned the young men over to C-rod that first right and their faith was honored. The Spirit did wonders. He who alone can guide into all truth taught that term as He had never been permitted before, and Christ the Lord was glorified all over Korea that year when 50,000 converts were added to the churches.
These facts prove that the Korean Church honored the Lord in seeking for and in yielding to the promised Holy Spirit, as truly as the Early Church did. What excuse can the home Church offer in view of such facts?
Let us apply the prayer test to the Korean Church. Prayer was a very conspicuous trait of the Church in the Acts. The Korean Church puts great reliance in prayer. During the week that the Methodist students were resisting the Holy Spirit at the high school, there were Presbyterian students with such a burden of prayer upon them that they were almost transformed 1,4 appearance, and continued in fasting and prayer until victory came. At that time in the lower schools the spirit of prayer was so powerful that the schools bad to be closed for a time. The tears were falling from the children's eyes as they pored over their books. The missionaries admit that the Korean Christians outdistance them in prayer. It is common for them to spend half the night in prayer. Their general practice is to get up for prayer long before dawn. Mr. Swallen said when once out at a country station he arranged that all should meet for prayer next morning at five o'clock. At five o'clock next morning Mr. Swallen came and found three kneeling in prayer. He knelt down, supposing the others had not yet arrived. After praying for some time one of those present told him he had arrived too late. The prayer-meeting had finished before he came, and yet some of them had come across a mountain range to be present.
Some years after Elder Keel had been made pastor of the Central Church at Ping Yang, he noticed that the love of many had grown cold. He proposed to one of his most spiritually-minded elders that they two meet in the church for prayer every morning at half-past four. As they met each morning during that month, others noticed and came, too, so that by the end of a month about twenty were meeting each morning at 4:30 o'clock. The time now seemed ripe to announce a public prayer-meeting. On the Sabbath the pastor announced a prayer-rmeeting for each morning at 4:30. He told them that the church bell would be rung at that hour. At two o'clock the next morning 400 people were waiting outside the church for the prayer-meeting to begin, and at 4:30 fully 600 were there. By the end of a week 700 were meeting each morning, and then the Holy Spirit-flooded their hearts with divine love. Blessed people to have a pastor so clear-sighted. Oh, how low have we fallen! Where two or three meet together in His Name, He is there, but imagine us getting up at 4:30 in the morning, even to meet the Lord of glory.
The biggest prayer-meeting in the world is at Seoul, Korea. The average weekly attendance for one year was 1,100. One Wednesday evening, I went to prayer meeting at one of the flourishing Presbyterian churches in Toronto. It was a special occasion, for a Korean missionary was going to speak. I sat alone in my seat for a time, then a fine-looking old gentleman came and sat with me. The meeting was soon to begin, but in the by no means large room many empty seats were still visible. The old gentleman, looking around the room, remarked, "I can't understand why people don't attend prayer-meeting." When I replied, "Because they don't believe in prayer," he looked me all over, not knowing what to make of me, for he didn't know me, and I add, "Do you suppose if they really believed the words of the Lord Jesus, 'Where two or three meet in my name, there am I," they could keep away?" The Master cannot but take note of our prayer condition.
The Korean Church believes earnestly in family prayer. A man who would not hold family worship would run the risk of being unchurched in Korea. In Canada there are some Christian families so busy in the world that they haven't time for a blessing before meals. Mr. Foote tells how he was once on a tour in Korea when some people on the road asked if he were not going to visit the Christians at the village over yonder in the valley. "Why," he said, "I didn't know there were any Christians there." He went to the village and found many ready to be baptized, and to be recorded as catechumens. He put the question, "Do you have family worship?" "Yes, twice a day," they replied. "But how many families?" "Twenty-four -- all in the village," was the reply. Think of it! A family altar in every home!
A missionary in Manchuria sent two evangelists over to Ping Yang to find out all about the revival. When they returned he asked if the missionaries had opened many street chapels. The evangelists replied, "None at all. They do not need them because every Christian is a street chapel." Christian workmen have been known to spend a summer in a country where there were no Christians in order to evangelize it. Merchants as they travel from place to place are always telling the wondrous story. A hat merchant, converted in a revival on the east coast when we were there, had within a year afterwards started up little Christian communities in about a dozen places. In one of them there were seventeen converts. A student got a month's holiday and spent the time in an unevangelized district and won a hundred souls for God. Another student resolved to speak each day to at least six persons of their soul's salvation. By the end of nine months he had spoken to three thousand! It would take some of us homeland Christians a lifetime to speak to so many.
One year the Southern Methodists were so short of funds' that no school buildings could be erected at Songdo but there were 150 young fellows eager for an education. Yuri Ch'i' Ho, the ex-Minister of Education, volunteered to teach them. The boys, under his guidance, erected a crude framework, covered it over with straw, and got their schooling. I have mentioned how Pastor Keel got his people revived through the early prayer-meetings. A letter written by the pastor at that time stated that even little tots of schoolboys, eight and nine years of age, as soon as school was dismissed, would go out on the streets and, taking hold of the passers-,by by the sleeves, would plead with tears that they yield to Jesus the Saviour. Said he, "During the last three or four days, fully four hundred men have come and confessed Christ." It was the intense pleading of the boys that cut them to the heart.
After evangelizing the outlying islands of Korea they looked to the lands beyond. At the Presbyterian Assembly held in Seoul some years ago it was decided to send missionaries to Shantung, China. And when the call came for volunteers the whole assembly rose and volunteered, and four were selected. Alt seemed to envy the ones chosen. It has never been seen on this wise in a homeland assembly. Grace, which they have freely received, is highly appreciated in Korea, and they freely give, and divine unction is not withheld. As late as 1917, Pastor Keel was over on the east coast giving Bible readings and the power of God was such that men would melt right down and confess sin. The saddest of all sad things is this, that the Almighty Spirit is as willing to let Christ Jesus see of the travail of His soul in Canada and the United States as in Korea, but He does not get the yielded channels.
Abounding liberality was another very striking characteristic of the Early Church. The Korean Christians abound in that, too. At one place a missionary told me that he-dared not mention money to his people for they were giving too much now. I should like to meet the pastor in favored Christendom who could truly say that of his people. The year I was at that center the people were supporting 139 workers, male and female, teachers and preachers, and that year alone they increased the workers by 57. That missionary said, "When we found our church was too small, we met to plan for the erection of one that would hold 1,500. The people present gave all the money they had. The men gave their watches and the women stripped off their jewelry. Others gave title deeds to portions of land. They gave all they had and wept because they couldn't give more, and they built their church free of debt."
A missionary was once at a very poor center when the leaders told him how inconvenient it was to be worshiping in private houses, but now they had a fine site offered them for $30. "Capital!" said the missionary, "go ahead and buy it." "But, Pastor," said they, "we are extremely poor here. You didn't understand us. We should like it if you would put up the money." "No," said the missionary, "you must buy your church's foundation. It will do you lots of good." However the men pleaded poverty.
Then the sisters said, "If the men have no plan we think we can buy it." They took off all their jewelry and sold it, but it brought only $10. Nothing daunted, however, this woman sold a brass kettle, that one sold two brass bowls, and another sold a few pairs of brass chopsticks, for all their cooking and eating utensils are made of brass. The whole, when sold, brought $20. Now, with $30 in their hands, the women secured the church site. Since it is more blessed to give than to receive, the women received an enlarged vision. The needs of their sisters, without God and without hope, in the countless villages all around, fired their hearts and so they decided to raise $6.00 a month and send out a woman evangelist.
At another place the missionary was present at the dedication of a new church. It was found that there was still $50 owing on the church. A member present arose and said, "Pastor, I will next Sunday bring $50 to pay off that debt." The missionary, knowing the man was very poor, said, "Don't think of doing it yourself. We will all join together and can soon pay it off." There are churches in the homeland that are not ashamed nor afraid to carry a $50,000 debt. Next Sunday arrived and this poor Christian brought the $50. The missionary, astonished, asked, "Where did you get the money?" The Christian replied, "Pastor, don't mind. It is all clean money." Some weeks later the missionary, touring in that region, came to this man's home. On asking the man's wife where her husband was, she said, "Out in the field plowing." The missionary, on going out to the field, found the old father holding the plow handles while his son was pulling the plow. The missionary, in amazement, said, "Why, what have you done with your mule?" Said the Christian, "I couldn't bear to have the Church of Jesus Christ owing a $50 debt to a heathen, so I sold my mule to wipe it out."
Another proof that the Korean Church is guided by the same Spirit that guided the Early Church is their zeal for God's Word. At the time of the revival they could not get the Bible printed fast enough. In one year at Ping Yang 6,000 Bibles were sold. Every one learns it, even the dullest women. Christians traveling on business always carry the Bible along. By the way, and at the inns, they open it up and read, and many are attracted and saved. The Christianity of this continent does not make such open use of the Bible. Once, on the train, I was reading my Bible, when I noticed a man glancing around at me with evident curiosity. At last he could resist no longer, and came over to me and said, "Pardon me, but I never have seen a man on a railway train reading a Bible or a prayer book unless he was a Plymouth Brother or a Roman Catholic priest. What are you?" "I am neither," I replied. "Then what are you?" "Oh, I am only a missionary from China." Now, why should it be thought strange that I read the Best of Books on a railway train? I have known of ministers and elders and deacons playing cards by the hour on steamboats and railways.
The Koreans have a proverb or saying that the elders have the right to criticize the juniors, then when they get through, if there is anything left of the juniors, they may in turn criticize the elders. In Christian lands that practice is not followed very well. In our time the juniors largely monopolize the right of criticism. Now, the Koreans admit that the oldest criticism of man is in the Bible; therefore they always let the Bible criticize them first, and they never find anything of themselves left so as to venture to criticize God's Book. I believe in that kind of Biblical criticism. We can't have too much of it. If men were all humble enough to approach the Bible in the Korean spirit, there would be more books burned around some seminaries than ever were burned on the streets of Ephesus when Paul there. It would cause world-wide revival.
When Korean pastors and evangelists and elders were flung into prison wrongfully by the Japanese they didn't waste time by idle repining, but set to work at their Bibles. One of them read the Bible through seven times while in prison, and then exclaimed, "I never imagined my Saviour was so wonderful!" Another thought the Japanese might take the Bible away and destroy it, so he memorized Romans and was hard at work at John when liberated. If real persecution ever arose in Christian lands, the Bible would meet with more appreciation than at present.
At the village where Mr. Foote unexpectedly found every family professing to be Christian, he that day baptized twenty-five. He asked the first candidate examined if he could repeat any Scripture. "Yes," was the reply, and he started. After he had repeated from memory about one hundred verses, Mr. Foote stopped him and started the next, fearing he would never get through the examination if he let everyone repeat all Scripture memorized. He found that each one of the twenty-five candidates for baptism could repeat more than one hundred verses.
One of the reasons why the Korean Church is so strong and efficient is due to Bible study. One year 1,400 Bible study classes were held, and 90,000 students were enrolled. They pay their own expenses. As many as 1,800 came to one center for study. At one place so many came that accommodations could not be found among the Christians, so heathen families were asked. It is said that every heathen family which took in these Bible students was converted. None are too old to attend Sunday school and study the Word. It was a rainy day the Sunday we were at Ping Yang, but to test whether the Christians there were fair-weather Christians, we visited several of the Bible classes held before church time. In some it seemed impossible to cram any more in.
The Early Church rejoiced in that they were deemed worthy to suffer for that blessed Name. The same spirit characterizes the Korean Church. It is not unlikely that the demon of jealousy prompted the Japanese to persecute the Korean Church. That absurd charge that the Christians of Shun Chun had conspired to assassinate Governor-General Terauchi! There never was anything more unlikely, but it served as a pretext to fling the Christian leaders there into prison. It is notorious how cruelly they were tortured in the police cells to terrify them into saying just what the Japanese wanted them to say. They were hung up by the thumbs; they were burned with hot irons. One man fainted away seven times, but through all they remained faithful, and the courts had to dismiss them as innocent.
There was a man who confessed his Saviour in his native village only to find that his clan turned him out of house and home. He did not go to law, but by the grace of God remained sweet. He meekly bore with insult and wrong and lived and preached Christ, until the whole clan was converted, and his possessions restored.
There was a man who, while visiting the city, was converted and confessed the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism. Then he went to tell his wonderful story. His clan received it in anger, and soon the enraged relatives fell upon him and beat him almost to death. When he was brought to the hospital his life hung by a thread. At the end of many weeks the doctor told him he could go home, but told him that his life might end with a hemorrhage any day. That Christian bought a great quantity of books and went home. For three years he went about his home district, giving away his books and telling of his Saviour. Then there came a day when his blood flowed out and his soul ascended to his God. But in that heathen country, where they had tried to murder him, he left eleven churches.
Surely God the Holy Spirit has been glorifying our ascended Lord in Korea as certainly as He did in Palestine in the first century. It is a challenge to our easygoing Christianity to awake and seek God as these children of the East have done. They have given ample proof that it is not by might, nor by power, that die kingdom of God is made manifest among men. In. all humility they yielded themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the very fulness of God flowed through them. God waits to visit us with the same fulness of salvation. But we must pay the price or merely have a name to live and be open to the condemnation of those who despise the Giver of so great salvation.
Text taken from The victorious life : messages from the summer conferences at Whittier, California, June; Princeton, New Jersey, July; Cedar Lake, Indiana, August, including also some messages from the 1917 conference at Princeton and other material, published by Victorious Life Conference (1918 : Whittier, Calif.).