The eyes of the world are looking at Korea today, and so are the eyes of the Lord, for He has much people there. The first Korean convert to Christ was baptized in 1886, and in just 90 years, the church in Korea grew to three million members. The growth of the church was greatly augmented by the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in January, 1907. For many years the missionaries and the Korean believers had been praying for such a heaven-sent awakening. God does indeed answer prayer!
Dr. William Newton Blair preached a powerful message on being members of the body of Christ on January 14, 1907 to over 1,500 church leaders assembled in the Pyengyang Presbyterian Church. After the preaching, Rev. Graham Lee called for a time of prayer. As they began to pray, the Holy Spirit came down upon the assembly of people, who were melted to brokenness and tears. Repentance, confession of sin, and the Holy Spirit’s power were experienced by most who were there. That was the beginning of great expansion and holiness in the whole Korean church.
In 1977, Banner of Truth published a booked called The Korean Pentecost. The first half of the book was written by Dr. William Newton Blair, the preacher who experienced the Holy Spirit’s outpouring. The second half of the book was written by his son-in-law, Rev. Bruce Hunt, who was born in Korea and who personally suffered much of the persecution experienced by the Korean church.
Revival is a great blessing to be sought and to be experienced. Praise God for the millions of souls that have been brought to Christ suddenly by means of such spiritual outpourings! The history of these mighty events reveals that suffering almost always follows such signal blessings. The historical pattern is somewhat startling:
- The persecution of Acts 8 in which the believers were scattered and Stephen was stoned, followed in the same year as the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. The Protestant Reformation was the greatest revival since the day of Pentecost.
- Thirty years after Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg, which ignited the Protestant Reformation, the Duke of Alva invaded Germany and killed 7,000 Protestant soldiers causing much destruction over the land.
- The First Great Awakening that occurred in America between 1730 and 1740 was followed by eight years of devastating war with Great Britain in the pursuit of American independence.
- The prayer meeting revival of 1857-1859 brought a million souls to Christ in the U.S., Great Britain, and even in South Africa. Two years later the American Civil War between the states destroyed hundreds of thousands of American lives, and 50,000 died in the Boer Wars between the British and the Dutch in South Africa.
How shameful that countries professing Christ would be killing each other! The Korean Revival was likewise preparatory for the awful sufferings of the Korean church. The Japanese army, which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, forced the Koreans to openly and publicly submit to Shinto shrines or be imprisoned, tortured, or killed. Many were the martyrs under Japanese rule. In many ways the Japanese were worse than the Communists in that the Japanese extended torture over many years of a person’s lifetime, whereas the Communists simply eliminated opposition outright. When the Communists came before, during, and after the Korean War (1950-1953), thousands of Korean believers were martyred. Many of the accounts of the Korean martyrs are just as heart-rending and inspiring as the histories of the Early Church martyrs and those from Reformation times.
The question could be posed: If such terrible sufferings often follow marvelous awakenings, why would any conscientious believer pray for revival? It is not revival, however, that causes the suffering. Christ said of a certainty that wars and rumors of wars would be part and parcel of human experience on Earth until the end of the world (Matthew 24:3,6). It is sin that has brought and continues to bring death, war, and suffering into the world. The gospel of Christ is the only remedy for sin, suffering, and death. Gospel work is winning souls one by one. This is blessedness indeed, even to win one soul to Christ. But when a terribly destructive war is looming on the horizon, it is marvelous that God often suddenly pours out His Spirit in gracious abundance to convert thousands so that they will be well-prepared before suffering and death arrive. Christians, therefore, ought to pray for awakening grace, so that the mighty ingathering of souls will prepare multitudes before wars and devastations come.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ in North Korea in 2018 is still enduring some of the most horrible persecution of any Christians on earth. Those brethren need the constant prayers of all of Christ’s blood-bought people. Thankfully, the church in South Korea is not suffering persecution at this time. The Free Presbyterian Church of North America (FPCNA) rejoices to be connected with the Korean FPC in Seoul, South Korea under the ministry of Rev. Seongkyu Lee, as well as the Korean FPC in Greenville, South Carolina, planted by the late Rev. David Lee and currently pastored by Rev. Sanghoon Han. May the Lord bless our Korean brothers and sisters both at home and abroad, and may reading this book help us to appreciate better the movement of God’s Holy Spirit among the Korean people.
This book is available through Banner of Truth Publishing and Amazon Books.