“The fruits of that revival were seen in the congregation for many years. They consisted, among others, in this, that fifty young men offered themselves for the ministry. And this happened in days when it was a difficult matter to find young men for the work of the ministry.” From the statements made by and about other ministers involved in the early stages of the South African revival it is evident that Murray was not alone in his cautious initial responses to the sudden spiritual awakening.
When God’s Spirit first brought genuine spiritual revival to Andrew Murray’s church and community in Worcester, South Africa, the conservative young minister initially responded to it with considerable reserve. This is the second of a three-part miniseries on how Murray gradually came to understand that the sudden spiritual awakening truly was the Holy Spirit’s work, and how he went on to promote rather than futilely try to suppress it.
The year was 1860 and Murray, then age thirty-two, was the new minister of the Worcester Dutch Reformed Church. What had begun as the Prayer Meeting Revival in the United States in 1857-1858 had since brought powerful revivals to Ireland and Wales in 1859 before spreading to South Africa in 1860. (You can see my blogs on those earlier revivals as referenced in my April 15, 2019, Perspective.)
Not long after dramatic spiritual awakening first occurred in a rural portion of the Worcester parish, the revival suddenly flamed to life in the town as well. J. C. de Vries, a young man from Worcester who later became a Dutch Reformed Church minister, provided the following fascinating eye-witness account of the beginning of the revival in Worcester:
“On a certain Sunday evening there were gathered in a little hall some sixty young people. I was leader of the meeting, which commenced with a hymn and a lesson from God’s Word, after which I engaged in prayer. After three or four others had (as was customary) given out a verse of a hymn and offered prayer, a colored girl of about fifteen years of age, in service with a farmer from Hex River, rose at the back of the hall.