Evangelical Pneumatology III: The Spreading Fire of Great Revival in Korea

The work of Holy Spirit risen from WonSan spread over Pyongyang. About 20 missionaries who worked at Pyongyang decided to start the prayer and Bible meeting just as they did at WonSan, and in August 1906, invited Dr. Hardie to their meeting. They started the Bible meeting studying the First Epistle of John. They joined together for a week and tried to gain the experience of deepening their spiritual lives. Exhorting each other, they were praying that God would give revival to Pyongyang just as He did for India. However, after one week, they thought that they couldn't experience God's grace sufficiently up to their expectation. Finally, they determined to pray until they receive grace and continued to pray more than four months:

Most of the missionaries determined to pray continuously, believing that God would permit the thing just as He did for the area of Kasia, India. They all agreed not to shorten but extend the prayer time. In order to do so, they altered their appointed prayer time to 4 P.M. Then was the free private prayer time until dinner. Focusing on prayer only, sometimes when a person needed to tell others for encouragement, his utterance was assimilated into praying. They continued to pray for 4 months. Not caring about their different denominational background like Methodist or Presbyterian, they only thought that all in one in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was really a union of the Churches. Such union only could come from kneeling prayer and endure long, and only such union could glorify the Most High God. (Jonathan Goforth, 1907Nein HanKugUl HwibSein SeingLyeingEi BulGil (Holy Spirit Fire swept over Korea in 1907), tr. by YongLyein Kim (Seoul: Life Line, 1977), p. 13).

William Newton Blair, a Northern Presbyterian missionary and a professor at Pyongyang Presbyterian Seminary, wrote;

In the prayer meeting at August, we realized that the transcendental power of Spirit Baptism could enable us and the Korean brothers to overcome the future tribulation. We felt that the Korean Church should repent not just only her sins of conflict and dissolution but also all her sins obviously. (William Newton Blair, Gold in Korea, SokHi YeiSu MiDuSiGiLeil BaRaNaEiDa (I Hope You Shall Believe in Jesus Soon), tr. by SeingTai Kim, (Seoul: Tyrannus, 1995), p. 98; And also refer to Blair, The Korean Pentecost and Other Experiences on the Mission Field (New York, 1908).

Mr. Blair was thus convinced that the great revival must be need for the Korean Church, above all, for her repentance of sins and for her experience of Holy Spirit. Missionaries decided to pray that God would give abundant blessing to the winter men's Bible conference which was expected to be held at Pyongyang in 1907.

In September of 1906, after the missionaries' monthly meeting was ended, the American missionary Rev. Howard Agnew Johnston dropped by Pyongyang and preached a sermon at JangDaeHyen Church. When he delivered the message about the revival in Wales, most of the missionaries and believers who were gathered were very impressed. In his sermon, Johnston asked to them; "Who will receive the Holy Spirit fully and lead the Korean Church? If there is any volunteer, raise your hand and come forward." (JinKyeng Kil, YoungGye Kil SeinJu (YoungGye SeinJu Kil) (Seoul: JongLoSeiJeik, 1980), p. 182). Then SeinJu Kil, the theology student and elder of the church, raised his hand and went forward. And Dr. Johnston prayed for him and promised that a great revival would take place in Korean Church someday.

In fall of 1906, J. L. Gerdine, a missionary of the Southern Methodist Mission, who entered Korea in 1902 and worked as one of the representatives of WonSan, MokPo Revival and Pyongyang Revival in 1907 at last. He also taught as the professor at the Methodist Seminary at Seoul from 1926, led one of the services in MokPo, and as a result, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When a Presbyterian missionary, J. F. Preston participated in the meetings, he described this event and its result like this;

The most powerful revival meeting the writer ever participated in was recently held at MokPo..... As the Spirit through him (Mr. Gerdine) took the Word and reasoned of righteousness, and temperance, and the judgement, of the sinfulness of sin, and the necessity of cleansing, a deathlike hush fell on all, and it was as if the Word was a scalpel, cutting deep down into men's hearts laying bare secret sins and hidden cancers of the soul. Then it was that confession of sin poured out of scores of burdened souls and strong men wept like children. Then, as the yearning love of the Savior was dwelt upon, it was as a healing balm poured in. Faces shone with new life and light, and the church rang the hymns of triumph, and men stood six deep, eagerly waiting their turn to testify of blessings received, sin forgiven, differences healed, victory over self, Baptism of the Spirit..... The influence of this meeting will be felt far and wide in South Chulla. (J. F. Preston, "A Notable Meeting", The Missionary, (1907.1), p. 21).

Rev. Gerdine, the main speaker of the MokPo meeting, reported that the Holy Spirit gave remarkable signs to the meeting such as the deep awareness of sin, the pentecostal-style confession, and joyful victory. This revival at last became a next step in the process to the Pyongyang Great Revival in 1907. Namely, Wonsan prayer meeting in 1904 gave birth to MokPo revival in 1906, and MokPo revival had an influence on Pyongyang revival in 1907.

Likewise, the Holy Spirit was at work not only in South Chulla, but also across the length and breadth of the land. In January, 1907, the missionaries at Pyongyang began to pray with great anticipation that the large men's Bible class then in session might become a vehicle for revival.

After that time, Elder SeinJu Kil was active as a main speaker in the Bible meeting of HwangHae Province in December, 1906. Eventually, Kil agreed with the missionaries that they would hold the winter conference in January, 1907. This winter conference at JangDaeHyen Church would give rise to the beginning of the Pyongyang Great Revival. Kil led the day-break prayer meeting for the conference. "The day-break prayer meeting which was initiated by Kil was permanently established as a unique characteristic of the church..... These prayer meetings became habitual gatherings in the church and continue to at the present time." (InSoo Kim, "Protestants and the Formation of Modern Korean Nationalism, 1885-1920: A Study of the Contributions of Horace Grant Underwood and SunChu Kil" (Ph. D. dissertation, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, 1993), p. 192). He made thorough preparation for the conference; the church members were passionate for help, and, moreover, many unbelievers were greatly interested in news of the conference.

Bonchul Bae

Rev. Dr. Bonjour Bay (BonChul Bae) has been a professor of Historical Theology at SungKyul University, Korea since 1989. He also serves as Researcher on Spiritual Movement and as English Ministry Director. He studied at Canadian Thelogical Seminary (M. Div.) and Seoul Theological University (Th. M., Ph. D.). He wrote more than 20 books on Church History and on Pneumatology including History of Pneumatological Perspective.

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