PAST REVIVALS IN INDIA

The turn of the century prepared the way for revival movements in India. From 1895 the first Saturday of each month was set aside in Bombay for prayer for revival, and other centres followed this pattern. Revival came in 1905, again linked with world wide outpourings as in Wales.

Revival in South India:

John Christian Arulappan (1810-67) and the Christianpettah Revival

Although there was a revival in Britain associated with the famous Presbyterian preacher Edward Irving (1792-1834) in the 1830s in which speaking in tongues, healings and prophecies were manifested, one of the earliest pentecostal revivals in the nineteenth century of which we have any knowledge was that associated with the Tamil evangelist John Christian Arulappan in Tamilnadu in 1860-65, when many charismatic gifts were reported. 

By March 1860 the manifestations of these revivals were beginning, in Arulappan’s words: I am thankful to the Lord, who is pleased to pour His Spirit upon poor sinners without distinction of white or black, and rich or poor. … The next Sunday [March 4th] … I exhorted them… In the night when we broke the bread, I exhorted the church on three subjects, viz., to abhor sins and leave them off at once, 2ndly to meditate on the Scriptures in the night and in the day; and, thirdly, to love the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The main characteristics of this revival movement were confessions of sin and an emphasis on holiness, features of the revivals that were to erupt at the beginning of the twentieth century in India and Wales. There was also the remarkable use of women in leadership – most unusual in nineteenth century India, but a portent of even greater things to come, particularly through the work and ministry of Pandita Ramabai forty years later.

Amy Carmichael wrote of revival in Dohnavur, especially among the young people. They experienced deep repentance and conversion in large numbers.

One of the best-known and respected missionaries of the first half of the 20thcentury was Amy Carmichael.  Her 35 books have blessed countless thousands.  One who knew her well gives this testimony:  “Miss Carmichael was a blessing to all who came into intimate and understanding contact with her radiant life.  She was the most Christ-like character I ever met, and her life was the most fragrant, the most joyfully sacrificial that I have ever known.

The awakening in Kerala among Anglicans and Mar Thoma Christians produced simultaneous audible prayer, alien to their normal traditions. At one convention 17,000 broke into simultaneous audible prayer.

Tamil David and L.M. Wardsworth held meetings in Kerala and ten thousand people were converted in three months time.  Rev. Thomas Walker of Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu went to Kerala and his ministry brought  expectations and people were hungry for a Revival and started praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Orr (1975:156) notes that ‘in the 1905 Revival, independence of the national Church was stressed, for, in the aftermath of revival, new men were ready for new work in new fields, men who had formerly been agents and employees of the Missions now were carrying revival and evangelism to the villages.’

Revival among people were reported at Coimbatore, Madurai, Nagercoil in Tamilnadu, Chittoor, Kurnool, Secunderabad and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, Kolar Gold Fields, Bellary and Belgaum in Karnataka.

Revival in Western India: 

The Great Revival at Mukti Mission, 1905  

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 baptized; 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.

Pandita Ramabai heard of revivals and commenced special prayer circles with hundreds of her helpers and friends at Mukti from the beginning of 1905. This movement spread first among the girls and women, touching thousands. It spilled over into the community. It spread with teams visiting Poona 40 miles away. Churches in Bombay were revived and filled with new vigour.

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.”

She said, “Our work will bear lasting fruit if we pray more and work less.”

Distress caused by famine in 1904 also caused Christians to pray all over India. As news of revival in Wales reached India, and returning missionaries told of God’s move there, expectation and prayer grew across India.

The independent American Methodist missionary Minnie Abrams, in the midst of such a revival in the district of Pune, India, in 1906 wrote that “the Holy Spirit has been poured out on many Indian churches, as on us as at the beginning”. She continued  [God] is teaching the Indian Christians to know and understand spiritual things. Many are being anointed with the spirit of intercessory prayer, spending hours, lost to time and surroundings, pleading for the unsaved. 

Revival in North India: 

Rev.John Hyde  arrived in India in the year 1892.  He had decided to lead his life with emphasis upon his prayer life.   He was in Punjab and there were no Christians in that area.  He began praying for revival.  He continued his prayers for twelve years and most of the time he prayed through whole nights.  In April, 1904 he formed Punjab Prayer Union along with some other missionaries for revival in Punjab and India. In the 1905 Sialkot convention, the Revival started. A great wave of blessing swept over the services and hearts were touched and people confessed of their sins and received a victorious life. The revival began in various districts like Fatehpur and Fategarh and people professed faith in Jesus Christ and were filled with Holy Spirit.

Revival affected India most strongly in the South and East, but North India also saw God’s power change lives. John Hyde, known as Praying Hyde, spent days and nights in prayer with friends for revival in India. In schools, a seminary and then in conventions among the resistant Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of North East India the revival spread. The Sialkot annual conventions grew in numbers and impact. A young Sikh named Sundar Singh had a vision of Jesus on 18 December 1904 and was converted. He became a Christian Sadhu mystic and evangelist in India and Tibet.

While missionaries were heavily involved in the revival across Northern India, the leaders, the leaders of the revival were almost always the Indian people themselves. Following each Revival there were large people movements into the churches. 

Revival in Eastern India: 

Revival moved in groups across Eastern India especially among the tribal people. Revival swept through the Khasi hills and among the Garos to their west and into the Naga Hills. It turned the hills people from head hunters into predominantly Christian within a generation. Bengal was also touched by the revival as news from the north motivated Christians to pray, repent and believe.

In the year 1905, Khasi people in Central Assam  began praying for revival in their churches after they heard about the Revival in Wales.  There were prayers for revival in the Chapel and homes and young men and women joined the prayers.  They decided to have prayer meetings every night until God send them the expected revival. In March, 1906 in a Bible learning session there was an unusual sense of Sprit’s presence among them and people started weeping, praying and praising. 

In 1906 Revival started through the Assam centres at Nowgong, Golaghat, Sibsagar, and North Lakhimpur areas.  There were bitter weeping, confession of sin, groans crying and earnest prayers.  The churches had united prayers for revival and for the unsaved people.  The Holy Spirit was working in the hills and the valleys.  

In 1907 the work of the Holy Spirit spread north of Brahmaputra and into the tribal areas of the North East.  Every church in the area were blessed and was on fire for God.  The revival movement spread into the Naga hills.  The people were amazed at God’s presence in the meetings and the power of God working among the children of God. When Ten people were singing a farewell song for some missionaries “God be with you till we meet again” Holy Spirit was suddenly poured upon them.  Revival spread in all directions in the Naga land.  

In 1908 an anti revival movement also started spreading in the area.  People were driven out of their house and they had to run and settle in jungles.   In 1913 revival broke out again in the same area.  The region was full of head hunters once but due to revival in tribal areas people more than 5,00,000 people were brought into the knowledge of the deliverance of the blood of Jesus Christ.  

In the Khasi area the revival broke out in churches, and among the children,   people were sobbing and crying showing real signs of sorrow for their sin after God started working through the children in that area. 

For details of all the Revivals around the word please go to:   

http://www.revival-library.org/pensketches/hr_menu.php