Pentecostal Revival in Chile
The Rain Falls in Chile
The Lord sent a very gracious revival to Chile in South America. In 1907 Miss Minnie Abrams, a missionary in India, sent to Mrs. W. C. Hoover, a Methodist missionary in Valparaiso, Chile (her former schoolmate in the Chicago Training School), a booklet giving an account of a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the child widows in the mission schools under Pandita Ramabai, with whom Miss Abrams was connected. The account was surprising, but convincing, and awakened hunger in the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover, unaware until then that God was working in these days as in days of old. Correspondence between the two old friends led to more light through literature. Dr. H. C. Hoover, the pastor of the work in Valparaiso, writes:
“In February 1908, Pastor F. Fransen from a Swedish church in Chicago, who was making a tour of missions, came to Valparaiso where he was warmly received and spent a number of days with great blessing to the church. Seated at table one day he was recounting the experience of a friend who spoke in strange tongues. ‘While he was yet speaking’ a letter was handed to Mrs. Hoover from an old-time friend in the home church, in which she recounted her experience of receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in other tongues while praying alone in her own room. The remarkable coincidence of these two testimonies coming at the same moment to us, who were already deeply interested and inquiring into these matters, has always seemed to me to be providential, to stimulate and confirm our faith in the scripturalness of this experience and manifestation. ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
“Pastor Fransen left us, but there remained with us the fragrance of a life of prayer without ceasing, a number of souls converted, and the double testimony of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost and of the soon return of our blessed Lord for His own.
The building project
“We began at this time the construction of a large church building, the pastor occupying a small cottage in the extreme inner corner of the lot. To reach the street it was necessary to pass through the midst of what later was to be the church. Often in passing and seeing the foundations so large, it seemed as if we were inclosing ‘all outdoors/ and there would be suggested the thought that such an enormous church was a foolhardy venture. But immediately would come the voice of faith: ‘Lord, Thou knowest that we are building for Thy glory; it is to be a man-trap. Don’t ever let the walls mock us, but fill with Thy Holy Spirit and with people for Thy praise/ How many times the ‘spirit of fear’ was driven away with this prayer, and in its place would come a spirit of confidence and rest and expectation.
“We entered the new, though unfinished house on the watchnight which ushered in the year 1909, with a congregation which had suffered the effects of a year of meeting in small groups and with necessarily little pastoral care. We observed, as we had ever done, the evangelical week of prayer. On the first prayer night a strange thing happened. After the usual preliminary exercises the usual call to prayer was given; but instead of the usual successive response of prayer by one and then another and another, the whole congregation, numbering above a hundred persons, broke forth simultaneously in audible prayer. It was an astonishing thing, but there was given the comforting assurance that God was pleased with us; for we were seeking a revival and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit; and here God was meeting us in the very beginning. This prayer lasted ten or fifteen minutes and the ‘sound as of many waters’ subsided. This experience was repeated now and again.
“One day in the month of January, a brother whose former besotted life had left him so incapacitated that he was unfit for labor, and was now a night watchman, came to me and said: ‘Pastor, I was sleeping today at home when the Lord came to me and said: “Wake up. I want to talk with you.” “Yes, Lord.” “Go to your pastor and tell him to call together some of the most spiritual brethren and tell them to pray every day, for I am going to baptize them with tongues of fire.” “Yes, Lord, and may I be one of them?” “Yes.” So I came at once.”
“Reflecting on the matter, it seemed clear to me that it was of God, a direct answer to the prayers we had been’ offering for a long time back. So I formed a group of five persons, who met every day at five o’clock, prayed in turn, and separated without any other formality. The point was to keep our petition before the Lord according to His direction. This ‘Five o’clock meeting, after a month or so, was made general and became an important feature of the revival.
“The annual Conference was held early in February and the pulpit, during the pastor’s absence, was occupied by one of this group of five. On Sunday evening he called the members of the official board to occupy the front seats at the beginning of the service. Reading the second chapter of Joel and expounding from the twelfth verse onward, he said: ‘You and I are responsible for the condition of this church and we must repent and get right with God if it takes all night.’ After a season of prayer at the altar, he dismissed the congregation, asking the official board to remain with him all night, with any others who might desire to remain with them. Twenty or thirty remained. During the night one saw a brazier of coals within the altar; others felt the hand of the Lord on their head as they prayed at the altar; and such was the blessing received that they asked him to appoint another all-night meeting, which he did, naming the following Saturday.
“The pastor had returned from Conference and attended the meeting himself, finding blessing in it. These meetings continued weekly until Easter, when an all-day meeting was held instead. From that time they were held more or less monthly, and with an attendance which gradually increased from the original number till it reached two hundred who met all night in prayer. By these meetings consciences were awakened and repentance and restitution and reconciliations became the order of the day, the members going to Santiago and other points to make peace, pay debts till then forgotten or disregarded, or to return goods or money stolen years before. One poor brother hunted up the owner of some jewelry that he had been asked to keep during the chaotic days of the earthquake three years before, and that he had kept. On the following night, this same brother, while praying, was taken with the most delightful laughter, quite uncontrollable for a considerable time.
Manifestations of the Spirit
“Various manifestations began to occur with one and another at any time and in any meeting. In a testimony meeting a sister laughed for an hour, a delighted half-quiet laughter which she was unable to control, and so she retired to a farther corner of the room so as not to disturb; another fell along the bench and began to sing most sweetly. When she recovered her normal condition she said the angels were teaching her to sing. One, while giving a testimony, suddenly gave a loud ‘Oh!’ and her eyes started almost out of their sockets as she gazed at something evidently most entrancing. At an altar service after preaching, a brother many years in the church, but wholly useless as a Christian, who had been led to feel his condition, rose and asked prayer; and had scarcely expressed the request when he fell as if knocked down by a blow, and whereas before he was unable to pray, now the words rushed from his mouth in a torrent which he was unable to stem. Afterwards he said he himself marveled where the words came from. From that day he was a man of prayer and power.
“A few weeks before this last occurrence the pastor was visiting a member of the official board who was ill with the illness of which he died, but whose thoughts and conversation were wholly of his doctors, his medicines, his ailments. Unable to draw his mind to heavenly things or to his own spiritual condition, the pastor left the house much downcast, and on his way home began talking to the Lord, ‘Lord, that man is going to die: is he saved? It is doubtful, but what can be done? But what else can be expected with such a pastor!’ As these last words fell from his lips they produced the effect as if the Lord had spoken them; so he continued, replying: ‘True, what else can be expected! Lord, destroy this pastor.’ This cry continued all the way home and for two hours more in the live o’clock meeting, when he felt that his petition was before the Lord and he had only to await the reply. Two days later, while at prayer with his assistant, a mighty manifestation of the Spirit came upon him centered around the words: ‘It is not human work,’ referring to the work of the Lord in which he was engaged. From that time the Spirit of God accompanied the work of the pastor in a marked degree; also his work as district superintendent.
“Dreams also occurred to one and another that were significant and that were fulfilled. One. to the pastor, that he had received a bill of one hundred pesos folded up and handed him by a brother, was fulfilled the very next day with perfect exactness. Again the pastor dreamed of a very remarkable revival having occurred in a large church in a very short time and heard a voice: ‘And the pastors of the two hundred other churches came to see how it was done.’ The dream occurred before any general movement had appeared in the church. Later, during the months of July and August, after the great outpouring of the Spirit, there came a missionary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, with his wife and baby from the south of Chile, (a distance approaching seven hundred miles), and spent a week in Valparaiso. He spent the whole time in the church observing with attention all that passed. A pastor of a Presbyterian church in Concepcion, nearly five hundred miles south, came with one of his official members and spent nearly or quite a week in our midst, much impressed by what he saw and heard. The assistant pastor of a Methodist church in Santiago came with another official member and spent some days. From another church in Santiago and from Quillota members came, drawn by a hunger to participate in the blessing that the Lord was pouring out so abundantly. So the dream was fulfilled, even though not literally two hundred churches came to see.
The fourth of July outpouring
“The overwhelming flood came on the fourth of July, 1909, which occurred on Sunday. Saturday night was a watchnight, during which four vain young ladies (three of whom were in the choir) fell to the floor under the power of the Spirit. One of them after lying a long time arose and with remarkable power began to exhort saying: “The Lord is coming soon and commands us to get ready.” The effect produced was indescribable; some were affected as if a sudden wind had blown into their faces and taken their breath; others, as if their strength had failed and they leaned half reclining on their neighbor; one stood and twisted and turned with hands upraised as if trying to ascend; half exclamations, laughter, groans formed part of the scene.
“The next morning in Sunday school at ten o’clock, a daze seemed to rest on the people. Some were unable to rise after the opening prayer which had been like ‘the sound of many waters,’ and all were filled with wonder. It was impossible to separate into classes and study the lesson of the day. Praises, singing, exhortations by some under the power of the Spirit, surrounded by groups of wondering listeners, filled the hour, and at the close people were loath to leave.
“From that time on the atmosphere seemed charged with the Holy Spirit and people fell to the floor, or broke out speaking in other tongues, or singing in the Spirit, in a way impossible in their natural condition. On one occasion a woman, a young lady and a girl of twelve were lying on the floor in different parts of a prayer room, with eyes closed and silent. Suddenly as with one voice they burst forth into song in a familiar tune but in unknown tongues, all speaking the same words. After a verse or two they became silent; then again suddenly, another tune, a verse or two, and silence. This was repeated till they had sung ten tunes. Always using the same words and keeping in perfect time together as if led by some invisible chorister.
“Making motions as of flying, children would talk of going to paradise, picking grapes or bananas and eating with the utmost satisfaction. A lad, trembling and flushed, stood with eyes closed giving a message of repentance when suddenly he said: ‘Oh, see what a lot of doves! Lord, send more than you did last Thursday. See, one fell upon a brother, but I don’t know him; he is new.’ At the moment he spoke, a new brother began praying with cries and tears.
“Another lad, taken in the Spirit, said: ‘See the Lord with His pierced hands! and His feet too!” Then bursting in desolate weeping, he said: ‘And yet people will not believe!’ At another time this same lad talked with an invisible companion of a lamb that the Lord had given to the two to care for. Stooping down he took the forefeet in one hand and the hind feet in the other and lifted it carefully over his head, bringing together the feet in front. ‘Oh, the dear little feet! I could eat them/ he said, bringing them to his mouth.
“These are but illustrations of a multitude of marvels that kept us wondering. People began to fall under the power of the Spirit in their beds, at their work, on the street, anywhere. People looking at such in the church would be taken with trembling and would hasten out lest they fall.
“These amazing scenes brought constantly increasing crowds of curious ones and the congregation grew by leaps and bounds, so that by September it had reached the astonishing figure of nine hundred to a thousand from a beginning of perhaps three hundred. In proof that not all were merely curious visitors, the attendance at the Sunday school, which had been about two hundred and fifty, gave the following average weekly attendance during the months named: July, 363; August, 425; September, 527.
The enemy accuses – but his plans backfire
“The ‘yellow’ press sent reporters who interviewed workers, examined the basement of the building to discover electric apparatus that might be the cause of the inexplicable occurrences, and feigned repentance to discover the magic arts used. Then for two weeks a serial account with headlines as alarming as those used in the world war was run simultaneously with a criminal accusation which was instituted in the court against the pastor, the gist of which was that ‘he gave to the people a pernicious beverage to drink called ‘the Blood of the Lamb,’ which produced a lethargy and the people fell to the floor.”
“The pastor was cited repeatedly before the judge (trials in Chile not being by jury), and thus was given an opportunity to testify to Jesus’ power to save before various authorities who at different times sat with the judge.
“This trial was of course heralded by the press which instigated it in colors which befitted the paper. The lurid accounts were used by the Lord to increase the attendance and interest of sinners, and by the devil to alarm saints.
“So the fearful and the unbelieving and the propriety-loving began to write to the pastor urging caution, lamenting the ‘scandal’ of being painted in such colors before the public, and warning against fanaticism. They wrote to the bishop also, taking counsel of their fears and so awakened similar fears in him that it resulted in his securing (unknown to, and unasked by the pastor) a furlough for the pastor, to begin at the time of the following conference.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
“Meanwhile the work was moving grandly on. Those who came from away, to see, carried home reports which awakened a deep hunger in the people for a similar visitation, and they began to pray earnestly to the Lord. Now and again some baptized person in Valparaiso felt a call to go to some other place with a message. Such was eagerly received by the brethren, but sometimes with less cordiality by the pastor through fear of fanaticism. One such visited Santiago. In the Methodist churches in that place there was an ardent desire for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. She went to the Second church in the afternoon meeting and desired to speak while the offering was being taken. The pastor refused her permission. The people begged him to allow her. He still refused, and became nervous, and the people became excited, and after a disorderly scene the people in a body went out of the church and gathered in the yard where the assistant pastor, who was favorable to their desire, exhorted them to quiet and calmness.
“In the evening the messenger went to the First church. The pastor and district superintendent, having heard of the disturbance of the day, dealt with brusqueness and arbitrariness. They promised the people that she might speak at the conclusion of the service; but when after the benediction, the people sat down and she arose to speak, police in waiting were called to vacate the church and take the girl to the police station.
“Immediately, that very night, the assistant pastor of the Second church wrote to the pastor in Valparaiso, relating occurrences, and asking counsel. They were counselled to recognize their hastiness and impatience, to ask pardon and return to their allegiance, which they did, all except the return; for pardon was not granted and they were not received.
“Here was now a difficult situation; two congregations out unwillingly and in sympathy with the pastor at Valparaiso, who was looked upon with distrust, by many of his colleagues and by his bishop. These separations occurred in September, 1909. The pastor in Valparaiso was accused of having caused them, which was utterly untrue except in so far as the revival in his church was the cause. This church and pastor became increasingly the object of criticism and antagonism, at the same time the object of wonder and interest.
Departure from the Methodist Episcopal Church
“The following Conference was held in this church February fourth to eleventh, 1910, the longest session ever held. The work was found in a thriving condition, congregation and Sunday school being the largest ever seen in Chile, and the church a hive of activity, with an addition of over two hundred. Nevertheless, the important work of the Conference was to formulate charges against the pastor. By most unworthy stress a promise was secured from him to take the furlough so considerately (!) provided, when the charges were removed and all mention expunged from the minutes in spite of his protest, he urging that if the charges were just he wanted them tried. His promise troubled his conscience and on the following day he withdrew it, explaining this fact to the bishop.
“The Valparaiso District was added to the Santiago District by the Bishop, so that the Valparaiso pastor might no longer be his own superintendent. At the first quarterly conference, the Santiago superintendent presided with such harshness and arbitrariness that two or three days after a couple of the brethren came to the pastor and said: ‘Pastor, we are going to separate. Their purpose is to scatter us and send you home and the work will be destroyed. We are going out and when they turn you off you can be our pastor.’ The pastor begged them not to do such a thing, but they were resolved. Begging them to wait and do nothing rashly, he with his wife betook themselves to prayer for guidance in this new problem, which was this: Those who would go out would be his friends and in sympathy with the work he was carrying on; those who remained would be those not in sympathy with the work and so in a manner contrary to him. His friends would be technically his enemies—an impossible situation. So, knowing the animus of the bishop, the pastor resolved to resign from the pastorate and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He became pastor of the four hundred and forty who went out at that time. In this, as in all the work, his wife was his able and wholly sympathetic companion.
“Confident that they were in the will of the Lord, a beautiful spirit of faith and assurance animated the brethren in the new and untried step they were taking. There was no grieving for the beautiful and commodious church building they were leaving. ‘God, who gave us this one, can give us another:’ no fears because of having no missionary society to fall back on; no real animosity against those who had made this step a logical necessity; only a feeling that we were doing what we had to do, and that God was with us.
“Of the numerous small meeting places which we had over the city, nearly all were in the homes of those who separated, so we used them, and the official board arranged to rotate with the pastor in attending them. Sunday school teachers were appointed for them, and the work continued to prosper.
The Methodist Pentecostal Church is born
“As soon as the two churches in Santiago, which had separated previously, heard of the step taken in Valparaiso, they sent official letters to the pastor, asking him to be their superintendent, and so was formed what soon took the name of the Methodist Pentecostal church. The purpose in using the name ‘Methodist’ was to show that there had been no quarrel with Methodism; we were preaching the doctrines taught by Wesley and urging the life of perfect love; we had not deviated from Methodist polity nor desired to do so. We declared that we were still truly Methodist—that those who criticized and antagonized us were the ones who had departed from the old paths and from the old faith.
“Street preaching became an established practice with blessed fruits. The noise attending our meetings attracted crowds of the curious, among whom were always some hungry ones who found the Bread of Life. Praying for the sick became a blessing to many—to those who were healed and to those whose faith was awakened or strengthened by seeing the work of God in the body.
“The work has grown and extended to such an extent that there are Pentecostal groups of varying sizes in nearly forty cities and towns. There are two large congregations in Santiago, whose united membership is little short of fifteen hundred if the suburban groups under their charge are counted in. Without claiming exactness, there is a membership approaching nine hundred in Valparaiso, counting in its near suburbs. The other churches would bring a total in Chile of three thousand more or less. This is what God has wrought and is. still working.
“In the year 1919, the church in Valparaiso purchased a property and remodelled it into a church with a capacity of about nine hundred, and one of the churches in Santiago leased ground and built a church with approximately the same capacity. Several other churches in smaller towns have their own property.
“The work throughout Chile is wholly self-supporting and has been the wondering comment of the older denominations from the start, who prophesied a disastrous end to the movement, believing it to be born of fanaticism and following a personality. The utter mistakenness of their judgment has had a remarkable demonstration in the following experience:
“In the month of January, 1920, the pastor at Valparaiso was taken sick. His work as superintendent was carried by one of the Santiago pastors, formerly a shoemaker. The work of the Valparaiso church was carried on by the official board. In June of that year, a remarkable revival broke out, accompanied by the strange manifestation of dancing with eyes closed. It began with little children and extended to all ages and sexes, and largely through the other churches in Chile. The pastor was absent from the work one month less than two years, most of the time absent from the country, and when he returned found the church filled to repletion, and more than four hundred probationers added to the roll.
“In humble gratitude to God for His unspeakable mercies we recount briefly the outlines of a story that would fill a large book and thrill many a heart if it could be told at length. The secret of the marvel is doubtless found in the words of an observer from another church— ‘They honor the Holy Spirit.’ To this may be added— They exalt the blood of Jesus Christ as the only and sufficient means of access to God and of reception of any and all the blessings promised in the Word of God.
“Gloria a la sangre de mi Senor;
Ella es la que lava al pecador.”
“Glory to the blood of my Lord;
It is that which washes the sinner.”
Note—this chorus was given, with many others, to those who danced in the Spirit.”
Source: Stanley H. Frodsham, With Signs Following.