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1859 Revival in Natal

May 22 – Zulus

Revival in Natal

Andrew Murray

The wave of revival in 1857–1859 included countries around the globe. Missionaries and visitors told of thousands being converted, and others began crying out to God to send revival to their nations.

It happened in South Africa. Revival began among the Zulu and Bantu tribes before it spilled over into the Dutch Reformed Church. Tribal people gathered in large numbers on the frontier mission stations and then took revival fire, African-style, into their villages.

On Sunday night, May 22, 1859, the Spirit of God fell on a service of the Zulus in Natal so powerfully that they prayed all night. News of this service spread rapidly, and this revival among the Zulus of Natal on the east coast ignited missions and tribal churches. It produced deep conviction of sin, immediate repentance and conversions, extraordinary praying, and vigorous evangelism.

The Revival in Natal spreads to denominations

In April 1860, at a combined missions conference, more than 370 leaders of Dutch Reformed, Methodist, and Presbyterian leaders meeting at Worcester, South Africa, discussed revival. Andrew Murray, Sr., moved to tears, had to stop speaking. His son, Andrew Murray, Jr., now well known through his books, led in prayer so powerfully that many saw that as the beginning of revival in those churches.

By June, revival had so impacted the Methodist Church in Montague village, near Worcester, that they held prayer meetings every night and three mornings a week, sometimes as early as 3 a.m. The Dutch Reformed people joined together with the Methodists with great conviction of sin to seek God in repentance, worship, and intercession. Reports reached Worcester and ignited similar prayer meetings there.

As an African servant girl sang and prayed one Sunday night at Worcester, the Holy Spirit fell on the group, and a roaring sound like approaching thunder surrounded the hall, which began to shake. Instantly, everyone burst out praying! Their pastor, Andrew Murray, Sr., had been speaking in the main sanctuary. When told of this, he ran to their meeting calling for order! No one noticed. They kept crying loudly to God for forgiveness.

All week the prayer meetings continued, beginning in silence, but “as soon as several prayers had arisen the place was shaken as before and the whole company of people engaged in simultaneous petition to the throne of grace” (Orr 1975b, 58). On the following Saturday, Andrew Murray, Sr. led the prayer meeting. After preaching, he prayed and invited others to pray.

Again the sound of thunder approached and everyone prayed aloud, loudly. At first Andrew Murray tried to quiet the people, but a stranger reminded him that God was at work, and he learned to accept this noisy revival praying. People were converted. The revival spread.

Fifty men from that congregation went into full-time ministry, and the revival launched Andrew Murray, Jr. into a worldwide ministry of speaking and writing.

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.

For further research:
J. Edwin Orr – Revival in Durban – Text Sermon