Pentecost comes to Norway
In the year 1906, Pastor T. B. Barratt, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, paid a visit to America in order to raise funds toward the building of “Haakons-borgen,” which he hoped would be a great center for the city mission that he represented in Christiania (now Oslo). He did not receive the funds he came for, but the Lord gave him something infinitely better. Describing his experience, he wrote to some friends:
“Glory to God! Tongues of fire have descended and His wondrous power has been displayed. The fire fell on the 7th of October. Since then I have been seeking the full Bible evidence, the speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Have prayed up to twelve hours a day. It is over a month since the fire fell the first time, and often since then the Lord has been filling, filling, filling the vessel. Oh glory! Sister Maud Williams, who received the blessing in Ontario, Canada, laid her hands on my head, and after that I had no more strength in me, although I am physically very strong now. I lay on the floor by the platform in a reclining position. At about half past twelve I asked a brother and sister to lay their hands on my head again. Just then the sister said she saw a crown of fire and cloven tongues over my head. The brother saw a supernatural light.
“Immediately I was filled with light and such a power that I began to shout as loud as I could in a foreign language. Between that and four o’clock in the morning, I must have spoken seven or eight languages, to judge from the various sounds and forms of speech used. I stood erect at times preaching in one foreign tongue after another, and I know from the strength of my voice that ten thousand might easily have heard all I said. Nine persons remained till three o’clock and were witnesses of the whole scene. The most wonderful moment though was when I burst into a beautiful baritone solo, using one of the most pure and delightful languages I have ever heard. The tune and words were entirely new to me and the rhythm and cadence of the various choruses seemed to be perfect. I sang several times later on. Oh, it was wonderful. Glory! Hallelujah!
“That night will never be forgotten by any who were there. Now and then, after a slight pause, the words would rush forth like a cataract. At times I had seasons of prayer in the Spirit when all New York, United States, Norway, Scandinavia and Europe, my loved ones and friends, lay like an intense burden on my soul. Oh, what power was given in prayer! My whole being was at times as if it were on fire inside, and then I would quiet down into sweet songs in a foreign language. Oh, what praises to God arose from my soul for His mercy! I felt strong as a lion and know now from whence David and Samson got their strength. Today I have been speaking and singing in tongues wherever I have been. Glory to God!”
Pastor Barratt left New York on December 8, 1906, and on his way across to Europe, held meetings on board the steamer in the midst of all the swearing, cursing, dancing and card-playing crowd on board, and God blessed His Word. On reaching Christiania, the power began to fall immediately. He wrote in his journal on December 29: “A great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit is taking place. Ten have now received their Pentecost.” On January 7, 1907, he wrote: “Over twenty have now received their Pentecost. God be praised! The papers are stirred up, some against, but others are very civil and merely state facts as they are. Crowds throng the places where meetings are held. Souls are being saved and God’s name is honoured. Hallelujah.”
On January 29, Pastor Barratt wrote, “God is wonderfully demonstrating His power here in the Norwegian capital. It is about ten days since I held the first meeting in the large gymnasium that will take when crowded from fifteen hundred to two thousand people. Folk from all denominations are rushing to the meetings. A number have received their Pentecost and are speaking in tongues. Several have been in trances and had visions. Some have seen Jesus at our meetings, and tongues of fire have been seen again over my head by an infidel, convincing him of the power of God. Many are seeking salvation and souls are being gloriously saved. Hundreds are seeking a clean heart, and the fire is falling on the purified sacrifice. The fire is spreading very rapidly. Glory to God! I received word from the country districts that the fire is falling there. People, who have attended the meetings are taking the fire with them to the towns around about. The account of God’s work in my soul has been inserted in many religious papers and has caused a stir. All can see it is the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!
“Some of the languages spoken are European. One man was thrown on his back, a preacher, last Sunday in the Students’ Hall, and when he arose he spoke in four languages; one of these was English. He could speak none of them before. After that, he prophesied and invited sinners to come to Christ. Numbers threw themselves down and cried for salvation, cleansing and the fiery Baptism of the Spirit. Praised be God! Several preachers are seeking their Pentecost.”
Thus the Pentecostal revival began in real earnest in old Norway, and Pastor Barratt writes us recently, “I may truly say, it continues to this day. It may not always be burning quite as brightly everywhere as at first, but the Pentecostal movement has been constantly moving deeper and has a firmer hold on the people today than ever before.”
On his return to Norway, Pastor Barratt found it impossible to take up his regular work at “The Christian City Mission,” with which he had been identified formerly, but held meetings wherever the doors were open for the new movement. At the commencement he had free access to churches and the Salvation Army halls. Besides this, he rented public halls in the city of Christiania and the people thronged to the meetings. Several ministers, even within the State church, were moved by the Spirit and gave the work their cordial and hearty approval. The fire commenced to burn in a couple of places in Sweden through a young man, who had received his Baptism in Norway and through another brother, who came from America. Ministers came from various countries to see what was going on in Norway—from Sweden, from Denmark, and Pastor Alexander A. Boddy came from Sunderland, England. A little later he wrote: “My four days in Christiania cannot be forgotten. I stood with Evan Roberts at the Tonypandy meetings, but never have I witnessed such scenes as in Norway.” Pastor Paul of Berlin, a great religious teacher and evangelist, also visited Christiania to see the movement, and shortly afterwards received his personal Pentecost. For nineteen years since then he has been preaching the Pentecostal message.
In June, 1907, Pastor Barratt paid a visit to Copenhagen in Denmark and meetings were held in several churches and halls and the fire fell. Within about twelve days of his arrival a very gracious revival commenced in Copenhagen. There was much opposition but the Lord blessed in spite of this. One of the results of the revival there was the salvation of a great Danish actress, Anna Larsen. She was one of Denmark’s favourite stars in dramatic circles. She began her work on the stage at the age of six years, her father being an actor and her mother was also on the stage in her earlier days. A special opportunity was given to Pastor Barratt to preach to actors and actresses.
There was a great stir in Copenhagen and her conversion was discussed in the papers. Some thought she would soon get out of this “hysterical spell” and go back to the stage. Pastor Barratt was much persecuted and the young Socialists threw stones and sticks at him. A number of doctors and professors stepped in and Anna Larsen was apprehended for observation. They thought there must be something wrong with her mind. But after six weeks she was allowed her liberty, and one professor declared she was the only really sane person in the place, the doctor and himself included. Shortly after this she met Mr. Bjorner, who was secretary of the Y. M. C. A., in Copenhagen, and he heard the truth, believed, and came out for the Pentecostal message. She was married to him. Today Mr. and Mrs. Bjorner are in charge of the largest Pentecostal assembly in Denmark. In a recent letter from Mrs. Bjorner, she states: “In 1919 we were baptized in water, and eighteen days later, my husband received the Baptism in the Spirit, speaking in new tongues.”
Another Danish actress, Anna Lewini, was also saved and filled with the Spirit and has been graciously used in India and Ceylon as a missionary. This sister writes very enthusiastically of the meetings held by Mr. Smith Wigglesworth in Copenhagen: “For three weeks, thousands daily attended the meetings. Each morning two hundred or three hundred were ministered to for healing. Each evening the platform was surrounded. Again and again, as each throng retired, another company came forward seeking salvation. Many were baptized in the Holy Ghost. The testimony meetings were wonderful. One brother was lost in intercession for the hundreds of sick waiting to be ministered to for healing and was given a vision. He saw an opening from the platform, where the sick were, right into the glory. He saw wonderful beings in the form of men resting, who looked on with interest. Again he looked at the platform and saw a Heavenly Being clothed in white, who all the time was active in helping the sick, and when He touched them the effect was wonderful. Bent forms were made straight, their eyes shone, they began to glorify and praise the Lord. A voice from heaven spoke to him and said: ‘Healings are the smallest of the gifts; it is but a drop in the bucket in view of what God has in store for His children. Ye shall do greater works than these.’ ”
In 1921, Mr. Wigglesworth visited Norway and Sweden, as well as Denmark, and the crowds that attended these meetings were too large for the buildings. At times they had to move into open air meetings where stands were erected for the occasion. A great number were saved and blessed. Thousands of handkerchiefs were sent out, and testimonies came back of blessing and healing. Pastor Barratt wrote at that time that all Norway was stirred. We will just quote one testimony given from his paper, “Korsets Seir” (The Victory of the Cross) : “A man and his son came in a taxi to a meeting. Both had crutches. The father had been in bed two years and was unable to put his leg to the ground. He was ministered to. He dropped both crutches, walking and praising God. When the son saw this, he cried out, ‘Help me, too,’ and after a little while the father and son, without crutches and without taxi, walked away from the hall together. The wonder-working Jesus is just the same today.”
Today the Pentecostal work is strong in Norway. It is distinctly evangelistic and missionary. Pastor Barratt lost “Haakons-borgen” but the Lord has given him a splendid hall in Christiania (Oslo) that they can call their own. It will seat fifteen hundred persons. It has a membership of over a thousand. Souls are continually saved and filled with the Spirit. The revival has spread throughout the country and there is a blessed missionary spirit.
Wonderful results of street preaching have been demonstrated in the city of Bergen, Norway. Mr. Niels Thomsen, who visited Norway a few years ago, stated: “Two evangelists, who were blessedly used in their ministry, felt led to visit Bergen. In a short time, they were turned out of their hall, because of the teaching on Pentecost. Having no other opening, they started to preach on the street. Souls were saved and baptized in the Spirit right on the streets of that city. These street meetings continued for nine or ten months with blessed results. When they had water baptism, there were sixty or seventy baptized at one time; and at the end of a year about two hundred people had been saved. In two years’ time they had a congregation of nearly a thousand people.
“But this wonderful meeting was not without its distressing sorrow. One of these young men, who was so gifted and so greatly used, became puffed up; took the glory for what God had done as though he were some great one. In this condition he opened the door of his heart to the enemy, and one evening, while sitting by the fireplace, an evil spirit in visible form, came to him and asked admittance. Weak and out of touch with God he said, ‘Yes.’ From that moment he became a raving maniac. How like Nebuchadnezzar, who said: ‘Is not this great Babylon that I have built . . . by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty?’ For six or seven months he was demon-possessed and had to be confined. Much prayer went up for him, and one day God called him by name. At that time something snapped within him, the enemy’s power was broken and he was absolutely delivered. He is, today, perfectly normal and again preaching the gospel, humbled in spirit and being blessedly used. Some might say we ought not to tell what the enemy does, but there are some lessons in these experiences. We give it as a warning to those who may be tempted to take the credit for what God does through His Holy Spirit. When men or women speak of what they have done, or write exalting themselves, they are in great danger. It is said of a great evangelist, that he refused to read a word of praise about himself. This is a place of safety.”
A Continuous Pentecostal Revival in Sweden
Perhaps there is no country in the world where God has more graciously poured out His Spirit than in Sweden. In 1905 and 1906, the Christians all over Sweden were moved to gather in groups and in homes to pray for revival. In answer to prayer, the Spirit of God began to move, especially among the Baptists. We cannot do better than to let one of these former Baptist preachers, Pastor Lewi Pethrus, tell his own story:
“I had a wonderful experience in the year 1905. The Lord cleansed my heart and then I had a great desire to be filled with God. The biography of Charles Finney showed me that there was a blessing I could receive. I read a book by Dr. A. J. Gordon, which told of being filled with the Spirit, and I began to long for the Baptism of the Spirit. No one ever preached on the Baptism of the Spirit at that time, and I had never seen anyone receive the fullness of the Spirit, but I understood there must be something in it. I was holding revival meetings and a few souls, from ten to twenty, were coming to the cross in the meetings; but when I saw them coming, weeping, I also saw the emptiness of my own soul and heart. I got away from the revival meetings, threw myself on the floor in my room, and cried to God that He might fill me. I felt I was empty; I was clean, but I was not filled. Why do I speak of myself? Because this was the first experience of thousands of others at the same time. There were thousands of others with the same experience, crying to God, ‘Give us a revival and fill us with the Holy Spirit.’
In January, 1907, I picked up a Stockholm paper and saw the picture of a man I knew very well, Pastor Barratt of Christiania, Norway. The heading of this article was, ‘A remarkable revival has broken out in Christiania. People are talking in tongues, just as on the Day of Pentecost.’ I said to my helper, ‘I am going to Christiania tomorrow.’ When I was leaving the church, they told me that I was welcome back again, but I answered, ‘I will never come back again unless the Lord baptizes me with the Holy Spirit.’ I am not going to describe how it happened, but praise God it did happen, and a little later on there were thousands and thousands baptized in the Spirit in Sweden.
“About that time, a young man came back to his old home town in Sweden from the States. Nobody understood him, but reports were circulated that he spoke in tongues. One day, while he was in a Baptist prayer meeting, he spoke in tongues and there was a great upheaval. But the work of the Lord continued, especially among the Baptists. A very spiritual, prominent man had been in the Baptist denomination about fifteen years and had taught the people about being filled with the Holy Spirit. He had never seen anyone receive the Baptism of the Spirit and speak in tongues, but he believed in the Spirit-filled life, and his teaching penetrated the Baptist denomination quite a bit, and I believe that is why the Spirit of God fell among the Baptists. There was an open door, many of the people understanding something of this work.
“In 1910, a Baptist church was organized in Stockholm, which stood for Pentecost, and I was called to be their pastor. Nearly all the members were baptized in the Spirit and they said: ‘This assembly shall remain Pentecostal.’ The church began with twenty-nine members, but by 1913 it had grown to five hundred members. Then something happened. The Baptist church excommunicated us from their denomination. Before this there were hardly any free Pentecostal churches in Sweden and the revival was on the wane in many places. There was not the fire there had been at the beginning.
But when the church got put outside the camp, then it got freedom. And the wonderful thing is that after ten years we have about three hundred Pentecostal assemblies that stand completely free; many of them being great powerful churches. Our church has twenty-three hundred members. When we started we were the smallest church in the country; now for several years we have been the largest one.
“None of the papers would announce our services. I wrote an article about our work but no paper would print it. It was a hard time, but we prayed much and decided to get out a paper of our own. We had not a cent to start with, but we borrowed a thousand crowns (we believe the appoximate value of this would be about $300 in American money) out of the building fund we had. At the end of a year we paid back the thousand crowns and since that time the paper has paid for itself. Now we have a twelve-page paper with about twenty thousand subscribers, and this gospel is being spread all over the country.
“Then we had no Bible school and were compelled to take a step in faith and start one. In the first school there were about thirty students. These last few years we have had between two hundred and three hundred. Not all of these become preachers, some are Sunday school teachers. I believe we have between four hundred and five hundred preachers in Sweden at this time; they are just thrown out all over the country. You must remember this is not in the great United States; this is in a little country with only six million population.
“We have had to believe God in small things as well as the large. When we first got our freedom, they kept telling us that we were only young men who were running this work and because of this it could not be of God. But I told them if they would give us time that thing would be helped all right. Now there is a great crowd of preachers, most of them in their best years, between thirty and forty, men filled with the fire of God. There are some elderly men among us, too, that have come from different denominations.
“A professor in one of the universities of Sweden gave eight lectures, each one hour long, speaking about Pentecost. I heard two of them and heard him say, ‘It is remarkable how these folks believe God. You take a State church preacher like Mr. So and So, a man of about fifty years, who has been given a large church, a good job for the future, and he has a big family. But this preacher leaves everything and becomes a Pentecostal preacher without a cent guaranteed to him. He goes out, believing in God.’ And the professor said, ‘This is remarkable.’ At one time I stopped at the home of this brother and reminded him of what the professor said about him. He replied, ‘It is truly wonderful. I had my six boys and my wife to support and my position was good, but I could not stay. I had to leave it all, but look how, wonderfully God has supplied our every need! I have had a much better time since I became a Pentecostal evangelist than when I was a State church preacher. I don’t suppose I have had as much money, but I have had more blessings. God has blessed the money that has come to me.’
“When we started our paper, we prayed for an editor. We had to wait several years for the answer to our prayers and then God gave us the best man that was in Sweden. He was one of the best-known authors, had published books and poems, and was very prominent, in society. But God saved him in his own home while alone. Someone asked him to subscribe for our paper, which he did, and in that way, the movement became known to him. He could not write novels any more, so he wrote a book on how he came through spiritually to conversion and in this book he said a good deal about Pentecost. He was such a prominent author, that all his old readers bought his book. The newspapers began to talk about him, saying that he had turned Pentecostal already. He is now editor of our paper, is baptized in the Spirit, and is one of the most humble men you can meet. In 1923, he sent a book to the same publishing house that printed all his novels. They printed it and asked to be allowed to print his sermons and they have sent them out in book form by the thousands all over the country. This man preaches the whole truth without compromise. He has seen life from every side, and the people know that. These old novel readers will sit there and read the strongest Pentecostal truths you can think of.
“Up in the northern part of Sweden, the people were living a very careless life. But when the revival came, a young evangelist was baptized with the Spirit and went up through these parts preaching the gospel. A revival broke out wherever he went. Evangelists up in those parts have to go through great testings. Sometimes they will tramp all day through wet snow and when they come to a village they are wet through. They cannot walk and carry clothes with them. Perhaps they are invited to stop at a poor cottage and they take off their shoes and stockings, squeeze the water out, put the stockings on again, and go out to invite the people of the village to come to a meeting. Then they come back and preach to the people they have invited. Perhaps they have had nothing to eat. This young evangelist soon broke down, contracted consumption and died in a few years. But a wonderful work was started; nearly all that country is now Pentecostal and there are ten organized Pentecostal assemblies there, nearly all having their own pastor. It is just wonderful to have meetings up in that part of the country. I have seen young mothers come seventy miles, with their babies tied to their bodies. It isn’t hard to preach to those folk; you have to start in the morning and keep it up all day. The people have had much persecution and their enemies say that this is of the devil. One young brother said, ‘If this is of the devil, then he must be converted.’
“Since this revival began in Stockholm, it has continued summer and winter, all these years. We have not had any special revival campaigns. We have a campaign, the year around; souls are being saved, filled and healed. It is wonderful to know that God can start a fire that, will keep on burning, just as it was on the altar of burnt offering. God commanded that this fire should always be burning on the altar, it must not be put out. That is the way God wants it to be among us. There is a question that arises with all Pentecostal people in the world today, and that is, ‘Is this Pentecostal revival going to continue?’ I have prayed night and day regarding this question. I feel that life is not worth living if God cannot continue this revival.
“I have met Pentecostal people in many countries, but they are just the same. I met some at the River Jordan, near Jerusalem, on the anniversary day of Pentecost. It was Sister Brown and a few friends with her. I saw an Arabian brother baptize four other Arabians in water, and when they came up from the water they spoke in tongues. It was wonderful to stand there on the banks of the Jordan, at the same place, perhaps, that Jesus was baptized, and hear those good old sounds like the old Pentecost. I had prayer meetings with the Pentecostal people in Jerusalem and it was just as if I prayed together with them at home in Sweden.
“I visited Rome and found the Pentecostal people in a little basement. I did not understand what they were saying, for they spoke Italian, but I knew they were preaching wonderfully; I felt that in my heart. I met Pentecostal folks in Germany, Vienna, Holland, Denmark, Norway and the United States, and it was always the same. It is the Spirit that unites us.”
In the year 1921, Mr. Smith Wigglesworth of England held some special meetings in Sweden. Anna Lewini, who attended these meetings, wrote, “Hundreds of people received Jesus as their Saviour, thousands of believers awoke to new life, and many received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost as on the Day of Pentecost. For all this we give God the glory. Here are a few examples of miracles my eyes have seen. The first meeting I attended was in Orebro, where a Pentecostal convention was being held. I came to seek help myself, being worn out with long, unbroken service in the Lord’s work. I had not heard of Mr. Wigglesworth before, but I knew that Pastor Barratt, my spiritual father, was there. The next day there was a meeting for healing. After the preaching service, I went forward into the other hall and I was surprised to find in a few minutes a crowd following. The hall was soon full with a queue of hundreds of men and women patiently waiting for a touch of God through His servant, and, glory to God, we were not disappointed. As hands were laid upon me the power of God went through me in a mighty way. I was immediately well.
“It was wonderful to notice, as the ministry continued, the effect upon the people as the power of the Lord came upon them. Some lifted their hands, crying, ‘I am healed. I am healed.’ Some fell on the platform overpowered by the power of the Spirit, having to be helped down. Others walked away as in a dream; others as drunk with new wine, lost to everything but God; but all had faces transfigured with the glory of the Lord as they magnified Jesus. A young, blind girl, as she was ministered to, cried out, ‘Oh, how many windows there are in this hall.’ During the three weeks the meeting continued the great chapel was crowded daily, multitudes being healed and many saved. The testimony meetings were wonderful. One said, ‘I was deaf, they prayed, and Jesus healed me.’ Another, ‘I had consumption, and I am free.’ And so on.
“I shall never forget the sight at Skofde. In the smaller hall set apart for those seeking the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, the people waited with eyes closed and hearts uplifted to God. Did the Holy Spirit fall on them? Of course, He did. Here also many were healed. At another place there was a young man, whose body was spoiled because of sin, but the Lord is merciful to sinners. He was anointed, and when hands were laid on, the power of God went mightily over him. He said, ‘I am healed,’ but being broken down, he cried like a little child, confessing his sin; at the same moment the Lord saved him. Glory to God. He went into the large hall and testified to salvation and healing.
“At Stockholm long queues waited for hours to get in. The hall held eighteen hundred people. At nearly every meeting, crowds were unable to enter the building, but they waited on, often hour after hour, for the chance, if any left the building to step into the place. Here a man with two crutches, his whole body shaking with palsy, is lifted onto the platform. (Behind him five or six hundred more are waiting for help). This man is anointed and hands laid upon him in the name of Jesus. He is still shaking. Then he drops one crutch, and after a short time, the other one. His body is still shaking, but he takes the first step out in faith! Will it be? He lifts one foot and then the other, walks around the platform. The onlookers rejoice with him. Now he walks around the auditorium. Hallelujah!
“During this meeting, a woman began to shout and shout. The preacher told her to be quiet, but instead she jumped up on a chair, flourishing her arms about, and crying: ‘I am healed! I am healed! I had cancer in my mouth, and I was unsaved; but during the meeting as I listened to the Word of God, the Lord has saved me and healed me of cancer in my mouth.’ She shouts again, ‘I am saved! I am saved! I am healed of cancer!’ The people laughed and cried together.
“Here was another woman unable to walk, sitting on a chair as she was ministered to. Her experience was the same as hundreds of others. She rose up, looking around, wondering if after all it was a dream. Suddenly she laughed and said, ‘My leg is healed.’ Afterwards she said ‘I am not saved’ and streams of tears ran down her face. They prayed for her, and later she left the meeting healed and saved and full of joy. We have a wonderful Saviour; glory to His holy name!”
The Pentecostal church in Sweden is distinctly missionary and they have over seventy-five missionaries on the foreign field. The aim of every Pentecostal assembly in Sweden is to support at least one missionary, but some do more. The church in Orebro, with a membership of four hundred, supports in part eight missionaries.
A great number in the Baptist church in Sweden have accepted the Pentecostal message and have received the Pentecostal experience. The Pastor of the First Baptist church of Springfield, Missouri, C. B. Miller, attended the World’s Baptist Congress in 1923, in Stockholm, Sweden. A letter he wrote while there, which was published in the Springfield Leader, Springfield, Missouri, gives an interesting account of his visit to a Baptist church: “The service this morning was unique. I spoke a few sentences and the pastor spoke by interpretation. The service began with a voluntary prayer service, several taking part. The singing was spirited. The people seemed deeply spiritual. There were many Amens, etc.; you would think you were in the midst of a big revival. At the close, a man of humble appearance, spoke voluntarily. The pastor interpreted. He spoke in an ‘unknown tongue.’ The pastor did not know the language he used—neither did the man. The pastor says he was given the power of interpreting the unknown tongues about a year ago. Several of his people both speak and interpret. He is a very sensible fellow and not given to foolishness. He says the tongue movement is general in the Baptist churches in Sweden and divine healing is generally practiced. He tells of hundreds, who have been healed. One man taken from a tubercular sanitorium was healed and passed a satisfactory examination before the Board of Health—is working regularly now. I do not understand it all, but he is so intelligent and so sensible one cannot doubt his testimony.”
Taken from Stanley Frodsham’s ‘With Signs Following,’ chapters 8-9