Andrew Murray and the Astounding Cape Town Revival of 1860
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE PRAY FOR REVIVAL? Andrew Murray committed more than sixty years of his life to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. In his lifetime, he wrote more than 200 pieces to include
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE PRAY FOR REVIVAL?
Andrew Murray committed more than sixty years of his life to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. In his lifetime, he wrote more than 200 pieces to include both books and tracts on the topics of ministry and spirituality. He gave himself to much social work and even founded institutions of education.
Murray decided, from an early age, that he wanted to preach. However, at first it was only the stated choice of career and not an actual act of faith. In fact, it was only after he had actually started training in theology while in the Netherlands that he was actually converted.
In this article, we will take a deeper look at some of the most interesting points of Andrew Murray’s life, including the outstanding revival services he led in South Africa.
Andrew was born in Graaff Reinet, South Africa in 1828 and had a remarkable Christian upbringing. His father, who often read accounts of revival to his family, was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. He constantly prayed for revival to sweep the land of South Africa. Andrew’s mother was descended from both the Lutherans of Germany and the Huguenots of France.
At the age of ten, Andrew and John, his brother, traveled to Scotland to study. While there, they were visited by a great revivalist named William C. Burns, who had come there to speak in Aberdeen. This was a man with a heart that was truly broken for the lost, and many hours were spent weeping and praying for their salvation. While watching Burns preach, Andrew knew that he was seeing the very thing he, himself, wanted to become.
After graduating from Marischal College in 1844, Andrew and his brothers traveled on to Holland, where they were to further their studies in theology. While there, they met like-minded individuals who felt as strongly as they did about the Word of God, the lost and revival. In fact, they were soon to learn of a revival taking place in Germany, which was being led by Johann Blumhardt. Both Andrew and his brother John went personally to get a firsthand account of deliverance, healing and miracles, all ongoing works of God.
Murray Brothers Ordained
Both Andrew and John were ordained in 1848 and both traveled back to South Africa. Andrew’s ministry took him on horseback travels that lasted weeks, during which he would conduct services for the South African farmers who spoke Dutch. He accredits this time as a major influence of his later career in the ministry.
Marriage and Revival
In 1856, Andrew married Emma Rutherford. Her father was a pastor in England, and in 1860, Andrew himself took a pastorate in Worcester. During this time, conferences were held which took on the topics of revival and missions and many pastors cried out for this revival to break out in South Africa. And break out it did.
However, this revival seemed out of order to Andrew, but after being impressed by God that it was indeed His Hand at work, he took on a whole new view of the idea of revival. He went on to travel, in 1877, to the US where he spoke at many conventions on the fact.
Cape Town’s Path To Revival
Before 1860, the land of the Cape Colony was literally a wilderness, spiritually speaking. Congregations were only established through the Dutch East India Company, however there were only five of them established in the first 150 years, and all only 130km around Cape Town.
There was no spiritual guidance from a local pastor and the vernacular of Afrikaans was said to be of no worth for services or even for personal devotions. The only available Bible was in the Dutch language and all the preaching was conducted in Dutch as well, which meant that the majority of the population could not truly take part in the services. Since prayer was also expected to be spoken in Dutch, most found it too hard to pray from the heart, praying instead by following formulas and recited expressions.
Keep in mind that Andrew’s father had prayed weekly for thirty-six years for revival in South Africa. The hand of God was further seen when Andrew returned from Holland as an ordained minister at the age of 20. Church law in Cape Town at that time stated that one had to be 22 years old to be a pastor, however, Governor Sir Harry Smith stepped around this rule and made Andrew an evangelist. His first appointment was to the Voortrekkers in the land between the Vaal and Orange Rivers, where more than 12,000 Voortrekkers were without a pastor.
The Recognition of Great Spiritual Need
During his time of ministry to the Voortrekkers, Andrew began to recognize the desperate state of South African spirituality. In his writings, he expressed his concern that nothing but the mighty Spirit of God would be able to address the need for the conversion of hearts.
Along with the need for spiritual awakening, there was also a deep need for education. Andrew took on the struggle himself, attempting to start Christian schools and bring in teachers. Opposition to this came from all sides until finally, John Murray, Johan Neethling and Nicolaas Hofmeyer were chosen to start the Stellenbosch Kweekschool.
The Call To Prayer
A challenge was issued in August of 1859 by three pastors from the Dutch Reformed Church in which ministers were asked to preach on the topics of God’s character, the Holy Spirit’s role, and the desperate need for prayer to bring about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This became a book of 85 pages that was called, “The Power of Prayer” and it was put into wide circulation during the latter part of 1859.
Pastors happily met this challenge, however the congregants greatly lacked interest in the topic. Because of this, prayer meetings that were smaller in size, some with only two or three in regular attendance, began to take place. It is said that one particular intercessor wore a path to the hilltop overlooking Cape Town, solely for the purpose of prayers for revival.
The Worcester Conference
It was during this time that Andrew was asked to lead a congregation in the city of Worcester on the topic of revival. More than twenty congregations were represented as more than 374 people visited the conference in April 1860, including eight ministers from Andrew’s own family.
Revival broke out during the very conference itself, as Andrew prayed a single prayer so chocked full of emotion and great power that people became deeply convicted of their sin. His sermon that day was entitled, “The Ministration of the Spirit”, with subjects on faith and conversion, and it was as if a prophet had been brought back from the dead to speak.
Never before had there been such blunt and straight forward preaching from the pages of the Bible. Andrew preached on Scriptures referenced from Jonah 1:6, Mark 16:16 and Matthew 22:12, bringing the Worcester revival in like a storm of fire that Pentecost Sunday.
Before and After
Pastors in attendance of the Revival said that it was a purely lamentable situation before services began. People loved the world and the sins that went along with it, there was no real desire to be saved and people were spiritually idle all over the land.
When the Spirit of God began to move through the services, cries for mercy and revival could be heard far and wide. Prayer commenced from the church, to mountains, ravines and even behind rocks and bushes, with men, women and children of all ages crying out to God. There had been no preparation for it, no working up to it and no sermons preached prior to this great move of God which last not hours long or days long, but months long.
True Revival Comes
Soon, the meetings began to overflow, with people coming both at early morning and at late night, to the house of God. Salvation began to occur on a daily basis with fiery repentance and renewal with such emotion that left Andrew in a state of shock. He was use to the more restrained congregations and experiences of revival in Scotland.
He was so taken with the state of what he considered disorder that he tried to take control of a particular prayer meeting. It was at that time that a complete stranger touched him, warning him to be careful, as this was the Spirit of God working.
In The Wake of the Revival
After the revival, there was a great deal of spiritual warfare, as well as other types of attacks, that Andrew had to withstand. Still, he managed to become a well-known author, a celebrated evangelist and a Dutch Reformed Church Moderator.
He also established the famous Africa Institute in order to train and send out missionaries by the hundreds throughout the African countryside. He was a pioneer for the education of South African women as well, and saw the establishment of the Huguenot College, where Christian teachers were trained.
The DRC simply exploded with the establishment of mission stations in places such as Matabeleland, Bechuanaland, Mashonaland, Nyasaland, Sudan and Nigeria. By 1927, there were 304 missionaries serving on record, with more than 70,000 records of African Christians being baptized. Also at this time, nearly 1500 schools had been established, with almost 100,000 students.
The first Afrikaans Bible was published in 1933, after the Afrikaans language was finally granted the same status as English in 1925, as an official country language.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!