Confession of Sin–Towards Mutuality in Missions

In my studies of the Shantung Revival, I am struck by the level of unity between the Southern Baptist missionaries of the North China Mission and the Chinese nationals and their churches. What led to this unity lay in a shared spiritual experience.  This experience manifested itself in many ways, but most poignantly in conviction and subsequent confession of sins. Neither the missionaries nor the Chinese held back in confessing their sins publicly nor in making restitution. In defending the revival against charges of “heresy” and “Pentecostalism”, Frank Lide, who later founded Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary, demonstrated the depths of confession of sin and its results in a letter to the Foreign Mission Board’s Corresponding Secretary, Dr. Charles E. Maddry.

Letter to Dr. C. E. Maddry from Frank P. Lide, Nov. 21, 1933, Hwanghsien, Shantung, China

I will frankly confess that some of the manifestations of the movement were not to my liking. However, the Holy Spirit of God came over me in such deep conviction of sin, that I felt my work was ended. Nearly all the sins of my life came up and had to be confessed, some publicly, some to individuals, and all to God. I was under deep conviction for over a month, varying in intensity. The very loan I made on my insurance was to restore what I had stolen, a large part of it twenty or more years ago. My wife and I thought that we should return some of our salary to the Board, for we were utterly unworthy of its support. However, the Lord forgave us of that, because we were unable to return it. I would like to have run, but I was in a vise and I am thankful that God’s strong hand did not let me go until all was made right that needed to be made right. After that I received “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” My experience was the experience of scores of Chinese. Nearly all the missionaries here (I should say all) were brought under deep conviction of sin and had to make things right. Now the feeling between our Chinese leaders and missionaries in beautiful. It is one of deepest love and understanding. I wish you could see and feel this. It is marvelous. In 1930, when the school trouble was as its height, it seemed as though there was a 100% break between missionaries and Chinese, but the Lord has healed all that over.

I believe that the missionaries here are as loyal to the Word of God and to our faith as Baptists are anywhere in the world. Let us stand by the Word, but let us stand by all of it. The Spirit of God has worked mightily in our midst. Those who know say that the revival was similar to the one in Ireland in 1859. It certainly must have been much like the Welsh revivals under Evan Roberts. When the Spirit works in great power, the devil also works and does his best. Therefore there were some unreal manifestations. But shall we refuse the good because there are some cases where the flesh controls, and in some where evil spirits control? The majority of those who had a Bible foundation and earnestness were undoubtedly under the mighty power of God’s Spirit. I have not seen such a great work in America. My earnest belief is that many of the churches of our North China Convention have been blessed in a greater degree than most Southern Baptist Churches. As Dr. Glass said soon after the revival here, “The Chinese are finding the way within the veil, and either we will go with them or they will go on without us.”

I feel that I am no less a Baptist since the revival, but on the other hand, I am a better Baptist by the Grace of the Lord. We love our people and our Board, and I trust that you will understand that what we say we trust is said in love.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these letter Wes, I have been encouraged by them (now, I must confess, that I have started reading them).

    Peace

    • Dougald,

      I am glad they are encouraging to you, they have been encouraging to me. I have been struck by the humility not of the missionaries, but wrought in the missionaries. God humbled them! May he humble me!

      -Wes

  2. This is a great story. Thanks!
    I love the quote, above, “Theology without Obedience is mere religious opinion.” Who said this?
    Peyton

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