The Revival in the Khasia Hills – Mrs John Roberts

 

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Church leaders in Khasia, India, had long been concerned about nominalism in the churches and missions and many had given themselves to prayer for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit in the years that preceded the revival of 1905.

On the first day of 1904 the words ‘This will be a year of the right hand of the Most High’ came into the mind of Ellen Hughes. Many others witnessed such sentiments throughout the year and in December 1904, when news of the Welsh Revival began to break prayer meetings reached a ‘red-hot stage.’

Then the revival wave crashed on the shores of India.

We have included 4 of the 13 chapters.

Chapter I. First Dawnings of the Revival


As the years rolled on, and the Christian community increased, and as violent and systematic persecution became more seldom, and the Christians had become a power in their country, a listlessness crept over many of them.  They became at ease in Zion, forgetting the woe pronounced against such by the prophet of old.  They became less watchful, and, as a consequence, less enthusiastic in their zeal for the Lord of Hosts.  It may be said with much truth that in some things during the later years the Church in Khasia reflected the Church in Wales, as described by the Rev. Evan Phillips, Newcastle Emlyn, in an article of his on the Revival in Wales.”The Church was sleeping and her heart awake.  She was in a manner conscious of the wretchedness of her condition, and often was she heard to call out, ‘Awake, O arm of the Lord.’ But it was a dreamy and a mistaken call.  For God calls back to her, ‘Awake, Zion.  It is thou who art sleeping.  Thy God is awake.’ The fact that they were thus calling one upon the other made some to feel very sure that the awakening would not be long deferred.  The thoughts about God which passed unconsciously through Zion’s heart drew the Holy Spirit to His old work, and she found herself again in the company of her God and her Redeemer.”

It was very like that in Khasia.  It must be confessed with sorrow and shame that to some extent the Church had lost her first love, and as a result had become weaker in her resources, less able to train and control her members, especially her younger members; but she was not without her watchmen, who called out day and night to her God, and in the time of her great need He heard, and graciously came again to show Himself on her side, to show that He was King in the midst of her, and mighty to save. 

Towards the end of 1904 the good news reached Khasia that God had visited His Church in Wales, that a wonderful Power had descended upon his people, and that thousands of unbelievers were being convinced of their sins, and were anxiously enquiring their way towards Zion.  The Khasi Christians were full of joy when they heard this, and were very thankful that their Mother-Church in Wales had been remembered in so remarkable a manner.  They spoke much to one another about this, and as week after week they received the news of the great progress of the Kingdom of God, they began to hope that in their own country the same great things might be experienced.  They prayed much for this, and so great was their eagerness that they not only prayed for it in the meetings held in the chapels, but they had meetings in their own houses to ask God to remember them as He had remembered Wales.  When going in and out among the Christians, one observed an eagerness to receive a special visitation which was beautiful to behold; this was apparent among men and women alike.  The Assembly in 1905 was to be held in Cherrapoonjee, and there was an eager expectation that the great blessing would descend upon the Church during that meeting.  The Assembly was a remarkable one.  There was a sacredness and solemnity connected with every meeting which was inexpressibly beautiful, and it was felt that the Divine Presence was with His people, but the thing which was so much looked for was not experienced at that time.  The meetings were veritably a foretaste of what was coming.  There were many voluntary prayers, and the delegates and others returned to their villages with their faith increased, and their hope stimulated, and their longing much intensified.  And when God had led on His people into that state, He had made them ready to receive the blessing, and did not long defer it. 

THE REVIVAL BREAKS OUT. 

Two or three weeks after the Assembly, a Presbytery was held in PARIONG, in the District which is under the charge of the Rev. E.  H. Williams, and it was there that God was pleased to visit his people in Khasia by pouring upon them the promised Comforter.  The following is Mr. Williams’ description.  But it will be well to preface the description by his graphic account of the manner in which God had prepared that part of the field for the Revival.  “All friends of the Mission will rejoice to know that a great Revival has begun in Khasia, and that it is spreading rapidly everywhere.  There had been a general desire for some time that God would revive His work, and this desire was intensified by the reports of the Revival in the Mother Church in Wales.  
“The Church in Mawphlang, early in 1903, decided to hold special prayer meetings every Monday night to pray for a great out-pouring, of the Holy Spirit throughout Khasia, and not only here but throughout the world.  These prayer meetings were the means of great blessing, and increased the thirst, for divine showers.  There was more activity among the Christians, and the Lord gave us over 80 souls from the world.  Towards the end of the year 1904, our prayer meetings became still more fervent, and there was an eagerness on the part of the young people to take part, and even young girls were led to stand up and pray.  In these meetings sometimes three or four would stand up at the same time, and often there was much emotion shown.  At the beginning of the year 1905, we decided to hold prayer meetings every night until the Holy Spirit came amongst us as in Wales.  We very soon felt that the Spirit was indeed in our midst, the fellowship was very sweet, and we were often loth to close the meeting at 10 o’clock .  .  .  .  .    The Assembly at Cherra, in February, proved a great blessing to hundreds, and many of our brethren returned to their homes full of a desire to serve the Lord more faithfully and to pray for a still greater manifestation of his Spirit.  After this, the Spirit poured His grace amongst us, and the dew was heavy in nearly all the meetings; occasionally we rejoiced in a shower, when some of us were overwhelmed, and the Chapel was filled with prayers, weeping, and praise.  On Sunday, March 5th, we had a glorious day.  Our Sunday School was studying John I. 33, about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the hindrances to obtain this blessing.  Many of the brethren were deeply touched, and the prayer of one brother at the close will long be remembered.  ‘Break our hearts, O Lord, break our stony hearts to pieces.  When Jesus has done so much for us, we are ashamed of ourselves, because we are so hard.’ And with that many hearts were broken, and there was much weeping,  .  .  .  .  and many were fired with a desire to consecrate themselves to God and to His service  .  .  .”

A strong desire for a special visitation from on High, a daily gathering of the faithful to the House of God to give voice to that desire in fervent and persevering prayer, a renewed dedication to God and to his Work; as we look back, we plainly see that these were the steps which led to the mighty Revival in Khasia.  When God had brought His people in humble faith to His footstool, when He had filled their hearts with a holy expectancy; then was the set time come, the time to be favourable to Zion, the time of the right hand of the Most High, the time for Him to visit His people by pouring upon them His own Holy Spirit.  We refer again to the description, that we may find in it the first great Revival experience in the Hills of Khasia. 

“The Presbytery at Pariong is one that will be long remembered,  .  .  for here did God answer abundantly the prayers of His people.  On Friday evening we had a very good prayer meeting.  The chairman invited one or two by name to engage in prayer, but others stood up in the midst of the congregation to pray, and 0 such prayers, so full of unction.  We felt that the Spirit was with us.  They prayed that God would pour His Spirit upon us as He had done in Wales.  While these prayed, others cried, ‘O Lord, work among us,’ ‘Reveal thy power,’ and many were weeping and others saying ‘Amen.’ The people appeared to be very unwilling to close the meeting.  .  .  It was then arranged that we should devote one of the meetings on Saturday to pray for a revival in Khasia.  In this meeting also we had many causes for joy, there was an eagerness to engage in prayer, and the prayers were remarkable for their fervency.  Many were weeping silently.  But the most wonderful meeting of all was the third of the Sunday services.  - Two of the Khasia preachers spoke very powerfully, and we felt that God was with His servants.  At the close of this service, when the preacher was about to pronounce the Benediction, we were startled by hearing someone (U Ruton) beginning to pray most earnestly, in the midst of the Congregation.  He prayed that God would not let us leave without the blessing.  We had been expecting Him to reveal the power of His Spirit amongst us all day, and now we had come to the end of the day without the great blessing, ‘O God, pour down Thy Spirit upon us all now; whilst Thou art blessing the people of Wales so much, do not send us away empty.’ Whilst this brother was praying, others also began to pray at the same time, both men and women, and then it is difficult to say what took place—many were praying; some were crying aloud for mercy; some men were fainting; nearly all were weeping; and some were praising God—then someone began to sing, ‘Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,’ and this was taken up and repeated time after time, until some were nearly dancing from emotion.  While the people were singing, we could hear others still praying, ‘O Lord, pour down a still greater blessing.’

“At seven o’clock an endeavour was made to close the meeting in order that the people might go to eat, but this was ineffectual.  A certain number went, but a great many remained praying in the chapel.  After a hurried meal we returned to the chapel to find it packed, and the singing going on with greater enthusiasm.  It was a meeting never to be forgotten.  Some of the men had been inclined to speak disparagingly of the excitement and weeping which they had witnessed in the earlier meetings, but in this one some of them were so overcome that they had to be supported by their friends lest they should fall.”

Such is the description of the meeting which God was pleased to signalize as the one to be the first to receive the promised blessing, the gift in great measure of His Holy Spirit. 

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Chapter II. The Revival in Cherra

One of the Khasi evangelists belonging to the Nongsawlia Church was present at the Pariong Presbytery.  He returned to Nongsawlia full of the fire, and by his glowing account of what he had seen and heard he was the means of stirring up yet more the longing desire of the Christians of that Church.  They were encouraged to pray more faithfully, more expectantly, and ere long, a week later, they also were remembered, and so graciously that they felt they could never sufficiently thank their God for his kindness to them. 

On Saturday, the last Saturday in the month of March, 1905, the Christians had come together for the preparatory meeting, previous to partaking of the Lord’s Supper—a beautiful, lovely meeting it was.  The dew of heaven was heavy upon it.  Tongues were unloosed, friend after friend getting up voluntarily to testify to the working of God in their souls.  It was good to be there, and all felt that it was a precursor of something great.  And we were not disappointed.  Sunday morning dawned upon us.  A good prayer meeting; a good sermon.  About one o’clock we assembled together to commemorate the death—the wonderful death—of our precious and gracious Lord.  It was a very sacred time, and as the service went on the feeling deepened greatly, and many were silently weeping almost the whole time.  The last meeting commenced at five o’clock, and it was in this meeting that the heavenly fire broke out.  Several had spoken, men and women, expressing their feelings and the deep joy they had had when partaking of the Lord’s feast.  In tears, and with effort, were their words brought out—words of love, words of praise to Him who had loved them and had bought them with His blood— lisping, broken words of praise, but very acceptable, we think, to the Father’s heart.  Suddenly a young girl arose, Ka Simal by name.  She began by speaking a few words about herself, then she turned to pray, and as she prayed she wept—wept and prayed and prayed and wept—for herself and for her family.  The feeling grew in intensity.  Then five or six young girls who were sitting behind, and who had been silently weeping for some time, could no longer restrain themselves, and burst out into loud sobs.  We scarcely know how to describe what followed.  The women on the one side were all crying out aloud, and in less time than we have written these words the flame had crossed to the other side, and the whole congregation was ablaze.  God had remembered His Church in Nongsawlia!  He had visited His people.  Hearts were touched beyond control!  Oh, the weeping and the wailing, and the rejoicing! The blessed Spirit had come, and the secrets of hearts were exposed.  A few were screaming in agony and beside themselves with grief.  There was one woman, especially, whose cries were pitiful in the extreme.  She was inconsolable for days, but very happy afterwards.  During this outburst several unsuccessful attempts were made by various persons to start singing, and some tried to pray; but the mighty wave of emotion for a time overpowered everything.  By and bye it formed into song, praise, confessions—just the counterpart of what had taken place in Wales.  And there we remained in chapel for, I suppose, four hours—singing and singing, over and over, the hymns which praise the Love of God in Jesus Christ. 

But that was only the beginning of wonders.  Marvellous meetings followed, in private houses and in chapels.  Before the gracious visitation we used sometimes to wonder what form the Revival would take in Khasia; but we found that the gracious Spirit worked in His Church there just as He did in Wales, and the people responded much in the same way.  He worked in the Church and He searched the very depths of hearts, and with weeping and groaning they would stand up and confess their sins, and beg for forgiveness.  We saw some in agony of soul, beseeching for a word of pardon, and we saw them afterwards rejoicing in the assurance of forgiveness.  In one Church meeting one of these was beside himself with joy; he was dancing round the chapel because in prayer the previous night God had told him that his sins were forgiven.  A young woman came rushing to the Mission House one day in a transport of joy for the same blessed reason.  She was almost wild with joy, as well she might be.  She declared that she had been forgiven, and that the righteousness of God was now hers. 

One evening one of the Christians was speaking in Chapel in a very pathetic and impressive manner.  The Spirit had been evidently searching him, and had shown him depths in his heart which he had never before suspected.  He was in great distress; for a time he had lost sight of the Saviour.  He said with great solemnity that he had seen the flames of hell, and that he understood somewhat of the torments of the lost, and that he could not see his Saviour’s face.  Then he turned to the heathen who were present, and addressed them very impressively.  He told them of the awfulness of a life of sin, and of the terrible punishment of those who persisted in evil, and begged, and pleaded with them to turn to Jesus Christ.  “You see me now,” he said, “in dire distress, but great as is my trouble, and though I do not now see the face of my Saviour, I know He is not far off.”  Our hearts were filled with sympathy with him, he was so utterly crushed.  But we knew it would be well with him soon, and in two days he was there again, and now standing up to say that he had seen again the blessed face of Jesus, and was happy.  He came forward from his place, with two hands outstretched to shake hands with the Missionary.  Oh, what a sight it was to see him, and the other man, mentioned before, embracing each other in the intense joy they had both had. 

Another night, one man found the joy in the meeting, and wonderful to relate, from a word spoken by one of the Christian women when describing her own experience.  After she had sat down, he stood up and said, “I have now had the very word that I needed, and it came to me from God through that Christian friend.” By the way, what a witness this is to the value of Christian fellowship, of interchange of thought and experience among the children; it is truly a means of grace to the strong and to the weak, to the joyous as well as to the discouraged ones.  Even as in Wales, so also in Khasia, the “Society,” as established by the Fathers, has been an untold blessing.

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Chapter III. The Revival in Shillong

A few days after the Church in Nongsawlia had received the rich blessing of the Holy Ghost, the sister Church in Shillong was made joyous by a participation in the same great gift.  The following account has been written by one who was present on the never-to-be-forgotten occasion, when God made His presence manifest there by wondrous signs.
 
“On the evening of the 1st of April, when we met as usual at the close of the week to pray, we felt that there was something very unusual in the prayers offered at the beginning of the Service, for the person who led prayed for the Spirit so pleadingly and earnestly as if his very soul was parched with thirst, and fainting with hunger.  As he proceeded very quiet murmurs were heard, and some began to pray in whispers.  At last it became too awful, loud cries were heard, and the greater number of the congregation burst out into heart-piercing cries for mercy, others shouted in ecstasy at the sight of a Saviour ‘able to save.’ In one seat was a young woman who had been long astray, and behind her sat her mother; the girl had been praying quietly for forgiveness, and the mother’s heart was full, so full when she saw the girl’s penitence, that she could not contain herself, she shouted with great joy, clapping her hands for extreme gladness. 

A young man sitting on the other side of the Church, touched by the Spirit, with joyfulness of heart got up and walked to the mother, and began to sing, ‘Crown Him, Lord of all.’ The two sang together, oblivious of all.  One woman, convicted of the hardness of her heart, fell down on the floor.  One young man realised his own perilous condition, having never really accepted Christ; he felt as if the scourge of God was failing upon him, so terrible and so real was it that he seemed to hear the swish of the scourge.  He tried to run away from the meeting, to flee somewhere from the awful Presence, but he was riveted to his seat, and in great agony he cried for mercy.  As he prayed the scourging ceased, and he had the great peace that comes to every one who casteth himself on the Saviour.  Another young man, a Christian, but a very irreverent youth, felt great terror, he felt as if some unseen hand was twisting him, and for days he was unable to leave his bed.”

The realisation of the love of God in Jesus Christ, the suffering Saviour, revealed by the Holy Spirit of God, was the power that conquered hard hearts and subdued stubborn wills in Khasia.  Too many professing Christians had been heedless of themselves, and had allowed their hearts to become overcharged with the “cares of this life,” and had woven for themselves a thick veil of indifference.  But when the promised Spirit came He revealed anew the Lord Jesus on the Cross, and tore asunder the veil from their hearts, and they saw again and more vividly than ever before the love of the One in whom they had believed.  Oh, how they reproached themselves for their coldness, for their neglect, and how they praised God for so lovingly arousing them from their torpor. 

The same great love sought out the wanderers from the Father’s House, the prodigal sons who had wandered far from home and who had wasted their substance in riotous living.  This wonderful love sought them in the land of famine, and brought them back, yes, in poverty and rags, but brought them to be enriched and clothed, and surrounded again by the love of the Eternal Father.  And in the case of the heathen, also, it was still sweetly true.  They were brought to know the Love that had given His Son to be the propitiation for their sins.  They hastened to throw away their old rites and ceremonies; the blood which they had considered sacred they cast from them with abhorrence, for they had had a glimpse of the Lamb of God, and of His precious blood, which verily cleanseth from all sin.  As in Wales, so in Khasia, the Cross was the conquering force.  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, shall draw all men to myself.”

Thousands of souls believingly beheld Him, and yielded themselves to His drawing love.  Oh, that Christians would endeavour to keep the Cross unveiled! Oh, that God’s people would take heed to themselves, and not allow the mists and clouds of earth’s cares and pleasures to come again between the hearts of men and the manifested love of God.  Does He not wish us to look constantly upon His Love?  “Keep yourselves in the Love of God.”

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Chapter IV. The Revival in Jaintia

The Jaintia Hills lie to the east of the Khasia Hills.  One of the first places in Jaintia to feel the blessed effects of the Revival was a village in the district of Shangpoong, called Mynso.  The wife of the Pastor of the Church there was so moved by hearing of the fire elsewhere that she gave herself up to prayer and intercession, and the result was that the whole village soon became ablaze with zeal for Jesus Christ.  The Chapel was full every day, and scores joined the Church.  In SHANGPOONG also, many wonderful things were seen and heard, and more especially among children and young people.  Remarkable scenes took place at Jowai, which is one of the oldest and most important stations belonging to the Mission.  Prayer meetings had been held there for many weeks, and in these meetings many an earnest testimony was given to the friends which encouraged them to persevere in prayer, and many of them believed that a great blessing was about to be poured upon them.  This was the last Missionary Station to be roused by the Spirit, but the people of God there felt confident that the vision was for an appointed time, and they remembered the words, “Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Monday, May 8th, was the memorable day when God visited His people in Jowai, and it pleased him to do so by means of the children, the lambs of His flock.  The Spirit of God fell upon the little ones, and in His temple in Jowai their sweet voices were heard sounding out their Hosannas to the Son of David.  In the Temple of old we read that the Revival among the children was viewed with displeasure, and the blessing was slighted, but in Jowai it was welcomed with thankful hearts, and very soon the adult members of the Church were rejoicing with the children.  The power spread outward, and touched sixty backsliders who came with tears to ask for a place again at the Father’s table, and the influence was felt also among the heathen, for they crowded into the Chapel, and were delighted to be in the services, and from among them, too, much fruit was found. 

The Revival soon spread to the villages around Jowai.  At NONGBAH the enthusiasm was more intense than at Jowai.  A teacher there, formerly a headstrong, rugged man, described the scene as he saw it one night.  He himself had been very greatly moved, for he is now a tender subdued Christian.  He mentioned one man, a Christian, who hated any excitement, when he saw the crying in the Church, said to his wife and children, “Come out of this place lest this madness affect you.” They went out of the Chapel, but he had to experience a terrible night.  In the morning he was quite beside himself, he wandered about all day like an insane person, the madness had affected him.  That night he had to go to the Church to confess his sin.  The Power that was able to work such a change in this quiet self-contained man was a great Power, and we know of many others marked by the same characteristics who have been equally transformed.  A Khasi preacher remarked in the same manner of the inhabitants of a village with which he was well acquainted, “The people of this village are pecu1iar1y hard, cold, and cynical, and the power that has made such as these to sob and cry is certainly a power from above.” The new life soon began to show the beautiful fruit peculiar to itself: where jealousy was rife before, feelings of love and sympathy now prevail.  Individuals who were at enmity have sought out one another, and have made reconciliation. 

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Contents

I. First Dawnings of the Revival

II. The Revival in Cherra

III. The Revival in Shillong

IV. The Revival in Jaintia

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V. The Revival among the Children
VI. Strange Experiences
VII. Waves of Blessing
VIII. Remarkable Baptisms of the Spirit
IX. Some Memorable Meetings
X. The Revival in Lushai
XI. In the Jungles
XII. Incidents of the Revival
XIII. Thank-offerings

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